Now that the initial controversy has subsided I finally feel able to form and voice an opinion on Aku no Hana. The art style didn’t put me off, surprisingly. I actually had reservations about whether the main characters would be so flawed and twisted that it would be impossible to form any sort of attachment to, or interest in, what happens to them. It is in fact a breath of fresh air due to its unusual approach, and is a textbook example of ‘grimly compelling’.
I also started following the graphic novel after learning that it’s currently ongoing, and it’s a fascinating piece of work. Thematically it reminds me a little of, as some other viewers have pointed out, Shunji Iwai’s All About Lily Chou-chou, plus Tetsuya Nakeshima’s Confessions but also a bit of Onani Master Kurosawa I think (only without the fapping). It’s a top-tier piece of suspenseful psychological character study that plunges a literary probe into the deepest recesses of its protagonists’ minds, and for this reason alone I’d recommend it.
Although I was intrigued by the first two Kara no Kyoukai movie outings I wasn’t totally sold until I’d seen the third one. The brutal and shocking opening scene made me sit up and take notice, but the way the whole film was constructed convinced me of how unusual and special this story is. This is I think the point where Nasu really started to hit his stride as a writer.
Part 3 of the original novel begins with a different scene from the film adaptation, although I can understand why Ufotable took the route they did because it has more dramatic impact. The Gate of Seventh Heaven remix movie includes the deleted scene though, and I sort-of wish that it had found its way into the theatrical version somewhere; it dramatises the conversation between Mikiya and the university professor when they’re discussing parapsychology related to the Fujino Asagami case, and adds some useful background details in the process.
The second chapter of KnK may seem like one of the weaker sections since it’s so heavy on exposition and concepts that don’t gain much from the transition from print to screen; even in novel form it doesn’t have many exciting moments. The novel has a ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ thing going on though, and the character study of this chapter is one of the main reasons why it feels that way. If you’re patient and take the time with this part, it’s easier to appreciate the rest.
By which I mean: it’s important in understanding how the two protagonists’ minds work and what drives them to make the decisions they make later on. I guess the narrative also needs time to pause and offer something character-driven before leaping headlong into the next action-orientated arc. After reading this chapter through, the first one feels like a ‘cold open’ to get the reader’s/viewer’s attention while the heart of the story lies elsewhere.
Here’s a simple piece of advice for when the enthusiasm for one of your hobbies or interests starts to wane: seek out something that represents why you were a fan in the first place. The time I could spend grumbling about how everything’s moeshit, or watching stuff just because other people are watching it, could instead be spent watching something different and enjoyable. Which is what I did.
I’ve not been following much anime at all lately. I’ve watched a few films and TV shows, I’ve recorded some music and I’ve been busy with real life things. As for the last season or two of animu broadcasts, I’ve seen precious little. To break the cycle I idly turned to my backlog. First up, chosen more or less at random, was Nadia: Secret of Blue Water.
The process of adapting a novel for the screen fascinates me, if not as much as the writing process itself. On those rare and wonderful occasions where there’s no “…the book was better…” sensation, the people responsible for the adaptation are competent but also recognise what it is about the original that made it special.
Could I find a pic of Kirie on her own? Could I heck. This is much better though (click to see in its fully embiggened glory)
Reading the the opening chapter of Kara no Kyoukai after watching the movie, I can’t ignore the fact that it’s a very ‘early’ attempt on Nasu’s part to focus his creative energy and bring his inspiration together into a tangible, and readable, form. It has a rough-around-the-edges, first-draft feel to it, which is bad for casual readers but interesting to fans and those of us who like to dig beneath the surface to find out what makes the story, and the mind that wrote it, tick.
On October 3, 1982, the first episode of SDF Macross was broadcast on Japanese TV. Of course, I wouldn’t have known that; I was too young to remember. It’s strange to think though that one of my favourite shows, and one that had such an influence on my fandom, is as old as I am.
I wasn’t sure how to mark the anniversary, but since my previous post was looong I’ll make this a short one. Why is Macross so good, and so important? Much of the historical context is lost on me, but I’ll try anyway.
Since it’s a bank holiday weekend, there are two inescapable facts. One: it’s raining. Two: I have an extra day when I’m not at work. Since I’ve not written much on this blog lately I might as well say something about the main thing that’s kept my interest in recent weeks…namely Macross 7.
It’s the last part of the franchise I’ve watched but as clunky and cheap-looking as Macross 7 is, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Basara Nekki is an interesting hero, Mylene Jenius is a worthy female lead and I’m generally having a blast with the music of Fire Bomber and working through the intimidating forty-nine instalments. But for now, fourteen episodes in, I ought to stop for a moment to mention two important details in its appeal: the coolest anime parents ever.
In a recent discussion with the Metanorn boss lady over on Twitter, she echoed my own spoken opinion on moe; I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting it as being that of “meh”. I started wondering why then I’m enjoying Hyouka so much because it seems to be the latest in a long line of shows that to stick to a common formula. This would mean it’s subject to the “meh” attitude I have towards moe, which incidentally gets in the way of my enjoyment of commercialised TV anime sometimes.
Futhermore, I normally can’t get excited about the prospect of watching one “high school romcom in which nothing much happens” story after another, so was initially worried that Hyouka would also rely too heavily on that ‘after school club’ format. Neither of these aspects are proving to be problematic though, so I’m finding it to be really quite charming.
One filmmaker who’s caught my interest in the past year or two is Sion Sono, a darling of film festivals and possibly the most infamous Japanese director since Takashi Miike. While Miike’s output is certainly inventive and controversial, I’ve grown to admire Sono more due to his classier approach and I’m now determined to work my way through his entire filmography.
I absolutely adored Love Exposure. It’s long, startling, grimly funny and is in my top five favourite films. Guilty of Romance is similarly dazzling from a visual standpoint, and is equally off-limits for the prudes and the squeamish. While Guilty of Romance is a work of art and I’m glad I’ve seen it, ironically its strengths make it a film I’m not in a hurry to see again any time soon.
TV series recommendations are dangerous things unless you have a good measure of the person recommending them to you. Since most of my friends’ tastes lean towards the awesome or awesomely hilarious (the “so bad it’s good” or Terribad categories, usually) I didn’t know what to think when one of them recommended me Strike Witches. It’s one of those shows whose reputation precedes it, and not in a good way either.
It’s fair to say that I wasn’t sure if this little viewing experiment with the Skirtless Wonders of the 501st would even pay off, so I did the sensible thing and marathoned both seasons in the space of two evenings, accompanied by numerous bottles of real ale. Which turned out to be a wise move, since it’s actually really quite good.