Dirty Pair: Project Eden

I am a big fan of good art and animation. If a cartoon looks great I would be happy to watch it, regardless of its other qualities. I would also like to tell other people about how good it was, but that is when things become difficult. Talking about art is hard in general, even if you limit yourself to a particular genre or style. Talking about modern animation where every piece may consist of a wild mixture of dozens of different styles is harder still. Not to mention that animation isn’t only about art, it is also about movement, which makes everything even more complex.

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That is why when I see an anime that showcases one particular aspect of animation I feel an urge to share it with others, which is the reason I am writing this post. Project Eden is a comedy, a movie about two girls with bad enough reputation to be called Dirty Pair. Same as in other Dirty Pair movies, they are solving a crime case, blowing up stuff in the process. But more importantly, Project Eden is about an art style. But, what is an art style? I’d say it is a combination of the color palette the anime uses, common details of the character designs, the drawing and animation techniques and the choices of what to show on the screen. It seems arbitrary, but hopefully it will make sense in a moment.

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Project Eden loves black, blue, red and hot pink. In my experience blue and black are a common combination in older anime, Yoshiaki Kawajiri used these colors a lot in his films. Adding red and hot pink makes this movie extra flashy, gives it more contrast, but also makes it feel less serious.

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The characters are equipped with some awesome 80s hair, but are otherwise simple. This is compensated by the animation, where the characters slightly go off model, move pretty freely, have enough different facial expressions not to be boring. Project Eden doesn’t win any prizes for the characters’ looks, but I think they go pretty well with anime’s visuals.

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Judging by how it looks and its age, the anime is hand drawn and cell animated. I think this type of animation technique lends itself well to darker and more contrasting color palettes. My guess is that cells were making the colors darker and were taking away some of the contrast, producing the nice look shows like Project Eden or Cyber City Oedo or many others of the sort have. Also the character designs used in this anime work well because the faces are always slightly morphing and changing; I don’t think it would look as good with more static computer-aided animation. This is why I mention animation techniques as a part of an art style, cause shows like Project Eden look the way they do thanks to the animation methods that were used back then when these shows were made. It also makes these anime unique – because of the change in animation techniques it is unlikely that anything that shares Project Eden’s style will be produced again.

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Now finally, what about the choices what to show on the screen? Project Eden shows us explosions, lots of technical facilities, all kinds of electrical discharges, dark blue monsters, space, spacecrafts and space stations. In short, lots of space enthusiasm sci-fi settings. This allows the anime to display its colors in all their glory. If your anime takes place in bright lit rooms or in the daylight there is no way to make Project Eden’s color palette work. Furthermore, the colors, the hand drawn animation, the sci-fi theme, they all go together, they create the atmosphere of the movies of this period. The bright explosions contrasted with dark blue background remind me of Macross: Do You Remember Love movie, the constant mindless destruction- of Tank Police OVA and maybe a few other OVAs from that time.

I don’t know if I should talk about the anime itself at this point. Maybe I’ll leave the plot be and let you see it for yourself. I guess the promo posters for Project Eden may look kinda iffy, the two lead characters being dressed like prostitutes and all, but oh well. Their costumes are completely stupid and don’t suit their personalities at all, obviously they were designed to attract attention to the anime. But there isn’t much more then that, just a stupid choice for the character’s uniform.

Oh, and before you go, watch the opening for this movie it is worth the look. It kinda illustrates all I wanted to say in this post. See you next time!

P.S. If you wanna read me talking about other anime with beautiful animation, you can check out my posts about Madoka MagicaThe RescuersThe Old Man and the Sea and Colorful. Or, take a look at Shaurya’s posts about MushishiGarden of Words and this post about Tokyo Ghoul. We don’t usually talk as much about the animation itself though.

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Angel Cop

My first impression of Angel Cop was that it is another low quality old anime with all the fun stuff that they were putting in OVAs back in the days. By fun stuff I mean ridiculous sci-fi plot, extravagant characters, awesome hand drawn visuals, and no limit on weirdness. And so I expected having good time watching it. What I didn’t expect is just how intense all of that is in this show. Maybe its because I haven’t seen any anime in a while, or maybe my passion for 80-90s anime grows this fast, but in any case after watching two episodes I got this “Wow O.o” feeling.

