Saturday, April 10, 2021

Anime roundup '21Q1 -- Shin Eva and others

So, yeah, there'll be spoilers for the new Evangelion movie, after the run-down of other watching.

The Q1 line-up was fairly thin, with Yuru Camp△ 2 the only title I'd marked as a definite watch, and only a handful more of "might look for to watch if well received". Yuru Camp△ 2 was not as good as the previous season -- being less about the equipping and camping, and more of a Google StreetView journey around tourist spots (including one instance of the Google watermarking not being adequately removed in the transformation from photo to anime background) -- but was pleasant enough all the same.

The surprise hit of the season, though, was Pui Pui Molcar, a series of whimsical stop-motion shorts about giant guinea-pigs that are also cute semi-autonomous vehicles

after which, most other new titles paled into insignificance.

On the rewatch front, I completed Tegami Bachi and the Koihime Musou sequels, plus Modern-Day Magic for Dummies, which all held up reasonably; and also Noir, which is indeed an decent enough actioner but which is pushed over the top by the sound track.

From the backlog, I did finish Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei Herz, which was definitely not as good as the previous season.

In the tried-and-dropped pile are the new Mamoru Oshii comedy Vlad Love, which, alas, wore out its welcome very quickly, the GTO OVA, and Cowboy Bebop (which as the OP indicated, felt like just another of those 1970s noir actioners, usually starring either Roger Moore or Tony Curtis, which I watched back in the day -- which maybe explains the popularity as being accessible for newcomers to Japanimation -- also with bouts of not funny humour). One episode each was quite enough, thank you.

Continuing are Digimon Adventure: and the original Digimon Adventure, and rewatches of THE UNLIMITED Hyobu Kyosuke, Yuru Camp△ and Saki.

OK, Shin Evangelion spoilers time now, so avert your eyes.

Having originally been set for its release last summer, and after two holds for Corona-chan, the long awaited final Evangelion movie released on the 8th of March. With curfews still in place, in lieu of a midnight showing, the first fifteen minutes -- the first action scene and the opening credits -- were streamed on YouTube, much as the short opening action scene had been televised for the previous movie.

This then caused a demonstration that computer security is hard. As part of its accessibility arrangements, a smartphone app had been provided with sub-titles for the hard of hearing and audio description for the partially sighted, to be cued by the movie sound-track playing. Armed with a capture of the YouTube stream, little work was then needed to obtain a complete set of subtitle images -- sufficiently little that they were being passed around before lights went down for the 07:30 JST premiere. The next day, in a display of belatedly bolting the stable door, the movie was pulled from the app, inconveniencing only the people in Japan who actually needed the assistive technology.

I really mean it about the spoilers now -- skip to after the picture to continue if you wish.

So yes, this movie does wrap everything up with a nice bow and a "That's All, Folks!".

Cutting to the chase, it ends with a title and sub-title drop, before Shinj wakes up in the real world, on the station platform in Anno's home town of Ube, where he is greeted by someone identified as "Large breasts, nice girl." with whom he proceeds to run out of the station and into the wide world beyond, thus sinking all the usual ships, especially the ones from the party line of "EoE was a hopeful end, with the two lovebirds on the beach together." Now, I know NGE prided itself on disregarding anime clichés, like "first girl wins" or "the boy who walks in on a girl changing suffers extreme physical violence at her hands", but taking a story that was about immanentizing the eschaton on the surface, and overcoming depression as a subtext, treating it as a harem show was always going to be misguided.

Right now, I'm feeling vindicated on a number of accounts, having proposed a Shinji/Mari end even before the second movie came out, that Mari would stand for Moyoco (to Hideaki's Shinji), having my own diagnosis of what Shinji needed validated by

Shikinami: What the brat needs is not a lover, it's a mother.

and that, of the named cast, that Kensuke would be a better fit for Asuka.

Elsewhere, the post-credits opening sequence sounds very mellow, and the provision at last of some of Asuka's Shikinami's Instrumentality-cum-back-story, a nice idea, albeit possibly a bit too much, too late.

Still, after all these years, this is the bit that makes it difficult for me to decided to actually watch any of these movies after the first. The first suffered enough from making everyone seem miserable all the time, in distinct contrast to the original episodes which it reworked, and being sufficiently off-putting that the introduction of a 5th Child and Gerry Anderson spaceships in the trailers for the next movie were net negative, even before the appearance of a new character that was wearing Asuka as a skin-suit. Maybe when it becomes feasible to deep-fake the whole thing with a different character -- maybe a green-haired girl with green outfits and Eva unit -- and different name instead.

Post spoilers bit starts here.

But enough about how I feel that the Rebuilds fall into an uncanny valley near the original, even if it is only the authors' all being older and somewhat wiser, trying to revisit characters from their youth, and on to a related subject. Following the release, NHK put out a documentary about Hideaki Anno, and the four years post-Shin Godzilla that were the making of 3.0+1.0, which proved interesting viewing -- especially the parts where Anno kept trying and failing to delegate to the team, before going on to do "if you want a job done properly..." I know that feel.

Well worth seeking out if you have any interest in the behind the scenes and the people involved. And it's not too spoilery -- so much got dropped and rewritten that it's not obvious what in the documentary ends up in the film, or what it means if it does.

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