The Big O – Episodes 7 to 13

October 31, 2004 on 10:48 pm | In The Big O | 1 Comment

Amongst the many anime that I have watched this year, The Big O turned out to be one of the most compelling, if not the most compulsive. It brags what is possibly the best/most infuriating ending ever, and it would be unforgivable were it not for the sequel funded by Cartoon Network.

The second half of The Big O is pretty much the same as the first, but in some undefinable way better. This is quite possibly because Roger and Dorothy become much deeper as characters, and their ambiguous relationship grows still more ambiguous. Roger even gets to take part in practical negotiations, rather than random jobs that bear little meaning to his vocation.

The theme of memory continues to be very important and quite interesting beyond the usual pale of base anime philosophy. There are many touching scenes in regards to this featuring Roger and Dorothy, chief among them the “someone can make their own memories. These are yours, and yours alone.” Roger knows exactly what to say to Dorothy, and to him she really is a person. Some may see it as insensitive, but there comes a time when he forgets that she isn’t human.
Dorothy is an amazingly well drawn character. Her meditations on loneliness are interesting, but the way that she is animated is perhaps more so. You can tell that she’s happy or enjoying herself, even when there is no smile on her face. In some small way, it’s incredible. She’s one of the more sympathetic androids I have seen in my time.

The most excellent episode of the series deals not with Roger or Dorothy, but rather Dan Dastun, head of the military police. The way that Satou used cinematic techniques to frame the story and embraced the clichéd made for an emotional hit of an episode. This was not an original piece, but it was a very nice take on the whole idea of pretty traitors and doing the right thing. If you do the right thing, is that not what really matters? This episode was simply beautiful, and capable of promoting a slight physical response. This episode alone would be enough to recommend the series, were it not for all of the other things that make it rock out.

The question of Christianity is also brought into focus; without memory, man has created religion using the old rituals and places. This seems a naturally human thing to do, a good source of comfort. Paradigm City has recreated Christmas as “Heaven’s Day”, which is seen by Roger as a manufactured exercise in cynicism. The head of Paradigm, Alex Rosewater, is well aware of the meaning of the day, so it seems that he pays some respects.
The other thing is that the staff might be suggesting, in their own way, that Holy War may well have been the cause of amnesia – and of course, the idea of “man harnessing the power of God” is also trotted out. You just have to love anime when it gets like this.

There’s also the rich and decadent. In a society that can’t remember how it obtained its wealth, would this not create a greater rift between the rich and the poor? There is an upper class area, called the East Dome, which everyone hates based simply on the fact that it’s full of the rich and criminally rich. There’s corruption at the highest level in Paradigm, and this leads to some purely horrific scenes with burning people jumping out of buildings. It’s not something one would expect and it’s purely shocking.

The action scenes between hideous, hideous robots are actually some of the most entertaining and thrilling there are. They’re designed to fight, and so fight they do. Roger brings a passion to his battles, now that he has something to fight for, that make them a joy to watch. There’s something so very practical and yet unwieldly about them that makes it difficult to resist.
Incredible war footage is included, and Roger being hunted in the final episode is sure to get adrenaline running.
On the character design front, one of Beck’s henchmen has the makeup and hair of The Joker, which is a little confusing. Also confusing is the way it rains inside a domed building. It probably makes sense if you look hard enough.

The Big O ends on a huge cliffhanger, and I pity the poor sods who had to wait three years for its continuation (something that almost didn’t happen). This is one instance where American fandom proved good: another thirteen episodes of this outstanding, stylish series featuring really personable characters (even if one is a robot).


October 27, 2004 on 6:42 pm | In Steamboy | Comments Off on Steamboy

Steam punk is one of anime’s more interesting genres. The 1800s was a time of great creativity and diversity in inventions. Because there were so many people interested in inventing things, Japanese writers take this as a cue to create characters who can make whatever invention that they desire, simply saying that it was made possible by the awesome power of steam. Steam, it would appear, is the most powerful of all fuels. For the most part this involves very little suspension of disbelief, although the genre was pushed to the limits of good taste in Nadia. Steamboy is the latest, and perhaps greatest, example of the romance of this genre.

