Nice Little Surprise For You Adults: Rescue Wing

The past 2 or 3 months have been the least anime I’ve watched over a period this long since I got back into it last year (actually I have no facts to back that statement) so I once again turned to the handy recommendation forum of Animesuki for help (the only section of the site I like at all) and happened to get a mention of something I’d never even heard before – Rescue Wings. I watched an episode when I was about to go to be and immediately ended up watching the first 5 before getting too tired to coninue. I then finished it up today.

The two shows that come to mind quickest when thinking about Rescue Wings are Honey and Clover and 5 cm Per Second. If that’s not indication enough, Rescue Wings is definitely a show meant for adults (or really matur teenages like I consider myself.) It’s about a guy named Uchida who gets assigned to be a pilot of a rescue helicopter although he’d wanted to be a fighter pilot. At first he’s not feeling too great about things since he didn’t get the job he wanted, the town he’s moved to is tiny, and he and his girlfriend back home keep missing each other’s calls. Things only get worse when he has a hardass training instructor and worse yet when a major accident occurs on the first mission he spectates.

However, thing steadily get better and Uchida comes to enjoy his place in the JSDF. The biggest driving force behind his character is his steel determination. When his instructor tells him about his mistakes or he makes fuck ups he always sets out to improve himself and never bitch about it. He develops kinship with those around him and is overall a great guy.

Rescue Wings is a very soft-spoken anime. Emotions are expressed through action and interaction rather than eplanation, which is something I wholly admire in anime. Episode 4 in particular has Marimite-level communication fuckwin. Every character, no matter how minor, has a depth and human quality to them.

Perhaps my favorite element of the show was how it superbly highlighted the importance of relationships and displayed more than ever how mouch a couple needs to rely on each other, always keeping within totally real context. That’s something that should be mentioned forthright – except for a JSDF member just so happening to be involved in a dangerous situation in one episode, everything in Rescue Wings is 100% realistic. There is not an ubelievable moment within. But anyway, Uchida and his girlfriend’s interactions are brilliant because we see the imperfections of both characters and how they balance each other out. There are other examples of these relationships and are all great.

I found the directing to be exceptional as well. Episode order, pacing (slow but not too slow) and some great decisions such as Honey and Clover esque songs during episodes and an ed that changes to fit the episodes. Animation was off the charts, definitely one of J.C.Staff’s finest and proving once again that not everything they do is trash (in fact they are an extremely respectable studio who is unfortunately most recognized for it’s worst shows. Wait did I just refer to them in 3 different ways in that sentence? I’m leaving that in here.)

The only problem I had in Rescue Wings, and is a minor complaint, is that all the characters look very similar (realistic, all asians look alike) and it made certain scenes confusing when I thought one guy was another guy. Minor complaint though.

There was also a (beautifully animated) OVA. This one was very very very  hard for me to grasp and I imagine would be for most people my age. I want to watch this as an old man and see if I understand it. Very introspective and nostalgic feeling that i could see but couldn’t feel.

Anyway, good show, go watch.

Oi Hayaku November 2008 Contest Submission

So Oi, Hayaku is having another of it’s monthly contests, and this time my goal was to compare each of my favorite (and some of my least favorite) blogs to my thanksgiving dinner. So I picked up my camera and headed to Food Lion to get the scoop on each dish. Sadly this video wasn’t as good as I’d hoped because, well, you fucking go to Food Lion and try to film a video, it’s awkward as hell. Anyways, here:

FANBOY GENOCIDE Part One: The First Episode of Haruhi

You all had to know this would happen eventually. After watching me get pissed at various kinds of fans, you must have figured eventually I’d start singling them out for the slaughter. So, while these posts will only happen every once in a while, this is a series called Fanboy Genocide dedicated to groups with opinions that have significantly pissed me off on forums and chats, and hopefully correcting their ways.

So, I’ve pretty much got no more bitching to do about people who hate Haruhi and Luzky Star because they all fall into a couple of groups. The first is a group of those who should never have watched the shows in the first place and only ended up doing so thanks to the rampant popularity. The second group is trolls. However, one commonly expressed notion from people who loved Haruhi as a whole is a complaint that the first episode is stupid, boring, poorly made, pointless, etc. Well congratulations, enough of you have bitched about it and now I have to kill you all. (no, not literally.)

