Posts from November 2007

Umisho (Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho)

Bright, colourful and full of barely concealed nudity, Umisho is a raucous and energetic series built upon simple principles that are well executed. Far from being intelligent, thought-provoking or in-depth, each episode kicks meaningful story-telling and character development to the curb and manages to be a thirteen episode onsen and beach scenario combined.

Umisho never belittles the audience by repeatedly hammering at the most obvious of plot points

Beginning with the only iota of character justification in the entirety of the show, Kaname Okimura joined the school swimming club to learn how to swim after a run-in with a supposed mermaid and nearly drowning in his earlier years. With that pesky plot out of the way, the series gets down to basics and has young women losing their clothing at every available opportunity. Ostensibly the series follows the swimming team of Prefectoral Umineko Shougyou High as they compete and subsequently win local and regional tournaments; however this is mostly superfluous to the aforementioned nudity. Not one to be entirely sexist, the swim team captain is a bronzed, muscled specimen of a man who strips off with more frequency than the women although this stems from his naturist tendencies rather than the women who are ordinarily victims of circumstance.

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3 Episode Taste Test: ef - a tale of memories

With signature aplomb, SHAFT take up art-duties with ef - a tale of memories and craft a typically stylish and coy introduction to an intriguing and melodramatic series. Long shadows and open skies, stark lines and silhouetted profiles, the art direction obscures the sedate story and mundane characters but the potential for things much greater is too enticing to pass up.

the characters [...] are sometimes infuriatingly obtuse, communicating through enigmatic monologues or understated emotions

ef - a tale of memories pitches itself somewhere in between school drama and supernatural, School Days and Sola; it has the straight faced drama of School Days but more playful, with the fantasy hints of Sola except less blatant. The first episode can best be described as confusing: cutting back and forth between full colour, grayscale, black and white and all points in between seemingly at random then leaping forwards or backwards through time with nary a keystone to right oneself. It conjures up thoughts of Soultaker and the premise being the weirdness rather than coherence; thankfully these thoughts are allayed in the second and third episodes which deftly sculpt the story, rarely allowing itself to be pre-empted by the viewer. It doesn't so much tone-down the oddness as spread it more thinly. The abandon shown for chronology is more telling as certain characters and traits are in one arc and not the other, wordlessly foreshadowing momentous events on the horizon.

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