As with the last time, fandoms are in alphabetical order because it's as good as any, and more detailed info on what I've watched/read is on MyAnimeList.
And spoilers for everything, basically.
Cowboy Bebop (Movie and Manga)
Well, after everlasting_day was so insistent, I couldn't not watch the movie. Plus, after I went and returned tinyteddyqueen's DVDs, I had to go and buy my own boxset, so it was just convenient to buy a copy of the movie.
And to continue to agree with everlasting_day, it was indeed very good. I mean, the visuals and music were obviously fabulous, and the ...thing with the butterflies was fascinatingly cool to watch.
Also, way to keep up all the thematic stuff with all the talk of dreams et al. Which is kind of an impressive thing to do, keeping the movie stand-alone enough that a n00b to Bebop could probably work out who and what everyone was, but making it fit well into the series and all.
As for the new characters - Vincent was simultaneously horrifying and sort of pitable by the end. Well, almost, since I kinda can't forgive what he was going to do to Faye. Electra initally bugged me, but I liked her much better once we got the backstory.
My main problem was the fact that I spent the entire of the finale wondering how an apparently blood-bourne vaccine was supposed to be transmitted by spraying it on people. Seriously, that's like RTD-level scientific WTF. Not to mention all the people who will cover up when it starts to rain.
Also, I was sad when Ed went MIA for a bit in the middle. But that's just because I love Ed and her hilarious adorableness.
Well, I said a while back that I wanted to read the manga, and I finally got around to it. Incidentally, in the time between saying that and actually reading it, the manga finished, so well done to me.
And it kept up the whole "ridiculous but fun" vibe that was in the anime/OVA/whatevers. Nazi vampires eating babies! A Catboy named Schrodinger! Completely unexpected robot guy! It's nothing but cracktastic battle-scenes with occasionally ridiculously hilarious moments.
I can't for the life of me take it seriously, but as crack goes, well, it's good crack.
Okay, to comment on something other than the crack: Favourite character has to be Integra, though I think Seras (or however it's spelt) is hilarious and Alucard is awesome. I also love Pip, bless him. And the Major had to be one of the most fun villains I've seen in a while. Something about his unashamed evil was just plain entertaining.
And despite being spoiled for it, I was genuinely shocked when Walter pulled his "Surprise, I'm evil!" thing. It was just... I was actually angry at him for that. Poor Integra.
Oh, and last chapter/epilogue thing was far too awww-inducing than anything containing a character that is technically Dracula should really be. (Yeah, there may have been a mild case of Integra/Alucard shipping going on. Specifically in that order, because Integra is Alucard's Master, and that's the way he likes it)
And something that has just occurred to me on reflection: One of the things the Hellsing and Trigun mangas (which I comment on further down) have in common is that they both basically end with the entire second half of the manga being just one long serious of battles and fight scenes, with the occasional flashback. And yet while this started to really bug me when I was reading Trigun, the Hellsing manga just flew by. Maybe it was shorter chapters. Maybe it was the subject matter. Maybe it was just better paced, I don't know.
It was just an interesting thing to ponder.
Now I know there's a few people on my flist - Y HALO THAR, khallandra - that adore this, so I'm a little sad to say that, while I think this series was really, really good, and I quite liked it, I didn't love it. Which, given pretty much every anime series I've watched, even ones I freely acknowledge aren't nearly as good I have loved, is a bit... disappointing.
I'm not even entirely sure why this is. I mean, there was a lot about Champloo I liked. A lot. The visuals were utterly stunning - it was worth watching just for them - the music was nifty, the comedy episodes were some of the funniest I've seen, the gleeful anachronisms amused me a lot, and I genuinely liked all the main characters (especially Fuu). But I just felt sort of ...disconnected from it all. I've seen comments that the main criticism of the series is that it's a bit too stand alone, and I might agree with that: if they'd had a stronger ongoing plot/episode carry-over I might have felt more involved. I would have liked it if they'd foregrounded the relationship between the leads a bit earlier, too.
In the end... I don't know. Like I said, I think it was a really very good series, and I did like it. I am not disappointed I watched it or anything, and I certainly think it was worth watching. But it was like in the way you might like a good book you have to read for class, as opposed to liking something you read for fun. Maybe I'm just not enough of a history buff/weeaboo for all the historical stuff to grab me. Or maybe sci-fi/fantasy just clicks better for me. *shrugs*
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
The fact that I gave this series a post of it's own pretty much says it all, really.
