Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Anime Picks 2008

Damn. Its summer already. I haven't even caught up on all the Spring shit I was trying to follow. Ugh. Oh well. Thankfully, by its nature, Summer (like Winter) is light on new stuff. ...Sorta. So! Having found a place that does anime summaries (in addition to snobbish like opinions for each anime), let's begin.


Ikkitousen: Great Guardians

Summary: First season introduction- Seven schools are constantly ‘at war’ with each other, and the students within - both male and female - have become skilled fighters and constantly battle with rival schools. Their lives and fates are guided by strange jewels that contain the spirits and destinies of warriors from the Sangokushi period. One girl, Sonsaku Hakufu, has recently moved to Japan and is apparently destined to unite the schools as her counterpart united seven countries long ago. But, like all heroes, there is a darker side to her fate, and as always there is a constant struggle by those around her to break the chains of their own destinies and make their own lives. (From AniDB)

Why I'm Interested: Mainly 'cause I watched the first season. I probably won't follow it right off though, 'cause I skipped over the second. Which brings up a great point. Ikkitousen is basically intense fight scenes that result in the female characters getting their clothing torn so we can see as much of their naughty bits as possible during the time slot its being aired in. Most attempts at plot kinda...well, fall apart. So I can't help but ask...what the hell was the point of this season? I mean, I watched the first and didn't even feel there was a need for a second! Don't get me wrong. It was entertaining enough so that I'll definitely give S2 a try, but still...of all the series they could've given a second season to that NEEDED it...including Oh! Great's "Tenjou Tenge" and "Air Gear" series, or even series they could've given it to that don't really need it but was a good enough series that it deserved to be revisited (Mai-HiMe)....WHY this one??? Can someone tell me? Please?

Will I go past five episodes? Ehhh...with broadband? Sure. But there's no way I'm going to force my poor modem to try and download 13 episodes of something that'll probably only get a 7 from me.

Telepathy Shoujo Ran

Summary: Ran is a bright and energetic first-grader in junior high school who possesses supernatual abilities. Together with Midori (her friend who also has supernatural powers) and Rui, the threesome are constantly embroiled in mysterious circumstances. Ran is troubled by her powers because it seems to spark off the ill intentions of people in contact with her. However, with the support of her family and peers, Ran learns to deal with her ‘other’ side and accepts who she is. The threesome also learn how to team up as a whole and solve these mysterious events. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: I like the occasional mystery. Of course if it gets too shoujo-y, I'm out. But the base concept sounds appealing enough.

Will I go past five episodes? All depends. Most likely this will be a hate it or love it-type show.

Slayers Revolution

Summary: This season’s story takes place at the time when Lina and Gourry start a new journey to look for Gourry’s new sword with the power of magic. It will also include a new character named Pocota who is said to have cast a Dragon Slave using the Sword of Light. Sylpiel and Prince Phil are also reported to appear. (Moetron)

Why I'm Interested: SLAYERS BITCH! Lina Inverse is fucking full of win that I have no doubt she just threatened someone with Dragon Slave to make a new season because she felt she wasn't being worshipped enough. Take THAT, Haruhi fans! I haven't even watched all of the first three seasons and I love this universe SO much. Now its got updated animation and STILL has the amazing Seiyuu legend Megumi Hayashibara voicing Lina? Fuck...depending on how much its connected to the last three series, I may watch this even without having seen the first three. (And if you're not interested in watching this classic--you fail. We're taking your anime fan badge and forcing you to watch 6,000 hours of Pucca, Spongebob, and whatever other shitty American cartoons I can think of.)

Will I go past five episodes? Most definitely...eventually.

Strike Witches
Summary: When a mysterious force suddenly attacks the world, only the girls who have magic can fight against them. They install weapons in their own bodies and fight in the sky, the land, and the sea. The battle to protect the world begins.

Why I'm Interested: Well, first off, I'm not sure how anyone could think I'd avoid nearly ANY series with a description that ends with "the battle to protect the world begins". But aside from that, we all have our own definitions of what can be seen as awesome. Some people like monkies/gorillas. (I never, EVER got this. I presume its something about you humans close relation to them.) Some people like shounen-ai. Some people like shows about quirky shit like baking bread. I think a lot of ideas are awesome, and its an ever-expanding list. The newest addition? Lolis who are part-loli, part jet-planes. Fucking pwn.

Will I go past five episodes? Prolly not. Plate's already full and I'm having trouble keeping up with what I already have.

