Posts Tagged ‘Anime’

Armitage III: Poly Matrix (Anime)

December 19, 2011

 They don’t make trailers like this anymore. COMING SOOOON! (…1997) (Lol Jack Bauer

Japanese title: アミテージ・ザ・サード POLY-MATRIX Animation Production: Pioneer LDC Genres: Action, Adventure, Mecha, Romance, Sci-Fi, Military, Police, Cyberpunk Runtime: 90 minutes.

Plot Summary: “A policeman, Ross Sylibus, is assigned to a unit on a Martian colony, to find that women are being murdered by a psychotic named D’anclaude. He is assigned a very unorthodox partner named Naomi Armitage, who seems to have links to the victims. To stir things up more, every victim is found to be an illegally made third-generation android, built to be almost perfect replications of humans. It becomes a race against time when the government attempts to cover up the existence of the ‘Third Types’, and eliminate the only ones with the evidence. And even more importantly, why are the Thirds created to be so similar to humans, even to the extent of being indistinguishable from them on every level, mentally and biologically?”IMDB

Have you ever heard of Armitage III? No? I didn’t think so! and it is a bit of a shame considering how great I thought this movie was. Poly Matrix is a compilation of the OVA series that was released in 1995 and although I have not seen the original OVA series, judging by the similar running times I think I can safely say that it has not been diluted down, but perhaps upgraded for its feature film and includes scenes not found in the OVA release. The OVA series is relatively difficult to find, but that should not deter you from watching the movie, Poly Matrix may as well be the definitive version.

Armitage III has been completely overshadowed by similar cyberpunk releases, most notably, Ghost in the Shell, especially with its huge advertising campaign leading up to its release. Subsequently, Poly Matrix received very little attention when it was produced which is incredibly unfortunate given the enjoyment I derived from this movie. In just 90 minutes I fell in love with the characters, and as a rarity I found myself asking substantial philosophical questions throughout.

Ghost in the Shell had a very political theme with minor personal focus, whereas Armitage III felt much more personal with a minor focus on politics, in that sense they are very similar, but also very different. Armitage III focused on human emotions, with robots, and on human opinion regarding robots, with a little bit of politics thrown in. I grew to like the characters quickly, and the movie held my attention from start to finish.

Comparatively, whilst Ghost in the Shell felt a little slow, Armitage III was jam packed full of action, and it feels very much like a 90’s police action adventure movie (because that is what it is). In terms of relatability, I believe that this movies closest match is the original Appleseed movie, but Armitage III seems to have had a larger budget, and the animation shows surprising detail at times, the OST was very suitable and of high quality.

Armitage III raised some interesting questions pertaining to the line defining man and machine, putting forward questions regarding humanity and romance relevant to the world today. With the significant advancement of technology, certain robots have become almost indistinguishable from humans, and are fully functional in a human capacity, and in contrast, the humanity of various human characters was constantly put into question, both on and off screen. I found myself to be quite empathetic towards the characters, and I find the whole concept to be enlightening. If you want to see some more thought provoking human-robot romance, watch some ChobitsEve no Jikan, or perhaps some Saikano.

If you liked Ghost in the Shell, the original Appleseed movie or Macross Plus, I think that you will love this. Additionally, if you enjoyed this and would like to bolster your list with a little obscure cyberpunk, might I also suggest another little known number, Black Magic M-66?

“Don’t let bitterness change you.” Download Armitage III: Poly Matrix Download the sequel, Armitage III: Dual Matrix

Advertisements

Heterochromia in Anime.

October 10, 2011

Heterochromia iridis refers to a disparity in pigmentation either within the iris, or between the irides of the two eyes. Today I will be talking about complete heterochromia in humans, where each individual eye is a different colour. Personally, I find complete heterochromia to be an incredibly attractive trait, however I believe that it has turned into one of the worst possible cliché’s within anime, and I’d like to talk about it.

Heterochromia is both striking, and attractive. (Just like this girl, ba-dum)

The above image is clearly not true heterochromia in that the subject is in cosplay, using impossibly brightly coloured contacts (One of which is red, no less) but I hope you get my point… I consider heterochromia beautiful. In reality, things are a little bit different.

