1 of 1 episodes seen
The story for the film was based off of one of the original Vampire Hunter D light novels, which proved itself to be more character-based than narrative based. If there is one thing noticeable about the story from within the first couple of minutes, it’s that it seemed as though the film, for at least the first 40 minutes or so, was trying to be several different films at once. Is it a spaghetti western? A Ghostbusters-style supernatural comedy? A dark and dense vampire romance-drama? Although the film scrambled to find a solid identity while trying to tell a coherent story, it managed to figure out what it wanted to be by combining all the aforementioned story types and having them interact with each other. What results from that is a narrative that is fascinating to watch, as these story types are all different from each other, but does not prove itself to reach the full kind of potential that it should have. A little messy, a little clever, but ultimately satisfying.
As I said before, this film is all about its characters, and fortunately for this film, all the central characters exude charm and style from beginning to end. The forerunner of all of this is is D himself, who is written with a stoic, almost Clint Eastwood-style of cool that makes him more and more of a mystery that the viewer tries to solve as the movie progresses. What is interesting about him is that he doesn’t take a single moment out of the film to explain his back story, yet has his past explained through interactions with a number of characters, allowing for the emotional resonance within those memories to cement its importance within the story. As an example, there’s a scene involving a shopkeeper that currently stands as my favorite scene in the film, primarily for how it’s written and how it explains a lot about the character without directly involving the character himself. D is an anti-hero that strongly represents the film as a whole: dark, mysterious, a puzzle, and fascinating to watch.
The rest of the cast also has their own role in making this film a bit of a surprise upon first viewing, and that’s bringing about questions about the vampire genre through character development. While these characters start out as usual archetypes for the supernatural vampire/hunter genre (the loner, the gung-ho leader, the tortured soul, etc.), they somewhat break out of that mold by the time the film ends, but not too much that it provides answers to some of the questions that their roles pose within the genre: Why change a human into a vampire? Why turn your back on your own kind?, etc. What this film manages to successfully do with the characters, though, is to develop them beyond just walking tropes and provide them with strong-enough personalities that, once their task in the film is done, they have left a good-enough impression on the viewer. The only exception to this might be the parasite that resides in D’s left hand, whose catty remarks often lead me to believe that those lines were ad-libbed by the actor and were not part of the original script.
And then there’s the art. My goodness, the art in this film. The entire style of the film was based on illustrator Yoshitaka Amano’s original art for the novels, which featured his trademark wispy ink work and androgynous individuals. Trying to adapt such a fluid art style may sound like a formidable task, but the animation studio Madhouse went above and beyond in allowing for his style to fit an animated format. As a result, the film is presented in a semi-realistic, but still characteristically anime style that has the potential to appeal to viewers who might not like anime, but enjoy horror and animation all the same. The character designs present the whole cast with distinct features without anyone looking out of place, all while putting them against lushly-detailed landscapes, both during the day and at night. There was one particular scene involving D, the hunter Leila, and a girl named Charlotte, that took place by a river near a forest that I wished could have lasted an extra 5 minutes just so I could look at the art a little more. If there is any reason for you to give this film a watch, it’s for the beautiful artwork and expertly-handled animation, some that I find to be vastly underrated amongst the pantheon of stand-alone anime films.
If the animation is the most impressive part of the film, then the sound and voice acting would, while not being the exact opposite, have to be the area that would benefit from the most improvement. Much of the soundtrack composed in this film is a mixed bag as far as its overall enjoyment goes. Some of the music does its job in accenting the excitement of certain scenes and nothing more, while others can be grabbing in how sonically powerful they can be. The latter is especially true for the last quarter of the film, which features an ominous choir joined by a powerful and gothic lead organ. The rest of the music, however, is mainly synthesized, which strongly contrasted against the high quality of the film’s artwork. The voice acting itself, which I listened to in English, was passable for the dub of an anime, but nothing superlative. However, it was interesting to hear people in a film that, while they are considered industry veterans now, were only really beginning to dip their toes in the water as far as the voice acting game goes with this film. While the dub certainly isn’t the worst to come out of the anime boom of the noughties, it isn’t one that would certainly convince people who prefer their anime subtitled that dubs can have their merits as well.
