Posted on 25 March 2014 with categories: Space Dandy

THIS. This, this is everything I’m looking for. This is the mentality that I have been waiting for for so long! This is what more series need to be like. Every single one of these past four episodes was amazing, but not only that: they were all completely different from each other and they all shined in their own ways. Thank you, Space Dandy!

Let’s start with episode seven, a Redline parody. This really was a comedy episode. However, it had me laughing so many times, taking the already silly Redline to the ridiculous (is it a coincidence that Dandy bears a striking resemblance to Redline’s male lead?) The best part of the episode was the ending. They really saved the best joke for last, and it’s rare for a comedy episode to have such a good climax here. It really was what this series is all about: exploring your wildest fantasies beyond time and space. It was glorious to watch!

Episode eight was just silly, but at the same time it was just completely adorable. The fleas were hysterical, especially how they both met their demise. These are the greatest kinds of comedy episodes in my opinion: most comedy series try to act like stand-up comedians, instead of trying to tell an actual story. This episode… definitely had a story, however silly it may have been.

Episode nine shows best what is so amazing about this series: here is the thing, one of the reasons I became such a fan of anime is the way in which the episodes are made: each episode has its own director, writer, storyboard artist and animation director. On one hand this allows creators to deliver a quality episode consistently. On the other hand this allows the creators of each episode to be able to give their own spin to the anime, within the bounds of the series. The latter is something that I’ve been missing dearly for the past years: just a couple of inventive directors who are not afraid to show their own style and vision. The focus has been put too much on making things consistent and way too little on individual skills. This episode really was unique. It in one way resembled Kaiba’s style, but it added enough things on its own. It’s a completely serious episode, but watching the plant storyline unfold was really beautiful to watch.

Episode ten starts the stories that are centered around the main cast, and this is a big potential pitfall for these kinds of series. There are two big ones that have felled a lot of series: boring back-stories and abandoning what made the previous episodes great. Space Dandy nailed it. This really feels like any other episode of Space Dandy, just about Meow. And his backstory is really great. They explained perfectly how he grew up, why he went away, but they didn’t overdo things: he still misses his own home, he still has regrets. Things aren’t portrayed black and white at all. And at the same time this show kept me laughing whenever it wanted to. This episode had some great jokes about time loops and I especially loved the parody on Meow’s childhood crush. The build-up for that was terrific.

Thank god. Finally another series that does not disappoint in any way. Okay, one way perhaps. Space Dandy is a show that’s difficult to get into due to Dandy’s obsession with boobs. That’s the one thing that really had me worried in the beginning, and that makes it hard to recommend this series. However, boobs have just become a minor detail in these four episodes, and really: it ended up balancing male and female fanservice pretty well. That’s how you should do it: give something for both genders.

And yes, I know I’m late and that there are more episodes out, I just wanted to cover these before I went on with the final episodes.

Posted on 13 March 2014 with categories: Kill La Kill

So, the past week I put my effort into catching up with Kill la Kill, hoping that it at least would show how to tell a story correctly. And yeah, as much as I’d like to stay positive here, it turned out to be yet another hit on the list of the disappointments of the past Fall Season. Not a total disappointment, mind you. Still I’m not gonna recommend this one.

However to offset all of the negative things I’m going to say next, I do have a few positive points: I like that this show doesn’t really have a clear main character anymore. Sure, Ryuko still is really powerful and sortof in the center and all, but it’s not like she got the most attention here. She spent so many episodes out of the loop, to the point where the guys from Nudist Beach and the Elite Four had to push the story forward. Episode 21’s ending also finally brought in some good emotions. Not great, but I did enjoy it. The main villain also has a great theme song, and the side characters are quirky in a way that works.

Is that enough though… let’s start with the thing that you’ll firstly notice about the second half of this series: the OP sucks. I often say OPs suck and all, but let me go into a bit more detail, because this is something I just keep hearing over and over again: THE MELODY IS EXACTLY THE SAME as every other OP out there. The way the opening starts, with the short jingle, then followed by the sound that plays over the main credits: that exact melody gets used in every single OP with only slight variations here and there. After that you have this fast-paced base while we look at the main characters: again you hear that everywhere. After the introductions, the music intensifies again while we see the main characters fighting: yet again something that has been beaten to death. I thought that Kill la Kill meant to set conventions? What’s it doing with so many dead horses here?

