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Kurau Phantom Memory

I know it has been a long time since I published anything, but I hope you haven’t given up on me just yet. There is warmth in these embers still, I can feel it. I just need stoke them up is all, with a bit of hard work and guts.

The stupid thing is, it’s not as though I’ve stopped watching anime. I’m probably watching more now than ever; 15 different series in all, which is a lot to try to balance with non-anime things, and some of these are long-term commitments too, like Votoms, Hokuto no Ken and Touch, but I’m enjoying the challenge of keeping track of them all, even if that’s not exactly conducive to a consistent stream of blogging (ironic, really).

In my case, I think blogging is all about consistency. Not necessarily in the sense of finding something new to publish every day, but just getting over that first hurdle of a post and setting a tone to carry over in to the future. I’ve lost that thread over the last few months, lost sight of what I was trying to say and why I was trying to say it, so, this is me trying to start afresh, a new spark, but where to begin? It’s been a long time, and there is almost too much to say.

How about last night? I finally finished One Outs. Ten episodes in, it was clear that it was never going to be as good as Kaiji, but it was fun to watch and ended quite well, with Tokuchi, the main character, beating a bunch of nasty cheats at their own game, including throwing his bat at the opposition pitcher and later, a twist involving some sand paper!

One Outs is a good example of a generic, second-tier series; unpretentious and fun to watch, but fairly light and forgettable. Another problem is that second-tier anime is often obscured by another, more beloved show.

In the case of One Outs, it was Kaiji, but another one that’s relevant is Pretear, a surprisingly good magical girl series, overlooked because the same staff went on to create Princess Tutu and Aria. Infinite Ryvius had a great story, but if you’re ever going to check out a Goro Taniguchi anime, it will always be Code Geass first. I wonder how many people are even aware that KURAU Phantom Memory exists? It was forgotten almost as soon as it aired in 2004, despite being a really good science-fiction series by Studio Bones.

We often quote Sturgeon’s Law when it comes to anime, that “ninety percent of everything is crud”, but perhaps dear old Sturgeon was just lazy. Indeed, there is a lot of bad anime out there, but don’t just take his word for it, look for yourself. Sturgeon might have been a moe fan.

Comments

Ivy says:

Oh no worries we have been waiting, it was just a matter of time I say! :P
Pretear, IR and Kurau are all pretty good shows (Pretear to a lesser extent). Problem is they are overshadowed by their older/younger siblings. I’ll have to agree though sometimes you just have to go with your gut and choose. Reading reviews and opinions can go so far before falling flat without you knowing it. And Sturgeon’s law is completely misleading! Ah! What an idiotic way of thinking. Never liked his law its a complete waste of space and ideology.
But hey glad you’re back and glad them anime juices are flowing :)

Baka-Raptor says:

Second-tier? Arguably. Generic? How dare you.

Kim says:

It’s nice to see you blogging again, yes I was wondering where you were and was thinking of poking you on MAL. :)

I actually never really heard of Kurau until recently when I realized it was directed by the same guy now in charge of FMA: Brotherhood. He doesn’t seem to have a very impressive resume (well in terms of directing he was an animator for awhile) so it is interesting that you recommend the only other series he ended up directing. Maybe when I have a chance I will look into it because you are not the only person who said it was good.

As for other Goro series well I have not seen Infinite Ryvius yet but I have watched Planetes and definitely enjoyed it much more than Code Geass. However I did try to watch Pretear because of Princess Tutu and couldn’t get into it. Maybe I will give it another chance one of these days. I admit I only watched 1 episode.

qwertypoiuy says:

good to see you back :)

and summer is near,you want a tier-one series
you know what to watch :wink

btw have you seen the last episodes of one piece,probably not

it will rock your world

I dunno, I’d probably go as far as to describe One Outs as being a game theorist’s wet dream. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen game theory concepts presented in such a clear manner in a sport that’s easy to follow. Kaiji was all about the human condition in cases of high stress, Akagi had game theory elements, but the game is a bit too obtuse, but One Outs’s treatment of baseball and game theory was as clear as day. Loved it!

bateszi says:

@Ivy: It’s good to know you didn’t abandon me! The great thing about this whole set-up is that I know I’ve found some really loyal readers over the years and I wouldn’t want to let you down by just quietly fading away. Here’s to the future!

@Kim: Hi! I’ve been following your Livejournal posts on the new FMA and I’m often surprised by how critical you are of the series, but then I realise you’re a big fan of the manga; in general, I find your ‘hardcore’ perspective really interesting, since I’m basically the polar opposite. Also, for what it’s worth, I think the new FMA has been really good so far, with much better production values than the first series, and I’m really interested in seeing how the (manga) story differs.

As for the director, I think Yasuhiro Irie is a big up-and-coming talent. Aside from Kurau (which is definitely worth watching), he was the director of episode 19 of RahXephon, which contains a really memorable, ‘tragic/beautiful’ scene.

Finally, Pretear probably deserves more than one episode. It’s definitely a ‘second-tier’ series, but you can tell the people writing it were trying to offer more than just your typical magical girl anime, for which they deserve some credit. I remember watching it at a time when I rarely strayed from the likes of Naruto and being surprised by just how much I was enjoying it.