Despite its flaws, I ended up enjoying the movie a lot more than I thought I would. I first saw the trailer for this film over 10 years ago, and ever since then, I’d wanted to watch it because it intrigued me so much. When I finally sat down to watch it, I found that it was worth the wait, challenging my expectations with each scene and presenting me with some beautiful artwork to go along with it. This is a film that I don’t often hear in conversations about good anime films, but one that I wouldn’t immediately place on the same pedestal as anything Studio Ghibli has done. It’s a highly beautiful, but slightly indecisive, film where the strongest parts of the film have aged wonderfully and have made the film worth watching. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
I shouldn't be too harsh on judging the film's story, since this is an addendum to the series' story and doesn't necessarily have to be seen in order to understand the series' main plot. In fact, there really isn't a plot to speak of, since it is simply a conversation between Shiki and Mikiya, What is interesting about it, however, is that it acts as a sort of bookend for the entire series as a whole. The series begins with a meeting between these two characters, and if you include the epilogue in the series' main plotline, then that is where it ends. Normally, I would give the character and the plot two separate ratings, but in this case, they both share the same rating because this film is nothing but character interaction. I use the term "character interaction" loosely because Shiki's lines mainly consist of one monologue after another while Mikiya simply responds with a few sentences. The film might as well be renamed "Shiki Ryougi Waxes Philosophical for 30 Minutes" due to how much she speaks here. Luckily, what she has to say may prove to be very interesting to those who like the psychological aspect of the series. Keep in mind that if you decide to watch this, you should have a fresh idea of how some of the key elements of the series play out, because she refers to them quite a bit. Otherwise, you'll sort of feel detached from what she is saying, almost like you have never seen the series before. Her monologues also do stretch out longer than they should be and take them from a level of meaningful character analysis to melodramatic ramblings. Seeing how this is, once again, an added bonus to the entire series, do not watch this unless you have seen all of the movies, because you will be spoiled and confused. What the "story" and characters are able to do, they do well, but other than that, it's nothing special.
The animation is also nothing to marvel at in this film, which is a surprise, given studio ufotable's technical expertise shown in all of the films in the series. Seeing how the film only takes place in one location, I can understand that they were limited in their expression because of that, but they could have done more than place the camera on Shiki for a lot of the time. There were several opportunities in which the animators could show Mikiya's reactions to Shiki's monologues outside of the moments before it was his turn to speak. It could have been worse, though. ufotable could have been lazy and edited stock footage from the previous films in, but being true to their craft, they decided to animate as much as the could for the sequence. In contrast to the nearly-stagnant animation, the artistry held up very well. The characters looked as beautifully-designed as ever and you could see the lights on every individual building in the far-off city. Even for a half-hour sequence, ufotable did not give anything less than their best. Had it not been for the artistry of the film, the animation would have bothered me even more.
Rarely, I would describe the audio aspect of any form of visual media as hypnotic, but in this film, i can't help but feel drawn in by the hushed tones of the soundtrack and the voice acting. Keeping to the intimacy of the characters' conversation, Maaya Sakamoto give Shiki an almost motherly sound to her voice, sounding different than the two previous "Shiki" that she played throughout the series. She gives this "new" Shiki a wise, poised, and almost otherworldly personality. The sincerity in Kenichi Suzumura's Mikiya reciprocates that nicely, making him seem well-grounded and mature in front of this graceful, almost intimidating woman. Accompanying the film is several new pieces by series composer Yuki Kajiura, who does not approach the film with her usual theatricality, but with music as delicate as the snow falling around the characters. The ending theme is another Kajiura composition, "snow falling", performed by the songstress trio Kalafina. It is a version of the last instrumental piece to play before the credits, but features the group singing in the composer's signature "Kajiuran" vocalization style. Although the music seems tacked on to such a short film, the pieces that play are beautiful enough to be remembered.
