krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Once again, I've defined three months as a convenient measure and motivated myself to look back at all the anime I watched in that time. When I roused myself to start this a while ago (dealing with somewhat longer periods then), I always seemed to find myself thinking "Well, I haven't burned out on the stuff yet..." Then, I began to hope that I had, indeed, been able to accept the certain limitations of animation production in Japan and, in accepting them, let them fade back in my mind and manage my expectations such that I wouldn't all of a sudden find myself convinced I had to devote myself to something else more "acceptable" or, seemingly worse yet, start complaining all the time about how the last year of production I could "accept" was somewhere in the 1980s... It may be, though, that the conclusion of a live-action science fiction show (that I stayed interested in but didn't reconfigure my larger interests), defining a stopping point for myself in following the DVDs of a North American animated series, and some other miscellaneous encounters have left me a little more conscious of just what I do watch and just how I spend a portion of my spare time. Still, the simple fact seems to be that I've enjoyed the anime I watched in the past three months.

With the beginning of a new year, I returned once more to an anime that once used it as an integral part of its plot... or, perhaps, I returned not only to Macross but to thoughts of Robotech as well. In any case, my viewing didn't seem to have been depressed or oppressed in any way by the actual year being "different" from either of those "future histories." At around the same time, I managed to start at last into a rather newer "mecha anime," Code Geass, and found it quite compelling in its own way. Since posting about viewing the first third of the series's first half (and, it seems, lucking out in being able to watch all of the DVDs of it), I've also watched the middle third, and found myself interested in how some developments that might have first seemed "digressions from the overall plot and sudden impositions on what I was asked to accept at the beginning" became quite interesting in their own right. As well, while "giant robots with wheels in their feet" still seem sort of a "cheap" way to dodge having to animate them walking to me, I've become sort of intrigued in how, while both the protagonists and antagonists have familiar "elite mecha" that can cut swathes through the cannon fodder models, a lot of the main characters on both sides just use the cannon fodder models themselves, and have them wrecked and replaced in rapid succession.

I spent what seemed in the end a good deal of time working through the last two thirds of Golion, the anime that got turned into "Voltron." Perhaps the episodic nature of the lengthy show made things start to blur together for me, and perhaps being conscious of how little of Voltron I actually remembered beyond the most major characters and the familiar ritual of launching the robot lions, assembling the mighty robot itself, and "forming Blazing Sword" (although it has a different name in Golion) had an effect as well. (That reminds me to a fair extent of how I reacted to watching the longer-yet Gatchaman, the anime that got turned into "Battle of the Planets.") In any event, the conclusion did pick up a bit, but one consistent thought seemed to be wondering just how things would have been jiggered in the adaptation process to keep up the impression I seem to recall that in Voltron nobody ever actually "died..." I did manage to have one refreshing interlude in between the second and third packages of the show by watching one volume of Lucky Star. Last year, the way some orders arrived meant I had watched three volumes of it in rapid succession, and there it began to seem to blur together, but in a smaller dose it was more entertaining. Too, perhaps, having managed to watch the older anime Cat's Eye a little while before helped me feel satisfied at getting one particular joking reference (among many) in the show. Still, the ambiguous mix between character-based comedy and the feeling that something "obvious" about the show lurks beyond my experience does at times weigh on me...

Back in the summer of 2007, the traditional season for new series to be licensed for North American release and announced at anime conventions, three titles managed to make particular claims on my attention through the excitement other fans reacted to the news with on one particular message board I keep up with. Each of them, though, seemed to have to run a gauntlet before the DVDs were available for purchase here... with Code Geass, it was just a matter of "defective DVDs," but with Gurren Lagann the license got pulled from the suddenly hapless ADV not that long before the first release to be handed over to Bandai Entertainment after a period of uncertainty. For the third show, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, when other fans asked those excited at the news why, the reason "a 'magical girl anime' that plays out like a mecha anime" was mentioned, to certainly pique my interest... Unfortunately enough, though, not that long after the news its licensor Geneon was shut down in North America at the hands of its Japanese parent company, plunging all of us into a continued troubling new age, and it seemed that Nanoha was just one last example of the shows Geneon had kept licensing that made small groups of fans quite happy but just couldn't pay the bills. When Funimation made a deal to release the shows Geneon hadn't been able to, though, it turned out that the rumours production on Nanoha had continued because it had been contracted for before the end were true... and by that time I had managed to locate "fansubs" of the series, which meant I had to buy the release now. (Fortunately, I hadn't got around to watching the fansubs.)

