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.
.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.
Time travel always seemed like a cool concept to me. I could go back in time, make some money and live an easy life. That’s just an immature way of looking at things, though. When I imagine going back, I’m not thinking about the people around me. I’m being selfish, just thinking about material things.
In 12 episodes, Puella Magi Madoka Magica convinced me that there’s more to Akiyuki Shinbo than otaku-pandering. The director has increasingly been held in high regard, but until Madoka, I’d not taken any substantial steps into his oeuvre. Not even Bakemonogatari coaxed me in, but post-Madoka, I’ve found a lot of new respect for the man.
Experimental and fearless is how I’d describe the series, as not only does it impose a very specific, artsy aesthetic on a subject matter reserved for the hardcore, it also takes a hard-line with its young characters. Much like Bokurano, it never backs down, or allows for an easy way out.
What is the Cowboy Bebop ending trying to say? It feels like such a waste! Spike doesn’t have to face Vicious, he could just stay with Faye and Jet, leave Mars and fly away, but he doesn’t.
No matter how many times it’s replayed, there will always be that choice hanging over Spike in the end, but then, isn’t that why Cowboy Bebop‘s still so fascinating? Consider Faye Valentine.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about anime over the past year, it’s that these Anime no Chikara projects start out strong, only to have me lose interest after four episodes.
When faced with the latest offering in the project, Occult Academy, I was determined not to be sucked in. I would watch it, but the cool-looking opening wouldn’t sway me, nor would the conversation with the cab driver in its opening minutes pique my interest. I was a woman not scorned, but bored – and I would not have it happen again. I sat on my throne of good taste, and prepared to get back to waxing poetic about The Tatami Galaxy.
Then the female lead decked her father’s corpse with a chair, wrestler-style, and all of a sudden, I was more than willing to give things a second chance.
If I had to condense my love for anime into one single moment, I’d choose the scene when `Space Lion` begins playing in the 13th episode of Cowboy Bebop (Jupiter Jazz.) It is one of the first times I can remember feeling a pang of bitter-sweetness whilst watching anime: the sadness of Gren’s passing tempered by Spike’s and Faye’s return to the Bebop; that Jet can’t really hide the fact that he truly gives a shit about them but, like a grumpy Dad, is too up-tight to admit it, and Gren’s death-wish to be cut adrift amongst the stars and sent drifting towards Titan. Alone.
“I see. You are Spike. Julia was always talking about you… That your two eyes were of different colours… That’s what she said… That you get a strange feeling when you look into his eyes.” — Gren
A strange romance springs forth from the snow-capped streets and cold, gray clouds, and from the elegant, softly-voiced Gren himself, an angelic hermaphrodite in love with Vicious, yet broken by the betrayal of their friendship. His sad, tired eyes and knowing smile are captured and carried beautifully by `Space Lion`’s warm tone of resignation. It’s a spine-tingling moment.
Hiroki Endo calling his manga ‘Eden‘ is a hint. Eden is supposed to be a paradise on Earth, but Endo‘s version is more like Hell. It’s sarcasm on his part, I think, because this is a contrary and brutal series, where anything that’s good is crushed and anything that’s innocent is (often literally) raped. For the last few days I’ve hardly been able to believe my eyes whilst reading this; everyone keeps dying, and even those who do survive, do so minus their humanity, or, even worse, minus their eye-balls.
It’s interesting how Darker than Black never explained what has ‘sealed’ the Earth’s sky, caused Hell and Heaven’s Gate to appear and triggered the world’s first generation of contractors; and quite frankly, if it turns out to be aliens from the Moon, I’d rather not know, but my point is, ambiguity is exciting, and yet like everyone else watching Ryuusei no Gemini, I was confused by its last episode, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
Immediately after seeing it, for the first time in years, I went looking for interpretations on every forum and blog I could find. Did the lack of a ‘conventional’ end ruin the series, or merely add to its mystique? Does the ambiguity equate to bad writing, or is it intentional?
Happy new year, everyone! Time sure flies and it’s now looking likely that this blog will live to see it’s fourth anniversary on the 4th of March, which is just… surreal!
This time of year also provides me with the rare opportunity to immerse in some new worlds of fiction. Last year I fell under the spell of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but this time it was to be Tsutomu Nihei and his six volume Biomega that caught my eye.
Nihei is probably my favourite mangaka. It’s not like I’ve read a lot of manga, but this guy has held my admiration for a long time, ever since I stumbled over his first series, Blame!, where the dialogue is sparse, action is rapid and landscapes are wide, sprawling stretches of textured emptiness.