krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I continued to watch a considerable amount of anime in the past three months, but as it seems I always have to find something to be concerned about somewhere with respect to it, I was aware in the first days of April that while new series were being announced for release through official streaming, I would look at those announcements and not feel compelled to watch them. This divergence from "the way things have worked out now" could get to me; for all that I have stacks and stacks of things still to watch I suppose I was projecting ahead to the future when the series now streaming were available for sale on disc over here and wondering. For the moment, however, I didn't seem to be lacking for interest in the things I was watching.

The name "Voltron" seems to bring "five robot lions" to mind for most people; recent projects using that name seem to concentrate on that, anyway. Through some accident of scheduling in the 1980s, though, I seem to have watched enough episodes of the other Voltron that it stuck in my own mind just as well, and perhaps even better. A good part of those memories, though, do seem to be of voice-over dialogue to the effect of "There goes another robot supply ship!", this extending to the generic helmeted enemy troops despite everything not covered by their helmets looking exactly the same as their commanders, who were associated with last-second interjections about "escape pods" instead of just being called "robots." All of this did make me interested a few years ago in news the anime series it had been made from would be released over here just as Golion had, but remembering the anxious wait I had for each succeeding part, always wondering if the company releasing it would "cut its losses" partway through this very last Voltron-related project of theirs, I was willing to watch Dairugger XV one more time, and now with no interruptions. Supposing my interest in this part of Voltron seems unusual (although I've encountered at least a few other people who've also made a point of it), I have the impression the casual dismissals of it include "just too many characters," and while early episodes do seem to try and focus on individuals among the fifteen pilots of the "Rugger Team," after a while these attempts seem to just sort of vanish. With that, though, there is sort of an impression the "opposition of personalities" are to be found among the antagonists of "Galveston," and that the one-of-a-kind giant robot the protagonists just happen to have is just one element in a larger science fiction war. As I watched my way through Dairugger I did wonder a bit about what might be seen as "linking" it with Golion, for all that I've been willing (if perhaps prompted more by certain spinoff works than anything) to see "common themes" in the three series linked up into Robotech (which, of course, I know has a comparable anniversary coming up next year...) The easiest thing to think of was that the antagonists in both series have purplish skin tones, but in thinking that I did recall what I've heard about the people who made Voltron being sent Golion by accident, having first asked for another series with "a robot lion" in it only to find they liked the one they were went better. I did, in any case, remember an impression from all the way back that it had always seemed "cheating" for the fifteen vehicles that made up Voltron to combine by teams into three bigger vehicles right after launching, but this time around I happened to think that beyond stretching episodes with stock footage sequences this might have been an attempt to distract from how Dairugger's legs and torso are formed from nondescript flying bricks.

Along with indulging myself by watching another show I'd seen before, I continued to be intent on watching the anime series I just happened to also have the manga versions of before getting to those manga on the chance the printed versions might seem "better drawn" or "less toned down." It may just be that when it comes to that particular kind of series with "one guy and lots of girls," where you either watch it because of the promises of the lower kind of "fanservice" or just complain about that, there have been cases where I've just gone to the manga and that's that. With one anime series released just a little while ago, though, the urge to watch it seemed to collect bit by bit, and if I didn't have any really solid reasons why I hadn't noticed any curt dismissals of the series either. I wound up getting Haganai (the short title abbreviated from what gets translated as "I Don't Have Many Friends"), about a high school club of misfits intent on getting practice at "making friends," for all that the central joke is they don't see each other as potential candidates for that. Some early thoughts that this sort of thing is exactly what gets needled in "No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular" seemed to fade when I became convinced that not only did things not seem obsessed on that lower kind of "fanservice," but that there was something to the unfriendliness between the two lead girls Yozora and Sena, some bite and snap to provide memorability and maybe even that seemingly rare accomplishment of "trashy good fun." That might in itself have also helped me hold off the feeling the other girls in the club were varying examples of "fetish fuel" (there's a dirty-minded inventor, a cross-dressing maid, a child nun, and the male protagonist's "Gothic Lolita" younger sister) long enough to more or less get over it. Although things wrapped up with a "let's tone down the craziness and be serious for a moment" development that could have been predicted some episodes back, I wound up looking ahead to not just the manga I'd started to collect but also the upcoming release of the anime's continuation...

