Posted on 27 December 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions

I’m currently writing up my list of favorite OVAs and movies this year, but while compiling that list I noticed that I still needd to watch a few big ones. Here are some quick impressions of them. I’m sorry for this chaos on this site about covering OVAs, but I just can’t find one format about covering them that I really like: sometimes I like to dedicate an entire post about them, sometimes, these compilation posts are better.

Arata Naru Sekai

Arata Naru Sekai is a project across multiple mediums: an anime a manga and a novel. I know that I’m not going to read the novel, and the manga doesn’t seem to be out yet, but it’s definitely interesting to see all of the works combined: a group of time travellers who goes to save the future (anime), past (manga) and present (novel). Ideally, they should do more with this, though. This episode of the anime was very down to earth, but it didn’t get much chances to really explore this premise. Everything boiled down a bit too much on high school girls. The pacing was slow that made them quite relatabe, but the setting here is so interesting and I feel that that got a bit underdeveloped (but who knows: perhaps will get mor explored in the manga and novel). The thing mostly is that they’re supposewd to be saving the world, yet end up looking for a time capsule among others. That makes it quite personal, but also a bit pointless. Really though: make a full fledged TV-series out of this.

Kyosogiga 05

What an incredibly charming way to close off Kyousogiga’s second installment: a romantic music video featuring the lead female’s parents. For a while I was really wondering what the creators were up to, but once it became clear where they were going, I was completely sold. Again the animation is not as over the top as in some of the previous installments, but it all just fitted. And it still was incredibly stylish. Together the five OVA episodes were incredibly different and sometimes silly, but they all had something unique to them in fleshing out the main cast of this series. The style was just amazing. The end of this episode hinted at more. PLEASE, MAKE MORE OF THIS.

Inferno Cop – 01

What the hell was that? Inferno Cop is the first ful production from Studio Trigger, which was founded by Hiroyuki Imaishi, the director of Panty and Stocking and Gurren Lagann. But really: don’t bother with it. It was just a project for the creator to goof off a bit. The animation is total crap, the voice acting sounds like one guy did every single voice and the humour is incredibly banal. Only go for this if you like your humour to be of the gutter level.

Posted on 16 November 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions

I won’t deny: this was awesome. I already liked Kyosogiga a lot, but with this installment, they made it even better. It’s basically just a group of animators and storytellers having fun, but they’re doing it in such a creative way.

This episode was full of great ideas, but it’s also the direction that was particularly impressive, with half of these seven minutes being filmed from the perspective of a midget holding a camera. There seems to be this huge ritual going on with stuff drifting away in the city, and every seems to find it perfectly normal, albeit spectacular. And even though it sounds silly, the creators did give it some meaning by making everything that drifts away something that lost its meaning, even though there were things flying around that might make you doubt that rule.

I loved the camera midget the most during this episode though: the way in which he made this hacked-together report of what was going on and just showed some very spontanteous events. The point where that one kid drifted off was awesome too.

Posted on 28 October 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions

Kyosogiga is so delightful, even if it isn’t about anything, like in this episode. Whereas the previous installments were about something heartfelt, this was about a lost remote (no, really). But there is just so much passion put into this show that it doesn’t matter how silly it is.

This is a short post because the episode itself also was just seven minutes long, but I just have to talk about this show and highlight what a wonderful project this is (I’ll also do this with Masaaki Yuasa’s upcoming project when it gets released). Screw the standard episode length of 20 minutes if 6 minutes also fits this show well. This episode had plenty of style to make up for it and the animation in particular just went all out.

And again this is more than just style over substance because it did create a very enjoyable cast of characters with very simple means. The crow chase scene in particular was great, and even though the henchmen of that one girl were all huge stereotypes, they were also for the first ime in a long while actually lovable. They’re different from the usual thugs you see who always yell at every opportunity. It’s a small difference, but definitely stands out here.

Posted on 12 August 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Nearly everyone here is probably familiar with the workoholic trope: a father works a lot, neglecting his child, and some drama is created from that. If it’s told from the perspective of the father, the main theme is guilt, if it’s told from the perspective of the child, the main theme is loneliness. Dudu the floatee is entirely dedicated to this trope, but it actually manages to be different from the norm.

What really surprised me was how much heart this short has. I mean, this was told from the perspective of the child, and it does go on with the theme of loneliness for a while…. and then her floatee comes alive, takes her into a strange world full of floatees who kidnap her father and this turns into a quest for her to save her father. Instead of the usual conclusion in which the father realizes his errors, both of them actually come to an understanding with each other: the girl understands that her father is both afraid of water and that he sometimes needs to be at work, and the father realizes that he can’t keep using his fear of water as an excuse to ignore his family life. This two-sided development is what especially impressed me here, and it turned this into a very heart-warming little episode.

