Decades of warfare destroy any sense for subtle wit.
To compensate for recently giving in to the urge to write about Kaiba, I sought out a helping of big men, big guns and big robots: Armour Hunter Mellowlink, a spin-off OVA set in the same world as Armoured Trooper VOTOMS. ATV is an unusual franchise, and one with which I’m not too familiar. Aided by some fine people (who know who they are) I’ve acquired the original VOTOMS, but I’ve only dipped my toe into it so far. My only other VOTOMS experience is the first half of the Pailsen Files (ably introduced by Hidoshi, with more structured first episode summaries from Kaioshin and at Tenka Seiha).
Memes must sometimes be reinforced.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Demonbane is not, by any stretch of the imagination, good. It’s a visual novel franchise adaption, and it tries to squeeze a great deal of information into a mere twelve episodes: the first episode feels like it’s playing at double-speed, the OP/rapid-fire clipshow is only one minute long and events frequently occur during the credits. Despite all this cramming, lots of extra plot, helpful explanation and some whole characters are cut to create an unfortunate ‘All There In The Manual‘ situation. I didn’t understand the conclusion (which was written especially for the anime in the first place) without the aid of Wikipedia.
I’ve used this before, but the internet needs more reverse trap Hamlet.
I have an unsubstantiated theory that any boys who encounter Hamlet during their adolescence will become slightly obsessed with the play. It is very easy to read Hamlet as a misanthropic, withdrawn and rather ’emo’ teenager, and – though this would seem very alien to the original audience, who lacked the concept – it’s no surprise that 21st century teenagers identify with him.
You can probably detect the voice of personal experience here, though I no longer identify with Hamlet in quite that way. For a start, although his age is much-disputed, there is textual evidence for a rather older Hamlet. And withdrawn teenagers are, for the most part, boring. But the obsession itself is harder to escape; to this day, productions of the play have me reaching for my wallet with the same irrational fervour that others use for figurines. (‘Ooh, look! A 1:8 Ophelia, “distracted, playing on a lute, and her hair down, singing“!’)
And so it is that we come to Self Made Hero’s ‘Manga Shakespeare’ version of Hamlet. It’s a strange (though hardly the strangest) concept. Curiosity drove me to buy it. But is it manga? Is it Hamlet? And what’s it actually like?
So Kimikiss departs on the 01:36 am Steam Train of Storytelling, while I’m left standing on the Foggy Platform of Real Life, manfully adjusting my Starched Collar of Essay-Composition and emitting stiff-upper-lipped Throat-Clearings of ‘I’m not crying’.¹ I suppose writing a blog entry about it is akin to listening to the departing rattle of the rolling stock and smelling the soot on the air. To quickly jump between transport metaphors, I’m also sad to see CCY standing at the wheel of the Yuumi x Kouichi liner, having honourably overseen the evacuation of all the passengers, disappearing beneath the waves but never deserting his ‘ship. (Hooray for doujins, eh? Eh?)
I don’t read enough manga. It’s not that I dislike it, it’s that I find it hard to relax with a book, or more specifically with the physical shape of a book, a codex. To ‘come home after a hard day’s reading and relax with a book’ carries a certain contradiction, as I’m sure you can see.
But I try. After all, manga has a number of practical advantages over anime as a form of entertainment: it’s much cheaper, and it’s available in the UK pretty much as soon as it’s available in the US because (glory be!) books don’t have those pesky Region Code thingies. [Wouldn’t life be awful if they did?]
Credit is therefore due to Kaoishin-sama for putting me onto Ecole du Ciel. Ecole has what it takes to interest me: obscurity value, curiosity value and hawt Mobile Suit-on-Mobile Suit action value. Plus the manga-ka is Mikimoto Haruhiko, who has an impressive set of character design credits including a number of Macrosses (and the animation direction for Do You Remember Love?) and War in the Pocket. And the first volume arrived in my letterbox recently, so here I am talking about it. Continue reading