The part about it that bothers me the most is that these people DO like the rest of the series. Haruhi as a whole is a good amount of quite blatant parody. One of the show’s stong points is molding together all these cliche plots and putting a twist on them to seem like the show itself is realistic and believable in contrast to it’s own unbelievable elements. It’s most evident in the characters: an alien, an esper, and a time traveler – classics of sci-fi stories and moe anime alike. There is the silent girl and the clumsy girl and the tsundere – and even the yaoi-bait and loli. It takes on the ever-popular mystery genres, epic space-battles, philosophical, sci-fi, good ol’ school comedy – there’s a little bit of it all in the mix. Half of the fun in Haruhi is just how it puts it’s own twist on everything relating to anime culture.

So then we have the first episode, a blatant parody of the magical girl genre with a sci-fi overtone and some rom-com stylings. Haruhi’s movie brilliant rips on all sorts of anime cliche, with Kyon to really pour salt into the wound with his crushing monologue. I felt like I was watching every silly anime I’d ever seen thrown together and cranked up to eleven. The episode even does the great job of introducing us to different characteristics of all the characters before we’ve even met them. Yuki is stoic throughout, Koizumi has to move constantly and use his hands to talk, Mikuru constantly looks like she’s having a heart attack, and we get to hear Kyon’s hilarious monologue against it all. This just gets more fun when we rewatch it knowing all of the characters and see all the things we know and love about them.

But way more than all of that, the episode is directed and animated so incredibly well that I would have loved to see a show just made of these silly films. I could almost call the episode a masterpiece. Characters accidentally show up on screen holding the cue cards for others and we watch Mikuru’s eyes as she blatantly reads off of them. When Yuki, the villain, is supposed to disappear, we see her just walking infinitely down the road. The camera pans up to the sky CONSTANTLY. Someone gets injured when they try to use firecrackres for special effect. The camera abruptly cuts for Mikuru’s undressing session. When Yuki’s cat accidentally talks, she hits it on the head and just says ‘that was ventriloquism’. After the bad guys are knocked into the water we still see them. The special effects are ass-drawn thunderbolts from Microsoft Paint. The camera even goes in and out of focus during action scenes. Even the voice actors manage to play a chracter who can’t act. EVERY SINGLE THING that could POSSIBLY be done wrong in the making of a short film goes wrong to the point that you have to remind yourself – this is anime! The effort put into perfectly replicating how a shitty live action movie would look is astounding and makes for one of the most constantly hilarious and impressive episodes of anime ever. It just gets better and better the more you watch it, too.

If you didn’t like the first episode of haruhi, you must have either missed the joke, misunderstood the show, or have no fucking idea what good animation is (I still can’t believe some people thought this episode was poorly animated. Did they only see the obviously joke laser beams and miss all of the ungodly fluidity?!) It’s easily one of the greatest first episodes of anime ever and certainly among the most memorable.

Your thoughts?

Zaregoto Book 1: The Kubikiri Cycle – Man, What the Fuck Was THAT All About?

I would like to stress that this be read in accompaniment, though preferably before, this review by my hero, Boogiepop translator Andrew Cunningham http://easternstandard.pbwiki.com/Zaregoto

Nisioisin is a stellar author who singlehandedly revolutionized the light novel market just as Kouhei Kadono had brought it into existence years before with Boogiepop and Others. Like Kadono, Nisioisin writes heavily psychological tripfests with a very unique style. Also, just as all Kadono stories are instantly recognizable, Nisioisin’s stories, among those I’ve read, all have very similar qualities.

The best way to describe Zaregoto in my opinion would be ‘completely fucking inaccessible mindrape.’ I guess the Japanese eat that up since all of the novels that revolutionize their markets are totally insane. Naturally, I loved Zaregoto, though the ending leaves me wallowing in self-doubt and pain. Unlike Boogiepop and Others whose worldview is crystal clear to me like some Brilliant All-Truth (it is, after all, my favorite thing ever) Zaregoto is like some hazed-over crazy land. The book is written in such a way that it begs the reader to pull thmself into relating to it even though they shouldn’t at all. The main character is a complex mechanism of confusion and derision and none of the other characters are shining examples of normalcy. If you take any of the points made or worldviews expressed in this novel seriously, you are in for a world of conflicting thoughts, bad moods, and will get very angsty very fast. It’s a powerful thing that a book so out of touch with normalcy can convince a normal person that they are either insane, a genius, or both, or at least start hating the world for no discernable reason.

