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Anime Reviews: Long Time, No See - Eldritch Lacemaking and other Randomness

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January 7th, 2010

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07:43 pm - Anime Reviews: Long Time, No See
Wow, it's been a long time since I've done one of these. As in literally over 6 months. Ah, whoops? I suppose that's what happens when one is busy with Interning and Uni and assignments and exams and travelling all over the place.

Unfortunate consequence of this: The first couple of things on this list I literally watched months ago, and so it's now not so much immediate impressions as considered reactions. Which is both good and bad, since it means fandom has had time to get it's claws into me.

Posting in order of when I watched them, and everything potentially has spoilers all the way through.

Death Note (anime)

Listing this may surprise some of my flistees, since Death Note was what, the second animanga fandom I got into? And yet, despite the fact I read the manga years ago, I had seen big chunks of the anime in the past - I have to confess this was, in all honesty, the first time I'd seen the entire series through, beginning to end.

So, yeah.

That said, because I had already been floating around the fandom for quite a while, it's not like marathoning the anime really changed my opinion of the story or characters all that much. Light is still my favourite, manipulative egotistical murdering bastard that he is, and while I like L, he still comes off as a bit too much of a cypher to me to be my favourite - I can't really imagine the way he'd react outside the context of the Kira case. And I also think that if he actually beat Light, he'd spend the rest of his like grumpy and dissatisfied because no other case would ever match up. And yeah, they so totally amped up the yaoi vibe in the anime. I was also kind of impressed at how they made L seem both more adorable, and more... just plain creepy and unnerving at times. Oh, and I still like Misa, as an unpopular opinion as that is.

And yes, you can't forget the potato chips. I don't get people who act like Death Note is all Serious Business, it's so much more fun to just accept it as being kinda absurd and go with the flow. I also had this problem with some of Code Geass fandom, specifically the overly cynical, detail-obsessed, everything-should-be-darker-and-edgier fanboy quotient. But this isn't the place for that...

I also liked what they did with the second half, in stepping up the pacing. Though I am not sure how well someone who wasn't familiar with the manga might grab the leaps in logic. But Mello remained a refreshing change, and I still don't really care for Near. Sorry, Near, but I still think you are a less interesting version of L, and I don't really care that much for the adorable Shota types.

As for the differences in the ending... I don't really see them as all that different, images aside, but the anime version really did emphasise that in the end, Death Note is basically the Greek Tragedy of Light. A God decides to interfere in the affairs of man, and everyone gets screwed over as a result. Light was screwed from the moment he picked up that book, really. Yeah, his downfall was ultimately hubris, but if it was anyone else who had that book... they wouldn't have fallen so far, but they wouldn't have achieved so much (for good or for ill) beforehand. And without it, Light mightn't have died so young or so painfully - but he wouldn't have achieved so much, either. Cue Icarus metaphor.

Over all, though, I really liked the anime adaptation. Good animation, great music, the changes were (mostly) good, and it was overall terribly engaging. Occasionally crazy OTT, but I like a bit of crazy OTT, and given how much the plot is just I Know You Know I Know scheming, and bit of outrageous action worked well in contrast for me. I won't really say which I prefer out of the manga and anime, just that they really as sorted of blurred in my head into one canon. Don't ask me how the ending works out in that, though.

Code Geass and Code Geass R2 (anime)

My introduction to Code Geass was kinda weird, in retrospect: I first heard about it when people were flipping out towards the end of R2, and I thought it sounded kind of interesting, but decided to wait until the series was over and see how the ending worked out - Endings often make or break a series for me, and I'll admit that after I heard how Code Geass ended (I liked the sound of the ending, tragic as it was), I resolved to watch it.

And then something happened, I have no idea what, and I just never got around to it, and it got pushed to the back of my mind for months and months. And then in the middle of last year, something reminded me of it again - Possibly that the Friendly Neighbourhood Anime Shop of Dubious Legality had a first series boxset fairly cheap - and I ended up running through the whole thing in a little over a week. As one does.

And somehow, despite the fact that there are other anime series I like more, and others I think are undoubtedly objectively better, it seems to have ended up as one of the fandoms I am most active in (By my personal standards of active). Which is even more bizarre, since I have a huge urge to roll my eyes at like the majority of the fandom outside LJ.

