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Short Reviews: Part 9

July 27, 2009

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Wow Part 9 of this series already!…….Up next are reviews for;  Boogiepop Phantom, Yukikaze, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Dead Leaves and Saiunkouku Monogatari.

Boogiepop Phantom: An excellent mystery anime but extremely confusing at times- 4/5

PLOT: I’m having severe difficulties reviewing this show as its fairly random at times, and I didn’t really know what was going on half the time! It takes a similar structure to Baccano!, in that it consists of a large cast of characters and the timeline jumps about the place to cover their stories, and often shows the same scene in different perspectives. Its also similar to Paranoia Agent as the viewer doesn’t really know what’s going on for much of the time and its full of quite strange characters. Another show that I could compare Boogiepop to is Ghost Hound as it covers a lot of strange phenomena and has psychological elements in it too. Strangely all this makes for compelling viewing and I have a feeling that if I re-watched the series everything would fall into place immediately. Also for a show with so many characters most are surprisingly well developed.

ANIMATION: Madhouse was behind the animation and its quite good. A very basic colour palate is used, almost sepia for most of the series and character designs are on the more realistic side of the spectrum. Normally I’m not a fan of series that are animated in such dark colours, but in this case the darkness really enhances the atmosphere of the series and the sense that you aren’t getting the whole picture at anyone time. Quite often the screen seems almost entirely black, except for the area around the character that particular section of the show is concentrating on. It’s very well done.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I loved the soundscape of this show. It’s got such a strange mix of sounds ranging from classical to electro to chanting – everything very carefully selected to match the visuals and enhance the atmosphere. I also really liked the OP, which is by the same person who provided the OPs for xxxHOLiC, and has that same jazzy feel to it. The ED was also quite good, although I found it fairly forgettable.
Voice acting was great throughout – there are a large number of creepy children and troubled teens in this show and the seiyuu’s all did excellent jobs voicing their descent into insanity.

Overall a very interesting show, but difficult to review properly.

Yukikaze: A very pretty and detailed OVA but the plot is too disjointed and confusing – 3.5/5

PLOT: I liked the premise of the plot and the setting of the action, but felt that the execution could have been much better. The scripting just feels random and its almost like there are huge chunks of exposition cut from the final edit. I did like the realistic approach to warfare and the fact that there is no mecha – its all fighter jets, but I did feel that they went overboard with the techno-jargon as all that just went straight over my head! The central characters are no where near well developed enough, a bit of backstory on Jack and Rei would have been nice – but considering this is a 5 episode OVA with a massive cast they have done quite well in the character development department. My corrupted brain decided that there was definitely some yaoi undertones in the relationship between Jack & Rei, and it really wanted some sort of confirmation of that…….but that’s probably just me! The aliens could have done with a bit of development as well, as it is they remain as mysterious at the end as they were at the start. But all in all for a short OVA series the plot was interesting, if not solely there to link together the fabulous battle scenes.

ANIMATION: The animation in this is absolutely 1st class! Wonderful use of CGI throughout great detailing in the backgrounds, well executed and choreographed fight scenes and attractive character designs. Lots of colour – loved the green skies of the planet Fairy (kind of had DBZ Namek flashbacks though :p) and the colour displays of the JAM aircraft – it’s all very visually appealing and most of my enjoyment of the series stemmed from the brilliant graphics.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I did not like the OP at all – seemed very discordant and random on the ear. Also the ED was a decent track but didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the show, as it is a bit too upbeat. The BGM was excellent though. Voice acting is quite solid, although Rei is a wee bit too soft spoken and depressed sounding, to extent he comes across as extremely emo :S

Overall a solid OVA that has excellent graphics and an interesting plot, but suffers from bad pacing and a confusing structure. This may have worked better if it was fleshed out more as a longer series or if it had of been trimmed right back to movie length.

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade:  A very well put together and interesting film – 4.5/5

PLOT: The plot is very engaging, it took a little while to get into it but once everything is set up this movie reaches a very interesting conclusion. The later half of the film is superb. There is a great deal of symbolism used all surrounding the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, which gives the writing and visuals a lot of power. I really loved how this was put together.

