The Good, the Bad, and the Screwy

New to anime? Want a fresh take? Follow along as we explore the best and worst and most out there Japan has to offer.

New to anime? Want a fresh take? Follow along as we explore the best and worst and most out there Japan has to offer.

We have a new show here at Halfacre Pond.  It involves anime – a topic near and dear to my heart – and broadening my friend Max’s horizons in that regard.

We call it The Good, the Bad, & the Screwy.

If you’ve read some of my posts, you’ll know I’m somewhat of an aficionado on anime, and derive a lot of entertainment from it.

Not all of the entertainment is because it’s good.  Some of it is just so mockingly bad.  I like all flavors of anime because I appreciate breadth and variety of the offerings.  From the intense, gut wrenching action to the light hearted fun and joy to the absurd gags that tickle my funny bone, I like it.

Max is a Toonami kid.  He grew up watching the dubbed versions of the classics like DBZ, Sailor Moon, Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Tenchi, Macross, etc, etc…but that was about it. He likes it, but never really got into it and had a few distasteful encounters that left him soured on it for a while.

Then peer pressure kicked in when I and a few other friends got him to watch Attack on Titan and he loved it.  The door opened a little and now we’ve come upon a grand experiment.

Up first.

Up first.

Max has agreed to watch the first 4 episodes of any 4 anime series I give him each month and give his reactions.

My challenge is to cultivate this list each month, and expose Max to many varieties of anime and gauge his reactions.  I’ve decided the best way to do this is to put a good anime, a bad anime, and some sort of screwball goofy comedy anime on this list…bonus, each month there will be a themed show on the list!

Here’s the kicker… Max won’t know what show is which.  Each month from now on he’ll go in blind and figure it out the hard way.

We’ll try to release a new episode each Friday.  All the series will be chosen from what’s easily available for streaming online.  Watch along with Max as we venture down this rabbit hole.

Enjoy this brief introduction and tune in next week as Max tackles his first challenge :)

Winter Anime Forecast 2015

To be frank, the winter lineup has left me cold. I have little to no interest in any of the new titles being released, the only highlights coming in sequels to some fantastic series.

Up first: Durarara!! X2

I admit, when I stumbled on the existence of this in the lineup, I got a little giddy. Definitely fanboyed out a bit.  Baccano! and Durarara!! are some of my absolute favorite series due to their off the wall, extraordinary nature and the bat sh!t insane comedy they excel at. I was ecstatic to see the continuation of Durarara!!  

Celty Sturlson - Kubinashi Rider

Celty Sturlson – Kubinashi Rider

The first episode doesn’t miss a beat. It maintains the sharp, fast paced, disjointed storytelling style that I love so much and it starts right off with my favorite character, Celty Sturlson – the Kubinashi Rider.  That’s right people who didn’t watch the first series, the headless horseman is actually a woman and she’s been living in Japan working as a motorcycle courier while looking for her stolen head.

The motorcycle is a horse.

The motorcycle is a horse.

Her flight through Ikebukuro connects us back to the denizens of this strange city nicely, while allowing the story to jump back and forth through events taking place in the intervening time between the last series and this one.

Next up: Aldenoah.Zero2

I wrote about the first series back in my Summer Anime Offerings and it did turn out favorably.  It quickly lost it’s alt history feeling and moved in to an exceptionally well told story. I enjoyed every moment of it. The twists and turns and the struggle. Until the ending.  It was one of those moments all too common in anime. The moment of “WHAT THE F WAS THAT!?!?” that typically never get a follow through to find out what happened. Well this one did. The follow up turned a really depressing ending [HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER] where you’re left believing the two main characters died, failed, and everything is lost around into a nice hook for A.Z2.

Inaho in action.

Inaho in action.

Nothing is clean cut in this show and everyone has dirt and blood on their hands. To describe it as dark would barely suffice. These characters are broken mentally, physically, and morally in their journey toward their goals. The art remains gorgeous and the conflict between Inaho and Slaine is probably one of the best ever written. You never know what’s going to happen next between them. Taught with dramatic tension and a world at war, A.Z2 looks to deliver quite a few more gut punches before all is said and done.

Continuing Series: Log Horizon 2 & Cross Ange

The other two series I’ll be keeping up with over the winter are Log Horizon 2 and Cross Ange. Not really much to say about them except check them out if you aren’t watching.

Log Horizon 2 (Electric Boogaloo) is the second installment of a “trapped in a video game world” series which debuted in 2013. Players wake up one day trapped in the world of Elder Tale, a WoW-like MMORPG, and must figure out how their new home works. It follows the exploits of Shiroe, a top class strategist in the game with a someone nefarious reputation as “The Villain in Glasses” due to his cold, calculating, ruthless nature when it comes to game play, and the friends he gathers along the way.

