Category Archives: Blogger Challenges

[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility CONTROL Episode 1 [Challenge part 2]

vlcsnap-2015-02-08-11h40m58s126 vlcsnap-2015-02-08-11h41m16s57 vlcsnap-2015-02-08-11h41m31s212 vlcsnap-2015-02-08-11h41m42s47

Genki Jason picked this series out for me as part of my second half for the challenge and so here is the first episode’s review.

Ayakashi’s Bakeneko ArcMononoke—  two of my favorite Noitamina series by director Kenji Nakamura returns with a cyberpunk mysterious anime series that dives into economic issues backed by a very creative idea.  People wager their lives in order to put themselves as well as others on the map for financial success.  Kenji Nakamura is a skilled director and writer–  he’s pretty much the best of the best aside from Shinichiro Watanabe when it comes to a Noitamina series.  Really good at short stories and I hope that this 1-cour series can maintain the level of interest it did for me with this first episode and his previous works.

Noitamina.  I like this late-night network a ton because they can churn out some very original material.  2011 was a sort of mixed bag for them–  Hōrō Musuko handles an extremely artistic perspective of children who want to be of the opposite sex, while Fractale was an ambitious Chibli-style sci-fi 1-cour series set in a fictional Ireland about virtual reality and how it stabilizes and gives happiness to people.  It’s too bad the last three episodes were rushed as much as they were–  we could’ve had an awesome series there.  We also had one of the greatest emotional series that tackles childhood death really well airing alongside [C]–  Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai.  

The summer season of 2011 gave us No. 6–  a decent dystopian sci-fi drama about social classes and what separate them from common people and Usagi Drop.  This had to be one of my favorite Josei series that features adults in recent years.

Where Noitamina failed was with Guilty Crown—  a series with tons of promise with its staff and was really visually appealing but fell flat.  It shoved its main character Shu Ouma front and center and made him more important than the plot itself.  Un-Go was fantastic–  a detective occult series about Shinjuurou Yuki and his partner, Inga exposing people’s souls in search of the truth.  We had a ton of original series that year and I’m glad that Genki Jason recommended this series to me.  It’s fascinating!

I’m reminded a lot of what Higashi no Eden had set forth with [C]’s premiere episode here–  currency is the focal point at developing these characters, how the story progresses and the originality of it all.

I like a lot how this episode doesn’t start off with Kimimaro acquiring the Midas card rather it uses a complete stranger to provide the viewer with the Financial District, how it operates from the real world and what the risks and consequences can be.  Nice build-up.  It’s cool we switch perspectives from the man killing himself by jumping onto the train tracks–  the same train Kimimaro is on.  There isn’t a lot of explanation to the viewer rather it uses a conventional style of animation to get the message this first episode wanted to achieve in getting across well.  Money is the sole source of what can change a person’s life within a single day.

What’s even better is that when Kimimaro is introduced we see him living a very normal lifee.  He came across as really boring to me–  there wasn’t a spontaneous side to him; just a casual uncaring demeanor.  Works two jobs, goes to college and its this theme of temptation that gradually pulls him in.  This allows for him to evolve and be really intriguing later on.

Hanabi becoming a love interest for Kimimaro is dismantled from the get-go–  she’s got a boyfriend whose got a ton of money.  What an incredible way to build up this mysterious financial district for Kimimaro by depicting his desires skillfully.

His dreams play on this quite a lot–  he’s stressed he doesn’t have money and the things that he wants ends up being a nice interlude to normalcy from completely crazy.  Masakaki (voiced by Takahiro Sakurai) was the perfect character to use to lure him into his temptations and offer him a chance to wager his current life for a future that could be more promising.

I also like how the animation used a pixelated-like style with the on-screen text with conversations between Masakaki and Kimimaro.  Really clever.  Even though there were some distorted faces here I hope that only having 1-cour they can clean this up as the series goes along.  The background designs are nice however the CG on the taxi stuck out like a sore thumb.  Hopefully this will be fixed.

