Sunday, November 9, 2008
Ranma holds a lot of personal points for me that will continue to give it a place in my heart. Aside from being the longest anime series that I’ve watched in full, Ranma was the first anime series that I was introduced to not by stumbling upon on TV, but rather by a friend saying about 11 years ago “hey have you ever heard of _____?” and seeing it as a direct-to-video release, the format most anime is still released by in America. (Although I’ve lost touch over the years if by some chance you’re reading this Aaron, give yourself a pat on the back.) What makes completing the Ranma TV series even more of a personal accomplishment is that I purchased the final seasons I hadn’t seen while I was nearing the mark of my one hundredth completed anime series.
I found it amusing that the final disc of the series has a featurette of the cast of the dub (Ranma is one of few titles I watch in the dub format) looking back at the project that took 8 years to finish. I couldn’t help but think about how it took me more than that watch all of their work. Even more amusing is hearing many English voice actors (who I will admit at many times made the show for me because they just seemed to “get it”) who I’ve met and interacted with at anime conventions over the years and reflect about how most of this work was before they were big names.
I got into anime thirteen years ago, and have hit one hundred completed series. It’s hard to say whether it’s surprising it’s taken that long or not, but after this long and enjoying this much, I doubt I will be stopping any time soon. Even as I type this on a shelf to the right of my computer are five DVD sets to finish off more series. I’m also trying to close in on 100 single sitting features (TV Special one-shots, feature films etc). It’s been a long road, but I’m just taking this moment to reflect while I tighten my hiking boots back up and continue on a path that I enjoy so much. Even finishing Ranma ½ doesn’t feel like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend, but rather, reaffirming an old friendship.
(Oh, and the Dunbine write-up hasn't been forgotten, I've just been sidetracked with lots of other stuff, including reaching today's milestone)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Sometimes I can be a really bad fan of anime. But with a train trip from Boston to Philadelphia, I had a good chunk of time to lean back in my seat and watch something. Enter the copy of Metropolis recently added to my DVD library thanks to a friend having a second copy. With a story based off work by the legendary manga-ka Tezuka Osamu, a screenplay by Otomo Katsuhiro, and Rintaro directing, it’s only natural to have high expectations and hopes. Thankfully, the only thing the film left me disappointed in was myself for not watching it sooner.
First and foremost, to simply call the film visually stunning would be an understatement. The cityscapes projected in the film are breathtaking, creating feelings of amazement, wonder and perhaps even some fear as the tall buildings seem to be the only landscape visible for miles. The art deco future setting comes alive so much more. In modern filmmaking CGI can become quickly dated or in other instances it sticks out from the rest of the film’s content. Yet in Metropolis CGI and normal cell animation blend together and share the screen with just a healthy balance between the two that is rarely seen.
Yet eye candy is not the only reason for the film being so enjoyable, not by a long shot. With likeable protagonists, detestable villains, the plot can easily draw the viewer further into the film. It could be argued that many of the characters are one dimensional, but they aren’t so one-sided that they seem unbelievable. Early on, one will be able to predict the actions of most of the characters, but it is not from them being too one-dimensional, rather it is a result of them being made more plausible.
Recently, I also read through Tezuka’s manga, Apollo’s Song. A gripping story with a main character who appears to be unable to love, being punished by some divine force to live through a barrage of different lives in which any time he nears the possibility of finally attaining true love, catastrophe strikes. While generally I read manga relatively fast as it is; I found that I had trouble putting the book (which is over 500 pages) down. It’s not the kiddy side of Tezuka that most people think of when conjuring up what sort of stuff he’s created.
Perhaps the most jarring part of adding the book to my collection came after completing it. I keep my manga organized by manga-ka. Apollo’s Song by Tezuka Osamu was placed in the shelf right next to Saikano, but Takahashi Shin. Unsettling, but oddly fitting at the same time.
Monday, May 12, 2008
April (and a few days into May) was spent working on a self-imposed backlog of DVDs that I had borrowed from my roommate. The vast majority of them were things that I just never got around to watching before, partially because I never owned them, but thanks to a second library of anime DVDs in the apartment, there’s a lot more to see.
With a stack of 30 discs (plus one added later) I set to work, averaging about a disc a day. On queue in this list were (in no particular order)
- The third and fourth seasons of Ranma ½: While there were a few scattered episodes I’d seen, but for all intents and purposes, the seasons as wholes were new content. Ranma was one of my earliest anime titles, and as far as I can remember, the first non-televised series that I was recommended to me by a friend. There’s a very really sense of wanting to see the entire series at some point. With only two seasons and one feature length movie left, the goal is in sight, and I still laugh along with the episodes.