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So here is what Angel Cop is. It is a show about a police department that fights against terrorism in Tokyo (I wonder where have I seen it before xP). Their methods are borderline legal, as they easily resort to torture, kidnapping, excessive use of violence and firearms. The main characters seem to be two field agents, Raiden and Angel. First one is pretty much a normal guy, a bit wild, not too scrupulous, but fairly honest and humane. Angel, to describe her I’ll use this bit of dialogue between her and Raiden:

Raiden: “What would you do if a terrorist took a child as a hostage?”

Angel: “I guess I’d take a shot. If kid get shot it would be terrorist’s fault”

AngelCop 3

Raiden aren’t wearing no shirt.

You can see that is not a typical hero’s logic. And it is not just words, she really lives by them, as it will be shown a bit later in the show. I would say this little detail alone makes the anime less linear, as we don’t know where she draws the line and so can’t predict her actions very well.

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Angel (notice how Kawajiri-like is this character design)

The show has a lot of other little things I like. Characters are adults, some even middle aged men in shabby raincoats (reminds me of Columbo series I guess ^^) . The enemy so far is a gigantic dude that looks like he would fit into Fist of the North Star universe pretty well; and he dresses as if he is a part of a heavy metal band, which is also a plus :D Also among the enemies is an organisation named Red May that tries to establish world communism by bombing Tokyo, that is pretty funny. The big dude doesn’t find it funny though, cause he kills the communists guys on sight and he does it by blowing them up from the inside leaving a bloody mess that reminds be of one of Shaurya’s posts.

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The big heavy metal dude Asura

How does he blow up someone from the inside you ask? Using his esper powers, of course! You thought there wouldn’t be espers in this anime? Maybe you also thought there won’t be cyborgs? Come on :P

Anyway, this anime is just a mindless entertainment, don’t let me fool you into thinking that there is anything deep about it. But I like it anyway ^^’ See you next time (^_^)/

To see the catalog of the posts published in this blog click here.

Sailor Moon Crystal – three episodes in

Sometimes ago I mentioned that I wanted to follow the new incarnation of Sailor Moon series – Sailor Moon Crystal. So here is what I think about it. But first I have to put down a disclaimer – I have not seen the original anime (only a couple of episodes), haven’t read the manga, and in general I am new to the mahou shoujo world. Also I am not going to make a synopsis of the events in the show, so sorry if you expected me too.  Now we can begin =)

Sailor Moon Crystal episode 1 pic 3

Such an awesome art piece *_* Wish the rest of the show was this good >.>

Sailor Moon Crystal is a pretty strange show. Way different from what I become used to when it comes to newest anime. I am having hard time formulating the reason why it feels this way. First, it seems to be extremely cheep. Backgrounds barely exist, character models are static most of the times, even during action scenes the movements and changes in facial expressions are pretty minimal. Everything, of course, is computer painted and there is a lot of raw CGI. So visually it is quite different from typical anime.

Sailor Moon Crystal episode 1 pic 1

That is how anime looks. Also, usually you really need to watch things in motion to really see how good or bad it is. Not with this one, Sailor Moon Crystal is a show that was greatly influenced by the long standing tradition of slideshows.

Another thing that makes it stand out is the story. I’ve heard people saying “Sailor Moon is the anime that created the Mahou Shoujou genre, it is ridiculous to criticize it for using the tropes of the genre, cause they weren’t tropes back then”. Well, in my opinion the problems with the story have nothing to do with the tropes. Here is one of the problems: I pretty much know what I will see in the next episode. So far every episode followed a very simple formula: Usagi and her friends talk about something, later it is reveled that this something is somehow connected with demons and their evil plans, then Sailor worriers come and save the day. Every episode in order to save the day they gain a new Sailor Worrier. In the fourth episode I expect to see the green one (Sailor Jupiter, probably? I don’t know ^^).

Sailor Moon Crystal episode 3

There was some potential for character development in third episode. They had a really good premise with Rei Hino (Sailor Mars), with her being a shrine maiden with some mysterious powers that she was trying to use even before she learned that she is a sailor worrier. They could have made her figure the thing out in her own way, present us with another look at the nature of this supernatural power, make a comment on what it means for the user. But, they just made a generic episode out of it.

