Kurogane Communication – episodes 17 to 24

November 15, 2004 on 8:48 pm | In Kurogane Communication | Comments Off on Kurogane Communication – episodes 17 to 24

Kurogane Communication pulls it all off for the grand finale and even promotes a few tears.

These eight episodes feature with the other “only human left on Earth” at the fore. While Haruka is a good character, Kanato has had a much harder life. This makes it excellent for the two of them to interact. Kanato is not simply a character whose rude exterior hides a heart of gold, but rather a character who has had his heart of gold tarnished and needs to understand many things that have not been available to him due to his different, cold upbringing.
So the last third of the series is about their relationship and coming to some sort of agreement about choosing to accept others. There are some great cliffhangers, some good feelings of pain, and a couple more of the really creepy scenes driven by literal thinking.
To say much more would be spoiling, and that wouldn’t be fun – this is a very well developed series that eventually got to use all of its characters and more.

The artistry involved in the making of this show was quite amazing. There are moments of fluidity where one might not have expected them, and there is some creative visualisation. Kanato’s nightmare is particularly impressive, particularly with its contrasts to reality, and so too is one of the most emotional monologues in the series (delivered by Sakuma Rei) conveyed perfectly.
There are a few low-budget gags along the lines of sweatdrops, that are kind of out of place among the general straight nature of the rest of the material, but they do not detract from any enjoyment.

Kurogane Communication is a big surprise of an anime, and that is a huge part of its appeal – coming into it, it still feels like something you’ve not seen before, even if you think you know what to expect.

Kurogane Communication – episodes 9 to 16

November 14, 2004 on 11:38 am | In Kurogane Communication | Comments Off on Kurogane Communication – episodes 9 to 16

The best kind of anime is the sort that starts off nice but then, around the halfway point, starts kicking some serious arse. You may not have expected it, but Kurogane Communication does precisely that.

After the whole “holiday at the beach” thing has been exhausted, the robots learn that their area is in danger of being hit by a tsunami, while Haruka learns of her past. Regardless of any misgivings, they have to escape before disaster strikes, so they hijack an old warship and find new land.

The layers upon layers of drama here are fairly impressive. The ten minute episode thing makes for many surprise endings and, now that there’s very little slice of life material, a cracking pace. Brevity is key in making Kurogane Communication compelling.
Haruka’s character drama hits its peak when she learns the horrifying truth of her past. When it’s foreshadowed, it’s horrible enough – however, Haruka actually witnessed it and learns that perhaps there was a reason she didn’t have a memory. These scenes were really quite distressing, and even provoked the “you’re a robot, you wouldn’t understand” argument. Considering how much Haruka loves her surrogate family, you would have to imagine that she’s been pushed pretty horribly. The performances of Horie Yui and Ishikawa Hiromi in this episode were fantastic – although it is beginning to come clear that synch was sacrificed as a result.

Angela, the duelling robot reformed from hating humans, is clearly warming to Haruka – even to the point of bathing with her. Being the only female influence that Haruka has around, it’s natural that she would want to be friendly. By opening her own heart to Angela, Haruka is making Angela more open and caring herself. Angela would even kill a man who threatens Haruka in any way, which is really saying quite a lot. Any of Angela’s scenes are guaranteed to be interesting. Gruff characters can stay gruff forever, but Angela is not like that. She’s even willing to be violent against Trigger for saying stupid things. The ultimate sign of her “humanity” as a robot is that she blushes. Fantastic.

The incredible theory of a warship that is sick of war, having seen its fellow warship brethren die for humanity, is seen here – and while robots with individual wills is nothing new, a sentient inorganic warship is certainly impressive. While such a life form may not want to hurt a human (being an “intelligence robot”), it certainly does not want to serve them. Humanity is to blame for a lot of things, but Haruka is an ultimately blameless character. What evil could a thirteen year old girl have possibly committed?

