Katanagatari 6 has a pretty box, too

Posted by DiGiKerot in Katanagatari, R2(J) DVDs at September 19, 2010 on 7:00 pm

Although the presence of Hakuhei Sabi and the absence of Nanami upon the box which houses the shows four instalment amuses me somewhat.

Six episodes in (still three episodes behind the rest of the universe) and I’m still enjoying Katanagatari immensely. The three-episode intervals between artboxes for the show seems to be a good enough period between episodes for there to be something to be worth saying about it. Although when I say “it”, my mind can’t really help but linger on the last phrase of the sixth episode.

I mean, it’s not like many anime shows make the habit of non-nonchalantly stating that the shows hero would be killing his sister in the next episode before the ending credits had even rolled. I mean, it’s been patently obvious that the show has been headed in something approaching that direction ever since the forth episode happened, but the obviousness of a plot-twist has never particularly stopped anime from stretching out the reveal long past it’s become transparent to even the most dense of viewers. Perhaps it’s just that it’s originating from a novel written by someone who knows what he’s doing, but it’s showing a level of confidence in the attention span and intelligence of the audience which is all too rare.

More than that, though, it’s displaying a level of confidence in it’s own writing that is perhaps even rarer. It harkens back to what they did with the shows fourth episode, where they eschewed the action-packed battle they’d both built up and had been advertising in the episode previews in favour of a rather slower paced affair featuring Nanami. As much as the initial revelation of what they were doing would have annoyed the viewer, they obviously had the confidence that what they had thrown together would still hold the audiences attention enough for them to continue.

What they did here in the sixth episode was, arguably, even more interesting. It had none of the smoke and mirrors that’d be displayed in, say, My-HiMEs next episode previews, rather it played it’s hand face up for everyone to see. It’s almost as if The Sixth Sense had been proceeded by an announcement proclaiming that Bruce Willis was wearing a bald-cap for the whole movie (that was the twist, wasn’t it?). The framing running up to the episode sixes conclusion by no means made it assured that Nanami would actually be dying in episode seven – indeed, they laboured over the point that Shichika had managed to fell his last two opponents without having killed them, meaning that it was still somewhat feasible that she’d have made it out of the other side in something resembling one piece. By throwing that possibility immediately out of the window, it’s as if they’re making a statement that they don’t need to rely on cheap theatrics or shock developments to make the episode worthwhile.

And that’s kind of neat, though I’ve yet to watch the episode in question in order to see if it proves true.

Also, I still find the continuing Cheerio jokes funny, enough though they should have overstayed their welcome long, long ago…

Katanagatari 3 has a pretty box.

Posted by DiGiKerot in Katanagatari, R2(J) DVDs at August 19, 2010 on 9:03 pm

Yes it does – it’s a good piece of art, and the card with which it has been assembled has a nice texture to it. Makes a change from all those shiny chipboard boxes. Of course, it helps that I like the art from the show, though it’s tough for me to put my finger on an exact reason why. I think it’s mostly down to the animation staffs attempts to mimic the style of Takes character designs for the series – they’re deceptively complicated whilst looking tremendously clean. They animate well, though things like the absence of whites in some characters eyes does have the side effect of making it look at little lazy.

And, yes, I realise I’m running about five months behind the rest of the internet here, but I’m behind on pretty much anything which isn’t Occult Academy. Truthfully, I wasn’t really sure how I’d like the show between mixed reactions to the early episodes and less-than-great reports about (admittedly the later volumes of) the novels, but I’ve taken pretty well to it now that I’ve broken down and started. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I simply like meta-humour way more than most – my favourite episode of Macross Frontier would have to have been the one that essentially consisted of a barrage of series in-jokes and trolls. So, basically, when many are complaining about Katanagatari being far too talky, I’m perfectly happy to sit through half an episode of Togame complaining about the undeniably true fact that Shichika is far too dull to stand out against the flamboyant villains they find themselves up against. I kind of thought the setting may have prevented Nisioisin from being able to veer too far in that direction, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.

Black Rock Shooter…

Posted by DiGiKerot in One shots, R2(J) DVDs at August 17, 2010 on 9:49 pm

…Sure has small subtitles on DVD – on the average R1 release we’d probably be seeing this level of text filling the whole bottom line of the screen rather than just half of it. This is, I think, a Good Thing. Admittedly, I’m watching this off a decent, moderately sized TV where the limitations things like resolution (or lack there-of) are not an issue, but given the hoops required to be jumped through for anyone outside Japan to obtain this release on disk, I’m hardly expecting anyone to be watching this on their old SD CRTs.

