Tag Archives: Fall 2015 Season

Subete ga F ni Naru [The Perfect Insider] [85/100]

vlcsnap-2016-04-07-12h55m50s970 vlcsnap-2016-04-07-12h57m05s710 vlcsnap-2016-04-07-12h58m03s056 vlcsnap-2016-04-07-12h58m35s378 vlcsnap-2016-04-07-12h59m16s448 vlcsnap-2016-04-07-13h05m03s870vlcsnap-2016-04-07-13h00m47s128 vlcsnap-2016-04-07-13h02m55s756

The [not quite] Perfect Insider

The Perfect Insider takes the classic locked room mystery and gives it an interesting twist, inserting digital technology and gendered elements… elements that don’t quite hold up under scrutiny, which may be a deal breaker for some.

Isaac Asimov in an introduction to his collected mystery short stories wrote that there were essentially two schools of whodunits. The first was of a logical puzzle sort that had to be deduced by the protagonist (and also, natch, the reader), with the locked room mystery being the ultimate example. The main pleasure to be derived in these sorts of stories was the logical coherence of the mystery and the way in which it could be solved as an exercise of the intellect. Asimov, as we might guess, wrote mysteries in this form.

The other sort of mystery, Asimov said, was the sort where the actual mystery was really second to the process of deduction – what might now be termed a police procedural. The main dividend  for the reader of these tales were the myriad amusing insights into human behavior, a sort of cynical morality play. Asimov gave Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe stories as the ultimate example of this school of mystery, adding, perhaps a bit ruefully, that they were really more shaggy dog stories than actual mysteries.

Having read every Philip Marlowe novel more than once, I can say that even now I don’t really remember what the mystery in any one story was exactly, or how it was even resolved. But the mystery was ancillary; an excuse for Marlowe to get involved with a colorful cast of characters, make clever remarks, and have adventures (a contemporary homage to this type of mystery is the Big Lebowski).

We can say. then, that The Perfect Insider represents a classic bait-and-switch: we are promised a cerebral locked-room mystery, and instead end up with an enjoyable character study and a somewhat disjointed adventure yarn. How annoyed the viewer is by the work’s admittedly unscrupulous deception depends on how amused they are in spite of it all.

Personally, I liked it so much that I now want to watch the live action adaptation.

The Perfect Insider opens with a simple confrontation between two young women, one of whom murdered her parents, and the other who had her parents taken from her in a tragic accident. From there begins an insightful, but also at times uneven, exploration of what it exactly means to be in control, and whether that is synonymous with freedom, a central theme that quietly flows beneath the surface of the work.

The next scene is takes up the rest of the first episode, and consists entirely of Moe Nishinosono, the young woman who lost her parents, talking with her professor.

If watching a cartoon about a professor’s office hours is something that intrigues you, then you will probably enjoy The Perfect Insider. For me, the episode was amazing. The professor,  Sohei Saikawa, is the series’ gumshoe stand-in, a haggard, unconventional chain smoker who can move effortlessly from  Zhuang Zhou to bootstrapping operating systems.  Moe Nishinosono falls into the Girl Friday role, but both characters color outside the lines enough that the conventional roles they play are more homage than hack work.

By episode 2 the duo find their way to a remote island, of course, where a storm cuts them off from the mainland, of course, and then a murder happens, of course. Thus, we finally arrive at the mystery, which involves the other young woman introduced in the first episode, the brilliant but deadly Shiki Magata. Again, the series’ charm lies in its spin on traditional elements of the mystery: the femme fatale, who in this instance never even meets the male protagonist; her seductive power for him lies totally in the realm of abstract thought.

A major plot point hinges on a real-life problem in programming, the overflow or wrap-around error, which I thought was a very clever and daring touch, given how unfamiliar and technical an issue it is, from the perspective of a general audience.