The film treats its audience in a way that "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children" treats its audience. It expects the viewer to know every important aspect about the film in order to understand it. Watching this without having any recollection of the series' events will have you scratching your heads over "SHIKI and Shiki" and "what Touko Aozaki said". It's probably the main reason why people would want to give it such a low rating, but judging it as its own entity rather than as part of a whole spectrum would make it unfavorable to some. This film isn't reserved for those who watched the series in its entirety, but for those who watched it and relished every minute of it. Even if you qualify as one of those people, this is the kind of film to watch to say that you did, in fact, watch it, and that you have fully completed the Kara no Kyoukai viewing experience. You can say that, for you, the story has truly ended. read more
20 of 19 chapters read
The manga is brief, as it is only 19 chapters long with one extra story, but it drags the reader through so much. The manga's first two chapters set the stage for all the events that are to follow: a man's obsession with all things spiral-shaped, smoke that forms a spiral when it reaches the sky, the protagonist's boyfriend becoming paranoid over the mysterious activities that have been occurring in the small, sea-side town where the story is set, and so on. Once the main points of the story are established, Ito assumes that the reader is aware of the basics and takes a completely episodic approach with his storytelling until the last few chapters. Each chapter is dedicated to one object that is associated with spirals, notably snails and curly hair. He sometimes cuts corners with this concept, though, and dedicates chapters to mosquitoes and lighthouses (Apparently, his excuse for this is that they move around in spiral shapes). What the reader doesn't realize, though, is that this is all build-up for the conclusion of the story, making this one of the most depressing manga I have ever read. I won't say much to avoid spoiling you, but the spiral concept of the story becomes all the more encompassing. Part of the horror that comes from this story is obsession and giving in to that obsession. It comes from watching the gradual downfall of a once peaceful town that has its daily life completely transformed (no pun intended...oops) by the psychological breakdowns of its townspeople. It comes from some of the characters' realization of what is going on, screaming in fear that they don't want to die, and knowing that they not only do not have any control over the situation, but that they know that they will never be the same again. I could go on, but my point is that the horror in this is completely psychological, but this is not Perfect Blue we're talking about. The terror in this is slow and painful, making the story all the more engrossing and terrifying.
Another major part of the story's appeal is Ito's unique drawing style. You could probably read the manga just for the artwork and still gain some enjoyment from that...that is, if you don't suddenly close your book in shock. It's one thing to read in text what is going on and another to see it. The artwork magnifies the reader's imagination hundredfold and presents possibly the only way to visually express everything that Kirie, the protagonist, is experiencing. Some of the scarier images include Shuichi's father rolling up his tongue into a spiral, half-human/snail hybrids, an army of pregnant women with blood-stained drills, and the lost souls that are the townspeople of Kurozu-cho who have resigned to the fate of "becoming one with the spiral", so to speak. That's not even half of the grotesqueness that the art has to offer. Some of the less scary art, such as the spiral-shaped grass and amusingly-spiraled hair, are cool to look at, but at the later points in the chapters, those only serve as distractions from the horror contained within the story. My favorite aspect of the art, however, is the fact that some of the worst images are usually hidden as two-page spreads beneath some of more harmless panels on the previous page. It's almost as if Ito is daring the reader to look on to the next page. One prominent example can be found in the "moon scar" chapter, and you'll know what I mean once you read it. That sort of suspense made the manga all the more thrilling to read. The art is not only creative and nice to look at, but adds its own layer of horror to the story.
I feel bad for the characters in the story. I really do. By the end of the manga, they almost become completely different people. Even Kirie, who seems to consistently remain pure and untainted by the spiral's allure, has trouble facing some of the greater moral choices that she has to make during the story. She is always exposed to some kind of human flaw that is caused by the spiral's influence, such as vanity and lack of motivation. Because of how consistent Kirie remains through all of this, she seems almost like a Mary Sue character. Normally, this can be harmful to character development, and it is in some cases, but in the world of Uzumaki, her innocence is a virtue. She is spared from experiencing the same kind of insanity and corruption as her peers, and yet she has to witness everything first hand. At the same time, it seems like that that is her form of corruption, watching her family, significant other, and the people of her home gleefully give in to the madness surrounding them. Although that is not a form of character growth in the most traditional sense, the characters are growing based on the events happening to them rather than conjuring some kind of growth based on dialogue and interaction. Uzumaki has a very isolated form of character development that occurs in the foreground due to the highly-detailed story elements that take center stage.
Before I finish, I would like to state that this is a review for a manga that I read last, for the first time, in June 2011. The story, imagery, and overall package that this manga contains has stuck with me since. I still get chills from this manga whenever I get flashbacks to it. I might have even experienced a few nightmares from this story a short while after reading it, but my memory of that is a little hazy. Leave it to Junji Ito to take some of the most insignificant things that we take for granted and enlarge them into things to avoid with dread and disgust. If you are looking for some great Lovecraftian horror to sink your teeth into for Halloween, or anytime for that matter, look no further than this manga. Just be weary of any escargot on the menu next time you eat at a fancy restaurant. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
This movie's story couldn't be more straight-forward. It's a simple fantasy tale that, despite not being a two-hour epic like Miyazaki's movies, tells an incredibly coherent story that's easy to follow for anyone. I think the key to enjoying this movie lies in the fact that the viewer needs to take what is presented before them as it is. There is no point in wracking your brain for any sort of in-depth, universal message in this movie because there really isn't one. I have a feeling that this is where people dismiss the movie as "weak" when compared to Ghibli's other efforts. The film's message has no more depth than your average Disney animated film ("believe in yourself"), which seems sort of tagged on at times thanks to one of the characters saying that several times over the course of the film. If you try to watch the film based on that message alone, you won't get much out of it, though there are elements of a coming-of-age story buried beneath the film's fantastic adventure and splendor. The story is something that should be appreciated at face-value rather than something that could be measured up to one of Miyazaki's films. On its own, the story is simple enough to almost be boring, but the witty humor (which is actually quite well done) and interesting characters make the story one well-worth being told.