The supernatural battle between the two people at the beginning were really different than what I’d imagined going into this.  I’m interested in seeing how the next episode will be.  Should I pick this up?  Hmmm…


 

OP: “Matoryoshika” by NICO Touches the Walls

The rock music goes nicely with the pushing perspective of currency this opening sequence illustrates to the viewer.  I love this animation, its really unique and the designs of the bills were animated with tons of detail!  The visuals moving inwards through the various currency showing troops, etc was a really cool touch.

ED: “RPG” by School Food Punishment

One of my favorite Japanese bands simply because I love Yumi Uchimura’s voice.  She’s spectacular and I like how spastic this animation is–  especially with the vast colors the creators used here!  A bunch of blocks with various colors and lines moving in quick motions was a really neat way to depict how someone travels from the real world to the financial district!  Awesome!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

BEATSLARS ANIME QUESTION CHALLENGE Episode 1

I’m sure some of you have noticed the new site revamp that’s been rolled out yesterday.  I’m celebrating my 1-year anniversary of having this blog and without further ado I present a challenge!

One of my favorite bloggers since having a wordpress account has been Genki Jason.  As my site covers only animated works his covers a vast amount of observations on live action films.  I highly suggest my readers go on over to his website–  there’s some fascinating films I’ve discovered from his posts!

So upon reading his challenge that he had received a while back with Lynn’s questions I had an idea.  Create a list of 10 questions on the topic of japanese animation and vice-versa.  On top of that Genki Jason picks one series of the first episode I review–  which will be [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility and Control.  I’ve picked one for him as well which you can find here.  Here’s the list he sent me and my answers to them!


 

1. Which anime made you a fan?

AKIRA [feature film]

vlcsnap-2015-02-04-16h06m33s238 vlcsnap-2015-02-04-16h07m09s87 vlcsnap-2015-02-04-16h07m37s117 vlcsnap-2015-02-04-16h08m31s161

 I grew up on so many different series–  but if I had to pick a feature film it would have been Akira.  I’ve always been a huge fan of science fiction stories and that one blew the world of japanese animation wide open for me.  It’s creative, deeply rooted with psychological themes around a governing city about youth reaching out to be heard and accepted.  The main character Kaneda is a struggling 16-year old in a bustling city of crime–  a symbol of defiance towards authority which offers some incredibly hand-drawn rebellious actions by him!  It’s his relationship with Tetsuo that create this amazing contrast–  a defiant yet trusting teenager with a heart of steel is betrayed by a telekinetic Tetsuo that once admired his friends but was unable to catch up to them!


 

2. What is your favorite anime (movie or TV series)?

COWBOY BEBOP

vlcsnap-2015-02-05-17h03m33s147 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-17h04m42s71 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-17h04m57s216 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-17h05m41s142

Without a doubt its Cowboy Bebop that had been the most influential in regards of television anime series and without it I might not have discovered some amazing shows around it!  Noein–  a series about time travelers.  TRIGUN–  a sci-fi western series that takes heavily from the golden days of cowboy films.

However, Cowboy Bebop is one of few series I can sit down and re-watch regularly.  A series that is very episodic while at the same time accenting a heavy plot about an organization eliminating members wanting to escape from it.  Spike Spiegel is one my favorite characters because of how well he interacts with the various space pirates, police and his rag-tag crew throughout each episode!  Space Dandy is akin to this in so many ways!


 

4.  Which animation studio is your favorite?

vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h00m26s188 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h09m03s243 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h15m35s73 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h21m00s241

MADHOUSE

What fascinates me so much about animation studios is how closely connected their employees are.  Mushi Production founded by the godfather of anime,  Osamu Tezuka after leaving Toei Animation Studios in the early 60’s was a sort of mentor to Dezaki.  Osamu Dezaki director of Ashita no Joe and  Rose of Versailles started out as an animator and episode director for Tezuka’s newly formed studio.

Around 1972, Dezaki alongside Galaxy Express 999, Metropolis director Rintaro, Ninja Scroll creator Yoshiaki Kawajiri and MAPPA’s founder Masao Maruyama they formed MADHOUSE.  The studio that housed the biggest names of the industry from the 70’s well into the 2000’s and today!   One of my favorite directors, Satoshi Kon worked alongside these group of animators!

