The loneliness of ghosts

A review of episodes 3 & 4 of Ghost in the Shell: Arise

I was six when the Ghost in the Shell manga was first released, twelve when the Mamoru Oshii movie was originally released and fifteen when I saw it on Manga Entertainment’s first VHS release of it. Since then there has been second Oshii movie which, like its manga sequel by Masamune Shirow, many people would rather forget happened, and the almost universally well regarded Stand Alone Complex TV series, all fifty two episodes, two compilation movies and an original TV movie of it. That’s an awful lot of history for a franchise and is something that the last two releases of the latest entry, Arise, seem all too aware of.

Ghost Tears and Ghost Stands Alone, despite being initially released in theatres, are episodes rather than movies. At only fifty minutes each they have neither the time nor the isolation that movies do, and one would argue, that Ghost in the Shell as a concept needs. I said before that the first two entries, Ghost Pain and Ghost Whispers, held onto the ideas that run across the franchise:

“The layering of bureaucracy and machinations of governments and individuals in a world that is highly networked and ruthlessly mechanised, and ultimately facing new and increasing challenges because of it.”

That’s an awful lot to cram into only fifty minutes, and it has required some sacrifices that not everyone has taken to kindly.

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Invaders must die

A review of the Rokujouma no Shinryakusha?! anime series

Wark, wark! That’s the harem alarm, clear and true. If there was ever a set up in anime so overused as the harem, I haven’t seen it yet. That doesn’t stop Rokujouma no Shinryakusha?! (Invaders of the Six Tatami Mat Room?!) though which, after a deceptively promising first episode, pulls out all the tropes you’ve come to expect from packing that much oestrogen into a single location.

they don’t spend the entirety of their waking life fawning over the central male

It’s the first episode that convinced me to continue with the series though. Highschool boy moves into a cheap dorm room, finds out it’s haunted. Haven’t heard this one before… But then a princess from outer space claims the room for herself, followed by a magical girl claiming it’s a mystical convergence, followed by an “Earth person” from underground who wants to use it as a bulwark for an invasion. It certainly goes for the “throw everything and see what sticks” premise, but the potential for a series that sees the different invaders squaring off against one another in order to occupy the apartment (spiritual convergence, magical nexus etc.) seemed like a pleasant twist on what usually passes for a story hook.

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Iron maiden

A review of the Akame ga Kill anime series

There’s a point at the end of a series, the final episode receding into memory, when you wonder why you kept watching it. Akame ga Kill is exactly that series. It is staunchly, even startlingly mediocre in just about every regard, but because it hovers just above that baseline of entertainment - not offensively dumb enough to abandon but not good enough to sing its praises - here I find myself twenty four episodes later.

There wasn’t the remotest of hints that it was ever going to be better than average. From the off the story of Tatsumi, a swordsman from the boonies whose compatriots are killed and he falls in with the band of assassins, Night Raid, is about as nuts and bolts as it comes. Chief amongst the group though is Leone with a ferocious blonde mane and a fiery attitude. No wait, maybe it’s Sheele the demure, bespectacled scissors wielder. Or perhaps Bulat

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A review of the Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle anime series

The second season of Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess), subtitled Avenging Battle, may become a bullet point in the argument against the practice of a splitting a broadcast in two. The first season didn’t exactly shake the earth but was supremely enjoyable and didn’t have any disagreeable sharp edges to it. The second season continues Chaika’s story of collecting the remains of her father, the infamous Emperor Gaz, along with her saboteur companions Toru and Akari.

For a while at least it seems to be business as usual: locate hero, procure gruesomely severed body parts, find out more about Gaz and the history behind Chaika. Then suspicion creeps in that this story train is heading full speed for a finale, and it’s not stopping at any stations.

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How I write about anime

Or “Let me tell you how I went from watching 0 to 20 series, and so can you!”

I’m always loathe to write non-review posts because I feel that they’re like navel gazing: disconnected from actually enjoying anime. They also bring me out of my comfort zone of critical and analytical thinking, which can only be a good thing right?

Digression, must stop. As if a post about how I write about anime (which itself I’ve had to write) could get any more meta, evidence that I’ve tried and failed before to write about my “process” (air quotes) looms large. But in the same vein as something like The Setup, there’s a voyeuristic pleasure to be gained from peeking into the lives of how other people create.

So here it is, unadorned, how I go from watching to writing about anime. In that order.

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