Speaking of characters, it would be harsh to say that these characters are two-dimensional, but, then again, the movie's suspension of disbelief works well enough to make me believe in a talking cat. While these are not the most realistic characters in Ghibli film history (again, talking cats), there's a human warmth to each of them that makes the viewer support the heros and sympathize the villain. In a fairy-tale-esque story like this, it would be easy to separate the heroes and villains into black and white, but even the villains' chaotic deeds are lined with good intentions and the heroes aren't all that heroic to begin with. The main character, Haru, sort of belongs in the middle ground because of how indecisive her personality was to begin with. The characters' distinct personality traits also make them easy to recognize. You could probably summarize each character in one sentence without saying which species they are. They're also all very likable, including the villains' lackeys, which almost never happens to me when watching an anime. Maybe its Baron's gentlemanly poise or The Cat Prince's nobility that do the trick. Or maybe it's just as easy to get lost with the characters as it is to escape in the world they live in. Normally, I would say that not adding enough depth to these characters is a missed opportunity, but with characters like these, heavy, three-dimensional character depth almost becomes unnecessary. For the world that they're created in, the amount of warmth and depth they have is just enough.
Do I really need to go into the art for a Studio Ghibli film? It's almost a given that if you're going to watch a Ghibli film, you're going to be handed some gorgeous visuals along with a decent story. While this is by no means the studio's best artistic effort, a handful of scenes really stand out in terms of artistry, such as the introduction of The Cat Kingdom and Haru's search for "the big, white cat" at a busy shopping centre. The latter especially stood out in my mind, since the artists put great detail in making sure that every piece of lettering on the signs by the shops were legible. As for the character designs, Haru's is noteworthy to me even though she is supposed to be an average Japanese student with average looks. She looks like a cat to me, which makes me wonder if that was an intentional character trait on the artists' parts of if that's just a conclusion that I came down to on my own. Aside from the fact that they walk on their hind legs from time to time, the physiology of that cats is really well done. It even shows when they fold their paws in as they stand up. The overall artistic atmosphere will feel familiar to you if you've seen movies like "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland" or "Catnapped!" without the trippy visuals. For a movie that was made at the dawn of the new, computer-colored anime age, the animation is refreshing and vibrant.
Over the years, Disney has built up a reputation for having top-notch dubbing in the English versions of Ghibli films, and this one was no exception. The flow of the voice acting hardly made the film sound like I was watching an anime at all. It didn't even sound like the voice actors went into the studio thinking that they were going to dub an anime feature. For the majority of the characters, the English voices matched the characters well. I thought Haru's voice was a little deep at first, but I got used to it eventually. Baron having a dapper British accent made his character all the more likable and Muta, the fat cat, even sounded like he was fat and boorish. It's easy to hear in the actors' voices that they not only put in the effort to try to match their voices to the characters' lips, but they sounded like they had fun taking on the challenge.
The music didn't stand out a lot of the time for me, but when it was noticeable, it was worth listening to as a separate piece of music. The soundtrack even strayed into neo classical territory at times, especially during scenes in the Cat Kingdom. Straying from the film's orchestral soundtrack, the ending theme song is an incredibly upbeat and catchy pop song led by one woman and her ukulele. You'll have to drink a couple of bottles of brain bleach in order to get that one out of your head. The audio aspect of the film couldn't have been more satisfying to me.
I don't know what it is about this movie that made me enjoy it so much. The story, characters, and the world they live in are simple enough that this movie seems to be tailor-made for children and their families, yet there's a certain spark about it that made me cheer on for the characters and leave me in shock if they were ever in trouble. That's probably it: the innocence of this story was what drew me in. The magic is in its simplicity. There's nothing hidden beneath it and there's no reading between the lines. It's just a good movie with a good plot and nothing more. Sometimes Ghibli films need a break from their reputation as animated epics with hard-hitting moral messages. Sometimes you just need to escape into a world of fantasy without the weight of philosophy on your shoulders. And if that fantasy world is filled with cats that stand on their hind legs and talk, so be it. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The Time of Eve is a café hidden well beneath the towering skyscrapers of Japan in the near future. As the customer opens the door to the café, a bell rings signaling their arrival. The atmosphere is quiet and cozy save for a little girl running around and calling herself a cat. A couple cuddles with each other and whispers sweet nothings into each other's ears. A man is sitting on a couch reading a book. With a bright smile, a woman greets the customer and welcomes the customer into their second home. With an order, the customer asks for a coffee to be brought at their table. It is warm, fragrant, and sweet. Before the café owner leaves, she asks that the customer treats every as equal. Of course, the customer would be happy to oblige...but for some, this is easier said than done, especially when that customer lives in a world where he or she is taught that humans will always be superior to robots.
