Friday, 29 June 2012

Spring 2012, a retrospective

It's blogging time gentlemen and other persons, and the topic of today is a look back at the currently ending anime season - which by all accounts has been rather entertaining.

I don't really want to plump for a "best show" (an assignation which is always purely subjective), but of all the series which aired my favourites were by far Jormungand, Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka II and Saki Achiga HenApologies to the T-man, I still haven't got around to trying Apollon, but it is a high priority on my backlog.

Jormungand was a show that managed to get a great many things right: it was a great action series with a very nicely paced plot and decent story. For those unfamiliar with the series, it follows the adventures of an arms dealer and her elite group of bodyguards; incredulous occurrences follow.

In some ways the series harked back to the good old action movies that were made in 60s-70s, when there was some semblance of credibility mixed in with an otherwise fanciful plot (eg Where Eagles Dare etc). The characters for the show also harked back to that era - there was a huge cast of main characters, rather than the usual "odd couple" which have been commonplace in almost every action movie / series since the 80s.  Needless to say in such a large ensemble a viewer should find a character who appeals to them.

Rather than letting itself be too serious (considering the genre, many contemporary series do) Jormungand frequently made use of comic scenarios to lighten the mood.  These actually felt appropriate in the context of their settings (comic moments never felt shoed in).  It was great to see a show that didn't take things too seriously, but was also able to provide plenty of kick-ass moments.

As an aside, this deserves special mention for being one of the stupidest things I've ever read:
"I was massively dissapointed with Jormungand it had no real substance and oh the Jonah most of the other characters were just really carried along or 1 dimensional" 

DERR HURR. Extra points for appalling use of English. For any passing readers, I feel I should point out that characters had plenty of depth.  I could go into why, but instead I would urge anyone who hasn't seen the show to check it out.  Preferably now.

Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka is a show I have waxed on about more than I'd care to do, but I absolutely love it... so I suppose that's a good enough reason to mention it in passing once more.  The second series did a great job delivering plenty of hilarious episodes, with the nerdy (but awesome) main character falling victim to evermore ridiculous situations; meanwhile he acquires the greatest harem known to mankind* and occasionally fights monsters.

So yeah, check it out if you're looking for something outrageously funny to watch.

* I'm absolutely serious, I can't think of a better harem. All the girls are god tier.

Saki Achiga Hen is a sidestory to "Saki", and follows various groups of girls who battle to win a mahjong tournament whilst SOL elements intermingle. I suppose it's best described as being a moe-battle series - with some similarities to K-on, albeit with a far broader cast.

I have no knowledge of or interest in mahjong, but fortunately the show rattles along in such a way that prior understanding isn't really required to enjoy the show (TL notes explain any key points whenever they arise).  The enjoyment of the show comes from the characters: their various modes of cunning employed to outdo one another (psychology ahoy!); or at other times being endearing to the point of heart damage (the inept Matsumi sisters especially so).  So be prepared for moe-moe, but not of any intrusive sort - it's just there and part of the show.

If you're looking for a great SOL show with a twist, then I really recommend this.  There is implied yuri throughout the show, so just mind who you watch it with.

Honourable mentions also go to Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia) and Acchi Kocchi.  Both of these are very good shows, but I wouldn't say they were essential viewing; Upotte!! was another show I enjoyed a great deal, but I concede is one which has little appeal to non-guntaku.

Anyway, that's all for now.  Of next season shows I'm looking forward to Muv Luv Total Eclipse, Binbougami and Campione, but as always time will tell what's actually good (and there are usually some unexpected surprises).

Friday, 15 June 2012

Tea fuelled rage.

There are some series I have never been able to get into for one reason or another. Evangelion is one such series. Why am I talking about such an old series now? Well, I tried to watch the new remake movies recently. So here we are.

I didn't ever finish watching the TV series because honestly I found it quite boring to watch; I can respect that it set a precedent for psychological character development, but aside from that it had no real interesting facet or features (perhaps I'm being harsh, it was a long time ago when I tried watching it). Thus I come to the first big problem I have with the movies - all that character development is thrown out. The result is GIANT BLOBS FROM SPACE FIGHT GIANT ROBOTS. Or to put it another way: Power Rangers with less depth.

The bulk of these films is spent on the giant robots fighting the giant blobs from space, so it doesn't exactly help when the fight scenes are so boring to watch. Worse still, they all seem to follow a standardized pattern: robot and blob struggle together, blob gets the upper hand and almost destroys the robot, then the robot recovers from near death and pulverizes the blob.  This tripe is forced into your face from the first 5 minutes of the movies too, there isn't any build up - the blobs just appear and stuff happens. Without any real reason for this, I don't really care. Yes there is all that Christian symbolism and blah blah blah, I don't care. That isn't a story, it's pretentious garbage - no better than writing an essay on the symbolism of a blank art canvas.

The characters in the movies still seem to be the same dullards from the TV series, though for some reason the 2nd movie felt the need to throw in a mary-sue (who has less personality than Rei). She appears by parachuting from the sky into Shinji's face (how does he NOT SEE SOMEONE PARACHUTING FROM THE SKY) landing crotch first of course, then losing her glasses... ugh. It's horrible horrible exposition which served no purpose aside from otaku pandering fanservice.

Perhaps fanservice is the best way to summarize these movies, because I can't see them appealing to anyone outside of the pre-existing fanbase. I get the feeling whilst watching that the movies are akin to an aging rock band going on a reunion tour, except most of the original band are dead leaving the sole survivor is propped up a bunch of fill ins... I'm not sure where I was going with this analogy, the tea is starting to wear off. Long story short, the Eva movies are bad - even if you're a fan of the series I cannot under any circumstances recommend them.