Mission-E
Summary: Sequel to the previously aired Code-E, set five years after the final episode in near-future Japan. It will feature a new a new lead named Maori Kimizuka, who will join Ebihara Chinami, the lead from the first season. Both are TYPE-E users adorned in the above pictured rainbow uniforms, and wield supernatural abilities. OZ, the place Chinami and Maori work at, aims for the the adaption of TYPE-E users into society, are in hostility with the “Foundation” who advocate the isolation and control of TYPE-E users that those men belonged to. (AS)

Why I'm Interested: I was already partially interested in Code-E (about a girl who emits electromagnetic waves when her emotions go wild...just quirky enough to be entertaining), but it sounded very slife of life and I very rarely fuck with that. (Clannad's an exception.) But then I learned Mission-E was decidedly more action-y, so now I'm both interested in Mission-E and more interested in Code-E due to the obvious change in tone it had to go through to lead to this. Plus those outfits are sleek.

Will I go past five episodes? Gotta go back and watch Code-E first.

Blade of The Immortal

Summary: ...Really? You NEED a summary for this shit? Its fucking legendary! *sighs* Oh well. Here: Manji is a crass, violent samurai with a special ability: he cannot die. Cursed with immortality by the nun Yobikuni as punishment for his ruthless deeds, he has grown weary of his ageless life. The only way to lift the curse is to slay 1,000 evil men. So Manji wanders Japan, shedding the blood of the wicked on his quest to finally die. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: Its REALLY not my kind of show, but fuck man....Blade of the Immortal is JUST legendary enough for me to give it a try. The main character can't be all that bad a guy since he's only going after evil fucks, so what the hell. Still. I can hear the bitching all the way from the future if this series doesn't turn out EXACTLY like the manga.

Will I go past five episodes? Most likely...eventually.

Koihime†Musou

Summary: Based on BaseSon’s adult PC adventure game “Koihime Musou”, set in the style of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. (Extra Summary 'cause that kinda sucked: What did I just say at the top of this thing? Japan does ENDLESS variations on Rot3K. This is the other end of the spectrum. Ikkitousen is Rot3K with LOTS of T&A...this will be the version with lolis.)

Why I'm Interested: I'm watching this just to see if my mind can actually process a loli version of fucking Lu Bu. Lolis = Adorable, cute things that give you the inexplicable urge to hug them whenever you look at them. Lu Bu = Fucking crazy bad-ass who can fuck up entire armies solo or brutally kill people on his own side if you look at him wrong. They really don't mix and I'm sure a LOT of fans will go into meltdown watching this. (Also. Since this one seems to be set in the past, it'll probably be closer to the source material than Ikkitousen, which is nice.)

Will I go past five episodes? I sure as heck intend to try...

Sekirei

Summary: Minato is a total loser. He’s failed to make it into college twice, he’s unpopular with women, and he’s unemployed. But suddenly one day he met a girl dashing inhumanely fast down the road he walked, chased by 2 bandits with electrical powers. From that day on Minato’s life changed forever. The Girl, Musubi was not any ordinary girl she was a “Sekirei”, and suddenly she just bestows Minato with the power of an Ashikabi, one of a mysterious set of “masters” in an awesome battle royale between hordes of cute girls (and males) with individual special powers called “Sekirei’s”. Eventually Minato’s true capabilities will release his useless self into truly understanding all of the Sekirei’s that he embarks to gather, and his own strength. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: Dammit. I'm torn. I'm sure I've said somewhere. If there's ONE anime stereotype/genre I never liked, it was the "milquetoast guy ends up with a harem of girls but doesn't fuck any of them because he's a total pussy". But its entirely possible there will be a couple of bad-ass fights in this, and there's already a bunch of hot chicks in it. In addition I'm told the plot of the manga eventually goes somewhere plot-wise, so presuming its at least 26 episodes, I have to at least give it a try.

Will I go past five episodes? Uhm..50/50 chance.

Zero no Tsukaima

Summary: First season introduction- Meet Louise, a budding magician. The students at the Tristein Academy call her “Zero Louise”, due to her current record of zero successes with magic. In fact, her magic tends to go spectacularly wrong. Now, as an important test of her aptitude for magic, she must summon a familiar to be her servant. At this critical moment, she summons up all her magic and wishes for a familiar that is “devoted, beautiful and powerful”, and gets… Hiraga Saito, an ordinary Japanese boy. It’s difficult to say who is more surprised and dismayed, but the rules don’t allow for second attempts. Louise is stuck with her strange familiar, and he with her. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: I'm naturally attracted to magic shows. Plus I read part of the manga and it was just downright hilarious. Of course, there's a problem...

