Posts Tagged ‘shana

21
Dec
15

Death Parade, Shana Final (Season 3)

Death Parade
Death Parade has an intriguing concept. It takes place in the afterlife, or rather the front gates of the afterlife. (Perhaps the bar of the afterlife is a little more accurate?) Anyway, when two people die at exactly the same time, they must go to a place called QuinDecim where they will be judged. One will be reincarnated and the other will go to the Void for an eternity of torment. The two people play a game, and the judgment is based on their actions in the game.
It’s an interesting concept for sure. Some of the deceased know each other intimately, others peripherally, and others don’t know one another at all. They all have died for a variety of reasons. They mostly come across as ordinary people, and no one is inherently good or bad. The characters are presented with voluminous shades of gray. As they play the game, their memories slowly return. The memories are usually painful. The arbiter of judgment, Decim, adds extra stress to the players in order to bring out their “true colors.” Their responses inform his judgment.

Continue reading ‘Death Parade, Shana Final (Season 3)’

09
Jun
12

Shana Second, Wolf’s Rain

Shakugan no Shana Second

snore

I reviewed the first season of Shana a couple of years ago. What I thought would end up being a horrible slice of life moe shitfest turned out to be a rather entertaining fantasy/action series. It had this unexpected dark side where Shana would mercilessly obliterate her enemies. The action was fun and the pacing was good. Plus, it had an incestuous brother and sister, and everyone knows incest improves everything by 10,000%.

So when I got around to watching season 2, I was fairly excited. It started out pretty good with a couple of action-packed episodes. After that, the series settled in to a long stretch of really annoying slice-of-life/love-triangle bullshit that was so badly written it was only tolerable to watch on fast-forward. Now, this kind of stuff was in the first season, too, but usually there would be one or two episodes intermingled with the other story/action episodes. Season 2 just gives a seemingly endless onslaught of these crappy episodes. Everything is so boring, so contrived, so inconsequential that it is impossible to give a fuck about any of it. Plus, we get to see Yuji training for about a thousand episodes, and that certainly could have been condensed into two or three.

Nothing even remotely interesting happens until episode 16. And then we get another lull until the writers finally decided they needed to have something happen so they could claim this season had some semblance of a plot. Episodes 19-24 feature a battle between the protagonists and Sabrac/Bal Masque. The fight drags on for several episodes and even though they “kill” Sabrac, he somehow manages to survive, which destroys the payoff and makes the entire thing seem like wasted time a la Dragonball Z. 

Overall, this season was a huge clusterfuck. They should have rethought the pacing and story structure. If they didn’t have enough material to keep 24 episodes consistently entertaining, then they should have pared it down to 12 episodes. That would have at least been respectable. I’m not sure about the third and final season of Shana, hopefully it fares better.

Verdict: Shitty

Wolf’s Rain

Wolf’s Rain cast.

I originally included this in my list of the 20 Awesomest Anime of the Decade (2000-2009), and since then I have given the series a rewatch. So, did it hold up to my original review? Yes it did. Wolf’s Rain remains a phenomenal series. There are very few TV shows and movies I would consider a work of art, but this would be one of them. The tone is far more subdued than in most anime. There are no annoying moe characters. There is no stupid love-triangle. There is no intent to sell merchandise. There is no pandering to the audience. The only agenda Wolf’s Rain has is to tell an incredible story, and it certainly does that.

The setting is a bit murky, we don’t know for sure if it takes place on Earth or just some unknown fantasy planet. Wolves are semi-mythological creatures that have super strength/speed, can speak, and have the ability to make themselves appear as human. And no, they aren’t werewolves, it’s more a trick of the mind that humans perceive them to look like other humans. In this world, wolves are foretold to open the door to Paradise, which may or may not bring about the ultimate destruction of the world.

The visual aesthetic of the series is amazing. There is attention paid to even the smallest detail. The animation is so intricate that you can see all the dirt and grime, the crushed out cigarettes, and the wasted plant life. The world looks realistic, and a lot of this is due to the high-quality work by Studio Bones. Just like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, a lot of work went into the details. The budget must have been relatively high, as there is rarely any recycled animation, there is minimal use of well-integrated CGI, and character movements are quick, fluid, and well animated. I can’t rave enough about how great everything looks. I imagine this is how a Final Fantasy anime series should look, if anyone could ever make a decent anime of Final Fantasy.