In 1866, young inventor Ray Steam is living in Manchester with his mother while his father and grandfather toil in America for the O’Hara foundation. One day, a package arrives for Ray, containing none other than the mysterious “steam ball”, that contains and pressurises the strongest fuel known to man. Ray’s grandfather, Lloyd, implores that he keeps the ball away from the O’Hara’s cronies, lest they use it to wage war.
It’s not long, however, before Ray is abducted by the O’Hara foundation and made party to their plans to build the greatest tower of Babel the world has ever known, and to design and sell weapons to fund it. What follows is a two hour examination of the meaning of science, the wages of progress and, of course, science as God. Steamboy is, in effect, a pastiche of several of the most popular anime stories – stories in general, for that matter – and it succeeds because director Otomo Katsuhiro loves his work.

Steamboy is an ambitious project and, as with practically everything, not for everyone. There are few who would deny that it is well crafted, but there are many who would argue that it plods or “disappoints”. The first thing that must be noted in order to even begin to enjoy this film is that it is not Akira despite being written and directed by Otomo. Steamboy is so far removed from so much that has come before it that it has to be looked at based on its own merits.

The setting is initially boring – but then, so is Manchester. Otomo can not be blamed for accurately recreating the bland, brown weather of Britain in the 1800s and the very traditional architecture. This place is too steeped in tradition to accept the Steam family’s creativity, and so Ray does not really fit there. When Ray cracks out his kettle powered wheel thing, all bets are off. The movie begins to touch on the ridiculous – a blimp with a crane clamping onto a train carriage, throwing a net onto an unsuspecting Ray (in the finest Team Rocket tradition) – and soars into the joyous area of uninhibited innovation.
London seems the perfect place to set the action, especially at this historical juncture: consider that the Crystal Palace is a chief location for the film’s action. The Crystal Palace was symbolic of the British empire’s decadence; Steam Tower, by comparison, is humanity’s. These two places lead to some wonderfully designed action sequences and a chance to see large chunks of London destroyed.

Characterisation is admittedly not the deepest, but the three generations of Steam men are interesting in their portrayal. The older men are set in their ways, but Ray still has an open mind. His views are shaped by what the two men he looks up to believe, and because they contradict he has to find his own way. The innocence of childhood not realising the evil of weapons, the near-sighted practicality of those creating them for money: all angles are covered.
The idea of trust is also prominent – it’s entirely predictable that prominent inventor Stephenson will tell Ray that science is for making people happy, but then suffacing it with the fact that sometimes it has to be used for destructive purposes. Power is a corruptor, but not in the hands of those who know what it can do, or have impossibly high moral standards, like that of a child who doesn’t want people to explode. Ray isn’t pointlessly optimistic, and he actually gets his chance to consider his options in the time given to him. The spoiled heiress of the O’Hara corporation, Scarlett(!), is allowed to become something more than an animal abuser and, while she doesn’t change her core, she is adaptable – which is a good thing to ask for a character.
Interestingly, the promo material skews rather older than the characters. As in Metropolis (also scripted by Otomo), the hero and heroine are only about ten or twelve years of age. Many things about the campaign behind Steamboy ar misleading, which will make it either a surprise or a disappointment dependent on state of mind.

I am still not a fan of CG work, and the stuff in this film is obvious: but it appears that this will be lessened in impact when played on a television and will ultimately play smoother. That’s my misgiving, though; it should work well for most others. The character designs are Otomo’s normal style, although he has learned a bit about making his characters look aesthetically pleasing over sixteen years. The animation is always good, as you would expect from the traditional marketing line (I am refraining to go into that aspect as it detracts from enjoyment of the film). The production values are of the highest standard and make for an incredible visual delight – particularly with the use of moving fore and backgrounds.
The scoring was done by Americans and initially seems to be a bit too pat – making the first ten or so minutes of the film seem underwhelming and, admittedly, quite suitable to the boring Mancunian atmosphere. Afterwards it’s simply steam powered fare that doesn’t bother anyone but is not as memorable as some other big films.
Columbia Tristar has done an interesting job of the subtitles, going for some “Britticisms” along the lines of “cripes!” and the questionable use of “crikey!” for “sugoi“. It’s kind of authentic, but also kind of distracting.

