Archive for the ‘graveyard’ Category

Houseki No Kuni is one of those shows with a fantastic premise, but which takes forever to unwind while only one character in the cast ever undergoes any character development. Each episode is semi-autonomous in that few characters return from episode to episode, so even at the end of twelve episodes, you know very little of the characters. I’ve never seen something quite as frustrating. It begins with heaps of promise and it ends with heaps of promise, but no delivery.

It’s so static that it’s bewildering. Large spans of time are covered and yet the obvious questions that the audience has are never asked by the characters. Ideas are introduced in an episode which are never explored. Plot threads never connect.

Here’s an example — Rutile, the doctor, has been working to restore a character to life. She has been working on this for 321 years. This fact is only mentioned in episode 11. So for 10 episodes, you have one impression of Rutile, then you have a completely different impression after this episode, again, not because something happens to her, but rather an important fact about her was hidden until nearly the end of the season.

If this was based on a manga, did they leave so much out to focus on the simple plot? Was there just not enough there? If this is an original effort, there’s so many things wrong that I can’t imagine how it go through editing. Sentai Filmworks aren’t newbies either, so what happened guys? This is a fail on four cylinders.

Why did I watch it this long? The old familiar reason — I kept hoping it would turn the corner. It wasn’t trashy. Great premise. It just went nowhere, and really, although episode 12 is no ending, I don’t care what happens next because ep 12 was such a ridiculous and unnecessary cliffhanger. The soup is too thin, guys; you’ve stretched it and my patience, long enough. So even if you’re enchanted by the premise, there’s nothing for you there after twelve episodes.

Welcome to the graveyard, Houseki no Kuni.

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Sigh. This show started out so well — interesting main character, great concept, and it slowly lost it all by coarsening the content until you became aware that maybe that was the point. There were indications of laziness and unbelievability mixed in, too. In short, don’t bother unless the sadism of Corpse Party is your thing, and if it is, get help.

Episode 1 — a great beginning. Basically you have a man who appears older than he is, Inuyashiki, who is despairing of life. He is ignored by his self-absorbed children, treated as an object by his wife, and in poor health. An alien craft visits the hill that he and a youth are standing upon and vaporizes them both, but in an attempt to cover up the visitation, reconstructs them with the technology they have on hand, which is weapons-based. Inuyashiki then discovers how to use his powers and in the end, saves a guy’s life from a gang of middle-schoolers.

Episode 2/3 — if you ever wanted to see a graphic depiction of evil, here you go. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep watching (and I suspect most people wouldn’t). This shows the other main character, a schoolboy, murdering an entire family including an infant. There’s no deeper meaning here, except the horrific nature of evil. This could have been depicted a hundred other ways with much more effect; in fact, when you do see this character strike again (ep 3), it’s handled with a minimalism that is chilling.

Episode 4 — homosexual rape, possibly rape-murder. Enough is enough.

OO verdict — avoid at all costs.

Welcome to the graveyard, Inuyashiki.

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Have you ever been to a neighborhood that’s just being built? Have you ever been inside the model homes when they weren’t finished (and were prepared to run away real fast if someone yelled out, “Hey you kids!”)? I have, and seeing what looked good on the outside and what didn’t pan out inside is probably the best way to describe Atelier Escha and Logy — Alchemists of the Dusk Sky.

The early episodes are beautifully animated, and the theme music is top-notch. So far, so good. The setting also draws you in, being a slowed-time, wistful, slice-of-life steampunk tale of an alchemy bureau in a small town. However, you soon realize that the pacing isn’t meandering, it’s immobile. When characters are developed, the whole episode just becomes back story for that character, and their relationships to others aren’t explored at all. Then the obligatory fan service episode shows up. After that, everything finishes in a rush to explore the one thing that’s been obvious since the first or second episode. It all feels like a less polished, less emotional To Heart. Even the ending collapses into a maudlin pit of mush; the bittersweet tinge doesn’t save it.

Save your time and your eyeballs. There’s no real reason to watch this as it never turns the corner and it delivers so much less than it promises. With that said, there’s nothing objectionable except for the fan service episode and that’s the usual hot tub obscured nudity for no real purpose.

Welcome to the graveyard, Escha and Logy.

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I had such high hopes for this, after watching the first few episodes. It looked to be an steampunk/horror mix, although not as interesting as D-Gray Man. By episode sixteen, I was through.

