Animation SG-SM
Shiki
In a small isolated town people are dying. Soon it’s becoming clear that some of them are coming back to life as vampires that are killing the remaining people. A doctor and a temple priest are trying to figure out what’s going on and save the town. This could be a typical vampire/zombie story but this is much better. The writing is superb with twists and surprises. The animation is well done. The music is mostly good. Toward the end the subtext comes out. The war against the vampires expands to include anyone who’s under their control, then anyone thought to be ‘sympathizers’, then anyone that gives an answer the interrogators don’t like. Petty personal grievances are acted upon. Self protection becomes genocide. In the end are the villagers any better than the vampires? Who really are the mindless killers? A very significant work.

Shin Chin
Looks like a Chinese version of South Park. Inept parents, Smart mouthed, and foul mouthed kids. The kids are younger so in addition to the language, there is more scatological humour. Boorish and stupid.

Shinreigari: Ghost Hound
Three kids who experienced violence in the past discover the ability to move between this world and the Unseen World where the spirits reside. In the mean time the spirits are moving into this world. What is the mystery about one of the kids kidnapping, what is with this local country religion that suddenly seems to be gaining so much power, what is going on at the local bio-research company that is worth killing for. Lots more is going on and sinister forces are circling. Surprisingly good after a slow start. There is a good deal of back story developed and connections between the families that they didn’t know about.

Shrek (Movie)
Low humour. Body humour. Bathroom humour. Lots of “topical” references that look very dated now. Some amusing moments in this film of an Ogre trying to rescue the girl and save his home but overall it is forgettable. I did not even bother watching Shrek 2 and Shrek 3 and 4 were more about selling products than anything else.

Shingetsutan Tsukihime
Average animation at best. A story about vampires that, much like the ones in Twilight, don’t follow the established canon. Vampires in daylight, vampires that live for hundreds of years but don’t understand anything about human society, different kinds of vampires, it’s all a bit overly complex. I found myself saying things like “Oh this is going to be the one where he fights the bad guy and wins” and it did, or “I bet his sister knows more than she is letting on” and she did. A few interesting twists and turns but overall rather predictable.

The Simpsons
Idiot father, well meaning mother, brainy sister, bratty brother. Lots of hijinks and the kids seem to always win in the end. Good the first few years and the Halloween specials were fun. Early on it was full of social satire. Over time the series devolved into a collection of gratuitous pop-culture references. The Simpsons went corporate and formulaic after about ten years and I stopped bothering with it.

Skull Man
A reporter and photographer investigate a series of murders by a spectral figure wearing a skull mask and cape in a city with secrets. Very good animation. Very good music. A well written and interesting story with twists and surprises. Unfortunately,13 episodes is not enough to really develop some of the themes. There were two wars mentioned that lead to the creation of monsters and cyborgs, both of which were hidden from the public and apparently isolated in Ootomo. The White Bell sect is related to the previous lines but how did it come to be such a big organization. The back story of the main characters is mentioned and they were all connected one way or another years before but there was much more there to explore. I liked the series and it almost, but not quite made it onto my best of page. If they’d taken a bit more time they could have had a storyline as rich as the animation.

Skyland

A future where the earth has shattered and the chunks orbit around the core. Everything is surrounded by atmosphere and gravity is earth normal. The result is that people live on these floating islands and fly between them. The Sphere, an evil militaristic dictatorship run by Oslo is bent on dominating the world. Mahad and Lena are trying to free their mother from Sphere imprisonment, keep from getting captured themselves, and try to stop the Sphere. The writing is not bad, though the dialogue is a bit forced at times. The graphics are on the whole very good. The ships and islands, the landscapes and flying scenes are simply gorgeous, with a beautiful impressionistic feel. The effect is quite surreal. The characters, on the other hand are the product of CGI and Motion Capture, giving them a wooden appearance. They come across as very stiff and flat. The end is a bit of a disappointment. The finale is a one hour extended episode that has even more gorgeous graphics; subtle shadow and light effects to improve the, already impressive, landscape imaging. Unfortunately, the story was rather predictable and simplistic. Worst of all the writers bludgeon you with The Message. I mean we got that Family Is Strength already by the fourth or fifth episode.





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