@qwertypoiuy: I’m saving up the latest episodes for a One Piece marathon later in the summer, but I’m sure they are awesome, because One Piece always is! (And I’m only too aware I need to start watching both Hunter X Hunter and Slam Dunk ASAP; I will start on one of these soon, I promise! :) )

@Baka-Raptor & zzeroparticle: I felt let down by certain elements of One Outs, like how, outside of Tokuchi and Kojima, a lot of the characters were thinly-veiled cliches and walking jokes. I really wanted to take it seriously, like you can with Kaiji, but this wasn’t that kind of anime, so may be I was wrong to expect that?

0rion says:

“Sturgeon might have been a moe fan.”

I always suspected as much.

I know what you mean about how watching a lot of stuff can actually make it harder to blog. At least, if you’re the sort who likes to write contemplative stuff and mull things over, jumping quickly from series to series can kind of kill off that inspiration.

Ah well.

KT Kore says:

Agreed on many points. It’s a shame that some people can’t seem to find a middle ground to sit on because of strong feelings for a more prolific series overshadowing the “lesser” of the bunch. It seems a lot of people will hate on one show just because it’s not as good as another, when they could easily enjoy both works and just recognize that one is simply superior. I was just having a discussion earlier today with some friends about this topic actually. We were talking about Touch and then the topic of how similar the series H2 is to Touch. One friend said he enjoyed both series but recognizes that Touch is the better of the two. Another friend scratched H2 off his “to watch” list simply because the other guy said that H2 isn’t as good as Touch, even though he said he enjoyed both of them (he recently put it back on his “to watch” list after this discussion though lol).

Scryed was actually my first introduction to Goro Taniguchi anime in 2001. A good action show but nothing special. Then it was Infinite Ryvius which is actually one of my favorites. Then Planetes which is another favorite. Then Gun x Sword which I never finished lol. THEN Code Geass which I greatly enjoyed. I like the guy and eagerly await his next project. Hopefully it’s something new and NOT Geass related.

Kurau Phantom Memory was a good show but failed to click with me on a higher level because I found it difficult to connect emotionally with sentient forms of energy. So outside of Kurau and Christmas, there weren’t any characters that I was able to connect with. Still, a nice show.

Pretear, Princess Tutu and Aria are all shows I haven’t seen yet, but do look forward to watching one day, especially Princess Tutu. You’re right though, I definitely hear more about Aria than Pretear or even Tutu.

lol at the Surgeon being a moe fan. Funny stuff. But yeah, I certainly agree. Get out there and TRY stuff. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Johny says:

Holy crap, you’re returning to blogging? That’s great news. I’m looking forward to reading more of your fantastic articles :) Can’t really comment on this one though, because of all the titles mentioned I’ve only seen Kaiji…

bateszi says:

@0rion

I’m hopeful that I’ve rediscovered my bloggers mojo. Good luck on your end, too!

@KT Kore

Thanks for the enlightening annecdote, I guess Touch and Cross Game aren’t the only Adachi series I need to watch! Anyway, it’s cool how our opinions seem so well aligned, right down to how we both dropped Gun x Sword (I do plan to revisit it some day).

In general, I’ve noticed that the older I seem to get, the more I’m up for exploring the ‘lesser lights’ of anime. In the last six months alone, Ryosuke Takahashi has become one of my absolute favourite creators, but prior to this spring, I wasn’t aware that something as awesome as Layzner even existed, and that just goes to show there’s still so much great anime out there just waiting to be discovered!

@Watch Yugioh

With a name like that, one would think you’re a spam bot! Well, are you?

@Johny

Aww, thanks! Nice to see you’re back, too! :)

Random Otaku says:

I have to disagree on the Kaiji note. The ridiculous anti-climax at the very end, which left a rather open-ended ending (In a bad way) – I don’t know. I felt like the series showed you the middle finger a moment before it ended and ran off laughing at your expense, leaving you wondering “WTF just happened” (that and feeling cheap… I think.)

bateszi says:

@Random Otaku:

I must admit, the end was a bit ‘off’, but it has since been announced that a sequel is in the works, so I think that sense of disappointment may be laid to rest in the future.

Also, is that a Layzner post on your blog, in Hebrew? AWESOME! I hope you’re enjoying the series? :)

Random Otaku says:

Didn’t know about a sequel being in the works – that does change things a bit, and at the same time it doesn’t, since a sequel is not a good enough reason (is there a good enough reason?) for destroying the pace and direction of the series in its last two episodes.

Yep, after reading your post about Layzner I decided to give it a try, and six episodes into the series I decided I need to share the love and post a first impressions. I’m actually surprised you recognized the language the blog is written in, it’s not like Hebrew is a very common language.

Johny says:

@Random Otaku
Madhouse adapted only the first series of the Kaiji manga. As far as I know it ends the same way, so that might be the reason Kaiji had a bit of an anticlimatic ending. Now they’re picking up the second series (3 manga series are finished, a 4th one started this year I think), so I hope it has a real ending this time. Or an announcement of a third series at the very least.

bateszi says:

@Random Otaku – I cheated a bit and used a website to tell me the language (I guessed it was Russian at first, obviously totally wrong!) :)

***

As for this Kaiji thing, I think, ultimately, Kaiji is destined always to be a loser. The series has an alternative title of “Ultimate Survivor Kaiji” and you can’t really be an ultimate survivor and win, so, if nothing else, the final arc of the series really lived up to that tag, what with Kaiji slicing off his ear and all! May be the story would lose something if he did win? I guess we’ll find out with part 2!

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