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Short Reviews: Part 7

July 23, 2009

blog review4

Well you know how this works by now!  Another 5 reviews after the cut – Hayate no Gotoku, Kaiba, BLAME, Hitsuji no Uta and Alien 9.

Hayate no Gotoku (Hayate the Combat Butler): Filled with parody driven comedic goodness – 4.5/5
PLOT: The show is quite episodic and fairly random – but not in a plotless way which is an added bonus to me since I’m not a fan of plotless comedy. Lots and lots of references to various anime are scattered throughout the show, as Nagi is a huge Otaku. Its quite a character driven show (necessary with the lack of a linear plot) with a large cast and each are likeable and memorable in their own right……..and there is a talking tiger and the narrator is Norio Wakamoto……what more could you ask for!? 😀

ANIMATION: The animation quality was of a decent standard throughout – nice character designs too and I really liked the eyecatches. As you would expect from a comedy series there is extensive use of chibi’s, exaggerated facial expressions, bishie sparkles, unexplained showers of flower petals / lightening and comedy violence. It’s nicely put together.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I remember quite liking the OPs and EDs – and was always entertained by the characters plugging their character songs at the end of the show! Voice acting was what really sold the show to me though – its excellent with Rie Kugimiya well within her comfort zone as Nagi, the delightful OTT-ness of Norio Wakamoto as the Narrator and Rie Tanaka as Maria the perfect (17-yr old) maid. The rest of the cast is just as high quality and sound like they are having fun with their roles.

Overall its an entertaining show and manages to be consistently good over its entire 52 episodes, quite an achievement for a pure comedy series…..there is a sequel currently airing, but for me its not providing the same laughs that this 1st season gave me – although more Hinagiku and less Nagi was a good move!

Kaiba: Weird, experimental yet strangely compelling – it gets 4/5

PLOT: Highly original plot and setting for this anime. It’s all about the concept of memories and what constitutes an individual. In the world of Kaiba memories can be stored on chips and an individual can implant these memory chips in any body they so wish – this leads to quite a bit of body swapping over the course of the series which was quite an interesting plot thread. Kaiba isn’t afraid to address quite adult themes and complex ethical issues – it’s a very interesting if unusual anime. Of course at its core its a mystery anime – lots of flashbacks and convoluted plotlines that don’t all get resolved at the end as we try to determine who the main character actually is. The ending is actually very chaotic and I’m not entirely sure if I know what happened! The show had quite a slow start while it was introducing the world and letting the viewer get used to the setting, these early episodes were very episodic and hit or miss for me. However once we got to the middle section and got to main meat of the plot the show became quite interesting indeed. Very good storytelling in this anime.

ANIMATION: Hmmm I still think my 6-year-old cousin could produce better character designs. I wasn’t all that fond of the very abstract animation in this show – however the lack of structure worked well for the concept – the world is just as fluid and changeable as peoples memories and bodies. Regardless I found it difficult to reconcile the weird childish style and the quite mature, complex subject matter and this hindered my enjoyment quite a bit. Still I appreciate that the creators where attempting to present something new and original.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I really liked the OP & ED, both are quite melancholy ballads and fit well with the general tone of the show. The background score was also quite fitting throughout. Great voice cast as well – made it easier to sympathise with characters that sometimes looked like large multicoloured blobs

Overall an interesting show but fairly difficult to review. It was hard to get into at the beginning but well worth sticking with for its originality and engaging subject matter.

BLAME!: Weird, stylish but I’m not entirely sure what it was all about! – 3.5/5

No point in breaking down my review into sections like I usually do as BLAME! is almost as abstract as Cat Soup, but no where near as trippy. Instead it reminds me of the more convoluted parts of The Matrix and the Pale Cocoon OVA. Setting is a post-apocalyptic, cyber-punk world inhabited by androids and clones – humans are scarce, in fact the only human we actually see is the main character Kally. The structure is 6 shorts, which are basically snapshots of different parts of the timeline – its quite disjointed; there is no linear plot line.

