Posts from 2010

Aoi Bungaku (Blue Literature)

The first story of Aoi Bungaku, No Longer Human, is covered in a soft, often wintry mist that permeates through to the character's unsurprising end. The remaining five stories however are vividly realised, varying between sharp reality and kaleidoscopic dreamscapes; each conveys the vagaries of humanity with poignancy and skill. So too changes the attitude in each story, from the purgatorial trappings of the first story to the theatrical analogy of Run, Melos! to the Rashomon-esque multiple viewpoints of Kokoro. An ambitious and vibrantly successful venture that wears its literary roots proudly, portraying characters with unflinching amorality and focusing not on full-circle stories but short vignettes of startlingly tangible people.

the stark implications of madness and jealousy, grace and fervour played out with such composure

The first four episodes tell the story of Yozo and his attempt to come to terms with his more base instincts and emotions which more often than not lead him to psychological turmoil, not helped by his sexual reliance or penchant for escapism. The second tale is of Shigemaru, a callous thief who one day comes across the beautiful but demanding Mitsuki whose bloodthirsty attitude is tempered only by her morbid fascinations. Shigemaru battles with his fear of the forest's cherry blossom grove while capitulating to all of Mitsuki's murderous whims. The third story is of a gentleman known only as Sensei who invites a scruffy man, K, into the house where he is staying; told from two differing perspectives, both concern the daughter of the house, her affections and the results of a cross-communication between the men. The fourth narrative is of a man tasked with adapting a story for theatre but the process opens old wounds with the parallels it has with his own life. The final two stories are set within the world of a fickle and flamboyant king: the fifth sees the capture of the wicked criminal Kandata, his execution and descent into hell; the sixth follows the artist Yoshihide who, disillusioned with a kingdom he sees as rife with violence and cruelty, is ordered by the king to paint a vision of the land on the walls of his tomb.

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Umineko no naku koro ni (When the seagulls cry)

When beginning Umineko no naku koro ni, it was been difficult to predict that the series would by the end feature no less than six witches, one dragon, one butler, three military bunny girls, seven floating females wearing school uniforms crossed with leotards, and hordes of sharply suited goat-men. Saying that it eases into these bizarre characters with subtle hints and smart progress would be a bare-faced lie - it springs these absurdities without warning or concern for cohesion. This is indicative of the overriding attitude of the show: favouring reckless abandonment of storytelling for twists that often test the limits of patience. Were it not so melodramatically entertaining it would be hard to endure.

The softly spoken, servant loving George is in fact a kung-fu master able to literally kick someone's face off

Starting with a set up familiar to those who experienced 07th Expansion's prior work, Higurashi no naku koro ni, a typhoon has sealed off an island of eighteen members of the Ushiromiya family who are tasked with solving a riddle to earn the family inheritance. The riddle pertains to a Golden Land touted by the mysterious witch Beatrice, who takes a sadistic pleasure in torturing and murdering the family members as the bonds fracture and accusations fly. Initially a murder mystery with occult overtones, when the witch Beatrice finally reveals herself, one of the family members refuses to acknowledge her status as a witch and starts a competition to prove each murder could have been committed by a human rather than magic. The series covers four stories, resetting after each one, and introduce increasingly more characters, both magical and human, as well as a deeper look at the magical world inhabited by Beatrice.

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