Although I was no fan of the increasing profanity, what killed the deal was the fact that the mangkata behind the series had not planned out what was going to happen next. You know the deal. Mystery characters start showing up, and this redefines everything you’ve seen and experienced up until this point, because the guy was too lazy to use any foreshadowing. As a result, the series took a dive into soap opera land, where main characters become bad guys because, because, well, I dunno. With the plot on ice and the characterization gone, I was gone.

Now this series was never really deep and it was at times a bit too over-the-top with all the speech-making, but the characters sucked me in. Toshiko-san is pretty much what every geek guy wants in a girl: someone into the same stuff, and thus someone that gets him, and can respect him. The opening theme song shows this well: the two of them together charging hard at some off-screen enemy.

Ah well, another case of anime` fail. Welcome to the graveyard, Busou Renkin.

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Don’t waste your time with this one. It’s a predictable, mindless, and pointless SF story about two countries at war, and how royalty personages on each side are in love, but end up heading the war effort. It’s all standard anti-war stuff with no understanding as to why people would go to war in the first place. There’s nothing more juvenile than two lovers who can’t communicate and as a result thousands of people have to die. Romeo and Juliet, this is not.

Few of the characters induce any sympathy, which is the first big problem. The second is the paper-thin characterization; people do things without any explanation or motivation. So you’re watching a movie about characters you don’t care about who do things without reasons. If you tough it out, hoping that some point will emerge, even then you’re disappointed.

And the ending? What ending? It focuses on the tree, which people pray to give only good memories. The tree didn’t bring any good memories to the villagers who lived near it, to the main characters, or anyone else. I’m mystified why the tree matters when all the humans involved are dead, miserable, or turned to stone. (Done right, painted in the tones of pathos and doom, that ending would be totally ok! But that is not the point of this movie, because it never had a point.) It’s your typical Japanese mind-game non-ending.

The music is orchestral, except for two songs; it’s decent quality, but not memorable. The animation is fairly good for a mid 80’s/early 90’s work. As for garbage, there are some profanities, quite a bit of blood, and some gore. Paganism/druidism plays a minor role. Glacial plotting/pace, as you might expect. There is some passion towards the end when Izu offers to become the Ghost Ship captain, but that’s it as far as emotions go.

I can’t say that I’m impressed in any way — I just feel like I ate a big steaming bowl of “meh”. Then again, maybe I was expecting too much from Live-Evil. They have technical skill and translation skill (which is nothing to sneeze at), but they waste it on low-quality shows and movies. This is no exception.

Welcome to the graveyard, Windaria.

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A blog I read somewhere wrote that this movie showed what animation was capable of. While there are some interesting scenes here, visually, Paprika is not a visual tour-de-force; it’s not even all that weird for those of us who have seen enough anime`; there’s nothing earth-shattering about the plot, the theme, or the music. Really, once you consider all its elements separately, Paprika only adds up to a letdown. Madhouse did a better job here than they did with Recollections of a Certain Pilot, five years later, but they’re still miles from Gunslinger Girl (v1).

The plot is that a research team has developed a device that allows you to see into people’s dreams. The device gets stolen and then it’s a mind-melding chase to find and stop the perpetrator, as reality and dreams collide and invade one another. Along the way there’s some character growth, and it all ends well. That’s it.

According to the trailer (scroll down for it), this movie is rated R, and there is some nudity (artistic, not exploitative), one up-skirt shot (completely unnecessary), and what I can only describe a mind-rape scene. You are warned. Profanity — there’s probably about ten words or so, but it wasn’t translated by the fansub, for some reason. Theologically, it’s your typical animism/moral relativity sort of deal, although it does laud honesty and fidelity. Arguably, there’s some play-up of sleeping around, but it frowns on homosexuality. I’m surprised the last was even allowed IN to the film given how PC everything has become, even in Japan.

Just because a film does a few interesting things visually doesn’t excuse it from the need for all the other things that make a film worthwhile. Welcome to the graveyard, Paprika.