Anyway, this is the entry to the Young Animator Training Project by the Answer Studio. They’re a small studio that I really like, because they don’t release often, but when they do they always go for the really imaginative anime like Flag, Otona Joshi no Anime Time and Votoms’ Pailsen Files. Dudu the floatee gives me a lot of confidence to their junior division, because it was again really well animated. This episode also was directed by the director of Otona Joshi no Anime Time by the way, and it shows: it again has this really down to earth relationship between a parent and a young child.

So, to summarize the second iteration of the Young Animator Training Project: skip Buta, but definitely check out the rest, because these are some very well done animated shorts for every age: they’re aimed at children but have enough depth for adults to enjoy. Buta was probably the only one who didn’t get this and instead is just a bit of fun for children.

Posted on 29 July 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Shiranpuri is a short with its very own artistic vision: it’s got very distinctive character-designs, rather than going with the same thing over and over again. This is the entry for the Young Animator Training Project by Shirogumi. You know, the people who are currently animating Moyashimon, and they also did Antique Bakery. These are people who definitely go for interesting and unusual premises, but Shiranpuri is very different from their usual stuff.

Here, we get a story about bullying, and more particular: about being a witness to bullying without doing anything about it. And it really was quite good. On one hand it was indeed a bit preachy, but on the other it was very realistic in how the bullied kid ended up transferring schools, in the hopes of building up a completely new life. There was some really good character-development in just 20 minutes for the three central characters, and the use of adults as bystanders was well-balanced.

What’s interesting is that this shows that Shirogumi is nowhere near dead: they’re still producing things, but at their own pace, but this short shows that they’ve acquired a couple of very good animators. There were a few scenes in which the movement was really dynamic and even the backgrounds (albeit simplistic) moved seamlessly, and they were able to draw the models right from many different angles.

Posted on 16 June 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

I apologize for the lateness of this entry. But especially after seeing another batch of the Young Animator Training Project being announced for 2013, I do want to keep up with this project, because the initiators really seem to want to make this a long-term project. And unlike Buta, Wasurenagumo is really good.

In fact, after Ojii-San no Lamp it has the best storyline, it has the best animation, and it has the best characters of all the projects so far. the animation in particular is really impressive, especially considering how this comes from young animators. These people really were able to show off their skills in this episode, because the fluidity really is amazing. And not just at a few money shots, but there really are a lot of scenes that have that.

This really shows that Production IG has recruited many talented animators and inbetweeners. Now what would be really great is if they were going to make series with interesting concepts again, instead of Kuroko no Basuke, Shining Hearts and Guilty Crown. Now don’t get me wrong, my main issue is that this is Production IG we’re talking about. They are the people who once boasted some of the most original series out there, and were the people behind gems as RD, Ghost Hound, Chevalier, Seirei no Moribito, Patlabor, Otogizoshi and Ghost in the Shell. There is a big difference here, but at the very least they are still experimenting with their one-shots and movies, not to mention the balls they had with Blood-C.

In any case, about Wasurenagumo (that is a very annoying title to keep typing over and over), this episode definitely stood out in its characters. It helped that they were really well animated and brought to life, but also the writing and acting was very good. At the same time though, it was strangely creepy and disturbing in the end. Make that very disturbing.

The thing with Wasurenagumo is that at heart, it is a horror story. It just doesn’t show that until right at the end, with a completely baffling plot twist. Just… wow.

By the way, next year’s Young Animator Training Project should definitely be fun, because I am really curious to see what the junior division of the four studios that signed up looks like and what they can do. First there is the obvious Gonzo: how did they survive? Who did they recruit? Then there is Studio Trigger’s first official project (Studio Trigger is the studio founded by Hiroyuki Imaishi, and I’m really curious to see who he managed to attract). Then there is Madhouse; with so many of their best people going freelance, it’s definitely going to be interesting who will replace them. And then there is Studio Pierrot, a studio that had some of the top animators out there… ten years ago. Are their new people simply there for Naruto and Bleach, or will their new division be a breath of fresh air after how deeply that company has fallen lately.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.25/10

Posted on 9 April 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

This year we too get an installment of the Young Animator Training Project. Again, four studios have been granted a decent budget with the assignment to create a TV-special. Buta is Telecom Animation Film’s entry. They were the ones who last year delivered the best short for the Young Animator Training Project with Ojiisan no Lap. Buta is clearly inferior, and mostly suited for children, however. Kids will be kept busy for these 20 minutes, though.

This episode is a traditional ronin story, only really childish. The characters here are all animals, and aside from the titular pig, every single character is an idiot, the same type as the standard generic Saturday morning cartoon. The story also isn’t anything noteworthy either, and the only drama revolves around “stealing is bad”.

