1 of 1 episodes seen
So this indirect sort of sequel is about a young, kind girl who befriends several cats (and a crow), adventures to the Kingdom of Cats, and learns to believe in herself in the process. Now, the premise would get most eye-rolling; again, this is a movie definitely geared toward children but its also pretty silly. It’s as sweet and simplistic as the story suggests, and unlike Castle in the Sky or Spirited Away, there aren’t really mature moments to draw in older audiences. That being said, again, it’s done extremely well.
If you just want to sit down and watch a cutsy movie, there’s such a charm to the characters and (as per usual) the movie is beautiful to look at. It’s one film where you’re allowed to suspend your sense of taste and just and enjoy this little film. read more
Oct 28, 2012Digimon Adventure 02: Digimon Hurricane Jouriku!! ... (Anime) add
1 of 2 episodes seen
I think like the rest of 02, the hour and change length feature suffers from clumsy writing. This version of the movie is certainly stronger and more watchable than the shortened version hashed together in English-- but still, several things go unexplained, plot threads left hanging, etc. Regardless, it did manage to keep me invested in the main characters, Wallace and Gumimon (Willis and Terriermon in the American version), and they were good characters regardless.
This one also has a weirder tone compared to the rest-- probably the result of each movie having different directors. The music especially, with marimbas and acoustic guitar and jazz during the very serious fight scenes differ greatly from the late 90s songs Fox Kids threw in and again, made it a very different movie. read more
49 of 49 episodes seen
G Gundam favored a 180 degree turn from the Universal Century by creating its own universe (alternate universe…). Unlike the original series which was more sophisticated and realistic, G Gundam plays more like a tournament style shounen series than a “mecha” show— notice how the title shifted from Mobile Suit to Mobile Fighter. Like most deviations from form, the series tends to polarize the fanbase; however, I think that’s not the only reason G Gundam has proven to be so divisive.
But before we get into that, we’ll get the technicals out of the way (because these tend to be formulaic as hell, and I’ll have a lot to say later).
Mobile Fighter G Gundam is not a great looking show. Even accounting for the series age, there were much better looking shows out there including the earlier Gundam iterations. There’s a good amount of recycled footage— reminiscent of magical girl transformation sequences— the frame rate is pretty low and there are times where the leads are so off model it’s embarrassing. Still, a lot of the problems diminish or disappear as the episodes progress and the quality does manage to improve. Overall, it’s fine. While some sequences do hit impressive-status, the animation mostly straddles the middle.
The music favors a little better than the animation. The soundtrack sounds a little generic, but is always appropriate and slightly catchy. The two ending themes and the second opening, “Trust You Forever” by Yoshifumi Ushima, are terribly boring, but Mobile Fighter G Gundam sports the best opening number of any Gundam series. Hands down.
Right now. I challenge anybody to find me a better opening theme than “SHINING FIN-GAH!!” (even better than row! row! fight da powah!). Right. Didn’t think so.
Now to get a little mean— these things have to be said.
To begin with, the English Dub is incompetent. This was voiced over at a time when dubbing studios didn’t really have it together and it shows. And the worst part is that our lead, Domon Kasshu, is the worst of them all. His voice actor never appeared to go onto do much work, and I can see why. Regardless of the direction, Domon’s delivery— ever single line— is stale and wooden. Yet at the same time, he shouts every line— not with intensity, but just loud shouting. The rest of the cast are below average to okay; not all the voices suit the characters well, but there were some halfway decent performances coming from those in the background.
Having said that, the dub is the least of the series’s problems. G Gundam took a sophisticated franchise and turned it into something so bad it’s funny. I’ve already said that the series feels more like tournament style fare, right down to the silly attack names which much be screamed out at every turn.
But there is so much silliness to this show. I don’t believe the intention was to be played for laughs, but what were the creators thinking? A fish- shaped gundam? A man with a debilitating fear of clowns gaining the strength to defeat the jester gundam because his band of merry women begin singing “Oh beautiful for spacious skies…”? A unicorn gundam piloted by a horse in a gundam piloting suit; and then the 15 foot anthropomorphic gundam rides off into the sunset on the horse mech. G Gundam whatare you doing?
