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January 26th, 2009

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08:54 pm - I probably ought to do this before Egypt makes me forget what I wanted to say
It's not exactly what one would consider the most appropriate sort of thing to be posting on Australia Day/Invasion Day (delete as personal preferences apply), but I wasn't exactly doing anything else today - and am going to be rather busy for the next while - so it's my next dose of Thoughts On Anime/Manga.

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 it wasn't a suspicious looking import, either. (The manga just got bought because the second-hand bookstore randomly had it cheap. It was fun, but fairly disposable, really)

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.

Hellsing (Manga)

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.

Samurai Champloo

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. As does the fact that I also got half a dozen icons and a new desktop of it. LOVE. Love love loved it. It's been the first thing in a while that make me, well, cry happy tears, it was just that much of an OMG YES going on by the end.

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 because Space Westerns seem to work well for me, and Revolutionary Girl Utena because I can't not watch a deconstruction of female roles in fairytales.
Current Mood: busybusy

(15 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 12:22 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I'm glad you enjoyed the movie! It's always interested me how much more sombre it is compared to the series - but then many of Bebop's episodes had such varying tones that it's perfectly viable. But it is noticeably more grim and I find it amusing that the dub actually tries to lighten it up by adding in jokes and stuff.

I agree word for word with your Champloo thoughts. I enjoyed it very much but I also experienced the same feeling of disconnect and I just can't put my finger on why that is. Bebop definitely felt more rewarding and a little more... human and organic, I think. Champloo feels more designed if you know what I mean. Some brilliant standalone episodes, though.

Gurren Lagann lives up to the hype and then some. Words cannot describe how exciting and frustrating it was waiting for the final few episodes to come out and I envy anyone who didn't have to wait a week between each episode. Seriously envy.

I honestly preferred Trigun when it was lulzy. When Legato came in I was like "Yeah, he's cool" and then the show just got soul-destroyingly dark. I actually stopped watching because I genuinely wasn't enjoying it anymore at all.

EDIT: Utena is pretty awesome. I know you loved Princess Tutu and Utena very much feels like Tutu's older sister. It's kind of insane, though - the anime equivalent of Twin Peaks.

And I think you might get a kick out of Gankutsuou, living proof that a futuristic retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo with the titular Count as a blue space vampire and animation made out primarily of gorgeous patterned textures rather than flat colours can be amazing! Actually, here's the trailer. Words don't do it justice.

Edited at 2009-01-26 12:46 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
I didn't actually notice it being that much more sombre, really. The baddie was perhaps a bit more brutal, but apart from that... (I will admit I watched the dub. The DVD has the sub, too, so if I'm bored sometime I might check that out to see how different it is.)

I get what you mean about feeling designed. It certainly had it's moments - some of the stand alones, and the finale worked well for me, but it was a bit too much like trying to replicate the success of Bebop and not quite succeeding. Though, like I said, I might just be more a sci-fi person.

Having marathoned Gurren Lagann, I can't imagine how unbearable the wait between weeks would have been. Ouch.

That's what I mean about Trigun's weird pacing. Personally, it got by for me on the fact I liked the cast so much, and the fact that it ended with such a ... release of tension. It wasn't the best resolution plot-wise, but it worked tonally.

That's why I went and bought Utena - the Tutu comparison.

And I'm interested in seeing Gankutsuou, though given how gorgeous the visuals are I may wait until I can find it on DVD for the full impact.
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I mean it's perfectly fine either way especially as the Bebop dub is one of the best, but the Japanese version is almost completely humourless and deadly serious - I must confess, I did find myself desperate for some humour aside from Ed after a while. It's nice that the dub provides that.

I know exactly what you mean, I think I lean more towards the sci-fi and the fantasy in anime, and as such I've struggled with a lot of samurai shows. Champloo is probably the only one I ever finished apart from the movie Sword of the Stranger. It does feel a lot like Bebop 2.0, doesn't it? Right down to the structure and the characters, although the overall storyline isn't nearly as compelling.

