Hey Animevice how you guys doing today, it’s the night before my birthday (Though I’ve spent a week messing around not editing this > .>) so how better to celebrate my birth then to talk about an old 2003 anime from Sunrise the Bandai subsidiary. I know straight from the headlines, I’m so god damn topical. Well Regardless my sights are set on Planetes so sit down and enjoy.
Planetes, which means wanderers in ancient Greek (and where we get the word planet from) is a hard science fiction anime set about a century ahead of us where space resources become a massive deal, namely helium-3 on the moon and metals on mars, however as space exploration continues the amount of junk in space grows, while this may seem like the problem of a whinny hippy, but anyone familiar with the concepts of speeds based on reference frames knows that a floating piece of junk moving at the speed of a mile and hour in its own reference frame is moving at several thousands of miles per hours according to the reference frame of the earth, which that little screw becomes a spinning landmine. Well in this world debris clearers of space are a largely underappreciated necessity in this future. Here the story of the debris clearers takes front and center. There is a bit more with like a man mission to Jupiter, but that’s only matters late show.
When I say Planetes is hard science fiction I mean it, it’s hard enough to make Time of Eve seem like Muv love… except for the one episode with ninjas in it…yeah that was a bit silly, but in large this series takes on the concepts practicality and difficulties of space pretty well, tackling problems and not just space littering, you get cosmic radiation, muscle degeneration, energy issues, and more than a handful of social and political issues. Lastly I’d say the series has some iron balls. It’s completely unapologetic about its political sidings and takes some really hard and ballsy positions. With one episode in that theoretically justifies acts of terrorism only two years after 9/11 drives it’s not giving a shit attitude home.
I’m not saying it’s going too far, because if you handle something well there is nothing that is sacred in fiction. On the other hand I don’t exactly agree with some of the political undertones throughout, however I do applauded it for having something to say especially when a lot of the anime industry is about playing it safe and running off the successes of the predecessors. Both in its genre and political message planetes is refreshing different although at times inconsistent.
Planetes is difficult to describe as specifically entertaining. It’s a little funny, but often misses, the story is refreshing, but not super engaging, tonally interesting, but inconstant with things like moon ninjas destroying immersion. In all I feel like there isn’t much to be said about Planetes. In all ways it’s not super great, but really manages to be functional and refreshing. I suppose in a short summation Planetes is a perfect show for if your simply thirsting for something different which I so am, giving from the gut Planetes a 4 real space cowboys out of 5. I know the review was short vice, but I feel like I owe you after that bullshit long review of Attack on Titan. Later Vice.
Hello guys, I know it’s been several months and several nonstarters since I’ve posted anything new, but with things the way they are, I had to come back. I doubt it’s any surprise that I’m here to talk about the Wit Studio’s (which is basically production IG, but I won’t get into that) Attack on Titan.
Attack on Titan pretty much exploded in popularity easily out-talking pretty much every other anime this year and the number of people claiming it to be my type of show personified is almost kind of sad on my part. Anime vice, with our good host Tom, has already spent a phenomenal amount of time, and produce some pretty decent content on this already. (Good work btw guys.) For better or for worse this show makes for a hell of a lot to talk about so I really doubt this review will be a short one.
For those unacquainted, Attack on Titan is the story of Eren Jaeger and his two closest friends entering in the military after their lives are completely destroyed by giant horrific monstrosities called Titans. You see in this world Humanity has for the most part been completely crushed by giant beasts that look like caricatures of people that are called titans. Now what’s left of humanity is held up in a super country sized series of walls and castles. Eventually (mild spoilers) Eren gets the power to turn into titan himself using the power of rage and self-harm (which paints a bit of a bad picture). The series chronicles them fighting back against the titans.
There is a hell of a lot more to this especially if you start getting into that what it even means and if perhaps it all related back to Japanese nihilism, the humans as livestock metaphor, and militarism verse civil living and all that good stuff. Action verse inaction and such, but in the end that’s a whole other blog post and too based on speculation to really be relevant to review. With some 25 episode there is plenty more to talk about.