The series also manages to insult just about everybody (with the exception of Japan of course). The Adaptive script actually renamed Domon’s mech to “Burning Gundam” because the original script, the representative of Neo-Japan piloted the “God” gundam. The Neo-American fighter, Chibodee Crocket, is portrayed as a brash city kid who came from nothing and became a somebody with his boxing glove wielding gundam in tow (better than BigMac wielding anyway). Chibodee is endearing, but why does the female gundam fighter pilot a mech that looks like Sailor Moon? Why is the African representative piloting a machine that looks like a zebra tribesman? Why does the Mexican gundam have to look like that.
The “Tequila Gundam”.
But the worst part is how despicable and unlikable a lead Domon Kasshu is. Not only does Domon revel in his own physical and moral superiority and self-righteousness constantly (inside the God Gundam), and not only does he constantly feel the need to spout out the rules of the gundam tournament fight before blatantly ignoring them and doing whatever he wants, but he’s such an asshole. And not just because he blatantly ignores the rules of the tournament, but because he goes about brooding and stoic and tortured (understandably so) and then 180’s right at the end and acts like a nice guy, because hey, he’s supposed to be the protagonist. He’s unbelievably disrespectful and ungrateful when speaking to his technician, but immediately apologetic and lost the moment anything happens to her. The creators wanted to make a tsundere and failed because the switch from cold and hostile to warm and gentle can’t take place within the same five minutes.
And yet, I don’t hate this show. At all. I love this show. Mobile Fighter G Gundam was this my first experience with Gundam (back when Toonami played after school), and it was a good one. For all of its issues, all of its problems, the characterization, the silly tone, the sub par animation and sound— G Gundam has great complexity and emotional depth woven into its story.
For all the places the series misteps, it succeeded in creating a complex narrative that pans out alongside the 13th Gundam Tournament Fight. The concept of the Dark Gundam (Devil in Japanese to juxtapose Domon’s God) actually becomes very sophisticated toward the final arc of the story. No matter how simplistic and sophomoric the series can get, the unexpected is always occurring and things don’t always go the way you believe they would. The bond shared between Domon’s friends, the other Gundam pilots, feels genuine and more subtly puts forth the message of collaboration and friendship between nations. The relationship between Domon Kasshu and his master, though confusing, also reaches a very touching and emotional conclusion. Mobile Fighter G Gundam certainly had a lot of interesting concepts and character motivations to make it a potentially challenging series on par with any of its predecessors, but the execution severely let it down.
While the series did nothing revolutionary for mech anime, it did pave the way for the series to follow, including popular titles like Gundam Wing and Gundam SEED (which were also featured on Toonami).
If nothing else, G Gundam is always entertaining. If you don’t find the ethnic stereotyping too offensive, it’s actually a lot of fun getting to see the more ridiculous and insulting mechs the Japanese came up with to represent countries like Neo-Greece and Neo-Spain. The show is hilarious, action packed, and surprisingly thought provoking anyway. I can’t say definitively that it tried, but I feel it did, and I love it for that. read more
51 of 51 episodes seen
Tamers departs from its source material in the hiding a pet approach it takes to keeping the Digimon in the real world. The episodes can still be episodic in nature, but most of it takes place outside of the Digital World. The characters, also, deviate from the typical stereotypes and feel more like real children with complexity and realistic problems. The series is also more appropriate for older audiences than the original; the government becomes involved to dangerous effect, and a lot of time is spent with the adults, since the Tamers are dealing with the consequences of their actions from years and years ago. Two thirds into the series, the show becomes incredibly dark, delving into themes of destiny, the nature of humanity, depression, and downright creepy imagery; and in my humble opinion, it’s the best iteration of the franchise. Period. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Our War Game sticks out as the most memorable part of the English release of “The Digimon Movie” (which is really a hash of the first three independent films strung together with the thinnest thread of “plot”— thanks Fox Kids). Most of us probably remember the camp, and more importantly, the soundtrack — Barenaked Ladies, Fat Boy Slim, etc. The Japanese track is undoubtedly the better version, handles the material very seriously and later provided inspiration for the movie Summer Wars by the same director. Still, if you were conditioned on the English version, chances are it will play like a totally different film. read more
50 of 50 episodes seen
This thing is a mess. The new kids and their partners are either annoying, or bland and forgettable. Plot holes abound. Deus ex Machina abound. The series is just as low budget as its predecessor. Offended just about every ethnic group that comes to mind. Direct rip offs of Jesse and James from Team Rocket. You get it.