Will I go past five episodes? Yup, you guessed it. Haven't even seen the first season. Might be a good idea to watch S1 and S2 first.

Yakushiji Ryouko no Kaiki Jikenbo

Summary: The story revolves around Ryōko Yakushiji, a 27-year-old multilingual investigator that graduated from Tokyo University’s elite Department of Law, and the bizarre cases she faces while working for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Yakushiji not only has to deal with supernatural beings in her line of work, but also her rival Yukiko Muromachi, another equally talented and beautiful police investigator. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: Eh....it sounds kinda like TOKKO, which started off interesting but quickly got boring. Still. I get a feel off it that tells me it might be interesting. So I'll give it a shot.

Will I go past five episodes? The better question is whether or not I'll drop the thing entirely after five episodes. Hope not.

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu

Summary: Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu centers around Ayase Yuko and Nogizaka Haruka. Yuto is seemingly ordinary, but Haruka is attractive, intelligent, and rich, which prompts other students to idolize her and even give her French nicknames like “Nuit Étoile” (The Silver Star of the Night) and “Lumière du Clavier” (The Shining Princess on the Piano). One day, Yuko wanders into the school library in order to return a book and accidently stumbles upon Haruka’s deepest, darkest secret: she is a diehard fan of anime and manga, in other words, a regular otaku. Promising Haruka to keep this a secret, Yuko becomes her advisor and confidente of some sort and hangs out with her more, though earning some viciously envious glares from his fellow schoolmates. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: I'm naturally attracted to anime that, well, talks about anime. Its sort of looking at it from the inside looking in, plus I like seeing how the Japanese view their own otaku world. (I get the feeling they're not as critical of anime as we are.)

Will I go past five episodes? Depends on how well it walks the line between romantic comedy and Genshiken-type anime. If it does it well enough, yeah eventually.

Special Mention:

World Destruction

Summary: The game centers on a youth named Kirie Irunisu who secretly possesses the power to destroy the world. He is forced to join a party that aims not to save the world, but to eradicate it and start anew. (ANN)

Why I'm Interested: I'm not. I just wanted to point out that fortunately as a Hero I'm not allowed to kill or I would make the creator suffer a horrible, horrible death. KNOCK THIS SHIT OFF! What's sad is that video game adaptations usually suck, but I guarantee this one becomes a "sleeper hit". Ugh.

Suspension of Disbelief

Another one of these things. I'm talkative for some reason. Oh well. Not sure how long this one will be. Could be standard length, could be three paragraphs. Let's find out!

The idea for this one came when I was sitting watching an episode of M*A*S*H* the other day (What? Alan Alda was funny to me). It was one of the later episodes, and because my mind works weird, I suddenly recalled reading the show's Wiki article, where it mentioned how the later seasons usually consisted in some kind of message the main characters gave to an incoming "regular army" superior officer. Y'know, the importance of life, the effects a war has on those who aren't even in it--shit everyone should know, but somehow doesn't. And then, as I thought about it--hell, as I was watching the show itself--I realized it was right. But it was a pattern I'd never noticed until someone brought it up. That happens to me a lot.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a very observant person. I notice clues in a story, I pick up tones in people's voices that let me know their true feelings even though they're trying to hide it. But chances are, I'm not going to notice the "formula" of a plot. There's a reason for this. I'm not trying to. I don't see the point. The moment you start picking something apart and noting how similar it is to something else is the moment most people start becoming unhappy with whatever they're watching. The fact is, "true" originality went away centuries ago. Break a story down enough and the plot to Star Wars sounds just like a plot to a Western. (I've seen it done.) Its all in the details now, folks.

But more importantly, why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to pick apart whatever we watch and give it some sort of arbitrary litmus test for originality? Or, a better question...what the hell ever happened to Suspension of Disbelief? It seems like that's been missing from society for at least a decade, if not longer. I guess now its been stigmatized with its new name: "turning your brain off". But there's nothing wrong with that. Suspension of Disbelief is simply born out of a desire to enjoy a story--a pure desire that tells your brain to not pick something apart for what's utterly ridiculous and what's within the realm of possibility and just enjoy it as is.