I imagine this is what made the book popular. After reading it, people were probably so fucking confused with what they actually thought about the world in and of itself that they couldn’t help but relate this indescribable emotion to a love for the story. I can’t blame them – I’m in the same boat. Throughout the entire book I found myself nodding in agreement or furrowing my brow in thought at things I didn’t even comprehend, and the ending – holy fucking shit. I won’t spoil it but when you get through the epilogue it is impossible not to ask yourself ‘what the fuck did I just read?!’ honestly, I’m glad it ended that way just to show me exactly how fucked up the worldview really was so I didn’t take it so seriously I really went mad.

As for the story itself, as a mystery novel, which it is in some way, it doesn’t even try very hard to be a good mystery for the most part and is less ‘ZOMG’ than most episodes of Detective Conan but the real engrossing part is the constant dialogue and psychobable that has you gripping your head and asking ‘why am I thinking about this?!’ The main character was a guy who I would have a hard time not enjoying when he was so complex and it was refreshing to see a main character who wasn’t written to be relatable. I also loved his partner, the blue-haired Kunagisa, but that’s because she was UBER pandering to my DEEPEST emotions that made me just want to rip her out of the book and I imagine that it will sink in how much I loved her character and how I wish she were real and then I’ll get all depressed and shit. Again. Damn this fucking book.

Nine out of ten. I highly recommend it, especially if you want to be fucked hard through the ear.

Gokigenyou All Over Again – Marimite Rewatch

So the first time I watched Marimite I already knew I’d have to rewatch it eventually. Back then I wasn’t so prone to rewatching and the following 2 seasons were really god so i guess I hadn’t really put enough urgency on watching season 1 again. I’ve owned the season 1 box for around a month now, but like all anime in the past month I forgot to watch it. Seeing that the long-awaited season 4 of Marimite is starting next season gave me a push and today i had the random desire to marathon a 13-episode series – so I did.

The first time I watched r I thought that it had the single worst first episode of all time (and I was not alone in this sentiment.) However, Marimite is a show that is perplexing and the first 3 or so episodes cannot really be interpreted correctly on your first go-through. I remember at the yuri panel at Otakon, one of the panelists mentioned how he went back and rewatched the first episode of Marimite, as he apparently had a few times before, and found himself bewildered by how good it was. Now that I’ve seen it again, it was not in fact a bad episode but a fucking ballsy one that I have utmost respect for.

Marimite starts off by throwing the viewer into a very dramatic, turbulent situation that involves a lot of people and a lot of background reasoning for actions that the viewer can’t possibly understand. At this time, there’s no way for us to know that later on, there will be lots of smiles, fun, and homely slice-of-life. All we know is that things start off vary fucking dramatically. This serves a purpose, though, and that purpose is to get you into the mind of the main character, Yumi – a place you will be throughout the series. The show is meant to somewhat reflect her first person perspective (except of course at times when she’s not involved). At the start of the story, Yumi is very very fucking confused. She is thrown into a situation she has no comprehension of with no idea what’s happening, and as such, so is the viewer. It is very disorienting, and that’s exactly how it is meant to be. Actually purposefully making an episode like this seems almost pretentious but I cna’t help but fucking applaud the series for putting the effort into taking the emotional perspective of the main character that seriously.

It’s a shame, though, that this is so hard to appreciate without already having the clarity to know why you were confused, but at least you can appreciate your own confusion. It also helps because on the first go through I really didn’t get into Marimite until episode four. I have always hated when a show starts off with too much drama because I usually don’t have the emotional backing to care about the drama. However, this problem is only really prevalent in drama series, which Marimite is not. It’s a slice-of-life who’s beginning had no choice but to open up right into a clusterfuck. Merely knowing that the series is not a full-on drama makes the early episodes easier to take.

which pretty much means the series is perfect because beyond those things thatI had first thought of as problems, this show is amazing in every fucking way. Marimite is one of those shows that is just about incomparable – in a league of it’s own. And it’s game is communication. It is pointed out that Yumi makes a lot of reactive facial expressions in teases by other characters, but Marimite is a show where EVERY facial expression has meaning. Every time you see someone’s face, the situation takes on it’s meaning, and the words and motions of the characters have a real impact on each other. It’s the deepest communication that probably exists in an anime.