The series did do a few things right. There is one complex character I assume is everybody’s favorite and had a well developed and interesting character arc. Some of the new designs were nice and it was kind of cool seeing the old team grown.
However, anything done right is immediately undone by the ending. Stfu, 02. read more
54 of 54 episodes seen
That being said, what sets them apart is the growth (in most of them) we actually witness throughout the series and the genuine affection that develops for all of these characters and their partners. The Digimon themselves all had extremely creative designs and Digivolution logic. Additionally, some of the story arcs are legitimately very good, suspenseful, and developed.
Upon rewatch of the series, it definitely outclasses its brother show, Pokemon, in terms of story arcs and characterization (but I still do have personal nostalgic love for the latter). read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
6 of 6 episodes seen
FLCL (Fooly Cooly or Furi Kuri for the non Engrish speakers) is first and foremost an intense visual experience. The short 6 episode OVA was produced by Studio Gainax, which might immediately send up red flags for those familiar with their incredibly erratic repertoire. Personally, I believe this is the studio at it’s very best (even with the mechs again).
Everything about the visual experience is unique; the series really pushes the boundaries of what animation in all styles can do. In one moment the scene appears calm, the palette bright but unsaturated, when in an instant the scene changes and the expressions and anatomies are pushed to extreme levels of in-your-face; in the next frame everything’s gone chibi and kawaii before you blink. And it’s that way the entire run. Each episode is different and plays around with different techniques that make the whole show stylish and cool. They sometimes voice over pages from the manga in typical Gainax style (I’m looking at you His and Her Circumstances) which is less expensive than animating the scenes, but hey, in FLCL, it works.
Speaking of budget cuts, everything Gainax is notoriously disliked for plays completely to FLCL’s advantage. Typically when the budget runs out, the studio resorts to their anything goes, anatomy-wat-is-that, style of making forms and bodies move or just putting voices to static images; but in this OVA it just adds to the visual flair and insanity. Watching the characters and robots degenerate into rubbery silhouettes of anthropomorphic forms or watch the scenes play out manga style before the manga adaptation was even penned adds cool points rather than takes them away.
The music in FLCL is spot on perfect, albeit pretty orthodox. Japanese alternative rock band, The Pillows, completely knocks it out of the park. While only a couple of the songs were composed specifically for the show, all of their music is top quality stuff. The songs are upbeat and mellow (typical of alternative rock) and shouldn’t marry well with the intense visuals and storyline, and yet somehow, like the rest of FLCL, comes together and just works.
FLCL completely succeeds in using animation as a visual medium for storytelling, but it’s not all style over substance. FLCL sports an incredibly real and likable cast of characters.
Naota is your average, nothing particularly special, twelve year old boy; the perfect age for just wanting to rush into adulthood and skip all the awful hormonal happenings that occur in between. Naota’s brother’s girlfriend, Mamimi, is a photographer and pyromaniac projecting her missing baseball player onto the closest replacement. Haruko is loud, flamboyant, and constantly walks the fine line between incredibly annoying and incredibly awesome. Even Canti, the first robot to squeeze his way out of Naota’s head, has a great design and is very human-like and lovable.
While the characters don’t get a whole lot of development throughout the OVA, they are complex and they do change. All of the adolescents deal with real relatable problems and react in ways to the bizarre happenings and difficult emotional issues in ways we would expect them to. With maybe the exception of Haruko, they all hit home in a way that everyone can sympathize with, because everybody has gone through the motions of transitioning between child and adult, first crushes, dealing with annoying parents, second crushes, and the like. Maybe not everyone would go along with being eaten by a mech that came out of your head, but we would all react the same way when the girl you like keeps forcing herself onto you, and you don’t know how to respond. In the less fantastical situations, their feelings and reactions to ordinary events speak to life and reflect realism in ways that most anime (and entertainment in general) fail to.