As much as I love what Kyoto Animation is doing with their series and Production I.G. did in handling the nature of Ghost in the Shell series and Psycho-Pass, my favorite has got to be Madhouse.  They’re incredibly varied with so many talented artists all across the board!  Hell, one of my Top series was Tatami Galaxy and I love how cultural styled it was by designing two episodes focused on the Protagonists’ tatami room–  the use of bright colors with the fireworks throughout this series was unparalleled and just astoundingly beautiful!  Such a lively series about college life!

Setting aside Akira as my anime that made me a fan, one that I grew up with was Vampire Hunter D Boodlust.  When was the last time we had a haunting slow-paced vampire story that never set foot into a story with a bright set of tones?  Madhouse handled the designs on this really nicely.  A true romance series with a gritty style to it!


 

3. Who is your favorite director?

I’ve got two to put down on this list.  This was a very tough question for me as there has been so many powerfully moving series and films over the years that so many directors established at getting across to the viewer so well!

Shinichiro Watanabe

Shinichiro-Watanabe

Starting out as a storyboard writer and episode director at Sunrise Shinichiro Watanabe got his directorial break with Macross Plus.  This was where he met Yoko Kanno and how this would culminate into a friendship that would establish some of the greatest anime series in the industry!

Watanabe controls a strong influence in me because of how deeply involved he is with his works’ music scores.  It’s almost as if the music is telling the story rather than its characters–  I saw that a lot with Sakamichi no Apollon and even last year’s Zankyou no Terror.  His music producing skills are unparalleled–  he’s really got a style all his own making a scene so defining!  What makes me say this is how inspiring he was in Sayo Yamamoto’s directorial debut of Michiko e Hatchin–  talk about a riveting soundtrack that matched up so strongly against the Brazilian backdrop about thugs, police and a woman escaping prison to help a young girl find her father.  He’s directing the sounds that come from every scene and I could almost see him giving his own take at how he would direct to Yamamoto.

Kunihiko Ikuhara

10338

Working on seasons two through four of the original Sailor Moon anime series after Junichi Sato he left Toei Studios after creative differences.  He went on to establish company Be-Papas, the creators of Revolutionary Girl Utena, alongside shojo manga artist Chiho Saito, FLCL script writer Yoji Enokido, producer Okuro Yuuichiro and Chief Animation Director for To Aru Majutsu no Index‘s Hasegawa Shinya. They went on later to develop Mawaru Penguindrum.  As for Ikuhara he drew the storyboards the opening sequences to Nodame Cantabile and coincidentally enough the yuri series Aoi Hana.

I’ve mentioned this before in my Yuri Kuma Arashi posts, but I will say it again here.  His series are not for everyone–  they contain a heavy use of symbolism that surrounds current themes of today, double-entendres, the yuri genre and of course his importance of repeating a scene for an effect of establishing specific character’s potential development.

This director rocks–  he created my second favorite series of all time, Revolutionary Girl Utena and I really like how he uses softly subdued metaphors to get his story progressing further.  He’s risky when he tackles the yuri subject by getting the sound editors to create pure effects against risqué animations underlining heavily sexualized themes.  However, its in his varied characters and his overuse of flashback scenes that evoke such an overwhelming fantastical experience!  Original stories combined with Japanese customs, a touch of pop culture and modern day themes!


 

5. What is your favorite sequence in an anime?

Princess Mononoke [feature film]

I’m a huge fan of the Studio Chibli films.  For my anime screenings every week, a once-a-month feature length film is shown and the last two I’ve done have been The Wind Rises and Tales of Princess Kaguya.  Both are fantastic films and beautifully animated.  However, Princess Mononoke stands out for me as a strong favorite particularly the scene towards the beginning where a demon advances towards the village and Ashitaka rides on his elk to save everyone from it.

Everything is drawn in such detail and for a 1997 film it looks gorgeous even to today’s standards.  As the angles are swiftly rushing down the hill the film’s musical score brushes in tempo with an engaging horn melody playing as the backdrop!  Such an incredible scene that introduces us to the forest world, the main character Ashitaka and his start to a journey to lift his curse from a demon.