Whatever happened to that? Does anyone know? We as a society were once capable of believing that all it took was a suit, tie, and a pair of glasses to turn Superman into mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Now the only reason we take him remotely seriously is because he's a cultural icon that's been around since the late 30's. (And even THEN we can't seem to drum up a decent story for him in mainstream media.) Why did we piss away our Suspension of Disbelief, and what lead us to start downing Cynicism Pills so we could walk around and bitch about every little thing we see in a story? (I recognize the irony; shut up, I'm trying to make a point.)

I'm a little guilty of this too, I admit. But I'm working at it, and I've always been a little better about it. When I sit down to watch something new, I'm already wanting to be entertained. If I had something more interesting to do, I'd be doing it. If I'm there, I obviously don't have something better to do, so I'm very willing and happy to be drawn in if the story gives me the chance. Of course, some stories fail utterly at this. And then again when I watch or read something I don't just see a story, I see another world--another universe, and chances are if I wouldn't want to live there, I probably won't enjoy whatever it is. (Hence my distaste for dystopian, post-apocalyptic tales, horror stories and generally anything overly depressing.) But I digress. My point is, I walk in with the desire to be impressed and drawn in. Do you? The whole thing shouldn't fall on the story--you have to want it to, or else what's the point?

(Huh. Just five paragraphs. Oh well. Summer 2008 Anime Picks up next.)

Optimism

Right. So for those that don't know, I am a supreme optimist. The way I figure it, as a hero (well, more accurately a Hero), I pretty much want to help whoever I can and save whoever I can. And with that as your mission statement, you kind of NEED an optimistic outlook to think of most humans as worth saving/helping. Though I do wonder if I take it too far, occasionally.

Don't get me wrong. I still see things as they are. This planet's fucked up and you humans can be mindnumbingly stupid sometimes. I know that sounds wrong for someone who believes in the human race, but I know of no other way to describe a race that figured out how to split the atom...and still has fights over which crayon in the box is the best color to be born as. Its...its...astounding, really. But in a bad way. But I still have hope.

No, the times when I wonder if I take it too far is when I start to go so far against the grain of what the rest of you define as "good". Of course, that sounds a bit off so I'm forced to explain. To put it out there without beating around the bush....I think most of the literature of the world is dreck. Most of the "classic" movies are shit. And what you humans tend to define as "profound" and "deep", I define as utterly inane and banal.

Right. Now I'm sure I have your attention. That's naturally a bit of an overexaggeration, but not by much. You see, for centuries you humans have explored the depths of the human soul by showing how dark and evil it can be. You've expended so much energy telling yarn after yarn of how corrupt we are and how there aren't really any innocent people, and how there isn't always a happy ending. And you've tripped over each other trying to rave about how excellent these stories are and how much "depth" is in them. And its to the point now where oft times, when someone tells a story of the good guy/protagonist actually, y'know, winning at the end, no matter how well told the story is, people see it as simple and second-rate.

....Not an ounce of that makes sense to me. I see these stories--these novels, these movies--and I don't see any depth. I don't see the appeal to those of us of higher intelligence. You know what I see, mostly? Crap. Really depressing crap, that's hiding under the guise of "art".

Quite possibly the best example of this is the movie 12 Monkies. I mention it often whenever someone brings up shitty movies. And there's a reason for this. Its my benchmark. I don't think its possible for a movie to GET much more full of shit and be much more of a waste of time than this. If you haven't seen it, its a story of how this guy (played by Bruce Willis) comes back from the future to try and discover why his fucked up future is so fucked up. At the very end of the film, it comes down to him either stopping the guy who causes the dystopian future he comes from, or the guy going on unhindered to *cause* said future. And guess what? Just as he's about to stop him....he gets shot. Dying in front of the past version of himself and failing to stop his fucked up future from happening.

Now, I'm sure a lot of people watched this movie and found it "deep". With all sorts of messages like "you can't change the past", and how it must affect a person to see their own death (even if they don't recognize that its them dying). I'm also sure there's a metaphor for Jesus in there. ('Cause you can't have a shitty,"artsy" movie with lots of symbolism and stuff in it without a Christ comparison SOMEWHERE. It just can't be done.) People probably thought the ending poignant. I was pissed that I watched a movie that lasted two hours, and things were pretty much the same at the end as they were at the beginning. I understand its the journey rather than the destination, but fuck....at least give my journey SOME sort of destination.