And to dote on the visuals again, they all look great. They’re all visually distinctive and each sport great color palettes that speak to the characters’ personalities and allow for their facial expressions and other quirks to really pop.
Now it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all that goes on. Your head might explode between giant eyebrows falling off, Playboy Bunny outfits, a giant iron, sterile hospital scenes, a dangerous robot exploding because the curry he ate was too spicy…
See what I mean?
The OVA is first and foremost a roller coaster ride of an experience. Don’t go nit picking at every image asking “what does it mean, what does it mean?!” You’ll end up buried somewhere in a psych ward that way. But that isn’t to say that all of the weird visuals aren’t symbolic or allegorical in some form. In addition to telling the loose story, FLCL is full of pop culture references, homages to other anime, and even some American television as well, like South Park or The Matrix. It’s also intensely funny with the jokes and general insanity running alongside at breakneck speed.
But in between the the giant robot fights, Mamimi’s pyromania, the curry thing, and all the baseball references, there is a simple universal theme underlying all of this.
It’s about growing up.
Naota is a twelve year old just on the precipice adolescence. He tries his hardest to appear mature and nonchalant and often tries to act the hero, while on the inside, he’s likely burning with awkwardness and other feelings he finds difficult to handle— which is all relatable. His older brother, his girlfriend, and all the baseball metaphors are significant. Naota’s internal Freudian conflict upon observing his father and Haruko’s relationship is significant. In light of the theme, maybe the Crystal Pepsi doesn’t make sense, but it sure puts the image of Haruko in a Playboy Bunny outfit into perspective.
And this is ultimately why the series works so well. Because the theme is so simple and well understood, the OVA can afford to push the style characters and story. “Growing up” doesn’t require that much complexity and attention, and is basic enough to support all the madness surrounding it.
It’s easy to write off FLCL as a ridiculous anime, no plot, no complex characterization, just visual flair and no depth— and to an extent that’s true— but you don’t have to look too hard to see that it’s not completely random and plotless. It’s about simple truths as well as intergalactic space conflict with robots. It strikes an excellent balance between silliness and sincerity. It might not be for everybody, but don’t be too quick to judge the series. It’s wild and batshit, but if you can handle that, it’s thought provoking and a hell of a lot of fun. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
The studio has a tendency to run out of budget midway through production, but His and Her Circumstances looks like it had no budget to begin with. From the very first episode, most of the story is told with almost no animation, large kanji filling the screen (which isn’t translated in anyway in the dub, and left me feeling rather left out…), lots of chibi forms flying back and forth, little colors, no backgrounds, panned stills, and images pulled directly from the original manga. When the animation is in form, it looks nice, and they did a good job of translating the manga art into anime animation; the chibi’s are also really cute, but after a while it all gets a bit distracting.
Director Hideaki Anno (Evangelion & Nadia, the Secret of Blue Water) said the creative choices resulted from a shift in the tone and focus of the series, which was meant to be a “personal case study of relationships” with dialogue being emphasized over animation. This, in my own personal opinion, was pulled directly out of that magical place all BS comes from in an attempt to defend the ‘creative choices’ which really, just resulted from having no money.His and Her Circumstances would have been well animated, if it had the ability to; real-life location shots, recycled animation, cutting out paper dolls of the characters, attaching them to popsicle sticks, and zooming them across a screen are all creative ways to get around a low budget— and don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun to look at— but don’t praise it as excellent editing or some unique innovative style of story telling when it isn’t.
The music on the other hand, impressed me a lot, given what I was provided with to look at. The opening “Tenshi no Yibikiri” by Fukuda Mai sports the best animation of the series (as openings should), and the ending theme “Yume no Naka e” sung by the two lead seiyuu was adorably bubbly and catchy. The score was simple but diverse, ranging from upbeat and silly “ba-ba-ba-ba” jingles to slow and romantic piano melodies, with different variations of each piece to keep it from becoming too repetitive. There a lot of standouts, each reserved for their respective niche in the story, and were good enough to reuse in Evangelion apparently. -_-
The saving grace in the uneven technical quality was the story… when itwas actually telling the story.