Steamboy is a great film that addresses the questions that are, to so many anime fans, bread and butter. There are some interesting questions raised, and it doesn’t really get mired in its own ideas of “importance”. Watchers should note going into Steamboy that it features an hour long climax rather than the traditional ten or fifteen minutes. If you’re cool with that, and you like the theme, you should be cool with Steamboy. This is a heavily traditional anime, told with flair and style. It’s easy to dismiss, but surely it’s far easier to enjoy.

The Big O – Episodes 1 to 6

October 24, 2004 on 7:41 pm | In The Big O | Comments Off on The Big O – Episodes 1 to 6

In the grand tradition of men calling on giant robots via radio watches, The Big O hit the screen in 1999. Perhaps too true to this grand tradition, the robots are as ugly as sin. However, they are furnished by short, effective noirish stories and surprisingly wry humour.

Forty years ago, the people of Paradigm City collectively developed amnesia. Citizens sometimes regain parts of their memories for reasons unknown, and to the older generation memories have become a precious commodity. Roger Smith is a negotiator, negotiating for abductions, memory smugglings and various other tasks that have little to do with actual negotiation but he is qualified to perform, anyway.
When negotiations “break down”, as it were, Roger calls in one of the legacies of the pre-amnesia society, Big O. This giant robot tends to pummel its foes into submission, a successful outcome. Roger is joined by his loyal butler, and offisder android R. Dorothy Wayneright, who is surprisingly sarcastic for an otherwise traditional mechanoid. Occasionally he consults his commander from his days in the military police; they bear one of those grudgingly respectful relationships.
Each episode finds Roger in some sort of new “negotiation” situation, informal or not. Roger generally acts by himself, but his surrounding cast members can be relied upon to have something to say.

From the imaginative title song, with few lyrics other than “Big O!”, The Big O proves itself as an interesting pastiche of all sorts of genres, visual styles and stories. Is it noir? Is it sci-fi? Is it an elaborate mystery that takes a few visual cues from Batman? As readers should know by now, when I ask a series of pointless questions, the answer tends to be “all of the above”.

There are good themes running throughout, with some Blade Runner-esque philosophical theories abounding. Dorothy is not simply a token robotic character, she is quite complex and representative of androids all around. The idea of robots with parent complexes is something that impresses – “fake” children have been around in anime for an incredibly long time. These people don’t have a lack of sympathy for their robotic offspring – and this fact makes for some poignant endings. Robots can grieve, and they will, because they are guaranteed to long outlive their creators. Couple all of the robot questions with a society that doesn’t even remember how the mechanoids came to be, and you’ve got something well worth seeing.
The relationship between her and Roger is interesting as he does not see her as either human or android. To him she is a sort of ordered chaos with too sharp a tongue for his liking. He takes her to task for not being human, but when both of them are faced with a murderous mechanical unit on a rampage, he assures her that they are nothing alike. That he’s frankly more freaked out by her occasional mechanical acts says a lot about the two of them.
One has to admire a society that relentlessly pursues the issues of ethics, morality and treatment of artificially intelligent constructs that don’t yet exist.

There are, of course, other questions; What makes humanity? Why is it that some robots treasure their memories more than humans? Why does man create his own religion, and why is Big O quasi-holy? At least one of these can be answered. And, while we have the technology, and can rebuild robots, it’s not quite the same. A robot’s “brain” is truly what makes them, it turns out.

Miyamoto Mitsuru is a good, by turns serious and sarcastic, Roger. Unfortunately, he’s not quite up to the comic English required to command Big O, but that’s a quibble. Yajima Akiko is deliberately flat but manages to give R. Dorothy quite a bit of personality for what she is. The rest of the cast is also good, but these two are the ones who have to carry the show and they do it quite admirably.
The music is standard cool Jazz/Blues fare that was very popular with SUNRISE around this point in anime history. The OP, as mentioned before, is laughably simple yet hypnotic. The ED is an English duet, which probably doesn’t make much sense, but it fits quite well with the hour glass motif.

