Trying to blog about anime again after a couple of months of not actually watching anything (aside from the occasional rewatch or two) is hard work. It’s tough to get the old gears running in proper working order again, trying to get myself back in the groove, something to that effect–it makes for a difficult time when you think you’ve kind of forgotten how you used to blog about anime to begin with. But anyway, enough about that, I’m back and ready to restart. And what a better time to restart, too. Spring 2012 has been a season I’ve been looking forward to since I first glimpsed the lineup a few months back. So much so, in fact, that I’ve dropped everything I’ve been watching then and hunkered down in preparation for this season, which has been pretty damn promising.
There were a lot of new entries to be sampled, but no time to actually talk about them all, so let me just pick out a couple of ’em. First up, that new Lupin III TV anime (TMS Entertainment) produced in celebration of the franchise’s 40th anniversary. A cursory glance at the trailers seemed to imply that this latest incarnation of the series was a departure from the past series, something people haven’t seen from the anime, perhaps ever, it could have even triggered some flak for the new direction it’s taken. The series has even brought aboard some new blood into the franchise: most notably Sayo Yamamoto (Michiko e Hatchin) as director and Takeshi Koike (Redline) as character designer. And, well, judging from the first episode, I’d say it’s all that and then some. Episode 1’s got to be the most brash, most garish, most over-the-top episode of anything I’ve seen this year. Here, style is the name of the game, even more so than past outings (which have been admittedly more sterile). The art is finely textured, the mood is gritty, the rhythm is brisk and no-nonsense. Perhaps the episode functioned more as a canvas for the director to manipulate things at will, impart her unmistakable mark, and basically run wild with the thing, which on further inspection, could have almost gone overboard.
This series is different from most, if not all of the previous Lupin outings ever released. Here the tone is less comedic, less wacky, and it’s not as easygoing as the rest, instead it’s a lot more gritty, a bit darker, and a lot more sexual. Granted the main character this time is Fujiko, but the sheer sexuality in episode 1 alone is a lot more potent and intense than all of the ecchi anime produced this year combined. Unmistakably, they were going for a more adult and a far more raunchier, more risque approach to the series this time around. I would think that this issue was going to be a major point of contention that influences fans whether to embrace this new series or slam it outright. No mistake, I liked the episode, flesh and nudity every other frame aside, but I imagine it’s not going to be easy for people to get into it, especially when they’ve gotten used to the lighter antics from the past products. Still, I think the unabashed sense of style and highly expressive sensibility infused with a ton of pure artistic personality would be enough to glaze over the fact that it’s almost a shameless display of excess, kind of like a test of how far they could possibly go within the context of a modern TV anime. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of nipples in a TV anime in recent times.) As for me, I liked it, and will watch more of it. A bit of a shame that it’s only 13 episodes long.
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