Archive for the 'anime' Category
Last night I went up to New People SF to see the two 120 minute Madoka movies. I don’t think they need a review here – I’ll say it was worth spending 5 hours of travel time for, but hopefully next time I won’t have to take public transit – but without spoiling the series, there were some interesting things about the movie adaptation.
First off, the theater turned out to be pretty small, with almost two rows just being people I knew from Twitter, there was none of the special merchandise, and our tickets were printed on receipt paper. This leads me to suspect that Los Angeles is the only US city Japan believes actually exists.
I don’t exactly remember the TV series scene-by-scene anymore, but as far as I noticed there weren’t many new scenes; new animation instead went into improving the witch fights and transformation scenes, animation fixes, and added OP/ED sequences that really seemed sort of out of place in a movie.
The few new scenes mostly seemed intended to make Homura even more of a main character1. Mami actually lost character development, along with all the adults – her wish isn’t shown and they spent almost all their onscreen time talking about romance. In exchange, Mami’s new theme is really good.
All of the cast rerecorded their parts for the movies, and this time actually knew what the story was ahead of time. I’m not sure it made much of a difference, but Kyouko and QB’s performances stood out as very good. (Kyouko’s the best anyway.)
My only complaint about the translation is that one of the seiyuu used the word sekaikan in the opening comment, and I doubt anyone understood what she meant from the subtitle translating it as “worldview.”
In the end I still think Madoka’s plot is very strong when seen all at once, but Kyouko does suffer a little too much and Madoka really doesn’t have a reason to keep following people around at night. Still, if you haven’t seen it yet you should all go and do it before it’s ruined by sequels!
- Why does Kyousuke have to stay in bed if he has a wheelchair?
- Why don’t Madoka’s parents notice she’s never home at night?
- How do magical girls afford apartments?
- Are the flights of doves and their teacher’s voice Hidamari Sketch jokes?
- Define sekaikan.
- Really, Anne Frank?
- and MadoHomu the main pairing [↩]
What is this, Shii’s Anime Blog? Uhh, anyway.
Momo e no Tegami, “A Letter to Momo”, is a technically ambitious and heartwarming success by Hiroyuki Okiura (Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Paprika) and Production I.G. that gives me hope for anime films in this decade. The film achieves what a good anime should aim for: fantastic and wonderful images which at the same time astound the viewer with their novelty and retain a touch of familiarity that makes them hauntingly real. It’s a meticulous effort that’s very much worth your time.
You may remember that I was underwhelmed by Shinkai’s Voices from the Other Side, which seemed be a hodgepodge of homages to Ghibli and surreal but poorly assembled spectacles. Momo e looks a little Ghibliesque on the surface, but this is really just because both Miyazaki and Okiura are drawing on Edo period grimoires for source material. Get into the theater and you’ll discover that the cinematography, character designs, and plot arcs are really quite different, and Momo e has its own personality.
The basic plot is rather predictable from the beginning, but it becomes fleshed out and made more engaging by a careful pacing. Unfortunately for me, this film contains a lot of dialect: the islanders speak a rustic, almost humorously archaic variant of Shikoku-ben, and the spirits speak a mixture of 19th century samurai language and other things I could not identify. The latter especially tripped me up a few times and probably requires a native grasp on Japanese, or familiarity with afternoon samurai dramas, to be enjoyed fully. But the archaicisms give the fictional setting a feeling of realism and physical location.
Language is far from the only aspect of the film where exhaustive research has born delicious fruit. I don’t need a “making of” video to know that the director and lead animators must have personally visited islands in the inland sea as a model for their setting. The streets and buildings boast accuracy at every curb, even moreso than Ghibli’s recent Kokurikozaka kara. See if you can spot the cleverly employed pillow shots. Every background has been based on real life reference down to the smallest detail. There must have been some serious observation of island life involved to capture all of the tiny moments we see in the film, such as families carrying water tanks up to their homes and gas-powered elevators running up through the terraced rice fields (棚田). The faces of the human characters also sometimes exhibit an uncanny realism, which can be seen in the trailer.
Another part of the film where background research was both complete and well-integrated is the aspect of the haunted house. The haunted house in Totoro, to use the most obvious example, is just a word used to introduce the cute characters. In Momo e, on the other hand, the number of parallels with real poltergeist haunting proves that the director and writers must have done some real research into the subject. Just as in a real-life poltergeist incident, the haunting begins with strange knocks from unoccupied rooms, then develops into spooky incidents such as invisible hands grabbing people, objects flying across the room, fires being started… or the weirdness witnessed by the adults in this film, which I will not reveal. The haunted family inevitably includes a young child age 6-14, in this case Momo. Eventually the child is named as the culprit, as is the case here (this is not a major plot point), but how a child could pull off such sophisticated conjuring undetected for such a long time, or why they undertook such an effort, is never explained. I don’t expect viewers to be familiar with this branch of parapsychology, but the touch of realism will surely strike a chord unconsciously.
