Apr 18, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Trailer

The latest victim of Hollywood's obsessive need for reboots and remakes is once again The Planet of the Apes, this time with a prequel explaining how it all started. I've only seen the remake of The Planet of the Apes and a little bit of one of the original sequels, but I'm aware how much of a classic it is and that they should really be careful with this one. Despite that, this trailer certainly does look interesting, then again, that's the job of a trailer. However, the name of the drug - The Cure- is a bit silly, and the fact the military were unable to shoot down a few apes before they took over the world is a bit of a plot hole.

Apr 15, 2011

The Hobbit - Start of Production

Having read The Hobbit and being a very big fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy I simply cannot wait for The Hobbit's film adaptation. On Thursday what seems to be the first of many video diaries from the set of the upcoming film was released, and will surely hype up anyone who has been waiting for years for this film to be made.

Apr 10, 2011

Young Animator Training Project

Last year 16 companies applied to JAniCA for 38 million yen in order to create their own 23-minute original animation using their young animators. Earlier this year the 4 winners released their animations and I've finally gotten around to watching all of them.

Ojiisan no Lamp
This first one recounted the life of a boy's grandfather who used to sell lamps. The story basically revolves around how the westernisation of his small Japanese village initially made him rich before leading to his ruin. The animation was excellent, the simplicity of it's plot was one of it's most appealing points and their were simply no flaws I could see.

Kizuna Ichigeki - One-Hit Kizuna
This one's much simpler than Ojiisan no Lamp in terms of character design and to some extent even story. This one is about a young girl called Kizuna who lives with her father and grandfather at a martial arts school. Due to her upbringing Kizuna is very talented and the show begins with her winning a championship and it's 100 million yen prize, allowing her grandfather to pay off his debts. The man she beats in the finals is obviously not pleased with his loss and it comes to light that Kizuna was in fact ineligible for the prize as she was still 2 days away from her 13th birthday. Due to this several other martial artists try and challenge her within those two days in order to become champion. This was a fun 23 minutes with some nice comedy every now and then and good enough characters, but it's certainly not anything special.

Bannou Yasai Ninninman - Super Veggie Torracman
Young Mari is the centre of attention for this show, along with her hatred for carrots, peppers and milk, and fear of crossing a certain bridge after a childhood incident, a fear that also causes problems with her friend after she gets a new dog, which means she is unable to go the long way to school with Mari in order to avoid the bridge because her parents say it isn't safe to walk the dog near the road. After being forced the eat her dreaded carrots, peppers and milk at school for dinner she collapses, waking up in the nurses office to find that the ghosts of those three foods have come to life and are now speaking to her, much to her annoyance. Without giving away the story, these three end up helping her towards the end of the show, although she is still unable to cross the bridge as the 23 minutes end. I liked this one quite a bit, the backgrounds were nice and the character animations were quite good too. The story was very good for something that was only 23 minutes long and I even found my self getting a little teary-eyed at one point.

Tansu Warashi - Wardrobe Dwellers
The rather basic premise for this one is of a wardrobe that has been passed from 'mistress to 'mistress' down the main characters family which contains a number of spirits to help them in their daily life. The animation was nothing special, but nor was it particularly bad, it was just... in the middle, something which I feel added to the charm of it's already very charming array of characters. Each of the spirits have their own unique personalities and skills with which they help the very normal female office worker who finds herself the be their latest 'mistress'. The attractiveness of all of the characters led me to grow to them very quickly within the short 23 minutes, leading to a heart-warming yet sad ending.

Overall, I very much enjoyed these four and the latter three provided me with a very pleasant Sunday morning (which is perhaps why I gave Ojiisan no Lamp such a small paragraph as I watched it a good week or two ago) and all of them except for Ojiisan no Lamp could very easily becoming fully fledged series that I'd very happily watch. I'd recommend you watch all of these if you are a fan of anime or perhaps just want something inoffensive and enjoyable to watch for 23 minutes on a weekend. All four can be downloaded from here.