Of course, as I later had pointed out to me, while such an error is theoretically possible, it is highly improbable, even given the time period the source material was written in (the anime is based on a novel written in the early-mid 1990s). Essentially, the error involves an overflow on a 16-bit unsigned integer, which is a digitally stored whole number that has to be equal to or greater than zero, with no negative sign. However, by that period in time in Japan even video game systems had at least 32-bit CPUs, implying that the standard integer size on computers used in a state-of-the-art research laboratory would have to be at the very least twice the size of the one given in the story.

A detractor here would say that this is representative of the series’ general shortcomings; it’s only kissing to be clever, don’t think for a second that it’s going to go all the way, or that it even cares. I think this somewhat unfair, at least in this instance. It’s not something a casual viewer would ever catch, and even those people who sense it’s fibbing on a technicality would still be wiling to grant the artistic license and maintain the suspension of disbelief. Biologists and paleontologists are still able to enjoy Jurassic Park, right? Still…

In fact, what we can say is that the work as a mystery really, truly is sloppy. The mystery isn’t solved so much as it unravels in big heap in front of the viewer. By the final episode I was completely lost; not, I suspect, from a failure of intellect on my part, but because the story had so many loose ends you could make a mop out of it. At least, I hope that’s the case – FilmSnark has a much more detailed analysis of everything that didn’t add up (most of it).

And yet, after finishing it, I immediately wanted to watch it again. The main characters are a lot of fun, salient points are made regarding intelligence being used to excuse sociopathic behavior, and the soundtrack is awesome, like imagine if Phil Collins scored the original Lupin III series.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 85/100

ONE-PUNCH MAN OVA 1

OVA 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Shingo Natsume ( Director on Space Dandy)

Storyboards: Nobuhiro Muto ( Key Animator on Casshern SINS episodes 5, 6 and 12 / Key Animator on Btooom! episode 1 / Key Animator on Garo: Honoo no Kokuin episode 6 / Key Animator on Death Parade episode 6 / Key Animator on GANGSTA episode 5 / Episode Director on SoniAni: Super Sonico the Animation episode 2)

Script: Tomohiro Suzuki ( Script Writer on Lupin The Third 2015 episodes 2, 4, 8 and 14)


 

I hope that my readers are enjoying the new style with the episode production at the top of each post.  If anyone has feedback please let me know.

A 13 minute short that’s included with Blu-ray Volume 1.  Each disc following afterward will receive an extra OVA (Original Video Animation) episode penned by the original author of ONE-PUNCH MAN, ONE. It’s one of the few times an extra like this is subtitled in English!

Following right up after the events of Mosquito Girl–Genos decides to tail Saitama in hopes of discovering the secret to his power.  I like that there is a mystery behind how Saitama became strong–we as viewers get it but people within the show don’t.  It’s simple yet very effective.  He’s a normal guy that overreacts to the Alien vs. Stalker film and this builds nicely into how curios Genos is about him.  This OVA escapes the absurdity of giant monsters for the most part and gives us a taste of what normal life is day-to-day.    Loved that fries scene because it illustrates how meticulous Saitama is about his own life.

The Esthetician Man was the turnaround to show how clueless Saitama can be.  He doesn’t know after saving Genos’ life from Mosquito Girl in episode 2 that anyone would want to understand the power he’s gained until the very end.

I wish this could’ve been longer but nonetheless this was a nice treat to have on the retail discs plus with English subtitles!  Which never happens for bonus material on Japanese releases!


 

ED: “Saitama no One Punch Ondo (サイタマのワンパン音頭)” by Saitama (Makoto Furukawa)

Directed by: Shinichiro Ushijima

Storyboards: Shinichiro Ushijima

Animation Supervisor: Kenichi Shima ( Key Animator on Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episode 1 / Animation Supervisor on Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episodes 3, 8, 14, 20 and 24 / Key Animator on Redline film)

This is a song that’s far away from the peaceful ending of the TV series.  It’s heavy beats of taiko drums roots itself back to the sounds of Japan quite well.  Not really a favorite ending of mine but it does provide some funny scenes using chibi versions of the cast from ONE-PUNCH MAN; Mumen Rider giving the thumbs up, Saitama dancing and Genos banging on the taiko drums was hilarious to see.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10

