Posts Tagged ‘Romance’

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

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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

Me~Teru no Kimochi (Manga)

July 15, 2011

Me~Teru No Kimochi manga

Japanese title: め~てるの気持ち
Synonyms: Maternal Feelings (Maybe?), Maetel’s Feelings or even  Love Laughs at Locksmiths.
Author: Oku Hiroya
Chapters: 28
Volumes: 3
Genres: Adult, Drama, Mature, Romance, Seinen
Serialisation: Young Jump 06-07

Plot Summary: Koizumi Shintarou is 30 years old, a virgin, and has isolated himself in his room for 15 years. He has become a burden on his father, Koizumi Yasujirou. One day, Shintarou makes a proposition that if Yasujirou gets a girlfriend, Shintarou will come out of his room. It turns out that Yasujirou has already made a girlfriend, a young beautiful woman, Yoshinaga Haruka, who is with Yasujirou for her own personal reasons.Yasujirou and Haruka decide to get married, but Yasujirou dies on their honeymoon. Now Haruka decides to take care of Shintarou, and so this weird “mother and son” are now living together. – MangaUpdates

I’ll just stick with the romaji name for this one, no one can seem to agree on a proper translation.

Me~Teru no Kimochi is a relatively short, hidden gem of a manga by the well-known author Oku Hiroya. More well-known as the long time author of Gantz, a manga which I am currently reading, and am quite fond of. Me~Teru is short enough to read in a single sitting and deals with hikikomori as a subject. The main character is an extreme example of a shut in who, since his mother’s death 15 years ago, has locked himself away in his room without once setting foot outside.

Me~Teru No Kimochi Haruka art

When his father dies from cancer his new mother-in-law, a beautiful 22-year-old girl moves in to take care of him out of devotion to his father. The plot summary sounds like the perfect set-up for a questionable hentai or ecchi manga, but do not be put off. The girl is sweet and attractive, and the manga works out to be a very heartfelt romance and drama. There IS a single sex scene in volume 3 but the scene itself was not particularly explicit and it did serve a purpose, additionally, the manga barely showed a single hint of ecchiness up to this point.

The premise for this manga is fairly simple; the reclusive man is slowly helped out of his shell and into a more normal way of life by the beautiful, sweet and caring girl, and eventually becomes happy. The story is a little out there, certainly, in that it is unbelievable that a young and beautiful girl like that would marry an old man and go on to take care of his 30 year son, and the author certainly left his own personality stamped on it, but the struggles of the main character can really be understood and felt. I really empathised with the main character. Whilst I myself am not (strictly speaking in all manner of the word) a hikikomori, I often struggle with the same kind of deprecating thoughts.

Of course, Me~Teru No Kimochi was created by the author of Gantz and the single sex scene in the final volume should have been expected. It did however feel like a slightly unfortunate turn, the beautiful innocence the story portrayed to that point just seemed to crumble, but it felt necessary for the story to move forward. Additionally the ending felt a little rushed, but again with only 28 chapters to work with I think it was unavoidable. It did leave me wondering whether this series got the attention it deserved with the mangaka working on Gantz at the same time, but despite that, the ending, and consequently the manga felt very satisfying as a whole.

Me-Teru No Kimochi chapter 3 Haruka

The artwork is very appealing. Ain't Haruka pretty?

The artwork is definitely appealing, Haruka is drawn particularly beautifully, and it is easy to see why Shintarou fell for her. I particularly enjoyed the way her eyes and hair were drawn. Now, I do not believe that everyone would enjoy this manga. I feel that women would probably not enjoy it, and that neither would properly socially adept males, but, if like me you can relate with the main character, you will certainly find it involving. Additionally, if you are a fan of Gantz, I feel that you should probably check it out.

Download Me~Teru No Kimochi


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