Thursday, July 19, 2007

Anime roundup

Deadlines approaching, stress increasing, which of course means I turn to increasing amounts of disposable entertainment for procrastination. So without further ado, here's some of what I've distracted myself with, in order of decreasing awfulness:

Armitage III

A sudden craving for cyberpunk made me dig out this old OVA series (later re-cut into a movie dubbed Armitage III: Poly-Matrix, and got a sequel further on called Dual Matrix). Which turned out to be a rather big mistake.

The plot, which turns utterly incomprehensible by the third episode, goes like this: a robot-hating detective named Ross Sylibus is transferred from Chicago to Mars, where someone is killing off super-advanced robots secretly living as humans for some mysterious reason. Arriving there, he's teamed up with one of those hot-pants wearing anime women that have an endless capacity for violence but still need a big man because they're such fragile, sobbing things. She's the titular Armitage, and of course also a robot.

None of it makes any sense whatsoever, but somehow the earth government its evil feminist government is responsible because they take offense to pregnant robots and oh god, who's writing this shit, Nippon Kaigi*? The character moments are there because they are expected, not because they're justified by what's come before. We get Ross throwing away his phone when his boss calls up because he's "Fed up with the system", but nothing that tells us exactly what he's fed up with.

Maybe it was his outrage over being ordered to drop the robot murder investigation and focus on the wave of random, indiscriminate bombings that were killing lots of people that did it.

I'm pretty sure I deserve either an award or a beating for seeing this bilge all the way through to the bitter end.

*Conservative/proto-fascist organisation that screams bloody murder there's any pushes for gender equality in Japan.

Claymore

Clare's a Claymore, a half-demon tasked with hunting down the demons (called yoma) that infiltrate and prey on humanity and...what? You've heard this one before you say?

So it's not the most original of premises, and there's a lot of other things you've before as well, such as fights that care little for physics, plausibility or logistics, lots of talk about power levels and steely-eyed, emotionally stunted killers that reconnect with their humanity via annoying children that stupidly refuse to obey orders and shout people's names repeatedly while crying.

On the plus side, while no Berserk by any stretch of the imagination, it does supply a fair share of blood and violence, subverts some clich├ęs, and gives us the occasional amusingly grotesque image.

I was going to say that it's not terrible, but not much good either, but then a sudden decapitation introduced the main antagonist and got the overarching plot going, and it sort of won me over. So it's a little bit good then, even if it's overly plagued by shounen anime tropes.

Seirei no Moribito

Easily the best of the bunch, although not flawless. Another fantasy series, this one's directed by Kenji Kamiyama of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex fame, although unfortunately, it's not up to those standards. While there's a lot to like in here, such as a genuinely strong and competent older female protagonist, fantastic production values, music by the ever reliable Kenji Kawai and some excellently choreographed close combat, the pace is lacking and the characters so far aren't interesting enough to keep your attention during the slow moments.

The plot's pretty straightforward: a bodyguard name Balsa gets hired to protect a young prince by his mother. It seems a water fiend has laid an egg inside him, and as long as he lives the kingdom's threatened by a drought, and so his father the Emperor has targeted him for assassination. Problem is, six episodes in the immediate threat to the prince was taken care of, and at episode 14 we are just starting to see the hints of a real antagonist emerging. In between, there's just the prince's adjusting to life outside the palace, a slow development of the overall mythology and a sudden blast from the past taking place. I'm not an impatient man, but moving a little bit faster would be warranted.

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