Short-Run Series XXVIII – This is Just “Perfect”

February 16th, 2018 in Anime, General Reviews by

Sometimes, the best crime dramas are the ones that don’t apparently start off as one. This is both good and bad, but I would prefer to get lulled into something than know right from the outset where we were heading. Ooops, perhaps I’ve said too much. Well, that shouldn’t detract from your enjoyment of “Subete ga F ni Naru” (”Everything Becomes F” and subtitled “The Perfect Insider”). Don’t worry; the title will be made clear as it is also a major clue in the works.

Sōhei Saikawa, an associate professor of architectural engineering (right), and Moe Nishinosono (left), the daughter of his mentor, travel to the very remote Himaka Island to speak with Dr. Shiki Magata. Although the doctor is highly intelligent, she has secluded herself there, amid accusations that, years ago, she murdered her parents. While there, these two work together to solve a pair of murders on the island.

OK, that sounds like typical crime fare, right? And the series is really slow to get started out of the blocks, but it does pick up speed halfway through Episode Two. You are beset by red herrings, misdirections, hidden agendas and tamperings that prevent an understanding of who is doing the murders and why.

One part of the problem is the rather flat nature in which the anime is presented. The artwork is serviceable, but does little more than that. Although they eschew standard anime tropes, there is a palpable blandness to the circumstances, in both art and pacing, as though it is being approached more as a scientific experiment than a crime scene. That means it can get prolix in a lot of what goes down and there is a rather heavy reliance on flashback to clarify the events, but it really doesn’t clarify the events. Whether this was intentional or not, I am not certain, but it adds to the confusion and uncertainty of the murders.

Also, like most crime dramas, a key clue or piece of evidence is kept from you, the reader/viewer, that might have tipped things sooner and allowed you to determine the guilt earlier than they did. We also have that “Ten Little Indians” approach that unless someone on those regular runs with supplies comes to the island, and if the radio goes down (which it does), there is no way to contact the outside world for some real help. And you have the fear that someone amid your happy crew is the killer. In some aspects, it reminded me of “Silence of the Lambs”, in that rather combative relationship Hannibal and Clarice had. Moe has the same thing with Dr. Shiki, but we do initially see the cat-and-mouse approach to events.

One thing that puzzled me is that rather blasé approach to things. Look, there is a killer on this island. Why are these people targeted? Could WE be targeted? What is anybody going to do about it? I hope you sleep well at night. If you let that pothole fall to one side, you should find a rather compelling series here. This is one that I would suggest for binge-watching, especially since it has concluded, as it may add to the feelings of abandonment and uncertainty.

 

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           6 (Really flat)
Plot                  8 (Slow to get started, but does pick up)
Pacing              6 (Almost too much pondering, away from the murders)
Effectiveness   6 (Misplaced, owing to too many ruminations)
Conclusion      8 (It reaches an end)
Fan Service     0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)

Overall            7 (Just a bit of a cheat)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Let me see the tape again.

The “Concrete” Jungle

July 30th, 2017 in Concrete Revolutio by

Now, understand that it is not a misspelling, but it is called “Concrete Revolutio” (“Konkurīto Reborutio: Chōjin Gensō”, “Concrete Revolutio: Superhuman Phantasmagoria”). I couldn’t find a genuine reason for that, aside that it will stick in your head.

It is year Apotheosis 41. Now, this was a bit of a problem in trying to determine what the ‘actual’ year was, but by doing a little research, I was able to puzzle out that it is the year 1967. OK, the fashions do kind of look like Carnaby Street and we do have a Beatles-like band lurking about, but it could also be the Disco Era, with that line of thinking and dress. The Showa Era did not exist and we are dating this from 1926, the last year of the Taisho Era. Earth is currently home to superhumans and paranormal phenomena of all kinds, from aliens and magical girls to ghosts and transforming robots. However, official knowledge of these beings is officially kept under wraps by the governments of the world. (more…)

“Dandelion” Wine

July 24th, 2017 in Anime by

This is a real change of pace royalty show. Most of the time, those of noble lineage and descent are overweening, preening prats who feel that the commoners aren’t much better than the animals that they tend and can be (and are) easily dismissed or fed to the royal animals.  However, “Castle Town Dandelion (“Jōkamachi no Danderaion”, “Dandelion of Jolamachi”) approaches this differently and has the regal family living as commoners…..more or less.

