Yenya's World

Mon, 20 Oct 2008

Xam'd: Lost Memories

It's been a while since I posted anything to the anime section of this blog. It is not that I don't watch anime anymore, it is just that I don't want to write about anime that is already widely known and appreciated (like Haruhi or Lucky Star). Recently I have discovered a new series, both good and unknown enough to write a blogpost about it.

Xamd 1 Xam'd: Lost Meories is a new series from Studio Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, RahXephon, etc.). When I have seen the first episode, I thought: OMG, Eureka 7 with a different color key!

Xamd 2 And yes, so far Xam'd is quite similar to Eureka: it has a flying ship with crew consisting of weirdos (this time the leader is an angry glass-wearing woman), working as a delivery service (this time delivering real snail-mail letters rather than a random cargo), it has a group of kids onboard, Xamd: Nakiami it has a smaller aircraft piloted by a cold-looking girl (altough Nakiami is a bit more lively than Eureka), it has aliens which are probably related to that girl somehow, it has an excellent opening song, and, of course, it has studio Bones' excellent animation and vivid backgrounds.

Xamd 3 I will not spoil the story (after all, so far there are only 11 episodes out), but if you want something really worth watching, Xam'd: Lost Memories can be for you, especially if you liked Eureka (hi Vlasta!). If you haven't seen Eureka 7, watch it first so that you don't have to wait for further episodes of Xam'd. Hope they will create a better ending than the one in Eureka 7.

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Fri, 30 Mar 2007

The Best of 2006

OK, so the AnimeReactor Community Awards for 2006 have been announced. As I had expected, Haruhi won the most categories, and I hereby declare it the winner of my personal category The most overhyped anime of the year 2006. How does my own The best of 2006 look like?

The Best Overall
Definitely Eureka Seven (which has not even been nominated in this category by ARC awards jury). Altough I have not seen Mushishi yet.
Best Story
Maybe Higurashi no Naku koro ni, but I have seen only few episodes so far. Or Eureka Seven.
Best Character Development
Eureka Seven, altough Black Lagoon and Shuffle! are close enough.
Best Animation/Visual Effects
Maybe Eureka again, I usually do not pay attention to this aspect when watching anime. Eureka has wonderful and imaginative landscapes. Mai-Otome was also interesting from this point of view.
Best Soundtrack
Mai-Otome. Nothing can beat an OST from Yuuki Kajiura. The ARC winner - Eureka Seven - had some interesting songs too, but as a whole - Mai-Otome OST is at least one level above it.
Best Opening/Ending
As for the songs, probably Eureka Seven. Black Lagoon had an interesting opening, but the ending was boring. The same for Higurashi no Naku koro ni. Also Fate/stay night was close. As for the opening/ending animation, Fate/stay night and Eureka Seven win there.
Zero no
Best Action/Martial Arts
I agree with both ARC Awards jury and AnimeReactor community that Black Lagoon is a clear winner there.
Best Adventure/Fantasy
Fate/stay night. I have to admit that Zero no tsukaima was also an interesting, yet different, fantasy.
Best Drama
I am not much to this genre, but maybe Shuffle! (esp. the last third of this series) can count as a drama?
Best Romance/Love story
I don't know what exactly is meant by this genre, but does Fate/stay night count as romance? If not, then I vote for Shuffle!.
Best Comedy
Zero no tsukaima.
Best Fanservice/Ecchi
Maybe Zero no tsukaima again.
Best Sci-Fi/Mecha
As for the later part, Eureka Seven. As for the former, maybe Noein (altough I have not seen all eps yet). I have also seen Starship Operators, which is excellent (and underappreciated), but it is older than 2006.
Best Thriller/Mystery/Horror
Higurashi looks promising so far, and I have not seen anything else from this genre.
Best Male Character
I would say Holland from Eureka Seven. Maybe Archer from Fate/stay night as well. Why often supporting characters are more interesting for me than the leading ones?
Best Female Character
Shinon fron Starship Operators, maybe Asa Shigure from Shuffle!. Whoa! Finally some leading characters there.
Best Villain
Nobody is more evil than lady Balalaika from Black Lagoon.

What interesting anime have you seen last year?

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Fri, 16 Jun 2006

AnimeNFO Radio

People at chat have told me about AnimeNFO Radio - a Shoutcast-based streaming radio-like application. It has a web-based front-end, in which users can request songs to be played, rate the songs, etc.

It mostly works, but there is a serious drawback - when I start to listen, and request some tracks to be played, they get added to the end of the queue (which is usually between half an hour and hour long). So by the time "my" songs are on air, I usually have to leave for lunch or something. I think it would be better to have some local player, which would know what tracks I have and which ones I prefer, and it should then create a mix of the local tracks with some remote streamed songs, preferably those recommended by usesr with similar preferences as I have. It could even send back info about the tracks I listen, and update my profile on the server.

Ther playlist lacks few tracks which I like: they don't have Nadesico OST, and they don't have the OP from Scrapped Princess, for example. I have yet to figure out how to posts the requests to their forum. On the other hand, I have already heared few interesting songs I don't have.

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Thu, 13 Apr 2006

Destination: Mars

I have decided to write another anime review. Hope it will be useful for somebody. Let's go to the outer space :-) ND-001 Nadesico

In a distant future, the mankind has inhabited the Moon, and it even has a small Mars colony. However, the Mars base is attacked and destroyed by an unknown weapons, which are later given the name Jovian Lizards. One of the inhabitants of the Mars colony, Akito Tenkawa, is found unconcious on the surface of the Earth shortly after the Lizards' attack. The long war between the Earth military forces and Jovian Lizards starts. The enemy seems to have better weapons, and they can even transport them using an instant space jump devices. The situation is really bad for the Earth. In the meantime, a privately owned company Nergal Heavy Industries has secretly developed and built its own space ship, ND-001 Nadesico (image on the right), which could be a welcome help to the Earth defense forces. However, being a private company, Nergal has its own plans with Nadesico. As the captain of Nadesico, Yurika Misumaru, the daughter of the Earth defense forces admiral, is appointed. By a pure coincidence, Akito gets a job as a cook at Nadesico few minutes before launch.

Nadesico bridge Who are the Jovian Lizards, and why are they attacking the Earth? Will Nadesico crew help the Earth forces, or will Nergal act according to its own secret agenda? How comes Akito appeared on the Earth shortly after the attack on the Mars base? Who killed Akito's parents shortly before the Lizard's attack? And what the last episode of Gekigangar 3 contains?

On the surface, Kidou Senkan Nadesico (Mobile Battleship Nadesico is the translation, and Martian Successor Nadesico is the English title) is a typical crappy space opera, this time as an anime. However, I was surprised that unlike most space operas, the Nadesico story is full of unexpected twists, and the viewer can never be sure what will happen in the next moment. In addition, Nadesico is quite innovative. One of the most original concepts is "anime within anime" - some members of the Nadesico crew enjoy to watch a fictional 1970's-style mecha anime named Gekigangar 3. It then serves as a parody part of the series, as some situations of the real life of the crew are similar to the episodes of Gekigangar 3. Nadesico has quite a lot of interesting characters as well: the child prodigy Ruri, former voice actress Megumi (a character inspired by a real voice actress Megumi Hayashibara, who played Rei Ayanami in Evangelion and Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop), ace pilot Akatsuki, and many others. As for the characters: guess where the Full Metal Panic got its character design?