This is Time of Eve: The Movie, a film that rightfully deserves more recognition as one of the more superior anime films based on pre-existing TV anime and/or OVAs. The way the café is portrayed in the film could be an appropriate metaphor for the film as a whole. It's a quiet movie that slid under the radar of most anime fans, but through the help of some outside sources, my interest in the movie was piqued. Keep in mind that I did not watch the Time of Eve OVAs prior to watching this film, so whatever knowledge I have of the series is solely based on the film.
One of the greatest achievements of the movie's story is that it makes the viewer grow along with the protagonists. I noticed myself warming up to the androids as much as the main characters did and felt a brief, small sense of betrayal when I found out which characters were androids. I think that that is part of a test that the movie is trying to bring upon the viewers as well as the two main characters, Rikuo and Masaki: try to get to know a person not by what they are, but who they are. The fact that this mirrors the way judgement is clouded in the real world by racism, homophobia, and other forms of prejudice is almost chilling. The robots even have rings over their heads so humans can identify them as such. If those rings were to be eliminated, no one could tell one from the other. The movie takes most, if not all of its time to make the main duo divert from the public norm and start embracing these robots as their companions rather than furniture.
Another thing about the movie that caught my eye is that there are prevalent occurrences of television advertisements in the movie as distributed by the "Ethics Committee" that keeps a strict watch on all robot activity. The Committee airs these advertisements in an attempt to drill into people's heads that robots are machines and nothing more. This sort of "Big Brother" influence that the Committee has in the movie gives the world it takes place in an almost dystopian feel, making the secluded café a more precious setting than one should expect.
As for the main characters themselves, Rikuo's development into his final opinion on the robots is more or less straight-forward, making him a sort of bland character, but Masaki proves to be the one to have more difficulty handling the situation, making him the more complex character between the two. The different levels of development eventually balance the two out, giving them enough chemistry to add dramatic flair to some of the film's more heart-wrenching scenes. The moral conflicts between the two, in addition to the other characters' moral support, make for a story that's just as touching as it is introspective.
For an anime film that was released only a year ago, the animation isn't astoundingly beautiful, but there are some parts of the film that are nice to look at, like some of the computers when put into use and the inside of some of the buildings in the city. Some pieces of the café are rendered in CGI, which doesn't look bad when placed next to the 2D characters and makes for some interesting camera angles, but it's pretty obvious that those pieces are done in CG. The fact that the film is colored in an almost monochromatic tone makes for some slightly uninteresting animation. The animation isn't bad; it's just a little bland. This is a movie that you should try to watch for the story more than the art.
I was pleasantly surprised by the voice acting in this movie. Half the cast doesn't sound all that anime-esque, which made the performances all the more believable. The right voices were chosen for each of the androids in the movie, down to some of the older models that were featured. It made the older robots sound human, but detached enough to make them sound like they don't know how to carry on a conversation with another being. There's more of a layer of realism in that than the newer, more human-looking androids. Some of the more comedic scenes have some of the most rapid-fire conversation I've ever heard in an anime. It was almost like the characters were having a tennis match with their words. Speaking of which, the scene where Akiko is introduced is something that must be seen to be believed. While the voice acting is good, the soundtrack is distractingly unbalanced. Some of it is good, but the synth in it is so blatant that it tries to make some of the most touching moments seem melodramatic. Fortunately, the ending theme is performed by Kalafina, who are also known for performing the theme songs to the Kara no Kyoukai films and both seasons of Kuroshitsuji. The song is rather pleasant and the lyrics tie in to the main theme of the film well. If it weren't for the soundtrack, the audio would have been ranked a point higher.
I really want to give this film a 9, but i can't seem to find it in my heart to do so. Looking back at this film, I know I'm going to remember it, but not well enough to make me say, "Wow, was that a great film,". Even though this is cliché, to answer the film's eponymous question, "Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?"...
