Posted on 19 March 2015 with categories: OVAs and Movies:

Out of the Shin Megami Tenshi series, Persona is the one I have had the most experience with. I played persona 1,2 and 3. And most likely 4 when I manage to get my hands on it. They are very strange and unique games, quite different from your average RPG. The first game had a basic story of evil corporation screws with little girl with powers for profit, hell ensues. The second game had a more strange and interesting plot of rumors coming true no matter how ridiculous they are. Personal highlight of that game was when a rumor went around that Hitler wasn’t dead and is preparing a new army for war. And yes, you do fight Hitler. They were flawed but decent games. Persona 3 is what defined the series with its social links and simplified gameplay.

I am not here to talk about the game of course though in this case it would be hard to avoid bringing it up. This is essentially the game stripped of its gameplay and length so it does suffer from it. This story was not meant to stand on its own and you can see that clearly. The pacing is breakneck, the plot jumps forward days at a time and the characters get bare bones screen time.  But truthfully while the game was great the story did have its flaws. I for one have always found the stories in the persona series to be a bit preachy. Usually using supernatural elements as metaphors for problems possibly encountered in adolescence. For example in this movie we have a character who is suppressing his persona with a drug with grievous side effects. The way his friend addresses the matter is similar to how one who approach someone with a drug problem. Same goes with apathy syndrome, aka people who go through school life without caring to make the most of it. I even really love the symbolism of firing a gun at your head to summon a persona. A nice way of “killing” who you were to become something new.

Really the story of persona 3 is something I would label as alright. What really made it special is an element that anime can’t replicate. Its difficult to pin down but I suppose I would call it camaraderie. You spend a long time with these characters with you in the seat of an avatar and in that time you come to care for them. In doing so the story has much more impact to you. This is also something Visual novels have over anime as well. So what can I say about this movie? Well first off the animation is rather limited. During Action scenes it becomes excellent but the daily antics seem lacking in movement. I would give this a break if this was a tv series but for a hour and a half movie such a thing is inexcusable. However despite the breakneck pacing and constant time jumping the movie is quite watchable. The art is fairly pretty but it really looks like someone is a bit too fond of messing with hue with high saturation settings. Especially with the daytime scenes where the colour can just be blaring with intense brightness. Overall the whole film just looks to have too many gradient and bloom effects that it didn’t need. If they held off on the light and colour effects and just let the art speak for itself this would be a far better looking movie. Also this is a pet peeve of mine but I hate the way they removed the gunshot from the guns. It just is so disappointing in to see a character put a gun to their head and fire some pixie dust with a weak off putting clang sound. Overall If you want to know the story of Persona 3 but don’t want to spend 70 hours of your time playing it then this is probably the best condensed experience of the story of persona 3. Or if you are a fan and want to see your favourite characters and moments animated then this will deliver.

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 21 March 2012 with categories: Black Jack Final

Well, Rest in Peace, Osamu Dezaki. This very likely was the last episode you ever worked on, and what a great episode it was. This was the last time where his unique sense of storytelling could be exhibited. The subject for this episode is wars. Black Jack has dabbled in this area before, but with a setting that so closely resembles Northern Korea (remember that this originally was written at a time when Kim Jong Il wasn’t even leader yet) does give it a slightly different load than usual.

Once again though, this episode captures what makes the Black Jack OVAs so incredibly good. It makes optimal use of its 45 minutes of airtime to play out and come with twists and turns, plus as usual it also puts in a lot of time into its characterizations. The lead character in this episode didn’t just have one issue, but instead she had a wide range of issues, who at the same time were all related to each other.

Also, I didn’t expect to see this at this point, but Black Jack actually regretted saving someone’s life. In all of the stories of him I’ve seen so far, he has always been very passionate about saving lives as soon as he set his mind to it, but this really pushed that boundary here.

In terms of the visuals, it’s a shame that the budget of this episode left some things to be desired, because things were a bit sloppy in that era. The cinematography still was wonderful, though. This episode still managed to pull off a ton of visual effects that are so typical of Osamu Dezaki, in which he really tries to get the biggest emotional reaction while using minimal methods. Even in this episode, these scenes still are full of energy.

I personally love it when a director, writer or artists manages to put a lot of his own style and ideas into his (or her) work, and there are very few series directors whose style is as immediately recognizable as Osamu Dezaki. I really hope that a lot more young directors pick this up and start to let their own styles flow into their works more freely. That’s what provides variety and diversity.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,75/10

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 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

Posted on 23 November 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Yozakura Quartet - Hoshi no Umi




I have no idea who found it a good idea to give Ryousuke Sawa an opportunity as a main director. But what an awesome idea it turned out to be. This guy is absolutely brilliant, and this was one of the most entertaining action episodes that I’ve seen in a long, long while.

