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John's Viewing Journal

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    Watched the first episode of the new Sakura Taisen: New York OAV series. It's very similar to previous Sakura Taisen OAVs because it consists of un-funny comedy and action that's not exciting. The production quality is okay, although I've never really liked the Sakura Wars 5 character or costume designs. After watching the first episode, I had no desire to watch any more.

    The first episode of Kissdum -Engage Planet- was virtually breathtakingly exhilerating. I thought the first episode of Tokyo Majin Gakuen was fast paced and intense, but it pales in comparison to the first episode of Kissdum. Kissdum has the sort of sleek, modernist look that I haven't seen in anime since Innocent Venus, and it has the style of something that's consciously trying to push the barriers of intensity and kineticism, but it actually works without seeming pretentious. There's a lot to like in this first episode (especially that super cool transforming single seat transport), and my only complaint is the series goofy name. "Gundam" isn't so bad, but "Kissdum" sounds a bit iffy to me.

    I'm less enthused with the first episode of Gigantic Forumla. The character designs freak me out a little bit because everybody's eyes are so big that the characters look like bug-eyed mutant aliens. I do respect the effort the anime put in to animating character movement, though. The show, as I'd suspected and somewhat feared, appears to be G-Gundam without Gundam. Near the end of the episode there's a really neat illustration of original technology, but then it literally changes and starts to seem more like magic than science, which somewhat kills the novelty. I'm on the fence with this one. I'll have to try to watch more before deciding if I like it or not.

    Tried playing Oneechanbara 2 level 6. Hell no! It's way too difficult for my current character levels. But did discover the useful fact that Saki is able to kill spider-human and "dog" zombies in one hit with her dashing attack.


      Went out to see Grindhouse. I think that the preference between the two films is similar to preference for Kill Bill part 1 or part 2. Death Proof may be a technically superior movie, but Planet Terror is much more fun. Planet Terror is campy excess in the extreme. Its "wear and tear" are ever present. None of it makes any logical sense. And it's far more gory than I even expected or hoped it would be. It's the intentional opposite of "good" cinema, and it may be argued that its superficial campiness is actually a weakness, but I enjoyed it immensely, probably because I've always had a fondness for this sort of crazy zombie carnage. Tarintino, in a certain way, may have replicated the style of a 70s exploitation movie too well. Much of Death Proof is very long and slow, similar to many 70s grindhouse flicks. I must give credit for the writing and directing actually subtely revealing character and influencing the audience, but I also suspect that the movie could have achieved the same effect much more concisely than it did. On another front, the film feels a little uneven because it begins with the impression that it's a literal 70s movie, but then it feels anachronistic because it introduces a cel phone. Then it clearly gives up all pretense of being set in the 70s. The film also weighs its fake scratches, splices, and gritty film stock almost entirely to the first third of the movie. On one hand, the effect subtely does draw the viewer into the film. But at the same time, it's also noticable and somewhat distracting. When the film finally picks up steam, it never quite feels like it reaches giddy excess - it's never as over the top as The Blues Brothers, for example, but it is tense, exciting, and very involving. The film's payoff is definitely worth the long build-up. So even with its flaws, Death Proof may be a technically better piece of cinema than Planet Terror, but Planet Terror is consistently much more fun.

      Managed to finish Oneechanbara 2 on easy difficulty, which was far from easy. In fact, I can't imagine how anyone could possibly beat this game on normal or higher difficulty without at least having spent a hundred hours or more maxing out character stats in easy difficulty. Even on "easy" and frequently using power-up drops and life potions, it was very, very difficult to finish, and I had to use multiple continues to clear rooms. Being stuck in a small room with 50 zombie cops all with shotguns is not easy. Not that I've finally finished it, I don't know if I'll go back and continue to replay levels for the fun of it. Will probably depend on my mood. I don't anticipate trying to re-play the game on normal difficulty.

      Jeez! There are so many new shows this season that merely trying to sample them all is taking all of my free time.

