The end of a season is a bittersweet time for anime fans, as the joy of seeing a series reach its climax is undercut by the knowledge that this is the last hurrah for a story we’ve grown attached to over time. Such is the case with Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World,) a series that had me under its spell from the first episode on. Unpredictable, challenging and artistic are but three ways to describe the experience of watching it. Indeed, it has all the things that critics like me love to see in anime, but more importantly, this isn’t merely a cold essay on human nature, it’s emotive, and ends beautifully, with a trademark mix of the horrifying and hopeful.
Broken Apple: Shin Sekai Yori
Many of us are optimists and like to think there’s an innate sense of goodness within us all, but given a God’s power, how would we react? Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) answers that question within its first 3 minutes: upon the discovery of psychokinesis, civilisation regresses into a thousand year-long dark age, where Man is subjugated by an immense, supernatural power.
One such power, the Emperor of Great Joy, marks his coronation by burning to death the first 500 people to stop clapping. It’s said they clapped for 3 days and nights.
A life as a martyr to his dream
Episode 10 of Berserk is amongst the finest episodes of anime I’ve ever seen. From the moment Guts kills the boy Adonis, we’re forced to re-evaluate the righteousness of Griffith’s conquest and whether it’s worth its price in blood.
“But there is one other thing more precious to a man beyond all else. Something one pursues for one’s own sake and not for that of any other. A dream. Some dream of ruling the world, dedicating their entire life to forging the perfect sword. While some can be pursued alone, some are like storms, blowing apart hundreds or thousands of other dreams as they go.” –Griffith
Being swept away
I have many a faint and fond memory of Eureka Seven, but wasn’t sure how to feel about news of its sequel. It ended with a quite profound sense of finality, after all. Everything that needed to be said, was, and underscored with probably the finest insert song ever used in anime, too. I’m using a lot of absolutes in this post because that’s just how I feel about Eureka Seven. Holland, Talho, Dai Sato, Supercar and Denki Groove. It was a great series.
Shadow of the Colossus
Unless you count my yearly flings with Football Manager, I’ve never been much of a gamer. Even still, I bought myself a Playstation 3 in December.
Stepping into today’s world of consoles is intimidating at first. I’d been divorced from the culture for nearly a decade and knowing how deeply some are into it, it’s easy to get cold feet.
I had to try, though. I wanted to play Shadow of the Colossus.
After stumbling over a review of it one day at work, I made the impulsive (and, obviously, expensive) decision there and then to buy the game so as to have a proper look.
On Wolf's Rain
I first watched Wolf’s Rain in 2003, just as I was beginning to ramp up my interest in anime. I remember a few things about it: being absolutely traumatised by its ending and being spell-bound by Yoko Kanno’s music. Following on from the similarly fondly remembered RahXephon, it made a fan of Studio Bones out of me, too. Which is to say, Wolf’s Rain became one of my favourites and just last week, nearly 10 years on(!), I finally re-watched it.
Since writing my first post on the manga series Shingeki no Kyojin (the official English title is apparently Attack on Titan,) it’s been licensed for an English-language release by Kodansha USA, whilst a Japanese live-action movie has also been announced for 2013. With the inevitably small film-budget it’ll receive, I’m not convinced it’ll look good enough , but then again, it still sounds better than the forthcoming Akira film!
Last night I finally caught up to volume 5 of the series and, man, I just want to keep going. For those that haven’t read my first post on it, Shingeki no Kyojin is a large-scale survival-horror manga about a future-Earth dominated by man-eating giants (known in the series as Titans.) With humanity on the brink and walled up in one last city, the series begins as the Titans break through the city’s first line of defence.
Imagine any zombie film you’ve ever seen, and then replace the zombies with giants. Mankind’s fucked, right? It’s lucky then that the main character, Eren, can transform into a Titan, too!
.hack//SIGN was one of the first anime shown by Cartoon Network and it left a lasting, negative impression on me: an otherwise brilliant show with a plot that went nowhere. .Hack//Quantum is the latest iteration of the series. It is .hack//SIGN as it should have been. It’s not a remake, just a three episode version with a similar story. It’s not perfect, but if it had come out eight years ago it could have provided a foundation for subsequent stories. But this late in the game it is underwhelming.
Much has already been written about the first episode of Mawaru Penguindrum, the latest from Kunihiko Ikuhara (he of Revolutionary Girl Utena.) Like most, I really liked this first episode, but I’ve never been one to bother discussing plot details, rather, I just want to talk about art and post some pretty pictures, and like Madoka, Panty & Stocking and The Tatami Galaxy before it, Mawaru Penguindrum is an intricately-drawn feast for the eyes. I just couldn’t help myself.
Eaten by giants!!
Apparently, Shingeki no Kyojin can be translated to ‘Advancing Giants’. It’s a new-ish, still on-going manga (began serialisation in 2009) that I started reading at the weekend. In it, humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction by an unstoppable wave of man-eating giants. Where did they come from? Nobody knows! And why do they eat only humans? Again, nobody knows! The giants don’t feed on us for sustinance, they do it because they can!
Mankind somehow survives by sealing itself within a city, surrounded by 50 metre-high walls to keep everything else out. 100 years later, it’s an era of relative peace, but suddenly, this guy appears… More than double the size of any giant ever seen before, he (literally) kicks a hole in the city’s previously impregnable defences and unleashes the horrors outside waiting to get in.
And so, the real story of (the award-winning) Shingeki no Kyojin begins.