ONE-PUNCH MAN Episode 2

Episode 2 Production Details

Episode Director: Shinichiro Ushijima (Episode Director on Hunter x Hunter 2011 episodes 96, 109, 115, 122, 129, 136 and 143 / Episode Director on Death Parade episode 4 / Storyboards on Ore Monogatari!! episode 8)

Storyboards: Shingo Natsume ( Director on Space Dandy / 2nd Key Animator on Naruto Shippuuden episode 167 / Producer and Key Animator on FullMetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos)

Script: Tomohiro Suzuki ( Script Writer on Lupin The Third 2015 episodes 2, 4, 8 and 14)


 

Just a side note before I begin these screenshots are taken from my ONE-PUNCH MAN Blu-ray discs.  The TV broadcast of this series was pretty to look at but the Blu-rays are an improvement in characters’ facial expressions down to the background designs.

Fluid movements over consistent artistic detail.  I’m sold on this show.  Mosquito Girl’s design was fascinating and just one of many monsters that showed up in this episode of ONE-PUNCH MAN.  This anime series is as creative in it’s conceptual designs of its creatures as Space Dandy is–every one of them has unique abilities!

Genos’ dynamic movements as a cyborg trace back to the first episode’s general flow–it’s ridiculous but extremely cool.  Typically, anime series tend to throw their budget way up for the first episode but not this show.  It runs on an average budget of around $150,000 per episode.  Studio MADHOUSE is known for distributing their money out to the fast-paced battle scenes rather than the slow moving ones.  Which is why Saitama’s design from the manga works exceptionally well on this budget.  I recently got a chance to be a part of a live stream event chatting session with Bartender’s and Ben-To‘s TV anime producer Tatsuya Ishiguro and I’ve had the chance to learn a lot about what goes into an animated production.

ONE-PUNCH MAN‘s success stems from the collaborative efforts of its producer and how he works with Shingo Natsume on approving scenes from the manga that would translate well into anime format.  The closeup shot of Mosquito Girl as Genos lights up her minions of mosquitoes was amazing.  The fire animation throughout this episode highlights the difference in power between Saitama and Genos.  The comedy didn’t let up here either–Mosquito Girl gets slapped rather than punched and I like how it’s that scene without music that throws Genos for a loop.  He’s a hero that’s pretty well grounded in his ideals and it’s great to see that his pride as well as his body is destroyed by Mosquito Girl.  He’s willing to sacrifice himself in order to save humans and the sacrificial trope is dismantled by a slap from Saitama!

Saitama saves his life and it’s funny how Genos’ backstory is a quick introduction from him–really spells out the fact that he’s a robot. I’m not usually a fan of backstory’s but this was quite funny.

This show didn’t let up on the action either!  More monsters getting wiped out by Saitama it’s about time that Genos takes one of them out!  The story goes from serious to comedic in an instant and I like how this episode manages to flow these two elements together smoothly!

Miyuki Sawashiro’s voice is so incredible in this episode.  Popular seiyu are cast throughout this series–Vaccine Man from the first episode was the same actor that voiced famous villain Frieza from Dragon Ball Z.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

ONE-PUNCH MAN Episode 1 [Initial Impression]

Animation Production: Studio MADHOUSE ( BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, Boogiepop PhantomAoi BungakuBarefoot Gen, Black LagoonBio HunterCasshern SINSCardcaptor SakuraChobitsChihayafuruGungraveThe Girl Who Leapt Through TimeHajime no IppoHellsing Ultimate, Highschool of the DeadHunter x Hunter 2011KaibaKurozukaDenno CoilLast Order: Final Fantasy VIIDeath NoteDeath ParadeNeo TokyoNinja ScrollParadise KissParanoia AgentKiseijuuRecord of Lodoss War, PaprikaPrince of Stride: AlternativeMonster, Moryo no HakoSummer WarsThe Tatami GalaxyTokyo GodfathersTrigunWicked CityDemon City ShinjukuXWolf Children)