- Noir: It seems like ages ago that I first saw a fan made music video to Dido’s "Huntress" in a convention’s contest and was intrigued by it. While I wasn’t wowed but the series it wasn’t a bad ride. I was just left expecting a bit more bite at times.
- Dai-Guard: A mecha series that falls under the radar a lot, partially because it’s not groundbreaking or part of a well known franchise. All the same, it’s great series. Filled with a good deal more comedy than the average mecha fair, I found myself grinning a lot. Making fun of the over the top nature of some mecha shows, the Japanese work ethic, and the absurd levels that bureaucracy can create for itself. Two related themes within Dai-Guard that stood out to me. The first was a strong display of how people who have radically different personalities can still be good friends when under the banner of the same goals. (Most notable here are Shirota and Akagi.) The second is the nature of some people to help out despite unusual circumstances. In times when Dai-Guard is unusable, many of the characters associated with it find themselves drawn to taking actions to help and protect people. The opener for the series is really catchy to boot. I should also note that this is the first series directed by Mizushima Seiji that I’ve actually completed (I still need to finish Full Metal Alchemist and Gundam 00) however, with a record looking this good, I’m going to start looking for what others of his works are out there.
- Godannar: The second mecha show I put into the “to watch” stack. Two thirteen episode seasons that were filled with hot-blooded fight scenes, manly men, well endowed women, gave eye candy for everyone. The first eleven episodes left me feeling unattached to the story and really only enjoying the some of the more comedic parts of the show such as nods to previous anime classics, both mecha as well as others from different genres. However, the final story arc of the first season finally hooked me and my interest was definitely a lot higher in the second season. Characters seemed to gain a good deal more depth and the overarching plot finally began to shape itself into something less amorphous. In the final stretches of the show, one phrase stood out to me. On the subject of giant robots, one characters describes them as "the power of a god with the soul of a mortal". A fitting description that reminds me of what I use as my explanation for my love of the mecha genre; "it's not always about the gigantic war machines, but the people in control of them"
- Project A-Ko: A hilarious sci-fi comedy film that is often labeled as a classic, A-Ko is definitely worth sitting down to watch, even if half the time one has to scratch their head and process what he or she is witnessing. On my list of things to track down and watch now are the next installments, despite C-Ko being quite possibly the most annoying character ever conceived.
In the realm of new stuff, I’ve been following Macross Frontier eagerly. While the Macross franchise has never been toward the front of my mecha anime fortes (ask me to name more than three of the fighters from across the entire franchise and I’m in trouble) I still enjoy what I watch. Frontier has definitely stepped up and caught my attention. Like the first (and I hope second) half of Gundam 00 there are a lot of good elements that remind fans of the previous parts of the franchise why they enjoy what they’ve watched so much, but at the same time there are many elements that keep it fresh, interesting, and lead us to something new.
On tap to view soon:
- The last three DVDs of Full Metal Alchemist (top priority)
- Something by Kurosawa, (not sure what yet, but I think I’m in the mood to sit down and watch Dreams again)
- Lupin the III: The Secret of Twilight Gemini (if a promised late birthday present ever gets ordered)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Two days ago I came across this article in the gadgets section of Boing Boing.
On one hand, it's Dreamworks which has a track record that isn't too atrocious, and their CGI work is some of the best around.
On the other is trying to an American company looking to remake an anime film that is already close to flawless, and known well enough on its own.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Waiting for this announcement to go public has been driving me insane. As I've stated several times before, the music of the pillows is one of the things that made the anime series FLCL so great. I've enjoyed much of their work beyond what they've done for series.
I look forward to what should be an amazing show. Anime Boston's announcement for the event can be found here.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
-Over the weekend the 18th episode of Gundam 00 aired. I’ve been following this series rather closely and although I’ve had my suspicions that Mizushima Seiji was a decent director after finishing the first half of Full Metal Alchemist, the recent strain stuff in the plot has been downright amazing. It’s still got some elements of a Gundam title, but the differences the show goes for are the right ones to strive for. Mizushima is showing that he really know how to make the shit hit the fan. I suspect that when the break between seasons hits at the end of next month, waiting for October and the second half of the series is going to be nothing short of torture.