Twelve Days of Anime – When Good Ideas are Squandered


Zankyou no Terror 2

Zankyou no Terror, an anime that could have been brilliant, one that explored particularly fascinating elements of Japanese culture and society, such as Japanese relationship with nuclear power, youth rebellion and dissatisfaction with the political oligarchs, and the realities of broken and dysfunctional families in a society that attempts to maintain a vision of social hegemony. All of these themes have been explored before in one form or another, sometimes producing fascinating stories, other times being merely interesting. But, Zankyou no Terror did none of this, and instead of focusing on these potentially fascinating subjects, the series simply becomes a standard thriller with terrorists attempting to blow up buildings, and then suddenly stop the American government who wants to blame them for other atrocities. Zankyou no Terror is a failure, and a spectacular one at that, but, unlike Guilty Crown, or Valvrave, it did not go off the rails gibbering and cackling into the gorge of madness and stupidity, inhabited by the likes of Code Geass R2. No, Zankyou no Terror did something far worse, it did nothing, and squandered the themes and character relationships introduced early on, either forgetting they ever existed, or ignoring them. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Garo-Papa


Garo 1

Garo has been one of those series that snuck up on me, something that I knew almost nothing about and has surprised me at every turn. The story is interesting; with well thought out characters, and a nice art style. But one character stands out from the crowd, Herman ‘Roberto’ Lewis, aka, Garo-Papa. One of the main reasons that Leon as a character works is because the series has Roberto as a foil for his angst and anguish. It’s great watching his character switch from comedic womaniser to serious warrior in an instant, only to switch right back when he sees a beautiful woman walk past. This contrast between the silly and the serious helps to make his character great fun to watch, whilst also breaking up the more serious elements regarding horrors, Leon, and Mendoza. If anything I feel that I would certainly not be enjoying Garo as much as I am without the presence of Roberto. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Kill la Kill, an Enjoyable but Forgettable Experience


Kill la Kill 3

Whenever someone mentions Kill la Kill people seem to go into trances, explaining the brilliance of hand drawn animation, the wonders of Mako and her eccentricities, and eulogising about the brilliance of studio Trigger and the geniuses behind it. The only other series I seem to see as much hype surrounding have been those from Type-Moon, and perhaps a couple of Shaft anime. As for me, I found it an enjoyable, but entirely forgettable experience, and one that left very little impression on me. During the winter season I explained that Kill la Kill was a series that I enjoyed watching, but never really found anything remarkable about either the story of characters. It was a series that took the madness of vintage Gainax anime, turned everything up to eleven in true Spinal Tap fashion, and threw what was created at the audience, hoping that something would stick. Unfortunately for me, nothing about the series ever made me look at it and think that it was a truly wonderful, memorable anime, one that may become a classic with engaging characters and enjoyable story. Even now my thoughts remain the same, even more so as until recently I had completely forgotten that the series even existed. Read more of this post

Mothers and Demons – The Women of Cross Ange


Cross ange 8The history of Japan is filled with female figures, mythical and historical that are as powerful as they are dangerous. They are mothers, demons, and gods, holding the power of life and death in the palms of their hands, and for that reason they are worshipped and feared in equal measure. The story of Japan’s creation, and the roles of its gods demonstrate the power that women hold within Japanese belief and mythology. The Brother and Sister called Izanagi and Izanami are said to have created the islands of Japan and its deities. Izanami gave birth to the Japanese islands as well as to a large number of deities, but giving birth to the fire god Kagu-tsuchi was too much for her. During this painful birth, she was badly burnt, and after one final effort she bore the gods of metal, clay, and water from her vomit, faeces, and urine, only to perish and disappear into Yomi-no-kuni (the underworld). Izanagi in his grief chose to enter the underworld in an attempt to return Izanami to the world of the living. But, instead of following him back, Izanami instead begged him not to look at her in her current state. However, Izanagi could not resist and looked, but seeing her putrefying body, swarming with maggots, he exclaimed: ‘What hideous and polluted land have I come to unawares!’ Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Kamigami Transformations


Fairly self explanatory really, I mean, just look at them?

Twelve Days of Anime – Old Man Jojo


I am not the biggest fan of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, while I enjoy the manga; there was something about the anime that just didn’t quite click with me, regardless of how much fun it could be to watch. But then Stardust Crusaders came along with what has to be one of the most boring characters I’ve seen in anime in a while. Many of the elements introuduced in Stardust Crusaders such as Stands helped to add more depth to the characters and story. But, Joutaro helped to spoil some of that fun – he is a boring character who spends more time sulking than doing anything particularly useful.

Joseph Joestar

Joseph Joestar on the other hand stole the show from Joutaro, adding a mix of the absurd and ridiculous to the fairly normal, if a little silly Jojo antics. Without Joseph I wouldn’t have got as far as I did with Stardust Crusaders, he is the true Jojo star and Joutaro should’ve been kept in prison for the whole series.

Twelve Days of Anime – Hozuki no Reitetsu


Who knew that hell was actually a fully functioning Japanese company, complete with ineffectual boss, and senior management that keeps everything running? Hozuki no Reitetsu was both fascinating, but infuriating to write about, I attempted on a couple of occasions, but those posts remain unfinished in a folder on my computer.

Hozuki no Reitetsu

What is so fascinating about Hoozuki no Reitetsu is how well it presents hell as merely a series of districts to be watched over with proper administration and the correct understanding of paperwork. With seven divisions and 272 subdivisions we are left with the impression that while terrible tortures happen throughout, the whole thing would collapse without a clever mind at work, making sure the right sort of people are hired to ease a particular departments short fall in staff and production. Hell is basically a government department, with the Great King Yama as more of a harassed manger with too much work than a deity with the power to destroy all who oppose him. This is particularly important because in Buddhist mythology, Yama is a dharmapala (wrathful god) said to judge the dead and preside over Narakas (‘hells’, or ‘purgatories’ and the cycle of birth. Hoozuki would be the judge who accompanies Yama (or in this case Enma as he is known in Japan) who carries a brush and book listing every soul and the allotted death date for every life.

What Hoozuki no Reitetsu does so brilliantly is turn this aspect of the mythology surrounding these characters into the workings of a government institution, with Yama as a harassed manager and Hoozuki as the conscientious and above all efficient bureaucrat. His dismissal of Shangri-la for example suggests that far from paradise, it is merely another department that doesn’t want to deal with its own problems and constantly tries to push them onto someone else. Shangri-la is another simply more paperwork for Hoozuki, with other issues down the line, and probably an awful lot of complaining and insisting that he deal with their problems. Indeed, as we follow Hoozuki you get the impression that he gets more annoyed when characters like Momotaro – the character from an Edo period story – give him more work to do when he is already trying to deal with a staff short fall, and problems with various divisions budgets. He even uses the encounter to solve the staff short fall, although appears to be annoyed that an iron maiden was installed without first consulting him about the cost and whether their budget can allow it.

 

Hozuki no Reitetsu’s humour is both dry and dark, the characters are entertaining in their own special way, and the opening was also fun to watch.

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