Category Archives: running commentary

The same as the commentary category, except it applies to things which haven’t finished

Spring 2013: The Shows that Matter

Valvrave

Valvrave has garnered lots of attention. I probably don’t need to describe it. I take it as further confirmation of my belief that the CE Gundam opening moves are now so familiar that they can be used as background.

Gargantia

So far Gargantia hasn’t been very good giant robot show, but I’ve been enjoying its fish-out-of-water plot. Mildly. Wouldn’t want to get too enthusiastic about something this forgettable.

Majestic Prince

An interesting one. It’s not very serious and absolutely has a parodic edge to it, but it’s also occasionally sombre. This probably won’t work for that many people, but I’m buying into it for now. Maybe it’s the surprisingly tentative opening song.

3DPD

The present age being one of petty, diminished things, all three use CG for their giant robots. I find the work in Gargantia least satisfying. Valvrave and Majestic have the advantage of setting at least some of their fighting against the more anodyne background of space. And Majestic‘s robots are plasticky, commercialised objects within the show’s own fiction, too.

Southern Cross

Really, the mecha show that matters most to me at present is Southern Cross. It’s fun and there’s no CG. And I like the Southern Cross Army’s body armour.

Jeanne investigates an alien ship

Two Quintessences?

Suite Precure wrapped up last Sunday. It was an acceptable installment for the franchise, with some nice silly concepts and a handful of good fights. It played the revelation of the third and fourth magical girls’ identities well, and Cure Beat’s electric-guitar hair was a brilliant little touch. And for those who didn’t watch it (so, everyone) I’m not talking about her appearance. I’m talking about the fact that her ahoge is strummable.

But it was never much more than acceptable (‘as average as it gets for PreCure‘), and contained little to entertain normal adults, so what I’m saying is, I suppose, that you, dear reader, probably shouldn’t bother trying it.

That judgement makes me think about how we divide up the franchise as a whole. There’s a trend towards what I’d call Heartcatch exceptionalism: the position that Heartcatch Precure is, quality-wise, just better than the other iterations. Reluctantly, I agree. Reluctantly, because while I like Heartcatch very much, it’s not probably not my favourite—I think I prefer the original, which was my introduction to Precure a year or so ago.

Heartcatch is also one of the bits of the franchise most easily enjoyed by more normal anime fans. I’ll put it another way: I’ll cheerfully watch a boring, cheaply-animated, bad episode of Precure because there are things in the franchise’s central concepts which I enjoy, entirely independently of the quality of their execution. You are probably not like this. Heartcatch is better-placed to appeal to you. (The All-Stars DX movies are the other bit of the franchise worth checking, because they are short and endearingly mad.)

Oddly enough Heartcatch‘s position within its franchise reminds me of a very, very different title, Macross Plus. I think Plus is easily the least Macrucian Macross. Apart from anything else it is, as I’m sure a zillion people have said before me, substantially more pessimistic about music, love and transforming mecha, the three legs of the Macross tripod.

Every part of the franchise gets to play a part in deciding what’s Macrucian, true (even Macross II… hell, if you were introduced to Macross via Robotech—I wasn’t—that too will have influenced you…) but, at less than three hours, Plus is too short to much affect the impression left by the TV shows. I suspect there was a time when Plus had enough prominence among Anglophone anime people to counteract that, but nowadays the fan on the torrent tracker thinks Frontier when one says ‘Macross’.

Plus is also good. Like, really good. Solid, good fun, and great Itano circuses. It’s my favourite Macross thing. But! I don’t really enjoy Macross’s central tripod that much. I’m not a Macross fan. Perhaps I should say ‘not yet a Macross fan’, because I suspect that might change as I grow older, but that’s by-the-by. I’m no authority on the subject, but my best guess at the show which is most Macrucian is Macross 7. You will note that it is unusually long for Macross, which (I think) gives it influence as it just wears people down into its way of thinking.

Mecha Declaration of Year Start

I don’t normally follow anime as it airs, Gundam and, lately, Precure excepted. (I’m looking forward to Smiley’s Precure. Apparently the Cure colours will be grey, brown, and grey-brown.) Following a few seasons behind and gleaning up titles recommended by trusted minds more or less guarantees a steady stream of things I enjoy, while trying to catch things as they air would doom me to running into something I dislike. Oh, and, Gundam again excepted, robots seem rare at the moment. However, January brought a bunch of things I’d like to keep up with, and two of them even have robots!

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Asura Cryin’: This Season for Busy People

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Every now and then I get this unaccountable urge to mention anime that is actually still airing, so here’s a remark on the unremarkable Asura Cryin’. Continue reading

‘Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Zabi . . .

msi-whodoyouthink

. . . if you think you’re in London?’ (It was almost certainly unintentional, but I’ll take what I can get – and besides, any comedy which has a credit for ‘the Yokel’ deserves some recognition.)

MS IGLOO or, as I like to refer to it, Mobile Suit Gundam: Peenemünde, is a real oddity. Its purpose, as far as I can make out, is to show off the animators’ skill in the production of fully computer-generated mechanical design porn. This makes for storylines which are, judged by normal criteria, probably rather dissatisfying: each episode introduces a weapon, together with a character who operates it, but the weapon is always destroyed and the new character is always killed. However, since the main reason to watch this is the mechanical design porn, the pre-arranged outcomes aren’t really an issue. Indeed, once you know how it’s going to go, you can take a kind of detached interest in the execution.

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Varying Degrees of Whut

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I find Sora Kake Girl or Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo or The Girl Who Leapt Through Space quite enjoyable, for reasons which escape me. The staff are poking heaps of fun at other anime, past and present, from the same studio, and I suppose I’m in a position to appreciate at least some of that poking process. Plus my lack of anything approaching good taste in music helps me tap my foot to the Ali Project opening. But there are also odd hints in the show that it might turn out to be, like Code Geass, a fertile ground for the parlour game of crackpot theories.

Here’s my first contribution. Continue reading

Notes on Ballet Bodies

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When, in Ride Back‘s first scene, Rin dances, she looks to me like she has weight. I don’t mean that she looks like she’s heavy, I mean that she doesn’t look ethereal. It helps that the first few shots we see of her show her testing and adjusting her ballet shoes. Continue reading