And I am fine with the idea that they need to rush through the beginning of the series to get to the good staff, but that doesn’t mean that they can make four generic episodes with no sense of tension or mystery and expect me to like it. I hope after they are done assembling the cast the series become better from the storytelling perspective. Also I would like to at last see some sort of tension and plot development. I mean, I don’t mind a slice of life comedy show about Usagi goofing around in the sailor outfit, but this is not what it is supposed to be, right? Or… am I wrong, did I come in with wrong expectations?.. If I did, please tell me so =)

Sailor Moon Crystal episode 1 pic 2

That is a source of fun in this show so far, high school student who walks in a suit and makes rude comments about Usagi. Also he is suspiciously looks exactly the same as Tuxedo Mask (another main character with some kind of powers).

To finish this rambling, I’d like to say that while I respect the idea of faithful adaptation of the original manga, I would rather watch something that is generally good show. If you need to rewrite the story, make up events and cut down lose parts – please do so, I don’t mind. But then again, I am a new viewer, while most of the audience are the old fans, who might get upset over such approach to handling the adaptation.

Well this is it. If you haven’t seen anything Sailor Moon and what I’ve written did not make much sense to you, I am sorry ^^’ See you next time (^_^)/

I’ve posted about Sailor Moon before: Sailor Moon, episodes 1 and 2

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That is an anime too – Monotonous Purgatory

Sometimes you think that you know anime, you know how it looks like, what kind of stories it tells. Sure, anime is way more than high school boy and girls with big eyes eating cake in the club room, but still, you have watched enough to know what anime is all about. For example, if I show that cartoon I’ve written about a few months ago – The Old Man and the Sea – you’ll immediately be able to tell that this is not an anime, and you’ll be right, of course. This strange way of drawing using paint on glass, the way the story is told, even character designs, all that is just not anime. Hmmm, but wait, is that really so?..

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That is oil on glass technique. Wait till you see how it looks in motion :P

Let me tell you about a short anime made by Shiroki Saori for a music band with a weird name Matryoshka (that is a word for an old fashioned Russian toy). The anime tells a story about a girl who goes to sleep, and in her dream she meets a friend and together they climb to a roof to watch stars in the night sky. It is a simple yet nice story.

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What happens next is a question to me, either the dream turns into a nightmare, or she just never wakes up. I don’t know, maybe you will be able to tell me after you watch it. It is only 6 minutes long.

I think the way they animated this film goes really well with the story. This oil painted on a glass technique makes everything seem less real, and it leaves a lot to your imagination, which is great if you make a movie about a dream world. Also I liked how the night sky looked. Black sky and tiny bright dots of stars, there is something in that, it seems real and magical at the same time.

You can watch the movie here:

See you next time (^_^)/

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Aldnoah.Zero, first reaction (3 episodes in)

I was planning on writing something about this show ever since I saw first episode. But then I decided to hold back and wait. I thought that I’d give this show 3 episodes, and then say what I think about it. Why did I want to wait? Because it is a mecha series, and this genre is something you should be careful when dealing with. I’ll explain.

So the series is set on our planet, after it had a war with Mars. People on Mars are the same humans, only they have far greater technology then terrans (which is us, people living on Earth). And the series begins with a good will mission from Mars visiting Tokyo. I won’t go into details, but something goes wrong and that brings up a new war, that promises to put an end on Earth’s independence. The story, while having such an enormous scale, has, of course, a few characters it is focused on.  And it is, as usual, high school students.

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CG mecha in Aldnoah.Zero

So here is the reason why I waited before saying anything about the series. We have A LOT of anime about kids piloting robots. If Aldnoah.Zero was going to be another series where a kid is the only one who can pilot this new awesome robot that is the only weapon that can defeat the enemies (which is a plot of dozens of mecha shows), well, I felt I would have to say so. If it was going to be an Evangelion-level struggle of “I don’t want to pilot this thing” type, I felt I would have to mention that too. Lucky us, so far Aldnoah.Zero is none of those things.

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Just some nice scenery for you ^. ^

So let me tell you about two characters you are going to meet in this series. First is the protagonist, Inaho Kaizuka. He is an introvert, reserved, calm and polite person. During this crisis, out of all the people around him he is the only one who can and willing to take it upon himself to act, make plans, calculate and take risks. He is not the sort of person who can motivate people by speeches, but he can assure them by staying calm and unwavering. He says about himself that he is not fearless, yet he never shows distress or fear or grieve, even though he already has reasons to do so. He is way better suited to be a commander, to be in charge of planning and preparing operations, but he puts himself in danger, just as readily as he let his friends take risks. Now to make it more interesting, this guy is just a normal student, he is smart, but he does not have any unnatural abilities or superior weapons, and the guys he faces are powerful enough to annihilate trained troops with great gear. So, to tell the truth, the fact that he is still alive is something to be regarded as luck.