The voice acting is excellent in both the original Japanese and the English dub. You can’t go wrong listening to either one. The music was composed by the legendary Yoko Kanno, so expect to be listening to the soundtrack over and over again. The characters are all unique and have well-formed story arcs. The pacing is nearly perfect. There was a period of maybe 4 episodes in the middle that dragged a bit, but if anything they give more insight into the characters. There is a lot of humanity amongst everyone, the story is fascinating, and there is a healthy dose of action. Also, this is the only anime I’m aware of where the opening credits play a role in the story.

The story never verges into cliche territory. With most anime, you pretty much know how things are going to end. With Wolf’s Rain I was never quite sure. They always manage to give an unexpected plot twist or simply pull the rug right out from under you. The climax at the end is simply astounding. The first time I watched it I found the ending to be tragic. This time, well, it was still tragic, but I found much more hope than the first time around. Wolf’s Rain is such a wonderful, rare anime series, that it deserves to be seen by everyone. It really is a work of art.

Verdict: Awesome

18
Mar
10

Reasons Why Elfen Lied Rules

 

This image had to replace the original, more awesome one. It featured a naked chick killing people in fountains of blood. Photobucket removed it because they are pussies.

1. Gratuitous violence – I haven’t seen any other anime, TV show, or movie that has as much violence as Elfen Lied. Seriously, buckets of blood are spraying everywhere. There are tons of decapitations, not to mention the severing of limbs, and the punching of holes through torsos. When the Diclonius get pissed off, you’d better watch out. No one is safe. Everyone is a target. I love that the violence crosses the line. You keep thinking that it will hold back, but it doesn’t. And the best part is that the show doesn’t look back. Every episode has geysers of blood splattering everywhere, and the Diclonius are complete unremorseful about it. Not a lot of characters make it through to the end. In the first episode the show tricks you into thinking this cute, ditzy girl will be a primary character. Nope. She gets killed very quickly, and then Lucy (the main character) uses her corpse as a human shield against a torrent of machine gun bullets. Badass. The fight scenes are all essentially massacres. They aren’t dragged out over multiple episodes like so much shonen garbage. Instead, they are quick, bloody, and brutal.

Amazing Elfen Lied cosplay.

2. Violence against women – The Diclonius are mostly women, and there is a lot of Diclonius vs Diclonius action. This means girls are fighting each other, which is hot in itself. They don’t wrestle naked in a mud pit, but they do get naked quite a bit during their fights. Any time these girls battle, they kick the crap out of one another, and it rules. But the women don’t get all the fun. Even the main guy, Kohta, bitch slaps females when they get hysterical. He hits his cousin, his sister, and anyone else with two X chromosomes who is within slapping range. It’s actually very refreshing, as in most anime all the female characters go into histrionic rants constantly and no one ever shuts them up. But Kohta does. Nobody knows how to shut up a woman faster than Kohta, except for maybe Sean Connery.

Kaboom! Splat!

3. Violence against children – The creators of Elfen Lied were really not fucking around when they decided to make the most hardcore series ever. I can’t think of any story in any medium where children are brutalized so much. They get beaten, molested, sliced in half, and tortured. Kids attack other kids in school. The Diclonius kill kids. Hell, even the adults get in on the kid-crushing action. The villainous Bandoh beats up a poor, defenseless human girl for information. Scientists launch cannon balls at kids, and even the motherfucking police gun down Lucy when she was just a little girl. Awesome.

This is the only picture I could find with the dog in it.

4. Violence against animals – If anything is taboo in storytelling, it’s violence against animals. Fucking PETA have brainwashed society at large. It’s so bad that in any movie or TV show we can have humans destroyed in a blaze of genocide and no one blinks, but god forbid the cute horsey gets hurt! These goddamn hippies even got up in arms when the contestants on the reality TV show Survivor were eating rats for sustenance. What the hell were they supposed to do, starve to death? Jesus. Well, this show told those stinky hippies to go to hell. In a flashback scene we see Lucy’s dog held down and bludgeoned to death, and the perpetrators all thought it was hilarious. They were even saddened when the dog died too soon. Of course, Lucy’s revenge that comes soon after is bloody goodness. Damn, Elfen Lied is so metal.

