Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is one of those anime that you've probably heard of if you hang around anime fans at all or are one yourself. When the anime started running in 2007 the name was everywhere. Mainly due to a large and vocal fanbase. To this day it still has a significant presence in anime fandom. Some call it Gainax's crowning achievement, others say it's an over-rated pile of rubbish. Of course, Gainax's other best known works are Evangelion and Panty & Stocking, so being their crowning achievement wouldn't be much of an accomplishment. In any case, let's take a look at TTGL and see which side is closer to being right.

The story is really simple. Humans have been driven underground. In the underground Jiha village, two young men, Kamina and Simon, decide to breakthrough to the surface. But before they can manage the ceiling collapses, letting sunlight in and bringing with it a giant mecha and a young redhead named Yoko. The three defeat the mecha using a machine Simon found while digging and make their way to the surface. Simon and Kamina learn that humans on the surface have been struggling against beastmen and their giant robots known as Ganmen. They decide to take the fight to the beastmen and create a surface where humans can live in peace. From there you get a pretty standard action story. About the only element that stands out is the underlying theme of overcoming the past, while simultaneously carrying it within you. That's the most interesting part of the story. Unfortunately, the ending is pretty weak. A lot of what happens is also heavily exaggerated, often to the point of ludicrous. Which would be fine, except that they try to pull off several serious scenes. Naturally, they don't mesh well with the overall aesthetic and end up invariably falling short. This is also one of those series that doesn't understand evolution, but uses it as a plot point anyway.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

So You Want to Watch Anime? Part 1

People often ask me what they should watch if they want to get into anime or have watched only a couple of shows. Obviously, it pays to ask people what genres they like, as anime is just another sub-medium of television and TV, movie and book preferences are all valid. Some of the shows listed here are often noted to be aimed at people who are very knowledgeable about anime, but they are on the list because they stand on their own, and none of us are rookie media consumers.

This list is designed in part to present you with a variety of genres, so you could watch these shows in order to have a better place to start from when looking for additional material - based on what you like and don't like. Future posts will cover movies, and some more shows based on genres and themes. All posts will be organized .


Robotics;Notes is an anime from Production I.G, you may know them from their work with Ghost in the Shell and the Blood franchise. It's based on a visual novel game by 5pb, the same group that was responsible for Steins;Gate and a list of other games you've probably never heard of. Since their stuff doesn't usually leave Japan. That all sounds pretty promising to me. Let's take a look at the anime and see how long that lasts.

The story follows a young man named Kai and his friend Akiho, who comprise the robotics club of Tanegashima High School. But all isn't going well. They have no funding with which to finish their giant robot and the principal wants to shut them down. To further complicate matters, Kai stumbles upon a mysterious program called the Kimijima report. To its credit, Robotics;Notes does have some interesting ideas, its technology is futuristic but most of it does come across as plausible, and its main plot thread does have some good moments. However, the ending is weak and it's very slowly paced. It isn't until the 16th episode that the major plot threads start paying off. Up until that point it's all build up and the concepts they're working with really aren't interesting enough to merit that much build up. Consequently, a lot of the early episodes just drag. The major romance sub-plot also falls rather flat. They give you some idea that the characters might possibly care for each other beyond friendship throughout the anime, but they never give you a reason to care. Which resulted in me not being able to find a damn to give when they had their obligatory pairing up scene towards the end. In fact, the anime would have been stronger without that sub-plot. What there is of it is just cliched and they could've done everything exactly the same with the characters in question just being good friends.

Sword Art Online

Greetings guys, gals, and pals,

Remember that time I told you I wouldn't be doing reviews for a while? Well, I lied. Sorry. vv