Monday, July 30, 2012

Otakon 2012

I did attend Otakon (again) this year. And it was pretty exciting stuff, I must say.
The only industry panel I attended was Satelight, an animation studio that's best known for Genesis of Aquarion and Aquarion EVOL [which, you know, I love] and Macross Frontier [which is in my backlog]. Outside of that, one of their more recent works is Bodacious Space Pirates!, which, as ridiculous as it sounds is really rather good. The plot and animation are excellent.

Shoji Kawamori, the original creator of Macross and a member of the company, had a video message to share with fans. In it he stated he's looking forward to working more with Macross and Aquarion both, and has ideas for future series (!). We were also shown two videos, which were full CG concerts of Ranka Lee and Sheryl performing for a crowd. They were meant to be commercials for the parent pachinko company, but due to the Tohouko Earthquake were unable to be aired and sat in their vaults. So we were the first people of the public to see it, which was really neat.

It was also announced, before Funimation even had their panel, that Funi would be in charge of licensing and releasing Aquarion EVOL.

The Touhou Panel, as always, was excellent. It was fun, there was quite a bit on various doujin works. For those that don't know, Tohou Project is a series of danmaku shooters created by ZUN and Team Shanghai Alice. But mostly ZUN and a lot of alcohol. It features over one hundred characters throughout fourteen games, and the fans are what support the entire series.

Two fan panels of interest was one on Tezuka and how he was influenced by Disney, but did not nearly touch enough on how the reverse also seemed to happen. Giant Robo also went a great deal into the history of giant robots throughout Japan all the way up to today. It was really well done, and the panelists really knew what they were doing, even when approached about Heroman.

While I was in an autograph line for the main illustrator for the latest Macross series and Aquarion, I became all to aware of demographics, as I was the only girl in line, and among the first twenty I was the only one under forty. It was kind of surprising, but we had an interesting conversation while we waited, and I found out that Gurren Lagaan started life as a parody of Redline, which is now in my backlog as well.

Oh, and before I forget.

Here is the most ridiculous giant robot anime you will ever see [which Satelight proudly admitted they loved working on]:
Basquash! [pr: Bas-cash] is about giant robots playing basketball
 Until Next Time!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We Still Don't Know the Name...

I've been tapping into my backlog of shows since there aren't any shows I plan on watching until the fall, and there are quite a few I've been meaning to watch or catch up on. As Netflix rotates it's shows, I need to catch up on those that will be out of the queue soon.

The accident Menma suffers is hinted at several times.
Among those I've been meaning to watch, is Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi was Mada Shiranai (We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day), or AnoHana. It came out around the same time as Madoka Magica, and as you might recall that was a pretty busy season for me. A lot of good shows came out around that time, and this was no exception. It remains popular enough that in the fall it will even be getting a PSP game release.

AnoHana is the story of a high school boy being haunted by the ghost of his childhood friend who seems to have grown up as well, despite her untimely death as a child. She requests that he help grant her wish so that she might ascend to heaven. The catch is that it's going to require him to reunite the old childhood gang, none of which can see her.It is up to them to trust him that she is there, and to learn to forgive each other for what was ultimately an accident.

The series is relatively short at eleven episodes, and I would have liked to see it extended into at least eighteen. The last few episodes feel rather rushed, and there isn't much time for each character to fully develop. For the amount of time it has, it does a good job of bringing in character flaws, and, to some point, resolving them. There is no ultimate good or bad end for any relationship, but simply a bittersweet end for all of them. Although the plot is rushed, the animation in the last few episodes is wonderfully smooth and fluid, and nothing like that seen in the earlier episodes, which makes me think that it may have had a budget increase later on or a switch with tween animators.

One of the things done rather slyly throughout the series, is the way in which Menma's death is handled. It is never directly said or shown, but is hinted at many times, and is up to the viewer to figure out.

Overall, I would recommend giving the series a watch. It delivers fairly well on the emotional level, especially in the last few episodes...might I recommend a box of tissues for the finale?

Even now, Menma tries to smile...
That flower we saw that day, seemed to bloom only once...

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Wow, I just slept right on through the spring season, and frankly I don't regret doing so. There are very few shows that caught my interest,  and really it was only EVOL I kept up with during that time. HOWEVER I did finish out the other shows on my roster. So while there may not be pics, it did happen. Let's take a look at the shows that made it.

The only reason Bakuman is way down here, is simply because compared to the other shows this season, it didn't quite match up. Yes, it brought suspense, and yes, I cannot wait for the next season. But the animation for me is still lacking, and that might just be from the stream I watched it on. It could have fantastic animation and I would never know. Regardless, something I would have liked to see incorporated more into the second season was the way the manga was handled in the first. It's a key component of the plot, so show it to us. Make it come alive and don't just mention it or show a few frames.