Pic related. Get it? Related.

5. Incest – The only other good anime series I can think of that showed incest was Shakugan no Shana. The Incest Twins were constantly making out, and I imagine they were fucking behind the scenes as well. Kanon came close by teasing us with the possibility of hot incest. Of course it pussied out, and the asshole protagonist in that series ended up choosing a comatose girl instead of going for some sweet cousin-on-cousin lovin’ (oops, spoilers!). Anyway, Elfen Lied doesn’t hold back. Kohta’s female cousin makes it quite clear that she gets wet for him. She is constantly getting mad any time he so much as looks at another girl. She makes a move and makes out with him, and being the super stud he is, he makes his own move on her later. Although we only saw them kissing, we can all guess what it led to. Kohta also manages to make out with Lucy, who also wants him. While this would seem harem-ish (e.g. Tenchi Muyo, Love Hina) you have to remember that Kohta is actually kissing these girls, so Elfen Lied already rises above those typical harem shows. They probably had a giant orgy at the conclusion of the series.

The costume designer really pulled out all the stops for this show.

6. Nudity – Nudity is always better than no nudity. Here we get tons of nudity. Lucy wanders around naked for half the series. Nana is naked for practically all of her fight scenes. Mariko gets in on it, too. Honestly, I’m surprised that more of the female characters didn’t get naked. Nudity rules, and so does Elfen Lied. If you didn’t like this series, then you just weren’t manly enough to handle it.

Verdict: Good

10
Jun
09

Baccano, Shana, and Afro Samurai

I have three quick reviews for you. Why? Because I’m too lazy to write a single in-depth review of any of these titles. Really, it all stems from my inability to— ah, fuck it, let’s just get on with it.

Baccano

Boring Baccanos boring cast of boring assholes.

Boring Baccano's boring cast of boring assholes.

ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Huh? Wha? Why’d you wake me? What’s going on? Oh that’s right, I was watching Baccano. Something about too many characters, and nothing really happens. Any time you have a story (movie, book, tv series, whatever) about the multiple perspectives of one event (e.g. Rashomon), it inevitably sucks. Yeah that’s right, Kurosawa fanboys, suck it. Now, let me get back to sleep. Oh, and also: Jacuzzi Splot is a fantastic (read: retarded) name.

Verdict: Shitty

Shakugan no Shana

Im eagerly awaiting the Shana hentai.

I'm eagerly awaiting the Shana hentai.

Taking one look at the character designs for this show, I figured I would hate it. And yeah, it did start out a little weak. It was basically a combination/rip-off of Full Metal Panic and X. However, there was something about it that seemed kind of cool. There was this dark side to it that was rather unexpected. Basically, the main character, Yuji, (and many others) are just the ghosts of people who have already died. Shana gets pissed off, and unleashes some serious shit on various bad guys. The moment that really did it for me, though, was the multi-episode arc featuring the Incest Twins. A villainous brother and sister that make out constantly, and kill innocent people. Awesome! I wish more anime had the balls to show hot, sweet incest. Overall, this show had a lot more personality than I originally anticipated, and it is worth checking out.

Verdict: Good

Afro Samurai

Afros fro could be a little bigger, dont you think?

Afro's fro could be a little bigger, don't you think?

With Samuel L. Jackson providing the voice of not one, but two characters, I thought, “This is sure to be terrible.” And the first episode was. It was this bizarre mix of pseudo-historical Japan, the American old west, 20th century weapons, robots, cell phones, and hip hop. The animation was pretty good, and it was ultra violent, with buckets of blood spraying in every direction. Still, it seemed lackluster. But then, in the second episode, BAM!, we got full frontal tits. Sex scenes are obviously great, and this one suddenly made Afro Samurai a hell of a lot cooler. After that, it was non-stop badassness. Once I forgot that it didn’t take place in any reality that made sense, I started to like it a lot more. Overall, I was really pleased. The film that followed the five-episode OVA was more of the same, although it had a tendency to drag in a couple of places. Still, if you want a solid action show, you can’t go wrong here. Just check your brain at the door.

Verdict: Good




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