Yes, yes I did, but it don't think I'll be coming back for a while. Maybe I'll like it more when I do decide to visit it again. Only time will tell. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
For those of you who aren't well-versed in the Vocaloid fandom and don't know what the hooplah is about, here's a brief history: Black★Rock Shooter started out as an original character by the artist huke. A Vocaloid song producer named ryo saw some illustrations of B★RS and thought that she looked like a dark-haired Hatsune Miku. One song and music video later, B★RS was introduced to the Vocaloid fandom with positive reactions. The song, video, and character became worldwide hits, which in turn spawned the OVA.
With an action-packed trailer for an OVA based on a great song, one would think that the anime would be an entertaining fantasy adventure, right? The results are quite far from that.
So, here we are...Black★Rock Shooter: a slice-of-life anime involving the relationship between two best friends. I'm not kidding: that is the core of the story. If you strip away all the hype surrounding the anime, this is what the anime really is. It's nothing that avid anime fans haven't seen before. To make sure that what the viewer is watching is in fact an OVA about Black★Rock Shooter, various scenes involving a death match between her best-friend-turned-nemesis, Dead★Master, have been thrown in. For most of the OVA, the scenes from the slice-of-life side and the fantasy side of the story seem irrelevant, despite the fact that the two fantasy characters bear striking resemblances to the real world characters. It's only during the last 10 minutes of the OVA that the director decides to slap on some logical reason as to how these 6 characters connect. Because of how the story is structured, there is a lot of guess work needed to be done about the relationships between all these characters: Why does Black★Rock Shooter's world look so desolate? How did Dead★Master become evil in the first place? And so on. The OVA brings up more questions than it does answer them. The storytelling technique of two or more stories intertwining can either fall under brilliant or gimmicky/messy. Anime like Baccano! perfect this technique. Guess which category this OVA falls under? I hope A-1 Pictures decides to animate more OVAs to clear up the plot holes in this one.
The art was the only thing that prevented me from dropping the OVA (along with the hope of things eventually getting better). When I saw the trailer for the OVA, I thought it looked terrible and hoped that it would get cleaned up eventually. At least that one expectation was reached. The pleasant, pastel look of the real world was a good contrast against Black★Rock Shooter's seemingly post-apocalyptic world. It also looks more gothic than I imagined it would be, with cross-shaped graves and a barren church populating the action scenes. The character designs are also interesting and distinct. Even characters such as Mato's brother and the detective stand out from the rest of the cast. The main characters are the most appealing, since the story focuses on them. The animation is especially nice in some scenes, including Mato dangling Yomi's cellphone charm and the action scenes in Black★Rock Shooter's world. If you're going to watch the OVA for one thing, make it the animation.
The sound was just as good as the animation. supercell, ryo's band, provides a nice mix of orchestral cues and hard rock music for each setting. ryo's use of the piano is a trademark in his music, so you'll be hearing a lot of that in the more dramatic scenes. He even manages to throw in homages to the song the OVA is based off of in some of the soundtrack to give the music a more thematic feel. The insert song also sounds nice, but the eniding theme might take a few more listens in order to get used to it. The voice acting is decent at best. The character's voices weren't as annoying as I thought they would be, but there's nothing special about them, either. Miyuki Sawashiro as Yomi stood out the most for me. The way she spoke gave the character a sort of elegance that brought to mind Rue from Princess Tutu. There is also the case where the fantasy characters don't speak at all (except for Black★Rock Shooter at the end), a very interesting move on the writers' and director's parts, but it does nothing to help with their side of the story.
As for the characters...where do I begin with them? If the writers wanted to turn Black★Rock Shooter into this kind of anime, there really should have been more attention paid to developing the characters in both settings instead of just one. What form of development we get is very weak and underwhelming. The development in the real world setting is alright, but more could have been done to make the viewers care more about the characters. In Black★Rock Shooter's world, there was next to no development between B★RS and Dead★Master. It seemed as if they were there only to appease the fans that were waiting a year for this to come out. Although the problems occurring in both worlds are similar, they exist as two separate entities that would eventually connect in the end. That's not an excuse to abandon the development of one set of characters in order to develop another set. The fantasy characters were there as fanservice and a weak way to move the story along. The character development was what really dragged down the OVA, not the story.