Now with Attack on Titans I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing and reanalyzing my opinion of it. I’ve gone from being super hyped and into it and literally getting up and just walking out right in the middle of a group showing of Titan. So let’s get the basics out right away. Does it look good? Well yes and no. It’s incredibly well animated, with a fantastic amount of frames and very good “camera” positioning. Fights look gruesome in a great way, bones crunch, muscle rips teeth get knocked out and visually it translates the force of these movements excellently. More famously the titans have a wonderfully creepy style to them that is just fantastic. Bad bit is that everyone looks…off. It’s share some of its style with Claymore and death note and as such has its weird thing where, to make everyone look gloomier and more shocked, they basically make the look sleep deprived and shocked…at all moment’s. Regardless of how undeserved it is. Now I know things are bad, but it’s almost silly how disturbed they look while picking up firewood… before they’ve ever seen titans…before any sort of trauma…
Next up is the music, and I’m not talking about the opening or the ED, but the actual soundtrack, of which I find wonderful. Nothing really negative to say here, it’s very humanist, filled with back vocals of very tribal shouts and cries, or front vocals of beautiful singing. This sense of humanism drives the big humanity against impending doom; it shouts the human inability to submit and give up and does this constantly well. Most notable examples are E.M.A. and Vogel im Kafig, both of which even if you don’t care for the show I suggest taking a look at just as a fan of music. Might partially be because it strikes a specific musical vain that I love, but I think Attack on Titans one big unquestionable victory is the music.
Before we get to the story we have to handle characters. The main three are rather one dimensional, but manage to be likeable even if completely singular in terms of character depth, especially Eren whose a far cry from the whinny child I expected him to be; instead he is a creature of action, something I enjoy. The best two characters despite their relatively low screen time are the two commanders Erwin and Pix, both who deal more with the political backdrop going on. It’s rather upsetting they seem to have a lot of interesting stuff going on behind the scenes, like a Game of Thrones episode the audience is only a little privy to. Then there is everyone else. While some manage to be likeable, even the better ones are completely one dimensional characters who, barring hidden allegiance, only seem to have one major character trait. Worse off most are so unremarkable I can’t even remember them. I can’t even count the number of “important” character who died on screen that I couldn’t even remember the name of. Hell, I still don’t know who Marco is.
The last big question is the story which is so complicated it’s taken me all week to really figure out how to really address this. The simplest way to explain this is Attack on Titan seems mostly to be a shounen/seinen hybrid. Sharing much of the strengths and weaknesses exhibited in both genres. Its tone is really really dark and gloomy, almost to the point it’s trying as hard as most fan fiction writers to be edgy. This is where I get into my first major issue. Attack on Titan is just trying way too damn hard to be dark and gloomy.
Now first off I’m not saying that the subject matter is too dark or it cross’s some line, but I am saying Attack on Titan lacks any sense of subtly or restraint. What I mean is the world of Attack on titan and what happens is already dark, we don’t need to be constantly taken by the shoulders and told “Look at how dark this is, you see this cast of character there all scared they are in fact lets recap that they are scared every single episode!” Titans are dark evil creatures because they eat people, not because every episode someone says they are evil. We are shown enough to extrapolate how f@cked up things are. Any member of the audience worth their salt doesn’t need you to remind us in exposition that they are doomed. Everyone’s life is tragic because of the events of their lives not because you decided to make characters eyes wider with black circles around them constantly. Sense of subtly is why despite the stakes of Attack on titan being the entirety of humanity, literally everything that matters to you as a person ties into what’s at stake, compared to psycho-pass that despite really only effecting a few people’s lives and showing very little feels so much more vested and dark.
Also as a side note, if you trying to establish meaning to deaths have the characters your killings have more than five lines of dialogue and the personality of a plastic potato.
Next major criticism has more to do with execution of the story then the story itself. It has to do with suspension of disbelief and the old principle in story telling that a poor explanation is worse than no explanation. This I admit is a criticism as well as a compliment, Attack on Titan puts in an excellent amount of time explaining most of its rather odd premises and for the most part it does it well, but the more and more as the show calls attention to these oddities and try to put themselves into reality, the more the cracks in the series logic gets called to my attention. Questions as to why fight Titans with swords when you easily could grease up some dynamite to make sticky bombs launched out of slingshots only comes to mind when they try to justify the preposterous giant literally shaving razors they fight with. I only begin to take note that titans shouldn’t be that strong when they explain how they can walk with Titans being made of light sponge like mass…wouldn't that mean their weak since force is mass x acceleration? Not to mention the complete disregard for the conservation of mass with titan shifters or the fact that watching Captain Levi’s fight is watching him basically become a spinning top. This is a weird sort of criticism since the little explanations the show provides between commercials are rather interesting, but it paints the absurdity of the rest in a shade a bit more harsh to the eyes.
