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1 of 1 episodes seen
Ok, there are many reasons this is not a good movie, and I believe the fact that it is a WW2-inspired fantasy flick isn't one of them. It's the fact that it attempts to do things well, takes itself seriously (look at the official site), announces that loudly… and fails at executing nearly every single one of them.
Perhaps the most dreadful offender is the documentary shots that *interrupt* the brief moments of action that actually happens on the screen. They attempt to explain some of the surreal and nonsensical things, but do a piss-poor job at doing so. The most unintentionally ironic comment comes from one of the psychoanalysts who says that human brain is capable of producing hallucinogenic substances by itself under certain conditions, almost completely invalidating the testimony of some of the veterans who spoke about mystic events that have supposedly happened there.
They also attempt to build up the atmosphere of the war by sharing impressions of the veterans who fought there. But it looks so out-of-place it's not even funny. By this point people should know what WW2 is. Hell, they could have *seen* it in the movie if it did a better job at showing how bad it was! And trust me, fast-paced action sequences have little to do with it. Watch Elem Klimov's Come and See (Иди и смотри / Idi i smotri) for a very realistic war movie with very little action and nearly no gore that still manages to instill almost primordial sense of fear and desperation without the viewer actually having to experience the horrors of war firsthand. Or at least watch Grave of the Fireflies if you insist it be anime. It's not remotely as good, but it gets the job done quite well anyway. It might be laziness, it might be First Squad writers' incapability to tell things without saying them out loud, it might be something else — the result is anything but impressive.
I knew the movie was going to be nothing close to the music video that preceded it — in fact, I didn't even remember its content when watching the full-length feature. However, the fact that all the First Squad characters except the protagonist only appear in the movie for a few minutes came as a complete surprise. Obviously, none of them are developed — even the protagonist. Most of them don't even resemble people living in USSR in 30s/40s. The Russian/Soviet culture enjoys an undeservedly brief and ostentatious showing (I laughed at wooden toys, I still remember those) from time to time only to succumb to the real killers such as Zina's tank top below a winter coat. I wonder where she got it back in 1942! Nadya wielding, of all things, a *Japanese* sword using *Japanese* fencing techniques is not any less ridiculous. After all, we had a war with Japan at the beginning of the century, and fought against them again in WW2 — that's not to mention that techniques such as iaido are but completely useless against armored enemy… that is, pretty much every enemy Nadya fought with her katana. A fragile girl successfully deflecting strikes of a huge blade wielded by a muscular man in heavy armor while fighting in deep snow doesn't come off as a surprise after all that. I mean, we already brought up cliché occultism scenarios, complete disregard for anachronisms in design and logic in story development, so why not abolish laws of physics while we are at it? I won't even mention other small but important details that showed lack of professionalism on the part of designers and writers, it'll be a long and boring list that will only be required for the most ignorant out there to see the scale of failure on every level.
I'll touch the subject of art and sound quality briefly because there's not much to say about it. I've seen most of S4C's output, and I know they can do much better. But it's not bad by any means, it's just… average. Action scenes, where we actually get to see them, are acceptable if you don't count the amount of extremely unlikely scenarios, deus ex machina moments, and other tropes and banalities so common for your typical anime fare.
Oh, and one of the worst things to plague your viewing enjoyment is the fact that the movie starts abruptly, skips around a lot, and ends exactly as abruptly, leaving us with an idea of a sequel that is unlikely to ever come. There's neither coherence nor significance in everything that is shown. The whole thing just seems brainstormed and pieced together overnight. The perfect sign of an initially workable movie idea foiled by amateur writing. If there was any writing, of course. It looks like an anime movie made by anime movie fans that know how to make anime… but don't know how to make it good.
VERDICT: ambitious, but ultimately amateur fantasy flick that builds up a lot of hype and has absolutely nothing to show for it. 4/10, not enjoyable and not recommended to anyone, especially to those who are into war movies, historic events, or action in general… least of all to fellow former USSR residents.