IN THE FREEZER: Black★Rock Shooter
Sorry. I'm trying to punch the other personality out of you.
Black Rock Shooter, where is it that you've gone? Because it certainly wasn't where anyone expected. Whether they've seen the OVA or just the original PV, the show certainly found a way to make itself unique. Of course, one of those reasons was because it had such a strong yuuri undertone. Actually, make that a strong yuuri overtone. You really find yourself cheering for relationships to happen, and hoping for friendships to be mended as well as a deeper bond to be formed. That being said, the writing is excellent. The art style is unique as well, as it combines CG and traditional, which at times merge wonderfully. At others...well, I've mentioned it before. One of the best executed things in the show are the fight scenes, but as they draw on towards the last few episodes, they grow less enjoyable. It feels like you might be watching someone play the PSP fighting game and not the show anymore. For all it's developments as a show, though, I think it was still lacking in once place major: Plot. It really should have been a much longer series, and a little bit more structured.
+Holy Weapons Batman!
+Character Design
-Poorly structured plot

-Strange resolution

IN THE OVEN: Nisemonogatari
This was really a hit or miss sequel series, in terms of who enjoyed it and who loathed it. In the end, I feel that it was rather enjoyable. One of the biggest tropes it pulled for each of the main characters, however, was deciding to give them a haircut. In the end, even Senjougahara receives one. Maybe it's the summer weather, but I think the deeper meaning there is that she's largely able to finally let go of her past. She can move on, and enjoy her life as it is right now with Araragi, who had some character developments of his own. Despite feeling certain that his sisters would never understand the fact that he once was a vampire and still carries around some of the effects from it, he discovers that they have been afflicted as well, to the point that he discovers it's not Karen that's the fake, but literally Tsukihi.
Surprisingly, the relation to Bakemono didn't kick in full force until Tsukihi's arc. There wasn't much to be said about Hanagawa either, as she appeared very marginally in the series. And so while the last part thrilled me to be into the show again, a good part of it was, I'll admit, fanservice. That's why it's sitting here in third place, despite it's artwork and soundtrack.
+ Soundtrack

-Plot movement
-Quantity of Fanservice
How many fans felt when the series ended.
How I love thee EVOL, let me count the ways...As much as I love it, I still have to set it a place back, because it is technically bi-season (having just ended in June) and a sequel. Now that that's out of the way, let me go onto address something else that's been bothering me across the stream of fans watching it. Many are complaining that "this is the dumbest series ever" and "worst sequel ever." No. It is not. Kawamori, as a directed, likes to try and keep the viewer guessing. He likes to slap them in the face when they least expect it, and sometimes he'll even punch them right in the feels. He enjoys referencing things: not just mythology, but his own work as well. You can spot the same alphabet from Macross and protoculture floating around throughout Aquarion EVOL and Sousei. That established, sequel wise it does a fantastic job.  I was just as surprised when further character background was revealed. Fudo as Apollonius? Well, we knew he wasn't Scorpius and I knew he was the same person for 24,000 years (I annoyed the hell out of people with that during Sousei). Apollo as Pollon? I actually like that a bit more, and it fits in more with his personality. We were actually given a hint about it during the Barefoot Warrior episode in Sousei. Everything gets tied in with the first series rather nicely. Were we left with questions at the end? Yes, but a good show should do that. It should leave you both satisfied that the characters are going to be okay, and curious about what will happen next.
He's got the whole wide world, in is eye.
Like BRS, EVOL also crosses CG with traditional, but uses the CG only for the mechs that appear in it, and never the actual characters. It also has some of the most gorgeous scenery I've viewed in an anime in a long time. Overall, EVOL is a terrific sequel, and should not be viewed without watching Sousei first (it will literally spoil it for you). The music, as always from Yoko Kanno, is wonderful and only adds to scenes. Shrade's Final Melody is possibly the most emotionally evoking song I have heard in the show, because it does such an excellent job of tying together the melodies from not only EVOL, but Sousei as well.
+ Soundtrack
+ Animation
+ Fudo!
- Kawamori can be seen as a troll
- Jin
- Extended plot suddenly compressed


AnoNatsu took me by surprise by ending as well as it did. I really thought it would end up being a typical summer-harem anime. It was not. It resolved everything beautifully, and animation of the landscapes were wonderful. The alien love interest becomes a relationship you want the main character to have. It becomes significant, although I would have liked to see it become even more than what it did. You were left feeling alone, but then, suddenly...they pull a classic Marvel and give you more at the end of the credits. It's a subtle nod to fans that true love prevails. Everyone ends up happy, even if they aren't fully aware. It's a nice stand alone series: you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll suffer from what is commonly know as "the feels." But that's okay. It's all a part of growing up.
+Animation Style
-Crushing blow only resolved by hope
-But what about his future?

Until next time! See you, baibai!