These shorts are all about visuals and sound, dialogue is at a very bare minimum so the animation and soundscape tells most of the story. The animation is good, lots of black with striking use of bright neon colour highlights – character designs are quite generic though – however quite liked the giant baby-head machine thingys! Music is atmospheric, but a bit heavy in places.

Overall twas an interesting if abstract piece, but hey it only took 30mins to watch it all! 🙂

Hitsuji no Uta (Song of the Sheep / Lament of the Lamb): A slow paced, unusual vampire themed OVA – 4/5 .

PLOT: A very interesting premise, quite similar to Tsukihime in a number of ways but with the action element stripped away. Hitsuji no Uta is at its core a character study of the two central siblings and the way they cope with the vampiric illness the Takashiro family is cursed with. The pace is extremely slow but tense, with long pauses and meandering dialogue as it tracks Kazuna and Chizuna’s slow degeneration and their attempt to alienate their loved ones to spare them pain. Its quite touching, but the slow pace may be off putting to some – also the end felt rushed. Another episode would have been required to gain closure and I also would have liked more character development in order to give the end some more emotional impact. However these are minor faults and in 4 episodes this OVA managed to deliver angst and drama in buckets.

ANIMATION: I don’t think there was much of a budget for this anime, but they’ve really done well with what they had. The colours used are dull, almost monochrome – like all the colour has been leeched out from Kazuna’s world except for blood red – the brightest colour on display and it makes for a striking contract to the other pale colours. There are a lot of long static shots with wordy monologues too. The character designs aren’t the best in the world either as they’re rather plain.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The music is very atmospheric enhancing the melancholic feeling, which permeates the entire anime. I also loved the song at the end of each episode and felt it fit perfectly with the feeling this anime leaves you with. The voice acting is great, the seiyuu do a great job of bringing their character’s emotions across. Kazuna’s confusion and despair, Chizuna’s quiet acceptance and tiredness are all clearly felt.

Overall a great vampire OVA – it does have faults which is why I haven’t given it 5/5, but an interesting watch nonetheless.

Alien 9: Quite an interesting and dark series, but has a very annoying lead and pacing issues – 3/5

PLOT: I wasn’t overly impressed by the premise and found the characters irritating – especially Yuri who did not stop yapping for the entire flipping series! But I really liked the atmosphere of this show. It immediately put me in mind of Boogiepop Phantom and the better parts of Narutaru, as Alien 9 can be extremely dark and disturbing at times. At other times I was bored out of my mind (the duration of ep 3 had this effect on me). Its a mixed bag which isn’t really a good thing considering this was only 4 eps – it felt a lot longer due to the tedious pacing. Again I was strongly reminded of Narutaru, which was unfortunately not a good thing. The last ep was strange, disturbing and it felt like nothing was resolved – which further added to my annoyance with this OVA.

ANIMATION: The animation is good as expected from JC Staff – not a fan of the character designs, but I liked the contrast between the cute little girls and the creepy ugly alien designs. The action sequences are smooth and well choreographed, with innovative use of the borg’s abilities.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The OP & ED are not the best – I skipped over them after the 1st listen, but the background music is excellent at creating a good, tense atmosphere. Voice acting was unremarkable throughout.

Overall I wasn’t overly impressed by Alien 9 – granted it was nothing like I was expecting. I was fully bracing myself for a manic, comedic action series when I read the summary – it delivered something unexpected and dark. I would have scored it higher if the pacing was better, there was actual plot resolution and if  the characters more likeable :S

Another five down – god knows how many I have left!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. trueredesu permalink
    July 23, 2009 8:43 pm

    I still haven’t quite finished Hayate season 1 yet, but I agree about the unrandom randomness :p Stuff like KKNikki fell apart because it tried to be too random, but Hayate manages to (just about :p) maintain a threadline thoughout the series to help bring the spoofs, homages and comedy together.

    Haven’t watched the others :p

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