Like a handful of people that were awaiting the OVA, I was surprised to notice that the OVA not only failed to reach my expectations, but seemed to abandon my expectations altogether. Given the nature of the Black★Rock Shooter character and music video, I was expecting an action-oriented OVA that used the character's world and design as a framework to help develop the story. I really thought that she was going to get an actual personality and a decent backstory. I ended up getting something else. I really was let down, not because I didn't get the kind of anime I wanted, but because the effort put into this project was so shallow. If you've been waiting to watch this OVA like I have, don't waste your time. If you just so happen to be wanting a slice-of-life/action hybrid in your anime-watching diet that'll kill a lazy afternoon, then I guess you can go ahead with this anime. It's mediocre, but it's not the worst anime ever. Again, I hope a few more OVAs will be made to clean up the mess this one has made. read more
27 of 27 episodes seen
The story of Gurren Lagann was inspired by the giant robot shows of long ago. Despite that, the show takes concepts and themes that avid fans of the genre know well and executes them in ways that make them seem fresh and new. This almost makes it seem like you're being introduced to the mecha genre all over again. I'd also like to point out that the anime is divided up into two halves, making it seem like you're watching two different anime. The first half of the series sets everything up for the second half, which provides most of the substance for the story. Those halves eventually connect with each other through various scenes, with the second half clearing up any plotholes that may have been brought up in the first half. This excuses the thinness of the first half's plot as the story progresses. Speaking of which, the story isn't without its flaws. Since the series is based on old school mecha anime, it occasionally borrows chiches and recycled plot points from said genre (i.e. save the universe, save the hero's girlfriend, transforming robots, etc). Even with the way the story is executed, these aspects of the plot can't be avoided by those that are well-acquainted with the genre. The series also makes plenty of use of drills as symbols to help move the story along, such as going from the main character's lowly tool as a digger to an object of strength and hope as well as coupling with the series' recurring theme of history repeating itself. Gurren Lagann may not have the strongest plot, but for an anime like this with a lot more things going on, a light story is decent enough.
If Gurren Lagann's story isn't strong enough to stand on its own, then the events of the series have no other choice than to be supported on the shoulders of the characters. I don't think I've seen a more likable cast of characters in an anime. Just like the story of the series, the characters of Gurren Lagann are based on previous character archetypes seen in previous mecha and GAINAX anime: the busty female lead, the shy hero, the animal sidekick, etc. These archetypes aren't exactly played straight, proving that there is more to this anime than meets the eye. The character development doesn't really start until after a devastating turn of events in the series. It's then that these characters really start to change. The bashful hero gains the spirit of a lion, the female gunslinger acts as an older sister to the cast, and so on. Even Nia, a character who appears later on in the series' first half, has the makings of a Mary Sue character but defies that character trope by being a total airhead. Like I said earlier, the second half of the series is like a different anime, down to the characters that you come to know during the first 16 episodes. These character changes may cause you to like certain characters that you didn't like before and vice versa. The characters may not be realistic or complex, but they fit nicely in Gurren Lagann's energetic world. They're the heart of the show, the kinds of heroes you might have looked up to as children, and the ones that make the show as lively as it is. Don't be surprised if you find yourselves cheering for them until the end.
The animation in Gurren Lagann is nothing short of outstanding. GAINAX has proven once again that they are the go-to studio for producing high budget mecha anime. The epic feel of the show comes from the high production quality of the animation. The buildings and the rocky terrains don't feel like drawings done on paper, but a living, breathing world that the show takes place in. The battles that take place every few episodes or so are so well-choreographed that they all feel like the climatic battles that take place in every mecha series. The final battle, however, is an event of universal proportions. Despite this show being an animated work of fiction, the sheer scale of this battle is overwhelmingly large, and it is as epic and grandiose as everyone says it is. The series even switches art styles every now and then to set the mood for certain scenes. These shifts may seem random, but they're done for the sake of the story. The art style in general is very cartoony. With a show as ignorant to logic and reasoning as this, that kind of style might be the only way to capture the events of the series. The character designs couldn't be more representative of what the anime style is, but they're so distinct that you can describe a certain character to someone based on appearance and that person could probably guess who that character is. The robots also have interesting designs themselves and often represent the kind of people piloting them. In short, if you ignore the wart that is episode 4, the animation in Gurren Lagann is flawless.
Iwasaki Taku has to be the most overrated anime composer within the last decade. With that said, I find the Gurren Lagann soundtrack to be highly overrated and overpraised. I admire the soundtrack's variety, but the majority of the tracks featured in the show are forgettable. Whatever few gems can be found on the soundtrack truly shine, such as the triumphant "Pierce the Heavens with Your XXX". Viral's theme sounds very much like a scrapped Linkin Park song. It's interesting at first, given that the band's music is often used in AMVs, but it gets annoying very quickly. The opening and ending themes for the show also grow stale very quickly. "Sora-Iro Days" eventually reveals itself to be a dime-a-dozen mecha anime theme song and the ending themes aren't to my liking, since I'm not all that into punk rock music. Although the soundtrack is just o.k. on its own, the music succeeds in highlighting the series' more important events.