The story revolves around the Sakurada family, a family of nine super-powered siblings whose father is the king. The actions of the siblings are constantly being recorded and broadcast on TV, allowing the citizens to choose which one to elect as the next king. Yup, everything they do, and that is EVERYTHING they do, is open to public scrutiny. There are monitors all over the city, initially placed to offer protection to the Royal Family, but now, the citizenry can watch what goes on with all of them, as things are run not much differently than a mayoral election or even “Big Brother”. (more…)

Don’t Pull on my “Tail”

May 14th, 2017 in Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu. by

Although this is kind of a ‘girls who save the world’, it was very hard to take this show seriously, even when it became ‘serious’. “Gonna be the Twin-Tail!!” (“Ore, Tsuintēru ni Narimasu”, “I Will Become a Twintail”.) also takes gender-bending to another level.

We are at Yōgetsu Private Academy. Sōji Mitsuka is an ordinary high school boy who has an obsession for twintail hair. That is when you split the hair, so you have it flaring off to the side, as we see up there, although it can trail in the back as well. At the opening ceremony, he is enraptured with the numerous twintails about him, especially Erina Shindō, who is the student body president and has a magnificent pair…of twintales. (more…)

Open Your Golden “Gate”

May 11th, 2017 in GATE by

This was an intriguing series, but the terseness of the first season means that there will be a second season (at the very least) to try and settle the problems that were both brought up and complicated in this show. This is “Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri “ (“Gate: The Self-Defense Forces Fight Like This in That Place”), although it just seems to be called “Gate”. It is either current times or a slightly distant future (like 2020 or something along those lines. Still no hoverboards). It is a wonderful afternoon in the Ginza Area and Yōji Itami (guy up there) is enjoying his day off. You see, he is a JSDF soldier, but he is also a hopeless otaku and is making his way to his favorite store for the latest and greatest in manga and anime.

Suddenly, a massive portal shows up, and I don’t mean like a pulsating spiral of pure evil, but a real archway. It almost looks Roman in construction and design and size. Look, it spans the street and is, maybe two stories tall, perhaps taller. Then, all of these nasty monsters start pouring out and attack the citizenry. Itami is ticked off, as he had places to go to, but now, he is pressed into service to help protect people and drive back the threat. Well, despite being monsters, these guys come off as mediaeval, with spears and arrows and swords, so they are no match for modern weaponry and are quickly dispatched (those that aren’t captured). (more…)

Remembering a Classic: Jack to Mame no Ki

May 8th, 2017 in Anime by

When Japan’s animation industry didn’t have its very own Studio Ghibli, animators took cue from Western classics. They tried to get ideas from pre-existing tales and create their own twists in it in order for the stories to appeal to the Japanese audience. One such classic that Japanese animators tried to port to Japan is Jack to Mame no Ki (Jack and the Beanstalk), which was first published in 1734.

Japan’s version of Jack and the Beanstalk is interesting take on the Benjamin Tabart story. After Jack was conned into swapping his family’s only cow for a handful of beans, he plants them and realizes the next day that they yielded a tall, magical vine that rises through the sky. Climbing the beanstalk, Jack discovers an enchanted world ruled by the kind and beautiful Princess Margaret. Margaret has an unusual love interest in the form of Prince Tulip – an unattractive and brash fellow. As the story unfolds it is apparent that the Princess is in fact under a spell cast by an evil witch called Madam Noir. This spell has left the Princess in awe of the vulgar Prince Tulip who she is set to marry. The Prince, as the story reveals, is the witch’s very own son. Upon uncovering the plot, Jack leaps to the defense of the Princess. (more…)

Title: 5 Times Western Properties Tried to Make the Leap to Anime

April 23rd, 2017 in Anime by

You only have to look at the box office to see that there’s no shortage of Western adaptations of (much better) anime properties. Ghost in the Shell is just the latest anime classic to get brought to Western shores. While that movie was a disappointing (but visually appealing) mess that doesn’t hold a candle to the original, it still got us thinking about the times when Japan flipped the script and tried their own hands at popular Western franchises. Here are five times it happened—and the results were actually pretty good.