Which I suppose gives the R1 a get-out clause for not following suit, as viewing conditions are less guaranteed. I really wish there’d be more options on R1 DVDs, though – this proves that less obtrusive subtitles are possible even within the limits of the DVD specification, and it’s be nice to be given the choice to use such things for those who find them perfectly readable.

So, yeah, Black Rock Shooter was certainly an OAV. I don’t know, it’s hard for me to say too much about it, for I neither really found it particularly fantastic nor particularly terrible. It did rather try too hard to be cute with it’s structure, with it’s alternating between the “real” world and the “other” world content. It didn’t exactly entirely make sense – the opening sequence with BRS battling Black Gold Saw was not only entirely extraneous to the rest of the OAV, but doesn’t really fit in with what can be established with regards to the Other world material. Whilst it’s clear that the remainder of the Other world material takes place after the Real world storyline, BRS is lacking the scars in that opening sequence she has in all others (including the one where she merges with Mato). This throws out the easily establishable logic of BRS being the alternate incarnation of Mato out the window, despite the fact that the introduction of STR in Other is presented simultaneously to Yuu within Real.

Which just begs to question precisely what all that was about. Well, beyond being a convenient way to disguise the fact that by jumping days, weeks and even months between scenes within Real would make matters a touch disorientating without them being broken up. It’s just a shame that by essentially using them as transitional sequences to clearly delineate the Real world sequences, they rather ruin what would, if strung together sequentially, be a fairly coherent and rather awesome action sequence.

Honestly, and whilst this probably flies a little against others logic, I do think the whole OAV is rather on the too long side – not necessarily for the content being presented, but at least for the way that they chose to present it. If nothing else, I really don’t think we needed the Super Happy Lets Be Friends Montage padding the whole production out by a few minutes. Black Rock Shooter was hamstrung by the limitations of it being an OAV, really. More time to expand the Real world sequences beyond what feels like a too-long episode-recap-like short-hand format would have done things wonders, but without it I can’t help but feel they’d have been better off skimming over it far more quickly.

But, hey, on the positive side, the Other world material really is super-neat – huke’s particular brand of techno-gothic design combined with the high-contrast colour scheme looks great, and whilst I don’t think the animation is quite as slick as some others have suggested, the battle sequences are certainly well executed. It’s just a shame that by stretching matters out with the over-long, err, “ambient” sequences, the ratio of content drops below what I, personally, would have considered to be more ideal.

All this sounds like I’m being far more terribly negative than I’d like, but as I started out by saying, rather than being particularly good or bad, it’s all really just kind of there.

Pretty Cure All Stars DX2

Posted by DiGiKerot in One shots, R2(J) DVDs at July 27, 2010 on 11:23 pm

This was a pretty random pick-up for me. I mean, my prior experience with the whole Pretty Cure franchise comes down to having seen about half of the original series prior to all the legal streaming sites blocking it from UK access – and by half the original series, I mean half of the original series, not including Max Heart. Given some of Authors comments on the matter, I may well be rather better off that way.

So, basically, given that I didn’t really buy this for the branded letter-paper which shipped with it, I was only really after a fix of magical girls hitting things, and with the Nanoha movie yet to be solicited (seriously, Unlimited Blade Works has been pencilled in for a month or so already, and that hit cinemas the same day), this seemed like a likely choice.

Kiyal’s Magical Time

Posted by DiGiKerot in R2(J) DVDs at June 5, 2010 on 8:21 pm

I’d watch that show.

It probably speaks volumes about the fickle nature of anime fandom, but the second DVD volume of Gurren Lagann Parallel Works music video collection snuck it’s way out in Japan last week with little fanfare. It’s pretty much as mixed a bunch a the first instalment in terms of content, but it’s an awful lot more parallel about it in a lot of cases. It’s kind of weird that the volume opens with The Sense of Wonder, which in terms of visual style, and even character designs, bares just a passing resemblance to it’s originator (in so much as you recognise characters in terms of their relation to Nia more than their own appearance). Whilst Parallel Works 1, for the most part, stuck close to the appearance of the TV show even when it was being weird, this second edition gets awfully avant garde in places.