Sunday, May 11, 2014

[Ended] Magi, Kingdom of Magic

I want to clarify, first and foremost, that I will be talking about both the first and second season at the same time here.

-Strong appeals to humanity. More on this later.
-In Fantasy Context, practical action combat. This is still a fantasy universe, but the paths of power tend to follow logical lines, and obey the rules. While the show more than loves to leave a massive I-can-be-the-most-powerful card hanging in some characters pocket, they enjoy surprising you several times with just how late in the game it actually gets played.
-Surprising amount of Gray Morality. This shows story core is Humanity. Say what you want, but as much blathering on as all of the characters do on the topic of good and evil, I can't say its about anything else at heart. Most of the show, especially in the second season, ends up being an exploration of the Gray Area between Good and Evil on the morality spectrum.

-Weird. While it can be an appealing thing, as it is more than proven that people love New and Novel ideas and things, it can also be off-putting. This universe is influenced not only by Japans culture, and the Anime culture, but very loosely by the Arabian Nights minor culture elements too.
-Endless appeals to humanity. If you absolutely have heard everything you ever want to hear about Good and Evil, and don't care to hear anymore harping about Morality, I guarantee some topic the show covers will annoy or outright anger you.
-Predictable Plot Outcomes, this show seemed to be taking several cards out of the Mainstream Anime hat, including "Previously on Magi..." and "Next time on Magi!" prefaces and Outros for the episodes. Some of the plots are even more predictable than the usual "The Good Guys Win", although I do grant that the show enjoys being ambiguous about who all is 'A Good Guy', (see previous Con again)
-Sinbad is literally the 4th wall breaking Plot-hole. That boggles my brain. No really, even the in-world Lore considers him a plot hole. He is literally addressed as a Singularity at one point.

My Opinion: To begin with so we're all on the same page, I liked it.
I not only just finished this now, I only just started it...what, a month ago now I suppose? I literally started on season 2, because of the peculiar way Crunchyroll formats its layouts for multi-season anime, and watched...13 or 14 episodes in before I realized I had missed an entire seasons worth of information and story. While that tripped my obsession with doing things in the proper order to go bat-shit crazy for a while, and I got royally pissed off at just about everything I set my eyes upon, or could lay my hands upon, it does say something about how well made the show is. If someone as obsessed with making sure they don't miss anything as I am can not notice until 14 episodes in, I begrudgingly have to grant them some credit for making a very air-tight sequel. I thought it was just using In Medias Res, starting in the middle, with characters based on Arabian Nights to save them having to create them from scratch. In fact, up until I realized I had missed an entire season worth of content, that was my biggest criticism of the show, excessive use of In Medias Res. As it turns out, it was just their good practice for sequel construction, using flash-backs to fill in info from the previous season as needed, to make sure the viewer hasn't forgotten(or had no idea what it was, because he hadn't seen the first season).
[Aside End]
The reason I never picked it up until recently, was because right around the time I laid my eyes in its direction to consider for adding to my list of anime to watch, the internet was flipping its shit about "BIG BLUE BOOBIES OMG YES/NO/HOW-COULD-YOU". Being less aware back then as I am today, I still gave it enough of the benefit of the doubt to go read some summaries. As always, summaries on most websites can go jump into a Black Plot Hole. The summaries made it sound like the worlds most shallow harem and pandering piece of garbage nonsense I'd ever heard summarized, and plagiarizing the Arabian Night tales to add to the shallowness. My thoughts at the time were roughly, "Most anime has pandering enough, I don't need to go out of my way to increase the headache for myself."
So I suppose it lends itself to being talked about, since checking the archives of the Blog leads me to see that Evil Cat probably dropped the anime roughly that, or there-abouts in episodes, since he never had an [End] post for it. To clarify, that scene occurs in the first season. To render my opinion about it, it's actually about the most mature handling of nudity I've seen in an anime for a while. I'm pretty sure I've seen a more explicitly mature handling of harsher material somewhere else, but vague brain memories. I don't work with my vague memories, because I don't trust them anymore. Evil Cat also appears to have taken note of her nipples being pierced, but honestly, if he hadn't included the scene as his screenshot, I wouldn't have even remembered it. I've seen so much messed up shit on the internet that something like that is well beneath my threshold of surprising or weird.
You should see some of the crazier shit people in real life get pierced. On second thought, no actually, you shouldn't. I don't enjoy having that knowledge.
[Aside End]

