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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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is good example of a show that I normally wouldn’t feel like writing about. It is like trying to make a review of Confucius’s works, you wouldn’t attempt something like that just for fun. Innocence is probably the only movie so far that made me feel like I’m not educated enough to be watching it. The characters are literally talking in quotations, referencing European philosophers, Buddha, Confucius and some Japanese writers. And in my limited experience, quotes from philosophical texts make sense only in context. The text may have a couple paragraphs that build up reader’s intuition before delivering a few sentences that contain the core meaning of the text. Without a context these sentences are just mysterious collections of words, almost indecipherable. So because I wasn’t familiar with most of the texts cited in the movie, I just had to accept that I have no idea what characters imply by their words, which is a weird experience.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Batou

Spoilers below

The movie is focused on questioning the boundaries of what a human being is. Not the word itself, but the classical interpretation of it. When you say ‘human’, you may think of one of the existing humans, or you may think of a being with the biological properties that we associate with being a human, or you may think of a being that looks and behaves as a human should, or maybe something else yet. The variety of the ideas that are covered by the umbrella word ‘human’ is interesting in itself. What’s even more interesting is how fragile these ideas are, and that is what the movie displays.

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Colorful

I’ve recently watched Colorful, a 2010 movie suggested to me by Shaurya. The movie follows a person who had died but was given a chance to redeem himself. He was reincarnated in a body of Makoto Kobayashi, a boy who killed himself with sleeping pills overdose. After the reincarnation the new Makoto needs to deal with the echoes of the Makoto’s life before the incident, the problems that lead up to his suicide.

I would say Colorful is a serious movie, at least compared to other things I’ve been watching recently. It might be a little hard to watch at times, but it definitely isn’t boring. Makoto’s mother acting is one of the best I’ve seen in a long while, I almost want to watch the movie again just to see it again (even though her role is such a sad one). If you like movies directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, Makoto Shinkai, you should check this one out. It would be different, but chances are you’ll like it.

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Puru Puru, sort of an angel that guides Kobayashi

Now time for spoilers. Though before the spoilers begin let me make a little detour and talk about stories in anime. Most anime do have a story, and it can be quite complex. The story can be told directly by the characters or a narrator, or it can be acted out; some of the events can be only alluded to without being shown. You can hide your story behind hints and metaphors, tell it through references, and since it is anime you can use words, pictures, sound and motion to construct those hints and references. Though if you aren’t careful no one will be able to decipher what the story was.

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Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso is a movie about a former fighter pilot Marco who does bounty hunting work in a pre- World War II Adriatics. The sea is lawless and chaotic with bandits and bounty hunters being about indistinguishable; people still remember the WWI and the next war is approaching. It would make a great setting for a dark and heavy story, but the movie doesn’t go there, it tells its story with good humor and positive attitude. And it is not serious about trying to be a period piece. I mean, the pilot Marco is a pig, that kind of throws the realism out of the window from the start.

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That’s Marco

But regardless, just the settings alone would sell the movie for me. Such a specific time and place, and not even something obvious or well known, it was bound to pick my interest. Also it is a Ghibli movie and so far I liked all they have put out. Porco Rosso was made in 1992, directed by Hayao Myazaki. The art and animation look very good, lots of moments worth pausing to have a better look at. I recommend this film to everyone who like anime movies.

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Now come the spoilers, so feel free to stop reading and watch the film instead.

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The Rescuers, a Disney movie

So today when having a lunch I watched an old Disney movie, called The Rescuers. I’ve seen it about a dozen times as a kid, liked it a lot. And I learned that I still like it. And I wouldn’t be writing this if it was just that, “I still like it”. It is an amazing cartoon. The way it is drawn, the scenery,backgrounds, character designs, facial expressions, all that deserves praise. You know how is some good anime movies you would have a scene or an entire section devoted to show off how things look, just to put you into a certain mood? Like Miyazaki puts some effort into portraying the forest in his Princess Mononoke, and Mamoru Oshii brings you a whole parade of awesome city life miniatures in his Ghost in the Shell. In The Rescuers you have something like that too, only here it is a constant stream of little details that accompany every action.

