Posts with the “shinto” tag

Esoteric spirit

A Tokyo Ravens review

Tokyo Ravens is a lot of things, but one thing it definitely isn’t is predictable. At a macro level at least, on a micro level varying tropes come into play with the characters that are hit and miss in terms of their effectiveness. It’s perhaps not even fair to say its plot is unpredictable; it is insofar as that if you are not paying attention and wholly invested in the story, character titles and lineages then a lot of the series bigger reveals will creep up on you. That investment doesn’t just reward you with predetermination about who is the reincarnation of whom but generally a better understanding of what the devil is going on.

when she isn’t whipping down her hakama pants only for Natsume to walk in right then. Oh how unexpected

It starts out with a love triangle, followed by a death, followed by a “must get stronger” subplot and then a fox girl appears. Harutora’s ascension (and the audience’s initiation) into the super-charged spirit world of eastern mysticism is similar in approach to the underappreciated Tokyo Majin but the blend of old-world chants, talismans and spells with humvees, mobile phones and the Tokyo skyline is distinctly its own. Weave in some psuedo-political intrigue, sedition and the stalwart campus love comedy and you get at least an impression of what Tokyo Ravens has to offer.

Read the rest of this entry

Stray god strut

A Noragami review

We’re told repeatedly that it’s not a tail: it’s Hiyori’s lifeline to her body. Even when she makes cat ears out of shampoo foam, definitely not a tail. It’s how the opening few episodes of Noragami (Stray God) go: what you, the audience, is thinking is not what it actually is. You might think given the episodic, borderline monster-of-the-week format that episodes one through five represent the entire series. They don’t. You might start to postulate how regalia are created once Yukine makes his entrance, going as far as to assume they’re the spirits of people who have committed suicide. They’re not.

from youthful rebellion to a roar of impotent teenage fury

Defying its own premise and the initial evidence presented, Noragami is another example of why you don’t bet against studio Bones. Sure you get the odd dud like Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini or the recent Eureka Seven: AO, but then you get gems like Un-go and yes, Noragami. At only a single season long (thus far), it is the story of Hiyori’s near-death experience and her half-in half-out status in the spirit world that introduces her to the stray god Yato and, eventually, his regalia Yukine. More subtly it’s also a story of family, understanding and sacrifice.

Read the rest of this entry

3 Episode Taste Test: Rental Magica

Rental Magica is another series which attempts to be the right-side of the "magic + school children =" equation. Whether the glut of recent shows with this theme is some kind of fallout from the Harry Potter fangasm or perhaps just some kind of coincidence is a question for the future; what is clear is that Rental Magica is a step ahead of its peers by not only being meticulously researched but, more importantly, remarkably engaging and fun.

Rental Magica works so well because it manages to blend a number of historical and mythological concepts into a coherent whole

Beginning with a frantic and kinetic opening sequence on a strangely deserted highway, the series follows a tried-and-tested template of a chaotic first episode, followed by a sedate second and finally settling into a more balanced third. The first is replete with foreshadowing and scattered dialogue one expects from an introduction; it neatly sections out what are no doubt going to be the meat of the series in the form of monster quelling, client interaction and light-hearted school jocularity. None of these individual aspects merit undue focus and the test of the series will be in how well it balances the different facets. After such a riotous initiation, the series obliquely steps back in time in order to flesh out the cycloptic protagonist and his apparent memory loss and relation to the derisive witch of the show. It's an odd move, especially as it at first seems to serve only to reintroduce the tiresome "rich" wench whose saving grace is her UK origin. The third episode continues to explore the enigmatic characters in the central "Astral" team, a format likely to be repeated until a more coherent antagonist can be conjured up.

Read the rest of this entry