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Inaho Kaizuka

Second is Slaine Troyard, a terran who was captured (or rescued, if you will) by martians. He is a trained soldier, who had to accompany a certain person in this good will embassy and teach her about Earth. But this sudden war required him to go to Earth wit other troops, and participate in the conflict. And Slaine did not forget who he is, the last thing he wants is to kill his own people. Yet he was raised by martians and he learned to obey. On the other hands his masters don’t seem to care much about him. Slaine is treated as a half human, he is mocked and constantly reminded that he is an outside, hence an inferior person to any martian. And he takes it, never rebukes, never tries to defend himself. He is not the type who grinds his teeth to restrain himself, to bear humiliation without saying a word. He feels fear, and taking the insults without rebelling seems the easiest road for him. You can call him a coward if you want, though I think there are a few people out there who would display more bravery being put in his shoes. But if you think that this character, while maybe realistic, is going to be utterly pathetic, let me tell you something. We are three episodes in, and already he mastered the courage to shoot one of his superiors. Not because he decided to change his loyalty, he didn’t do so as of yet, but because he saw that the person in front of him was a traitor.

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Slaine Troyard

There are other interesting people in this anime. But I’ve said enough I think, now you can decide whether you want to watch it, or not. I will put a couple of pretty screenshots here, so you can check out the art style and see if you like it.

See you next time (^_^)/

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The Old Man and the Sea

I never was too big of a fan of Russian animation. Not that I hate it or dislike it, I am just not a big fan. And in this blog I waned to write about Japanese animation specifically, not about everything. So why then I am writing a post about a Russian cartoon “The Old Man and the Sea”?

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That is a screenshot from the movie. Wanna make a guess why I am writing about it? (^. ^)

Because this movie amazed me. I went to look at it, just to see how the animation looks like, and I could not stop watching. That small, twenty minutes long thing is a work of art. Just look at it. From what I’ve read they used something that is called “paint-on-glass animation” to make the cartoon. I like how people look there, kinda like how they look on traditional European paintings. And the water, that is another thing that impressed me a lot. Animating water is hard, it has no color yet it has shape and it reflects light. And of course, you can just draw something in blue paint and call it water, yet I will not prize you for that then :P In “The Old Man and the Sea” water is drawn again in this way that reminds you of classical paintings, yet the water doesn’t look flat and immobile, on the contrary, it is very dynamic and real.

Old man and a sea Aleksandr Petrov

Look at this screenshot. I mean, seriously.

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*_*

But the animation is not the only thing that impressed me. The movie is an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel with the same name. And this novel, I will not be surprised if you have read it, cause it is well known, and rightly so. And what it means for this cartoon is that it has a good story. Good, yet simple. An old man is going to sea to fish. He was not able to catch anything lately, and he lost faith in his luck. Yet he is old and fishing is his life, so he has nothing else to do but go again. And this time there is something that pulls on the string on his fishing rod. Something way too big  and strong for him to pull. That fish is so powerful that it pulls his boat further and further from the shore, into the see.

Old man and a sea Aleksandr Petrov

Yet the old man won’t cut the string, he keeps fighting the fish. That goes on for days. And the old man seems happy about it, as if this fight is what he lives for. And it is interesting, really. He is glad he found such an astonishing fish. As a fisherman, he is glad to be able to fight a great opponent, to catch on his own something that most of the people never dreamt of even seeing. Yet here is what he says, talking to himself:

Animals and humans are somewhat alike. Though animals are not as smart as humans who kill them, they have more honor and they are stronger. I wish I could be that fish in the depths of the sea. That marlin is my brother. Yet I have to kill him.

Old man and a sea Aleksandr Petrov

And that is fascinating, hearing from a fisherman that he wants to be that same fish that he knows is doomed to die from his hand. But his words ring true. He is an old man and he likes sea and he, maybe just a little bit, regrets that he comes there to kill. Yet killing and dying is a part of life, and spending time in the wild he knows that well enough.. and maybe that is why he is so easily saying that he would have liked to become the fish, because he knows that he can die either way, be he a fish or a man. But let’s hear what he says next:

I am glad that at least we don’t have to be killing stars.

And you can say that this is ridiculous. But think about this man. He had spent his life catching fish. That means being on the boat far from the shores, with a small crew or all alone. Only he, his boat, fish that he hunts and the sky above, with the stars shining at night. And he loves fish, and he kills it. And so he is just glad he don’t have to kill the stars that I guess he loves too. That is just so simple, but there is something behind it, something that is hard to express by words.