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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”?

Old man and a sea

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.

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Metropolis, just a few words

Today I watched Metropolis, a movie made by Madhouse studio and directed by Rintaro. The movie was made in 2001. And I am nowhere near being ready to review it. Mostly because I feel I won’t be able to give the movie justice if I write a review before I watch some other Osamu Tezuka adaptations (even though Metropolis doesn’t seem to be a close adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s manga with the same name).

I don’t make any sense, I am sorry. All I want to is to suggest you to looks at the screenshots made from this movie, and check out the art style ^^/

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In the first row you can see the main characters

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The man with a greenish face is a robot

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Lily C.A.T.

Once again I am going to talk about an old show. I know, I know, no one watches that except of me. Still, you have to bear with me :P

This time I am not going to make a review, but instead it will be a reaction post. And the difference is that I am going to spoil the whole thing. Let’s get started.

Lily C.A.T. captain

Lily C.A.T. was made back in 1987 by Hisayuki Toriumi. The show is a classic sci-fi story about a space ship going on a mission with the crew put to sleep. They will fly for 20 year to get to another planet and it will take them the same amount of time to get back. So they are more or less cut off from the civilization while on the mission. Not to mention that they will return to a new world, that where 40 years has passed and almost no one knows them anymore. I have seen books that discussed this same problem of a long-term space travel (I am talking about books by some Russian sci-fi writers, Strugatsky brothers in particular; by the way I am sure some of their books are translated into English), but this is one of those things that don’t get old. So I had some expectations for the movie from the very start.

Lily C.A.T

You will see the significance of this screen cap in a moment ^.^

I am not going to recap the plot in details. In short, something went wrong and the ship got infected by some terrible bacteria that was killing people and creating some weird sort of monsters out of them. Also they learned that there is a criminal on the ship, so they had this issue to deal with as well.

And don’t worry. They failed in every aspect and all died. Well, the two people survived for the time being, but not for too long I guess. Spoiler! I told you I am going to give away the plot :P Anyway, here why I decided to give away the plot.

Lily C.A.T

That is a bacteria?… I guess?… O.o

You see, while the premise of the show was really good, I can’t say that they made a wonderful job developing on it. The show still was really good, with impressive atmosphere. But it wasn’t outstanding. Yet there was something interesting there. Here it is.

First, the villain was a cyborg cat that was made by the company that hired the crew. It was send to kill them so the company can save the money on the salary. Yeah. That isn’t something can you see coming.

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Again, you will see what this picture means in a few seconds ^^’

The second thing was the way characters reacted on the horrible things that were happening around them. Here is an example. Imagine you are one of six or something survivors on a ship filled with deadly bacteria. And you see a hole in the wall made by this bacteria. What would be your reaction? Well, the character who saw this said “That is awesome” and proceeded to put his head close to it. We never saw him again.

A few minutes after, the last four survivors are standing in a corridor. One of them explodes, eaten by the bacteria from the inside. A horrible creature comes out of him and runs away through a vent shaft. A few seconds after one of the guys starts to talk about how interesting it is that this bacteria can use human flesh, yet it leaves the clothes. I don’t think I would be quite as calm in such a situation O.o

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So this guy just saw what you saw on the picture above. How shocked is he? Not that much -. –

And the last bit is just brilliant. So the last two survivors (a guy and a girl) left the spaceship that was blown up shortly after. They are descending on a planet that is in an archaic period of its evolution (no big creatures, only insects and plants, as I understand). So they are doomed to spend their lives on this planet, not to mention that they are probably going to die of starvation. Oh, and there is this gigantic monster that is clinging to their ship that being burned up in the atmosphere. And here is the scene. The guy sits in his chair in front of all the shuttle controls and he got this thoughtful look at his face. And the girl asks him “is anything the matter?”. Well, YES! Everyone dead, the spaceship is blown and you are descending to your grave! Besides that, nothing much.

