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.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Casshern Sins 24 - Towards The Blossoming Flowers

When I first started watching Casshern, I didn't really know what to make of it. It had its good moments, had some fantastic fights but the plot wasn't really going anywhere. Fortunately, I stuck it out and it delivers.

We see Casshern, Lyuze, Ringo and Ohji living happily together, growing flowers near the sea. All is well, until the ruin catches up to Lyuze and Ohji, at which point Casshern seems to go off on a rampage. Along the way he meets Braiking Boss (who finally atones for this sins), and then Luna. He then tells Luna that she should continue giving the gift of life and that he'll return "when they have forgotten about death". The episode ends with an adult Ringo, alongside Friender, musing on how she'll get to see Casshern again and what will become of the world.

Whilst most of the loose endings of the show are tied up, we still don't have some answers. What exactly is the ruin and how does Luna grant eternal life (beyond just giving her blood) are two of them. Yet, for all its ambiguity, I don't mind not knowing. It's just that kind of show. I'll miss Casshern, its been a good watch. Another season or even some OVAs would be great but how could they extend the story without losing the mood? 

Friday, 20 March 2009

Toradora! 24 - Confession

Wow, poor Yasuko. I mean, Ryuuji really laid into her :(. Still, a great episode otherwise, if not a bit melodramatic "Taiga, I love you! Let's elope! *frolicking ensues*".

I've really liked the storyline of Toradora!, throughout it's managed to remain fairly realistic, the main characters aren't too stupid and don't have too many overwhelmingly obvious flaws (see any number of other romantic comedies. Suzuka is my main gripe. A great manga but Yamato is just that wee bit thick). When I started watching the series, I thought I could tell which ending was going to be the most likely. For a good chunk of the story, I thought it was going to be Amin. Then I realised the name, Toradora! (and read a story summary online that mentioned Takasu ends up with Taiga) and the Takasu x Taiga ending was born. To be fair, it was kinda obvious but refreshing to see that he does end up with Taiga, the story probably wouldn't work otherwise.

Hopefully, Episode 25 will tie up all the loose plot ends, like: where did Yasuko go (poor Yasuko!), how will Takasu/Taiga keep on going (since the preview for next week suggests they go back, odd) and how will everyone react to this (obvious) pairing? I can't wait.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Toaru Majutsu no Index

Okay, so I have a week off and, ideally, I'd be spending it writing a 5000 word report on thin-film ferromagnets.

However, I'm not.

Instead, I've been spending my days with the family and searching for new anime to watch (and some new manga to buy, most of the english volumes I own are of series I've already read i.e. Bleach and Negima). Koukaku no Regios is one of the series I've picked up this week, and after catching up, I gotta say, I love the way the plot is building and you get the sense of various grand plots all slowly tying together. Also this week I finished watching Otoboku (which was wonderfully light watching, brain -> off!), I tried to start watching Simoun again (I can see it's got potential, I just feel it needs more than watching 2 episodes now and then), I watched the first episode of Birdy The Mighty Decode (seems fantastic, will just have to see how it pans out) and then I found Toaru Majutsu no Index.

I watched the first episode, just to see what it was like, some of the reviews online made mention of it being similar to Shakugan no Shana in style (coming from JC Staff, so it's no small wonder - also JC Staff have produced some of my favourite series; Shana, Zero no Tsukaima and Toradora! to name a few). They weren't wrong. I love the way Toaru has been building up, having recently seen to episode 5, the background has been built up in a steady fashion and the characters have been given enough charm to survive without much fleshing out (for the moment). I have great hopes for this series, especially if it builds the way Shana did (shame about the end of SnS2 but meh, it wasn't a bad ending).

Bleach 350 - The Lust 4

So Bleach 350 is out, like, super-mega-early...and it's fantastic! The past few chapters, mostly the ones based on the sins, have been a little bit boring, leading up to Ichigo's apparent "death". 

This time round though, Ichigo is back with a new form...and a different mask! Ichigo on the verge of death, decides "I will protect her" and stands up. Now, this is different to what we've seen the Visored do before, so maybe Ichigo is now in an equivalent "Resurrección Segunda Etapa"? (Whilst looking up that term on Wiki, I spotted some of the vandalism that's recently been made to the Espada page: Nnoitra Jiruga -> Not A Gorilla... inspired :/).

Posting on a forum elsewhere, I said that I'm kinda torn between this being Ichigo's hollow coming out (since he's got the hole in his chest) or whether he's gained full access to Hichigo's abilities. The opening few lines have him say "I... stand up I... I will protect her", now you could take the last line as his final decree, or it could be the hollow intervening and offering to do it (why though, is a devil of a question). Also, he's still got the hole in the chest and the whole mask - horns an' all is different to what we saw when he was hollowifying. 

Lots of questions raised in this chapter, and in traditional Bleach style, these won't be answered for quite a while.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Koukaku no Regios 02 - Capture The Flag!

Okay, my first post on an anime! I picked up Regios today, it has a fantasy feel to it (something I'm watching more of these days) but also looks to be action-packed with some staple comedy.

In this episode we again see Layfon's amazing power, in relation to his past as a member of the Heaven Blades, with his amazing fight at the end of the episode. Also in this, we see Nina's anger at him for not revealing his past. There are some nice moments along the way as we begin to get hints at the wider plot building and that Platoon 17 might be something other than just "another platoon".

As you'd expect, we're slowly starting to gleam some useful info regarding the world and the terminology. I found the whole "cities playing capture the flag" thing to be a bit odd, why is everybody playing live-action UT but without the respawn?

Overall a pretty good episode and Layfon's fight is a fantastic little setpiece, since it's obvious that he's way above everybody else in power level. However, this just highlights one thing that gets my goat in anime. And that's characters acting half-cocked on assumptions and labelling people as "traitors" or "liars". It's fair enough that Layfon doesn't want to discuss his past, and the fact that he is super-awesome, however, there's no need to jump to the conclusion that he's Grade A Aizen material. However, I can only say this with the advantage of being the audience and not a character in the series (I'd never remember to call my attacks).  I like the feel of the show and the pacing is just about right, it's got a Tales of the Abyss feel to it - and I love how TotA's story has gone so far (woe unto me gg!). I'm more than willing to stick this one out.

Seasons Greetings!

For a first post, I thought I'd try something unimposing and simple. Here we go, as and when new episodes/chapters are released (and duly watched!) I'll make some comments!

Although, unsurprisingly, half a gazillion other people will do the same thing! Hopefully I'll try not to explode (in a good or bad way) when Bleach 350 arrives...