My favourite character has to be Simon. I mean, I get that everyone loves Kamina - and I love him too - it's just that I'm of the opinion that the first 7 or so episodes are the weakest of the series. Kamina's the best part of them, easy, but it's only in his final episode and after that the series really starts to pick up and go from fun and well done crack, to actually being really good.
And then I reckon it becomes another whole world better after the time-skip. Seriously, I don't think there is anything that happens after the time-skip I don't love. Even when characters are being utter jerks (Yes, Rossiu, I mean you), they way it's done is just so good. It made a character type I normally am not fond of - Nia - and made me genuinely love her. And post-timeskip Simon is my favourite Simon (particularly in the last few episodes).
I mean, the time-skip plot only works given that we've seen all that comes before. But it touched on a whole bunch of stuff I love - on what happens after the good guys beat the evil overlord, on how wartime heroes don't really work as peacetime leaders, and taking the very black and white set-up and introducing a bunch of grey - and also manages to be completely, gloriously, insanely over the top and just plain fun.
I never actually intended to watch this all in one night. But I got so caught up, I couldn't bear to stop, that's how much I love it.
And the music will be stuck in my head. Forever.
Incidentally, it has just struck me that Gurren Lagann and Haruhi Suzumiya have been two of the most ridiculously overhyped recent anime series. And they've become two of the series I love most. Which is not to say that I don't recognise some of hype they've gotten is ridiculous. Just that whatever part of the fannish hivemind that decides what particular series to obsess over seems to click remarkably well with my own personal tastes.
Trigun's an interesting case, in that I read/watched both the anime and the manga, and I don't think I've ever really had such of clear case of loving a fandom and yet recognising how obviously flawed it is.
I mean, as I mentioned up in the Hellsing section, the pacing is utterly messed up, in both the anime and the manga. The anime starts out with a bunch of lulzy fun episodes, and then about halfway through becomes all serious business and never lightens up - if ever there was a case of needing to mix the episodes up a bit, this would be it. And it totally could use an epilogue or something, given the way the ending leaves things hanging (on the plus side, I've found some decent post-anime fic).
Whilst the manga starts out seeming to be much better paced and mixing up the tone - until we get about halfway through and then suddenly the entire second half is one long series of unending, almost unbroken fights, that go on for chapters without changing the status quo, and made even longer by long flashbacks and introducing even more new characters. Seriously, you could cut maybe 30 chapters or so without it really screwing up the actual plot.
And despite this, I still think I kinda love it. Mainly on account of Vash, who has pretty much instantly become one of my favouritest characters ever on account of being simultaneously awesome, adorable, hilarious and badass. And I just want to give him a million hugs.
Of the two I have to say I prefer the anime over the manga, mainly because, for all it's flaws, it has a much stronger focus on the main characters and how they interact with one another. I mean, the manga made me like both Knives and Wolfwood (who was one of those characters whom I liked but found their popularity inexplicable for the anime) much more, and it certainly did better in rounding out the villains, but it did so at the cost of the Insurance Girls (who I kinda loved), and the leads spent most of their time separate, which didn't appeal to me so much.
The manga, I think, has a much better sort of "epic plot", and the whole goings on makes for a more interesting over-all story. But aside from the ridiculous pacing thing, manga vs anime basically comes down to story vs characters, and I since the appeal of Trigun (for me, anyway) comes mostly from it's characters, I have to prefer the anime.
And that would be that for another review post. Well, not entirely that, since there was also a bunch of random spin-off mangas of things I read but hey, those are all on my AnimeList thing.
Of the series on this list, I am already getting into the Gurren Lagann fandom, I'm sitting back and wincing at the Keanu Reeves Bebop rumours, I seem to be lurking around the edges of Hellsing fandom. And I would consider getting into Trigun fandom, except it seems to be kinda dead these days.
Next one of these posts will be... whenever I actually manage to watch/read some more stuff after I get back from Egypt. And have time around Uni. Next series I actually own - and thus will be watching soon (unless something else strikes my fancy) are Outlaw Star