So, personally I like this movie a lot. The animation was awesome and the character designs were very lovely. Orchestral music is always welcome too. And unlike many other old anime this one is safe for kids, there isn’t even that much violence, only a little horror.

But anyway, sorry for spoiling the plot. But I had to let it out. See you next time (^_^)/

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Wicked City

There are many different types of anime that are not easy to write about. Very good ones you can’t really criticize,  plot-empty ones, there is nothing to discuss, and so on. Wicked City is one of those hard ones too. At least for me,  because I try to keep this blog kid-friendly. And to write something about Wicked City without making it +18 content – not so easy.

You would say – so Sindar, you watched some porn and now you are making a scene, saying how hard it is to write about it in a kid-friendly way? Just don’t write about it then! Yeah, I agree, but here is a problem. Wicked City is not exactly a porn. It is, in fact, one of the most prominent movies in anime history.

Wicked City Taki Renzaburo and Makie

Taki Renzaburo and Makie, the protagonists

Let’s try and get into the review. Wicked City (Youjuu Toshi in romaji) is a movie directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri about modern Tokyo, which is decided to be a meeting place between two delegations. One of humans, the other one of monsters. Monsters live among us, and so far there was some sort of peace between them and humans. But the time of peace is almost over, and now it depends on this meeting, whether or not the piece will last.

Wicked City Makie and Giuseppe Mayart

Makie and Giuseppe Mayart

Phew, managed to write a couple of lines without mentioning anything weird. In the actual show, before you hear all that you see a spider woman doing… I’ll leave it at that. If you are sensitive or young, that scene alone can give you nightmares, I bet.

Now, for this meeting to be held well, there need to be some protection. And this protection is provided by two people. One human, the male protagonist (name Taki Renzaburo), and one monster, the female lead character (name Makie). And their struggle to keep the situation under the control (with no success) is what the movie is about.

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That is how enemies tend to look before they die.

Basically, they get constantly attacked, save each other, and develop some feelings for each other that transcends their differences. Sounds nice, right? Would have been nicer if while they develop the relations the female lead would not have been raped a few times.

I guess the amount of violence, abuse and sexual content played a big role in this show becoming so famous. And it is not so much that the show is too violent, or too pornographic. It is the unique mixture of depressing colors, dark subject, excessive amount of mature content and repulsive scenes of all sorts, all that gives Wicked City its impact. You can enjoy this show, but that is the sort of enjoyment that you get exploring catacombs, where the awfulness of the scenery is expected. And remember when this anime was made. In those days it was quite normal to include violence, gore and sexual material in anime. Look at some other pieces from that time (Wicked City was made in 1987), like MD Geist, Akira, Demon City Shinjuku. So don’t think that Wicked City is something weird, that came from no where.

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You won’t believe how hard it is to find any important scene from the anime that would not have anything inappropriate. So, I’m putting random ones ^^

The music and the animation are nothing outstanding. Yet the art style is quite different from what you normally see. I am not a big fan of that art style, but that is a personal taste. The character designs are interesting in a sense that they look kinda Western. I think they were trying to make this anime more serious and more appealing to the adult audience this way.

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Sometimes the enemies do look good in this show

Do I recommend you to watch it? I don’t know. If you are younger than 20, I guess not. If you are older than that, I expect that you can make your own decision by now. I gave you some idea about what you are signing for. Hope you won’t get mad at me if you do watch it. See you next time (^_^)/

My other post on Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s movies: Biohunter.

