Rightstuf is on a streak of licensing critically-acclaimed, but undervalued, shows. They released Utena in 2011 and announced the future release of Rose of Versailles. My favorite recent Rightstuf release remains Nadesico. Unlike Utena, Nadesico has always been available used at an affordable price even after the ADV release went out of print, so I was surprised that Rightstuf chose to re-release it. I think it speaks to how relevant it remains, particularly with the resurgence of another giant robot show, Evangelion. Still, even standing alone, Nadesico remains an entertaining show because of its blend of comedy, science fiction and drama.
I had low expectations when I bought the Gunbuster movie on blu-ray. The visuals looked underwhelming, as did the plot summary. Still, I felt that as an anime fan I had an obligation to watch a Gainax classic, and I’m happy I did. Gainax could have created a forgettable story about girls battling aliens with giant robots. Throw in some fan service, and the show would have practically written itself. Instead, Gunbuster is a story that doesn’t pull any punches and explores deep, emotional issues. The only downside of watching Gunbuster on blu-ray was that the movie version left out a number of scenes that were included in the OVA. I enjoyed the movie, but I’m left wondering if the original version would have provided a better experience.
The first time I watched Evangelion I I hated everything about it. Most of all I hated the characters and how slowly the series seemed to move. The disconnect I felt with Shinji and his eternal state of depression did not help either. When I heard that the creators’ were rereleasing the show in a series of movies I had mixed feelings. I didn’t want to suffer through another eight hours of Evangelion if it was just a graphics facelift. I still held out hope that instead of just retelling the story, the new version would address the problems of the original series. My hopes were dashed with the first installment, Evangelion 1.0, which seemed almost identical to the TV show. Now that I’ve seen Evangelion 2.0 on the big screen, I can finally say that an enjoyable version of Evangelion has finally arrived.
(Important notice: This post contains spoilers for the end of Zeta Gundam.)
Its been a while readers, 7 days to be precise, and as we all know, 7 days on internet may as well be a lifetime. I won’t labor you with the details, but suffice to say that this gradual slow down in blogging is sadly down to cliche reasons; I have found a new job that forces me awake by 6:30AM- an ungodly and surreal time to be conscious when to my horror even the moon is still mockingly pinned up in the night sky.
Being too tired to watch much anime I’ve still found the time to maintain a heathly staple of Enel-flavoured One Piece and even discover a brand spanking new manga series to read; Bokurano.
I’m not a regular manga reader by any means, but there were a few things that forced me into checking this out – an anime adaptation has just been announced and will be directed by Studio Ghibli’s up and coming Hiroyuki “The Cat Returns” Morita, further more it’s a story penned by Mohiro Kitoh; the man responsible for inflicting Shadow Star Narutaru on unsuspecting Pokemon fans – in Kitoh’s Narutaru, the Pokemon kill, are killed and torture their innocent trainers; in other words, the author is pretty twisted, unpredictable and has a real nasty streak. By now you should have picked up that I enjoy horror.
Bokurano continues his favoured trend of throwing kids into bizarre and horrific situations. The story is basically that 14 children, who think they are simply signing up for an elaborate video game, naievely agreeing to protect the Earth against a force of invading aliens. In these regards Bokurano is very similiar to Neon Genesis Evangelion; the aliens, who attack one by one, are giant monsters with extremely variable fighting styles. The kids fight in a giant robot.
Set against what they at first brush off as simply a game, the 14 children begin to die off either in battle or straight after. Then once the fighting is finished, they return to their every day lives to face up to devestation left behind; in one such city-centred clash, 40,000 civilians were killed (most likely squished) in the carnage.
Ultimately the kids are going into each battle knowing that one of them will die and that along the way thousands of innocents will perish too – if they refuse to fight, the world will end. As they say – no pain, no gain.
From the very first few pages I’ve been in love with Bokurano. At once a heart breaking drama and compelling sci-fi mystery, Mohiro Kitoh’s refusal to pull punches makes this a shocking and captivating read that gets better with every chapter. Indeed it is giant robot manga, but given its ultra realistic take on both the characters and the consequences of giant mecha combat, Bokurano feels fresh and exciting. It will be a massive hit as an anime series, so get in now on the ground floor and discover Kitoh’s twisted drama nice and early, I’m looking forward to be able to say “the manga is better”.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is considered by many critics to be a “classic” anime series. Loved and loathed in equal measure, its polarising reputation for invoking a distinct reaction from its viewers endures (inside and outside fandom) even today- an impressive feat being as it is a decade on from its Japanese TV debut. But what defines “classic” anime? Why is Evangelion still as relevant today as it was back in 1995?
“Classic” art direction
Art direction and animation fluidity are two separate entities. Neon Genesis Evangelion never had a huge animation budget, but its unique visual style still strikes a profound chord with its viewers. Unique and iconic, the colour scheme is exciting and suits the raging mood perfectly, strange bio-mecha designs and (if albeit redundant) religious symbolism top off a visceral presentation that instantly burns itself into memory.
Emotive characterization, world-wide accessibility and relevance
People either empathise with or passionately denounce Evangelion’s main character, Shinji Ikari. He is the ultimate “average” kid from a broken home, frustratingly shy and painfully reluctant. He isn’t a hero, just an awkward geek. The other characters are all breaking down in their own personal ways; Asuka’s fear of rejection and Misato’s desperate loneliness. These are close to the bone universal human emotions, characterised in realistic, painful circumstances and directed with an almost sadistic lack of warmth, relevant to every generation.
Sophisticated, controversial story teller
Under a slicker director, Evangelion would be another RahXephon; efficient, exciting and romantic but ultimately lacking any true sparks of originality. Hideaki Anno put his heart and soul into these characters and placed them within the confines of a mysterious plot to end the world, refusing to compromise on showing the unpredictable uglier sides of human nature. We’ve all been unhappy with ourselves or others at some point in our lives and what if at this exact moment, you were given the chance to save the world. Would it be “OK! Let’s do it!” or “Why me? Feck off!”.
Although I don’t consider Neon Genesis Evangelion a personal favourite, I accept it as a classic anime series. It took the formulaic mecha genre and transformed itself into an extremely potent mix of visceral art, controversial drama and symbolic science fiction. From what I’ve learnt, a “classic” movie or TV series is defined by global accessibility, (current) relevance and sheer impact; Evangelion is as popular today as it was 11 years ago.