Cross Ange is kind of your typical girls with mechs fighting anime. Highly ecchi, good conflict, and it turns out to be another spin on a post-apocalyptic world. There are also dragons.

That’s it.

I only have four anime on the schedule right now.  That’s appallingly short.

To supplement this shortfall of material though, I’m going to start a new project with my friend Max in which I teach him the ways of anime. He’s agreed to watch the first four episodes of four series I assign, and we’ll see how he likes them. We’ll watch what I consider a good anime, a bad anime, a screwball anime, and the fourth will be themed for the month.

Stay tuned for the debut of The Good, the Bad, and the Screwy right here on Halfacre Pond.

Live Action G.I.T.S. ScarJo

Ghost In The Shell: GITS ScarJo

“Animated texts can represent to viewers not some stylized fantasy world, but reveal something about the world of actuality. The animated worlds depicted are, actually, part and parcel of our world”- Paul Ward (Animated Interactions: Animation Aesthetics and the World of the ‘Interactive’ , 2006

Too many times movies, comics, manga, and animation become part of our lives as memories we don’t want disrupted. Sacred. Immutable. However, the way Motoko Kusanagi was previously depicted is now being changed because the role will be played by Scarlett Johansson.  I understand the early uproar about it and the complaint, “Oh no! An American actress playing a Japanese character. Impossible!” but it happens in most adaptations or remakes. This complaint is the same as someone having a problem with Hugh Jackman, an Australian, playing the Wolverine, a Canadian.

ghost-in-the-shell-21

Ghost in the Shell we have many reflective moments of ‘stillness’ that draw attention to the Major’s preoccupation with self, the body and what it means to be human or not, in essence her ‘life’, soul or ‘ghost’. Her issues with who she is are made apparent with sequences where the Major is inanimate, and some of these sequences last for several frames drawing attention to her psychological state of mind. Ghost in the Shell’s preoccupation with identity and gender identity issues, as well as the use of reflective surfaces and images to depict fragmentary identity, is perhaps suggestive of the cross over of narrative theme and stylistics between cinema globally, but perhaps more importantly also the cross over of theme and narrative between anime and live-action which is arguably linked to generic traits- Caroline Ruddell – Breaking Boundaries: The Representation of Split Identity in Anime.

Take a look at the picture. Does she strike you as Japanese? The heart of the character really means anyone can play the role. She is manufactured, made to order just like a Realdoll™.  Of course when the news broke of the casting, the internet started demanding a recast. Yet, I believe Scarlett will do an awesome job, just look at her previous films. More than that, she brings a recognizable name and established fan base to the movie.

Next, we come to the westernization of many anime characters, specifically women. How many large busted, tiny waisted Asians are out there? How many blondes? While talking to a friend about this, he mentioned how in anime the popular girl normally looks American while the “friend” looks more traditionally Japanese.

Despite all the complaints about the casting we know how it will turn out – the people that took to the internet to vent their frustrations will still be the first in line. Meanwhile, I will continue to say that Scarlett will do a good job in the role.

–Max

NGE – Live?

Neon Genesis Evangelion Live Action Movie To Be Directed By Michael Bay…..Finally

When I see such articles appear in my Facebook feed, like everyone else I have to read it immediately.  So far the general consensus is; “Oh my God no…Noooooooo…Whhhyyyyyyyy”.

On the contrary who would be better than Michael Bay to direct Evangelion?

I say no one.

I know everyone will quote some facts or errors about some scenes in one or more of his movies or just explosions, blah blah blah. The fact remains that you will still go see it in theaters and enjoy it, just like the rest of his films – which you love to bitch and moan about.  I’ve known plenty of people who say how much they hate his films and tell me they will never go see them, and yet they are first in line for tickets on opening night.  Just like TMNT. You will go see it and complain afterwards, and then buy the collector’s edition merchandise. [Editor’s Note: No, I won’t. Unless the entirety of the Internet rises with one voice proclaiming it the best movie ever.]

When Hideaki Anno ended NGE originally, he received death threats because he left the series confusing.  I believe this would be motivation enough to stay true to the story.

In the end Michael Bay will do what he does best: fighting robots, half-naked Megan Fox, with massive explosions everywhere – and it will be awesome.  He has the experience working with giant robots from the Transformers series, so he knows how to do the EVAs, and for the most part would stay true to the series, give or take.

Just imagine the EVAs versus Angels.

The battles over Tokyo 3.

In Imax 3D.Evas and pilots

Side Note: When talking to James about this the other night, I proposed that same question: Who better to direct?  Around 3 in the morning I get a response of “Del Toro”, to which I responded “he would be guest director”.

[Editor’s Note: And I say it’d be a good team up to have Bay direct, and Del Toro design the Angels.]

[More Editor’s Note: Also, people, this project is at best speculative hype from the media related to a question he was asked on the Transformers/TMNT press junket in Asia and the coy response Bay gave.]