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Bateszi Anime Blog

Anime fans fornever

Majestic Prince

Majestic Prince

Every season has its dark horses and this one is no different. I’ve been excited about Flowers of Evil, Attack on Titan and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet since the offset, but I ignored Majestic Prince, which I figured would be as cliché as it looked. I don’t know if it’s just Hisashi Hirai’s dated character designs or the general vibe of nostalgia that permeates its whole production, but Majestic Prince feels old. For example, I’ll always remember Hirai’s drawing style for his work on 1999’s Infinite Ryvius (and later, 2002’s Gundam SEED,) but there’s other points of reference, too, like how it has an ending theme by Chiaki Ishikawa of Bokurano’s great Uninstall OP. It all just feeds into that datedness that has seen many dismiss it with barely a second glance. Like I did, sadly. It has a score of 6.77 (from 3001 users) on MyAnimeList, which is notably low for what’s fast becoming a very decent series, but is also revealing in how far out of sync it seems to be with the fans of today.

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Power and responsibility in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Suisei no Gargantia anime

There’s something of a power struggle going on in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. Although he doesn’t seem to want it, Ledo could easily become a tyrant. His robot is so powerful that the sheer disparity in strength between him and everyone else is frightening. What will he do next?

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Don’t give up: dying in pursuit of change and The Sky Crawlers

the sky crawlers anime

Mamoru Oshii doesn’t make forgettable anime. Be it Ghost in the Shell or Patlabor 2, the man injects so much personality into his films that it’s impossible not to recognise his touch. There is, of course, his famous basset hound, but there’s also a poetic side that transports this viewer into the ether. I can’t tell if it’s just that his films are ageing like fine wine, or if I’m now of an age where I’m better able to appreciate what he’s trying to say, but whatever the case, he’s now one of my favourite film directors.

I watched The Sky Crawlers for the first time last night. With Kenji Kawai and Production IG alongside him, it’s a film as thoughtful as it is beautiful. Set on an alternate Earth, the ageless Kildren (“kill-dolls”) are fighter pilots forever clashing amidst the clouds in a war that is at best extremely vague and at worst totally pointless. The story exists in a place that’s like Neverland gone bad, where the children’s only escape from the endless cycles of war is heavy drinking, sex and suicide: the sheer monotony of their lives is reflected in the film’s subdued colour palette, everything is so hazy and drained: an apt worldview for a doll. A doll isn’t alive. A doll doesn’t have memories. A doll is content with its place in the world because it knows no better.

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The end of Psycho-Pass

Psycho-Pass

One wouldn’t think it to look at them, but Shin Sekai Yori and Psycho-Pass were like two peas in a pod. Both deal in dystopian futures, social commentary and rebellion, both attempt to obfuscate their commentary by presenting it through morally-questionable speakers, and both refuse to end with everything neatly resolved. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed both series, but I’ve already had my say on Shin Sekai Yori. Now it’s time to write about Psycho-Pass, too.

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Broken Apple: Shin Sekai Yori

Many of us are optimists and like to think there’s an innate sense of goodness within us all, but given a God’s power, how would we react? Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) answers that question within its first 3 minutes: upon the discovery of psychokinesis, civilisation regresses into a thousand year-long dark age, where Man is subjugated by an immense, supernatural power.

One such power, the Emperor of Great Joy, marks his coronation by burning to death the first 500 people to stop clapping. It’s said they clapped for 3 days and nights.

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Anime still has it: Space Brothers

For a while there, I stopped believing that the anime industry was capable of crafting shows like Space Brothers (Uchū Kyōdai.) When I seriously started getting into anime, there were series like Planetes, Gankutsuou, Monster and Mushishi all being released in and around the same time. These were series not influenced by other anime and not trying to pander to an existing fan-base. At the time, I seriously thought anime would take over the world.

At some point, though, the bubble burst, and suddenly the idea of a 74 episode murder mystery set not in a Japanese high school, but in mid-Nineties Germany with barely a teenager in sight, seems more like a joke. It’s all the more remarkable, then, that a series like Space Brothers is actually being made right now: the story of a bunch of middle-aged adults chasing their dreams of becoming astronauts.

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Liking Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse? See also…

One of the biggest surprises of the summer season has been Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. A name as bad as that is enough to scare away most, but that this is both a mecha anime and a bloody brutal one at that is stranger still. Whether it can live up to the intensity of these first two episodes is another question entirely, but right now, it’s just nice to reflect on a job well massacred! The root cause of it all? Aliens, of course! Earth’s invaded, humanity’s out-matched and Japan’s moe legions are our first line of defence. Would you feel confident?