Also, why is 4 "decent" while 5 is "mediocre"? That's pretty confusing, because this movie isn't decent, but is definitely below mediocre. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The introductory paragraph goes here. After reading the synopsys, you would probably think this movie was something for Studio Ghibli to create. And the truth is, it's not only obviously inspired by Miyazaki's [early] works, it feels more like the creators were moved by Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa, and Princess Mononoke so much they tried their best to recreate their story and some of the characters here. Which was a decision that both made the movie as good as it was, and ironically, hurt it the most.
The similarities are in fact so intense they are almost archtypal. We have a brave and self-defying main character, a confrontation between natural and industrial civilisation (with the usual "embrace the nature" underlying theme), and all the other themes seen commonly in such movies. It doesn't make it bad or uninteresting, but the glaring unoriginality and certain lack of proper explanation for many events that didn't quite made sense (up to the point when it leads me to believe the screenplay writer was so obsessed with some aspects of the storyline they decided to postpone the elaboration of the others until it was too late to elaborate anything) make me drop the score mark. It's good and fun to watch, but not anything we haven't seen before — more precisely, it contains zero original ideas, and it's good for the creators that they used good enough ideas to borrow.
To move on to the better aspects of the movie, let's say the animation is brilliant — and it really is. I would love to see a little more detail in character design, but the rest was very good: the landscapes were richly colored, the machinery was fluidly animated, and everything generally was a big treat for the eyes — especially in high definition version, which is the one I recommend to watch. To put it shortly, everything was made right and up to date — no complaints here.
Sound work was alright, but nothing to write home about. It blended well with the events and represented them fine, but wasn't otherwise memorable.
Character development is nearly nonexistant here, mainly because the characters themselves are so bland and uninspired. For that exact reason, and in order not to spoil anything, I will omit any further comments on that part. Let's just say I was really disappointed with them.
Overall, I don't remember any moments that really touched me or made me care a lot about the characters, but I can't say it wasn't enjoyable to watch it, either. As a whole, I regard this movie as a more-or-less worthy watch if you like Ghibli movies and would like to see similar stuff…
Or maybe you should rather watch the actual Ghibli movies instead? read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
First of all, as implied by the ending of the first season, FnK is a direct continuation of the story. Several new characters are introduced almost immediately, and, while I don't have anything against them, I'd like to point out that they (Agnes, particularly) take up quite an amount of screen time with their own subplots, leaving less for the overall story. However, that isn't dragged out for too long, keeping overall length of a show in mind. What comes as a good refreshment is some noticeable advance in Saito and Louise's relationship, during which several important questions are raised and decisions made. I won't elaborate to avoid spoiling.
Animation is done on a fairly high level, although it's not anything outstanding: characters are still undetailed and talk out one side of their face when shown in side view; many scenes lack smoothness — just like previously, all in all. Some scenes, particularly those of burning villages, are pretty nicely done. HD in this case is barely worth it, but on the other hand, lack of detail helps keeping the file size low (useless info for keepers).
Sound work doesn't differ from the first season at all, most themes are the same. They are fine, but still nothing really outstanding, memorable, or really touching. New opening and ending are somewhat enjoyable, definitely more so than those of the first season, IMO.