Ant’s Super Hyper Mega Biology Fun Time.
(Allow me to educate you.)

To keep things relatively simple, eye colour is determined by the concentration, location and type of pigments within the iris. These pigments or melanins are produced by a type of cell within the iris, called a melanocyte. The size and distribution of the melanocytes within the stroma and the iris epithelial tissue plays a large part in determining eye colour. It might surprise you to learn that most, if not all babies are born with blue eyes, as it takes time for these melanocytes to produce their pigments. Simply speaking, the more melanin in your eyes, the more brown your eyes are.

Little or no melanin within the stroma means blue eyes, a little means green, lots means brown. Other colours such as hazel, grey and amber are a result of the interaction of other pigments and proteins within the eye, whilst red is a complete lack of pigmentation in both the stroma and the iris epithelial tissue, which, unless someone has extreme albinism, is impossible as the epithelial tissue always has a thick layer of melanocytes. (Even most human albinos have blue eyes, I’ll have you know.)

Google, yaay.

Heterochromia can either be acquired, or have been present since birth. Acquired heterochromia is a result of one eye gaining or losing more pigment than the other, more “normal” eye. A brown eye may become green and then blue depending on severity, or vice versa. Acquired heterochromia is usually related to an hypoplasia (decreased growth) or hyperplasia (increased growth) of the iris tissue, or by damage to the melanocytes during development either through illness or physical damage. By killing off the melanocytes of one eye during development, that eye will stay blue, resulting in heterochromia. Genetic diseases leading to heterochromia in this manner can also be inherited however.

Chimeras and mosaics have two different sets of cells within their bodies, containing 2 different sets of genes. A chimera (yes, they do exist) is a result of the fusion of two fraternal twins, and the difference in DNA of the two sets of cells within the body can be as different as any sibling. A mosaic is a result of a mutation occurring during development resulting in a new set. If one eye receives one set of genes, and one eye the other set, and the different sets of genes code for different eye colours, the result will be heterochromia (eye colour is a polygenic phenotype so a change or difference in any number of genes could do  this.). This type of inherited heterochromia is much rarer than acquired heterochromia.

I would like to point out that complete heterochromia is listed as a rare disease by the office of rare diseases, meaning that less than 200,000 people in the USA have it at any one time. (or less than one in 1500 people) and whilst much of the time asymptomatic, it can be in itself a rare indicator of prevalent disease, such as a tumour of the eye, or a result of several serious illnesses, or physical injury. In anime, it seems fashionable to have a heterochromatic main character. You would think that this number is closer to about 1 in 10. Whilst real life heterochromia is rare, and possibly an indicator of health problems or defects, in fiction it allows for perhaps some decent character development or growth. In anime it is used little more than “because it looks cool”, or because they can use it as an excuse to give someone an eyepatch (A contact lens just isn’t enough) because it also “looks cool”. It is used so frequently, and without much impact on the character nowadays, that it just gets on my nerves. It used to feel unique, but after the Nth time seeing it, its gotten boring.

Next up, I’ll probably talk about how eye patches just plain tick me off, or how purple isn’t a real hair colour. But whatever. (more…)

Angel Beats (Anime)

July 26, 2011

Japanese title: エンジェルビーツ
Animation Production: P.A Works
Genres: Comedy, Action, Drama, Supernatural, Fantasy, Seinen, Tragedy
Number of episodes:
13

Plot Summary: It sucks being dead. Sucks even more to be trapped in a surreal afterlife where you’re caught between the living and the dead—where a mysterious, violent Angel is trying to pull you over to…somewhere. What do you do? Well, if you’re this group of rough-and-tumble teens, you grab every weapon you can get your hands on and give Heaven hell! High-caliber action and locked-and-loaded comedy meet on a rock and roll battleground in Angel Beats! Sentai Filmworks

Well, it might be a bit late for me to write a review about Angel Beats. It is so far away out of memory since it aired in spring last year, but I think about it fondly and I have just began re-watching the series. I do of course have a very good reason for writing about it today. You see, Angel Beats came out on DVD and Blu-Ray in the USA today. Exciting news for everybody, I am sure.

