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Tag Archives: ova

From Paper to Film

In the past few weeks I’ve slowly inched my way through one of Production IG‘s most popular franchises, Mobile Police Patlabor, and I’m now geared to finish the movie trilogy with 2001/2’s WXIII. I’m not one of those fans who were lucky enough to catch this or some of the other old, well-regarded series either on tape or on the tube back in the day, so only relatively recently did I get to explore the franchise (though the requisite anime series I did follow when I was a little brat). But that’s not a good excuse so I will stop there. Anyway, I was pretty damned awestruck when watching the first two offerings of the movie trilogy, which were both directed by Mamoru Oshii, for the masterfully assured way they changed gears from the comparatively happy-go-lucky feeling of the first OVA series (produced at Studio DEEN) into the gritty, hard-broiled political dramas they turned out to be–a feeling I’ve felt more strongly after watching the second film.

In a way, I believe that deciding to recruit a guy like Oshii was the best decision HEADGEAR had made. The collective, formed by a few people working in both manga and anime, formed together to create works for anime, and lacking a director, came to Oshii’s doorstep. He put together all the ideas of the rest of the group and combined them with the distinctly realistic style he was carefully refining to create compelling stories that separated themselves from the other more popular mecha series at the time (i.e. Gundam) through their no-nonsense yet poetic approach to military/political drama acted out by immensely likable characters, each with his/her own fun personality. Which is not to say that the contributions of the other members weren’t notable. Each member had his own specialty to bring to the table–Masami Yuki (Birdy the Mighty) was their manga artist/character designer, Akemi Takada their other character designer, Kazunori Ito their screenwriter, Yutaka Izubuchi (Rahxephon) their mecha designer, and finally Oshii the director. Without the rest of the members chipping in, the Patlabor project wouldn’t have been as good, and as flexible as it was. In the end, this flexibility enabled the anime to switch approaches easily and without hassle–it went from entertaining comedy one minute and the very next it had gone to hard-nosed and edgy political thriller the next. So it’s kind of a shame that the group had apparently scattered to the four winds after 2001’s WXIII (about which I haven’t heard much favorable press).

 

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Two in One

No post about [C] episode 5 this week, since I’ve been far too busy taking care of other stuff to even think about it, and I found the episode itself to be nothing special–a step down from the upward course the show was heading since three weeks ago. And doing a post about it now would be way too late. The story did keep on moving forward with its slow yet assured pace, so there’s some more speculation fodder to be had for people with such inclinations. There’s quite literally hundreds more places to go for those, so I leave it in their hands to talk about that stuff. I sense that the quality of ep 5 was just another bump in the road, though, and hopefully there’s more interesting stuff in the next episode.

That said, I’ve still been making room for cartoons despite that, and I’ve found myself catching up with Texhnolyze after a long break. Interestingly enough, my interest in it increased even after taking a break off it for several months, and despite the fact that I wasn’t too taken by it when I first started it. It’s a curious thing. Its director, Hiroshi Hamasaki, is now in charge of that new show Steins;Gate–which I kind of liked at first but not so anymore–and his style is unmistakable in both, in terms of the minimalist approach to sound and the uniformly flat-looking colors and art. Still, both shows are markedly different. Texhnolyze just feels more accomplished and more in tune with the story (courtesy of Chiaki J. Konaka), whereas Steins feels like it thrusts much of the load on one character too much of the time, and at times it clashes with the style of the show(some eps feel as if they’re 20 mins too long).  I don’t know if it’s because of the source material. But Steins is still a solid show, and I’m still watching both.

i'd watch bambi in the future

Koi Sento (Shuhei Morita, Sunrise)

Sunrise’s new (well, not exactly new–it was shown last year) one-off anime project Koi Sento reminded me of the job they’ve done with some parts of their movie King of Thorn, with how they animated the people moving around and just ‘doing’ things. What I saw in that film didn’t sit well with me, and I found those bits of digitally enhanced animation (I don’t know the exact term for it) one of the most glaring distractions of that movie. It was only now that I’m writing this that I realize how foolish I was for thinking back to that film, when in truth, I’ve already seen this method earlier than the film. True enough, I’ve witnessed something very similar to this style before in that short film Kakurenbo, where 3D and 2D were mixed together under a still-very-anime aesthetic. And it turns out that the people behind this latest effort were the same people behind Kakurenbo (Shuhei Morita handled much of everything in Kakurenbo and wrote and directed Koi Sento), which surprised me, for Koi Sento was a very different creature–not better, but different.

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Past the Checkered Flag

After watching Cencoroll two years ago, I recall feeling cheated. What I saw was completely different from what the two trailers I watched months earlier promised to deliver. These two trailers (here and here–watch them as a reminder) boasted hip and snappy pop music, deceptively simple monster designs, colorful, if a bit rough art and some bits of impressive animation. You know that the film was something to look forward to once you watched the two trailers–that’s how effective they both were. Ho-hum character designs aside, the short anime felt to me like a treat before even watching the whole thing. And the clincher? Cencoroll was apparently another solo animator work. All of that early thrill turned into a massively disappointing heap of bland composition/direction, meager bits of actually interesting animation, and sleepy, lifeless atmosphere. The final product wasn’t anything like the trailers. Even the likable music got removed. The one selling point of the film that I thought couldn’t possibly be tampered with got cut, except for the catchy ED.

As a fair bit of consolation from Anime Innovation Tokyo, the anime is getting a second shot. Whether they actually do put out a remotely likable film this time, I’m not so sure now, but still I appreciate the effort if only because these don’t come around everyday. Though I have to ask: if they were planning to put out two episodes of the anime to begin with, why didn’t they just combine the two into a full-length feature? It would have raised AIT‘s stock even more with the audience, and would have given them more publicity. Hedge your bets into one make-or-break product and see where it goes. Not only would it build confidence in the audience, it would also show that you do trust the actual creator himself. Putting out a disappointingly mediocre pilot episode and hiding behind the reasoning that “at least there’s a part 2” isn’t a very good way of making an impact, at least in this humble blogger’s opinion.

 

pilot episodes, pilot episodes everywhere

 

Tailenders (Anime Innovation Tokyo, Picograph)

Still, you can’t fault me for expecting good things to come from Anime Innovation Tokyo‘s next effort, Tailenders. I mean, just looking at this picture above tells you that it’s hip, stylistically sound, and it’s just oozing cool from everywhere. Even though it’s hardly unique in terms of art and style, I thought it was going to be fun. I didn’t catch a trailer for this one too, so I hadn’t had any expectations as to what it could be. Thinking about it again, I realize that it was a nice way to approach Tailenders, for it wouldn’t have lived up to whatever expectation I could have had of it. Much the same way as with Cencoroll, really–which was too bad.

 

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All That Jazz

So recently I just got the second edition of the Anime That Jazz cover collection, and it was again an impressive record. I don’t really know the exact circumstances of these records, but there have also been a lot of jazz cover albums of some iconic or popular anime songs. The first Anime That Jazz record was a great listen–I remember the Lupin III theme being one of the stand-outs–and this one is no different. The second one has a few stand-out tracks, namely Arakawa Under the Bridge‘s OP cover, Venus to Jesus and a single from K-ON. I never knew that song would transfer well into jazz, of all things (Yakushimaru Etsuko‘s song made the transition quite well, too). The cover of Tank! was a bit of a let-down, though. Maybe it was because the original song was just that good, or I’m just being a zealous fan of Kanno again.

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