I mean, hell. This was the climax of the arc that the previous two episodes had been building up for. Arguably it was even better than the previous two episodes because of how it constantly kept going. The previous episode may have been much more epic, with the barrage of planes that were thrown at the enemy monsters, but this episode kept things much more personal. But that caused the characters to stand out even more. Just about every scene was animated with such a force that not even a second was wasted here.

It may not be the deepest story or anything, but this still is animation at its finest with a simple, yet very engagingly told storyline. This show doesn’t just have great animation, it also uses this brilliantly. Even if other series may have a bigger budget, few actually manage to bring so much life into their characters. Last time I complained that the dialogue was perhaps a bit uninspired, but this simplicity also has its charms. And simple as the dialogue was, it definitely wasn’t uninspired, and got some good stuff out of the characters.

Unfortunately, this looks like it’ll be the end of this little OVA. In a way it is a bloody shame that this OVA can’t be a full fledged TV-series with more time, but this shortness also has its charm: this way you have about 70 minutes of awesomeness. And that’s the thing with these OVAs: they can take more risks than regular TV-series, and I’d wish that more producers would realize this. And in the meantime, I’m just hoping that with this, Ryousuke Sawa will get even more opportunities to direct.
OVA Episode Rating: 9/10

Posted on 9 August 2011 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail



Apologies for this late impression. I just didn’t have the time to check it out. I’ glad that I did, though, because this is an awesome conclusion. It was far from the all out war that I expected: because of the first Roberta arc, I really thought that this OVA would try to trump that. Instead we got something much more character-centric, dialogue focused and horror-like. It worked really well: the build-up paid off wonderfully with this episode.

There were pretty much two major things going on in this story: first of all there is Garcia trying to get Roberta back, and then there is Rock. Their conclusions were very different, but very satisfying, and in a way bitter-sweet. Garcia did a great job in maturing and getting Roberta back to her senses, while Rock’s story ended with a great anti-climax, after just one phone call of Balalaika threw his plans in the water. This is what I consider to be a great pay-off after a lot of build-up.

I do wonder why there were no repercussions for Roberta: I mean, she killed a ton of the soldier’s comrades, but after the fight ended none of them seemed angry about it, and they just let her go. I know that they were in the wrong and all, and that they acknowledged their responsibility, but to me they felt a bit too cold towards Roberta. In the same way Rock went a bit out of character during the first half with his scary faces (his voice was like… totally different from usual). Those are mere details though: the continuation of Black Lagoon was really excellent from beginning to end.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.5/10

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  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 26. 2016 01:12 AM)
    I always think that somebody who pretty much sent his whole remaining forces eastbond towards the barren wastelands of Russia couldn’t have been too intellectually brilliant to begin with. Doesn’t really seem that charismatic either, but I guess he was what the German people needed at the moment.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 26. 2016 01:07 AM)
    @K-off: true enough, and he was pretty short-sided to even consider the middle-east. Still the famous Shah’s father from the old Iranian regime actually met with him. This thing is compounded by Hitler’s scapegoat tactic of blaming the Jews, but important to note that the new strong Islamic hatred was pretty much created after the formation of Israel.
  • K-Off
    (Thursday, May 26. 2016 12:02 AM)
    @Bam Here’s the full story: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/05/economist_detai.html
    My knowledge of Hitler’s take on the Aryans is that his own stances on even the definition of the “pure aryan” changed so frequently before and during WW2 that it’s really arbitrary, that it was just an excuse for the nazis to stay in power.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 08:14 PM)
    The word Iran means “the land of the Aryans”, and the Germanic tribes that settled in Bavaria are correctly identified as nomadic people called Indo-Europeans, whom many settled in northern Iran. I heard similar theory of etymology for ‘Ireland’, but I’m not too sure about that one. So interestingly enough the Nazis were completely fine with Iran. The many strange forgotten wrinkles of history.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 08:10 PM)
    @K-off: believe it or not, I get confused for Spanish or Itaian all the time, so we probably share similar features. I have a Sicilian friend who’s also blond, and they’re supposedly the darker Ities, so I completely believe it.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 06:08 PM)
    Lots of people who don’t interact with Italians think we’re all black haired and brown eyed, but my dad is a blonde Italian while only my mother is a black-haired woman from Lecce. The guy on the flight was a black-haired Italian as well, but apparently terrorists look like well-dressed Italian hipsters doing differentials.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 06:01 PM)
    @Bam That reminds me of a fellow Italian American economist who got reported on his flight to Syracuse by some woman who thought the differential equations that he was working on in his notebook were terrorist scribblings.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 05:49 PM)
    @Bam Ha, I sympathize with you on the beard, after years of having one it feels uncomfortably bare whenever I shave it. Also helps out my resting bitch face.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 02:05 PM)
    Also the guy playing Cassidy in Preacher is actually Irish tho.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 02:04 PM)
    @Kaiser: haa! That’s improbable. Gimme two weeks and I’ll be at Gandalf level. Just trying to keep people at ease.

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