In other anime news, the final two episodes of Madoka Magica have finally been given dates after the disruption caused by the earthquake and tsunami and will be airing on April 22nd, so there's still more anime posts to come before my Spring 2011 Mid-Season Impressions (which looks to be packed with shows as I'm already watching 6 and won't be surprised if I end up picking up a couple more by then).

Apr 4, 2011

Winter 2011 End-of-Season Impressions

Overall, I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this season. Puella Magi Madoka Magica was the only thing that stood out, and of those continuing from the previous season the only one not trodden in mediocrity was Bakuman. That being said, there were some damn good OP's and ED's.

Accelerator returns in the final episodes of To Aru Majutsu no Index II
To Aru Majutsu no Index Season II
This has been a mixed bag. The first two arcs were great, and then it descended into predictable mediocrity which actually got a bit boring. This was until the last few episodes. The second to last arc started off incredibly, and I was hooked instantly, with almost all of it's characters taking part in saving Academy City once again. However, the last episode of the arc was a bit of an anti-climax, before immediately going into a final arc (if you can call it that) for the last couple of episodes, which provided hardly any closure to the season and hinted towards a third. All in all, this second season of Index was disappointing, with a mediocre middle that went on far too long to be made up for with the interesting arcs either side. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my favourite arcs included Accelerator and the girls from the Railgun spin-off... so I suppose I'm just more of a Railgun fan.

One of many sparkly and fabulous scenes from Star Driver
Star Driver
My opinion of Star Driver is becoming very much like the show itself, repetitive and predictable. Much like Index II, this show was stuck in a rut of extreme mediocrity throughout the 25 episodes, which is a real shame considering the potential it had. The animation was pretty good, especially in those damn Zero Time scenes, and the characters were brilliant, it's just a shame that it was all so identical and seemingly pointless until the final third perhaps. In fact it was after the break from the mould of episode 14, which I celebrated with a post of it's own that Star Driver started to slowly improving, albeit with a couple of misstep still. However, I watched the finale this morning and the animation was so brilliant and the episode so excellent itself (although still retaining the usual ridiculous motives and ass-pulls) that it almost makes up for week after week of the same thing. All in all, whilst this certainly wasn't a terrible show, it wasn't exactly memorable, and this time next year I'll probably barely remember it and it'll likely be one of the first to go when I have to delete some anime to make space on my far-too-small hard-drive.

Star duo 'Ashirogi Muto'
This for me was the gem of the last two seasons, a light-hearted show about two best friends looking to become mangaka. I loved the characters, nail-biting tension was often provided by the wait on results for various competitions, the drama and rivalries were great, and I even liked the romance. This show had it all, except for maybe big mecha battles. Although the animation could be a bit off at times this show has shot straight to one of my all-time favourite anime, and I simply can't wait until the second season in October, I've even started reading the manga, which is rare for me because I usually find manga far too awkward to read on a website.

Merry's not too pleased with my views on her show
Yumekui Merry
This still has one episode left but I don't think the final one will change my views too much and I didn't really feel like delaying this post for a whole week just for it. I'm unsure about Yumekui Merry, for the first couple of episodes I found it brilliant, but it seemed to slowly decline through the rest of the season. I love the characters, especially Merry herself, but I never got drawn into the overarching story too much and have gotten to the point of watching it half-heartedly just to finish it. The low budget didn't help either as it led to some poor animation, with numerous close-ups and stills due to the restrictions of money, which was somewhat distracting. All in all, I think Yumekui Merry will end up with a fate similar to that of Star Driver.

Yoshii fights to save Voyeur after the girls (and HideYoshi) prove too much for him in their traditional Chinese dress
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri 
One of my favourite anime series, Baka to Test to Shōkanjū, returned this season with two OVA's titled Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri, before returning for a second series this summer. The two OVA's carried on with what made me love the series in the first place; the comedy was great, the summoning battles were as entertaining as usual, taking up the majority of the second episode, with excellent animation to top it all off. If you were a fan of the original season last year, you'll definitely want to watch these.  

Due to disruptions from the earthquake and tsunami, the final two episodes of Madoka have been delayed indefinitely, with a plan to have them air sometime this month, so I'll make a post when they're finally out. I've also been watching the four episodes from the Young Animator Training Project and will make a post once I've finished them all.