Posts with the “demons” tag


A review of the Rage of Bahamut: Genesis anime series

After three episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis), I still wasn’t sure what I was watching. There’s nothing particularly abstract (yes Soultaker I’m talking about you) about the story of two feuding friends going on adventures with a girl from another world. Except, in the first few episodes there are so many different ways the series could have gone - monster of the week, Queen’s Blade journey into fan service, Escaflowne adventures in a fantasy world to name a few - but it seems bullheadedly determined not to go with any of them and instead play the whole series by ear.

Peculiarly, it works. And not just because it throws everything, kitchen sink and all, at you and to see what sticks. After all you have an Arabian deity (Bahamut) mixed in with Christian mythology (heaven, hell, angels and devils) with some added Norse flavouring (the heavenly god is in fact Zeus), some Pagan witchcraft and wizardry and some historical persons of note thrown in for good measure. Like the origin of the dragon personification of Bahamut then, Shingeki no Bahamut is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign in anime form. It has the overeager dungeon master cobbling together a piecemeal mythology with narrative abandon, the rollicking tales of a knight, a rogue and someone who wanted to play a female, and by the end of the campaign the adventurers are riding into battle on the back of a giant duck.

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No Gods or Kings. Only Man.

A review of the [email protected] anime

[email protected] ([email protected]) is very SHAFT. A useless description as everything the studio produces is by definition very SHAFT, but as an adjective it encapsulates the studio's infamous approach: an unwavering confidence in delivery, a devotion to pop-culture and often a production led by designers rather than artists and script writers rather than story. In the pantheon of its shows then, Sasami-san has far less protracted banter than  Bakemonogatari but a stronger narrative than Tsukuyomi.

But it's still inescapably SHAFT, and it may be the tired old man in me, but I really wish it wasn't.

time travelling golems and family members repeatedly rising from the underworld
As a modern take on the the collage of stories from Japan's spiritual history it's fascinating and barrels through the often mercurial Shinto "religion" with its rich pool of deities and paraphernalia, from Amaterasu to Kagusutchi. This isn't however My-HiME's naming of super-powered critters, or the sword naming scheme of innumerable JRPGs, but a fresh story with these multifarious gods and demons set in modern day and all its trappings. Coupled with a dreamy pastel art-style and animation that shoots precipitously from "we'll fix this in the Blu-ray release" to "three animators died producing this" and all the pieces are in place for a must-watch bonanza.

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Dogs and Demons: The Fall of Modern Japan

Alex Kerr is no stranger to Japan, his books and history demonstrate a continuing personal involvement and deep affection for the country which is hard to find in many foreigners. Perhaps best know for the seminal Lost Japan, Dogs and Demons: The Fall of Modern Japan was published eight years later in 2002 and aims to get to the heart of how Japan as a nation has been degrading since the Second World War and before. At times it is a bleak and unforgiving book that aims with ruthless precision to uncover why Japan, once sequestered, then exposed, then devastated, then superior and now, supposedly irrelevant, has become that way. By and large it succeeds and prises open a world that no other book has had the courage to touch upon - indeed Kerr expands on this at many points throughout the ~400 page book. Unfortunately though it is hamstrung by many arguments which boil down to personal opinion and though convincing, it is difficult not to see this as only one side to a very complex and pertinent argument.

acts a touchstone for a country exiting a period of stagnation and turbulence but whether anything has changed in the meantime is the biggest question
I was first introduced to the book through Joi Ito's blog which also recommended and revealed a number of other alternative books around Japan that are currently on my reading stack. It is the first Japan related book that I have read that doesn't take either an educational or effusive stance on the country or element of its culture which was the greatest hurdle to overcome when starting out. The writing style is clean and precise which is excellent for getting across fact but not so when dealing with opinion. As Kerr mentions, the statistics he includes are accurate to the best of his ability but thanks to the idiosyncrasies of reporting and accounting, many are hard to verify; regardless the breadth of research that went into the book is awe inspiring and although it is now becoming dated, what is surprising is not only how relevant the book still is but how relevant it is regarding the recent economic turmoil suffered by the majority of the developed world.

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3 Episode Taste Test: 11eyes

How many eyes? 11eyes. Certainly more than 3×3 Eyes and The Girl with the Blue Eye, numerically at least. A fascination with eyes and in particular eyepatches (see also Rental Magica, Tenjou Tenge et. al.), this series has the standard outfitting of an enigmatic past and hidden powers connected with said eye as well as a natty patch to keep it all under wraps. Even though it exists as a blatant amalgam of many other ideas and series that have gone before it, 11eyes: Tsumi to Batsu to Aganai no Shoujo (Sin, Damnation and the Atonement Girl) cracks the barrier of dense nomenclature and proves moderately watchable.

it wouldn't be surprising to see a frivolous and inconsequential beach or hot spring storyline in succeeding episodes

A lot of this is down to its refusal to wholly mollycoddle the viewer. By the middle of the second episode the cycloptic protagonist has already worked out it is him that draws those around him into the monster-infested "Red Night" and by the end of the third episode the most recently introduced cast member is given a serviceable raison dêtre. The slow reveal of new party members is still present, again robbed of any interest by the revelatory opening, and the typical standby of the desire to grow stronger and protect those close is bolted to the lead male. By keep the most interesting mysteries close and trivialising the more mundane aspects, the series' introductory episodes maintain interest but demand little further thought.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Seiken no Blacksmith (The Sacred Blacksmith)

Seiken no Blacksmith is about as close to sword porn as anime is likely to get - gratuitous close-ups of everything from katanas to two-handed broadswords, even a sword that turns into a scantily clothed female - there is no doubt that someone on the production team has a borderline fetish for the weapons. It is not surprising given the focus on blacksmithing, however this is the more glamorous face which has a skinny youth forging works of art rather than leathery old men shoeing horses.

enigmatic portents are scattered liberally throughout the opening episodes

Kicking off with one girl's battle against a beast of indeterminate origins made entirely of ice, she is promptly saved by a katana wielding strip of a lad called Luke. Rewinding several hours, the protagonist Cecily is the typical spunky do-gooder: a freshly sired knight who sees off rapscallions in the market place before getting resolutely trounced by a derelict wielding a sword. Her heirloom sword broken, she seeks out her saviour and sporadic blacksmith Luke who bunks with an elf-eared child with a breast fetish. While the plot of the first three episodes isn't entirely predictable, there is a comfortable altruism to the proceedings that prevents anything too dynamic from occurring.

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