Posts from November 2009

3 Episode Taste Test: Aoi Bungaku (Blue Literature)

Based upon well-known Japanese literature, no opening music and a simple perfunctory closing animation, Aoi Bungaku could barely be more art-house. It's an odd situation coming from a media that is still mostly marginalised, even in its country of origin: aiming for a further niche would seem counter-intuitive especially for something with such stunning production values.

when the only noticeable fault is a merely proficient soundtrack, one knows that the series is something particularly special

At times it is breathlessly beautiful, judicious use of soft filters and colour grading means everything has an ephemeral reality to it - helped by a keen eye for details in the most fleeting of scenes. Combined with a story of childhood, loss, sex, suicide and emotion it's dangerously easy to fall in love with the series and be utterly enthralled by it. A live action introduction by Sakai Masato, notable drama actor, explains the aim of the series is to introduce viewers to well known stories, the first of which is "No Longer Human" by Dazai Osamu. At only twelve episodes long and six works to get through, the first story is the longest occupying four complete episodes and tells the life of the troubled Yozo Oba.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Tatakau Shisho (Fighting Librarians)

It's somewhat of a shame that (to give its full name) Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra uses ALI Project for the opening song; it raises the question of whether the group have any range beyond fast-paced anime openings. Regardless, Bantorra is a refreshingly dark show set in a fictional world where upon peoples' deaths, they are transformed into "books" which are stored and tended by the combat-orientated Librarians. This setup is made more palatable than the recent Toshokan Senso (Library War) with these Librarians all wielding magical powers and fighting against a group which makes mindless suicide bombers out of ordinary civilians.

As with most first episodes, pomp and flash is favoured over function

The first episode is a riot of new terms, explosions, magic and cryptic dialogue; starting with an assault on a freighter that is subsequently scuttled, the following episodes get stuck in to the plot which concerns a long dead villain who once brought death to the lands and the resurrection of a vicious plague. The story switches between one of the emotionally numb body-bombs ("Meats") who finds a fragment of the malefactor's book, the arrogant and overpowered acting director of the Librarians - Hamutz Meseta - and a brutal member of the opposing faction, a "True Man". It's pure fantasy padding and marvellously imaginative.

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