One announcement of a new series being officially streamed did make me throw caution to the wind and, at least for a while, shake off the recent fear that, while we may be getting more mecha series than we seemed to a few years back, those who don't just dismiss them on general principles are so wedded to "the way they used to be" that they'll dismiss them within a few weeks. At first, it was the little things I took note of about Captain Earth, such as the amusingly elaborate rocket-powered assembly sequence of the big heroic mecha (something that didn't happen every episode, anyway) or the thought the colouring of one of the young protagonists made me think of "a male Rei Ayanami," reminding me of a fanfic or two from years gone by. As the weeks went by I did get to wondering if some of the factions that had made things seem complicated to begin with were being downplayed to emphasise the more "theatrical" and more powerful antagonists, but anyway people on the message board I follow did seem to just stop saying anything about the series (save for one person providing sarcastic commentary on screen shots from several new series), which is at least better than weekly rounds of souring condemnation. It did mean Ace of the Diamond wasn't the only series I was continuing to watch through official streaming. By now, I have the impression that it's entered a stage where the opposing high school baseball teams are getting the development. Knowing the manga the anime was made from has run for a good many volumes leaves me wondering just what will happen in and after the next three months, though.

While it had been a bit of a slog getting through A Certain Magical Index, I had the impression just from watching it there might be something after all to the more positive opinions I'd overheard of its "spinoff," A Certain Scientific Railgun. When I got to that series in turn, things seemed quicker to get started, with a refreshing change to self-contained episodes and some amiable new characters added to give a bit more perspective to the adventures of "Railgun" Misaka Mikoto (whose signature trick of electromagnetically firing coins wasn't overused in the action). While a "plot arc" did get set up, it seemed to develop nicely. When it was over, though, I did begin to form the impression the show was now "indulging" itself with "hanging around" episodes, but things picked up again for a conclusion that pulled some elements back from before. I did wind up wondering, though, if I ought to just start reading the manga for the series I'd collected (that I presume it was made "from manga" instead of from "light novels" just may account for why I think it seemed better-paced, although I'm at least curious about the announcement the original light novels of the original series are going to be officially translated) or take the chance on there being something to the spinoff's sequel anime as well.

With that, I'd at least for a while watched all the extended anime series I also had manga for. Out of all the options I could have gone to next, I went straight to a sequel with Wagnaria 2. When the comedy about part-time employees at a family restaurant picked up again, I did have the feeling it wasn't dwelling quite so much on the apparent male protagonists and his uncertain relationship with a female coworker so phobic around men she has trouble keeping from punching him in the face, which might have made it feel a bit more like I'd thought the first series would have been like at the very beginning. Beyond the two main characters, though, everyone else also came to seem to be in the sort of state where they'd be happier if they only got over their built-in obsessions, which in the end left me wondering if I was getting to the point of having things wear a little thin.

Not that long ago, I had watched the short anime movie Mardock Scramble: The First Compression without really knowing what it was about beforehand, and had wound up quite impressed through the simple impression that it felt similar to the action-heavy, futuristic and stylish science fiction OVA series I'd watched back at my university's anime club. It left off on a cliffhanger, though (just how much of a cliffhanger I seemed to have forgotten until returning to it), and in hearing there were two more movies to follow a vaguer comment overheard had me thinking it might be best to save the middle act until I had the last. In due time, though, I was able to go back to a new Blu-Ray of the first movie, on to Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion, and finish off with Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust. In the second movie, things did slow down a bit for the heroine Rune Balot; an extended casino sequence carried over from the end of it into the start of the third movie for a somewhat different experience, although the action picked up at the conclusion. I went pretty much straight from the movies to the manga version, aware I also had the translated novel both were adapted from; in this case I was wondering if it would for once be the manga that would feel "toned down." It just might have, but it does happen to have some bigger differences from the movies, which manage to make it seem interesting in its own way.

