Archive for the impressions Category

Naruto 82 & Bleach 192 Impressions

Posted in anime, impressions with tags , , on November 3, 2008 by daeyeth

Quick warning: spoilers for both Bleach and Naruto. So if you haven’t watched these episodes, don’t read this post.

I’m gonna come right out and say it: episode 82 of Shippuuden was beautiful, both in terms of emotion and quality. Man, this is the reason why it seems I’m so harsh on Naruto. It’s because I know they’re capable of much better, it’s because I’ve already seen the good stuff, that I cringe at their budget saving techniques. But oh well, if that’s what they gotta do to dish out these OAV/movie quality episodes, then fine, so be it, because it’s totally worth it.

It’s ironic that the post-mortem episode of the Hokage’s son was far more powerful than the Hokage’s. Perhaps this just shows how mature the series can become (I won’t say has because Shippuuden’s maturity teeteers back-and-forth, especially during the fillers). The beginning of the episode is powerful with excellent direction. You know instantly that they’re trying and that this episode will be a stand-out. We follow Shikamaru’s turmoil as he tries to come to terms with Asuma’s passing and you really get a sense of this series’ ability to completely flesh out character archetypes, turning them into real people. And not just him, but everyone around him as well. When one of the commoners casually spoke of Asuma, not knowing he was gone, and Shikamaru revealed it to her, that was absolutely brilliant and an excellent moment. Things like that flesh out the world and make it seem real.

I’m very very happy that they’ve decided to focus on Shikamaru for the time being as he’s easily among one of the most interesting characters in Naruto. Also, Kakashi’s revelation at the end was awesome. I was like, “Oh yeah!”

So to go from that OAV quality episode to Bleach was, well…let’s just say I was disappointed. Bleach is still on the level of “shonen”, meaning like action hero approach catering to the 10-13 age group, that the original Naruto was, only more campy. The animation was poor, the fight sequence was horrible, the direction was lacking, and using the same high-pitched voice actor for the adult Nel was jarring. The child Nel was really adorable, but I can’t say I have the same connection to this new Nel. We’ll see how she plays out. I really really hope they step up the animation quality for her fight but I’m not holding my breath. It always sucks to see how much cool potential Bleach has yet fail for me for a majority of the time. Bleach has the potential to be Naruto but it never lives up to the same level of quality.

Disappointing.

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Bleach & Naruto Canon Resume – Hooray!

Posted in anime, impressions with tags , , on October 20, 2008 by daeyeth

At long last! The dead space is over! Both Naruto and Bleach have finally finished their irritatingly long filler sagas as represented by the new openings. If there’s one thing I’m glad for about fillers and their imported characters is that you never have to see them again once their saga is over…..with the one exception being Bleach and those 3 ridiculous muppet-thing characters. I can’t believe they’re still moping around, what disgusting blemishes they are.

Anyways, Naruto restarted its canon a while earlier and I’m very happy that things are finally getting serious and ramping up. Plus, it’s finally caught up to where I stopped reading the manga, yay. Onto the story, I was surprised and pleased at the twist at the end of team Shikamaru’s fight vs the two Akatsuki. Naturally no spoilers but let me just say that the best emotionally engaging stories are ones where the characters actually experience lasting and permanent repercussions/consequences. Think about the new Indiana Jones movie and how Indy survived a nuke and you’ll get what I’m talking about. On the negative side however, Naruto still has the stupidest flashbacks in existence. Are you seriously gonna show me a flashback from five minutes ago? It’s sad but that seriously isn’t a joke or an exaggeration. I can’t believe such a good anime will pull off something as low as that…

For Bleach, only 15 minutes of the rebooted canon have begun so I don’t much to say on that note. One thing I will say is that, so far, I’ve been fairly disappointed with the released forms of the Espada. Not so much with Grimmjow specifically, just in general. This is more of a personal preferrence, but for me, the further Bleach gets away from sword fights and into monster battles, the less interesting they are. I mean, even with the Shinigamis bankai. Ichigo’s bankai is incredibly badass because all it is is a black katana.