One thing I had heard others mentioning about Nanoha was the quite familiar "just get past the first few episodes, and it really picks up..." Indeed, I have to admit that in the first few episodes the thought was present in my mind that "Two out of three" (or, aware of certain other unspecific things said, "one plus whatever fraction of Code Geass I do wind up liking") "isn't bad..." and then I found I was getting very interested in the show after all. Looking back on it, I began to wonder if the distinctive elements were being introduced one at a time and earlier than I might have expected. As for the resemblance that first piqued my interest, most of the "magic" of the eponymous Nanoha does seem to be firing off bright pink beams from her magical staff and defending against comparable attacks from her adversaries, but at times I did wonder if the show could feel as much like a simple fusion between fantasy and the more "technological" terms used to describe it and the organized framework a lot of it was held in. Still, adapting to what the show seemed to be was easy enough. Another thing I'd heard others mentioning about Nanoha, though, was that it had been deliberately made for and targeted at "older" fans, and some of the details particularly early on seemed to be the sort of thing you have to hasten to call "creepy" for the fear that any other reaction will make you the "creep"... other details didn't seem quite that, but I was still sort of tempted to call them "pandering." As I've said, though, the show did seem to outweigh certain of its smaller details, and I got started on its follow-up series, Nanoha A's, which may benefit from the ground-laying of its predecessor to launch into the wide-scope action that much sooner.

I finished watching "fansubs" of the Dirty Pair TV series. Now, in one episode the eponymous troubleshooter duo (although they'd much rather be called "Lovely Angels") did without quite seeming to intend it fire a blast into a cliffside of ore at the very moment of their victorious escape, and as a result an inhabited planet blew up, and that was the sort of "last-instant disaster" I had previously formed the troubling impression Dirty Pair was all about... but that was the only episode that happened in. Other than that, the series was energetic and fun, and I kept understanding how the North American anime fans of the 1980s had found it one of their favourites (perhaps a little conscious all over again of how I've found just a few of the other widely talked-up anime series from the 1980s somehow less impressive than I kept being told to see them as)... I do, though, still have the officially licensed "OVAs" from the franchise to view, and perhaps that's where the previous impression came from.

As far as other "fansub"-chasing goes, I kept up with the second half of the second season of Gundam 00. Once more, it seems that picking a particular release not the first to arrive at the very beginning with the thought that it wouldn't be "rushed" and "inaccurate" meant I wound up always a little or a bit more than that behind everyone else, and at this moment of writing I still haven't seen the very last episode... but things have become pretty impressive all the same, with stakes escalating, villains and heroes alike meeting dark fates, desperate appeals, and sudden yet somehow familiar stretches in what "suspension of disbelief" can encompass... it may be that I'm impressed with the series because it seemed to have to "work" to get to where it is, although that does seem tied in with feeling gloomy because completely different parts of the Gundam franchise take much more in the way of lumps from others, but I don't have the courage to make a calm judgement on them myself because the warnings won't stop. In any case, perhaps if Gundam 00 had seemed "perfect" from the start I would have reached the paradoxical position of being more resistant to it. I've also been watching fansubs of Tytania, which is based on a science fiction novel series by the same person who wrote the novels Legend of the Galactic Heroes was based on. Again, there's a powerful and aristocratic stellar faction, although the seemingly more humble opponent to them, while equipped with plenty of casual self-deprecation, seems to take an awfully long time to ever get around to anything even with the series drawing to a close. Still, I do keep watching it.

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