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Just use "that".
One of the most interesting things in TV anime is seeing how outside people can handle any material headed by the series’ head honcho (the series director, in other words), and witnessing how they manifest their own styles in presenting the said material in a manner attuned with the original goals and direction the head guy may pursue. In the past I always assumed that a series director was the one in charge of all the episodes in a given series, but over time I realized that the task isn’t only hard but downright impossible, and that there are other directors who help cover the slack with some of them even providing personal masterpieces within the show. In most cases, this situation presents itself readily in series with stylistically daring creators, say Masaaki Yuasa or Hiroyuki Imaishi (examples of which are Akitoshi Yokoyama‘s brilliant episodes of Kemonozume/Kaiba/Tatami Galaxy for the former and Osamu Kobayashi‘s frequent appearances in the latter’s shows: Gurren Lagann #4, Panty & Stocking #5 part B as the most obvious examples). On that note, here we see another instance of such a director, this time one already experienced working under Ikuhara, way back in the Utena days. And, as planned, it was great watching. In hindsight, this episode was long forthcoming.
One of the manga artists I really like is Tetsuya Toyoda. To my knowledge, he isn’t that prolific (since I’ve only read two of his works), but based on what I’ve seen, his work just has that special touch of tone and dramatic flow that floats my boat. His art itself isn’t spectacularly detailed or amazingly rendered, nor do I think he’s got incredible technical skill, yet the way he draws people is appealing and very personal. Toyoda’s art has this specific look that’s distinctly his, in the sense that you could tell at a glance it was he who drew the picture, no matter how random it may be. And he’s also got a nicely sensitive approach to character emotion and dramatic flow, something that I’ve noticed in some of the excellent dramatic anime I’ve seen. Not too overblown or over-acted, but seamlessly woven in and convincing. He leavens it with some quick yet subtle specks of fun humor as well, which makes for a surprisingly well-rounded and natural reading. Essentially he could be writing an emotional story, but he generously adds in light stuff throughout that makes the flow and content feel utterly natural and even realistic.
Mawaru Penguindrum #3
I’m actually having some kind of mixed, if not outright conflicting, reactions about this ep after watching it. Make no mistake, I still managed to enjoy it for what it was, but I got the nagging feeling that somehow, something was missing from the episode, that it wasn’t fully enjoyable enough, that there was a palpable lack of freshness and spunk in the whole thing. You’d think that for the third episode of what promises to be an unhinged, off-the-rail and almost controversial series that there would at least be one or two scenes that blow away everything in sight, that there would already be considerable chunks of development in the characters. Instead we have more of the same things we saw in episodes 1 – 2. For some people that may be enough of a turn-off, considering who the person in charge of the thing is, which is too bad. Personally, I think the pace itself is fine, but I’m beginning to feel that the continuous set-ups are starting to wear thin, especially after an episode as admittedly droll as this (compared to the first two, at least). I bet I’m just having growing pains right now, so I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. And it’s also possible that this light, almost lackadaisical approach to pacing and development is the point.
Mawaru Penguindrum #2
Been a bit late watching this episode, so I was having a lot more backed-up expectation than usual about this show’s second ep. I didn’t think it would try to outmatch the strength of the leader, but I was impressed at how it maintained the overall lighthearted feeling and tone established by the first episode and even built on it by laying down new plot threads that I would think are par of the course for someone like Ikuhara. I haven’t read the novel this anime was based on, so I can’t say for sure what’s likely going to happen in the near and far future, but I’m at least confident that whatever it is, I’m going to enjoy every inch of it.
The other day I finally finished watching what was a rough yet ultimately gratifying experience in the name of Texhnolyze, that one Madhouse show I’ve seen (make that read) people heap quite a lot of praise on for its unflinching grittiness and hard-boiled nature both in terms of narrative content and aesthetic stylization. On the one hand I feel that the show deserves what’s been said about it, as it indeed was tremendously consistent and unrelenting when it came to the ebbs and flows of its story, but on the other I feel that it was a bit too hampered by the uneven state of the visual quality, something I guess is to be expected in a TV production, but in here is just a tad too disconcerting. But that’s not to say I wasn’t moved by the gut-wrenching turn of events in the string of episodes comprising the final arc (from, I guess, episode 17 onward). They did a marvelous job of making me feel like the absolute dregs of humanity until the ending credits rolled in episode 22. I’ve been pondering for a while now whether to write some sort of a comprehensive write-up about the series as a whole, but doing that would mean me going back and looking over each episode again which, frankly, isn’t the most exciting prospect in the world. And there’s already been a lot said about the show, so I don’t want to add any more. So I’ll just make do with this (hopefully) quick run-down.
Mawaru Penguindrum #1
After around a decade or more (give-or-take) without any major production under his belt, it’s really quite astounding for a director to just come back and pick up where he’d left off, and that’s following what could have been his finest work. That’s a mark of talent right there if there ever was one–I imagine not a lot of people can pull that trick off as easily and as seamlessly as what Ikuhara did in the first episode of his brand-new show. But still, it seems unfair to just lay all the credit on him. As in Utena, the director has, yet again, a group of talented people collaborating with him this time, and their collective effort made the first episode of Penguindrum as strong as it was.