Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Akatsuki no Yona: Redeemer of Adaptations

Everyone, allow me to introduce my Least Expected Favorite Character of All Time, 'Ao'.

Last Seen: Episode 17

A breath of fresh air. That's what Yona has been to me after saving it up and watching it in bulk. If any of you have read even one of the most recent posts I've wrote for anime adapted from Manga I've read, you've likely gotten more than two eye-fulls of my despair at their poor performance. It was getting to the point that I was sure I should just not bother with adaptations, after all, I've already read the story, why hear what I already know a second time? Why put up with worries and doubts that it will butcher the story to fit its limitations? Why see a story and characters I love made fools of with new plot holes and brutally cut short expectations? Sometimes even, (I'm looking at you Chaika), the complete fabrication of new characters to fit their new frankenstein'd plots?

Then, comes Akatsuki no Yona. Having already read the manga up to its latest translation, (I get email notifications when one is released), I knew that it was a slow build, and that 'Princess' Yona would be unbearably aggravating, so I put it in storage on hiatus until it had a lot more episodes for me to watch at once. I still watched up to episode 4 to scope out how the studio handling the adaptation was getting the job done, but after that I stopped keeping up with it week to week.

Well, I've just caught myself up in one massive bulk session, and suffice to say you can imagine how well it went since I'm writing a post about it. If I had to summarize in a phrase the essence of the manga's adaptation into anime, it would be 'The Breath of Life'. It earnestly feels like the studio breathed life into all of the scenes and characters, even some of them I hadn't realized were quite so wonderful, their presence fainter in the manga's stationary medium.
Yona has reminded me what a good adaptation is suppose to be. It's not suppose to be some cheap cash in, nor is it suppose to be a knee-jerk easy way to spread market awareness of the manga's story. What it is suppose to be, is a manga's story and characters brought to vibrant life, their struggles and stories made more vivid and relate-able through that wonderful medium we know and love as Anime. In the first place, if all an adaptation gets is a cheap cash in, or is only half-arsed because it's just to spread awareness, it backfires because the anime leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who already know it, and another piece in the pile of mediocre is only going to make people less interested in something they might otherwise have liked and checked out.

I never even realized when I was reading the manga, just how many scenes the squirrel is in once he debuts. He is so adorable, and everywhere. Plus, Hak's mischievous nature is SO much more funny in motion with live responses. So far I've loved all of the characters castings, they're playing their roles well and bringing the characters of the manga to life, just as good, if not better than I'd imagined them.
Which is saying something, if you know anything at all about how reality almost never meets expectations. Nothing is as large or grand as the castle you build in your mind, especially not your best effort to build it, since no one sees somethings flaws better than the one that built it.
[Aside end]
I really must draw emphasis, again, to the studios great job at breathing life into scenes I never even realized I doubted could be animated with as much impact as when a set of still images completely controls the passage of time and emphasis. They've done a great job with detailing things that happen in split seconds.

Hm. If there was one thing I was to point out my disappointment in, it's the second Opening music. (Yes, there's already a new one within about 15 episodes). It has a great build up in the opening few seconds and then...not quite as grandiose a climax as it feels like it's building to. Could just be my personal tastes though, I love me some orchestral shakes-you-to-the-bone inspirational musical effects. The musics not bad, just...less than it feels like it's going to be in those first few seconds. The first Opening felt a bit more consistent on that part, the crescendo matched more closely with the build up, which is probably the only reason I drew attention to it. I really don't understand what makes or breaks the decisions to have a new Opening or Endings, and especially not when.

EDIT: Ah ha! I knew there was something oddly familiar about the second ending, but since I was bulking the episodes I'd been skipping the endings, because the first one didn't really stand out much. Not bad, but not Great either sort of thing, pretty, but forgettable. I figured since I was mentioning the music I should go take a closer listen to the new second one, and when I did, it instantly clicked: That sounds like Akiko Shikata! Akiko Shikata is an absolutely divine sounding japanese singer, with an often distinctive musical composition to go with her vocals. It was simple enough to confirm that she was in fact the singer, and I'm so very pleased at how good of a match she is to this story. Grant, this particular piece is very underwhelming when held up in the light next to her other works, but that could just be because her songs tend to be slow building great climaxes. I highly recommend you go look around youtube for one of her songs, "EXEC FLIP ARPHAGE". One of my all time favorite pieces of music.