Having only viewed Gurren Lagann in Japanese with English subtitles, I found the voice acting to be generic and just passable. There were several stand-out performances scattered across the series, but nothing really worth noting. Seeing as how I'm used to women voicing shy young boys, I was a bit surprised to hear Kakihara Tetsuya voice Simon in both parts of the series. He managed to give two different performances while adding subtle details to ensure that they were both the same character. I was also expecting Nia's voice to be extremely high-pitched, but it was soft and pleasant, a nice change of pace from all the other "moe" characters I'm used to watching. One problem that I did find with the voice acting is that the constant repetition of catchphrases helped in no way to develop the characters or advance the plot. It was as if the writers had various cases of Writer's Block and decided to stick some catchphrases in if they couldn't think of ways to continue the story. The phrases made their impacts the first 3 times they were said; I really didn't need to hear the words "Who the hell do you think I am?!" 5 more times. The audio aspect of the show was passable at best.
Gurren Lagann may be one of the best anime epics to come out in recent memory, but saying that it'll stand the test of time like Evangelion and Gundam may be a bit of a stretch. It may not be as huge of a hit in 5 years as it is now, but it does have the makings of a truly memorable anime. If you're planning on jumping into this show, be prepared to throw any sort of real world logic out the window. That doesn't exist in the world of Gurren Lagann, and that's what makes the show as fun as it is. If you want to witness a large-scale anime experience, the key word being "experience", then I recommend this anime. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
The story of Scrapped Princess is very RPG-inspired; gamers who are familiar with the genre will feel right at home with this anime. The first half of the series is light-hearted, dedicating its episodes to introducing the characters and establishing the main plot. The second half of the series is much darker, with plot twists and turns every so often, character developments, and in-depth looks at the villains' schemes. As I watched it, I couldn't help but feel that I was playing an above-standard RPG. Don't let that distract you from the experience, though. Not only does the story take place in a world of its own, but little clues are planted here and there in the dialogue to establish the period of time it takes place. They're kind of hard to miss. All the characters are pretty much likable, despite their flaws. Overtime, they start to grow on to you, making some of the major moments of the series more memorable. The story, overall, is well paced and brings everything together into one satisfying conclusion.
The art is what one would come to expect from BONES studios (Fullmetal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club, Soul Eater). The colors are vibrant and the character designs cheerful and, in some cases, cute. They work well for the first half of the series, but at first, feel out of place during the series' apocalyptic second half; You tend to get used to them after a while. The animation shines during the action and fight scenes, but when the scene is simple, such as a conversation between two characters, the animation tends to be a bit stoic except for some wind blowing. This issue only occurs for several episodes, though. The positive side of that is that the animators are focused more on making this series look beautiful, which they have accomplished. The art in Scrapped Princess is truly a feast for the eyes.
The audio in this anime didn't really shine as much as I expected it to. The soundtrack overall isn't memorable, but the orchestral compositions soar during the more climatic moments of the series. The music is fitting, but it doesn't make me want to go buy the soundtrack. The series' opening theme "Little Wing" by JAM Project has a nice Celtic-inspired intro that quickly makes the transition into an upbeat Pop/Rock song (with vocals provided by Masumi Okui). The song is all right as an intro to this series, but the song itself is good. It's one of those songs that grows on you. Same with the series' ending, "Daichi no la-li-la" by Yoko Ueno and Masumi Itou. The brass at the beginning of the song makes it seem old fashioned, but then this song proves that this is no ordinary J-pop song. The singers' canons fit well into the song (and it's darn catchy too!) and the song itself fits the fantasy/adventure fell of the show well. I watched the English dub of the series, and I was once again impressed at the effort put forth by Bang Zoom! Entertainment to make this dub sound good. This show has an all-star cast, starring voice actors such as Kari Wahlgren (Pacifica Cassul), Crispin Freeman (Shannon Cassul), and Steve Blum (Luke Storm). They each took their roles and made them their own. At times I felt like I wasn't even watching a dub of a show from Japan. The dub has to be one of the best parts of the show.
Scrapped Princess is one of the most pleasant surprises I've seen in a long time. I really wasn't expecting much from the show, but I really enjoyed it. If you're not satisfied with any anime you're currently watching, give Scrapped Princess a try. I guarantee you that it will not disappoint. read more