 

6. What anime has the best use of sound design and soundtrack?

Aku no Hana [Flowers of Evil]

vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h39m27s52 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h39m46s13 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h40m01s135 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h41m39s141

Generally, animation is done prior to voice recording and sound effects including a series’ soundtrack.  As far as I’ve seen there are only two styles outside of the norm that can add realism to Japanese animation in a monumental way.  Voice recording prior to animation–  Kou Matsuo has a habit for his directorial projects to achieve this.  The only series in his works that I know of so far that he’s done this for have been Natsuyuki RendezvousKure-nai, and Red Garden including it’s OVA Dead Girls.  The other being, rotoscoping.  Live actors are generated into a computer to capture their movements and facial expressions to establish a rare style of storytelling.  Vision of EscaflowneSerial Experiments Lain or even Mushishi would have made this list if it weren’t for Aku no Hana.

This is one of the most frightening psychological series I’ve ever seen for three reasons.  One being that the animation is a rotoscoping technique similar to the U.S. film A Scanner Darkly, two–  Sawa Nakamura’s erratic and abusive behavior stealing this series spotlight, and three–  sound effects.  Sound Director of Mushishi Kazuya Tanaka establishes every scene to near perfection with its eerie atmosphere!  The heavy breathing from Kasuga, the chattering of other students during the classroom scenes were so vibrant!

The most amazing scene out of this is Episode 7 where Nakamura and Kasuga destroy the classroom.  I got chills down my spine from this–  hauntingly beautiful are two destructive teenagers wanting to vent out their frustrations onto the world and with the unique animation style and amazing collection of drum beats, chairs are being tossed around and covering the walls with ink in slow motion ends up very breathtaking.


 

7. Who is your favorite anime character?

Hmmm…  I really had to think about this.  What makes a character gradually develop over the course of an anime series or feature film that can captivate an audience without being boring.  I’ve decided to separate this as favorite hero and favorite villain.

Favorite Protagonist: Brandon Heat

vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h52m23s132 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h53m08s20 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h54m06s141 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-13h55m13s48

Anime Series: GUNGRAVE

Ah Gungrave.  This series rocks and its because it is so well-written that we’ve got a huge cast of amazing characters!  Yasuhiro Nightow the creator of Trigun and the upcoming anime adaptation of Blood Blockade Battlefront!

Brandon Heat.  A small-time criminal that works alongside best friend Harry McDowell and three other friends.  After these three friends of theirs are murdered both Brandon and Harry join syndicate group Millennion.  Over the course of this series’ first half we get to see Harry climb the social ladder in the group while Brandon remains loyal at the very bottom being an assassin.  These two balanced each other so well in this series and its the love interest Maria Asagi that allows for Brandon’s development to jump through the roof!  He’s always been a quiet young man and after becoming a Sweeper, killing so many people his relationship with Maria shatters.  I love the amount of foreshadow in this series–  he rejects her only out of love to protect her because while he’s a human he sees himself as a monster.  The second half eludes to his monstrous ways both figuratively and literally really well!  Really enjoyed the ending to this one!

Favorite Antagonist:  Johan Liebert

249284-ster154qx 4323733-1322121-ster727qx3

Anime Series: MONSTER

This is where a series can utilize well over 1 or even 2-cour seasons so well.  We see that greatly with its fantastic view on its main villain Johan and the various ways he goes about sending people to the deepest parts of their hearts.

A master manipulator that never really lifted a finger in this series.  Struck with a tragic past where a doctor ultimately save his life he starts his journey down a path towards becoming a monster filled with hatred.  This guy on the outside may seem calm, compassionate and endearing but underneath it all he’s deceitful and his affection towards children is cruel.

Using others for his own personal gain to carry out what he wants as the end result:  the suffering and death of humanity.  I think the one aspect of Monster that helped fuel this character’s development is how these towns were based on famous places throughout Europe.  The Ruhenheim massacre was a great example of this.


 

8. Who is your favorite character designer?

moondrive4 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-14h41m53s144 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-14h44m47s71 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-15h15m45s239

Kazuto Nakazawa

Samurai Champloo, Zankyou no Terror, Ashita no Nadja, Sarai-ya Goyō.  In terms of facial expressions he’s one of the most consistent animators at keeping a really strong style throughout a single series!  He’s good at adapting from manga designs too!  Sarai-ya‘s original creator Natsume Ono had a very aged beauty to its designs and Nakazawa was able to get these drawn really well in anime form!  Animating the music video to Linkin Park’s “Breaking The Habit” and he’s had some amazing designs in video games as well–  Tales of Legendia and Devil Kings!

