Unlike any other series. A collection of short stories from classic Japanese literature. The animation is quite good, it is however the quality of the writing that makes this a truly fine series. The stories about adults in serious grown-up situations. No magic, no robots, no little animal companions. The first story is a tragedy about a suicidal alcoholic artist in the years leading up to WWII. The second is about a Bandit that goes insane. The third is a tragic love triangle told from two points of view. Next a writer takes a commission but the story hits too close to home. Then a nightmare where Psychopath gets his just reward. Finally an artist is commanded to paint a tyrants mausoleum with scenes of the country, only he paints what’s really going on in the land. A very good series
Aoki Hagane No Arpeggio
aka Blue Steel Arpeggio. A fleet shrouded in fog appears on the seas. This Fleet of the Fog outguns humanity and soon the seas and the sky above the seas is off limits. The world economy collapses and humanity is powerless. Then one of the Fleet of the Fog’s ships, the ships have no crews, they are run by AIs that take the form of human women, switches sides and starts helping humanity. The writing, artwork and voiceover work is excellent. There were unexpected twists and surprises. Several points I found myself thinking, “They can’t do that, there’s five more episodes left”. A few questions were left unanswered at the end but overall nicely done.
A mercenary is captured by ESWAT, an elite paramilitary/police group. She is a legendary fighter that the rulers of Olympus, the last civilized city in a world destroyed by war, have been looking to add to their team. She discovers multiple plots and overlapping conspiracies. Some want to destroy the Bioroids, an artificial race, and some that want to destroy Humans. Great animation with a meticulous attention to detail. Amazing but not over the top violence in the fights. Well written story. All in all a first class job. A well done piece implicating anyone that would wage race/ethnic/religious wars.
Appleseed: Ex Machina (Movie)
A huge disappointment. Chunky, plastic looking CGI graphics that look like a 1998 video game. Cliche`s abound (the officers funeral with his son saluting the casket, the tough guy tearing up at the wrong moment, the old veteran competing with the rookie, etc.) Producer John Woo swamps the story with over the top action that is improbable if not physically impossible. The clumsy story-line involves terrorism by hacked cyborgs and civilians under remote control while Deunan, the heroine is torn between her lover and his clone. She comes off as an airhead with a death wish rather than the tough consummate warrior from the first film. Clues to what is going on are embarrassingly obvious to everyone except to the characters onscreen. Toward the end it morphs into a strange three way buddy film / zombie movie kind of thing. Very disappointing.
Quite derivative and disappointing. The premise (children called upon to pilot huge robots to stop an alien threat known as an angel) is clearly from Evangelion. Parts also reminded me of NO E IN, and several other shows. The big difference from the other series is the implied and overt sexuality of the characters and situations. However, these are not adults they are children, in some cases siblings. This gives the whole show with a rather distasteful bent. The animation is average, the writing is not even average.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Aliens arrive on earth and nobody notices that they adopted the guise of a box of fries, a shake, and a meat ball. Lots of sexual references, very lousy writing, inexplicable situations, contradictory physics. Just a strange show but after I watched a dozen or so I grew to like it. I am not sure why.
The film is also known as the Secret World of Arrietty, and Arrietty the Borrower. Honestly regional names for the same movie are a PitA.
Based on The Borrowers novel. Shō spends a week at his Aunt’s house. He is a sickly boy who is facing heart surgery the following week. In the house is a family of Borrowers, tiny people who live hidden and take small items that won’t be missed, sugar cubes, pins, and such to survive. Arrietty is their precocious daughter. Shō sees her and though Borrowers must stay hidden, they strike up a friendship. A beautiful film, with lots of details. The english voiceover was perfect. I enjoyed the film. The ending though, is a bit bittersweet, but it was really the only way it could have ended.
Astra: Lost in Space
At first I was really put off by this one. The animation reminded me of Totally Spies, heavily drawn cartoony figures with over the top reaction shots and emotions, and all of the characters seemed like classic worn out tropes. I almost quit after the first couple, but something kept me going. It turns out that the writing is very good. The characters grow and become sympathetic. The story gets to be VASTLY deeper and more complex than it looked like at first with real intrigue and tension. By the second half of the series I found myself totally into it. The overarching theme of working together to overcome obstacles works well. The end wraps up the story arc, and most of the loose ends, very nicely, almost too neatly, but that is a small quibble. They left open the possibility of a second season, but if they don’t it that’s ok too. It stands on its own just fine.
Attack on Titan
A huge disappointment. I watched half a dozen episodes. The overall production wasn’t terrible but something bothered me. Finally I realized what. Mindless humanoid monsters that kill people out of blood lust. Brave soldiers that fight them with inadequate weapons against hopeless odds. Corrupt leaders that care more for their own comfort than the good of the people. This is just another retelling of the tired Japanese WWII myth. This is something I’ve run into in other productions, Pom Poko
for example, but never in a more flagrant or ugly way. It’s not even subtle. The principals are drawn with classic Japanese Anime character styles. The titans on the other hand are clearly drawn as caucasian, Americans or Europeans often with full beards, but naked with no genitalia. I lost interest as soon as I realized the underlying racism of the show.
A wonderful program out of Canada about a little girl that has a secret identity as a Galactic Guardian. It is cute and fun. I enjoyed the first season even though the stories are simplistic and most of the characters are thin. After the first season or two they seem to have run out of ideas. They changed some of the premises and unfortunately it really doesn’t work as well.
The world is divided among Airbenders, Firebenders, and Waterbenders. Each uses a combination of martial arts and psychic ability to control their respective elements and the three nations lived in harmony with The Avatar, an individual who can control all elements, keeping the peace. A hundred years before the series the Fire Nation went to war and subjugated the other nations. The Avatar at that time was a 12 year old boy that had been frozen in the arctic and so could not stop them. Now he is awake, still trying to learn and master his abilities, trying to stop the Fire Nation from doing bad things, and trying to not get captured by them. An interesting premise and a good message, warmongering is bad and people have to join together to stop those that want to wage war. The Avatar himself is a bit childish, more than he needs to be. Average writing but overall this is a fairly good series.
On a terraformed Mars the last survivors of humanity struggle to survive. Most worrying is that they cannot have children. To fill the void people have android ‘dolls’ which are companionship and help but don’t solve the problem: Mars is running out of people. Speedy’; a ‘doll breeder’, Layla Ashley; a fighter with a grudge, and a doll that isn’t what it appears, are travelling through this land while overhead a huge red cratered body gets closer and closer. The animation is decent, writing is really quite good with twists and surprises, and the music is excellent.
People that are touched by “warm snow” get an Ayakashi, a parasitic spirit creature of great power. Ayakashi must do the handlers bidding but any harm the Ayakashi receives is reflected on the handler and using an Ayakashi drains the handler. Using the Ayakashi also extracts a toll on the handler, some become physically handicapped, others go mad. Yuu discovers he is an Ayakashi handler and must learn to use this power while dealing with ever growing crisis. Who to trust? Who is out to help everyone and who is out for themselves. Pretty good overall.