The visual style, despite being entirely the work of Sato Keiichi, is remarkably slipshod. No two characters look similar, and the less important characters are afforded very little detail. The mechanical designs are, to put it delicately, hideous. However, all grotesqueries inherent in this anime seem planned and intentional. The sixties and seventies had classic, if not aesthetically pleasing, designs and The Big O pays tribute to them. The classic Giant Robo is another good example of this. It should be noted that robots are for fighting, not for looking pretty, and the action scenes are well choreographed because of this. Big O is despised by the police not for its tendency to show them up, but instead its tendency to rise from the ground, destroying entire buildings and streets.
There’s a couple of moments of shoddy animation (that is, the scene in which Roger eats scrambled eggs), but there are some moments that show flair even among the most mundane actions – and the robot set pieces, of course, are terrific.

The Big O is shrouded in mystery, not quite showing if it’s supposed to be dramatic or comedic. One thing is certain: it’s full of surprises. Also that robots are capable of harbouring deep emotions, but that’s two things.
It will be good to see where this series is going.

Love Hina: Notice of Intent

October 23, 2004 on 11:03 am | In Love Hina | 3 Comments

On the advice that masochism benefits no one, I have decided to drop Love Hina as I couldn’t be bothered. I have too much good anime to bother wasting time on the bad stuff. Seven episodes (and already with the knowledge that I utterly hate the eighth) is enough of a chance, I believe.

NieA under 7 – episodes 6 to 13

October 19, 2004 on 6:41 pm | In NieA_7 | Comments Off on NieA under 7 – episodes 6 to 13

Was NieA under 7 irrelevant? Does it matter? Overall, this turned out to be a summer in a rural Japanese town. That’s all NieA under 7 was in the end but, despite turning decidedly sombre, it was worth it.

NieA gets less and less screen time as the theme becomes about Mayuko’s social isolation and general awkwardness. Mayuko is handicapped both by her rural lifestyle (the sort that impresses UFOlogists) and her general poverty and humble nature. There’s a segment which shows that it is very hard to tell the difference between sympathy and bitchiness amongst girls.

The relationship between NieA and Mayuko is important, but seemingly only when the two are apart or only one of them is conscious. It’s the acts that they do for each other without letting on that show that they care, because when they’re together they’re at each other’s throats. Any time that NieA levels the “discrimination king!” accusation at Mayuko, it causes laughter and defuses potentially serious scenes: the see-saw of tone gets a lot of working out this way. The comedy is extremely funny but peters out to melancholy and introspection very quickly, which is a very odd feeling to get when watching anime.
Mayuko’s relationship with Genzo, the boy from her childhood, is limited as Genzo doesn’t show up in Enohana very often. The time that he actually gets to talk to Mayuko for minutes at a time about something more than rice shows that they’re both nice people; Mayuko also gets the classic feeling that she doesn’t know what her ambitions are, but she did when she was seven. It’s not the idea of a lost childhood innocence, but of a lost identity: as a seven year old, she was sure of herself, but as a cram student she is a transient being, stuck between drifting and doing something that might be the right thing to do economically speaking, but uncertain on a personal level.

The idea of alien rights and class are touched very lightly: Chada is not arrested on the grounds of his being an alien, but aliens below the class of “under five” officially do not exist. NieA’s one comment on class in society was highly insightful and very welcome. NieA, having no antenna, is discriminated against by humans and aliens alike, so she knows exactly what it’s like and is aware of the ignorance of others. The reason Mayuko is called “discrimination king” is actually because she frequently degrades NieA on her status as an “under seven”. The most memorable is when NieA encourages Mayuko to throw off the shackles of society and become an under seven. Mayuko recoils in disgust and says she could never be like her room mate, that it would be worse than nothing.
Until people vocalise their prejudices, sometimes they simply don’t realise that they have them.

There are some confusing scenes: it’s hard to believe that none of the characters recognise a marijuana leaf, and there are some completely tasteless and shocking “American jokes”. NieA’s activities in the last four episodes will apparently forever remain a mystery, as is the fate of the mothership. Apparently this is not important, and you can take it as “simple beauty” if you so desire. That’s probably the best course of action, so take it.

The atmospheric effects were strong as always, with the “hot music” notable and the transition to Spring bringing an end to the cicada calls. The foley on this show was amazing: the sounds of air actually came through at one point, making it seem all the more real. On the flip side, it was too over the top on the few occasions that American sound effects were used.