Now that I had taken the big step of importing from Japan a box set of the Macross Frontier movies with English subtitles, the first thing to do was obviously to go straight back to my "fansubs" of the TV series that had preceded them, having had the impression that the movies presented the secondary characters as "previously introduced." The various titles in the Macross franchise do vary in comparison to each other (infamously so in a case or two), but Macross Frontier had seemed easy enough to become interested in for someone who'd started back with Robotech. Balanced against that, I suppose, is the feeling a good number of its characters can be "mapped" straight back to the characters of the original anime. As I had followed the initial chase of the "fansubs," though, I'd noticed people dwelling on the latest version of the love triangle and faced my own feelings that while I didn't so quite care who would "win" the triangle (a feeling maybe not that foreign to me), I was concerned the "loser" would be interpreted as "deserving to lose." When it had seemed other people were putting negative spins on the character arc of the junior idol singer Ranka Lee to hold up the more experienced singer Sheryl Nome, that did begin to get to me. The very last episode, though, had brushed things up with a sort of "we'll just sort of say there's been no resolution to the triangle" ending (I can remember a comment or two that this amounted to a last-minute imposition from the top of the production staff), and that had seemed to annoy other people. With that stuck in my mind, I did track down later "fansubs" on overhearing animation I'd had an impression of wobbling off-model had been cleaned up for the video release and also supposing more time would have been taken on the translation, but never got around to watching them. Watching them now, I did indeed have the impression the animation (mostly) looked more consistent, but also got to wondering if I really wasn't troubled by the story now with nobody else telling me to be; I was willing, on getting to the final episode, to suppose the "big" story of space war had wrapped up and that that counted for something.

Halfway through that series, though, I did take time out from it to get to the just-released conclusion of another, even bigger, mecha anime franchise. I had started off almost reluctant to like Gundam Unicorn; the air of "respectability" that seemed to hang around it just seemed to remind me of how my opinions had diverged in different but still "unpopular" directions before for a few series in the franchise. As the instalments piled up, though, and I got to the point of buying the more expensive Blu-Rays when it seemed they would continue being released where the DVDs wouldn't (although in the end a deal was worked out to make the DVDs available again), I began to think Gundam Unicorn's constant earnest meditations on war and peace might not end with a sense of futility similar to a previous Gundam OVA that had also been placed "in between" existing works. Perhaps, too, Gundam Build Fighters might have managed for me to lift a small measure of the burden of "something has to 'work out' eventually in this franchise these days" for me when it came to Gundam Unicorn. Just in case its conclusion did provoke an allergic reaction, though, I decided to watch through all seven hour-long (on average) instalments, which took me a week. At the end of it, however, I could actually wonder if it could be interpreted as providing satisfying hope through "retroactive continuity."

With that taken care of, I headed on to the continuation Haganai Next. Getting to it when I did might have set some sort of record for me, but in some ways the same sort of "comparison to the original" that might have affected my reactions to Wagnaria 2 just as it seems to obsess a great many other people might have been something to get over with the first episodes. There were at least some satisfactions to it, though (and a revelation that I could imagine some people being annoyed with, although it didn't seem to bother me in the end), even if there did seem something a little odd with some of the "new characters" being introduced so close to the end. In any case, it did now seem I could at last get to the manga.

To close out the three months, I could at last open up the Macross Frontier movies. While the subtitles, in presumably calling on resources "fansubbers" can't, did wind up translating some of the song lyrics differently from the translations I'd just seen, they were certainly welcome. The first time I had watched the movies, I'd had the distinct feeling they could be interpreted as direct responses to the criticisms I could remember of the previous series, and that might have helped them to have more of an impact on me, an impact that made me more ready to try and "at least pay for some of the experience." With having been able to experience the series again while shrugging off certain criticisms, though, this time around I might have just picked up a bit more on the additions to the weapons loads of the mecha and the increased grandiosity of the musical performances, the second thing being more interesting than the first; I also happened to think the first movie had managed to wrap itself up more "conclusively" than might have been imagined. If the movies therefore began to seem a bit less "essential to the whole thing" to me, that might be something; they were still "different" enough to be interesting, anyway.

Date: 2014-07-03 09:27 am (UTC)
lovelyangel: (Haruhi ThumbsUp)
From: [personal profile] lovelyangel
That’s quite a bit of anime... and a nice variety. I’ve wanted to try out Haganai, but it hasn’t been convenient for me. Still, a little extra motivation from commentary like yours is a good thing. (^_^) I like Railgun quite a bit, and the slice-of-life portions are a nice change-up from shows that relentlessly focus on action and plot. The main thing about Railgun that perplexes me is that these are 14-year-old middle schoolers. Somehow they act older in the anime.

I’ve also heard that Gundam Unicorn is supposed to be pretty good – it’s popular, at least. However, I’m not deeply into Gundam, so I’m not sure how much I’d appreciate the series.

I don’t watch many older shows nowadays, but I am currently trying to resist the draw of one. Nozomi has released the first season of Cat’s Eye, a sentimental favorite from the 80’s. I don’t feel like paying modern prices for a very old anime series, though. Don’t know yet if I’ll cave in.

Anyway, other people’s takes on anime are fun to read. Thanks!

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