To get back on topic, it is more than worth mentioning that the show gets in more than its fair share of pandering elsewhere. They don't include Aladdin's love of breasts in almost every summary for no reason. To be frank though, it's roughly the most childish pandering I've seen yet. Most pandering is trying to be 'Politely Erotic', to coin a phrase. It's trying to pull at a mans pants, without explicitly earning the Evil Eye from the department that determines Mature, Explicit, and Sexual content in individual countries. The worst the show got from me on most occasions when Aladdin's booby-switch gets flipped was a sigh, most of the time I was just laughing instead of ... whatever it is that most of the anime fan base that enjoys pandering does with its pandering. I can guess, but honestly I don't know, and have no desire to know.
To talk about something else, the extent the show goes to with it's willingness to have nudity and strangeness, is present just about everywhere in the show. They literally have a scene in the second season where they peel off the skin of basically all of the protagonists on screen at one point. "Oh, this thing everyone's doing gets their skin peeled off. Let's rush in and have it happen to me too!" is roughly how the scene goes, because Angry about hurt comrades and such. It could probably turn someones stomach I suppose.
(see previous point about the me and the internet ruining my brain).
This, of course, also includes it's appeals to humanity. The show has a fascination with introducing a character that is absolutely insane/cruel/evil, and then just...rolling with them, molding and exposing more of their character, until eventually they somehow end up as protagonists or dead after repenting or cursing to their last moments.

Impartial Judgement: This show is all over the map. If it wasn't for an AMV I watched that had a lot of the choice scenes from the show spliced in, I never would have looked at this show again after my initial rejection of it. If you have been put off away from it for its summaries, its hype, or
"BIG BLUE BOOBIES"...I'm sorry I find that phrase really funny for some reason*, I'll stop.
Then I would advise you to turn around, and go back and pick it up. If, however, you dropped it for any reason, you are very likely well justified. The only thing that may not come across fast enough, is the shows exploration of Gray Morality. It's very 'hope', 'kindness', 'Good in Humanity' and so on focused, a bit thick early on. While the show does kill characters, it's undeniable that several of the main characters have border-line Plot Armor immunity to death. Roughly standard practice for Mainstream anime. In fact, that's how I'll describe this show:

Surprising in the context of Mainstream Anime.

If you put this show down for being weird, I shouldn't have convinced you with anything here that you need to pick it back up. It's still very proud of its uncanny. If you like a good story about Good, Evil, and everything in between, it will suit you just fine. Off the top of my head,
[Spoiler Warning, Highlight to See]
[a Mother gets murdered in front of her children. ]
[Spoiler Warning End]
If that doesn't give some kind of scope of the morality spectrum this show covers, my headache drowning brain doesn't know what will.
Oh hey, I found a way to hide spoilers. My headache appears to have produced at least one good thing this morning.
Did I mention I have a headache? I had a headache start about one paragraph into writing this post, and steadily get worse. I need to start going to bed at a decent time, this staying up late thing is probably killing me on some level.
[Aside End]

Friday, May 9, 2014

Black Bullet: Did they just...end an arc?

Never in my life, has so small and simple a number been so evil
Last Seen: Episode 4

Dare...dare I hope...that this is a new trend in the anime industry? A trend of not dragging out juicy story tricks until they rot? There was soo much potential in just this episode, for dragging things out for several episodes. So many pieces of story they could have hung out to dry with long monologues and flashy 10 minute battles. No. Instead, we're four episodes into this show, and it's already finished a complete story arc. Not to mention, dropping some major foreshadowing bombs on us for the upcoming arc(s). AND THAT ENDING.

urrrrggghhh AAAHHHHHH
I already had far too much emotional burnout from Chaika to stand up to something like that. I may not have cried, just because I'm not the type, but I haven't had my chest wrench like it did for that ... that numerical abomination, since my 17 year old cat died.

