I spent a large part of my childhood in the north eastern part of Scotland which, to those who aren't familiar with the area would describe as “the middle of nowhere”. Those who are would likely nod and then call it something much worse. Summers were short and hot, the hills abundant and green and the winters biting and long. Water pipes froze, roads closed, and snow drifts towered over children sledging carelessly into them.
they wander from the warm light of the station into the vast, frozen night
It has a romantic appeal, being snowed in snug and warm beneath a blanket next to a crackling fire, until you actually want to do something productive like eat or travel anywhere. That child-like nostalgia persists however, so whenever a video game or anime does winter, I’m always searching for that ephemeral feeling that only a quiet, snowy vista can elicit.
Just having a good scene set during winter though doesn’t automatically make it a good winter scene - Guts versus Griffith (part two) takes place on a crisp, white morning and it’s understandably evocative, but doesn’t tickle memories of the past. Similarly neither does just setting a scene, or even your entire series, during winter - so Non Non Biyori, WWW.Working!! (the northern one), Noragami and Primsa Illya 3rei all feel frosty but don’t make the grade. And just faking winter snow is cheating, yes I’m looking at you Nagi no Asukara, salt flakes doesn’t count.
So to lead be example, here are six perfect winter scenes in anime.
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.
A review of the Bayonetta: Bloody Fate anime movie
I’m not the best person to be objective about the Bayonetta anime movie, Bloody Fate, or anything to do with the franchise to be honest. The amount of time I spent on the first game was more extensive than any other I have ever played and I was halfway through a ridiculously difficult challenge (a Pure Platinum run) when either through circumstance or willpower I dragged myself away from it. I can’t look at the movie with fresh eyes and comment on the blatant ridiculousness of it all because for better or worse, it has lifted the game’s style, attitude and story directly from the first game.
How about a muscly tattooed guy in shades playing the organ?!
The former two of those points are where the meat of a debate is, the latter though will undoubtedly be the biggest issue for newcomers. The titular Bayonetta is a witch with guns strapped to her high-heels and clothing made out of her own hair who fights against masked angels. Having been awoken from a centuries long slumber without any knowledge of her life before her torpor, she is strangely drawn to the reclusive leader of a religious order while being pursued by the tenacious journalist Luka. That’s the set up, the execution involves a motorcycle chase, a chainsaw three times longer than Bayonetta is tall and a whole lot of incongruous, barely censored nudity.
A review of episodes 1 & 2 of Ghost in the Shell: Arise
It’s not even worth reading this post if you’re expecting the kind of excoriation that many have lumped on the latest Ghost in the Shell instalments. I’d already set out my stall with Arise when promotional material came out for it and my affinity for Standalone Complex is sparsely documented but well understood. Fifty percent of the expected run-time of Arise is now done with both Ghost Pain and Ghost Whispers out on home video release, it’s interesting to see what direction the series of OVAs has taken over and above the previous powerhouse of Standalone Complex and the two Mamoru Oshii directed movies.
a younger and more inexperienced Kusanagi without her usual squad for support
For one this is definitely a divergence from the established lore for all of the characters involved, most of all Kusanagi who was no longer involved in an accident when a toddler forcing her to get one of the first fully prosthetic bodies. Similarly her presence during WW4 where she met both Ishikawa and Batou is in question, yet her position in the military remains. Aramaki is no longer greying and quite as world weary and the Tachicomas that became the Uchicomas are now the Logicomas - same idea different skin.
Thoughts on the upcoming Ghost in the Shell: Arise OVAs
Information about the new Ghost in the Shell anime (subtitled Arise) is being drip fed from its Production I.G. stewards and the vocalreaction has been... disparaging. The voice cast has changed, the character designs are too moe, the soundtrack isn't Yoko Kanno. Etcetera.
To them I say: excellent.
And I don't say that lightly as I am an ardent fan of GITS in all of its forms, including the divisive second Mamoru Oshii movie, Innocence. I am a person who painstakingly tried to translate and decipher Standalone Complex and 2nd GIG when there were no fansubs or English releases for them. I am a person who bought the special edition DVDs as they came out in America (and then again in the UK) for the superior DTS audio version, only to realise I was now knee deep in tachikoma figurines. I am a person who could tell you that there is a "Directed by K. K." message on the ring of a cybernetic iris on a bit character in the second episode of SAC. I know and loveGhost in the Shell.