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Fist of the North Star, the movie

Today I wanna tell you about one of the greatest anime that was ever made. Animation quality drops and simple plot can not ruin the awesomeness of this creation. When you for the first time hear Kenshiro say his famous “yayayayayayayayayaya” and see him do a hundred punches per second, at that moment you know you’ve got to love this show. And when you see that every punch he performs hit a “pressure point” and that makes opponent’s head explode, well, you know that you were not mistaken. Let me tell you about anime in its glory, Fist of the North Star.

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Kenshiro, the protagonist

Fist of the North Star is a pretty big franchise. There is a hundred episodes long TV show, one old movie from 1986, a series of newer movies, an OVA and who knows how much more stuff. They all share the same characters (more or less), but the TV show tells the main story, the old movie is a short summary for the main plot points and the newer movies illustrate some particular story arcs. And so here I am going to talk about the 1986 movie.

I think this movie is the best way to start watching Fist of the North Star. It is not as long as the TV show and yet it has some interesting plot that develops in a good pace. And it offers all the awesomeness you want to see in a show like this.

Fist of the North Star Kenshiro

Kenshiro with a beard

The show tells a story of Kenshiro, a practitioner of Hokuto Shinken, a martial art that uses bare-hand fighting techniques. They learn about pressure points on human body, which, when touched, can cause great damage. Kenshiro lives in a post nuclear war world, destroyed and ruined, with no water, no food. It is all just deserts and bands of punks trying to robe anyone they can find. There are some good people left in that world, and Kenshiro uses his strength to protect them. He is not very successful at protecting, but well, that is not the selling point of the show.

The selling point, at least for me, was how funny it is. And it is really funny. People who were making this show wanted to show Kenshiro’s strength, and they went way over board with that. The examples of that are countless. Like there is a scene at the begging of the movie where Kenshiro walks near a skyscraper and he punches it, I guess just to show how angry he is. And the skyscrapers falls. On him.

That by itself is pretty funny and stupid, but that is not it. Kenshiro proceeds to walk through the skyscraper, as if nothing happened. I don’t think a normal person would be able to walk through a sheet of paper without some struggle. Here Kenshiro just go through concrete walls.

Fist of the North Star a ship in a building

That is beside the point, but what do you think about this shot? Pretty realistic, huh? And pretty awesome, if you ask me ^_^

Fist of the North Star, a ship in a desert

Same ship, new place.

And that is not the end, that is just the beginning. There are more practitioners of Hokuto Shinken besides Kenshiro. Some of them are even more overpowered. One of them is not even dismounting from a horse to fight. But well, you really need to see that for yourself to appreciate how good and funny it looks.

The animation here is not the strong point, but it isn’t too bad. As I mentioned, there are some quality drops, but they are rather interesting. On of them looks like they lost a few seconds of footage and recovered by using a recording made during a screening, or something like that. It still looks better than the animation in the TV series, but if you are used to nowadays standards you might not be amused by it. But if you like old style anime, here you go, hurry up and get this movie, it would be a great treat for you. Just as it was for me.

Fist of the North Star Raoh The Conqueror

Raoh The Conqueror, one of the bad guys. Or one of the good guys, it is had to tell.

The art style and character designs are a thing in itself. I mean, if you are a medical student, and you forgot how a particular muscle looks, glance at Kenshiro and you will see it. And you don’t need your glasses, every muscle on Kenshiro’s body is bigger than all of them on yours. Even is you are a heavyweight boxer, I don’t care, it still applies. In that sense the anime is a little similar to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, which was inspired by The Fist of the North Star.

The music isn’t too outstanding. I watched the movie some few months ago and I don’t remember any music from it, so yeah. The newer Fist of the North Star movies have some really good music though, hopefully I will get to write about them too.

Fist of the North Star

Take one more look at Raoh The Conqueror ^^

As good as the movie is, I am not sure it is safe for kids to watch. Tons of corpses, blood, extreme violence, lots of very graphic murder scenes. If you are not at least 14, don’t even come close (should I change this number to 16 or 18? I dunno..).

It is up to you to decide if you want to watch this anime. I’d say, give it a try. See you next time (^_^)/

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