NieA under 7 was nice to watch, from its uproarious comedy to its quiet rural life. There’s no real reason for the inclusion of the aliens or some of the events surrounding them, but that’s okay. Taken as a summer in a quiet Japanese town, emphasising the importance of cherishing our time, it is a simple yet effective delight.

NieA under 7 – episodes 1 to 5

October 14, 2004 on 10:14 pm | In NieA_7 | Comments Off on NieA under 7 – episodes 1 to 5

NieA under 7: domestic poor @nimation is a wonderful slice of Japanese life anime. With aliens. But mainly it’s about life in Japan. With man eating plants and pyromania. It’s definitely the most accurate anime made in the last four years, at any rate.

Some time in the 21st century, cram student Mayuko lives in a bath house with a free loading alien, NieA. They work at making friends, making ends meet and making new business for the ailing public fixture. Each episode is a separate adventure, each with at least a bit of time spent at the bath house. It’s a nice statement on domestic life, with bits of random comedy inserted. Seeing as the unexpected variety of comedy is frequently the best, this anime is capable of promoting some very loud laughs.

Mayuko initially seems mild mannered, but as it turns out she’s quite capable of snapping. She’s no pushover, and the fire that burns within her can be scary. Speaking of fire, the great standby of the bathhouse – the boiler man Yoshioka – is awed and enamored by the power of fire. The way that normally reserved characters can flip out is part of this show’s charm. The one main character who never flips out, however, is NieA. This is because she is by default out there: eating other’s food, building UFOs, and running through the countryside in a hilarious get up.
The characters are full of surprises, and are a large part of what makes this anime work so well.

Although the subtitle of the program is “domestic poor @nimation”, this seems to pertain more to the theme rather than production values. Generally, everything is handsome – particularly the poor domesticity of urban Japan. The scenery is beautiful, and solemn. NieA_7 is not culturally obscure, but it is definitely Japanese. There is very little music, the background soundscape instead provided by cicadas, or an array of insects at night.
yoshitoshi ABe is the man behind the character designs, which translate very well to anime. For this project he was allowed to SD the characters and to generally do weird things such as make fake Indian and Chinese aliens. It’s great to see these aliens try to fit in as parts of the culture: Karna’s “I’m so Chinese and a valued member contributing to Earth society” is priceless. Performances are marvellous, with Miyamura Yuko’s NieA delightfully crazed and Kawasumi Ayako her alternately humble and furious offsider, Mayuko. The Indian alien, Chada, is played by an authentic Indian actor, and so gives a genuinely accented Japanese performance. Ryo-ohki’s seiyuu shows up as a cat, and the whole thing is generally nice to listen to.
SION’s OP is not an instant pleaser, but it is one that grows quickly: unfortunately, people have been put off by its use as a trailer, but there’s so much to like about this humble and mad anime.

This is a quiet favourite, and for once I don’t care if there is an overarcing story; it’s great as it is. The subtle overtures of Japanese society, the sometimes introspective look at life and business, and the frequently uproarious action are intriguing, but not for everyone. This, it must be taken into account, is infinitely preferable to anime that’s not for anyone. Consider that.

City Hunter: Magnum of Love and Destiny

October 10, 2004 on 3:49 pm | In City Hunter | Comments Off on City Hunter: Magnum of Love and Destiny

Commercially released as .357 Magnum, this 90 TV movie is standard City Hunter fare, which is a good thing.

Nina, a young pianist, comes from West Galiera to play a series of concerts for charity, but she has another reason for her visit to Japan: she visits Ryo, after hearing from Umibozu’s surrogate daughter (who attends the same musical school), that he is good at finding things. She hopes that Ryo will be able to help her find her father, but her grandfather Klaus must not know. Meanwhile, the East Galiera government wants to recover delicate information held by Klaus – which is, coincidentally, desired by Nogami Saeko and presumably the rest of the Japanese government.

This really is City Hunter; after the dramatic airport introduction, it heads straight into Kaori and Ryo not having any work. I maintain that Kaori has been really bad for business, but that’s besides the point.