When you get into the more outlandish bankais like Renji’s dragon thing, I don’t find it cool or interesting in the least, like I’m watching someone fight Godzilla…but that’s a bad analogy because Godzilla is pretty damn cool. Okay, it’s like they all just turn into random tentacle monsters, that’s how I see them. Grimmjow’s final form has the most likeable design for me and yet his special moves were pretty lame. That’s the other thing. Even if the design is alright, how cool can a “monster’s” special attack be? I would of rather seen him bust out some more sick katana moves or finger lasers. Finger lasers are always cool. Again, this is just a personal preference, one that I have for all anime. The more outlandish, monster-ish characters or abilities get, the less interesting I find them.

On a final word, I do have another review & analysis in the works. I just finished Code Geass, both seasons, so I’m working on a full writeup now. This one is gonna be rather long so it’s taking me a while. I’m also watching the 2nd season of Gundam 00 so I may write a retrospective on the first season. Quick thoughts on that, Gundam 00 has the best mech-battle chereography I have ever seen…but I really I hate retconning. That is to say, bringing back a dead character through the form of an identical twin brother? That’s disgustingly lazy writing.

Quick-fire thoughts on some old anime

Posted in anime, impressions, old school with tags on September 23, 2008 by daeyeth

Some short, impression-type reviews of old, but relative anime of interest. I tried to put down what most immediately came to mind what I thought of these anime without thinking too much. If you haven’t watched some these, definitely check them out. It’ll be well-worth your time for sure as a couple of these rank among my all-time favorites. If you don’t know a particular anime is about, check out the ANN links below for the summaries.

Monster: A+
Kino’s Journey: B
Berserk: A
Code Geass: B
PlanetES: A
Elfen Lied: B
Black Lagoon: A-

A+

Monster - Rating: A+

I loved Monster, an incredibly unique anime, there’s nothing else like it. The twists are absolutely fantastic, a very intricate, mature story. I watched it to the end of the anime and figured that it didn’t really end there. I guessed right and found the manga’s end. I can see why they ended it there but the manga ending is also very good and neatly wraps up all the lose ends.

A

Berserk - Rating: A

A fan favorite for sure. Berserk’s awesome but MAN is it dark after the anime. It’s really tough for me to read the manga some times because so much messed up stuff happens in there. I swear I was depressed for like the whole day after watching the ending of Berserk in the anime. Talk about a sucker punch.

A

PlanetES - Rating: A

An excellent, excellent anime, really surprised me how good it was. I thought it was going to be mediocre from such a simple, mundane premise but the short stories were very engaging and well-told. Just goes to show you that any anime executed well can make anything look cool (even space garbage men). I loved the ending too.

B-

Kino's Journey - Rating: B-

It’s not badly made or anything, I can see why people like it. But I did not like the pacing or the stark contrast of different overtones in the series. It goes from light and easy-going to dark and gloomy and back far too quickly for me. At times, it drags, though clearly it was intentional most of the time to set the style of the series. Usually the type of slow anime I’m used to are ones with a whole lot of exposition; Kino is just the opposite, with a lackadaisical, taking it easy approach. Sidenote, [*SPOILER*] kind of annoyed me how they pulled the old girl guy switcherwoo, my sad explanations for that in an upcoming post.[/*SPOILER*]

B

Code Geass - Rating: B

A pretty conventional mech soap-opera anime but I really liked it at first because the main character’s an asshole. I always like that. Still, in the second season, the novelty has worn off and I got tired of watching it on a weekly basis. It can get incredibly corny and melodramatic a lot of the time but I’ll stick with it. Melodrama is a part of 90% of anime. It will be better to marathon this type of anime to pull me in better and get rid of my suspension of disbelief.