I've yammered a lot about characters and stuff in other people's LJs and in the comments of mine, so if your on my flist and into Code Geass, you probably already know a lot of my opinions. And I am free to talk about it even more, since Code Geass discussion that isn't A) Is Lelouch alive debates, B) Will there be a new season?, C) R2 sucked because... and D) The ongoing bitching about characters X, Y and Z is apparently hard to find nowadays.

Anyway... Unpopular fannish opinion number one: Suzaku is my favourite Code Geass character. Which isn't to say I dislike Lelouch, as he's my second favourite character, he just took longer to grow on me. Which is weird, since I generally like Magnificent Bastard schemers who do it for the greater good, but I liked Stupidly Noble Heroic types first, and well... (Quite frankly, the either/or nature of Geass fandom, and the way people seem to decide if they love or hate a character solely on if they are on Lelouch's side bugs me. A lot. The show itself was mostly fairly good with the shades of grey stuff, WHY DOES THE FANDOM SUCK SO MUCH AT IT?)

But yeah, love Suzaku, don't entirely understand how people could possibly hate him in the first season, and don't really see how people can say he's much worse than Lelouch even in R2. Less intelligent and self-aware, maybe, but morally... Also, starting R2 the very next day after I watched the end of the first season, including the SAZ and Euphie fiasco made it very, very easy to sympathise with Suzaku, even if I wanted to frown at him for some of the things he did.

ANYWAY, back on topic: Yeah, I personally tend to see the story of Code Geass as being not so much solely Lelouch's story as it was Lelouch and Suzaku's - note that basically ever significant plot moment involves the two of them - and it strikes me that being entirely on one side or the other sort of... defeats the point. They are both wrong and both right in their own ways, they both do heroic and not so heroic things. and while we get the story from Lelouch's perspective and so he's the most well-developed and explained character - and probably the most fun to watch (WHY SO FABULOUS, ZERO?) - Suzaku's the one that intrigues me most. Possibly because of the lesser introspection we get from him, possibly because the demons Suzaku has to overcome are internal. And possibly because he's so tragic. Everyone loves Lelouch; Suzaku has almost no-one, and he still loses most of them.

That said, my favourite aspect of Code Geass is the whole duality between Suzaku and Lelouch, their relationship (be it merely the friendship-turned-enemies-turned-ultimately those who understood each other best, or, you know, the yaoi take on things), and the whole compare and contrast. How they are both very similar and very different, and how the same things that make them bitter enemies are what make them an amazing team.

...And I just realised I've barely covered the rest of the characters. Or, you know, the plot Though that'd probably take way too much space. Suffice to say, I'm more in it for the characters, which is why I love the final arc. Erm... I like pretty much all the characters, more or less, and again most the hate utterly baffles me. My favourite female character is C.C., because she's interesting and amusingly snarky, and calls Lelouch out on his shit. For some reason, I like Lelouch more when people call him out. It should be encouraged. I also quite liked Euphie and R2!Nunnally to my great surprise, since I don't normally go for the princess types. Unless they are Princess Leia types. But they both turned out to be rather stronger and more active than I expected, so yay them?

Oh, and here are some of my opinions on the ongoing debates of fandom: Lelouch is dead at the end. Really. While I can see where the "He's alive!" people get there arguments from - it's a lot more plausible than the Harry Potter debates on being alive - I think it thematic, character and story terms, Lelouch has to die. The fact that he is ultimately willing to give up his power, and stand by his "Those who shoot should be willing to be shot" is what ultimately makes him heroic, and having him be alive undermines that. And I don't by the "accidentally immortal" thing, since it would require a staggeringly huge amount of luck for that to happen without cluing anyone in and ruining Zero Requiem. So, I might read fic in which Lelouch is alive, but I don't for a second believe it is canon. It doesn't help that the arguments in favour of it seem to use a lot of ad hoc logic.

Also, while I think that R2 was, from an overall perspective - structure, consistency, pacing et al - not as good as the first season, the "Trainwreck" claims... kind of baffle me. Because a lot of the flaws that were there were also in the first season but no-one seems to care about them then. Also, there seems to be a certain amount of "I don't like X development, therefore it sucks/is stupid". *sigh* I must confess that despite it's flaws I found R2 probably more interesting to watch than the first season - partially because a lot more happened, and so I felt consistantly compelled to stick around. And also because, well, I liked a lot of the characters more (I tl;dr about my reasons for this a bit here.) That, and Code Geass was always kind of ridiculous. And don't you deny it.