The anime itself is very strong, and I believe that everybody with even an inkling of interest should go watch it. My previous experience with P.A Works has in itself been very unimpressive as both Canaan and True Tears felt wholly uninspiring. Though the animation itself of those shows was top-notch, they felt like they were lacking a certain something to really make them click. The plot synopsis and the animation production company for Angel Beats might look unimpressive to some, but let me assure you, this is not the case. Angel Beats is an exceptionally good watch.

Angel Beats Title Screen, White, Piano

You see, the thing you need to be aware of with Angel Beats is that the original story, screenplay and music of Angel Beats were all conceived by the one and only Jun Maeda, who you may otherwise know as the script writer, lyricist and music composer behind the founding of Key. Key itself is a highly successful software company who has been responsible for some seriously famous visual novels. Kanon, Clannad and Air and their anime counterparts are significantly well-known, even out here in the UK and the US where visual novels are practically an unventured territory. Additionally, Na-Ga is behind the character designs of Angel Beats, who was also responsible for the character designs of the aforementioned Key visual novels as well. Works by Key are usually thought of as particularly heartfelt and well planned out, with excellent storytelling and usually stunning character development, and Angel Beats did not disappoint.

The opening 5 minutes of Angel Beats does an unparalleled job of setting the scene. Unlike a lot of anime, Angel Beats does a bit of an unorthodox job of throwing the main character directly into the action.

Yurippe Sniper rifle

Yurippe sets the scene.

The main character is suffering from amnesia and can’t even remember his own name. He wakes up in an unfamiliar location, with an unfamiliar girl with a sniper rifle. He is immediately told that he is dead, and that he is in the afterlife. The girl tells him to enlist in the fight against the Angel, the girl whom she has her sniper rifle primed on. Of course, the main character with his missing memory feels a little confused, and goes to talk to the ‘Angel’. Again, he is told that he is dead, and he asks the ‘Angel’ to prove it. Since he is dead, he shouldn’t be able to die. Then, suddenly…

Angel / Tenshi kills Otonashi

BAM! The situation is made pretty clear.

He wakes up unharmed in the infirmary, and the rest of the cast is introduced, thoroughly mysterious to be sure. You know the rules, but none of the why or how. I guess that is what I like about Angel Beats. The situation itself remains a mystery for a good majority of the show whilst each episode focuses on the immediate tasks at hand, but at the same time the characters are slowly expanded on and explained. The pieces of the puzzle regarding the characters and the situation are slowly put together to produce a beautiful picture and when I found that last piece, I almost got a tear in my eye it was so touching.

The music for Angel Beats is very good. The opening theme is just beautiful and the band that is introduced, Girls Dead Monster, both plays excellent music and are of central importance to the plot. Their story was particularly touching for me but are again just one piece of the picture, and stack up nicely with everyone else and their touching moments to produce a very compelling story overall.

Angel Beats Title, Landscape

The comedy in Angel Beats is also pretty good. The odd situation, and the fact that it is impossible to die makes for some ludicrous, classic moments, whereas the unique characters add their own style. My own personal favourite for comedy is TK and his horrendously ‘so-bad-its-funny’ English quotes, and I will definitely not forget his head spins. Unfortunately, although I thought the majority of the aspects of the show were far above average, I did feel that some of the characters were not addressed as much as I would have liked. It is a minor quip, but you may wonder to yourself ‘hey, whatever happened to that guy?’ once it is all over.

News of Angel beats getting a US release (With dub, if that is what you are interested in) was like angel song to me as I have looked forward to owning Angel Beats on my shelf since I saw it last year. I was initially skeptical as to whether Angel Beats would get a US or UK release, as previous Key anime has taken an unfortunately long time to be licensed. Sentai Filmworks did an excellent job however, and this may be indicative of future Key works being licensed more quickly. Although I live in the UK, and no release date has been specified or hinted at over here, at least it looks like it is heading in the right direction. I am still waiting for all the big Key works to be released over here, but with my experience with Welcome to the NHK, I know that if worse comes to worst, I can import it.