These are just the aspects of the film that stuck out the most to me– I’ll leave other points to other reviewers. In any case, the film blended seamlessly with my experiences of rural Japan, with the result that when the drama reached its peak, I was completely submerged in its world. I was not the only one feeling this way–I could hear a lot of sniffling in the theater. It was one of those films that’s so good you lose track of time and you’re not sure whether you were watching for thirty minutes or three hours, even though in my case I didn’t understand all of the dialogue!
The feeling experienced by the viewer after the curtains close, in my opinion, is a crucial judge of the real quality of a film. When I came out of the theater I felt grateful and moved for having seen such an honest portrayal of life and death. I’m not sure if I would buy a DVD for extended replay, but I would definitely see this film again with friends. My reverie was temporarily interrupted by a theater employee handing out marketing material for the film, including a postcard inviting people to mail in letters they would want to send to lost family and friends. This struck me as a little insensitive, but it doesn’t affect my impression of the film itself, which I wholeheartedly recommend.
Wrap it up, 20th century manga heroes. There’s a new game in town, and it’s called moé.
The 35th Japan Academy Awards nominated Ghibli’s flop “Kokuriko-zaka kara”, an adaption of Tezuka’s epic “Buddha”, a youkai story called “Toufu Kozou” based on a bestselling adult novel, and a movie from the Detective Conan series, which has the wonderful distinction of having been nominated for a Japan Academy Award every year since the “best animation” category was introduced in 2006. Oh yes, and K-On! The Movie.
Web tabloid Searchina notes that of these five, K-On! is the most unlikely nomination recipient, saying that the Kyoani production could “hardly be said to be a household name in Japan”. This is untrue in my personal experience. I mean, there’s a 12-year-old at one of my schools who has this attached to her pencil case:
In case you are puzzled by that image, that’s the girls’ character Capybara-san sitting on the head of a K-On! character (whoever she is, I don’t watch these moéblob shows goddamn you) who is sitting in her Houkago Tea Time mug.
There’s also a 10-year-old at that school who hassled me for K-On! merchandise every day until I found some to give to her.
So, K-On! is no longer otaku stuffs, it now belongs to everyone in Japan who likes cute things and is staying on top of… uh… whatever kind of cultural currents transmit the latest cute things to children. This certainly represents a new wave in mainstream anime, but it could hardly have been a controversial choice for the academy. I mean, “Toufu Kozou” was popular, but I imagine there are plenty of people who never heard of it.
So, congratulations to Kyoto Animation for their first Japan Academy Award nominee. I don’t think K-On! will win that Academy Award though. It’s an anime about girls who eat cake.
Here are some old wallpapers I found while cleaning. I believe they came from a Hotline server around the year 2002. Hope you like Ah My Goddess!
Not sure I remember how to write in English at this point, but more contentful posts hopefully coming soon…
Around a year ago, the Japanese religious group Happy Science, which I’ve covered previously on this blog, put out a new anime movie called “The Rebirth of Buddha”. It was also screened in the United States. However, for whatever reason, I didn’t watch it at that time. I’ve only just got around to it, and it put a big smile on my face, so at long last, here’s the first ever English language review of this movie.
I should note that someone with a gushing opinion of this movie put it on BitTorrent, which combined with what I already know about Happy Science, gives me a suspicion that they might actually approve of non-Japanese people downloading and watching it. Here’s a DDL link too. I’m bad at concealing spoilers so you might just want to forego the review and take a look for yourself.
tl;dr version: Do you want to see an evil Heian period demon reincarnated as a businessman riding on a UFO made of bats interrupting a major league baseball game to duke it out with CG angels and some guy riding on an elephant? Then this film is for you!!!
Well, I think it’s funny, anyway.
Azunyan dies in every episode.
Ritsu is black.
All the songs would have “Fuck” in the lyrics.
There would be a laugh track.
After School Drugs.
After School Barbeque.
All of them would have babysitting jobs.
It would be dubbed in Japanese by Koichi Yamadera.
After School Tea Party.
There would be a very special episode about Ritsu’s pregnancy.
Is this Degrassi?