The Animatrix

The sole non-comic adaptation on this list, The Animatrix brought some of the biggest names in animation together at the absolute peak of the Matrix’s popularity for an anthology film that still remains impressive today. The film featured direction by Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), Mahiro Maeda (Gankutsuou: The Counte of Monte Cristo), Peter Chung (Aeon Flux), Takashi Koike (Redline), and Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll). With such an all-star team behind it, it’s no surprise that the film was a success and helped to lay the foundation for many of these director’s future works, notably Koike and Kawajiri. The two Second Renaissance films in particular do a great job of expanding the Matrix mythos and further explain the circumstances that led to the rise of the robots and creation of the Matrix. (more…)

“Red” Herring

March 23rd, 2017 in Akagami no Shirayuki-hime by

Do not let the title of this show fool or throw you. Snow White with the Red Hair” (“Akagami no Shirayukihime”) only has the lead character share the name (and not really that); beyond this vague reference, she is her own woman. Shirayuki is a normal citizen of the kingdom of Tanbarun. Well, if you consider an herbalist ‘normal’; it is a rather rarified vocation. She has another unique feature: her red hair…which we already mentioned. When the first prince of Tanbarun, Raji Shenazard, orders her to become his concubine, rather than agreeing to this, she cuts her hair and escapes to the neighboring kingdom of Clarines. On her way there, she meets and befriends Prince Zen Wistalia and his two aides, Mitsuhide Lowen and Kiki Seiran (but obviously does not know this when they first meet). (more…)

Short Short Pull Series X – “Story” Time

February 15th, 2017 in Monogatari by

I did not know that this was part of a larger grouping of stories, referred to as the “Monogatari” (“Story”) series. I came in on Series #9 “Hanamonogatari” with a concurrent viewing of #11 “Owarimonogatari” (review on that later. Maybe). It’s just that they are very annoying both in presentation and content.

If I had watched them from the beginning, a lot of what transpires in this one would potentially make better sense, but it suffers the same problem as “Mekakucity Actors” or parts of “Penguin Drum”. But I get ahead of myself. The plot contends itself with Suruga Kanbaru (left), as she begins her third year in high school. She deals with her left hand that had been turned monstrous through the use of her mother’s monkey paw charm. After hearing rumors from Ougi Oshino of a Devil that can solve one’s problems, Suruga sets out to find this person. She secretly fears that this person is her. However, she soon discovers that the Devil is her former basketball rival from junior high, Rouka Numachi (right). (more…)

Wanna Hear a “Dirty Joke”?

February 8th, 2017 in Shimoneta by

Another of those off the hook shows, the capaciously titled “Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist” (“Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai) also really takes the concept of an alternate universe to…uh…an alternate universe. In future Japan (in trying to puzzle together the timeline, it could be, like, 2056), the Morality Police have cracked down on any and all things prurient and immoral, so no hentai, no ecchi, no eroge games, not even certain words are allowed in this squeaky clean and spiritually pure society.

Everyone wears a ‘morality collar’ (for wont of a better term), which is called a Peace Maker, that analyzes every spoken word for any action that could break the law. A new high-school student named Tanukichi Okuma (Mr. Shocked back there to the right) enters the country’s leading elite “public morals school” to reunite with his crush and student council President, Anna Nishikinomiya (Ms. Distraught Blue Eyes). However, Tanukichi quickly finds himself entwined with the perverted terrorist “Tundra Blue” when she kidnaps and forces him to join her organization, “SOX,” in creating and spreading pornographic material across the city. (more…)