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Nick's Anime Update - May 11, 2007

Hasn't been too long since I've done one of these, but I probably should force myself to do this at least once a week. I'll try for every Friday evening, if possible.

Well, here's the list! (Oh, possible spoilers ahead!)

Movies Watched

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

I've mentioned this one before, but after around the 4th rewatch, it still hasn't lost its appeal on me. A highly recommended slice-of-life shoujo with a 3D and likable lead character. I hope to have a full review of this one by tomorrow.

 

Paprika

I was rather pumped up to see Satoshi Kon's latest work, but Paprika ended up underwhelming me somewhat. Sure, many of the individual sequences were brilliant, but the movie as a whole lacked any sort of cohesiveness with me (which is a common issue I have with Satoshi Kon's previous work) and, even worse, none of the characters really appealed to me (which wasn't a problem with his previous work).

I will still see it in theaters, though, if it shows in town.

 

Mind Game

This 2004 animated movie by Studio 4°C seemed to have floated under the radar for many anime fans. And probably for good reason, as this outright amazing movie is very hard to chew on for most. The animation style ranges all over the map, from simplistic and flat to photorealism to outright surrealism, though I thought the animation style always fit the internal states of the characters and circumstances. Yet, this is a series that I think more viewer should see. This coming-of-age story of a budding manga meets God (and believe me, as an athiest, I thought that this was the most brilliant representation of the entity that I've seen!) and goes of on an incredible adventure that included a car chase with Yakuza and being swallowed by a whale.

 

Finished Watching

Ghost Hunt - Episode 14-25

This adaptation of Fuyumi Ono's series of novels is quite similar in one respect like her other rather famous series of novel, The Twelve Kingdoms: They both end with you wanting more! I'm more certain that there will be a continuation of Ghost Hunt, though I don't have any real proof of such.

This series starts of a bit slow and understated, but does feature some memorable scenes early on (That porcelain doll... *shiver*). The horror aspects really hit their strides at the midpoint, though, with the most frightening being the second-to-last arc, termed "The Blood-Soaked Maze". The main protagonist experiences a very horrific act in this one, one that creeped me out for a while. I guess it's my fault for watching these episodes late at night, but hey, that's the best time to watch horror-mystery shows, no? In addition to the horror aspects, it seems Fuyumi Ono has done some research on paranormal activity and history, from making a connection to Vlad the Impaler, to E. Tizane's categorizations of poltergeist manifestations. I hear the manga is a treasure trove of such information for those interested in such stuff.

More importantly to me than the story arcs and information given are the characters, and Ghost Hunt definitely contain some of the most varied mixed of different enjoyable characters. From Masako the TV-star spirit medium, Ayako the adult Shinto miko priestess, "Bou-san" the Buddhist monk who's day job is playing bass for a band, John the young Australian Catholic exorcist priest, and Lin the quiet and mysterious assistant, all of the supporting characters were immensely likable to me. But I was most focused on the like/hate relationship between the two leads, Mai and Naru. Mai swings between swooning for Naru and openly disliking his ego, but I whole-heartedly enjoyed her character. Naru is cold and critical on the surface, but he is extremely methodical and insightful in the paranormal cases he takes, and does pay full attention to the safety of the people working with him.

In addition to the Mai and Naru link is the atmosphere of the entire group together. In contrast to the often dark, horrific, and dangerous atmosphere of their settings, seeing the characters together gives a feeling of warmth and protection. There's never any arc-long sub-plots where they are at each other's throats (though spirit possessions do happen); instead, they work together and watch out for one another. They do have their smaller squabbles (Masako's and Mai's vie for Naru's attention, Bou-san and Ayako's disputes over their abilities), but they always put them aside when the situation gets serious. This is one of the most erratic collection of people that I've seen work together in an anime where it feels natural. That highly impresses me.

 

Currently Watching

Claymore - Episode 5-6

This series switches gears in Episode 5, bringing in another claymore in "Theresa of the faint smile". She's even more blunt and slightly contemptuous to the humans she saves from the youma than Clare is, and is said to be the strongest warrior in the organization. Towards the end of the episode, we learn that the young girl that Teresa gains as a tag-a-long is most likely a young Clare. The first half of the 6th episode was getting a bit too sappy for my tastes (And young Clare isn't much better than Raki, apparently), but the second half was something else in my eyes! What happened here was quite unexpected, given what I learned about the claymore organization.

