Sunday, 9 January 2011

Spring 2011 Season, few opening thoughts

It's certainly been a while since I posted... we've had a couple of great shows out of 2010. Oreimo, Otome Youkai Zakuro, Kuragehime and even MM! (I found it funny :-) ). Even the monthly event that was Katanagatari had me excited and clamouring to watch each new episode!

So, anyways, onto this year! There're a few new offerings that might tempt me (or have): Freezing, Infinite Stratos, Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!! (hereby referred to as OnKNZSJDn, that doesn't really make it better, does it?), Gosick, Rio Rainbow Gate! and Yumekui Merry. Quite the list methinks. Although I'm yet to watch all of the first eps, so expect that number to plummet! (As an aside: I expect Rio might be a poor pachinko tie-in, with quite a weak sounding plot but I'm willing to give it a chance)

First up: Freezing
I think freezing might be the first anime I've seen based on a manhwa. Having read a chunk of the it about a year ago (before some of the scanlations dried up, I think there's been a bit of an explosion of chapters since I last looked!) I was quite excited to find that an anime was on its way.

Having seen the first episode I remember why I was excited about the series. There's just enough mystery about Genetics and the Pandoras: what they are and who they are is slowly explained (rather than remaining a mystery) in the manhwa, although not in any super-satisfying detail. The animation is good, it's fluid and fun to follow. The action is definitely well-laid out and makes a great hook for the series (since there's quite a bit more action to follow!) although whether the quality will drop off much over the next few eps we'll have to see.

I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress the series and how closely it follows (my memory) of the manhwa! Expect to see some interesting plot development, although the plot itself does start to suffer after a point in the manhwa (around the time I ran out of chapters to read). Hopefully the anime will cover enough beyond this point to redeem the low points.

Infinite Stratos:

This is a series I heard little about before airing. The basic outline seems to be that, once again, only bishoujo can wield the true weapons of war. That aside, they've introduced the twist of the First Man To Be Able To Control Them.

Despite the series introducing some tried and tested tropes: the childhood-friend-who's-in-love-but-violent-rather-than-admitting-it, the foreign-noble-who's-condescending-but-interested-in-main-character and the mysterious-older-sister-is-now-his-teacher. Nothing wrong with these and they're carried off with some flair owing to the main character's testicular strength and, for once, not being a complete pushover.

The action is well done and the fights look interesting, a different take on the piloted suits (since it looks more like powered armour than giant-robot-death-machine) gives the whole thing a more personal feel. Like the characters are fighting directly.

All I can hope for is that it progresses with an over-arching plot and avoids too much of the school-related antics typical to this sort of series. Overall, though, it looks like a fun series with good action sequences and comical moments.

I'll aim to watch the other first eps soon...depending on work schedules and so on :-(

Edit: I've noticed that my 'To-Read' and 'To-Watch' lists are woefully out of date...I'll update them over the next few days :)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A glorious return

Sooooo, it turns out that rather than not posting anything - I've not managed to watch/read anything in aaagggesss (pesky Ph.D). Still, now I'm back *cue rapturous applause and tearful fans*

I've decided to return to form and watch some of the shows from this time last year. First up has been Darker Than Black 2. So far I'm liking the series, I can't really understand why it was slated so much. It has good pace, the storyline is interesting and the character development is good and, surprisingly for a 12-episode series, well done. There's very little in the way of massive character changes, no sudden personality re-writes and definitely no 'all-change bell', a la 24...

Perhaps the ending is quite weak; I'm only up to episode 10 out of 12 so I'm not quite there yet. I still don't fully follow the ending to season 1, although that doesn't seem to matter quite so much having seen S2. I'm hoping that the Gaiden OVAs will fill in the gaps. Especially on what happened to Yin and the whole "Izanami" plot (although I can see the Izanagi/Izanami god/goddess thing going on). Either way, this season is very good and was quite a gentle reintroduction to anime. All that's left now is to watch K-On!!, Canaan, Aoi Hana (what? I *like* melancholy) then I can catch up on some of the more recent offerings >_<

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Since getting into mecha anime, sparked by Gundam 00 when it came out, I've managed to amble my way through a (very) select few similar series. Having seen some older offerings (Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny) and some more recent beasts (Asura Cryin') I can say that the appeal of 60' robots blowing stuff up is, well, appealing.

On this basis I decided to watch Evangelion, often considered a classic for its directing, pace, action and philosophical lessons: I found it to be a good watch if not unfulfilling. The ending is horrible, well, if you can call it an ending. In my opinion, whilst I salute the creator for making a series that does raise some interesting existential questions, I'd prefer a (relatively) clear cut answer!

Saying that, ending aside, the series as a whole is fantastic. The characters are demonstrated to have depth and their relationships with each other adequately reflect their mental states. The pace of the series is good, with the plot development coming along at a reasonable pace. The final 6 or 7 episodes are rather fast and are very difficult to follow, End of Evangelion fortunately provides a more straightforward, albeit grandiose, ending which should be watched in addition to the rest of the series.  

My other main criticism, aside from the rapid pace of the ending, is the angels. At first they appear as monstrous enemies, with the Evas as mankind's only hope against their power. This feeling rapidly ends after the death of the first angel. The introduction of new angels rapidly becomes a monster-of-the-week style event, often appearing at the predictably worst moment for the characters. 

These criticisms aside, I can't say the series didn't entertain me or leave me wanting to watch it through to completion. Overall, it's a damn good series with some fine directing and good artwork.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Asura Cryin' 13

So today I finished watching Asura Cryin'.

Asura Cryin' is one of those series that manages to both grip and completely annoy me throughout. The whole interaction between handlers, demons and Asura Machina is a great idea and the mechanics all seem completely natural within the story frame. However, the utter lack of explanation of everything (at least in the anime, not being fluent in Japanese somewhat hampers my reading of the light novels) until the final few episodes left me deeply tempted to drop the series. Fortunately, I'm glad I stuck with it. Following several lacklustre episodes in the middle of the series, that last three episodes take on much darker themes: those of tragedy and sacrifice. The death of Aine, whilst somewhat arbitrary (since the how and why of her death are introduced barely 5 minutes before), is tragic and the implications of it hit Tomoharu hard. All in all, this is a nasty cliffhanger, I'm hoping the 2nd season (slated for the Autumn Season) will continue to expand on the concepts core to the series. Especially those of the 1st and 2nd stage worlds, some of it is made obvious in the series but I've figured most of it out through the internet. Overall, it was an OK series, that was slow in places but delivers well at the end with a brutal twist.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Bleach 354 - Heart

It's been a while since I've made a post, but, Bleach has gotten my goat today.

Firstly, whilst frustrating to read through, the Ulquiorra/Ichigo fight was good fun and the new Hollow form was cool. As per usual, a new Hollow form appears and Ichigo isn't in control. Quelle surprise. But what's with Ichigo's "Cut off my arm and leg to make it a fair fight" attitude? Honour it may be, stupid it is. 

Then comes Ulquiorra's discovery of 'heart'. Since when did the cool, logical, analytical, bat-man become all touchy-feely?

Finally. Oh Yes, finally. Yammy. "The Espada go from 0 to 9". Yammy is the Cero Espada, the top dog. Good Grief, finally Bleach has become ridiculous. It's taken a while ladies and gentlemen. I was wondering for a while why Ichigo wasn't going to be able to fight Stark, the Primera Espada, but now all is revealed. Still, we're back to fights and releases are flying like mad, so hopefully Bleach should return to form soon.