Shadow of the Colossus

Unless you count my yearly flings with Football Manager, I’ve never been much of a gamer. Even still, I bought myself a Playstation 3 in December.

Stepping into today’s world of consoles is intimidating at first. I’d been divorced from the culture for nearly a decade and knowing how deeply some are into it, it’s easy to get cold feet.

I had to try, though. I wanted to play Shadow of the Colossus.

After stumbling over a review of it one day at work, I made the impulsive (and, obviously, expensive) decision there and then to buy the game so as to have a proper look.

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Am I looking at the sky, or the sea?

Though it borrows from the mythos of the (very real) city of Venice, there’s something pleasantly unreal about Aria. Rather, not unreal so much as there is a disregard for the idea and constraints of reality. Perhaps Aria seeks not to undermine reality as we know it, but in its ‘New Venice’, create its own sense of reality.

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The heavens are angered

The Twelve Kingdoms feels very much like a shoujo anime, but it’s more akin to Utena and Toward the Terra than Escaflowne, and by that what I mean to say is, while there are no melodramatic love triangles here, The Twelve Kingdoms is all about exploring and externalising the feelings of its characters; that’s girly stuff, right?

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Gren’s eternal smile

If I had to condense my love for anime into one single moment, I’d choose the scene when `Space Lion` begins playing in the 13th episode of Cowboy Bebop (Jupiter Jazz.) It is one of the first times I can remember feeling a pang of bitter-sweetness whilst watching anime: the sadness of Gren’s passing tempered by Spike’s and Faye’s return to the Bebop; that Jet can’t really hide the fact that he truly gives a shit about them but, like a grumpy Dad, is too up-tight to admit it, and Gren’s death-wish to be cut adrift amongst the stars and sent drifting towards Titan. Alone.

“I see. You are Spike. Julia was always talking about you… That your two eyes were of different colours… That’s what she said… That you get a strange feeling when you look into his eyes.” — Gren

A strange romance springs forth from the snow-capped streets and cold, gray clouds, and from the elegant, softly-voiced Gren himself, an angelic hermaphrodite in love with Vicious, yet broken by the betrayal of their friendship. His sad, tired eyes and knowing smile are captured and carried beautifully by `Space Lion`’s warm tone of resignation. It’s a spine-tingling moment.

When all that’s left is dust

Boogiepop Phantom

When I think about Boogiepop Phantom, I’m also reminded of other recent Madhouse anime, like Shigurui and Casshern Sins. Each has a strange aesthetic; seductive yet tinged by an under-lying sense of sadness and desolation.

It would be easy to categorise them as dark and depressing, but they are more complex than that. It’s not horror merely for the sake of mindless chills; it’s horror to serve a purpose, to weave a spell. Boogiepop Phantom is disorientating, Shigurui is grotesque and Casshern Sins is desolate, but each conjures an atmosphere potent enough to provoke difficult questions.

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Naruto Shippuuden episode 82 is a masterpiece

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After all these years, I still love watching Naruto. I’ll place it on hiatus every now and then, but it still is, and always will be, one of my biggest favourites. This past weekend marked the end of my latest break from Shippuuden, but already, here I am again; writing away. I couldn’t let this feeling pass without trying to convey it, this sense of being an anime fan and seeing something so great it can’t be contained by just me alone; I have to share it with you.

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