But see...that's me all the time. You can shove as many complex literary elements into a plot as you like, but I'm going to call bullshit the moment you give me an ending like that. I don't like depressing endings. But, I suppose for some slower readers, I can expound a little more. Its not just the overall depressing-ness of an ending. Its when you force me to go on a journey with you, only to have the end of that journey circle right back around to where we were at the start.

Another example of this would be Superman: Red Son. A lot of people love this story. It was a mini-series done a couple of years back where rather than landing in America, Kal-El landed in the Ukraine in 1939. And over the course of the story he goes from becoming Russia's Champion, to an oppressive dictator, to a person who finally saw the error of his ways. Now. You could've ended the story right there and I would've been okay with it. Happy endings are nice. But instead, they tack on a bit at the end that explains that there IS no Krypton. Or rather, EARTH becomes Krypton. The "red sun" of planet Krypton is actually our sun after its expanded and become a red giant. And far, far, far into the future two "Kryptonians" realize that their planet is doomed and put their child into a spaceship...which is actually a time machine that goes all the way back to the year 1939, and due to an accident lands in the Ukraine, where Kal-El grows to become...

WTF?! Did you just give me a time loop!? The story now circles back around? That's just fucking irritating.

Admittedly, I like happy settings. I like it when the hero wins at the end. I like it when the hero gets the girl--in fact, fuck the girl (sooo much to do with that, but I'm being serious here), I like it when there's a hero! Whatever happened to that? We don't have stories about heroes anymore. We have "protagonists". And said protagonists are either damn near villains, or so weak they spend the entire story bitching about their situation. (Again, to clarify...its alright to have a character who starts out somewhat pathetic, and becomes something better. Not necessarily a hero, just--something better. But when you create someone like...well...Shinji from NGE...then you have a problem.)

This is what we've come to. The more intelligent factions of humans say that the media doesn't affect you. I'm going to regret saying this at some point in the (probably near) future, but I say that's a lie. Now. I'm not saying playing enough games of Doom or Halo will go make you shoot up your school or whatever. THAT'S crap. I am saying that we've surrounded ourselves with one depressing story after another, over a ridiculously long period of time. And art imitates life which eventually imitates art. So you surround yourself with this garbage, and your outlook on and attitude towards life shift. Sometimes in a major way, sometimes not, but they shift nonetheless. The crimes become more despicable and for more despicable reasons. (No reason at all, is about as bad as it gets.)

That's why now we watch shows and read books about people who are pretty much mostly evil and think of those characters as "cool". And we see a full-blown hero in another series and think of him as "corny". Its ridiculous, and the worst part of it is, because of the way it works, its a cycle that just gets worse over time. I think the newest example is the anime Death Note. Its main character is a douchebag who purposely kills innocents if they get in his way, and people STILL love him. Does no one see anything wrong with that?? That people resonate with a guy who mercilessly kills for the sole purpose of making himself a god? Granted, like I said, it doesn't mean people are going to start imitating his actions, but it does go a ways towards explaining the sorry state of humanity. The cynicism, the pessimism, the "screw you, why should I help you or anyone else"-type attitudes.

I feel I'm starting to go off-topic though. Let's see if I can find it again....I think my point was that maybe its not humanity and maybe its me. After all, one of my anime ever IS my favorite anime because at the end all the characters that died come back. To so many people, they got pissed and asked what's the point. LIFE was the point! How much more obvious can one be?

You tell me that's all well and good, but life doesn't always (or usually) turn out like that? Well NO SHIT SHERLOCK! But I don't need every [comic] book I read, every anime/television show I watch, every movie I go see to tell me that! And you don't either. Want to know how to find that out? Go outside! Experience the outside world for a week, and I can guarantee you'll realize that life isn't like a story. I'm not sure why you needed a story to tell you that. I know its easy to write me off as a crazy Hero wishing the world were a brighter place, but think about this. Is this the message you really want to send? That its only a classic when its a depressing tale? That the creative spirit is thought by humans to be best displayed when its exploring the darker aspects of the human soul?

....The sad thing is that this was supposed to be an honest introspective look at myself, asking if I was right, or the world was. I was going to ask if I was missing something. I was even going to posit that maybe I was stupid and everyone that enjoyed this stuff really was smart. But as I began to type this, I realized that was merely my bullshit insecurities talking, and (as usual) the world was wrong. Imagine that. Still, this whole thing is something for you all to think about.