Just think about a life, that would lead you to say those words.

Old man and a sea Aleksandr Petrov

I do recommend you to watch this film. It is made more or less by one man, Aleksandr Petrov with a help of his son. It was finished in 1999. There are English and Russian versions of the dub, I watched it in Russian, but I am sure you can find it in English, or with subs.

Old man and a sea Aleksandr Petrov

Some more amazing pictures (^. -)

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That is the fish

Old man and a sea Aleksandr Petrov

And when it moves it looks even better

Old man and a sea Aleksandr Petrov

That is it =) Sorry if you don’t like off topic posts in a blog that has an “anime” in its name, but I do make a very few of them every now and then, can’t help myself. See you next time (^_^)/

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Space☆Dandy, episode 1, a fail?

Space Dandy, an anime made by Shinichiro Watanabe, the guy who worked on Cowboy Bebop. When they asked Watanabe what Space Dandy is about he said “the dandiest guy in the universe” (if I remember correctly, not going to search for the quote). At this moment I felt it is going to be bad. This answer translates to “Whatever, the protagonist is going to be cool, do you really need anything else?”.

Space☆Dandy episode 1

But look at this animation *_*

Space☆Dandy episode 1

More!

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Ok, that is good enough for now ^_^

Now before I go into details, a couple words about the anime. It is about a guy called Space Dandy who hunts down rare alien species and gets paid if he manages to register them. The movie takes place in space. In the first episode Dandy spends time in a, pardon me for the quote,  “breastaurant”. He causes some havoc there trying to catch an alien (the affair is a total fail). Then he proceeds to prove that he has no brains in other ways, being reckless and getting into trouble. By the end of the episode he supposedly died in a planetary explosion.

Space☆Dandy episode 1

That is the Space Dandy, the protagonist guy

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Him again, a little prettier

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Him again, a little more with personality

Space☆Dandy episode 1

That is a villain. Baron Ashura of this anime, if I have to guess.

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Him again. His name is Gel apparently

Space☆Dandy episode 1

That is the main villain here. Doctor Hell of this anime.

I believe the whole deal with Space Dandy is that they are expecting the show to be popular in the West. In US, at least. Cowboy Bebop was popular there, right? And now the same guy is making a show with the same basic plot, so it’s got to be a hit again… or not. Point is, Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy are as similar as Mazinkaiser and Evangelion. To put it down bluntly, they are similar as long as you read the script and don’t actually watch them.

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Look at this *_*

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Gimme more of this :O

Space☆Dandy episode 1

What are we even talking about here? Can we just post more pictures like that?

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Oh, that is good too *_*

Space☆Dandy episode 1

^_^

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Can we put all those money into making a new Legend of the Galactic Heroes movie?

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Ok, I’m good, we can move on now ^^

Now why Cowboy Bebop was popular? It didn’t have a plot to speak of, it was episodic, didn’t have tons of fanservice, so what was this thing that caught people? Style. Music. Classic sci-fi story lines. Good animation. Characters. Now what does Space Dandy has to offer. The protagonist looks like a typical high school delinquent from those thousands shows that feature them. I have no idea why Watanabe thinks people in the West are going to find this “dandy”. Then there are tons of fanservice. I am not going to say it is a good or bad thing. Or maybe I should say. Well, frankly, this show starts with the word oppai and proceeds to talk about the subject for good few minutes. That enough for me to drop anime right there. Not because I have something against fanservice itself, but I know where such shows go. No where usually.

Space☆Dandy episode 1

That is not fanservice. I don’t post fanservice pictures here :P

Space☆Dandy episode 1

And it was hard to find screen shots without some girl’s body part filling half the screen -.-/

By the way did I mention that there is a narrator and he reminds me of Senyuu? Should I say that it is not a compliment?

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Random mess

Space☆Dandy episode 1

Wow, I am sure all the people from US would love to see that O.o

The major plus point of the show is its animation and art style. I am pretty sure blue ray versions of the show are going to sell well, just because this is something you should watch in this quality. Too bad there isn’t much besides that. I expect it to be a huge fail. But we will see. Till the next time. (^_^)/

By the way, if you want to see my Cowboy Bebop posts – even thought it has nothing to do with Space Dandy – here is the list of all my Cowboy Bebop posts, link.

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