Black Lagoon - Rating: A-

Excellent anime. One of the very few anime that has an amazingly smart, well-written script. In most anime, the bad guy’s are always talking about how death is life in the most ridiculously roundabout way. Black Lagoon does that too and yet pull it off with superb execution as the characters seem very grounded in reality. I love that. Also, the hyper-Pulp-Fiction-esque world of mercenaries and mafias is pretty damn much all kinds of awesome. Didn’t care for the ending saga in the anime though.

B

Elfen Lied - Rating: B-

Jesus Christ this was gory! Easily one of the most violently graphic modern anime. Old school anime used to achieve this level of violence all the time, taking cues from Fist of the North Star and Ninja Scroll, but these days it’s a very rare sight to see an anime reach that plateau of gruesomeness. It’s ludicrous to realize that the amount of gore in Elfen Lied is actually at the same level of the Berserk manga. And you completely wouldn’t expect it from the conventional, run-of-the-mill character designs. It’s like watching 7-year olds rock out to some death metal. I give them props for being very unique in that respect.

Impressions: Baccano! 16

Posted in anime, impressions with tags , , on June 13, 2008 by daeyeth

The final bonus episode of Baccano. I have to admit, I was disappointed at this last one. Because of how good episode 15 was, my expectations had really been raised. It’s not that this episode was bad, but it wasn’t great either. Where as the last episode felt like a real part of the series, 16 feels like… well, bonus material. Duh, I know.

Episode 16 continues to meander through the lives of the people of Baccano but, for the most part, focuses on the minor characters. My favorite moment in this episode is the appearance of the bit character Kakuzato, who is amusing and funny. Graham’s little mini-arc quickly finishes off with nothing interesting really happening (a mediocre fight) except that Vino and Chane finally get together.

Apparently they couldn’t think of anything for the mafia characters to do so they just had them finish up the dominos scene. It’s a stupid scene that’s ends with all of them resounding “Yahoo!” in English. I cringed as if I had eaten a rotten, sour lemon that someone had just pissed on. I mean, it was so out of character for them. They’re supposed to be professional gangsters man. Sure, they’re laid back but that scene was just a mockery of them.

The rest of the episode is filled with the original immortals but I won’t bother summarizing their stories. You never really got to know the original immortals so I didn’t really care about their stories or their characters. Some of these parts are like they’re pieces of the story that were cut out of the original and I can see why: they just weren’t needed.

Only the end of this episode has a bit of that energy of a real episode with a series of quick cuts aided by the opening theme. And that’s it, so ends Baccano. No, it ended at episode 13 and I realize these are just extra fanfare. For what they’re worth, I guess I can say I’m satisfied with this bonus material. I can’t complain too much about getting more Baccano after all.

Early Impressions – Kaiba Analysis

Posted in anime, impressions with tags , , on May 24, 2008 by daeyeth

This is an early analysis of Kaiba (I’ve only seen the first four episodes so far) and will likely be weaved into a full-blown review once I finish the series. This anime is so unique and high quality, I couldn’t help myself and had to start out early. Impressions of Kaiba after this will follow the normal impressions format of episode by episode breakdowns.

“Kaiba” is a little known high-concept, sci-fi anime where memories are souls and can be transfered from one body to another. It is very reminiscent of classic anime and clearly draws upon Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy), reminding me very much so of the modern adaptation of Metropolis which was based on his original story. Like Metropolis, Kaiba calls back to the vintage look of “Astro Boy” and yet is in no way hindered by it as you, or at least I, might expect. I am very much a modern anime viewer and have a preference for distinct character designs that aren’t derivative. So naturally, I was at first turned off by the style because, visually, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. That’s what my first reaction was. Yet somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew this was a good thing. By association of Metropolis, I had a feeling that if they purposely decided to pay homage to this style, I knew that there was going to be a strong sense of self-respect for itself and an immense desire to get it right.

