November 7, 2011
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if it was a 'secret' show, no one should have watched it, right...?
The IdolM@ster #18
I was wondering whether or not Makoto Kobayashi was involved in the newest Last Exile anime out of Gonzo, because I didn’t catch his name in the credits for episode 1, so I looked more closely as I watched the next episodes, and sure enough, there he was: credited under “production design” (or at least, I think that was him). And then, after I’d given the matter some more thought, I realized that I shouldn’t have been wondering about the matter in the first place, and I was made aware once more of my stupidity. The general aesthetic and design sensibilities of the new Last Exile anime is pretty much a straight extension of the style seen in the first series, back in 2003. Imaginative and creative world design is a big part of the mixture that makes for an effective fantasy story, and this is the highlight of both Last Exile series. I imagine the role of a production designer was to provide the basic framework and imagery of the world and the elements inhabiting that world–from clothes to buildings to environments to ships–and once more, Kobayashi exhibits his skill at crafting a beautiful landscape in which the characters move about. It’s just too bad for me that the overall quality of the work (as far as LE: Fam is concerned) doesn’t quite match up to its design brilliance. Without an equally imaginative and talented director holding things together at the top, the resulting anime remains rather insubstantial and lacking.
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February 11, 2011
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Two of the many high-profile anime movies released last year in Japan are due for release on DVD/BD this month (as of this writing, one has just been released), which give this otherwise dull month a reason for excitement. Incidentally, the two films were part of those films that I’ve been looking forward to since first hearing about them, not because they both looked like intricately realized thought-provoking masterpieces of art, but more so due to the way the two looked and felt: fun. It has long been said that anime is great because it is “more mature” and “more intelligent” than ordinary cartoons, but that kind of thinking unfairly categorizes the medium in a narrow-minded way. Sure, anime can be a vehicle of social commentary (some of which succeed at this) and philosophical discourse (while most have failed at this), but if it doesn’t meet a certain degree of fun and entertainment first of all, then it won’t be as effective as a whole. It becomes boring, and at times even unwatchable. Mamoru Oshii’s 1989 OVA series Gosenzosama Banbanzai is an example I can name off the top of my head which capably combines fun and lively directing and animation with socially relevant scripting and content. It’s a bit of a shame now to find what the director has come to these days, come to think of it.
While the first 2010 film has been released just recently, the other film–Takeshi Koike’s Redline–should come in two weeks (if I remember correctly). If anything, that film should be one of the most jaw-dropping spectacles of pure animation in years, and should be a welcome watch to anyone–animation geek you may be or not. Not a lot of anime films have achieved a very high level of supreme catharsis and electrifying entertainment since 2004’s Mind Game, but Redline promises to deliver, at least for the second part.
And sure enough, the anime film released just recently has become one of the highlights of my February.
Welcome to the Space Show (Koji Masunari, A – 1 Pictures)
One of the two films of 2010 I’ve watched which focused on children (the other being Mai Mai Miracle), Space Show flies high, even reaching the far reaches of deep space. It succeeds at achieving a full sense of scale and scope, endowing the film with light-hearted humor and heartfelt emotion through its simple characters. Even though the movie is spotted with pacing issues which take away from the flow of the film in exchange for immersion, but for what it’s worth, the film as a whole is very strongly directed with interesting and full animation work. What’s great about films like this is its ability to reach beyond ages, to be fun for kids and even adults alike. It’s a strong, simple work, something that I would even put alongside Mamoru Hosoda’s films in terms of appeal.
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