Catching Up On Anime – February 2015

I quite enjoyed writing an anime report last month. It gave me the awareness and space necessary to reflect on some of the shows I’ve been keeping up with. Writing about things in this format gives me a better appreciation on the subject matter, so this might become a monthly feature depending on how I feel about it in the months to come.

There’s a few shows that are still ongoing that I won’t talk about. This isn’t because I’ve dropped them, but because my viewing habits involve me waiting for multiple episodes to come out so I can watch them in chunks instead of keeping up with every drip of information as it’s being fed. I don’t mind watching some of the slower shows as they come out, but if I try to keep up with denser stories in small chunks I’m quick to feel overwhelmed by all of the constant information. So sorry, no Parasyte this month.

Last Month’s Report

[HorribleSubs] Gundam Build Fighters Try - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.43_[2015.03.02_18.45.14]Gundam Build Fighters Try

I’m not sure where I stand with Try as of now. It’s not bad, but feels like it has been losing steam lately. The center point of the show is a showcase of breaking limits and overcoming the odds with burning passion, quite like a Super Robot anime instead of a Real Robot anime. Instead of exploring what that means or how this comes into play in varying situations, the show instead opts to just bring in bigger enemies for Iori Seiji to falcon punch and kick into oblivion, kind of like a Super Robot anime. Oh, and a lot of the special Gunpla have transformation sequences and fusions…

Voltech44 recently had a fantastic piece on what made the original Gundam Build Fighters so great, you should read that if you’re interested in a long form blog post about good anime. For me it underlined how much better the first show was. Everything Build Fighters got right is something that Try got wrong. Likely because not enough thought was put into the execution, Try comes across as the of show I expected Build Fighters to be until I sat down and watched it. The very existence of Build Fighters makes Try just that much more of a disappointment, as the gap between the two is just two big.

I still love the Try Burning Gundam though. I recently bought the Gunpla and put it together. I couldn’t be happier with it.

[EG]Mobile_Fighter_G-Gundam_07_(10bit.DualAudio)[400C067C].mkv_snapshot_18.48_[2015.02.18_13.51.59]

Mobile Fighter G Gundam

I’ll probably get a lot of flack for this, but I don’t really mind. It feels fitting to talk about Mobile Fighter G Gundam right after Try, because they’re both about on the same level in terms of execution. Although Build Fighters Try is centered around a series of much better fights with higher animation quality, G Gundam has space racism.

This isn’t a complaint. In fact, I think the space racism of G Gundam is hilarious and it’s the saving grace that has stopped me from dropping the show so far. I’m only about 10 episodes in, so maybe the show still picks up, but so far it’s nothing special. A show centered around hot-blooded Gundam battles on earth without the budget to really do the fights any justice. Lots of stock animations, and a finished named Shining Finger. Then on the bright side, we’ve always got the stolen Tequila Gundam from Neo Mexico.

[BakedFish] Mobile Suit Gundam_ The Origin - 01 - OVA [720p][AAC].mp4_snapshot_00.46.19_[2015.03.02_20.22.58]

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

Wow.

I’m actually flustered.

In an age of Reconguista no G and Build Fighters Try, we’re very lucky to get treated to something at the level of The Origin. Not having read the manga and having avoided the overly long trailers, I went into this one blind. Needless to say, I got blown away, which is a sign I should get on reading the original manga version.

The Origin follows Casval Rem Deikun (Char Aznable) and Artesia Som Deikun (Sayla Mass) around U.C. 0068, ten years before the One Year War between the Earth Federation and Principality of Zeon. If you’ve seen the original Mobile Suit Gundam, you’ll know how the two ended up estranged from one another on opposites sides of a bloody war, as well as Char’s drive to have revenge on the Zabi family.

My only gripe is the quality of the CG, but it’s easy to overlook as the entire rest of the production is nothing short of fantastic. The opening animations, with the adult Char tearing through a fleet of Federation ships in a mobile suit is a spectacular display of how Zeon ended up getting the upper hand through military superiority. The rest of the OVA less focused on action and more intent of showing the human elements of the characters as the beginnings of the war were starting to take place. The young Casval reminded me a lot of the young Reinhardt von Lohengramm from Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s a shame the next episode is scheduled this Fall, because I can’t wait to watch the next part.

[HorribleSubs] Kuroko's Basketball 3 - 58 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.02_[2015.03.02_22.37.59]

Kuroko No Basuke 3

The reveal of Akashi’s Emperor’s Eye ability, Kise overcoming the person he replaced on his team before he became known as one of the Generation of Miracles and his current battle against Seirin while showcasing how far his copying ability has come. The third season of Kuroko no Basuke doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. The bit with the inexperienced Furihata being subbed in to change the flow of the game was a nice touch.