The cast of Angel Beats

I loved what they did with the end credits.

I think that Angel Beats ended in the most fitting way possible. The final episode was moving to the point of near-tears, and I absolutely loved what they did with the final credits, it certainly kept the mood flowing. If you enjoyed Angel Beats and you would like to watch something a little more recent, I would recommend AnoHana. Additionally, I would like to recommend an old personal favourite of mine, Haibane Renmei, which similarly deals with the concept of the afterlife, and I also believe that if you enjoyed this, you would enjoy any of the previous Key works such as Clannad, Kanon or Air, although they have much less action involved than Angel Beats.

“Goodbye Wild Heaven”
Download Angel Beats (Dual-Audio)

Download the Soundtrack 

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (Anime)

July 21, 2011

SHAFT openings are always something special.

Japanese title: 電波女と青春男
Synonyms: Electromagnetic Wave Woman and Adolescent Man
Animation Production: SHAFT
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Sci-fi, Seinen
Number of episodes: 12

Plot Summary: The story revolves around a highschool boy named Niwa Makoto. He lives with his aunt’s family since his parents are away on business. It is there where he meets his mysterious cousin of the same age Touwa Erio — who happens to tie a futon mattress around her upper body and is a self-proclaimed alien. Her staple food is pizza. Erio had been missing for half a year and was found floating in the sea. She doesn’t remember anything about what happened during that period of time, but she began to think that it was the act of an alien and wanders the neighbourhood wrapped in the futon. – ANN

The animation of Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is fantastic, there is plenty of movement going on and the scenery is beautiful. The characters themselves are very sharp with plenty of detail and with very bright and vibrant colours. The overall imagery is brilliant and memorable, and character expressions are very well animated which I particularly enjoyed. You can sense what the characters are feeling and I felt that I could relate to them. This show just throws evocative imagery at you from start to finish, which just served to strengthen my love for all the characters, and the show.

Ryuuko Meme Erio

For the characters alone, Denpa Onna is definitely something special. Each of the characters feels unique in their own right, with none of them quite fitting into previously established archetypes, for that reason it feels very fresh. Each character is kind of an oddball and each stands out in their own way; you will not forget these guys for a long time as they felt quite real despite their eccentricities. The characters were always lovable, almost overbearingly so at times, and quirky, but not in your typical ‘moe‘ kind of way. I get tired with paper cut-outs, and Denpa Onna certainly has none of them.

Whilst the characters themselves are eccentric or strange, the setting and story feels firmly grounded in reality, serving as an excellent foil. The show is very strong in terms of romance unlike your usual anime romance in it feels believable. Nothing blows up out of proportion and character reactions don’t feel over exaggerated or forced, but rather subtle and well perceived.

This show lends its comedy aspects to the oddities of the characters, and with such poignant, unique characters it always feels new. The personalities of the characters are strong and they interact well together and importantly, each of them appears consistently throughout the show. There are no weak links here, and the show went out of its way to make each character feel as human as possible.

The soundtrack to Denpa Onna was surprisingly nice. None of the tracks were overused which is pleasant, and the background music always supported the mood fantastically. The sound effects were very effective too, worked well with comedic moments, and enhanced the overall experience greatly. The first 3 episodes did an excellent job of introducing the characters, setting the scene and establishing relationships. My only concern about Denpa Onna, is that the opening 3 episodes felt slowly paced in comparison to the remainder, and I feel that many would have not continued it on further. The ending also felt strong, nothing ‘out-of-this-world’ happened, but the show just seemed to flow nicely from beginning to end.

In conclusion, I think that this show has made a strong impact on me. I will definitely not forget this. It didn’t bring me to tears because that is not what it was aiming for, but it was very light-hearted, warm and heartfelt. It felt insightful and moving, and the quirky characters kept it feeling fresh and subtly funny throughout. There is an OVA episode 13 coming out with the DVD. I am intrigued as to what it contains because I felt that the show ended nicely, but I think it might have something to do with the upcoming festival and I am really hoping for a little romance between a certain 2 characters. It will be released on December 21st in Japan, and I am very excited.