Nadesico versus FMP characters

Full Metal Panic (2002) versus Kidou Senkan Nadesico (1996):
On the left: Chidori Kaname (FMP) and Yurika Misumaru (Nadesico)
Upper right: Theresa Testarossa (FMP) and Ruri Hoshino (Nadesico)
Lower right: Sousuke Sagara (FMP) and Akito Tenkawa (Nadesico)

Nadesico is funny - I would say "a pure entertainment". Except that it is often more than that. It is quite serious sometimes (especially in the later episodes), it has an interesting plot, and (strange, strange) the main character is not annoying. The animation is a bit aged (Nadesico was created in 1996). The sound fits the series well, including the opening song of the fictional anime Gekigangar 3, OP and ED songs. There are few filler episodes (such as the episode when Nergal wants to choose a new captain of Nadesico in a singing contest :-). Anyway - I have to admit I liked Nadesico. As for the value, I have rewatched it after some time, and even then I did not find it boring. Ryouko Subaru My favourite character is another pilot, Ryouko Subaru (on the right), and maybe Ruri as well. Nadesico is recommended, maybe except for those who expect a deep, brain-screwing plot like in Evangelion.

After the success of the series, the studio XEBEC even made a bonus for Nadesico fans, an OVA Gekigangar 3: the fictional anime-within-anime has been made real :-). The true sequel of Nadesico, however, is the movie named Nadesico: Prince of Darkness. It is quite short and fast-paced (do not even try to watch it without watching the series first), and it has much darker mood. Even if you are suspicious about any movie-as-a-sequel, give it a try. I think I liked Prince of Darkness even more than the series itself. And (minor spoiler ahead:) in the movie, Ruri is a captain of new Nadesico B.

Oh, and by the way, Ruri thinks you are a complete fool :-)

Overall rating: 7/10 (Prince of Darkness: 8/10)


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Fri, 16 Dec 2005

We are the professionals

I have just came across the fan video, which is an excellent parody of the Czech Army commercial TV spot. It combines the audio track from the mentioned TV spot, and visuals from Full Metal Panic (here is the author's page).

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Tue, 13 Dec 2005

The Matrix in a fantasy style

Mimiru Have you seen The Matrix, or Total Recall? The movies, where it is not clear whether the characters are in reality or in a virtual world? Now get this story and move it from the original sci-fi world to the fantasy settings, and you get the basic notion of what .hack//Sign is about.

.hack//Sign (pronnounced dot-hack-sign) is an anime series, which takes place inside the fantasy-style MMORPG[?], named The World. The main character is a wavemaster Tsukasa (image on the left), a shy boy Tsukasa with unusual abilities. However, he finds out that he is trapped inside the game, and cannot log himself out of The World. Moreover, he is apparently wanted by a self-proclaimed "police" of The World, the Crimson Knights. Altough Tsukasa does not want anyone to be bothered by his problems, few players try to discover what kind of mystery is behind him. Some of them do it out of pure interest - such as an old blade-master Bear and his friend, heavy blade Mimiru (image above) - and others in hope that he will lead them to a legendary item of The World, named Key of the Twilight.

Despite of what the action game settings may suggest, .hack//Sign is not an action anime. Quite the contrary. While there is some action here and there, .hack//Sign is about dialogues. This may feel quite static and boring, except for a very patient viewer. The creators of this series (the studio Bee Train, which also made Noir and Madlax) quite wisely did not burn their money doing complex and expensive animation, but instead they invested into the backgrounds. For me watching the .hack//Sign landscapes was similar to seeing Peter Jackson's idea about the appearances of the Hobbiton or Minas Tirith. Awesome. Also the character design by Sadamoto Yoshiyuki (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Furi Kuri) is outstanding. There is only one drawback with respect to the animation - few times they even did not bother to animate the mouth movement of the character who was speaking.

The music - from the techno-style opening Obsession through the background music and songs (like Key of the Twilight), to the slow ending song Yasashii Yoake - is another exceptional part of this anime. The music was written by Yuki Kajiura (Noir, Mai HiME, etc.). Even if you do not like the series, I recommend getting the OST. However, the sound of .hack//Sign was sometimes flawed - they often played the song with lyrics on a background of some dialogue, which made the dialogue harder to understand.