The story is solid, and the obvious “shock twist” comes in much sooner than one would expect – which is a good thing, because it’s patently obvious. The character drama is also fairly strong, because it applies to the characters. Had it simply been on something like an “international” level, it couldn’t have worked near as well. While Nina, Klaus and misunderstood villain Helzen obviously get a lot of screen time and development for their parts, the normal cast also gets their own.
A few things are added to the City Hunter canon: there are some great moments where Kaori expresses her feelings for Ryo, and where Ryo acknowledges those feelings (albeit to somebody else) and why he can never act on them. It’s slightly different to my initial theory, but Ryo at heart has incredibly noble motives – and he doesn’t seriously want his clients to fall for him. It’s just a pity that Kaori has such image problems. Also, Ryo finally shows some real anger at the Nogami sisters, which is a nice change.
The only unfortunate part of Umibozu’s section is that, despite apparently featuring chronologically after the first series of City Hunter, he inexplicably runs a café with someone called Miki (possibly the pickpocket of episode 46) in this installment. Hopefully that will make sense some time.

Initially, the show is overpowered by music – much more than the series ever features, and lots of it plain comedy pieces. It calms down, however, and makes for a fairly interesting piece of work. There’s creative cinematography, such as Ryo showing his serious side, and the first confrontation between Colonel Helzen and Ryo has some fairly palpable tension.
On the domestic side, Kaori moves a lot more when she hammers Ryo to the ground, and Umibozu eats incredibly indelicately. On the service side, while it doesn’t seem much more than the series, Ryo comes closer to mokkori than he has for years.
There’s no M & M’s this time around, but a Nestlé truck features in the memorable chase scene.

The dubbing made me kind of glad that the TV series didn’t get the whole English treatment – this would have led to some of the beautiful clients getting the “ridiculous exotic accents” treatment. Ryo (here known as “Joe”) is played fairly well by an Australian actor, and Kaori also seems okay – but they’re no match for the dynamite team of Kamiya Akira and Ikira Kazue. The rest of the Japanese cast don’t particularly stand out, but there’s no noticeably poor or annoying performances.

There’s one aspect of the ending that doesn’t make any sense, but that’s okay. The rest of it was pretty good, although not world alighting stuff: this was just like City Hunter, with a little bit of service and more animation of Kaori giving Ryo what for.

Magical Girl Pretty Sammy

October 10, 2004 on 1:28 pm | In Pretty Sammy, Tenchi Muyo! | Comments Off on Magical Girl Pretty Sammy

Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is probably the most “spun off” of the Tenchi Muyo! franchises because it bears so little resemblance to any of the others. For all of the alternate universes, the Tenchi story is pretty constant. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is the second incarnation of the Pretty Sammy legend, and the first one that was developed beyond a throwaway joke. The best thing about the legends of the Pretty Sammy character is that they’re satirical and subversive while remaining perfect magical girl fare.

In the magical world of Jurai-helm, the time has come to appoint a queen. The council of elders has decided that Tsunami would be most suitable, and she must pass the final test: to do this, she appoints Kawai Sasami of Earth to use her powers for good by becoming Pretty Sammy. The other candidate for queen, Ramiya, is not happy with this at all and creates a magical girl of her own: Pixy Misa, born of Sasami’s best friend.

Oddly enough, Pretty Sammy works better if you’ve seen the alternate TV series Magical Project S: that goes somewhere, which gives this OVA licence to be a few short stories without having to really delve into Misao’s sadness or her home life. It doesn’t really try, and probably shouldn’t have really made allusions to these things, because that’s not what this is all about. It’s about Ryoko and Ayeka fighting over Tenchi, Tenchi inexplicably not making a move on either of the two girls who are totally into him, Ayeka having a team of school girl servants (highly reminiscent of B-ko) and the power of Sasami’s friendship.
It’s not an emotional series; the third episode has some saddening moments, but primarily this is all about the laughter. Any scenes with Sasami’s mother (different to the TV version; the Kawai family is here a single parent household) are guaranteed hilarity as she is obsessed with karaoke and takes every opportunity to sing subversive enka songs (the second ED is about a woman crying over losing her love to another man – the hook being “Gay love is making me sad”).
The second episode’s villain, Bif Standard, is hooked on the idea of standardising computers and software throughout the world. When criticised for the slowness of his system, he yells that speed must be sacrificed for stability. For some reason, his idea of stability is crashing the moon into the Earth, thus doing away with war and poverty. When he sees the error of his ways, it’s that he hasn’t aimed high enough – at which point Sammy asks if she can beat him up.

