Posts from February 2010

At the UK Premiere of Evangelion 2.0

Photo by xahldera and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0

Taking place in Glasgow in the week leading up to the Glasgow Film Festival, the premiere was preceded by the airing of the first movie in the Rebuild series: Evangelion 1.0. Bookended by an informative talk by Emily Fussell of the BBFC, and an introduction by the effusive Jonathan Clements. Kicking off a series of animated shenanigans dubbed "Scotland Loves Animation" and succeeding the Scottish anime convention "Auchinawa", Scotland and Glasgow in particular is becoming one of the prime places to catch anime and Japanese goings on.

Beginning shortly before half three in the afternoon, tickets had been purchased online for the double bill and sold out in short order. The line for entering the cinema stretched out of the building and it was immediately obvious by the dress of the patrons what they were queuing for. After a short wait and filing into the surprisingly spacious cinema one of the Glasgow Film Theatre, the proceedings were kicked off by Emily Fussell, a media classifier for the BBFC, with a talk focusing on the tribulations in classifying anime for release in the UK.

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2 Episode Taste Test: Katanagatari (Sword Story)

There is a spacious fifty minutes to each episode of Katanagatari - enough time for sweeping, epic tales befitting of the peculiar art style and setting within feudal Japan. Disappointing then that each episode has enough content for ten minutes which is written for twenty four then stretched torturously out to fifty. Utilising every possible means to extend and protract results in great swathes of time dedicated to ceaseless banter between the two protagonists. The script may be sharp enough to prevent abject boredom and the characters just shy of caricatures, but like the recent Bakemonogatari, this isn't enough to hide deficiencies in key areas such as storyline and pacing.

this is one of the purest interpretations of what some view as the anime ethos

Based upon a light novel series, Katanagatari follows the reclusive martial-artist Shichika Yasuri and the white haired strategist Togame as they search for twelve legendary swords forged by the master craftsman Shikizaki Kiki. After travelling to the island where Shichika has stayed all of his life, Togame explains her predicament and manages to enlist his help after one of the twelve sword's current owners attacked, endangering both her life and that of Shichika's sister. Journeying to Kyoto then to Inaba (now Tottori Prefecture) they track down the second sword, wielded by an proud swordsman still clinging to his ancestor's legacy. Despite Shichika's naivete, he and Togame begin to bond through their tribulations and a reticent respect for each other's role and specialities is born.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Baka to Test to Shokanju (Idiots, Tests and Summoned Beasts)

Leaving little to the imagination, Baka to Test to Shokanju features precisely what the title specifies. The first three episodes are a grab bag of different influences that run the gamut from the quick fire rowdiness of Excel Saga to the fantasy-high school blend of Maburaho, successfully mixing them all into a comedy that hits more than it misses. It may have a tendency to grind some of its more lukewarm jokes into the ground, and many elements of the paper-thin plot are obvious to all those paying attention, however it elevates itself above these faults with diversity and a pleasing cheerfulness befitting its presentation.

the titular idiot Akihisa whose propensity for dimwittedness keeps the entire affair tolerable if not predictable

On the day of Fumizuki Academy's placement test, Akihisa isn't doing well; one of the other students, Mizuki, however is struck down with a fever and despite his protestations, she is awarded a zero for the test. Dropped into the worst graded class of the school, she joins Akihisa and fellow underachievers Minami, an aggressive tomboy who recently returned from Germany; Yuuji, one of Akihisa's childhood friends and surprisingly charismatic given his placement in class F; Hideyoshi, an beautiful male student constantly mistaken for a girl; and Kota, a serial pervert who repeatedly tries to photograph under girls' skirts. Together they try to elevate class F using the school's unique system of competition by battling diminuitive avatars whose strength is determined by their summoner's test scores.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Chu-Bra!!

Another series another lascivious story seed, this time with the formation of a high school underwear club by a girl smitten with all things underwear. Rolling one's eyes and ploughing into the first three episodes of Chu-Bra!! it becomes increasingly apparent that this isn't the naughty teenage giggle parade that is expected from such a premise. Instead it is a charmingly sexless celebration of a girl whose passion is looked upon with disdain by the prudish or antagonistic students of a school that is all but aligned against her, a situation easy to relate to in principle if not in implementation.

Hiroki, who suffers from a rare form of underwear paralysis

At the entrance ceremony of middle school, Nayu embarrasses herself by tripping up when called to give the opening speech; this also inadvertently exposes her adult underwear to an unsuspecting student body who begin to circulate rumours about her partaking of compensated dating and other less wholesome activities. In reality however Nayu simply loves underwear, despite her adoration resulting in her being a pariah since junior school, it takes some investigation but two classmates, Yako and Haruka, discover the truth behind Nayu and become fast friends with her. As Nayu's confidence grows she suggests the formation of an underwear club, however this is met with resistance from the uptight head of the more generic handicrafts club and finding members proves an uphill struggle, even if she is wearing the brassier and panties her grandmother gifted her.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Seikon no Qwaser (The Qwaser of Stigmata)

When one's premise is a magical fuel present only in breast milk and requires young children to extract this via the most obvious method available, having an censored version available on all but the most liberal of television channels seems counter-productive. The uncensored version fills in a lot of the gaps that the other egregiously includes, obtuse close ups of faces and innocuous body parts only go so far before hard static cuts are made to conceal raunchy or revealing motions; unfamiliarity with the concept of Seikon no Qwaser would cause significant difficultly in understanding what the alternating moans of pleasure and pain were in reference to. The volume and abject lewdness of these scenes is quite staggering and it is no understatement to call the opening episodes of the series a panoply of pornography that don't attempt to mask their intentions.

a disgusting and reprehensible attitude that is only bolstered by the violence and borderline sadism

At St. Mikhailov Academy, someone is murdering local girls; the incidents began shortly after the dean of school disappeared, leaving only a cryptic note to his biological daughter Tomo and adoptive daughter Mafuyu. Tomo is a sickly girl who is often absent from school which, now with her father missing, causes both her and her self-styled protector Mafuyu to be bullied by some of her classmates. After a chance meeting with a silver-haired Russian boy, Mafuyu is attacked by a masked psychopath and is drawn into the world of the Qwaser - alchemists with an affinity for certain elements and the need for soma, found only in selected girl's breast milk. The young boy, Alexander, is the Qwaser of iron and after joining the school and moving into the local dormitory, he vows to protect Tomo against all aggressors.

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