Kaiba is about is about a boy named Kaiba. He wakes up in a strange new world with no memories of who he is, where he came from, or how he got there. His only clue is a pendant carrying a blurry portrait of an unknown girl. Almost immediately upon awakening, he’s attacked and the adventure begins with jump start. There are two types of adventure anime: epic adventures where each episode is a piece of the grand scheme slowly building towards big climaxes. These are series such as Naruto or Bleach who, for the most part, are linear arcs completely focused on single goals. You wouldn’t be able to watch an episode out of context and understand what is going on because they’re only one piece of the puzzle.

Then there are procedural adventures, where each episode is a self-contained short story but have a grand scheme story arc beneath its surface. These are anime such as Wolf’s Rain or Monster, although the format of the show will remind you more of a straight-forward, non-adventure procedural anime like Mushishi or Kino’s Journey. I tend to have a preference for the epic adventure because procedural anime not done properly can sometimes begin to repeat itself or fail at being able to tell a compelling story in only twenty minutes. Procedural anime, adventures or not, live and die by the hit or miss one-shots. It’s with great pleasure that I can tell you that, so far, Kaiba is filled with excellent, top-notch engaging short stories that has greatly exceeded my expectations.

Kaiba’s world is a fairly dark place, making it feel like a cyberpunk setting because of its gritty realism infused into the stories. I’m hesitant using the word realism because the world is incredibly imaginative and really stretches the boundaries of sci-fi into fantasy. That’s where Kaiba’s classic style comes into play. The exaggerated, cartoony character designs fits so perfectly with this unbelievable universe, I simply can’t imagine Kaiba using any other style. At the same time, they don’t let these designs bog down the type of stories they can tell at all. I suppose that’s what I was, at first, anxious about. From my western view, if a series had chosen this style they would of been pigeon-holed into doing something childish. But no, far from it. The creators of Kaiba accept it, embrace it, and breath it.

Four episodes in, I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the best series to air in 2008– no, in recent memory. I can’t wait for more.

Impressions: Baccano! 14-15

Posted in anime, impressions with tags , , on May 20, 2008 by daeyeth

“Baccano!” episodes 14 & 15 are bonus episodes that I recently got my hands which come from the DVDs.

Episode 14 starts out exactly as I’d expect from a bonus material episode: complete filler crap. You might have noticed that I predisposition against fillers. Well, yeah, who doesn’t? They’re called “fillers” for a reason. Their only purpose is to fill time in between the real story and they offer absolutely nothing of substance other than “shenanigans and hijinks from all your favorite characters” that any fan could of thought. In other words, it’s animated fanfiction.

A random assortment of the characters are playing dominoes, the kid’s way, and overall taking it easy shortly after the train escapades in the last episode. It’s a good thing Isaac and Miria are there, they put some energy into an otherwise boring scene. Fortunately, this scene doesn’t last long. Unfortunately, in the next segment we meet our “filler villain” for this mini-arc, Graham Spector. I hate Graham Spector immediately. He is the embodiment of exactly type of bad guy I can’t stand: a psychotic killer who’s only purpose is to drive plot points and to fill time by blabbering on about ridiculous philosophies for 10+ minute. Unlike the likeable crazies Ladd or Vino, Graham has none of their earnest vibrance. Everything he does and says feels fake, as if he’s badly reciting a one-man play for the audience. The guy does not shut up.

Graham’s irritating psychobabble blankets the whole episode, with small bits real story content cut in between. Ladd shows up in a flashback and, because he’s a proper lunatic done right, makes Graham’s presence even more grating and stand out as the terribly flat character he is. So it was with great pleasure that I watched Ladd beat Graham’s sorry ass in another nicely animated battle, albeit short one as most of Baccano’s fights are.

The rest of the real content is comprised of brief bits showing the original immortals and what they’re currently up to. In Huey’s scene, his relationship with Chane and her backstory is unveiled completely, providing a nice follow up in episode 15.