The good news is that the new OP IS the worst thing I found about the second half so far, however there were other things that… just did not sit quite right with me. Here is the thing: Satsuki was an interesting villain. She was built up, she stood there, having built up the school, and she had this fun rivalry with Ryuko. On top of that she had some fun underlings which made the first thirteen episodes varied, and fun to watch. In the second half, she is replaced with the main villain of this series, who in all honestly is a really boring villain. She’s just another all-powerful villain who wants to destroy the world, blah blah blah. However, the biggest problem is that she only has one underling. So for like, the past eight episodes we had to watch mostly fights against her and that underling. There’s only so many times that you can show them easily pwning the good guys until it gets boring, especially when all these fights are so one-sided. Every time they’re scratched they just pull these magical life threads out of their asses (or boobs in this case) and they’re completely fine as if nothing happened. Once or twice this is fine, but they just keep doing that.

I know I’ve gotten more cynical, but here’s one thing that also bothered me with especially the past few episodes that’s something that I’ve hated ever since I started this blog: brainwashing. Ryuko is reduced to a mere shell who doesn’t think for herself at all, she’s not responsible for her actions, she is just this big robot who is nearly invincible until she’s saved by rules that are conveniently very loose. And she gets brainwashed twice. And I get that she’s losing control of her emotions and sanity. That was built up. What wasn’t built up is her suddenly becoming the slave of the main villain.

Kill la Kill was fun because it kept us entertained for every episode with over the top action scenes that knew how to be fun and varied, using the backdrop of clothing as their setting and symbolism, but to me it seems like the second half just needed half the episodes, and the characters have been running around naked for a bit too long now, not really knowing what to do. I mean, I did not hate these episodes or something, but I noticed quite a few points at which I was just bored by what was going on… did I really make the right decision to prioritize this series over the new season of Hajime no Ippo?

Posted on 3 March 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Mushishi holds a really special place in my heart. Back in November 2005, when I started up this blog, Mushishi was one of the first shows I picked up to cover weekly. At first I didn’t think much behind it: it just looked interesting and I wanted to cover it, but as it went on I started to enjoy it more and more. But even then it took me a long time, even after the series had finished, to realize what a special series it was, and that we’d never get anything like it again.

Many series tried, but none got as many things right as this show did. That’s something I definitely realized after I watched this OVA, and how we’re in for something really, really special here. I mean, my big fear was that they’d compromise, and that the second season would feel underwhelming. But amazingly, this OVA kept everything that made Mushishi to be one of my favourite shows out there.

And I know that usually, I’m not one of those people who lauds shows who do just the same in their sequels, but Mushishi is one of those series that is the exception to the rule. It knew exactly what it should keep doing, and yet this OVA contained a new story that adds to the Mushishi universe, and that story was amazing. You can see some CG here, but the creators kept it within limits and bounds.

Apart from that, the soundtrack is just amazing as usual. The voice acting is still brilliant and subdued, the atmosphere is still there. It still has the single best ED ever created for an anime, It still knows how to tell a perfect short story. I mean, really. This will be big. If the TV-series is like this then it’s got the potential to be the best series in years. But no, expectations should not be too large. Something’s going to mess up. Something will go wrong.

I mean, seriously. I don’t know whether it’s because of heightened emotions of finally seeing one of my absolute favorites again, but I still cannot believe how much I enjoyed this episode. I actually got teary-eyed from watching it and it made it seem so easy. I mean hell, this is EVERYTHING I’m looking for in an anime. The story wasn’t necessarily incredibly complex or so, but it was told perfectly. The focus was on bringing all of the different characters to life, and the creators really succeeded in showing that this really is about ordinary people living their lives. It’s incredibly relatable as it dealt with simple, but relatable problems.

Now for those who are wondering: Mushishi is a collection of standalone stories. In order to understand everything about this episode, all you need to have watched are episodes 1 and 20 from season one. That’s nothing, especially because these episodes are awesome to watch anyway.

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