Yui: “Shit! I cut my finger!”
The first one killed would be a funny black guy who listens to rap.
Mugi’s eyebrows would be salami.
After HTT saves the school from being blown up by Islamic fundamentalists, they become heroes.
Cheerleaders: “We were wrong. You’re cool after all!”
“Hamburger wa Okazu”
There would be an annoying hairy alien living in Yui’s house.
Sawako’s old band would have done Marilyn Manson covers.
The club room would be covered in graffiti.
#114 is good but is beyond me to translate.
Mugi would actually be a lesbian.
Mugi’s shirt would have some nonsensical kanji on it.
Don’t you mean Yui’s dressing gown?
Not a lot has been written about Makoto Shinkai’s new film Hoshi o Ou Kodomo (Children who Chase the Star/Planet) outside Japan so I thought I’d give it a highly critical review here. This movie has some twists, they’re not really essential to enjoying it but they do reveal a lot so I’m putting this behind a spoiler warning.
My recommendation for this movie is to skip buying any movie tickets, plane flights, or poor quality cams, and watch the HQ fansub if bored. It has some pretty pictures that are best enjoyed on your computer screen. The plot has some good elements but is overall incoherent. Character development was apparently ignored. Overall, Shinkai needs a co-producer.
Note: I frequently encounter people complaining that cheap moe/fanservice anime are being made because they sell better than “serious” anime. However, these shows typically sell extremely poorly – I hope this list will help improve your internet arguments. I’ve added a somewhat-accurate list of genres/original source material.
Source: Anime sales thread material repository on livedoor bbs, presumably from 2ch originally.
These numbers are per-volume averages, with each DVD in a box set being counted as an individual volume. (*) indicates series still being released when the list was made in 2010/05.
List of 2000-2010 TV anime DVD/BDs with 10,000+ sales
|170,479||Comedy||The World of Golden Eggs|
|79,204||Mecha SF||Gundam SEED Destiny|
|76,760||Light Novel||Bakemonogatari (*)|
|70,349||Mecha SF||Gundam SEED|
|52,900||Shounen||Full Metal Alchemist|
|46,147||Mecha SF||Macross Frontier|
|42,690||Shounen||Code Geass R2|
|41,038||Light Novel SF||The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya|
|34,601||SF||Gundam 00 S2|
|29,890||Seinen||Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd Gig|
|29,509||Sports||Initial D Fourth Stage|
|29,146||4koma Comedy||Lucky Star|
|27,377||Seinen||Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex|
|26,910||4koma Comedy||Azumanga Daiou|
|26,047||Visual Novel Fantasy||Fate/stay night|
|25,637||Harem Romance||Love Hina|
|24,253||SF+Moe||A Certain Scientific Railgun (*)|
|22,829||Light Novel||Dulalala! (*)|
|22,591||Magical Girl SF||Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS|
|21,831||4koma Comedy||Working!! (*)|
|20,450||Visual Novel||Kanon (2006)|
|20,342||Healing||Aria The Origination|
|20,052||Shounen SF||Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann|
|19,819||Visual Novel||Clannad After Story|
|18,556||Light Novel SF||The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya S2|
|17,888||Sports||Initial D Second Stage|
|17,864||Healing||Aria The Animation|
|17,553||Comedy||Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu|
|16,458||Harem Comedy||Mahou Sensei Negima!|
|16,079||SF||Darker than Black S1|
|15,983||Healing||Aria The Natural|
|14,216||Visual Novel Fantasy||Shingetsutan Tsukihime|
|14,125||Fanservice Comedy||Mahoromatic S1|
|13,789||Fanservice||Strike Witches S1|
|13,723||Shounen||Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (*)|
|13,360||Visual Novel||D.C. ~Da Capo~|
|13,233||???||Hand Maid May|
|12,673||SF||Darker than Black S2 (*)|
|12,290||???||Ai yori Aoshi|
|12,126||Light Novel||A Certain Magical Index S1|
|11,800||Novel SF||Banner of the Stars|
|11,521||Fanservice Comedy||Mahoromatic S2|
|11,440||???||Read or Die TV|
|11,251||Magical Girl||Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s|
|11,243||???||Rozen Maiden Träumend|
|11,039||???||Honey & Clover|
|10,620||Light Novel||Shakugan no Shana S1|
|10,612||Light Novel Drama||Toradora|
|10,315||???||Natsume’s Book of Friends S2|
|10,236||???||Natsume’s Book of Friends|
|10,219||Comedy||Pani Poni Dash!|
Who says SHAFT needs industry awards?