Though I want to end this on a bit of a high note. Attack on Titan succeeds in one major area like nothing has in recent memory. As dumb a concept as titan shifting is and how convenient and silly a twist it was it manages to be the biggest highlight of the entire show. Eren fighting Titans as a titan shifter is in a word liberating. It channels a barbaric emotion deep in everyone the desire to crush everything that would threaten your fellow man. The thirst for the blood of those who would take everything from you. It celebrates that primeval doctrine to defend our homes and families, and goes farther to have this bloody affair be so, well man to man. The nature of it being with just fist to fist motivated by anger drives home its primeval roots. Damn it just gets my blood up. Rage is often deemed a dangerous and shameful emotion, which often it is, but Attack on Titan celebrates its utility as man’s last real hope against its destruction. Simply the titan shift is proof that rage, as the Walsh proverb says, is as good as courage. Every fight is my favorite bit from Evangeline, but done a thousand times better.
I’ve gone on too long and now need to just summarize this nearly 2 k words review down quite a bit. Hell I haven’t even mentioned issues of Attack on Titan binary system of morality or weird occasional boring mopey episodes, but I’m out of time. Attack on Titan is crippled with poor character development and try hard darkness with little sense of subtly. It’s haunted by its own attempts to explain itself, but behind the smoke of its faults green eyes and glaring Attack on Titan manages to brute force its way to a 3.5 out of 5. Even though I can’t get over some of the stupid stuff in this anime I recommend anyone old enough (over the age of 16 in my opinion) to check it out. It’s a mess sometimes, but it’s largely unique and worth at least seeing. If after the battle of Trost you’re not sold that’s fine, but I do say check it out and see for yourself. Later guys and thanks for waiting.
P.S. I’m going to be doing a short dissenting opinion video where PyroBlue and I argue about the show, (he’s a much bigger fan then I) and I’ll link to that when we edit it, would anyone be interested on me elaborating on my belief as to the bigger meaning of the show (which I never even touched on) which would be another blog post? Tell me in the Comment. Also I'm REALLY SORRY this is way too long, but trust me the unedited version was nearly enough thousand words. Attack on Titan if nothing else has a lot to talk about
Hello boys and girls it’s M here as promised with the two parter review. Some of you may have read my IGPX review posted here remember that I mentioned a second review. Well along with IGPX my time spent with the M-cast crew watching anime included a very short OVA movie by the name of Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek. So with that I’ll start my mini-review of Kakurenbo.
The cell shaded half hour story follows the story of Otokoyo, a hide and seek game that only children can play. The Game is simple in an abandoned anachronistic city seven children put on fox masks and must play hide and seek with the supposed five demons in the city. Once the game starts they have to run and hide and get through the maze of the city. All this in a cell shaded CG art style. Personally I’ve wanted to see this movie since a friend showed me the trailer over six years ago.
The movie itself is just short creepy and atmospheric. That’s it and in each of these categories it manages to do so well. I would never call it scary, but just somewhat interestingly creepy. It’s easy to just sit and enjoy the experience. Personally I find traditional Japanese art and architecture also leans itself to being atmospheric that Kakurenbo uses to full effect. Mostly the positives are limited to how short the Movie is.
The Negatives are just as scarce. The story is and events of the movie are so short and condensed in the movie the audience is more interested than invested. The sound design switches from great to crappy with some sound effects clearly too subdued or off. The whole thing comes off as a bit of a wasted potential that would be served far better by a full hour thirty or two hour movie.
Kakurenbo is simply a pleasantly intriguing and creepy mini movie meant to be seen and tossed on the wayside. It’s good; it’s entertaining, but nothing worth too much memory. Kakurenbo gets a comfortable 3.5 liver takers out of 5. Later vice.
Hello again anime vice. It’s M here for another Anime review. I know it’s been a bit since my last couple, but in exchange I’m going to be posted up two. Back to the business of the day, under the pretense of watching anime with old friends (most of which are the M-cast crew) we happened onto an old somewhat obscure anime, IGPX season one.
Produced for the old Toonami, but made by I.G productions of Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell fame. This series was present in my childhood, but neither fondly remembered or disliked. IGPX after two seasons was enough of a commercial failure despite being critically well received to be one of the only shows on Cartoon Network to not return. Some rumors surround it being because of a tax credit that called for it to be removed, but I can’t find a reliable source on that. Either way IGPX found its way into near complete obscurity. Knowing that I took a crack at IGPX to see what exactly happened.
In the Year 2049 the world’s biggest sport ends up being a mix of hot wheels and gundom named the Immortal Grand Prix. Here enters new team Satomi new hot shots off the heels of winning the lower tier championship and uplifted to the IG1. Matched up against the best of teams of the world including the two year champions Team Velshstien, team Satomi must beat and dethrone each one in this mecha battle/racing circuit to become the new champions.