ANIMATION: A realistic style of animation is on display here, and it is of a high standard as I have come to expect from Production IG. The colours used reflect the dark tone of the subject matter but are also heavy in symbolism – the bright red coat of the female lead to represent Little Red Riding Hood, and the red goggles of the soldiers call to mind the gleaming eyes of predatory wolves are what really stood out for me when watching this. The action sequences are also very well animated, especially the riot at the beginning of the movie, which has a lot of realism.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The one thing I didn’t like about this was the voice of the female lead, she sounds much too young for her character design, and its especially jarring when compared to the deep voice of the male lead. It makes their relationship feel a bit wrong to me. The music on the other hand is wonderful and fits well with the visuals.

Overall a great anime film definitely worth a look if you haven’t seen it already.

Dead Leaves: An insane film, watch it for pure amusement value – 3.5/5

PLOT: I remember watching this film ages ago and just being completely bemused from beginning to end. It is completely demented; the plot only serves to link together the action scenes – but who needs plot when a film is this much fun! Characters are completely out there and extremely memorable – even the random side characters leave a lasting impressing for just being so strange. High-octane randomness is what Dead Leaves is really about!

ANIMATION: Wow colourful. That’s the 1st thing that strikes you about this movie – the animation is extremely bright and the character designs are very odd – but this all adds to the manic and unique charm of Dead Leaves.  Plenty of well animated action scenes too.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I can’t remember much of the music to be honest, but I remember thinking the voice acting was excellent. The VA’s really brought a huge amount of energy to their characters – excellent work all round!

Overall an insane little film – left me feeling a bit hyper and thinking WTF? But it was good craic while it lasted!

Saiunkoku Monogatari – A reverse harem series with plenty of depth and lots of interesting period politics – 4.5/5

PLOT: The series follows the main character Shuurei as she tries to fulfil her dream of becoming a Government Official in a male dominated, vaguely ancient Chinese world. At first glance you would think this series would be a romcom in the Fushigi Yuugi vein, however even though Saiunkoku is filled with bishies the romance plotline usually takes a backseat to political and personal drama. Most of the story arcs are about how Shuurei deals with prejudice and attempts to reform the government for the better, rather than fluffy romantic interludes. This makes Saiunkoku a nicely rounded show and I really enjoyed it. However, as with longer shows, there are some very weak and pointless arcs and too many unneeded recap episodes in a 39 episode show. There is also a second season which develops the plot even further, although even at the end of that much is left unresolved and I’m hoping there will be a third season!

ANIMATION: I liked the animation. This is a show from MADHOUSE so the animation quality is good although not groundbreaking. There is a very colourful palate used – lots of bright pastels and great detailing in costume design. Character designs are very pleasing – yay for the numerous specimins of bishie eye-candy! On the negative side, there is quite a lot of static shots and the backgrounds can sometimes lack detail – all quite obviously to save on budget.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I love the OP – its great. The BGM is decent enough to do the job and the ED is soothing. The voice cast is what really made this show for me though! I’m a fan of all the seiyu of the central cast – each of them are brilliant voice actors with a huge body of work under their belts, There’s: Hikaru Midorikawa (Seiran; Li Xingke- Code Geass, Zelgadis – Slayers), Houko Kuwashima (Shuurei; Claire – Claymore, Michiru – Zombie-Loan), Tomokazu Seki (Ryuuki; Sousuke – Full Metal Panic, Kyo – Fruits Basket) and Nobuyuki Hiyama (Kouyu; Madarame – Genshiken, Viral –Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) plus heaps more – all in one show!

Overall this was a show that surprised me. When I picked it up I was expecting something light, fluffy and romcom-y, but got something much more interesting instead – a nicely thought out plot, well developed and likeable characters and lovely visuals. Worth a look IMO!

Another day another set of reviews posted – more to come soon!

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