Characters… First of all, the previously known Academy residents (Kirche, Tabitha, Guiche, etc.) have much less screen time. Not sure if it's good or not; I'd certainly like to see them some more. New characters are more-or-less fine, although I can't help but think that some of them are of untraditional sexual orientation or otherwise odd. Siesta is still there, being apparently dumber than previously. Yes, everything for the sake of fan service. *sigh*
On the matter of fan service: what is particularly annoying about FnK is that the it has increased in quantity, but definitely not in quality. Saito's obsession over boobs might be funny, but it seems as if the screenplay writers put him in ecchi situations purposefully, without much concern for whether it makes sense in the story or not. You might even not notice it until the last episode, but there it will come screaming in your face regardless. Then again, the ending is rather ridiculous, anyway; seems like we'll have another bunch of weirdo newcomers in season 3. :D
All in all, with the 2nd season ZnT keeps being a good addition to your collection as long as you like harem and/or fantasy comedies, with a questionable amount of hit-and-miss fan service. Some will laugh, some might even cry, overall I think the 2nd season is almost as enjoyable as the first, barring the certain cheesiness. However, it might leave something to be desired when it comes to the story progression, so I sincerely hope they won't drag it out for too long. Any further decrease in pace coupled with further increase in fan service can easily ruin the show. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
Story? Well, you might as well forget it, since you won't get any for about 9 episodes in a row. Yes, it's almost a slice-of-life series about Dante being cool. That's right, it has pretty much less of a story than the series of video games the setting is actually based on! Furthermore, at several points, you get an impression that some general plot will emerge (it eventually does, but already after you lose all hope for it), but in the very next moment you have your expectations shattered without any back thought. You could probably even watch episodes 2—9 out of order and not notice any substantial difference. For that exact reason, you may not worry about spoilers when discussing this anime, it's impossible to spoil either what is already being obvious from the start, or something that doesn't exist. "4" is a generous mark here, much thanks to the universe created by the game series.
Oh yeah, Dante. As I said before, everything in this show is about Dante and the process of him being cool. He's so cool he transcends the meaning of the word "cool", like the epitome of coolness never seen since the cool came to cool town. He acts cool, he dresses cool, he eats only cool food (pizza, strawberry sundae, beer, nothing else), he has cool overpowered weapons, and even his name is cool. Unsurprisingly, every time he's up for the job, he always manages to do it, usually single-handedly — be it a bike race, gambling, or killing a several-stories-tall demon in a matter of seconds without even appearing to have taken effort in the process. Yet he always fails to complete his primary objective, usually because of some righteous reason. How impossibly cool! And even during that, he appears to be bored by stuff happening around him. Sounds like an excellent mascot for boys and girls raised on MTV and related lifestyle values, hmm? ;)
Even Alucard, who is about the closest character to Dante in both the setting and appearance, has deeper reasons for stuff he is doing (not to mention the existance of character development, which was simply thrown out of the window in DMC). Though I'm not sure, but I think the whole DMC TV series is done as a parody on the Hellsing TV series aired a few years ago. Even the episode names suggest some not-really-hidden self-irony (Showtime!, Stylish!, get the idea?).
The other characters are mainly there to support Dante by contrasting with him or showing how terribly they fail in comparison.
There is Morrison, who is old-fashioned, intelligent and an exemplary gentleman, almost fully opposite to Dante.
There is Patty, who is a cute loli girl whose only sensible role in the series is to provide brief sequences of comic relief, despite the screenplay writer struggling to show her significance. The writer inevitably fails — so hard that I want to pity them.
There is Lady, who is almost as cool as Dante, but still not so; which, however, doesn't prevent her from having more success at making money. But hey, if Dante doesn't do it, it must not be very cool, right?
Also, there is Trish, who is between Lady and Dante on the scale on coolness but is seen much rarely than either.
Lastly, there is that typical small fry demon who looks like a character significant for the plot, although you wouldn't want him to be. Well, he still is. You have to be a man and brace yourself. Or, if you're a woman, become a man and brace yourself too.
I can't say much about picture and sound. They both seem to be fitting and high quality in general, but as for animation, some scenes could have definitely be animated better (better as in actually animated — you'll see what I mean after you watch a few episodes), and the music lacks variety somewhat (almost all of it is mere variations on the three dominant themes). Oh, and if you decide to watch it, get the HD version if possible — it's worth it, if anything.
All in all, DMC is that kind of stuff you would want to watch when you have nothing else to, and you don't want to concern yourself with anything deep at the moment, either. And don't expect anything beyond that, otherwise you'll be disappointed in no time at all. Just get your beverage of choice, a pack of suitable snacks, and turn on your TV/software player. Alternatively, go play Quake 3 deathmatch, which has about the same amount of plot with ten times the amount of action and thrill. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
Code Geass is a good anime that I recommend to watch. However, it has its hits and misses.
