Posts from April 2012

3 Episode Taste Test: Eureka Seven AO

Of all the franchises that crave another series - Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex, Stellvia of the Universe (well kind of), Moyashimon (wait...) - Eureka Seven was not one of them. The hugely influential original series was Studio Bones firing on all cylinders. A tour de force of storytelling, boundless imagination, confident execution, and most critically a satisfying and conclusive ending. Say what you will about the pacing (soccer episode anyone?), it still stands as one of the best anime series ever made.

Eureka Seven Astral Ocean has a lot to live up to and does itself no favours by starting very similarly to Xam'd of the Lost Memories - an idyllic island community is attacked with terrifying force by an alien aggressor while an aged doctor tries to help. It's certainly a lot more coherent than Xam'd and has echoes Eureka Seven's original opening with the humanoid robot Nirvash careening into the Thurston's garage roof.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Anthropomorphisation Throwdown!

Anthropomorphisation in Japan is a time honoured tradition and part of its global exportation of "cute". Some view it with indifference, others disdain. In anime culture it has a long history beyond the days of "OS-tan" with different females representing the different available computer operating systems. Nowadays you'd be hard pressed not have had a run-in with such characters: trains, browsers, planets and vehicles to name but a few have been transformed into anime characters or, to use the vernacular: moefied.

This season of anime has popped up two shows notable for their anthropomorphisation: Haiyore! Nyarlko-san and Upotte! The former taking creatures from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, the latter guns from the around the world. So in an attempt to compare apples to oranges:

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3 Episode Taste Test: Jormungand

Jörmungandr - the world serpent, Jormungand - a Black Lagoon knock-off? Not quite. The parallels seem all too blatant from the first episode: a female lead, explosions and a fastidious attention to detail when it comes to guns. Black Lagoon though started utterly bonkers and was content to stay there, all the while mediating on the choices its characters make and the nature of its underworld setting. Jormungand tries to be rooted in reality with less boat-jumping and samurai versus shooter nonsense but instead laces every action bubble with endless monologues, rife with inappropriately timed observations and introspections.

That aside, it's closer in spirit to Gunslinger Girl with its insistence on eschewing an overarching story for a mostly episodic and character driven plot. The comparison is also helped along by the child soldier protagonist who is evidently a graduate of the Rei Ayanami school of emotionless. Koko, the leading lady and human descendant of a fennec, is pitched as a shrewd businesswoman but a benevolent leader which wouldn't seem so incongruous were she not a prolific arms dealer.

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A Dusk Maiden's perception

The third episode of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (Tasogare Otome x Amnesia) has a fascinating hook: perception.

it is critical to the nature of Yuuko - she only exists because others can see her

In the context of the episode it arrives when Kirie challenges Teiichi's vision of Yuuko as a busty, alabaster skinned school-girl and instead claims she is "dripping with hatred" with filthy, cracked skin. From then on Teiichi can only see this ghoulish visage of Yuuko until he forcibly excises it from his mind. It's claimed in an earlier episode that Yuuko only exists in the form of the beholder, so if someone believes her to be a wandering spirit then that's what they'll see her as.

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Guts' sword

The first time we are introduced to Guts' sword, the Dragonslayer, in Berserk is in the opening seconds as the master blacksmith Godo mends it. The first time we are properly introduced to it however is when Guts cleaves a brigand clean in two, taking out a solid wooden table and most of the floor with him. It's a monumentally absurd weapon, as tall if not more so than the wielder and likely just as heavy, outside of fiction it would be impossible for any human to wield.

For the 1997 anime at least, this introduction is misleading as the sword that we see for the remainder of the series is just as tall but not quite as absurd. It's not the only one of course - Guts grows up and events transpire which changes who he is and subsequently what he wields.

N.B. While this post deals primarily with the story covered by the Berserk anime series, allusions and non-specific spoilers regarding the manga are also made.

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