As for the upcoming whatever the hell it is... don't fuck with the end of R2, and I'm sold. Like I said, the end of R2 made Geass for me. And I'm looking forward to the prequel manga with C.C. and the expies, even if the art style isn't my favourite. I hope it's true about a musical. Because... LOL.

But yeah, as I said at the start, there's shows I like more and ones I think are objectively better, but Code Geass has done a great job of hitting my personal fandom buttons. If the upcoming stuff continues to do so, I may start to post more frequenly on it, and actually separate out a Code Geass tag. Though I should probably try to avoid the parts of fandom that make my eyes roll, even if they do occasionally have spoilers or lulz.

Read or Die (OVAs)

I watched this when I was back at my Mum's place for Christmas, and it was a fun few hours. Key word being "Few" because wow, way too short. It really could have gone on for twice the episodes that it did and I really wouldn't have a problem - and as far as I can tell, the sequel anime thing focuses on different characters, though the OVA characters make some appearances. Which is a bit disappointing, because I liked the OVA ones, Yomiko and Nancy (speaking of which, there was some epic femslash vibes going on there. I'm not alone in seeing this, right?) Especially when they got their badass on and used their powers. That were never explained at all - not that I normally care about those things, but hey. It was fun to see the head in a book geek girl kick arse. And the Nancy-clone stabbing Nancy bit in the last episode, now there was a Holy Shit moment for you.

But yeah, very short but fun while it lasted. I totally wouldn't have minded if these episodes had been like the plot-arcy ones and there'd been a few one-off filler adventure in between, really. Or they'd been longer episodes. Or something *sigh* Not a lot more to say, really. Oh, and I loved the opening music, as very James Bond-ish as it was.

Ouran High School Host Club (anime)

I just finished this series last night, and was quite surprised to find a really liked it. I say surprised, because, well, I'm not normally the type of person who goes in for that sort of thing - the only shoujo shows I've watched have been deconstructions in one way or another, I tend to like a touch of the weird in my stories. But this was just a whole lot of fun.

I think it was probably how very self-aware it was of it's own absurdity. And how very aware the characters were of it, too. And, well, I don't think I've ever seen another show that was so aware of fandom and the like, and I got such a kick out of the way the show used all that and was just so aware, down to all the fandomy terminology that official sources play to but never mention.

...And then, after lots of episodes of ridiculousness and hilarity and fannish-awareness, along it comes to be suprisingly touching after all. And by "surprisingly touching", I mean I cried through like the entire last episode - in the good way as well, in the end, because it was just so lovely and heartwarming and awesome and just plain d'awww.

Overall, I think my favourite characters were Kyouya (however that's spelt) and Tamaki. Hey look, a Magnificent Bastard with distinct self-selving tendencies and a stupidly noble Idiot Hero who just wants people to be happy. Oh, and Renge for the unending hilarity. I mean, that revolving platform... But I like them all, really, and I loved the Host Club at the end as these people who, for all their differences and bitching, who still always wanted to stick together as a group. Bless.

So, that'd be that then. Of course, finishing up that lot means I am rather deficient in my "To Watch" list, since I haven't got a real lot sitting around at the moment. I do have some assorted manga catching up to do, too.

Anyway, I currently have the first season of Black Lagoon, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. (Yeah, I know. But it's a classic, so I figured I should watch it at some point. And it was on special at JB Hi-Fi) But beyond that, I am totally open to recommendations. My older comments and reviews should give some idea of the stuff I like; beyond that I would prefer completed series, either something I can grab a box set of, or just a season torrent with subs. Possibly something a bit more cheery and happy, since... yeah.
Current Mood: calmcalm

(18 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 7th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
Ouran is awesome (and you spelled Kyouya right, too ;-)). I personally like Mori a lot, too, probably more than Tamaki.

As for other anime... ah....
For incredible self-awareness and use of fan/fandom tropes, you might try Hayate no Gotoku (also known as Hayate the Combat Butler). Subbed by Eclipse. You should be able to get a torrent somewhere. The second season goes a little more in the romantic direction.

Vampire Knight is so OTT gothic shoujo you might just like it for the lols.

Genshiken is a look at fandom from the inside, but I think it's a bit too quiet for your tastes. Although ep 5 of season 2 has to be seen to be believed...

[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC)
Oh, I like all the Host Club characters. Though I don't think I got quite enough characterisation for Mori to really qualify as favourite. He certainly has his moments, though.

I've heard of Hayate the Combat Butler! ...Though I can't recall of what I heard about it. It probably shows up on TV Tropes a lot.

Are they the intentional lols, or the other kind?