The pacing is very weird, yes. To the extent that I actually found it kind of difficult to watch at parts because it was so jarring with its weird mix of fast and slow and sudden grimdark turn. I do think a lot more thought could've gone into it - as you say, mixing the dark with the light a bit more would've worked wonders.

Gankutsuou is definitely a watch on DVD kind of series, yes. And while the visuals are all kinds of stunning and unique, the coolest thing about it is that's it more than got the substance to back them up. The drama is just stunning.
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
That's a bit of a surprise to me, since one of the reasons I like Bebop is the humour in it. It's fun, even when it's serious business.

I'd agree with you, except it doesn't have the strong arc going on. It really could have used that, too.

Like I said, I fully acknowledge that the pacing is majorly whacked in Trigun. My built up love for the characters is what carried me through.

Hmmm... JB Hi-Fi apparently sells to box-set - and at a reasonable price for a legitimate version - I shall have to see if the Lonsdale Street store has any in stock. If not, I might order one after I get back from Egypt.
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
I may, at some point, actually have to watch TTGL. Or, actually, all of the stuff you've reference above, because it reads to me like a list of 'Essential Anime'. I've seen bits and pieces of the others, though.

In a comment to an earlier post, I made a reference to Full Metal Panic, and I never got around to answering your question about what it was. This is, pretty much, because I think it's a bit difficult to give a good summary of what it is. It *is* SF with a tinge of fantasy. I've heard others accuse it of having a pretty good try at bringing realism into the giant mecha genre, which I think may be true enough. I've never watched it for the mecha battles, but for the interactions between the two main characters, really. I like the mix it has between humour and drama. (Link goes to the TVTropes summary)

There are three series, of which the second is more of a romantic comedy spinoff instead of a continuation of the story. It's pretty hilarious, though, and is compensates a bit for the reduced humour in the third series.

[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm basically working my way through stuff that I like the sound of. Which, by the sheer fact I've heard of it, means it's fairly mainstream.

Full Metal Panic sounds... interesting. I might look into it after I work my way through my "To watch" list. Which, admittedly, is pretty extensive.
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Are you familiar with UNION FLAGANN?

because I can't not watch a deconstruction of female roles in fairytales.

Which is in turn deconstructed by Madlax and Simoun! *nodnod*
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
I had actually seen that before. Oh Internets, what wonders you provide.

... You aren't just listing series that known for having lesbians, are you?
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC)
Nope! Simoun is a polemic against Utena in many respects. And Madlax takes the loopiness of Utena and runs with it, as well as deconstructing Utena's view of human nature (c.f. Elenore Baker, Madlax herself, and even Carrossea Doon to some extent).
[User Picture]
Date:January 27th, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
I must admit I'm curious about what aspects of Utena these shows are countering.

...Though it'd probably be easier to discuss after I've actually seen Utena, I suppose.
[User Picture]
Date:January 27th, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
Simoun is a polemic (from something of a Saint-Exuperian perspective, as opposed to a J.M. Barrian one) against Utena's view of childhood and maturity. Madlax specifically sets out to underscore what petty dicks most Utena characters are by specifically addressing issues of 'shooting emotions' and where violent, petty, and/or dickish urges come from.
[User Picture]
Date:January 27th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
...most characters in Utena and similar types of shows, I mean. Doing that to one show specifically is exactly the sort of dickish behaviour that Mashimo was trying to condemn.
[User Picture]
Date:January 27th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
Yep, definitely a conversation I should come back after I've actually seen Utena.

(Note: This may be a while)
Date:January 26th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
You preferred Cowboy Bebop instead of Champloo right? I'm the opposite =)
If so you'll love Outlaw Star (and perhaps it's spin-off Angel Links which I just finished yesterday) but avoid the Ninja Scroll series (the movie's good though) as that is very obviously a Champloo inspiration :) but much less hip-hop.
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
Well, we can't all have the same brain, I suppose.

I shall possibly look into that once I work my way through my list.

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