Matsumoto Rika is great as Kawai Chihiro, the woman who simply can not function without some karaoke in her life, and the rest of the traditional Tenchi Muyo! cast do their jobs and do them well. There’s a little bit of fan service, only one real naked transformation sequence, and some very disturbing animation in the OP that Sasami has to block by laughing it off. Creator Hayashi Hiroki did a good job of integrating all of the elements to make a very Tenchified yet independent OVA series, and directors Hirokawa Kazuyuki and Kikuchi Yasuhito direct with finesse. Hit and miss writer Kuroda Yosuke (Okay, he’s only had one real dud) is sharp and to the point, making for an ultimately very enjoyable comedy.

It may not be as “good” as Magical Project S, but because that TV series exists it doesn’t have to be. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is a frequently hilarious three episode OVA that comes highly recommended for all people who like this kind of stuff. Watching this makes one reflect on how unfortunate it was that Magical Project S wasn’t dubbed; this Tenchi property could have conquered the world.

Tenchi Muyo! Galaxy Police Mihoshi’s Space Adventure

October 9, 2004 on 11:26 pm | In Tenchi Muyo! | Comments Off on Tenchi Muyo! Galaxy Police Mihoshi’s Space Adventure

The Tenchi Muyo! franchise is something that anime people either love or hate. Allegedly it’s one of the prime examples of the harem genre, but it’s really just a wacky space adventure. With onsen here and there. Despite the original OVA not being about anything in particular, it was enjoyable. The “love triangle” was not explored very well, which was actually a mercy, and it puts a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Mihoshi’s Space Adventure is a one shot OVA set loosely in the original universe. At 25 minutes, it’s brief but enjoyable. The DVD is padded out by a two hour dosage of Pretty Sammy.

After waking from a day dream, Mihoshi wants to appear of some use to Tenchi and his group by telling them of a case she solved as a member of the Galaxy Police. She’s not too clear of the details, however, and casts her friends in the roles (“to make it easier for you to follow” she explains to her audience). Space pirate Ryoko kidnaps Tenchi while stealing ultra energy something-or-other, and Mihoshi and beleaguered partner Kiyone are asked by desperate self proclaimed fiancée and “old woman” Ayeka to rescue him. Sasami and Ryo-Ohki go along for the ride too, to make tea.
Just how much of this is true is anyone’s guess; I doubt that Mihoshi would deliberately represent herself as that stupid, and Kiyone actually does exist. It was a nice way of writing her into the Tenchi continuity and explaining her absence at once.

It’s a simple OVA, which is mainly just about comedy. The story is coherent without being overly important, and the jokes are fast and never laboured. It also features what is probably the first documented appearance of Pretty Sammy, which makes three different Sammy continuities – and the way this one is just thrown in for the sake of it makes it more credible and hilarious as Mihoshi’s story. Comedy stories are mainly made of jokes, when they don’t have character development and overarcing stories to support them, so there’s little point in going into more detail short of saying this is nice and sweet.

This has the standard OVA production qualities, and Mizutani Yuko does an excellent job of the faux-serious Mihoshi. The only thing that is freaky is Pretty Sammy’s nude-transformation sequence, which is really par for magical girls. It’s brief and unrevealing, but definitely weird. The OP is a great fairy tale dream sequence about Mihoshi and Ryo-ohki going on an eating adventure, and the ED is the genesis of a Pretty Sammy story with entirely different villains to the other two versions. It would probably have done better without the periodical real world interventions, but it’s fine as it is.

Mihoshi’s Space Adventure is humble Tenchi Muyo! fare, and recommended for any who liked the OVA series. Well, not really. Tenchi fans can be a bit crazy and inconsistent … (rather like the franchise itself, allegedly). It’s just a random bit of fun, and not harmful in the slightest.

Love Hina – episodes 5 to 7

October 8, 2004 on 7:59 pm | In Love Hina | Comments Off on Love Hina – episodes 5 to 7

Because, quite bluntly, episode eight is the Devil, this progress report stops at episode seven: because Love Hina pulled off a three episode streak of okayness.
Continue reading Love Hina – episodes 5 to 7…

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^