And what’s more, the emotions are constantly moving and evolving in a completely human way. The emotional reactions characters have to each other is flawless. When yumi gets wrapped up in her worrying about her onee-sama, it turns out that her reclusion into her emotions was effecting her companion as well. Every person’s actions have a real effect, and that’s just not fucking something that shows besides Marimite accomplish. Two thumbs way the fuck up. If I actually believed in objectivity Marimite would definitely be one of the top 5-10 anime ever created.

GOTH – S. S. Astro – Black Lagoon = Sum Manga I Dun Read

You know how you can tell I’ve got too much fucking free time at school? I read 3 fucking graphic novels within my school day today. THREE! And i’m not one of those fucking crazy people who plows through a graphic novel in 15 minutes – it takes me about 45-minutes on average. I read slow, shut the fuck up. Anyway, I guess it makes the most sense to write about them in the order that I read them so here you go.


S. S. Astro volume 1

user posted image

S.S. Astro is another giant-paged 4-Koma manga released by Yen Press. That enough was reason for me to buy it. This manga by Negi Banno (who gets not even an introduction parapraph anywhere in the book) is about 4 female teachers who start work at a high school. It’s comedy slice of life al-la Hidamari Sketch only a bit more mature. Not that it’s serious or anything, it’s just about adults being adults instead of the usual high school girls being high school girls. This doesn’t make them any less cute and fun though.

S.S. Astro has immediately loveable characters that by the end of the volume had me begging to be able to read more about them (as often happens in these manga). it also solidifies my claim that every slice of life story has at least one lesbian character in it, though this is by far the most blatant one (her character is largely based around it.) The personality traits of the characters are pretty basic, but in a grown up way that makes it interesting in a sort of ‘what if my favorite anime girls grew up?’ sort of way. It’s not the first thing to do that whatsoever, but it’s no less fun to see.

Anyway if you’ve been impressed by the Yen Press 4-koma so far there’s absolutely no reason you won’t love this one. The best part is that unlike hidasketch I haven’t already seen these stories upwards of 3 times and therefor I feel very inclined to reread it. Immediately. I WANT MORE.

GOTH
Goth started as a novel written by Otsuichi. I learned about Otsuichi from Faust which I promise I’ll start going through soon, and his story F-Sensei’s Pocket, which was great. they didn’t have the Goth novel at the store I went to but they had the manga which is only 1 volume long and therefor totally worth it. Goth is very good. The first chapter kind of feels like going down old roads of mystery/horror anime with characters who were messed up in a very drab way, however by chapter two things become far more interesting. The main draw of Goth, and I’ve heard it’s tenfold so in the novel, is the main character who is twisted but so cool and collected that  you can’t help but like him. My kind of psycho, you could say. It was also fun how the girl was your total mysterious and gothy girl but there was enough to show that she was not very bright at all and given a very human quality unkown to most mysterious characters.
The manga was rife with great imagery, especially the chapter starters like that above. There were awesome facial expressions, cool poses, some trippiness – all the great things to come of gothic storytelling. The icing on the cake was a riveting knife fight. Andrew Cunningham happened to be talking about the novel just today and says that apparently KyoAni almost did an OVA of Goth. I’d love to see Madhouse or SHAFT do it, the latter preferred because Shinbo is the king of gothic imagery. I will try to get my hands on the novel ASAP because I’d really love to get more into the main character’s mind.
Black Lagoon volume 1
Volume one of black lagoon features what became the first 3 episodes of the anime and the Roberta arc, meaning the u-boat arc was shafted forward in the anime. In addition to that, a lot of things happened faster in the manga, reinforcing my thoughts that everything in the anime could have been done in fewer episodes. If the anime was entirely taken from the manga, it’s easier to see the manga being preferable just because it has such better pacing. Otherwise, the anime was such a straight-up adaption that I don’t have much to say except that the character designs look better in the manga – namely Revy. She has more smoothness about her I guess. I also love how the artwork is rock solid but when fights break out everything goes into huge-outlign giant-text Gurren-lagann style madness.