Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review catch-up — Anime

Asura Cryin' second season

For the first half at least, it carried on as before, throwing ever more stuff into the pot every episode; before suddenly deciding to pick one of the multiplicity of minor characters, nominate them as Final Boss, and go for the sort of ending which clearly wanted to be Gurren Lagann when it grew up, with our hero doing a "Man up and save the world! Twice!" before reverting to schoolboy with harem end.

Overall: showy trash.

Mouryou no Hako

Despite my worst fears, this best series of 2008 finally got subbed in dribs and drabs over the year, with the concluding episode available only a year after the fact.

And, suprisingly, the conclusion was a remarkably satisfying one.

In all, this series felt more like cinema; but with the length -- and the seamless SFX -- that the 13 episode animated format afforded being used to advantage.

One of the very best of the decade, and probably the best of 2008.

My top 20 of the Noughties

In alphabetical order:

Akagi
Blue Drop ~Tenshi-tachi no Gikyoku~
Chi's Sweet Home
Dennou Coil 
Gankutsuou
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Hataraki Man
Kemonozume
Kino's Journey
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha
Maria-sama ga Miteru
Mononoke
Mouryou no Hako
Mushishi
Nijuu Mensou no Musume
Planetes
Princess Tutu
Ristorante Paradiso
Seirei no Moribito
Simoun

2009 -- the rest

A thin year -- total number of new series I watched was about the number I picked up for Q2 '08 alone -- but one where Crunchyroll expanded its operation enough that, love them or loathe them, I was able to watch a good number of series in a context other than "try before buy" (even if some of the advertising was terribly, terribly bad and repeated 3+ times per episode).

I'll get to Kemono no souja Erin and Miracle Train as and when I finish; but they aren't exactly burn through to marathon types of series. Tried and dropped were Sasameki Koto -- the other yuri series of the year started with so many school clichés, the sort of things that Aoi Hana avoided, that I gave up after a few minutes. Falling into the "who are these people and why should I care about them?" and the "Oh, my eyes, the CGI!" traps was the Book of Bantorra -- I just have better things to do than the second episode.

Although I raved about the novel adaptation of Mouryou no Hako, the material in Aoi Bungaku led off with the sort of self-indulgent self loathing material that too often passes for literary merit for my tastes, so I gave that a miss; and it took only a couple of episodes of Kūchū Buranko to decide that, literary provenance and associations with Mononoke be damned, under the psychedelia, this was boring and repetitive.

Also belatedly tried, and dropped like a brick:

Texhnolyze

I bought this a while back, after watching Serial Experiments Lain and Haibane Renmei, but had never found a gap to watch it in. Such a gap arose about a year ago; and I wish I had not wasted the money, but had instead done a "try before buy". Had I done so, after a first episode with essentially no dialogue or narrative structure, that just spent its 25 minutes waving its art in my face, I would have stopped. As it was I went "Next Episode", expecting perhaps more of the same and instead suffered through effective animation used for malign ends. Each time I thought things had bottomed out, the clinically sadistic depiction of some person suffering massive and essentially self-inflicted (by interfering where self-preservation would have held up a massive "KEEP AWAY" sign) injuries went on and got worse.

It is perhaps a tribute to the skill involved that I ended up queasy, with cold sweat, but having massively failed on the "who are these people and why should I care about them?" test -- mainly because there has been no time spent on such persiflage as who they are because "it's, like, Art, man!"; and depicting them as it does as undeserving of sympathy, it had not only failed to intrigue, but had completely discouraged me from wondering what happened next. So while I dropped Baccano! after a similar amount for just being nasty, this I dropped for being actively evil. Definitely the worst of the decade of those things I watched.

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