I do have enough of my objectivity left to comment this though:
Before any of you start cheering for 'Just tame/control the Gastrea mutation! Best of both worlds!'
-I want you to try a little experiment. I want you to place your hand on a surface in front of you, palm up.
-Then, I want you to look at the most calloused part of your hand. Perhaps you should consider the bottom of your feet instead if you don't have them on your palms. The next step remains the same.
-Now, I want you to look at it, feel it, and command it to do something it has done before: Shed dead skin.
It's done it a hundred times, exponentially, for dead cells since you've been alive. It'll do it billions more times as your life goes on. It's nothing new.
Go on. WILL it to just do it now. Right in front of you. Blistering is a similar activity, and it happens just as fast, for more anatomical resources. This is much simpler and easier. Make your own body do what you want on a cellular level. Go on.

What's wrong? Having troubles? But it's so simple and easy.

Get my point yet?
If you can't even do that, how do you expect someone else to just instantly control thousands of screaming-painful, dieing, regenerating, mutating cells to just chill out, be cool, do what they want. You're conscious control isn't that finely wired to your body. Stop thinking it's such a simple solution. It's not.
Having said all that, it's still a story end I frequently root for. I'm all for the adaptation and integration methodology for dealing with new challenges in life.

Also, I'm racist against Racists. I think the abominable little ignorance singularities could all drop dead right this instant, and the world wouldn't so much as blink at their passing after about 3 days. If they want to single out so singularly foolish an element of the human experience to discriminate about and hate for, they can't be that smart, or responsible decision makers.


Have I mentioned Chaika messed with my anger locks? Chaika messed with my anger locks.
I'm not going to watch the rest of the episodes I lined up for myself after this. I already thought it was a bad idea to watch so personally polarizing of a show to right a post for.
I'm...I'm going to bed. I should have done that before writing this.
I'm going to go to sleep, and wake up a better person, not so eager to commission the death of my fellow kin of humanity.

Chaika the Coffin Princess (Hitsugi no Chaika): How can things go so Horribly wrong? So fast?

Last Seen: Episode 4

I don't from...?
Just... No.
I have Never seen an anime derail so fast or so hard from its derived source. When this episode first began rolling in, it was completely in sync with the manga, as of last episode moving into this one. Sure, my brain was niggling at me that maybe her armor design was a touch different, but after a week I'd more than easily forgotten about it, and they're free to improvise and improve things like that in the work of adapting into the anime from the manga.
[EDIT]: In fact, I like the new armor design more than the original. [EDIT END]
But it all went downhill from the first statue of Dominca. Cliff-face-vertical-drop down, downhill.
*Takes a step back to breath*

Ok, let me just take a moment to clarify that I'm not some sort of fanatic "IT MUST ALWAYS ADHERE TO THE MANGA" nutcase. I'm all for improvising, adapting, and attempting to improve when changing mediums, its a necessary thing. But! As I have repeatedly said, and beat into the ground, that does not include the plot and story core. Change a few elements of the story to make it come across better in the anime? Fine. Fabricate something to end it before its time? Poor taste, but fine, I understand not every anime can be a long runner.
WHAT THE HELL! know what. I need to go review the manga to clearly define the limits of my annoyance. I'll be right back.
Alright. So. They converted 13 chapters into 3 episodes. That's fairly fast considering the first episode trimmed out some of Tooru's character building.
They just converted 11+ chapters into 1 episode. (some manga untranslated at time of writing)
Does that give you an idea of the scale? Even contained to just this anime? I've honestly never bothered to do this comparison before for any other anime, so I have no example cases to give, but I think my point has come across just fine.
They have literally ripped, like, 4 bones out of Dominca's story, maybe a 5th I can't be sure about since the manga still hasn't been translated for the rest of this arc of the story.
They have taken those bones, and jammed them into the dirt to grow like flowers for this new story.
That is not how bones work.
Ok, I'm done with the analogies now, sorry. I'm not joking though, they pulled four plot bones out, and completely repurposed them for this new story. That projector in the courtyard? That's an original plot element. What it's projecting however, is not even remotely related to what it does or means in the manga. That fourth bone? Fredrica. That name is significant from the manga, but to save spoilers for both the anime and manga, I can't say why or how. Just know that if they don't make a point of it having a meaning next episode, they're never going to. It will just be a random bone from the manga.
Now I want to take a moment for something:
*Click* Ranting Mode Off
This episode was a good episode. As a contained unit, and a piece of the anime, it was good. Nothing mechanically wrong here. As a figurehead of what the studio adapting this manga is doing, it may as well be a gravemarker for the original story. This anime is only (super)loosely going to follow the manga. The new story they're telling, is alright in my opinion. After I calmed down a bit, I assessed it and decided I liked the new Dominica story they told. Too short, but it's alright. If you really like this anime by the time it ends, which I can't imagine being much further than 12-13 at this point, (unless they do a complete spin-off) then go get the manga, because it's going to have a lot more story.
The Manga tells a very Humanity strong story. The anime is aiming its sights at Action as best I can tell.
Alright, now that that's out of the way.
*Click* Ranting Mode On
I feel like, specifically on the Fredrica topic, that they even bothered to include the name means they have an option of retroactively imposing a heart of Dominca's story into the anime, but since they haven't retro'd in Tooru's laziness...or even bothered to emphasis it at all, and instead are weaving a new element of 'I just had no purpose in life before this, when the war ended', I'm not inclined to believe they will do any catch up.
I want to take a moment to emphasis this point:

I was very attached to Domica's original story. It has not finished being translated in the manga, but I like it very much so far. My anger and annoyance is very likely 50% fueled by my personal fondness for the original story. You are now an informed audience.

I haven't seen anything to undermine the quality of the anime, objectively, up to this point. I now have very little trust in whatever studio it is that did this adaptation, so much so that I'm genuinely afraid to look and find out who, because I might let my personal feelings bleed into my judgement in the future, and prevent me from watching another of their works that by all means could be a perfect masterpiece.

I'd cook up some sort of 'Biggest Let-down of the Season' award for this, but only four episodes in is far too soon for me to let myself judge this show so harshly...also I don't want to keep track of so abstract an Award. To be perfectly honest with myself as well, it's not the anime that's a let down either, as much as it is the adaptation and studio working on it. If they didn't have the time/resources to make an anime that could be truer to the original Plot, if nothing else, I don't even know why they decided to make it in the first place. Popularity maybe? I'm not sure. It's one thing to clip story and characters, like how I don't mind much that they trimmed Tooru's introduction paper-thin, but you don't hacksaw the plot like this without major consequences to quality. That's the way I think about this, anyway. I'm a little too emotionally-fueled right now to have confidence in my objectivity, even calmed down as I am now.
[Aside]Completely unrelated to any of this though, I've found that I quite enjoy re-reading Manga. I have such a powerful memory for Plot and Story, that I usually don't get much out of re-reading books, or re-watching movies and Anime, but somehow I really enjoyed re-reading the manga for this. I wasn't predicting or instantly remembering every next step of the story and plot as I read. It was a rather liberating experience. So at least I got that from this endeavor.
(and no, it is not a Perfect Memory. I just don't forget plot and story easily, and instantly remember with the smallest of pieces. Works almost as well for music, too. Or would, if I ever bothered to remember the names of songs, or composers/muscians. [which I don't] )
[Aside End]

Brynhildr in the Darkness (Gokukoku no Brynhildr): Terror, Suffering, and Humanity

oh...ohgod. I know what happens next...I DON'T WANT TO KNOW! BRAIN! STOP IT! SHUT UP!

(Bloodcurdling Mental Screaming)

Last Seen: Episode 4

So my favorite moment from the manga entered the dimension of motion today with Episode 4. That would be, the confrontation with Saori and the events leading up to it. Thanks to it, I feel like I finally have something objective to say about the show, that I can be sure isn't just me vomiting my fandom onto the blog.

One of a few inherent problems with conversion from written media to motion, is the loss of...time? shall we say. You take every page of a book, or a manga, at your own pace, and generally, you also spend more time on or with a moment in a book or a manga, than you would if it was the exact same thing in motion. This is because with a book or a manga, you could literally explore eternity in the heartbeat of a second. Just write more. It takes just as long for the event to happen with 10 words, as it does fifty. When you write down that the event has concluded, it has, and not a moment before. 'The worlds slowest punch' if you would.
With Manga, the bridge is much shorter, because it features the words in simultaneous occurrence with the scenes. This can arise a different problem however. While every segment of manga has a finite amount of space for picture, and writing, and the more segments on a page you have, the less space you have, the author still chooses what, and where. It's very easy to draw additional attention, or create additional impact or emphasis on a scene in a manga, because you can just dedicate a whole page to it, to give it more 'umph', and you can ensure precisely what the reader is reading, for that page, because you put just what you want to have said about that event, with it. Then you put what you want to be said after it, on the next page, or segment. Now, reel in all that information I just dumped on you, I'm about to bring it to point.

