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Spring noitaminA (END)

awesome ep was awesome

C #11 (END)

After a few weeks of steadily increasing build-up and excitement, every development in the show finally came to a head in last week’s finale. And boy, what a finale that was. The sheer impact of the episode alone was enough to wipe out all the doubts I’ve had  about the show since the first few weeks it aired. Sure the first few episodes were a bit spotty, but little by little it caught its stride at the right time and sustained that drive until the end. Not only did the series slowly begin to deliver on the action front, it also managed to build and heighten the interest brought by the particulars of the story–namely, the stuff about the Financial District and such. Most of the economic mumbo-jumbo got over my head, but the presentation and the flow were dramatic enough that I didn’t care anymore. If anything, I shouldn’t have doubted Kenji Nakamura. He did bring the goods here, and then some. It just took getting past the halfway mark of the series to happen.

 

The episode starts up right where the preceding episode left off, with Kimimaro aiming to stop Mikuni from forsaking the future of Japan using the Financial District’s rotary press. Though, frankly, I didn’t care a whole lot about that stuff and came instead looking for the kind of high-octane action I’ve been waiting for since ep 10. Everything had been set up so perfectly for a monumental clash between the two that anything less than that would have been a disappointment. And thankfully, the episode delivered what I wanted. It was a powerful barrage of frenetic, fast-paced action, orchestrated in ways I wouldn’t have come to expect judging from early episodes of the show (barring, of course, the great ep 6)–although there’s also the fact that it was expected of them to bring in the big guns for the finale. What’s more impressive was how the action never seemed to let up, sustaining that even blast of energy from beginning to end, climaxing at a stylized final shot. For a TV anime, this is rarely seen stuff.

The action, needless to say was well-done, but what the episode also does a good job at during that entire sequence is interspersing the good stuff with the equally interesting details of the plot–like what was happening to Japan after the yen became practically worthless, how the people were dealing with their present situation, and more importantly, how the respective storylines of the two characters converged (Kimimaro and his asset, Mikuni and his sister). The dialogue wasn’t anything to write home about, I felt, but they also gave the sequence added weight and impact, complete with the requisite hot-blooded fire as they were. And then the music. Music really helps give character to a scene, and it gave another blast of energy and impact to the fight. Pasting a piece by a good composer on an equally good sequence of scenes to heighten effect–that was what it was. In the end, the whole action scene itself was a combination of many audiovisual elements that fully maximized its strength.

The ending didn’t really find time to explain everything, but I didn’t find much wrong with it. It was vague enough to make people into coming to their own conclusions, and to leave some lasting questions for the viewers to think about at least for a few days. The mission was completed; the future was brought back; everybody’s happy. Personally, I’m satisfied with that. That’s just another interesting aspect in anime, where endings never show everything in a conveniently well-packaged, easy-to-swallow pill. Sometimes, some things are best left unsaid.

Episode 6 was the last episode before this one which boasted interesting animation in the entire series, and the finale, as expected, just about blew that one to bits. Coincidentally, that was also the point in the series where everything started to gel finally, and where the anime picked up a huge head of steam, slowly ratcheting up until the awesome end. Episode 6 was headlined by a few talented animators, and the same thing is true for episode 11 (Sushio, Ryochimo being part of the episode 6 team). There was a lot of guys in the animation department in the finale, and among them were some cool names.  Headlining the list is Jun Arai, who’s worked on a few episodes of Star Driver. The shots in C #11’s fight with obvious Kanada-style leanings I would attribute to his work. And there was also one guy who did perhaps the most remarkable shot in the ep: Yasushi Muraki. When his Circus shot came in, I realized I was watching something special. I don’t think I’ve seen a Circus shot outside aerial dogfights between different mecha. There was also, I think, Hideki Kakita, but I didn’t see much in the way of explosions to confirm. Other notable animators include Yasunori Miyazawa, Souichiro Matsuda, Yuki Hayashi, Takashi Hashimoto (who was also AD, along with many others). Even Masahiko Kubo was there. I only surely remember his work on the excellent car chase in Mind Game, but something tells me he did the climactic shot in C‘s finale–where Kimimaro punches out Mikuni in a black-and-white, sketchy style.

Nakamura himself returned as director/storyboarder in the final episode, though he was joined by many others. Which was why his style wasn’t that obvious to me, except in trace amounts. I wonder what would have happened if he was alone in those departments. But anyway, the episode itself was awesome regardless. From the frantic display of action to the climactic resolutions of the plot, every possible element combined in such an engrossing way that it glued me to the screen, eyes locked and mouth slightly agape.  It was a climactic episode, and it did feel like one. I don’t remember seeing an anime episode like this in quite some time. Of course, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but for a TV anime, this was quite an achievement in its own right.

I had my doubts as to how C was going to turn out dating back when I first watched the PV for it many months ago, but I have to say I came away from completing the series feeling very refreshed and entertained. The show stumbled its way through the first four to five weeks, but when it found its rhythm it never let it go and even built up on it until the very end. That’s what was impressive about the show–that it managed to put forward an entertaining product given a short length. It’s the kind of show that doesn’t wow people off the bat, but rather it grows on people as it goes along. Like it did with me. The series also told a respectable story about the effect of money on human life  set against a very anime-ish backdrop, and it was also part of the reasons C was as interesting as it was. Despite the visual shortcomings, the anime had a more than stable story to fall back on.

Kenji Nakamura’s debut attempt at crafting a serial anime with a continuous narrative was quite impressive, though a little slow–and that’s only due to certain visual changes I wasn’t that fond of. It was paced well, said what it wanted to say, and ended on a vague, and also a bit cheerful note. To say the least, it was a satisfying show. C did some things better in 11 episodes than most anime can in 24. Though right now if you asked me,  I would still say I liked his previous TV series better. Somehow I missed the unabashedly crazy and heavily stylized look of his prior work, and I won’t mind if he goes back to it. But whichever way he goes and whatever style he chooses in the future, I’m still going to look forward to his next work with great interest.

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