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Being swept away

I have many a faint and fond memory of Eureka Seven, but wasn’t sure how to feel about news of its sequel. It ended with a quite profound sense of finality, after all. Everything that needed to be said, was, and underscored with probably the finest insert song ever used in anime, too. I’m using a lot of absolutes in this post because that’s just how I feel about Eureka Seven. Holland, Talho, Dai Sato, Supercar and Denki Groove. It was a great series.

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Returning, being a superficial anime fan and Rinne no Lagrange

It’s been a while since my last post. Around a month, in fact. Through-out February, I took something of a break from anime. I’ve been keeping up with One Piece, but that’s about it. This wasn’t a planned thing, either. I just stopped watching anime.

Winter hasn’t helped, either. Although a notoriously poor time for anime anyway, there’s usually something to keep me ticking over until April. Last year, it was Madoka, this year so far, there’s simply nothing of that calibre (a high bar, admittedly.) I’m vaguely interested in Nisemonogatari, but until I’ve seen Bakemongatari, I’m stuck.

All I’ve been left with, then, is long-shots. I’ve heard a lot about how Mouretsu Pirates is decent, but nothing about it so far has caught my eye. And with Noitamina continuing to shit the bed, that was me done with anime in February.

I’m sitting here today, though, intending to write about Rinne no Lagrange. Not exactly the season’s critical darling, but then, I’m quite liking it.

So, old friend, let’s get started, shall we?

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Because you need a little violence in your life: Dr. Mohiro Kitoh’s fabulous depression

One thing we may deduce about author Mohiro Kitoh from Bokurano and Narutaru is that he probably had a few bad experiences growing up.

It’s otherwise very difficult to understand why his stories about children are quite so fucked-up. Case in post, Narutaru, of which I just finished watching the anime adaptation.

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On Wolf’s Rain

I first watched Wolf’s Rain in 2003, just as I was beginning to ramp up my interest in anime. I remember a few things about it: being absolutely traumatised by its ending and being spell-bound by Yoko Kanno’s music. Following on from the similarly fondly remembered RahXephon, it made a fan of Studio Bones out of me, too. Which is to say, Wolf’s Rain became one of my favourites and just last week, nearly 10 years on(!), I finally re-watched it.

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Quantum is .hack as it should have been, albeit now too late

.hack//SIGN was one of the first anime shown by Cartoon Network and it left a lasting, negative impression on me: an otherwise brilliant show with a plot that went nowhere.  .Hack//Quantum is the latest iteration of the series.  It is .hack//SIGN as it should have been.  It’s not a remake, just a three episode version with a similar story.  It’s not perfect, but if it had come out eight years ago it could have provided a foundation for subsequent stories.  But this late in the game it is underwhelming.

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Changing the flow of time

Time travel always seemed like a cool concept to me. I could go back in time, make some money and live an easy life. That’s just an immature way of looking at things, though. When I imagine going back, I’m not thinking about the people around me. I’m being selfish, just thinking about material things.

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Puella Magi Madoka Abstract Subversion Nyanyan Death

In 12 episodes, Puella Magi Madoka Magica convinced me that there’s more to Akiyuki Shinbo than otaku-pandering. The director has increasingly been held in high regard, but until Madoka, I’d not taken any substantial steps into his oeuvre. Not even Bakemonogatari coaxed me in, but post-Madoka, I’ve found a lot of new respect for the man.

Experimental and fearless is how I’d describe the series, as not only does it impose a very specific, artsy aesthetic on a subject matter reserved for the hardcore, it also takes a hard-line with its young characters. Much like Bokurano, it never backs down, or allows for an easy way out.

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You’re gonna carry that weight

What is the ending of Cowboy Bebop trying to say? It feels like such a waste. Spike doesn’t have to face Vicious, he could just stay with Faye and Jet, leave Mars and fly away, but he doesn’t. (more…)

Low-brow good times [Occult Academy first impressions]

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about anime over the past year, it’s that these Anime no Chikara projects start out strong, only to have me lose interest after four episodes.

When faced with the latest offering in the project, Occult Academy, I was determined not to be sucked in. I would watch it, but the cool-looking opening wouldn’t sway me, nor would the conversation with the cab driver in its opening minutes pique my interest. I was a woman not scorned, but bored – and I would not have it happen again. I sat on my throne of good taste, and prepared to get back to waxing poetic about The Tatami Galaxy.

Then the female lead decked her father’s corpse with a chair, wrestler-style, and all of a sudden, I was more than willing to give things a second chance.
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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.

Eden in name only

Hiroki Endo calling his manga ‘Eden‘ is a hint. Eden is supposed to be a paradise on Earth, but Endo‘s version is more like Hell. It’s sarcasm on his part, I think, because this is a contrary and brutal series, where anything that’s good is crushed and anything that’s innocent is (often literally) raped. For the last few days I’ve hardly been able to believe my eyes whilst reading this; everyone keeps dying, and even those who do survive, do so minus their humanity, or, even worse, minus their eye-balls. (more…)