[HorribleSubs] JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc - 32 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.09_[2015.02.28_00.47.53]JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Egypt Arc

I wonder how many people got uncomfortable during the episode with the magnetized Stand that brought old Joseph and Abdul (I refuse to call him Avdol) together. The last few episodes have been pretty fun, even if nothing of worth has really happened during any of them.

I’ve been reading the manga on the side and I’m near the end of Part 5 so far. Really enjoying it a lot more than the anime. Not a stickler for the anime being terrible or unwatchable like some people are, but I can see the difference in quality between the two and acknowledge them. Also, Part 4 is my favorite part so far. Part 5’s King Crimson and his reveal can fuck off.

[HorribleSubs] Garo - The Animation - 08 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.48_[2015.02.20_20.32.07]Garo

Come for the amazing OP by Jam Project, stay for the comedy scenes involving the main character’s father. In a surprising turn of events, Garo turned out to be the dark fantasy adventure show I wanted Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis to be. Despite the cheerful and colorful intro animations, Garo has less of a problem dealing with the darker themes that Shingeki no Bahamut shied away from.

The show starts with a witch being burned at the stake. As she is burning, she gives birth to a baby, using her last energy to protect him from the flames. As she’s burning a knight in special armor breaks free from his cell and rescues the baby. Together they disappear as if they never existed while the kingdom begins to crack down on magic users. The baby grows into a young man donning the magical armor known as Garo, protecting mankind from the Horrors that feed on them.

The biggest surprise for me is the way it handles the computer generated magical armors that the main characters all wear. It’s a common theme in animation that mixes 2D and 3D that the 3D is rendered without much concern for how it mixes with the 2D. In Legend of Korra for instance, the 3D elements painfully stick out as they’re rendered at a higher framerate than the rest of the animation quality, making it clash with everything else every time there’s a 3D visual on the screen. Garo on the other hand limits the framerate of the CG to fit the animation speed of the rest of the show. At first it feels a bit odd to have highly detailed 3D models move at such a low framerate, but the effect it gives off when you get used to it is worth it. The armors look otherworldly, which is exactly what they’re supposed to be.

[HorribleSubs] Durarara!! X2 - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.34_[2015.03.02_17.22.42]Durarara!!x2 Shou

Durarara is back, and in a lot of ways, it feels like it never really left. It’s a good thing too, the only real downside to the original Durarara was a lack of closure at the end. While it properly ended all of the ongoing storylines the characters were involved in it, it was clear that there was still more in the future for this cast. Unsurprisingly, the story was still ongoing in the source material. For the anime, the ending was just a good point to cut off the story and possibly come back later.

Because of this, it feels like Durarara!!x2 Shou is more of the same in the best sense possible. There isn’t anything noticeably flash added, and a few of the newer characters were already getting their threads pulled into the first anime near the end. At first I was afraid they’d somehow mess up the production of this second series. Not for any real reason other than the length of time in between this and the first show. Thankfully, it’s safe to say x2 Shou lives up to the first show well enough that any new viewers can likely jump into the second series immediately after the first without any problem.

[Coalgirls]_Serial_Experiments_Lain_08_(1008x720_Blu-Ray_FLAC)_[2E0ED7B4].mkv_snapshot_06.37_[2015.02.26_04.02.42]Serial Experiments Lain

I’ll admit, after finally finishing up on Serial Experiments Lain, I had to look up some supplementary information on it online before I felt like I understood it enough to be content with myself. I grasped most of the philosophical themes and their implications on my first viewing. Or at least, I feel as if I did, maybe during a second one more threads starts appearing that I previously wasn’t even aware of. It was mostly certain storyline threads that I hadn’t really connected together that confused me.

What an amazingly dense show.

And you know what?

I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The way that Serial Experiments Lain unfolds over the course of just 13 episodes is nothing short of amazing. Where a lot of shows stumble and overexplain themselves in the hopes of coming across intelligent, Lain instead presents all of its information in ways that often leave things up to interpretation. It wants you to not only pay attention, but also think about what just happened and connect the dots. In this sense, a lot of the philosophical elements that build up the series unfold as you gain a better understanding of what is happening. For a show deeply rooted in philosophy and questions about identity and human interaction in a digital age, it’s the best way to present itself.

It’s amazing something like this came out in 1998. It’s a stark contrast to the more earthly, positive, and easier to understand Haibane Renmei. I’d go as far as saying that with the development of the internet as a commonly accepted part of everyone’s life in this day and age, it’s become an even more important series than back when it originally came out.

Let’s all love Lain.

[HorribleSubs] Death Parade - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.24_[2015.03.02_23.46.19]Death Parade

What an amazingly cheerful OP theme to a show evaluating morality and human life through macabre games. I’ve only watched the first three episodes or so of this show so far, so I can’t really say too much about the show as it is just yet. I appreciate all that I’ve seen so far though, especially the way the second episode worked alongside the first. Showing the inner workings of what we’d seen the episode before to give us a different perspective on the same events.

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