Bee Train doesn’t exactly have the best of reputations, be it their bias for girls with guns or their notoriously poor production values, fact is their work polarises opinion and attracts its fair share of detractors.
I’ve seen neither Noir nor Madlax, was horrified by the low budget vibe I got from Blade of the Immortal and nearly quit watching anime altogether after sitting through the first episode of El Cazador de la Bruja. I know many others share these same ‘concerns’, so I’m going to write something now that may shock and appall many:
Bee Train‘s latest series, Phantom, is really good.
Continue reading Bee Train's bullet ballet Phantom is really good
Something that ‘outsiders’ probably don’t realise about Fullmetal Alchemist is just how grotesque and disturbing it can be for mainstream shonen; it has never been a story that shys away from death, even when the victims are cute little girls and their pet dogs!
This lurched back into focus during episode 20 of Brotherhood, when Ed, in-between bouts of throwing up, exhumes the remains of what was supposed to be his half-transmuted mother. While the act of digging up a long-buried grave is, in itself, a stomach-turning thing to do, after Ed looks at the remains, a plot twist even more disturbing is revealed, that the body they pulled back from ‘the other side’ wasn’t their mother’s at all!
Who’s body was it? And why did it appear in place of his mother’s? The story continues to raise these dark questions, and with no comforting, morally-sound answer in sight, I really think that FMA is overlooked as horror. Scenes like these, as well as the twisted fate of characters like Martel, are as cruel and disturbing as anything I’ve seen in anime.
When writing about Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I noted that I think it’s great because it has moments of exciting, fluid animation. I realise that’s a fairly superficial thing to say, but I think it’s true, too, and now, as if to immediately contradict myself, I’m going to write about Cross Game.
This doesn’t have great animation, but it’s probably going to be one of my favourite series of 2009, because a delightful story is always delightful, regardless of medium, and because I’m really into these characters. This has nothing to do with being swept up by some soapy drama or romance or whatever, rather, I like it because it’s understated.
Cross Game is a quiet series, so quiet you can hear the wind breezing through fallen leaves and hear the snow crunching underfoot. At its centre is Kou and Aoba; there is no blurting out of their feelings or forced confessions of love, everything remains unsaid, unrealised, with just a moment of hesitation here and a shy glance there.
Their feelings are protected, hidden even from themselves. They have a determination about them, yet seem introspective; they remember things, tiny, stupid, important, vital things, like we all do, before clamming up again. It’s sweet to watch them blunder through uncomfortable situations, but reassuring, too. I think we’ve all been there, spent a lot of time observing people and watched as the days draw into night. Life can be so understated, and such is Cross Game, it’s so quiet.
I still read my fair share of blogs and forums, so I had something of an inkling that this episode of Brotherhood was going to be quite special, but even still, I loved it to pieces, and once the credits were finally rolling, all I could think is that this was the exact moment that Brotherhood finally stepped out from its predecessor’s shadow and became great anime in it’s own right.
Ah, it’s been a long road. Between the die-hard fans of the manga and lovers of the first series, Brotherhood was always going to face a long and hard battle to win over new admirers, but now there is absolutely no excuse to not be watching this series. I won’t accept it. Episode 19 was perfect.
Continue reading A love letter to FMA: Brotherhood #19 and why I love anime