Anime Reviews

Horrible fun / Exhuming Ga-Rei -Zero-

If just because there’s something exciting about proving yourself wrong every now and then, I’m trying to watch a bunch of recent series that I’ve snubbed or otherwise ignored in past. This all started when, on a whim, I began watching the kendo anime Bamboo Blade and felt stupid for ignoring it for so long.
Ga-Rei -Zero- is another amongst those I’d passed over in recent years, and, well, it’s a violent story about monsters and stuff, too! If nothing else, I knew I’d get to see some weird creatures breathing fire and crushing people underfoot!


Demonic rumbles as claymores get squished in episode 21


I’m really digging Claymore at the moment and each episode is ending on the kind of gut-wrenching cliff hanger that so tempts me to gorge on manga spoilers. Episode 21 is no different; Ligardes is one of the coolest awakened beings yet — his intimidating part-lion transformation perfectly emphasizes his quite unfathomable strength and speed; he radiates killer-instinct and I haven’t a clue how anyone, including Claire, can escape his relentless lust for blood.
My main problem with the series is that it hasn’t been great at building sympathetic characters but after episode 20, I was totally rooting for Undine; at first she seemed like a heartless bitch, but it turned out her abrasive personality and pumped up muscles were all superficial fronts. The scene of her cowering in the corner; shivering, crying and completely exposed immediately transformed her personality. That she dies in episode 21; killed so quickly, no fan-fare, just death, felt shocking and disappointing, but also made it clear that this ain’t no picnic. How can anyone beat Ligardes?
I must be one of the few people to like Raki. I like that he’s weak, but willing to learn. I hope he becomes strong or at least capable of cutting down the generic yoma. I’m not sure what to make of his contact with Isely and Pricilla; why haven’t they killed him? I sense they are more than just superficial bad guys and knowing what monsterous power lurks beneath their skin, I’m quite fascinated by their passive attitudes towards him.
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I loved the build up to the second wave of attacks on Pieta. The silence of the Claymores as they sensed demonic energy on the horizon; the sound of the wind and the blizzard while the awakened beings howl in excitement of battle and then the reverberating bass of their gigantic foot-steps as they near their prey — it’s almost Lords of the Rings-esque, such is the tension in the air. In this moment you can’t help but pity Claire and co., they may well be doomed.


Claymore – Searching for humanity in a violent world

I’m really enjoying watching Claymore at the moment (as of episode 4), yet oddly, I’m finding it hard to pin down exactly what I like about it. It’s probably the setting; I just really like the European medieval period — a time when any person; strong in arm and sword in hand, could conquer and control his own patch of land. Everything from that era feels tangibly real; the swords, the armour, the clothes, even the architecture — it’s easy to imagine how life was, or felt, back in those days. I suppose that’s why I’m immediately attracted to Claymore; I understand the gravity and the colour of its environment. Indeed, I’m a part of that world rather than just observing it.
“If you stare into the Abyss long enough, the Abyss stares back at you.”
(Friedrich Nietzsche)
Nietzsche’s famous philosophical phrase must be carved into Clare’s heart. Half human and half demon, every time a Claymore dips into her power, the closer she lurches towards losing control; indeed, perhaps the most thrilling scenes so far have involved Clare wrestling against her demonic side, trying to retain her humanity despite an existence that’s so clearly lead devoid of whatever she is afraid of losing.
Does she willingly dye herself in blood and enjoy the thrill of the hunt? Kentaro Miura’s Berserk has obviously influenced Claymore; both stories are sprawling medieval adventures that effectively explore how one’s personality can be affected by one’s environment — just as Guts struggles against his destiny to avenge old friends, Clare struggles to retain her sane personality in a violent world, to hunt demons is to become a demon. Ambition bleeds into humanity, and like Guts has his love, Clare just needs a reason to hold on, an anchor for her spirit. That’s where Raki comes in.


Tokko – 3 – When Phantoms from Hades attack!

The mysteries behind Tokko are slowly starting to unravel amidst yet more greasy siscon innuendo and extreme blood letting. As blunt as Tokko often is, it makes a refreshing change to watch such a traditional horror show for once. It is said that the monsters (or as they will now be known; phantoms) have “literally crawled up from Hades” and are attracted to their victims by the strong scent of survivors (people who, including Ranmaru, have survived previous phantom attacks).
Every episode is bound to have its moment of extreme violence and here, it happens right at the end when a group of doctors are attacked by a heaving swarm of screeching worm-like parasites- the end result of which being that they are all transformed into mindless, rowdy zombies. Cue samurai swords, exploding eye balls and the rest; if nothing else, Tokko is good for a few exploding eye balls.
It’s funny how after all this happens, the characters can still switch back into their playboy modes and head out on the lash; episode 3 ends with Ranmaru and his sister taking part in an utterly horrific-looking group date, a date eventually crashed by the hilariously thick-witted, obviously perverted TOKKI boss, no doubt on his way back from the local yakuza meet.


Tokko – 2 – Guns forever

In many ways, TOKKO is the worst anime series I’ve seen for a while now; the animation (if we can call it that) is cheap and tacky and the characters are about as cookie cutter as they come, but it’s violent, has demons and pulls no punches when the time is nigh to combine the slicing quality of samurai swords with human limbs.
This is a show for the anime fans who grew up with the ultra violent OVAs of the 1980s and early 90s; we’re talking Genocyber, AD Police and Angel Cop here. The story is basically “kid’s parents are killed by monsters, so kid wants revenge”- you don’t need any more information than that, throw in some fleeting sexual innuendo and that’s about got TOKKO covered.
This episode was simply more of the same; a police officer can’t take down a bunch of zombies with his pistol so comes back at them with a military issue anti-tank machine gun. You’ll either love that idea or not and it pretty much sums up why I’m watching TOKKO. This is cheap, so-bad-it’s-funny horror.


Tokko – 1 – Horror, gore and siscon (in that order, repeat)

I’m a horror fan, have been all my life and aside from the claret soaked GANTZ, I’ve seen nothing lately that’s been up to quenching my thirst for such sheer bloody antics. That is until I saw the first episode of TOKKO.
Before launching into horror fan hyperbole, I’ll state right now that TOKKO isn’t and won’t become a masterpiece. It’s trashy, ugly, has poor production values and does nothing new with it’s characters, that said- if you’re in touch with the “goretastic” side of your personality, you should check this out.
So let’s run through my horror fan check list: severed heads, messy piles of dismembered body parts, weird parasites (connected to humans) with disturbingly high and distorted voices, zombies, samurai swords and monsters (from hell). The story is basically about a rookie (Ranmaru Shindou) who has just joined his city’s anti-terrorist police force to hunt down the violent butcher of his family. Lucky for him, Ranmaru ‘s first job just happens to involve a wall splattered with body parts and a walking army of the undead.
If you’ve read this far, you should know whether or not TOKKO is for you. It’s violent, jokes about incest and involves hot young men and women jumping around with swords, slashing at puny monsters. The story is moving at a good pace and leaves little to the imagination; there’s enough blunt sexual innuendo and cheesy jokes to fill the time between all blood letting.
TOKKO won’t be for everyone, but it’s gory horror just the way I like it.