Compared to many other anime items I've watch, Code Geass's plot twists and unfolds with shocking pace compared to the usually expected sluggishness found in most 20+ episode series. The 25 episodes of the first season would have been enough to supply like 75 episodes One Piece style (no offense to OP: I like it no less than Code Geass).
This, however, placed its toll on the story's coherence. Near the end, it might even become somewhat confusing, as if the authors looked at all the possible outcome scenarios and picked the most shocking ones, without paying much attention to how well they would fit. I can't confidently say if its a good or a bad thing, I guess we'll only know for sure after season 2. So far, I'd easily give it a 10 for pace and courage in plot twisting, but after seeing it all I think I'll place some penalty to emphasize that the story could use some more work when it comes to adequacy.
I'll be honest: I don't like CLAMP's character design, not even one bit. I'd prefer any Satoshi Kon's or Katsuhiro Otomo's movie characters to it any day. I like the characters to look realistic, and here I see typical bishounen boys and comparably cute girls. No wait, boys are apparently more cute here. Much so. Cause all of them look like, you know, androgynes. And size differences between, say, Lelouch's frame and Emperor's frame are shocking.
I'm actually surprised how can these boys even move so fast with those frail limbs.
Animation is very good, though, action scenes are fluid and detailed. Also, lots of blood, many deaths. Be aware.
Music is fast and catchy, very fitting for a story like this. I didn't like it much, though, except for the second opening starting midway through the series. Rest of the sound work is fine, if you don't count somewhat annoying voices and public domain samples used in several scenes.
Tough to say. On one hand, characters are active and vivid. On another, they can annoy you easily (easily!). Some characters could use more development, some abandoned their development whatsoever. Some you will wish didn't die, some you will definitely wish to have died.
What definitely contributes to my own displease is that the characters are very easy to make a decision no matter how major and complicated the matter is, which makes their actions seem less natural and more "eh, they totally saw that coming" throughout. Moreover, while many of the main characters' motives are deep and somewhat disturbing, all their thoughts are immediately relevaled, leaving less to think through and analyze, which makes it easier to understand than something like Evangelion, but at the same time detracts from long term enjoyability. There is little point in solving riddles when you're given an answer before you even have a chance to realize that.
Also, it looks like the entire cast of main and supporting characters was composed of Mensa members. You'll see what I mean when you watch it.
One undisputable factor such fast paced story usually contributes to is the thrill. That's right, Code Geass is thrilling, interesting and unpredictable, with numerous comedy elements, little fan service and fascinating action scenes. Just what I like in series like this. A well deserved 10 from me.
Code Geass is an enjoyable watch, clever and surprising. However, its story leaves something to be desired, in both possible senses.
Also, don't watch the Recaps together with the main episodes: they disrupt the pace without contributing any new content. Better use them instead of rewatching in case you want to refresh the memories of the events happened. Specials (the non-animated shorts) can be watched at any time, provided you won't watch them before the corresponding events in the main series. read more
6 of 6 episodes seen
If you're easily entertained by:
- cliche-ridden story;
- nonsensical amount of injuries (and blood loss) sustained by characters;
- pathetic sound effects;
- ugly character design;
- ridiculous screenplay and voice acting;
- bad fanservice;
- overpowered fighters and magicians beating the crap out of each other;
- the essence of MANLINESS furiously emanating from most male characters;
- the fact that most character/location/spell names are derived from rock/metal music bands (and yes, I'm being dead serious here);
- a sum of all the above,
chances are you'll like it and perhaps even regard it as one of the most entertaining OVAs ever. Yes, it was made for laughs, and it gets the job done perfectly in my opinion. Those with less developed sense of humor will rather think otherwise.
That's right, if you fail to be amused by Bastard!!, you will most likely not enjoy any other of its aspects. It's still an outstanding piece of crap from any serious standpoint, and don't blame me for not warning you beforehand.
And in conclusion, just to prove how delightfully bad it is, here's my favorite quote from ep 2:
Yoko: What are you going to do?
