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Short Reviews: Part 3

July 19, 2009

blog review3

Well now that my Harry Potter ranting is out of the way – back to our normal programming!  I have another five reviews to stick up today……Project ICE, Eureka Seven, Voices of a Distant Star, Mushishi and Narutaru.

Project ICE: Pretentious and extremely confusing – 2/5

PLOT: Oh were to start! I have absolutely no idea what this mess was about – something about a future world where all the men have died out for some unexplained reason (although they do go on at length about how it was all their own fault!), and were the surviving women have split into two factions – those who have turned to science to find a way to repopulate the earth, and those who have given up and just want to live the rest of their lives in peace and happiness. For some reason there is a fully functioning military, even though the women keep waxing lyrical about how killing and violence is wrong and male! So anyway that’s the setting, but then you have the random yuri star-crossed lovers thing (that gets next to no development), the whole ICE thing (I wont even attempt to explain that), a random interlude where birds turn into flowers and back into birds again…….and then the scene were they killed a baby :S…..Its all very disjointed and completely random – the characters have no depth and I don’t even know what the whole end was about (was it a dream? another world? I sure as heck don’t know!). So yeah, not much to love about the ‘plot’.

ANIMATION: The animation is actually fairly decent, or it I would have said so if this was a 90s OVA. However ICE was made in 2007. Yeah.  Could someone explain the extremely dated character designs and costume designs to me!? The whole thing seems to be stuck in a timewarp! I did like the set designs though ^_^

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: Didn’t notice the music much. The voice acting is a very mixed bag, some of the seiyuu are good, most are rubbish. The one that threw me most though was Akira Ishida voicing Julia…….yes Athrun Zala / Gaara voicing a tall blonde woman; very weird.

All in all a pretty poor OVA, full of pretentious dialogue and a very confusing plot – avoid.

Eureka Seven: Exciting concept, wonderful character development and awesome soundtrack – a well deserved 5/5!

PLOT: This series was an absolute joy to watch! Extremely well put together with a multi-layered plot, memorable characters and inspired pacing – every episode was used well and contributed something to the entertainment value of Eureka Seven. The concept and Studio was what attracted me to this series, and it really did not disappoint. I like mecha series in general and of course Eureka Seven contains many of the standard cliché’s of mecha anime, yet somehow this series made everything feel fresh and new. Turning the sky into an ocean and using so many familiar concepts in new ways was exciting and made for very enjoyable viewing – of course it helped that the characters where so very likeable! The amount of character development in this series was just wonderful – there are lots of characters but they were all given their moment to shine, none are superfluvious and everyone has something to contribute to the plot by the end.

Eureka Seven has two clearly defined parts to it – the 1st season is mostly concerned with setting up the world, characters and making sure the viewer is comfortable with all the terminology, the 2nd season is where the main plot comes into play (and its epic) building to a thrilling finale and a satisfying conclusion. Its difficult to fault anything really – the plot twists are well timed and I didn’t see a number of them coming (which was nice for a change!). The series has a clear message about growing up, finding your place in world and love; yet it doesn’t shove its message down your throat, instead letting the viewer form their own opinions. In short Eureka Seven completely draws you into Renton and Eureka’s adventure on board the Nirvash and Gekko-Go and I was quite sad to see the journey end – but it was an excellent ride!

ANIMATION: Fabulous production values throughout the run of this series – quite an accomplishment given its 50-episode length! BONES are one of my favourite studios as they consistently produce wonderfully animated shows – this is no exception. The LFO fights are dazzling – having the mecha surf in the sky was an inspired decision as it makes for jawdropping action scenes. Everything is fluid and there is minimal recycling of footage. The mecha designs themselves are striking and had plenty of movement. The character designs were also excellent – all the characters are very well planned and visually memorable with lots of expression. I can’t really fault anything about the visuals of this series!

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I adored the soundtrack. All of the OPs and EDs are great and the background music is an exciting mix of orchestral pieces and electro beats – I am so downloading it! Voice acting was excellent throughout – every character was well cast, it’s quite difficult to pick out characters, as everyone seemed to be giving there all in this show.

So all in all an excellent series, and one I’d highly recommend to all! A superior mecha series with a good balance of comedy, drama and romance – I’d urge you all to watch it!