In the anime, when the confrontation with Saori finally occurs, it feels like Murakami and his actions have much less weight than they did for the exact same scene in the manga. I stopped to think about this, and realize it was because each individual segment in the manga, could draw more or less emphasis to specific parts of Murakami's thoughts, by pairing them with a reaction, or more space, or several of them within a split second event. I think this may become a more significant drawback to the anime in the future. Off the top of my head, I think a particular thing that may have been trimmed, is that Murakami had a few more ideas or thoughts about the beacons, after the fact, than are in the anime. I haven't gone to check that in the manga, so I very much could be remembering it wrong.

Now, don't get me wrong. This anime is pulling up all gold and silver for me so far, minus the pyromancer they show in the opening and a few moments of an episode, I have no idea if that character is canon with the manga or not, she certainly hasn't shown in at all to this point. I'm quite sure she's the anime's early-end-of-show card.

The point I want to make though, is that in the Manga that has proceeded past where the anime is, Murakami's intellect is a very important character element for him. The way he thinks, and what he thinks, is given particular emphasis several times in the plot.
So far, the anime seems to have given the appropriate allocation of resources to get this in, but the medium they're working in, in my opinion, is going to be offering up ever more resistance to this as time goes on.
It was something the Movie industry learned as it was first growing up, that having a character just monologue on screen while not showing the audience anything, is very very boring, in the majority of cases. So over time, the trend has been to shorten thoughts and speeches, to keep the "Show, don't Tell" rolling. Feel free to have mixed feelings about that, but I guarantee in at least one movie this policy has saved you some boredom.
[Aside End]
So I wanted to take some time to talk about this, in case in the future you feel like something one or more characters act/react towards, like it had more significance than it seems to have, that significance may have been trimmed from an inner-thoughts-monologue of one of the characters. Most likely Murakami.

Also, I'm really looking forward to the scene with the person Murakami takes that Metal Tube with the[SPOILER REMOVED] in it to. Probably 1-2 episodes away though.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[New (debatable)][April 2014] Broken Blade

Summary: In a world where everybody has the ability to control quartz, machinery and (of course) Mechas are all made of quartz. But there are very few who couldn't, called "unsorcerers". One of these unsorcerers, Rygart Arrow unknowingly became the key to survival of the Kingdom of Krisna.

First Impression: Um, there isn't a "first" impression consider this isn't actually new. They literally cut up the original six-episode movies, which is about one hour each, into 12 episodes, slap on some inferior opening and ending theme songs (seriously, the original Broken Blade theme songs are of my all time favorite anime songs. Track 14 in my Anime Music Jukebox top right corner of the blog, if you are curious, Fate by KOKIA) to make a TV series out of it.

Personal Opinion: Broken Blade is probably my most favorite Mecha anime of all time.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of Mecha animes, because one, they're a logically flawed concept: it's really hard to argue Mecha is the most efficient form of ultimate combat machinery because of physics, aerodynamic, and many other factors; and two, it seems all Mecha story involves some pilot who by screaming and stomping on the paddle harder could suddenly make the Mecha to push harder, fly faster, and lift more.

Broken Blade, however does not have these common pitfalls Mecha animes generally all have--there are actual legitimate reasons for why Mecha is used and why pilot pushing harder could actually make the Mecha push harder. It's one of the very few Mecha animes that actually makes logical sense.

On top of that, it is just a very well made anime that managed to blends action, plot, and interesting characters all together.

If you have seen Broken Blade movies, then there's nothing new to be seen here. If you haven't seen Broken Blade movies, you could either wait out 12 week to see the TV series, or just grab the movies (which have a lot better theme songs) and watch those. Either way, Broken Blade is probably one of the best Mecha animes ever made. You shouldn't miss it.

P.S. I'm only taking a quick peek back here because I had some free time, Zetro is still in charge here. I still don't know when I'll have free time to return to anime yet...