Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer '11 Anime Mini-Reviews Part 1

Now that I'm taking a break from classes for the summer, I have much more time to catch up on the huge queue of anime that has built up.  I have already viewed a number of titles and will give some brief thoughts.  I don't feel like going on and on and giving in-depth reviews, but that doesn't reflect the quality of these titles by any means.  Here's what I've got so far this summer.

NOTE: This is stuff that I just happen to be watching this summer.  These shows aren't necessarily new.  Sorry if "Summer '11 Anime" may have lead you astray.

Pretty much what last semester was like.


Sekirei is pretty much what would happen if you bred a harem anime with Pokemon.  The result is something that is oddly enjoyable.  There's really nothing deep here, but people picking this up won't exactly be expecting that.  Silly harem stuff is here:  Guy finds himself living under the same roof as a number of females, most of whom have exceedingly large breasts and insist on fighting over him in one way or another.

The twist is that most of them are/become his sekirei, battlers created for some strange, grand game that pits sekirei against sekirei.  My roommate summed it up concisely: "'s like Pokemon...with tits!".  Yes, yes it is.  There's some surprisingly decent drama at some points, and things do start to get particularly interesting toward the end.  It shouldn't work, but it somehow does.  There is a second season that I assume will be released over here eventually.  Recommended summer viewing?  Maybe, provided this is your kind of thing.  Want a rating? 3/5.   Moving on.

The main character's Pokemon.  He's got a grass, a fighting, a water, and uhh...nerd type.

Spice and Wolf Season 1

Netflix added this one to its instant queue not too long ago, and the cover art certainly catches the eye, so I figured, why not?  I do not regret that decision in the least. 

Not sure why this caught my eye.

Spice and Wolf is a tale that revolves around Lawrence, a merchant, who happens upon Holo, a wolf goddess in human form.  They embark on a trip to Holo's home in the north, complete with trading, drama, and conflict.  The dialogue is loaded with merchant and trading lingo, and it can seem a bit excessive at times, even if it is important to the plot.

It's pretty refreshing to have conflict revolve around such simple things.  The life of a merchant is tough.  Delivering goods is dangerous, negotiating prices takes skill, and travelling with a cute wolf goddess just adds complications to the whole thing, especially with the Church purging the area of pagan stuff.

Where this anime really shines, in my opinion, is the interaction between Lawrence and Holo.  I found myself become pretty engrossed, from their arguments to their more intimate and playful moments, as they cleverly veil and joke around their feelings for each other.  I deem Spice and Wolf as an interesting and refreshing show for summer viewing.  Highly recommended.  My rating: 5/5

Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

I don't know why this caught my eye either.
Next up is Rin, a six episode OVA that deals with the exploits of an immortal woman throughout the course of numerous decades.  Steeped in mythology, the cases she deals with as the show progresses all tie in to an overarching plot that is revealed bit by bit.  Plenty of violence, blood, nudity, sexual situations (lots of lesbian stuff), and the like pervade the show.  The extra-mature stuff doesn't detract from the viewing experience like ridiculous fan service or anything.  You probably shouldn't let your kid brother watch it, though.

The episodes are around 45 minutes a piece, and they are well-paced.  Each aroused my attention, kept me interested, and left me satisfied after finishing up.  There were plenty of "oh god" or "OH SNAP" moments to be had.  Don't want to reveal too much for potential viewers.  It was certainly a worthwhile experience.  I'd give it a solid 4/5.


Anime brain splosion.

I had been meaning to watch this one for quite some time, and I recently managed to get a fantastic deal on it at my place of employment.  Familiar with some of Satoshi Kon's work, I expected to get my brain raped a bit.  What happened turned out to be no rape.  It was amazing and consensual.

The movie's plot revolves around an invention that allows users to enter and record dreams.  The ramifications of the device's use are central to the conflict.  Things begin to go awry when two of the devices are stolen, and the collective dreams of its users begin to encroach on reality.

Indeed, there are times when transitions from reality to dreams are so fast and indistinguishable that it provides for quite the ride.  Things get so crazy that there were moments while watching Paprika when I began to wonder if I was high or something.  If you pay close enough attention, the plot isn't too hard to figure out as it unravels, even if it insane to watch it happen.

The visuals are outstanding and captivating, with a surreal mixture of hand-drawn and CG effects.  In addition, the music is strange and wonderful.  Viewers of other Kon works such as Paranoia Agent will likely recognise Susumu Hirasawa's interesting, electropop style.  The combo of music and artwork can be charming, wondrous, and menacing at the same time.

When the whole thing came to a close, I just had to sit there for a moment.  I was awestruck at what I had just experienced.  I couldn't really find anything to gripe about.  Nothing is perfect, but I enjoyed Paprika so much that I can't recognise or recall any of its flaws at the moment.  It's one of my new favorite movies and an absolute recommended viewing.  6/5

Well, that wraps up Part 1 of my summer anime viewings.  Pretty solid stuff so far.  Until next time, I will continue watching anime and trying to survive.

Where I see myself in a few years.

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