But what about the animation, the thing that this entire project was about? Well, the simple character designs allows for easier animation, and the characters indeed move around a bit. In that way it’s a good way to get rookies to actually animate things. The art looks pretty good and crisp as well, but there are some shortcuts taken compared to the fighting episode of last year’s Young Animator Training Project (Kizuna Ichigeki). I wouldn’t recommend this episode overall: none of its areas are the worst, but it also doesn’t stand out in any way compared to the other YATP-series.
OVA Episode Rating: 7.5/10

Posted on 26 February 2012 with categories: Black Jack Final, OVA Impressions

In case you haven’t noticed: the final Black Jack OVAs have finally been subbed. Yes, two episodes of 50 minutes, which were the final things that Osamu Dezaki worked on before his death. I’ve been waiting more than a month for these to come out, because even though I sometimes watch raws, there is no way in which I’m going to try that with a series that’s so chock full of medical terms as this one.

And holy crap, this first episode was worth the wait! I was a bit weary at first when the episode immediately started by promising that it would center around Pinoko, but seriously: her background is amazing. This episode seriously gave me a totally different perspective of her. This is much, much more than just another nostalgia remake.

The whole concept of having her be a Zyst who for more than 20 years lived inside this actress’ body, which was afterwards taken out and reassembled by Black Jack. Holy crap, now that’s something else. At this point I thought that I couldn’t be surprised by Osamu Tezuka anymore, but this episode did it.

And yes, this episode was 50 minutes long, and told in the same style as the other OVAs. Because of this we got a long and detailed look at the actress in question and who she is, and what the impact of her illness was on her life. This lead to an amazing ending and I loved the bond between her and Pinoko.

And yes! This really still has Osamu Dezaki’s influence all over it. The graphics and especially the multiple drawing son one screen are really typical of his, and I’m really glad that we can see them for one last time. He was by far one of the directors with one of the most unique styles out there. It’s something that I’m missing with a lot of debuting directors nowadays: they seem too afraid to put a bit of their own style in. This really shows that you can very faithfully adapt a story, while putting plenty of your own style in it as well.
OVA Episode Rating: 9/10

Posted on 22 February 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions

So, I just watched Gyo, the OVA. By far the weirdest out of the Ufo Table trilogy that appeared about a week ago. It’s an OVA of more than an hour long, and it’s pretty much like a zombie flick, only much more bizarre. Go for this series if you like the disgusting type of horror stories. Because that what this was: not scary and atmospheric, but completely disgusting.

It’s hard to really review a thing like this. I mean, on one hand it’s the standard zombie flick, but on the other hand the bizarre content manages to save it and makes it worth watching. The creativity, direction and the music were what made this the most entertaining. This is the first thing I’ve read of Junji Ito, and I can immediately tell that he is one messed up sunovabitch. The legged fish were one thing, but as soon as people started transforming into these green giant gas factories I was glad that I didn’t eat right before watching this.

The characters were a mixed bag: the lead female is typical, but good (her relationship with her fiance really saved her, because that was actually very interesting to watch). The crackpot researcher also was fun, taking this series really to the surreal at times. The main character’s female friends were pretty bad, though. They were the usual misguided attempt to make things feel more realistic by having them act like complete and stereotypical assholes. The problem with that in a horror flick like this is that you can just as easily put a sign on them saying “I am going to die next”.

For the creativity in the whole premise andexecution, I’m surprised at how much cliches this OVA also has.

Posted on 29 January 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Tales of Symphonia

Apologies for the lateness. I thought that this was one of the earlier OVAs.

In any case, with this we’re continuing with the Tales of Symphonia Story again, and this definitely was an interesting episode here. Again it had things that it did better than the game, things that it did worse, and things that are completely different.

The big difference really is that the creators cut out the entire storyline for the second half of the games. Seriously, from what I remember the games had this epic storyline that involved firing this giant mana cannon and an out of control world tree. All of that was cut out here in favor of the characters. An interesting decision here.

This episode was about the half-elves of the story: Genis, Raine and Yggdrassil. This however is one point where previous design decisions come back to bite this series, because from out of nowhere it suddenly introduces the themes of racism that were prevalent through the entire game. So yeah, the creators had to catch up to a lot of building up here in just forty minutes. And speaking of build-up: with all of the hints at Zelos’ betrayal, I thought that he’d get much more airtime in this episode, but he showed up just at the end of this episode. My guess is that the final episode will focus a lot of time on him.

Zelos’ betrayal was really well done by the way. And with this, the creators also neatly avoided the single biggest face-palm of the game (seriously, there were two paths in the games: one where he betrays the party, and one where he doesn’t; the latter reveals that with one heck of a Deus ex Machina). In the game, the small version of Mithos was also acting really weird. I mean, he’s acting really weird here, but there he did the strangest stuff, and nobody really questioned this. Here, his actions make much more sense. This episode was a tad too angsty for my tastes, but they did flesh out this guy pretty neatly and explained why he ended up as the main villain for this series.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.25/10

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