I just looked up Genshiken on wiki... that's the episode where someone starts shipping other club members. Scarily enough, I've known that to happen in RL.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 09:48 am (UTC)
>intentional lols, or the other kind

the other kind, I'm afraid.
I've read only a few chapters here and there, and I used to say Twilight is just a westernized copy of it, but after looking at some lines from the latest few manga chapters, it now looks like it's trying to outdo Twilight in the bad lols department. ("Onii-sama, PLEASE TAINT ME TOO *SOB*")
But I've also heard that PLOT/conspiracies are present... which are generally rare in shoujo mangas, so I guess it all depends...
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 10:00 am (UTC)
Oh dear Lord.

Maybe if I am really bored at some point... Not that I really know much about it, but the Twilight comparison - and the, um, incesty comment - isn't exactly hitting the mark when it comes to personal appeal.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
I may have pimped Hayate to you before. I'm quite taken with it, so if I got the chance to spread the word...

The lols with VK are probably the unintentional kind. I used to follow it (and the manga -- stopped reading that when I'd caught up to the then current chapter, and never got back to it), and actually quite liked it for what it is, but dear god it does go over the top (incest? hah! twincest, even).

Shipping in Real Life may happen, but not like in that episode of Genshiken. If you feel bored, check out Genshiken before VK, maybe. :-)

[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
Probably - that sounds about right.

From what I am hearing about VK... perhaps not. Unless I am ever in a point-and-laugh mood. Incest isn't really my thing. At all. And Twilight-tastic vampire stuff... also not my thing, though rather more mockable.

Uh-huh. Well, now I am curious as to what the hell happens in that episode.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 09:37 am (UTC)
I have indeed labelled R2 as trainwreck because of the way the last few episodes kind of snowballed (I still go "LOL MARIANNE WTH" sometimes) but I will agree that it was more entertaining than season 1 on the whole, and of course the ending made up for everything. Not being biased because the animation is better/prettier

The fact that he is ultimately willing to give up his power, and stand by his "Those who shoot should be willing to be shot" is what ultimately makes him heroic, and having him be alive undermines that. Best argument I've seen in awhile about why his death has meaning. Please don't f**k this up Sunrise please please please please please.

But yeah - I think Code Geass actually has the potential to be something deeper and darker, though it also happens to have a lot of crack potential as well, hence...
Overall, they still deserve a salute for making something that appeals to so many. I just wish they'd stop with the trolling already, but then this is SUNRISE and Geass has become such a cash cow for them that it's probably never going to end and be the next Gundam.

@Ouran: AWWWW YOU CRIED ;w; It's unanimous among my friends that the ending was excellent.

@Death Note: I only watched the live action movies, but LOL I WILL TAKE A POTATO CHIP... AND EAT IT!!!
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 09:57 am (UTC)
Well, I tend to think that problem with R2 is more a matter of too much plot and too few episodes rather than anything inherently wrong the plot. Having to re-intro everything after the time skip meant half the season was taken up with stuff that should have only been a few episodes, leaving almost an entire seasons worth of plot in the back half. (The Marianne thing is an example of that: I can see where they were going with that, having Lelouch realise that he's been very wrong about some things, but the execution could certainly have been better)

I don't think it's really worth worrying about until... we know we should worry. Seriously, a new Code Geass isn't even confirmed yet, and even if it is there are a vast many ways to make something new that don't involve screwing with the ending, from AUs to a Fumoffu crack series, to prequels like the manga, to making like Gundam and making new series with entirely different characters.

Well, I cry over a lot of things, because I am a soppy girl like that. But yes, everyone seems to agree on the anime ending from what I've seen.

I haven't actually seen the Death Note movies partially because Light isn't nearly as good looking as he is supposed to be. I've heard mixed things about them - some people love them, and some hate them.

[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)
Aye. I've said it all before, but I agree that retelling everything took up time, and the entire China arc took up time as well (even though the eunuchs were decent lols and XING KE HNNGH).
I did want to see more of Lelouch's reaction to Marianne being alive :/ From the way they handled it, there was very little time for him to process and he instead had to react and come to a decision so quickly that I feel it missed an emotional mark somewhere, despite being indicative of the strength of his will.

Yeah, we shall just have to wait and see...
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 10:20 am (UTC)
Oh, for a decent look into that one month time skip. Animated, manga, novel, short story; whatever, I'd love to know how all that went down. All there is is that one short story in the Mutuality artbook. There should be more fic set in that time, too.

