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 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.
I started my Yozakura Quartet review by saying that screenshots won’t sell you on the series. I was politely reminded by both omo and tamerlane that, in not so many words, screenshots aren’t indicative of the animation of a show which for many is the real draw, over and above snapshot fidelity. (Although sometimes quite caustic, you should definitely make time for tamerlane’s phenomenal ongoing series of posts about anime and animation during years past).
when you see the scant few memories of a young girl float away into the ether, knowing that they can never be recovered and her beauty is irrevocably lost
At the risk of history repeating itself then, screenshots are definitely not going to sell you on Kaiba. The same kind of sketchy, free-form line-work that I misguidedly criticised in Yozakura is here in spades, but being a Masaaki Yuasa production, that’s kind of the entire point. The animation has an endlessly pleasing sense of tactility and physicality to it and though the characters may be simplistic, almost childlike, in detail it is offset by a sense of creativity and expression that is unique and hugely alluring.
If that were all that Kaiba had going for it then it would still be something noteworthy; that subjects as diverse as family, death and identity are tackled in a scant twelve episodes elevates it to almost stratospheric brilliance.
A review of the first Sidonia no Kishi anime series
The first trailer that I saw for Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) was linked to by someone who was obviously very excited at the prospect of the series. For me, the trailer produced only indifference: giant robots, monsters, space; I’ve seen all of this before. Even the post-broadcast Netflix announcement trailer wouldn’t have convinced me, and I only saw that having watched the whole series. The core issue being that robots fighting in space is an easy sell but it’s not what makes Sidonia a special series. You can’t tout super-massive architecture, questioning the nature of humanity or glorious science-fiction as selling points in a minute and thirty seconds.
what humanity was before has ceded to pragmatism and necessity, to survive it must change and adapt
Many people have categorised the series as “hard” science-fiction which seems like a misuse of the term. Sidonia is very rich, but its use of laborious and detailed scientific explanations is extremely limited and most of the time non-existent - this isn’t Banner of the Stars. This is about a gargantuan colony “seed” ship, the titular Sidonia, floating through the cosmos defending itself against grotesque aggressors, the Gauna.
There’s a point about two thirds of the way through Hal (Haru) where, during a festival, two fan-bearers are just out of sync with one another during their routine. It’s obviously intentional and though a small touch, it’s indicative of this short, one hour, film as a whole: detail orientated.
Set in the near future, Hal’s plot concerns a care robot taking on the guise of a deceased person in order to help their partner overcome their all-encompassing grief at their passing. The detail then is not only in the sumptuous backgrounds and animation work by Production I.G. but also in the very subtle portrayals of the characters. So every furtive look, every motion is crafted to be as effortless and as natural as possible and to ensure that you’re never drawn out of the delicate story being told.
Please note: the remainder of this post contains very small spoilers for the film.