Oh, to check on something, I rewatched the end of Episode 1. Unfortunately, that didn't quite give me much information.

 

Lucky Star - Episode 4-5[img_assist|nid=2080|title=|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=200|height=112]

I have to admit, this one is growing on me. Especially Konata's obsession with her MMO, and her comment when she watching Haruhi (About halfway through episode 4). But having her teacher scold her through while they were playing together in that MMO nearly got me falling out of my chair while laughing! And the reactions of the other girls while she talks of tanking and AOE spells was just right. It is definitely amusing enough for me to continue watching.

The director had changed for episode 5, and the change is fairly subtle but noticeable to me. The first four episodes were very erratic. The fifth episode had a much better flow, with the girls actually going to a summer festival. The pointless everyday conversations are still there, but I am definitely enjoying the reduction of ADHD in the main episode. I also found the Lucky Channel segment to be a bit better than the others.

 

Rocket Girls - Episode 3[img_assist|nid=2082|title=|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=200|height=112]

Okay, so I have to eat my words in the previous entry when I said that "it does seem to pay better-than-average attention to silly concepts like physics", but that still doesn't mean this series is not fun to watch. I really do like how an early potentially season-long subplot is resolved right in episode 2, and it already had several amusing moments. I am glad I started this one, and will definitely be continuing it.

 

Rewatching

Berserk - Episode 1-17

The music from Paprika plus the gruesome action from Claymore has inspired me to rewatch this classic shounen series (Classic? it's only 8 years old, no?). Though it looks rather unpolished[img_assist|nid=2081|title=Caska|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=200|height=149], even for a 1999 production, to me, it has reached more ground in 6 episodes than Claymore did. Though the medieval fantasy setting and fight scenes are nicely done, what really solidified this series for me were the characters. Guts seems to just be a man that wants to live by simply cutting through people with his massive sword, but his reflections on how his life doesn't have any purpose really hit home for me. And these thoughts from Guts were a result of his observations of Griffith. Yes, the nearly perfect leader. Ruthless, ambitious, and highly intelligent, Griffith is the white-haired general who brought a rag-tag bandit mercenary group called The Band of the Hawks to a powerful calvary of knights who are the saviors of a kingdom.

Much attention are given to this two, even by me on my first watch. This time, though, I've really been paying attention to Caska, the other commander leading the Hawks under Griffith's command. She is a character I'd like to see more often in anime. She's strong, sexy, feminine, and dons full armor when she goes into battle. She's a leader in essentially a man's world and highly respected by her troops. Yet, she had a little-girl-like adoration of Griffith. And for good reason, too, as he was the one that saved her as a young girl from a life of abuse by a nobleman. And not in a direct manner, either. Griffith saves her by giving the young girl a sword and having her strike down her potential abuser.

What makes her role interesting to me in the whole design of Berserk is that the series makes no attempt at being politically correct; one series of scenes depict what happens when Caska's fighting effectiveness in a battle is hampered by her menstrual cycle. Some may call the series misogynistic, but I really can't see it that way. Like many other themes in this series, it's get pretty complicated. Even when Guts says that women don't belong in a man's world (I.E., serving as a soldier), he does later concede that "women have it tougher". Even Griffith did place her second in command of the Hawks for some time before Guts joined them. She *is* the third strongest warrior in the band; the others respect her as such.

 

Haibane Renmei - Episode 6

Yeah, I haven't progressed on this one since last time. I might continue it after Berserk.

 

On Hiatus/Future Plans

I still have the same list as last time, which consist of the following:

Saiunkoku Monogatari - Episode 29 (?)

Legend of Galactic Heroes - Episode 50 (?)

Windy Tales - Episode 1

 

I also have a few more that I forgot to mention that are in my "to watch" list:

NANA

This was recommended to me by a trusted individual, and it's one I've been hearing a bit about. It sounds like it's one of those relationship drama shoujos, which I do enjoy from time to time. Much stupid misunderstandings and crying ahead, probably.

 

Yomigaeru Sora - RESCUE WINGS -

It's been a while since I've watched a good military drama, and this seems to get some praises.

 

The Wallflower

My ex-girlfriend liked the manga for this one and really wanted to check out the anime for it. I checked out a few minutes of the first episode, and I'm not sure I'd like it, but I'll give it a try anyways.

 

 

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