Voices of a Distant Star: Compelling and beautifully animated it gets 4.5/5

PLOT: Dealing with a young couple that are separated by time and space, Shinkai somehow manages to make this short movie incredibly multi-layered and gripping! The storyline is remarkably well thought out and well paced. Each second of the 25 minutes is used well and there is adequate time given to action as well as quiet introspection. His portrayal of Mikako as a young girl thrust into the battle against an alien threat is excellent, and the characterisation of Noboru as the boyfriend she leaves behind is also wonderful. This short manages to perfectly capture the feelings of these two people as ever-increasing amounts of time and space separate them. It really is a wonderfully put together plot. The only complaint I have is that I wanted more – the alien threat could have been better developed and a more solid ending would have been nice too, but on the whole I was very impressed with Voices of a Distant Star.

ANIMATION: Wow. It’s hard to believe that this was the sole work of Makoto Shinkai and his computer. The animation is nothing short of beautiful – the skyscapes and landscapes are just gorgeous with wonderful use of colour. The character designs aren’t the best I’ve ever seen, but they are consistent throughout. The action scenes and use of CGI is also inspired – this short is truly a triumph of independent animation!

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The version I watched was the one were Shinkai and his fiancée provided the voice work and it was pretty well done for amateurs! The music is simple and understated, playing its role well.

Overall Voices of a Distant Star is simply one of the best short movies I’ve ever seen – its truly remarkable how so much plot and emotion these 25 minutes contain!

Mushishi: Episodic, intriguing and extremely well produced – 5/5

PLOT: Mushishi is 26 episodes long and its completely episodic, consisting of numerous mini arcs covering the various mushi and how they affect different people. The link between each arc is Ginko, the titular mushishi (an expert on mushi), who travels throughout medieval Japan plying his trade. To me the most interesting thing about Mushishi is the fact that both mushi and humans are shown in shades of gray – neither is inherently good or evil, they are simply doing what they can to survive. There are some quite sinister mushi covered over the course of the series and I found those arcs to be the most memorable due to the disturbing nature of them. There aren’t always happy endings for the humans who come into contact with the mushi – death or disfigurement is fairly common.  Ginko for his part respects the mushi’s right to life and wont always help out the humans affected by the mushi if it will result in the mushi’s death, and I really liked this aspect of the series. Ginko is a truly intriguing character – he’s an anomaly within the series appearing to come from a different time period with his clothing and constant smoking, and his attitude towards both humans and mushi is that of live and let live.

ANIMATION: Now I had heard of Artland before, they’re quite a small studio, but by a mile Mushishi is their best anime IMO. The backgrounds are simply gorgeous; the attention to detail and variety of the landscapes is wonderful. I also loved the simplistic character designs and the varied designs for the mushi themselves. It’s an attractive anime.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The OP is in english and its a very calming number. The BGM is quite atmospheric and really fits the tone of the series well – I wouldn’t listen to it without the visuals though, its definitely more mood setting than stand alone pieces of music. Ginko is main character and he’s voiced by a fairly new seiyuu called Yuto Nakano who does an excellent job. The supporting cast is also great even though most only are about for one or two episodes.

Overall Mushishi is a very atmospheric and fairly slow paced anime. The show that is most similar to it is Kino no Tabi as both have that episodic nature with some quite disturbing episodes, Mononoke also has similar themes. I’d highly recommend this series to anyone who liked Kino or Mononoke.

Narutaru: Disturbing, slow and just plain wrong in places – 2/5

PLOT: At 1st glance you would think this is a rather fun kids show about children with brightly coloured creatures in the style of Pokemon or Digimon. But dear god would you be wrong! This series takes all the elements of the typical Mon show and turns it on its head, throwing the young characters into harrowing situations and bringing the darkest elements of the human soul to the forefront. It can be extremely uncomfortable to watch. However I would probably have liked the series if it did this but also had a good action packed plotline – sadly no such luck. Narutaru is S-L-O-W and even though its only 13 episodes long it feels oh so much longer. To add insult to injury all the action seems to happen in the 1st couple of eps and the last few and nothing is really resolved at the end – I still don’t really know what the Dragonets are, why they were important or what the whole point was………and I hated Shiina! So all that really sticks out in my mind when I think of Narutaru is the slowness, irritating heroine and a few extremely disturbing scenes that I don’t think I’ll ever forget!

ANIMATION: The animation is very simplistic – a little too simplistic for my liking really. Wasn’t overly fussed on the character designs or the Dragonet designs and the backgrounds were mostly dull and recycled quite a bit. Clearly Narutaru didn’t have much of a budget.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I remember disliking the OP as its cheery nature was very jarring given the content of the episodes. Can’t remember much of the BGM or ED. Voice acting was OK but nothing remarkable.

All in all a series that I always remember as awful, its been difficult to review it as I just remember not liking it and forcing myself to finish it!

Ok thats another five down – still have plenty more to go though!  May post another batch this evening – shall see how many releases there are today.

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