Monday, February 2, 2015

[New][January 2015] Isuca: You have got to be kidding me.

Pfffft, this is literally the last thing I was expecting

Summary: In Shinichi's world, Yoma are sneaking into the human world from their own world in greater numbers recently, and attacking people for their life force so that they can remain there. Shinichi is attacked by one of them, but then saved by someone with a bow and arrows. The next day in school, another attack occurs, and when he runs after it, he discovers that the one who saved him, was in fact a fellow student at his school, Shimazu Sakuya. As the story progresses, he comes to discover he has a special power related to 'Manna' or 'True Names' and their inherent ability to control the person whose True Name you learn.

First Impression: Are you F***ING KIDDING ME? This is getting animated? Like, really? How? How does this even come close to making the pass!? Okay, okay. Back up. Breath.
Okay, so. This is another one on the block from my manga list
Let's just cut straight to the chase. This manga, animated, would hands down be a Hentai without some serious trimming and censoring. The main character has had a naked women slammed into him, butt, boobs, and even crotch first, so many times it's ridiculous I'm even still reading the stupid manga. The girls in this show have more trouble keeping a shirt on than...well actually there isn't even anything on the scale to compare this to.

My Opinion: Having said all that, I doubt they're going for the full conversion. Hell, perfectly sanitary manga that the 'indecent exposure committee' has never even heard of hardly ever get a full uncut transition into anime. Medium transition just doesn't work that way. This things going to get a free pass to at least 4 episodes if nothing else so that I can scope out just how much they plan to leave in. As a manga, this story survives on my list through pure comedy alone, gently spiced with a mildly interesting plot. The stories hardly amazing, but the plot is the kind of thing that I feel could potentially go in interesting directions. The story couldn't be more cookie-cutter harem love drama if someone stamped it out with a factory machine.
I suppose I should also clarify that while this show is getting on my list just so I can confirm to myself that standards are being adjusted over the pond, it's not necessarily pornographic. Just lots and lots of nudity..and kissing. No sex though, duh. This is, theoretically, an anime and not a hentai.

Really all the show has going for it as edgy is a love of nudity. Just on the women, I might add, since I'm sure someone wants to know. Which brings me to my conclusion: This show doesn't have a very long life expectancy on my list. While it's funny enough as a manga, I somehow doubt that the same kind of in-your-face nudity humor will do anything but grate on me as cheap pandering in live motion, especially since I already know the story. On the topic of previously mentioned plot, it is passably interesting, but mediocre as a rule most of the time. I can recommend the plot, if nothing else I suppose, since it is basically all that holds the humor together for me in the manga. Personally I love the Cat. Tis hilarious. Just gonna throw that out there.
If you're not here for comedy though, in live motion, and inevitably cut short as I'm sure the anime will be, the plot won't be enough to sustain this show. It's too slow moving in the manga. Now, if you're here for sexually tense comedy, line up on the right and get'cher ticket stamped for the season pass because this show's going to have it in spades, and if you love Pandering and Fan Service...or hell anything even vaguely in the vicinity of suggested nudity, the contract to sell your soul is on the table to your left. I'm actually morbidly curious just how far this show's going to push the limits.

Final Word: ^See all that up there? I wrote it all before watching the first episode. I have now watched the first episode, obtained my screenshot within 17 seconds, and completely satisfied my curiosity. Somehow, the censor bar just escaped my mind. I haven't seen anything so blatantly unsubtle in forever. I actually laughed when I saw this, it just was that far out of my realm of expectations. Having said that, I'm officially dropping this show after episode one. My morbid curiosity of how they were going to get a greenlight for this much nudity in a manga as an anime has been answered, and I have no other reason to watch this show. It's very much a 'funny the first time, grating the second' kind of thing. If cheap pandering or fan service doesn't bother you, or you enjoy it, Season Pass and Contract are still where I left them.