Director: Shingo Natsume ( Series Director on Space Dandy / Key Animator on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann episodes 1, 5, 10, 14, 22 and 27 / Key Animator on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD episode 23 / Episode Director, Storyboard and Key Animator on Space Dandy episodes 1, 13 and 26)

Series Composition: Tomohiro Suzuki ( Script Writer on Lupin The Third 2015 episodes 2, 4, 8 and 14)

Character Designer: Chikashi Kubota ( Key Animator on Monster episode 57 / Animation Supervisor on Shinsekai Yori episodes 1, 8 and 25 / Animation Supervisor and Key Animator on Space Dandy episodes 12, 8 and 10 / Key Animator on Ashita no Nadja‘s opening sequence / Animation Supervisor on Toki o Kakeru Shoujo / Key Animator on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann‘s first and second opening sequences / Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin‘s second opening sequence)

Music: Makoto Miyazaki ( Music Composer on Dragon Crisis! / Theme song composition on Hyoka‘s opening sequence / Music Composer on Triage X)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Shingo Natsume

Storyboards: Shingo Natsume

Script: Tomohiro Suzuki


MADHOUSE this was amazing.  This is one of their top productions of 2015.  Saitama is a hero that trained in the simplest of ways to gain the title of “One Punch Man” and its the hilarity of his situation that breaks the mold and destroys every action series out there.  Studio Pierrot should learn from these animators and bring back BLEACH.

Saitama lives a simple life in an apartment and lacks a strong personality.  I like how the three years before he goes bald is a cliche backstory.  He saves a kid from death and realizes he wants to become a hero.  Giant crab monsters, Vaccine Man, the Giant brother and little evil doctor brother–everything about this anime screams cliche.  It’s so ridiculous that it works because visually it’s one of the prettiest series I’ve ever seen and it molds together monster-of-the-week formula and packs it into an adrenaline rush of 24 minutes!

I’ve read the manga’s first volume and from what I can tell the jokes that were not as funny are portrayed hilariously in the anime.  That’s when you know this is going to be a stellar series.

Director Shingo Natsume is perfect for this!  He’s got a style that’s very loose and full of charisma.  That’s the charm of this show–a visually stunning adaptation.  Shingo Natsume learned how to bring life to ONE’s manga from his TV animation debut in Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei and this show looks freeform from anything that aired in Fall 2015!  We’ve also got a handful of animators from Space Dandy on this–Saitama’s fight with Vaccine Man was impressive but the impressive part had to be his fight against the Subterraneans!

The Blu-ray volumes look stunning in 4K and its great to see retail company Emotion adding English subtitles to this release like what they did with GANGSTA and Space Dandy.


 

OP: “The Hero!! ~Ikareru Ken ni Honō o Tsukeru~” (THE HERO!! ~怒れる拳に火をつけろ~;The Hero!! Set Fire to the Furious Fist) by JAM Project

Directed by: Shingo Natsume

Storyboards: Shingo Natsume

Animation Supervisor: Chikashi Kubota

Jam Project.  This band is a good pick for the action theme of this series.  Tons of monsters show up in this and its great to see how heavily detailed they are. Fantastic illustrations and smooth animation provide a short but sweet look at Saitama’s abilities.  

ED: “Hoshi Yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru” (星より先に見つけてあげる;I’ll Find It Before the Stars for You) by Hiroko Moriguchi

Directed by: Shinichiro Ushijima

Storyboards: Shinichiro Ushijima

Animation Supervisor: Chikabi Kubota

This reminds me of Kisejuu‘s ending in that it offers a glimpse of simplicity.  Life far removed from the supernatural and downright strange monsters that appear in this show.  I like how toned down it is compared to the rest of One-Punch Man and its opening.  Vocals by Hiroko Moriguchi are beautiful.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10