Unlike the last episode, episode 15 is basically a real one packed with great character developments and backstory. There is a lot of great stuff such as seeing characters who have never really met before and seeing them interact. For instance, Jacuzzi and his gang make an unlikely acquaintance, Chane, the mute. Chane is a really fantastic, unique character, it’s good see most of the episode centered around her. It’s funny though, I couldn’t help but feel a sort of unintended audience tension as she interacted with Jacuzzi. You see, Jacuzzi’s archetype is something of an anime pimp; the natural kindness these characters emote quite often evolves into romance when they’re alone in a room with a female. Jacuzzi and Chane are already nicely paired off, I didn’t want to see any conflict start up between their mates. It turned out I was just being paranoid, phew. Vino would of tore Jacuzzi up.

Jacuzzi has kind of grown on me. Because his archetype is so common, I’ve gotten incredibly tired of spineless characters who only show some balls every now and then. However, Jacuzzi is a superbly exaggerated variation of the archetype, I’ve come to accept him. His flashback with Nice in this episode was so adorable, in my opinion, it’s one of his best moments. Jacuzzi and Chane are only the tip of the iceberg of this episode as there are lot of other great moments. Seeing Vino outside the train element was a pleasure. Never thought how being covered in blood acts as a disguise, will note that for later. Vino’s combination of nonchalant manner and blunt intelligence is refreshing to see in an anime. His wit is so lightning quick that other characters are often flabbergasted as to what to say or do. He’s also the perfect match for Chane because he’s smart enough to understand her without her ever saying a word (there’s a pun in there somewhere).

Graham’s also around but he’s completely overshadowed by the original Baccano characters. Quite literally at one moment. I won’t spoil it, but man, Vino, you are the man. There is one more final episode that I have yet to see which should wrap things up nicely. I can’t wait.

Impressions: Kurenai – 07

Posted in anime, impressions with tags , , , on May 20, 2008 by daeyeth

As Kurenai continues to develop, I’m discovering that this series is as much about Shinkurou as it is about Murasaki and her interactions in the “outside world”. And this is turning out to be a good thing. The episode, aptly entitled “Women”, starts off with Murasaki watching TV with Yuno and Tamaki. I was pleased to see that Murasaki was out of that hideous drab she’d been wearing for the past couple of episodes and finally had on something sensible….Hopefully I’m not being misunderstood as some lolicon right now, like someone later in the episode. It’s just that Wizard of Oz outfit she’d had on was annoying the crap out of me.

The first half of this episode is mainly about Tamaki. She takes out Murasaki for a trip and explains to her a real world view of women and their relationships with men. Man, Tamaki really doesn’t hold anything back. Her interactions with Murasaki and how she loves to amuse herself by talking to Murasaki as if she’s just “one of the girls” is absolutely hilarious. You learn a great deal about who Tamaki really is, she’s portrayed in a very real light. The sign of a good anime is when the characters become more than just typical, anime archetypes. For instance, they could of stopped at Tamaki’s know-it-all perspective on men and women from a non-personal view. Instead, they go one step further and show her interacting with her boyfriend, displaying a very human side of her.

There’s not much screen time for Shinkurou and what you get is more of the same. I like Shinkurou but I’m thankful that Kurenai isn’t always about him. It creates more depth and rounds out the world. The second half of the episode goes into the backstory of Murasaki & her family and we finally see some dots connecting. They managed to pack in a surprising amount of content in this chapter, especially in comparison to the filler crap we got in number six. We get to see the type of person Renjo really is. I see how they were going easy on the guy previously, trying to emote some sympathy for him, before they finally went out and said it: Renjo will be the douchebag of the story. I mean just look at that snively, dispicable face of his.

How can you not hate a face like that?! But he does give a nice expression after getting verbally owned by Souju, Murasaki’s mom, using his own words against him. I’m sure there’s a douchebag or two above Renjo making him the way he is, but for now he’s a scapegoat for my hate. Like I’ve said before though, every story needs one these guys. They’re the ones that create the conflict, something that looks like is finally going to happen in the next episode. Appears like the real story is going to get rolling real soon.