Starting out as an animator and illustrator for the Fatal Fury TV films, he received acclaim for his work on El-Hazard and has served as key animators for series ranging from the late 80’s well into the 90’s up to today!

Something to look out for is his 10-minute animated short Kigeki— about a young girl attempting to repel English invaders from Ireland.  It’s lightly linked to bishounen series and has a slight Tim Burton atmosphere to it.  The inspiration of this animated feature directed and animated by Nakazwa is somewhat pulled from Schubert’s piece “Erlkönig”.

Check it out below!


 

9. Which genre do you like the most?

JOSEI

vlcsnap-2015-02-05-15h07m33s121 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-15h08m43s126 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-15h11m15s76 vlcsnap-2015-02-05-15h35m52s15

Josei.  Mature storytelling with a romance aspect to it.  Most of the time these animated works feature designs that are more adult in concept and have themes shining around them–  tragedy and realistic relationships centered on deeply rooted characters that often times carry emotional weight.  It has a certain charm to them and is targeted at a more adult audience.  This genre can still have elements of action and comedy.

Paradise Kiss, Usagi Drop, Honey and Clover, NANA, Princess Jellyfish, Michiko e Hatchin, Nodame Cantabile and one of my favorite academic sports series Chihayafuru follows this genre!


 

10. If you had the chance to remake an anime, which one would you choose?

TRIGUN MAXIMUM

1394419750653

Although the series was fantastic it did deviate from the manga quite a bit.  I would even cover every bit of material from Trigun Maximum.  Run it as a 2-cour series and run on a late-night programming block considering how gruesome this series gets towards its second half of the manga. As for the staff here it would be as follows:

Director:  Morio Asaka

I feel that he would be the best fit for this role because he’s so versatile in everything he’s directed before–  he’s done action–  Gunslinger Girls and Claymore.  He’s done comedy–  Chobits and who can’t forget his talent for the anime adaptation for NANA.  He would be able to provide a strong perspective into a desolate wasteland of cyberpunk and cowboys so well.

Animation Studio: MAPPA

This studio can have a pretty high budget and I think if we started this out as a kickstarter project it would get funded greatly!  MAPPA can give some strongly animated fight sequences–  including Vash dodging bullets all the time.

Character Designer: Kazuto Nakazawa

Hands down he’d be able to adapt some very realistic expressions from Nightow’s manga incredibly well!  Also if he was backed by MAPPA I feel that the upcoming animation studio of the past few years could animate so very solid scenes– especially the Vash and Legato fight!  What would help here with this designer and MAPPA would be the amount of closeup shots of these characters.

Composer: Nakagawa Koutarou featuring movements by Yoko Kanno

Here’s a preview of one of his pieces from GunXSword to get an idea here.

This guy did wonders for GunXSword‘s soundtrack and I can really see him use a similar style of guitar strumming to pull this off with such a dynamic!  Yoko Kanno would provide some key scenes in this series dramatic moments.  Koutarou’s compositions still have a comical feel to them and this would work for the hilarity aspect of this series to come across with Vash’s character!

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko with background art by Atlier BUKA

Not much to say here.  This is one of the best background designing studios in the industry.  Kaneko would return for this adaptation as he did a great job keeping the style of the manga so close to the original anime.  Those buildings from Trigun with a large amount of quality to detail and MAPPA would handle the fluid destruction of towns so well with this!

Script: Sayo Yamamoto

She knows how to direct now but where she really shines is her ability to piece together a continuously engaging narrative.  Keeping in mind this is another adaptation, I think she would do the best job at conveying the characters especially Meryl and Mille.  Giving a contrast between WolfWood and Vash that’s extremely comical and buddy-buddy like.

VOICE CAST: original cast from TRIGUN

As for the cast they would return they were absolutely perfect in Trigun!


 

I hope you all enjoyed my challenge post!  Look forward to the second half sometime soon where I will be covering the anime series’ first episode of [C] The Money of Should and Possibility Control! Also if anyone wants to partake in a challenge let me know and I’ll be glad to accept it!