There’s even a new cast of characters around, but Haruka does not really understand them yet. The dramatic meeting of Haruka and Kanato was well done, moreso because of the inclusion of rain – but Kanato is deliberately closed off and confusing in the messages that he sends. He lives with robots, yet he takes apart all others. It looks like Lillith and Alice are kind of comedy robot twins, and Sone and Honi are designed specifically for mystery. Ohtsuka Akio lends his voice to the chief of defence, so things are looking up.

The writers even have a grasp on robot humour: if it makes no sense, it’s funnier. Take, for example, the scene where Trigger is stoking a fire by blowing through a tube. This robot has no mouth, yet breathing into the tube is making him dizzy. It’s just like a king non-sequitur. There’s not a lot of humour, since the service misunderstandings ended, but what there is is generally good.

Kurogane Communication is also remarkably visually rich. When Haruka gets a vision of war, it sends the blood cold. The action scenes, while sparing, are frequently amazing. To see Angela dodging lasers is genuinely exciting, and the new land is steeped in mysticism that is helped along by Kawai Kenji’s growing score. Watching these episodes, it’s clear that Kurogane Communication is not what it once was.

Kurogane Communication is an unassuming series that manages to be compelling and dramatic while trying to keep itself a secret. This anime offers a truly immersive world, and some great characters – and even a hot springs scene complete with actual nudity! Needless to say, Kurogane Communication has everything.

Kurogane Communication – episodes 1 to 8

November 4, 2004 on 9:19 pm | In Kurogane Communication | Comments Off on Kurogane Communication – episodes 1 to 8

Kurogane Communication is a half length TV series about the alleged last human on Earth and the robots with which she lives. The band of five mechanoids looks after this young girl, Haruka, as if she was their daughter. In a way, they are a family despite their lack of blood ties or consistent appearances. In these first eight episodes various aspects of day to day life in a post-apocalyptic Japan are showcased, leaning towards more character development and some story progress in the latter half.

Each episode’s content is roughly eleven and a half minutes, which makes for compact stories that convey their content with a minimum of waste. There’s a two parter when needs be, which makes for an effective and tense break that wouldn’t have worked in standard length anime.

The characters are interesting enough so far, with Haruka being an almost wastefully energetic character. She channels her energy into curiosity and an intense desire to assist, which naturally gets her into trouble. Haruka does not push it, however; too much of this sort of behaviour would make infuriating anime. The other character of interest is, naturally, Haruka’s polar opposite Angela. Initially she hates humanity due to her dark and mysterious past, but that looks like it’s on the path to change. The most emotional scenes among these eight episodes are those in which Angela is left alone to tend Haruka’s fever. It becomes obvious here that the aim seems to be to make the audience feel good about things: these moments are deftly executed.
The other characters will probably be fleshed out over the next two thirds: gun-happy Trigger, stupid looking over-protective Spike, wise Cleric and the hilariously gay Reeves. As they stand, they’re nice but don’t do much other than support.

Of the seiyuu, only Horie Yui as Haruka and Fukami Rika as Angela seem to be the only real “name” seiyuu, and they do a good job: Horie gets roles that she’s either suited to or she’s not – Horie’s characters have to be nice. Fukami is unexpected as the gruff Angela, so it’s even better that she can pull it off.
The music is in tune with the whole Kurogane Communication ethos: Kawai Kenji’s OP boasts considerable charm, and the score itself has a very laidback feel to it. The scenery is beautiful, and a very nice yet deserted world is presented. This leads to the art direction, which in episode six is simply amazing. The quick cuts employed make the already dramatic episode really quite gripping in a way that’s not often seen. Kurogane Communication may have been designed as a fifteen minute segment in a “comic strip” on satellite TV, but it seems to have had some thought placed into it to create drama.
There’s a little bit of fan service so far, but Haruka is really too young for it. Fortunately she’s not exploited in any way, and any instance of service is brief and natural, and “hilarious misunderstandings” happen too infrequently to be annoying.

Soon Kurogane Communication may seem like the end of the world, but for now it promotes the excellent optimisim that has to take place after horrible catastrophe. It’s how humans and, theoretically, robots manage to move on. If you were to use a Japanese phrase that ultimately seems to mean nothing when literally translated to describe this anime, it would simply be kimochi: Kurogane Communication promotes good feeling.

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