*green slime starts pouring from walls*
Gara: That's right, it's slime. It will dissolve your clothes. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Akira is a very controversial piece of art — but a piece of art regardless. It isn't easy to watch it, and it isn't easy to review it, either: Akira the movie is such an ambitious and influential project that grasping it in its entirety is far from being trivial.
Akira's story is among those where you need either high intuitive and perceptive abilities to understand everything that goes on, or to watch it several times. It doesn't really help that Katsuhiro Otomo stuffed almost 2000 pages of story into 2 hours of screen time, but at least the movie has considerably good re-watch potential, which might help to release part of the strain.
What we have is a post-WWIII Tokyo of not-too-distant future, led by greedy politicians and torn apart by terrorists trying to bring down the corrupt power and biker gangs that roam the streets. There is no usual hi-tech cyberpunk fantasies about living online, free information or global communication — just a demonstratively dystopic setting involving modern society abandoned to rot on its own. This is driven up further by the secret military experiments in attempts to magnify and control human psychic powers, which actually led to the WWIII in the first place. These social, political and semi-scientific, semi-mystical aspects mix and intertwine as a couple of teenagers get accidentally involved in all this mess.
Where Akira definitely wins is the art department, being a clear milestone in animation. It's been almost 20 years since its release, and I've yet to see many movies, especially anime, drawn with this amount of detail. There are very few still shots, every movement is scrutinized and animated at 24 frames per second, creating a remarkably fluid image. Dialogues are all lip-synched and everything looks as natural as it was possible to do at the time.
Character design can be called dubious, but personally I like it, since it's considerably truthful to actual real-life images, where people actually tend to have noses instead of some weird pointy bumps, and eyes that don't take half the entire face. Most of the characters are pretty much ugly, and it helps them match the gloomy setting really well. The only weak spot in it is considerably small difference in facial design, which is why some characters (especially younger ones) look similar to each other.
Sound and music
Akira is actually rather silent most of the time. However, when the sound plays, it's almost always highly dynamic and spot-on. Most of the soundtrack is dominated by industrial beats, minimalistic ethnic motifs and chants, and is intended to set the certain ambience in the movie, so you'll likely fail to enjoy it too much outside of it. But for what it's worth, the sound work is really good in the movie, especially considering the time of its production.
I can't say there's too much to it when it comes to characters. The movie's limited length (compared to manga at least) didn't leave too much for character development, so you mostly see more-or-less clear manifestations of certain archetypes rather than complex emotional and psychological twists, even though not all of them are simple to read through. Some appear initially negative but proven to be decent later, while others appear good at first but eventually show themselves to be corrupt.
Pretty much the only characters who let you get some insights into their backstory are Kaneda and Tetsuo, especially the latter. Both are almost equally confused by the events engulfing them (kinda like the viewer, actually), and it's very interesting to track their relationships throughout the movie.
This is a very subjective matter, but personally, Akira is one of the most enjoyable movies I've ever seen. It has a lot of shock value (assuming you're shocked by immense amounts of graphic violence), it has furious action, it has plot riddles, it has mystery, drama and horror elements, all presented in a coherent (but sometimes overly gruesome) manner. Some people regard Akira to be a gratuitous bloodbath, but there's much more to it than the amount of gore, it's just that those people are unable to look deeper than that. There is a lot of symbolism ingrained underneath the visual layer, and it takes some time and effort to find all the links to cultural and other contexts.
That being said, if you enjoyed watching it for the first time, chances are you will enjoy it the second time around, and probably even more at that. The final 20 minutes literally eat my head from inside every time I rewatch them, much like End of Evangelion or other similar movies. And for this alone I think it deserves its 10.
Overall, I'm still of the opinion that Akira is a masterpiece and deserves watching, whether you like anime (or any form of animation, actually) or not, at least for its great cultural and historic value. There are many movies and cartoons that are far more enjoyable, and it's not like Akira is the absolute limit of anything and everything. But as more and more titles surpass it in various respects, Akira stays like the Colossus of Rhodes, being a great achievement on its own and one of the most influential landmarks in the history of anime for years to come. read more