Time for an update of what I've been watching.
I had finished a review of this 40-minute movie this morning. In truth, I've probably rewatched this around 5 times in the past week or so, most of that showing the movie off to different people. I don't have much to add here on top of my review of it.
After watching Catblue: Dynamite, I was curious about Romanov Higa's previous work. TANK S.W.A.T. 01 is a second attempt of adapting Masamune Shirow's Dominion Tank Police manga as an anime. Romanov Higa was billed as the director, and the 29-minute OVA does feature a CG style. Unfortunately, I just find that it doesn't work as well as it did in Catblue. Most people don't seem to realize that the characters in TANK S.W.A.T. 01 are also CG with a cell-shaded style. It looks like they were modeled with a much more traditional "anime-style" look, and I just don't like how it looks in CG. Plus the "police-thriller" story presented just isn't too interesting.
Coming in fairly new to the animation scenes is Yasuhiro Yoshiura, and his film, Pale Cocoon, can actually be compared to Makoto Shinkai's Voices of a Distant Star in many ways. Like Shinkai, Yoshiura did all of the writing, storyboarding, directing, CG, and animating for Pale Cocoon by himself. Both OVAs run under 30 minutes long. Both feature a beautifully composed song that provide an emotional climax towards to end of the anime.
But it's the differences that will set Yoshiura's work apart, and Pale Cocoon includes some very important features. Pale Cocoon seems to strictly uses CG for backgrounds, while Shinkai focused on hand-drawn stills for his backgrounds in Voices of a Distant Star. Though probably as a result of this, Yoshiura's hand-drawn characters simply look better than Shinkai's hand-drawn characters. Also, while Voices of a Distant Star feels like it's treating its characters and subject matter with gentleness, Pale Cocoon's atmosphere is much more colder and distant. And most importantly, while it doesn't quite have Voices of a Distant Star's emotional punch, Pale Cocoon is much more complicated; it's a thinker.
And when you figure it out, it can hit you like a ton of bricks. At least, it did for me; Pale Cocoon has me sitting back and pondering on what it's saying every time I watch it. I'll be keeping an eye on Yasuhiro Yoshiura's future work, as if Pale Cocoon is any indication, he might become the "next Shinkai".
Scrapped Princess - Episodes 1-24
I had an urge to rewatch this series after I finished reading the third volume of the translated novel so I ended up marathoning all 24 episodes in a day (skipping the rather bad opening and ending pieces in every episode). Pacifica is still a spoiled brat, though it seems I've thought her more of a brat the first time I watched the series.
The thing to know, though, is that the novel is definitely better than the anime. Shouldn't be a surprise there. The entire third novel (which I had thought to be pretty good, much better than the first novel) was compressed into maybe 2 episodes in the anime. And how the novel volumes are laid out really explains why the anime felt like almost-separate 2-3 episode arcs.
NANA - Episodes 1-44[img_assist|nid=2098|title=|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=200|height=112]
NANA got my nearly undivided attention a couple weeks ago after I finished Rocket Girl. I had initially planned to ration the number of episodes I was watching so that I would get to the end of the 47-episode season when the fansubbers release the last episode, but that idea was doomed as I found myself watching the series in 10-episode marathons, sometimes forgoing sleep to do so. Not a very good thing for my working life, but NANA happened to be a romantic shoujo that hit nearly all the right buttons for me. Plus I am really digging Nana Osaki, the "punk rocker" girl in the series. I don't immediately rail against Nana "Hachi" Komatsu like I know many people might, but I simply found her roommate to be much more interesting.
I don't fully fathom why these shows draw me in; they're often filled with the characters doing stupid stuff that will hurt their partners. NANA is almost an extreme of that at times, as I witnessed the characters doing stupid stuff that I can foresee causing severe problems with their relationships way down the line. I also fully acknowledge the double-standard based on gender I held to the characters. Fairly early on in the series, I wanted to hit Shouji for what he was doing, yet when Nana Komatsu does the exact same thing late in the series, I just felt sad. Perhaps I was just too tired to work myself into anger against her at that point. I am glad there are characters like Kyosuke and Junko at times, as they are perhaps the only normal couple in the series. And Kyosuke's openness with Junko is something very refreshing to see.
Well, I'm starting to ramble about the characters, so I'll cut it off here. This series has some seriously complicated relationships, as the anime doesn't just center on the two Nanas, but puts focus on all of the people they deal with on a normal basis. The music in the series is nice, and I liked the presentation of how the series is like some reminiscence by one of the two Nanas. The ending theme starting sometime before the credits start, often with one of the Nanas saying a short monologue before it cuts to the credits is quite well done.
Only awaiting 3 more episodes, and according to the series, this is only Season one! No word of a second season, though.
Denno Coil - Episode 4-5
This show continues to please me. I can't put my finger on what about it I enjoy, but this series is the one where I anticipate each new episode.
Claymore - Episode 11-13
I know that Astro was put off at the pure brutality in Episode 8 (and not just for one character there, too). I wonder if he'll be able to handle Episode 13. Wow. Not quite as harsh as Episode 8, but you wouldn't expect that to happen to such an important character to the series. I'm halfway through the series, and though I can see a few ways it can end, I have no clue as to which path it will take. I'm going to be continuing on without hesitation.
Lucky Star - Episode 10-12
This one has been mildly amusing to me, though I have to admit that I laughed hard a few times in Episode 12, when the girls go to a comic convention.
Darker Than BLACK - Episode 8 (Stalled)
No new episodes have been released since the last update by the fansubbers I've been using. I'm contemplating switching groups.
The Twelve Kingdoms - Episodes 15-26
I've been watching this one with other people that wanted to see this series again. Got through the Taiki arc, which I find myself liking more of each time I rewatch this series. Also got four episodes into the excellent third arc of the series.
On Hiatus/Future Plans
Saiunkoku Monogatari - Episode 29 (?)
Legend of Galactic Heroes - Episode 50 (?)