'S all we can really do. Unless you want to go out of your mind worring about all the bad things that could possibly happen.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
you mean like sweet make-up sex fic? xD I have a feeling they strategically placed those 2 timeskips and deliberately left them ambiguous - not just due to lack of time, but so that all the fangirls can speculate. There is also picture drama 8 though, which I'm sure you've seen. But it's still quite little to go on with.

I'm presently trying to predict how I would react if they decide to make Suzaku's speculated connection to Geass official. For some reason, it's currently sitting in my "not sure if really want" department - perhaps because it's a concept that's relatively new to me, which I've never really thought of myself. I will admit that it WOULD be interesting, though.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 10:36 am (UTC)
Well, yes. As well as the less smutty emotional reconciliations and planning. I do think it's partially for speculation - in the same way they left a lot of what Lelouch did as Emperor off-screen, so he can be as horrible as fans decide.

I also think it's partially that they wanted to (to use a TVTropes reference) go for the Unspoken Plan Guarantee. They didn't show us them working things out, because that'd ruin the surprise of the final episode. Which means that while there are enough hints that the two have worked things out, the exact details remain ambiguous.

My current bit of speculation is that, if the Suzaku-looking guy in the prequel manga does end up being Suzaku's ancestor, then we might get it by implication that way. This is highly speculative of course, but it's one reason to at least check out the inital premise of the manga (Beyond C.C. and Geass-world history).
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 10:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, there's that as well. I had an ongoing collection of little drabbles based on what happened during the timeskips, but the muse/drive to piece them all together kind of died out in the end. I may see about posting them up sometime though.

And that's true as well. They had to keep us guessing about Zero Requiem till the end. I wasn't disappointed.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 10:51 am (UTC)
If you ever do post them, I'll check them out, I love that sort of thing.

Mmm. But in order to make the Big Dramatic Surprise Ending a, well, surprise, they couldn't show some of the inevitable discussion and emotional moments that would have been in the build up. I mean, they could totally release spinoff stuff with them now, but it wouldn't have worked quite as well in the anime itself.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 11:26 am (UTC)
Alternatively, there are also crack versions like what inastr8jacket and I (mostly her, though) came up with:

Suzaku (or C.C., whichever you prefer): Lelouch, I won't allow you to die a virgin.
Lelouch: Wh-WHAT (secret is out, pride as a man = GONE)
Suzaku: Well you're going to die, aren't you? I thought you were serious about Zero Requie-
Lelouch: I'M CALLING IT OFF!!!1

Yeah, I see your point there. Still, there are other parts which I feel could have been elaborated on. For instance, I think not revealing C.C.'s name is actually quite smart, but there's Geass history which I'd love to know about (looks like the manga/new stuff is going to tackle this now) and the Guren vs. Lancelot showdown could definitely have lasted longer.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
LOL! I think I've read that fanfic. Several times.

Mmm. Maybe it's just me but a lot of the ~mysterious unexplained backstory~ that the fanboys bitch about being unexplained doesn't really bother me that much. I mean... I don't really care, personally, what C.C.'s name was, because she's C.C. now. And while I want to read the new manga, I am less interested in getting a Pedantically Detailed Origin Of Geass And How It Works than I am in the characters. I suppose I just find character dynamics more interesting than that sort of backstory detail. Haven't these people ever watched a show where people have powers and there is no explanation for it?

There shouldn't have been so many cutaways in the Guren vs. Lancelot battle. Seriously, you could have devoted the half the episode to that alone.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 12:07 pm (UTC)
Heh! Clearly we're not the only ones who thought the issue about Lelouch's virginity would make for fun crack.

Hmm yes, also a good point there. I'd like to know about the origins of Geass, but I certainly wouldn't like it either if they took up more than half an episode to explain that while they could be using the time for more character scenes/development. I haven't seen much fanboy bitching about Geass, thankfully. And I wholeheartedly agree about C.C.'s name. It also adds to her mystique if they keep silent about what it is. It shall forever be a waterdrop! :D
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
Well... he's a teenage boy, who knows exactly when and how he's going to die. Who is a virgin. It's not that hard a conclusion to make.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of floating around on TVTropes. That and, a while back I decided to Google for some old episode reviews on blogs and stuff. Yeah, that was real intelligent of me. But yes, the lack of name adds to the mystery of C.C. And I'm fine with that, personally. (You can bet, whatever name she is given, there will be someone complaining about it)

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