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Alas, even the animation style of Madhouse (whom I’ve favored ever since their work on Gunslinger Girl) can’t save this one. Recollections of a Certain Pilot (subbed by Taka and Thora) is a by-the-numbers war movie that barely holds your interest, but doesn’t do anything else besides that. Even more annoyingly, it starts off well and features a mind-screw non-ending. Along the way, there’s some cool scenes of the main plane, which looks very similar to Mustang P-41, for those of you down with WWII aviation. The music is there; the animation is good to very good, but not on the level of Ghibli. For a film, I thought Madhouse could have stretched themselves a little more. Anyways, there’s a few profanities, one suggestive scene, and a little gore (the main character, a pilot does get shot and then bandaged up). The only good thing is that the characters do make the right decisions when faced with temptations, although this is diluted by some stupid pacifist prayers. For the millionth time, Japan, killing is not wrong — murder (the unjustified taking of innocent life) is! People who fight in wars understand that losing your life and killing is part of the deal. Fighters are not innocents, so fighters cannot be murdered! For once, I’d like to see some manliness come out of a war anime. Sheesh!

If you are a fan of movies that you watch once and then return to the Redbox the next day, this is right up your alley. Recollections… is disposable film. Welcome to the graveyard.

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I used to think I had seen all the series in the world that had sucky endings. Then I saw Paranoia Agent. Let me cut to the chase: this series is not worth watching, because the ending is not an ending. It purposefully leaves many things unsolved, and then tries to make this deep symbolic statement about it, which really does nothing except make excuses for a poorly-plotted series. The mechanics of the writing suck. You don’t make people wait through thirteen episodes and then tell them that you’re not going to wrap things up!

So, why did I watch this at all? Why did I persevere in the face of profanities, blasphemies, paper-thin characterization, and authorial self-indulgence? Basically because Paranoia Agent was written by the same person that wrote Boogiepop Phantom, which I thought, at some level was captivating. Here’s a warning: if you also enjoyed that show, you won’t enjoy this. It features the same basic themes, and the same infatuation with detectives, but it’s done half as well.

Take the title. There really is no paranoia agent ever shown in the entire story; it can’t be Shonen Bat, because Shonen Bat is born as an excuse by a young girl whose dog was accidentally run over. Yes, you read that right. And even the series admits the whole silliness/stupidity of its central character by admitting that it’s a crazy world where the guilt over a dead dog murders about a hundred people before going on a citywide genocidal rampage. Uh, yeah. The dramatic tension becomes an emotional black hole at that point.

And don’t get me started on how tenuously the characters are tied together, because there’s nothing that unites them at all. The police can’t figure it out, really, other than stating very casual, surface-level links — but that’s all you get. Wow, how meaningful!

The rest of the series features strong profanity (most of which is a mistranslation), porno, filler episodes (8 and 9). Paranoia Agent adds up to nothing meaningful. It is a waste of time; it is a waste of mental effort; don’t respect a series by watching it, if the series does not respect you.

Welcome to the graveyard, Paranoia Agent!

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This series started out rough, with a bit too many profanities, but it grew on me. It was charming after a fashion — a tall girl and a short guy have many things in common, but both don’t want to admit that they could be attracted to another. Unfortunately, episode 5 reveals that the girl who had boldly kissed Otanai (the short guy) is actually a guy. Vomit. The series then starts making the case for gays — who are dressed like girls — to date guys. Never mind that any guy worth his salt would be totally grossed out, of course. It’s all about drawing false equivalences, instead of telling Seiko-chan (the confused guy) that he’s messed up. It’s pretty obvious that if you are a guy, and you feel the need to dress as a girl, and you are interested in being a girl so you can get the attention of guys, that you have some issues; it’s not society’s problem — it’s YOUR problem. Ick. Ick. Ick.

Welcome to the graveyard, Lovely Complex!

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What happens when you have a cool, head-trippy idea, but haven’t worked out the plot past the first two episodes? If you’re the people behind Stein’s Gate (or should I say “Stein’s; Gate” — what is up with that mangled punctuation?) you just go for it anyways. Most people watching won’t even notice that the last seven episodes are filler, especially if you throw in pervy jokes to cover up the lack of plot! You’re as good as rolling in the dough at that point.

Episode one was fascinating, freaky, odd and darkly humorous. The second episode was about 90% of the quality of episode 1, the third, 70%, and by the fourth episode I didn’t care if the series continued or not. Some anime`s fail catastrophically (like Dog Days, Miracle Girls, and Hana-Saku Iroha); others just suck from the start; but Stein’s Gate is a slow-motion fail.

In the end, the boredom caused by watering down the plot, the perviness, and the glacial pace just proved too much for me to handle. I should have known that any series dealing with time travel was destined to fail, anyhow! Like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, Stein’s Gate failed as a series. If it had been a movie, it wouldn’t have reached the level of The Girl That Leapt Through Time, but it would have been fairly decent, I imagine.

Welcome to the graveyard, Stein’s Gate!

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