I could not finish without mentioning Maekawa’s costumes. She also taught me how to make a bottle rocket, for which I am eternally grateful.

Maekawa - Sandwich Costume Maekawa - Mochi costume Maekawa - Octopus sausage
Maekawa - Fish costume Maekawa - Alien Maekawa - Dugong

If you enjoyed this, I would personally recommend any of Shafts earlier works. It feels very much like Arakawa under the bridge, but without the skit format and a little more serious. I am a huge fan of Shaft, and I believe you will be too after watching this. A season 2 might have been hinted at, but if so, I do not believe that it is required.

Download Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (Anime)

July 17, 2011

Japanese title: あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。
Synonyms: We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That DayAnoHana
Animation Production: A-1 Pictures
Genres: Drama, Slice of Life, Comedy, Romance, Supernatural, Tragedy, Seinen
Number of episodes: 11

Plot Summary: A group of six childhood friends drift apart after one of them, Meiko “Menma” Honma, dies in an accident. Five years later, the leader of the group, Jinta Yadomi, has since become withdrawn and lives as a recluse. One summer day, an older looking Menma appears before him, saying she wants to have a wish granted, though she does not remember what it is. Jinta, remembering his memories of the past, once again attempts to bring his childhood friends together and fulfil his promise with Menma. Wikipedia

To be honest, AnoHana hit me, and likely much of the anime loving community as a bit of a surprise. Anime original works by A-1 Pictures have been somewhat unsuccessful as of late and whilst I enjoyed both Fractale (2011) and Occult Academy (2010), the DVD sales and overall ratings just do not scream success. On top of that, I feel I do not quite fit the target audience of A-1 Pictures more successful adaptations, so I was not expecting much.

AnoHana OP screencap
AnoHana was definitely the sleeper hit of the spring season however, In its first week of release, Blu-ray sales of AnoHana hit rank #1 in Japan, selling over 31,000 copies. It has a very strong rating of 8.84 on MyAnimeList, and a mean rating of 8.9 on ANN. The director, Tatsuyuki Nagai, was responsible for the very successful Honey and Clover II, and the success of AnoHana should probably  be put down to him.

The soundtrack for this show was also pretty fantastic. The opening theme “Aoi Shiori” by Galileo Galilei, and similarly the ending theme were brilliant and very fitting. Additionally, the animation for the show was very fluid and appeared to have a high production value. The animation and soundtrack combined very nicely to produce a very calming experience, and the way the next episode preview was blended into the credits worked a treat. The series is beautiful and unique, with excellent character development that feels consistent throughout. It never drags and I found it relatively easy to watch the entire series back to back without getting bored; every episode was exciting in its own way.

Ano Hana Before and after
The series was very emotional, but it wasn’t until episode 8 and onwards that I started to get a little choked up, and I often found myself on the edge of tears during the final episodes (I don’t actually cry because I am a man). The main drawing point for this anime in particular is of course the characters. But the odd thing is, I found it difficult to find much likeable about any of the characters in question when examined individually. Rather, it is more about the way the characters interact with one another, and how well they each express their emotions. AnoHana did start to feel very melodramatic towards the end, but I think it worked in the shows favour. As an anime original production, and not a manga adaptation, I believe that it shows the advantage anime originals have. You can tell that this was originally produced for the screen and it really shines because of it.

I believe that AnoHana was well worth the watch, but is not quite worth as much praise as it is currently receiving. Part way through AnoHana, it became clear that this show is one very large, complex love polygon. That is not to say that this show is a harem, thank god, but it did serve to frustrate me greatly. I do have a few quirks with the characters of course, and when I thought about it closely this show had a serious knack for annoying me. Saying all that though,I really enjoyed it. It’s the first show in a long time to bring a tear to my eye. If you enjoyed it, I might recommend Honey and Clover, Clannad or Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Download Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai


%d bloggers like this: