Posts with the “snow” tag

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Having now completed most all of what FFXIII-2 has to offer according to both the trophy screen and the challenge the end-game activities provided, I'm ready to go into my thoughts on the game.

Please note: contains spoilers.

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Anime of the decade: #4

Five Centimetres Per Second

On first watching Five Centimetres Per Second, the overbearing sadness of Takaki's journey from lovestruck adolescent to downtrodden adult is depressing; the piano music that follows him through the three stories of the film is a heartbeat of yearning for times gone by. Subsequent viewings but build upon this and more than before, the wistful smile in closing moments means more than the emotionally infused montage that preceded it. Makoto Shinkai manages to evoke emotions that are difficult to grasp but more than being a straightforward story, the feeling one leaves the film with is a reflection of themselves more than what the movie has shown.

not a yearning for a particular person but an ache for a clear, unspoken understanding with someone

Split over three sequential stories, they follow Takaki Tohno from his time in elementary school through to adulthood and his relationship with the reticent Akari Shinohara which forms the core narrative of the film. The first story, The Chosen Cherry Blossoms, describes their lives: both constantly moving schools due to their parents, weak bodied but strong minded and inexorably smitten with each other. When Akari moves away, Takaki plans a journey to see her after a series of letters; unfortunately, due in part to the inclement weather, the trip is beset with problems. The second story, Cosmonaut, takes place when Takaki is a teenager and he has once again moved school. The focus is on an otherwise unrelated girl, Kanae Sumida who is infatuated with Takaki but is unable to express her own feelings, not helped by his introverted and sullen nature. The third story, Five Centimetres Per Second, follows Takaki as a young man, now working but unhappy with his situation, not helped by his standoffish relationship with a young woman from his workplace; that is until a fleeting encounter during cherry blossom season with a woman who bears a stark resemblance to Akari.

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Anime of the decade: #9

Black Lagoon

The first two episodes of Black Lagoon are a carnival of ridiculousness. The climax of the opening story sees a boat use a ramp to launch torpedoes at a pursuing helicopter while the instigator of the plan flips off the doomed pilot. To say the series is quite silly would be an understatement. Even through two seasons it doesn't ever forget just how absurd a lot of it is, but tempering that craziness is a slick and very poignant look at villainy, existentialism, obligation and trust. What makes this mix so rare - gunfights, car chases and philosophising - is how well they meld together and crucially how entertaining the entire package is.

The duality between childlike abandon and adult seriousness is unique and gifts the series with sentiment that one wouldn't expect it capable of

The series starts atypically enough with a Japanese salaryman, Rock, being kidnapped by a mercenary company, the titular Black Lagoon, and opting to stay with them after his initial ordeal is over. The story follows him through the exploits of the company and his attempts to come to terms with his new life within a city a villains. The narrative is broken up into a collection of stories lasting anywhere from two to five episodes and involve a transport job gone wrong to an overseas gang war and all points in between. As well as the three other members of the Black Lagoon company, Rock collides with an eclectic batch of characters including combat maids, scarred Russian soldiers and pistol toting nuns.

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ef - a tale of memories

Given such an auspicious and confusing opening three episodes, it would have been easy for ef to fall into obscurity and abstraction with deep symbolism and obscured plot; thankfully this is not the case and the series manages to make the absurdly stylistic symbolism part of itself while still a sometimes unique, not wholly original story which ends well at a petite twelve episodes.

the grayscale visions of Hiro, the stained glass technicolour of Chihiro and the sunset beaches for everyone

In between the astounding opening and changing ending are two stories: one about a high school boy trying to find colour in his world while trying to deal with the affections of two girls, one overt and another covert; the other is about a girl whose memory lasts only a scant thirteen hours before events begin slipping away and her relationship with a boy she meets at an abandoned train station. The plot may sound akin to an atypical dating-sim territory but the storytelling is first rate and deftly draws one into the world and its characters. The supernatural elements that nagged the opening episodes are present but downplayed; the ephemeral figure of a long haired woman who imparts advice to all of the central characters and then vanishes is never explained even slightly, the same with the silent, world weary caretaker of the memory-challenged protagonist. The only time these elements are brought to the fore is in the final moments of the series, hinting more at a desire for a second season rather than anything that would affect the first.

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Five centimeters per second (Byousoku five centimeter)

Words seem almost inadequate when trying to convey the wistful nostalgia evoked by 5 centimeters per second. Every scene in the petite one hour movie is visually arresting, the sparse dialogue secondary to the unspoken emotion loaded into each moment; it is beautiful, moving and amazingly personal film. Separated into three chronologically sequential stories, the film follows Takaki Tohno and his relationship with childhood friend Akari Shinohara.

each sky, each train car, each snow swept vista is beauteous and beyond the capabilities of real life to produce

The first story, Oukashou, comprises Takaki's fraught train journey to see Akari after they were separated due to parental employment. Occupying the bulk of the movie's timeline, the subtext of distance and solitude will be instantly familiar to anyone who has seen Makoto Shinkai's previous works: Voice of a Distant Start (Hoshi no Koe) and The Place Promised in our Early Days (Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho). Even in such a short time-frame, Takaki's journey is sentimental and emotive, cutting straight to his fears and expectations unconcerned with exterior bravado. Scene by scene, poise and grace is established by valuing silence as much as dialogue and the ever present melody of the piano. The first story culminates in a serene landscape of snow and darkness before Takaki heads home in the fresh morning sunlight, starting the narrative cycle once more with the second and then third stories.

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