Monday, August 30

Anime Hits and Misses

Kai Doh Maru by Studio I.G. left me feeling... blah.

Yesterday, I was looking through the anime stockpiles and selecting stuff that I could convert to mini-AVIs that I could load onto my phone (which I'm upgrading with a 256 MB memory card soon... WOOHOO!!!). I've already gotten several anime episodes converted which I love to watch- the Ranma 1/2 OAVs, the first episode of Scrapped Princess and Louie the Rune Soldier, Sakura Wars OAVs, Gunsmith Cats and a gaggle of Aeon Flux episodes (which I acquired thanks to Buddha (Thanks, Andrew!).
Looking through the anime I've bought and NOT WATCHED AT ALL for the past few MONTHS, I was finally able to view some and comment on...

Kai Doh Maru is a not-quite-an-hour-long feature from Studio I.G., which is responsible for the Ghost in the Shell movie (and it shows since the main character looks like a much younger Motoko Kusanagi). It's set in Feudal Japan and is the story of a girl named Kintoki who is saved and adopted by a group of warriors known as the Great Four. She grows up to become one of the warriors, and they fight to keep the peace in a strife-ridden province of Japan. Kintoki seems to be doing well for herself- she's skilled (well, supposedly... but you never truly see her fight well at all) and is quite attracted to Raiko, the member of the Great Four who actually saved her life and is now her comrade. But that happy status quo will not last since a mysterious, mystical band of rebels is coming with Kintoki AKA Kai Doh Maru in their sights.
The animation of this feature is pretty unique- the animators seem to be emulating old Japanese artworks and prints from the era, which is fascinating... but the overall look is so washed-out and bland that you just have to question WHY they did it like that. Plus, there are some parts that look like CG backdrops from some Playstation game. Gah.
On the writing side of things, the story is vague and leaves a lot unsaid, especially how the story actually ends (though I suspect it ends badly). On the other hand, the action is pretty good- short but intense. Anyway, Kintoki herself turns out to be a pretty weak character in both physical and mental aspects, especially towards the end where she just seems to fall apart. I can't really recommend this anime and it just left me... blah. Maybe it will get better with more viewings, but... nah. I'm not touching that one again.

Burn Up Scramble seems to be the latest incarnation of the girl-power supercop series, Burn Up. Typically, this series is all about an all-female police unit led by a crazy blonde named Maki. What sets the past series apart from this latest series is wild, interesting character art, loud action and fan service. Scramble however just TURNED ME OFF in the first few seconds of the first episode. I can't describe it... the show just looks so generic and bland and totally without any character at all. It was so bad I just stopped the player, took out the disc, put it back with the five or so other discs of the series, and place them aside for later disposal.

Sakura Wars: Ecole De Paris is the latest OAV based on the Sakura Taisen franchise. This time, the action shifts from Japan to Paris, where the Parisian branch of demon-fighting babes is being put together. The members include Erica Fontaine, a machine gun-toting convent girl, and Glycine Bleumer, a young aristocrat, young circus performer Coquelicot and shy Japanese girl Hanabi Kitaooji. Also featured is Lobelia Carlini, a notorious thief who may or may not be totally human since she possesses some superhuman abilities.

The Paris girls are interesting, though comparing them to the more popular Hanagumi Kagekidan is inescapable. Erica is more or less Sakura Shinguuji with a gun and more air in her head, while Glycine is Sumire Kanzaki without the prima donna attitude. Lobelia, with her platinum blonde hair and glasses is a refreshing sight, and her character's pretty intriguing. All in all, it's a pretty cool show, with fairly good animation. Fans of the Sakura Wars anime would do well to take a look at this OAV.

Whew! That's that. And that's only the tip of the anime stockpile... Damn I really have to start watching the stuff I buy. Heh-heh...

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