Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Rose-Colored Glasses" - Tatami Galaxy (anime) - 9/10 Thunderstorms

"A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes." ~Mark Twain

Genre: Comedy/Romance/Psychological/Mystery/School

Review Status: Complete (11 Episodes/ 11 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: It can be a little odd to look at, but the animation is fabulous, and the quirky story and storytelling perfectly matches that art style.

Summary: The story follows a nameless protagnist as he, in a Groundhogs Day-style twist of fate, tries to find the 'Rose-Colored Campus Life that he's dreamed about. Can he find it? And how do his choices play out?

Review: What is you're Rose-Colored life? How can you reach it? Our nameless protagonist, a new student in college, has decided that the best way to to his dreams is to do... a little bit of everything! This anime explores the ways small decisions can change the course of your life, while sending our protagonist on wild goose-chases to discover the name of his penpal, the girl that he's fallen in love with.

As he enters college, our hero of sorts is innundated with innumerable choices for clubs and after-school activities. Which one shall he choose to gain popularity and the girl of his dreams? Each episode, it's something different, from the biking club, to the film club, to his fellow resident's prankster society. And from there on, you see our protagonist working hard, trying to reach his dreams, and all the while, getting distracted from what he really should be doing.

Returning a little bookbag charm to his senior.

What is great about this anime is how each story ties together. Little things from one episode carry into another- for instance, a pink kimono briefly mentioned and seen in one episode comes back two later as a fairly important object. Neko Ramen gets a particularly big spotlight. And a random appearance early on becomes key in the climax of the show.

The climax of it all turns out to be hilarious, fairly gripping, and almost cathartic as you finally see our protagonist battle with his demons of time and inactivity- to do what he should have been doing from the beginning, and get the girl that he should have been with all along. Like the viewer may be, he was too blind to see it, and that it was there in front of him all along.

The only thing that brings down the score for me was the unnecessary crudity in episode 4. It really could have been done without it, or kept it to a minimum. As it was, I think that those who aren't interested in dealing with breats all episode long can skip it. Thankfully, the fifth episode brought the absudity and hilarity back to its former levels.

Overall, this was a hilarious anime that is definitely one of the best rom-coms I've seen in a while!

Recommended: Yes. 18+, though, since this does end up having enough sexual innuendo to make quite a few uncomfortable. In fact, this is taken to an almost embarassing extreme in the fourth episode, where the story centers around our protagonist as he deals with a guy that has a breast fetish. Thankfully, it goes back to fairly low levels, the fetish barely mentioned or dealt with. It does get a bit sketchy when dealing with other things, such as a guy who's in love with a life-size doll, and there is almost some sexual activity (he chickens out before they kiss) that is mentioned/thought about by the protagonist.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Durarara!! (anime)
Baccano! (anime)
Trapeze (anime)
School Rumble (anime or manga)

Guest Reviews Coming Up!

I'm thrilled to announce that two people I know, Hope_In_Song from the blog Breaking Metal Windows, and my brother A, will both be submitting guest reviews. Please expect them within the next two weeks!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

“Once In A Lifetime” – Millennium Actress (anime) – 10/10 Thunderstorms

Genre: Romance/Drama

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/1 Movie)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Gorgeous. With Satoshi Kon directing and doing the art, you get the realistic-looking characters (much like with Naoki Urasawa’s work), vibrant colors, and stellar animation. This also makes use of some very neat animation techniques, such as having some parts of still pictures move, fading from one to another. Using still pictures in the first place, that almost look like they could be real, and using them for narration. It feels very much like a war or historical movie.

Summary: When Studio Gin'ei commissions filmmaker Gen'ya Tachibana to make a documentary in commemoration of its 70th anniversary, he travels to a secluded mountain lodge to interview the idol of his youth, the enigmatic Chiyoko Fujiwara, who was the studio's leading lady from the 1930s until the 1960s. As Chiyoko reminisces about her life, Tachibana and his cameraman suddenly find themselves on a rich and dazzling journey through time. Chiyoko's films and personal memories intertwine with present events and stretch the boundaries of reality. (Source: ANN)

Review: The late Satoshi Kon was known for his clever symbolism and beautiful storytelling, and this movie shows it beautifully. This is a story where reality weaves interchangeably with movies and memories to recreate the story of Chiyoko’s life- a life filled with hope and unrequited love.

Not only do her own memories narrate her life and the story of her search for her love, but her movies do, too. We’re put into one scene after another from her movies, in chronological order. These movies, or scenes from them, mirror her life so completely it’s hard to imagine that they didn’t actually happen, that they aren’t past lives or future lives where she is still searching for the man she lost. What keeps us in the realm of reality are the narrators of Genya and Kyoji, the filmmaker and the cameraman, who narrate as they become wrapped up in the scenes and, indeed, occasionally become minor characters themselves.

But Kon was also remarkably good at creating sympathetic characters. Whether your original fondness is for Kyoji, who has an incredible amount of snarkiness and disbelief in Genya’s adoration for this old woman, or Genya who has some pretty hard hero-worship for an actress who will never grow old for him, as they are drawn into her story, so is the watcher. You see her grow from a shy girl with a crush into someone who deeply loves a man she may never see again. Her trials and tribulations are like the movies that she made- the slings and arrows that others cast on her search, the fact that to find him she may have to leave everything behind, the knowledge that she would leave everything and everyone behind to find him again.

These mix to create a story that is powerful and compelling. Life, love, heartbreak all come together as her story is told from beginning to end, from childish hope and beginnings to old but firm beliefs. This is a story for those who’ve lost someone precious, who still keep a burning torch in their heart, who love a good love story.

Overall, while this may not be the happiest movie, it is most definitely one of the best.

Recommended: 10 and over, if they can deal with some of the issues and themes that are in it. The artist was injured (you see blood in the snow), she visits one of the prisons where torture is implied to happen, there is some bombing. All deaths are merely said, not shown. There’s also an instance in one of the first movie flashbacks where she’s talking to a spirit, and this pops up later. If you’re paying attention to the rewind of the movies when the title comes up, then you’ll realize this isn’t actually a spirit- it’s a scene from one of her movies that we’ve been plopped into, and there’s symbolism in it (she never does get to see her love again). These words are brought back to haunt her later in her life.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Emma: A Victorian Romance (manga and anime)
Air (anime)
Kanon (2006) (anime)
Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (manga)
5 Centimeters Per Second (anime)

Poll Results!

Okay, there was a poor showing for the voting. That's okay. I have the review ready! This month, I'm reviewing Millennium Actress!

And I will be following this up with at least one more for the month. My choice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poll Time! (Ends 4/20/11)

Well, taking a cue from one of my fellow reviewers, I feel that it's time for a poll on my next review. I've been a bit swamped with work, so am confused and pressed for time with these. Besides, there are so many reviews to do! So I'm going to let my readers choose which one they'd like to see the most.

I will review the top 3.

Thanks, and may what you vote for win!

*Note- scroll to below the comments to see the poll and vote!