His and Her Circumstances is one of the most realistic, honest, and enjoyable of the typical shoujo high school love stories out there. It begins in the typical way, in which can’t stand each other and eventually fall in love. But our heroine, Miyasawa, is admittedly a weird, self-loving, money-hungry, emotional rollercoaster of wierdo, and that’s what makes her so interesting. Her love interest is admittedly more typical— perfect exterior with a troubled past and emotional unstability— but the two provide good balance for the other.
The evolution of Yukino and Arima’s relationship through hatred and blackmail was entertaining, but His and Her Circumstances was one of the few anime I’ve seen actually continue the story after the guy gets the girl. Finally nabbing the crush after episodes of build up and delightfully entertaining romantic and sexual tension is usually the natural climax, and together they live happily ever after, but there’s a world of relationship problems and emotional discoveries to be explored once the two love birds actually do find each other.
This series does that, through their conversations and eventual discovery of each others’ true selves as well as their own. Despite being unable to say anything personally about relationships or being in love, His and Her Circumstances felt very organic; it really felt like these are conversations real couples would have, or through this course of events the relationship would evolve, etc.
Then His and Her Circumstances introduces new characters to its cast, equally weird and narcissistic as Yukino, and all the more entertaining for it. The story creates something different by taking generally unlikable people, giving them their own individual arcs, and turning the impossibly realistic interactions between them into comedic gold with actually funny high school slice-of-life gags to compliment the love story.
The dialogue, which Anno claimed to be at the forefront, was often very poignant and touching. Despite all the monologuing, it’s terribly honest. Part of the charm of the series is knowing exactly what each character is thinking as they work through their own insecurities and their growing bond with each other; it always felt very natural.
Wow, does the series like to waste a lot of time. The 26 episode run could have easily been condensed into 13 cutting down on the ‘dialogue’ it claims to focus on. Gainax stretched this one as far as it could go, employing all the cheats including several recap episodes (which is just unnecessary for a 26 episode series) and three minutes of exposition spouting the same spiel at the beginning of each act, just to reach a full season.
And pulling images from the manga and wasting time is the least of the show’s problems.
The anime series covers the first seven volumes of the original Kare Kano manga— a 21 volume series. Television series covering stories in publication usually gets a little sticky; either the anime runs over the 100 episode point (like Bleach), or it should find a decent stopping point and be somewhat self contained (like Fruits Basket). At it’s worst, the series just comes to a grinding halt with no proper ending in tact, and the answers and resolution are buried in the manga (like Skip Beat!). His and Her Circumstances unfortunately falls into the latter category, but the problems begin even before the end.
Kare Kano’s mangaka, Masami Tsuda, still did not know ultimately where the series would go while the anime was in production. In the mean time, Gainax took liberties with the story, focusing too much on the comedy interactions of the side characters and lost sight of the romantic premise promised initially. Upset, Tsuda refused to allow a second season, causing Hideaki Anno to quit half way through. The result is, the last third of His and Her Circumstances is terribly difficult to sit through. After being taken on by a new director, the difference in the already erratic style is very noticeable and all sense of joy disappeared from the series.
After it lost focus, His and Her Circumstances danced around different plot points, some entertaining but most pointless, building up a semblance of a climax before just…
And if there’s one thing I dislike, it’s investing time and energy into a series only to watch it screech to a halt in front of me and there’s nothing to be done about it.
For all the negative things I’ve said about it, I did enjoy His and Her Circumstances. Technical issues aside, it began as one of the best shoujo, slapsticky romantic comedy series I’ve seen, much in the same line as a more mature Kodocha, but to watch it dissolve into something so lifeless when it could have been so wonderful, was frustrating and heart breaking. If nothing else, it sparked my desire to pick up the original manga and find out how Miyazawa and Armia’s story ends. read more