When reviewing the horror stories that are the EA animated movies the idea of a western published, eastern made anime sound like nothing more than a horrific cash in. This idea became so ingrained that when watching IGPX it felt completely shocking how good IGPX actually is. While it’s not exactly the thinking man’s anime, IGPX is just an incredible amount of fun. While I’ve never really gotten into sports the game in IGPX is complex enough to be interesting and exciting, not to mention the battle/racing segments are done in some of the best CG I’ve seen around despite being a show from back in 2005. Simply put I looked forward to every match and often was completely entertained throughout. The story is casual and never trying to be more than it can handle, yet manages to make the characters grow on you just enough to invest yourself in one or two of the teams.
The negatives are present however. The show was made for English voice and while it’s plenty serviceable some voice actors do rein it in a bit more than they should. A lot of plot clichés you’re used to show up in force though are no more offensive then any tropes. The scenes that require any level of fluid animation are done so well that the budget issues begin to pop up on some of the lower intensity moments. This is not so much to say the animation is sometimes bad, just short on frames to cut cost in less important shots. Some of the teams have a bit of gimmicky stuff to them and almost everything is explained via future techno bullshit.
Those things aside IGPX has two more shinning things I need to mention. First off the soundtrack is both fantastic and tragically hard to find. This mostly due to it being nearly all Toonami music, but since old Toonami had excellent music it’s hardly shocking that IGPX when sharing its OST has some of the best music in anime. Lastly the climax of season one ends so well it had me literally on the edge of my seat (And no I’m not exaggerating M-cast co-star Jake never let that go when he noticed) The buildup to the big match between Satome and Velshstein starts episode one and manages to pay off and then some.
I was completely caught off guard by IGPX. Honest I was ready to write it off as more Toonami nostalgia in others then actual quality. This is just not so. While IGPX isn’t as complex or as big in scale as many other anime I tend to like, it’s exciting and just good god damned fun. I can’t promise I’ll look at season two. I’m feeling much the way about this is I did at the end of darker then black season one which is to say content to let it be. Either way IGPX comes in at 4 battle ready house cats out of 5. Later Anime vice.
Hiya anime vice, it’s me M here for a mini review of the Oreimo ONA short series call “the True Route” that changes the ending of Oreimo to apparently closer link it to the original novel and adds a few episodes to follow after that. As readers of my previous review of Oreimo (found here) may remember I rather enjoyed Oreimo, though towards the end I was feeling a bit shaky on the whole “wincest” that the series has (thank god) completely avoided most of the way through. All in all I was looking forward to the ONA series.
The Oreimo “True Toute” Ova basically edits the choice made during the ending ending, in this variant when given the choice to look at the album Kyousuke chooses not to and (Spoilers of Oreimo original) never find the airline ticket. Instead of arguing about it he never finds out. He has peaceful night with his sister only to wake up with Kirino gone having left for America without telling him. With Kirino gone (and the weakest character removed) the story takes a bit of a different turn. Instead of taking care of his sister, Kyousuke finds himself helping a new first year that just happens to be Kuroneko.
Right off the bat Oreimo is a bit better with the focus pulled off of Kirino and placed onto previous side character Kuroneko, who is leagues better as a character. Trading a self-entitled, Mary Sue, bitch of a sister for clever, sarcastic, and frankly a bit nicer first year is an excellent idea. It allows for a romantic aspect that ends up being kind of sweet rather than creepy and something I actively pretend isn’t there. While some of my favorite characters are still missing (sorry grandpas not in it) but the two new additions both manage to be really funny, especially the red head who opens to avenues for Oreimo’s tact of making fun of the anime industry and it’s fan.
The new negatives all really come into play at the end, when the ONA makes an obvious reversal to the old narrative. It pushes Kuroneko back into the limbo of side characters. She will now never be that important again. It’s just a painful twist back to the straight up inferior lead female, but goes to show the strengths of the ONAs narrative. The BIG issue is the ONA is the kind of self-acknowledgment of the sister brother relationship perhaps being more than normal. It’s just a hint at it, but it’s enough to be creepy, unsettling and something that is just difficult to ignore. More so it feels unwarranted, seeing as how Kyousuke and Kirino’s relationship is up until now. It’s not as much of a complete narrative betrayal as in Nise, not even close, but it speaks very ill of what we can expect of Oreimo season two if they follow the ONA’s ending.
Oreimo ONA is just as funny and often better than the original, but makes Oreimo’s original flaws, though unchanged, sickeningly more noticeable. It just makes me sad of what a potentially better series it could have made if Kuroneko remain in the side story love triangle with Manami, and Kirino just stayed Kyousuke’s loved and hated sister. Either way I look forward (but cautiously) to Oreimo season two, and still give the Oreimo ONA a 4 nii-sans out of 5. See you next time vice.