As for the story - well, it is slow. Very slow. Do not even bother watching it if you expect just action scenes. Another drawback is the ending, which does not solve almost anything. I was disappointed by the ending, but looking back to the series, I think the strength of Subaru this series is about how the characters get to this ending, not the ending itself. There are many interesting characters, too. The kind and thoughtful leader of the Crimson Knights - heavy axeman Subaru (image on the right), a sly wavemaster BT, player-killer Sora, etc. The most interesting for me remain Bear and Mimiru, though.

Overall I must say that despite of its shortcomings, this series clearly falls to the "must watch" category, provided you are not an impatient viewer (In which case just get the OST and enjoy it :-).

Overall rating: 8.5/10


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Wed, 02 Nov 2005

Azumanga Daioh - a trip to Okinawa

A! I have found this link on Pete Zaitcev's blog. It contains real-life photos similar to the scenes from the Okinawa trip episode of the Azumanga Daioh. I want to visit Okinawa too!

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Thu, 20 Oct 2005

What do I watch nowadays?

A list of anime series I watch these days includes:

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Wed, 12 Oct 2005

Was it a dream? Or a vision?

Hitomi Kanzaki Hitomi Kanzaki is a high-school student and a member of the school athletics team. Once when she has been trying to beat her record at 50m run, she has seen a strange man fighting a dragon. Her visions then continued, and she was taken to the strange land named Gaea, where medieval-style kingdoms were just about to start the war. Hitomi, who has always been interested in questions about fatality and predestination, finds out that she can occasionally forecast the near future using her pendant or the tarot cards. She joins Van (the guy who has fought the dragon) in his land, called Fanelia, where Van starts to learn fighting using a huge armored robot Escaflowne.

The series Tenkuu no Escaflowne (Vision of Escaflowne) is the story about Hitomi and her allies, who are fighting to survive the attacks of the Zaibach empire, and, eventually, to defeat the emperor.

Being one of the most popular anime series ever, Escaflowne of course brings many expectations. However, I must say I was a bit disappointed. While I can fully understand why it is so popular, it had serious flaws which lowered the enjoyment from this series even to the point I thought I would quit watching it.

Escaflowne When I think about it, the single biggest problem in this series can be named "unlikable characters". I did not like the character design with unusually big noses, and I did not like the main characters themselves: Hitomi is just a hysterical girl who is not able to decide whether her heart is with Van, with Allen, or even with Amano. Van is just a hot-headed guy who can be confused by his first defeat. And Allen? Is he a noble knight and an excellent swordsman, or a playboy trying to get every female person he meets? Even the "why is the Escaflowne so special and why only Van can pilot it" part of the story is not much interesting (especially when compared to the similar story of Eva 01 in NGE :-). When one watch the story about characters he does not like, even the best stories can get boring.

On the positive side, the "big picture" (or a background story) is pretty interesting, and I liked it. The politics behind the Zaibach empire, and the genesis of the war in Gaea where deep and well described. Also, while I did not like the main characters (maybe with the exception of a funny cat-girl Merle), the "dark side" was quite interesting and believable. This includes all the main villains - Folken, Dilandau, and especially Isaac. The background music by Yoko Kano (Cowboy Bebop, X TV, amongst others) adds also few positive points to the series, as it helps to emphasize the atmosphere of many scenes. The opening and ending songs were nothing special, though. The fighting scenes are well done, as is the animation in the other parts of Escaflowne. The "mecha" genre now for once means the robots are mechanical, not some living biotech as in Eva or RahXephon.

Overall, I think Escaflowne tries to mix too many genres - mecha action, historical settings, romance, drama, and mystery into one story. This means that action fans will get bored during the drama scenes, and those who enjoy the unfolding the psychological background of the characters will bet bored during the action scenes. Add the unlikable characters to the mix, and the result cannot be enjoying. My recommendaton: try to watch the first few episodes yourself, maybe you will not find the leading characters as annoying as I did.

Overall rating: 5/10


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Sat, 03 Sep 2005

In the world of grey wings

Rakka A quiet, peaceful city of Guri is surrounded by a high wall, which makes the city a separate world of its own. Aside from humans, there is a special kind of inhabitants of the city: children with grey wings, called Haibane. They are born to their world from big, web-like cocoons, and while they can speak, read, and so on, they do not remember how they appeared in their cocoon. They usually remember only the last dream from their stay in the cocoon. Haibane are treated as something special by humans, as they are said to bring luck to humans. The story starts when a new Haibane is born in the Old Home, a gloomy building where most of Haibane live. The girl is given a name Rakka (fall), as her dream was about falling from the sky. The story then revolves around life in the Old Home, with the oldest of Haibane, named Reki, and new-born Rakka as the main two characters.

Haibane Renmei (which can be translated as "Charcoal Feather Federation") is a masterpiece of Yoshitoshi ABe. Unlike his previous works (Serial Experiments: Lain and NieA_7), where he did a character design mostly, he did both the character design and wrote the story for Haibane Renmei. The animation is excellent, yet unusual. Yoshitoshi ABe's style is based on dim and lower-saturated color tones, in order to allow the main subject to stand out.

Haibane Renmei The story of Haibane is deep and well thought out, yet it leaves opened questions at the end. Who are Haibane, and how they enter and leave the world described in this anime? Was their dream related to their previous life? And did they even have any previous life? The answers are not given in the series directly, yet there are some clues left for careful watcher. If you have just finished the story and you are thinking: WTF? Look at the Within the Wall fan site, where you can find some theories and speculations about the Haibane Renmei world.

I liked the peaceful atmospere of the story - there is almost no action, and the story starts very slowly, describing and introducing the life of Haibane. Their world is far from ideal, yet they seem to be sort of happy there. In the second half of the series the story starts to follow Reki's life more closely, and in fact, the whole story is about Reki, as seen by Rakka. Reki's cigarette was the only thing I disliked on the series (I hate smoking/smokers :-). Haibane Renmei has also a decent OST, with an instrumental opening song, and nice ending song.

This series ended up first in the current Top ten animes list at Manga.CZ. So, are you tired of flashy, fast-paced action anime? Do you want to try something really different, yet still belonging to the anime genre? Then Haibane Renmei might be for you.

Overall rating: 9.5/10


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Mon, 22 Aug 2005

Fumoffu? Not really a Full Metal Panic!

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu! is a school-life comedy with bits of action and even bits of ecchi here and there. The main character is sgt. Sousuke Sagara, 17 years old highly experienced soldier, and member of a secretive anti-terrorist organization Mithril. Sousuke and Chidori His job is to protect Chidori Kaname, a girl with unspecified special abilities (explained further in the original Full Metal Panic series). The series consists of episodes of Chidori and Sagara's school life, which is full of Sousuke's misunderstandings of the real life.

This series won the Anime Reactor Community Award as a best comedy anime of the year 2003. This fact should send a clear message to those looking for something similar to the original FMP series.

FMP:Fumoffu has the same nice animation and sound as its prequel. I liked the opening and ending songs, and the ending animation was nice and well suited for the series. The story and character development? Well, there are none. Fumoffu is just a bunch of episodes from Sagara's school life, and can be seen as a side story to the FMP series. I am not saying that every anime should have a sophisticated story, but those who haven't should be interesting in some other aspect. Theresa Testarossa A nice example is Azumanga Daioh - it has no story as well (the whole Azumanga series are based on three-panel manga strips), but the series have quite intelligent humor and a nice peaceful atmosphere. Fumoffu also has no story, but then nothing special either. It is just another school-life comedy.

If you like long-blue-haired hyperactive girls, and if you do not expect much more, give Fumoffu a try. It is funny, after all. And both Chidori Kaname and Sousuke Sagara won the ARC awards for the best female and male character of the year 2003. If you are a fan of the original FMP looking for a sequel, you can easily skip Fumoffu, as it is something completely different: no mecha, less action, more comedy/parody, and my favourite character from the FMP series - captain Testarossa - appears in two episodes of Fumoffu only. FMP fans, watch FMP: The Second Raid instead (the first five episodes are available on fansub, and so far it looks very well).

Overall rating: 4/10


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