      The first episode of Nagasarete Airantou seems to be a bit better than most recent harem comedies because it's more energetic and slapstick. It's more reminiscent of the first Hanaukyo Maid Tai and Love Hina than more recent dating sim based harem anime like Shuffle, HaniHani, Wind, and Air. The animals, especially KumaKuma, are really cute. But this is still a conventional harem anime. I can't tell if it will get more interesting. Not sure if I'll watch more of it or not. It'll probably depend on circumstances and my mood.

      The first episode of Shining Tears sureptitiously does its best to hide its low rent quality. Roughly half of the episode is talking heads and simple backgrounds, so the nice looking character designs are able to disguise the limited animation and low budget art for a while. But eventually it becomes pretty clear that this seems to be a mediocre game to anime adaptation on par with shows like Arc the Lad, Wild Arms, and Star Ocean EX (well, maybe a bit better than Star Ocean EX). I probably won't bother to continue watching this because I get the feeling that I won't miss much, and because this sort of hard fantasy has never been especially appealing to me anyway.

      The first episode of Oh! Edo Rocket feels like another Seiji Mizushima work because its animation quality varies from average to unusually good, just like Fullmetal Alchemist. The look of the show is striking; it's not quite like anything I've ever seen before in anime. Everything has an unusual soft, earth tone color, and everything has soft edges and a sort of pliable feel. The character design is also unusual. Although I've seen still images before, seeing them in color and animated is totally different. I didn't think the anime industry still created character designs like these, as they feel like they're directly decended from Jarinko Chie and Grandzort. The episode is also weird because it's a mish-mash of historical drama, monsters, and ninjas. I rather hope that this gets fansubbed because it's definitely piqued my curiosity.

      The first episode of Kotetsu Sangokushi is not very good. As its name implies, it's "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" on an alternate world. It's also plenty of bishonen angst opposed by maniacally, patently evil villains and sub-par animation quality. It feels very much like it's designed to try to attract an audience of male viewers and swooning female fangirls. I think I'll pass on future episodes.

      Sitting through the first episode of the new Saint Beast TV series was torturous. It's entirely bishonen arguing with each other or acting like farm girls - depicted with slightly sub par animation quality.

      The opening animation for Lucky Star is so smooth and lushly animated that it feels ostentatious - as if it's consciously screaming "Look at me! Look at how good my animation quality is!" The interior episode animation is merely as good as it needs to be, which isn't much for a talking heads show. It's mildly cute, but I'll have to hope for a translation to get a better sense of it.

      I'm generally not a big fan of robot anime, but I'll have to watch the second episode of Kotetsu Shin Jeeg because the first episode ends on such a cliffhanger. I usually dislike CG in anime, but the bikes in the first episode are the best use of CG in an anime since Initial D. I can foresee this series becoming quite popular with hardcore mecha otaku.

      I don't have a clear opinion on Romeo x Juliet yet. The first episode wasn't as immediately dramatic or intense as the first episode of Gankutsuou, but it also wasn't bad. I think I'll have to watch a bit more to see if and how the series grows on me.

      Darker Than Black seems like a series that's going to develop and reveal itself slowly. The first episode doesn't give away much, so I'm definitely interested in seeing more, to see where the story is going.

      Love Com may be my sleeper of the season. Even in untranslated Japanese the first episode was highly amusing and enjoyable. I can already see this as the next romantic anime that I really fall in love with after Bokura ga Ita failed to entice me and Yamato Nadesico Shichihenge feels more like a bizarre comedy than romance.

      Kamichama Karin appears to have all the cuteness of Pitaten without quite as much of the sachrine sappiness. I think that makes this technically better, but I'm not sure if I prefer it over Pitaten, and I'm not sure yet if this is a show that I'll try to continue watching.

      Blue Dragon episode 1 lived up to expectations. It's a nice looking and straightforward shonen fantasy adventure. I couldn't really get into Kiba or Mar, but this one I'll probably keep watching.

      Rocket Girls episode 7 laid on even more absurd events, and was the first episode to have really poorly drawn, off-model characters throughout the episode.

      One Piece episode 304 was enjoyable, but really felt like 20 pointless minutes leading up to a final 2 minutes in which something significant actually, finally happens. And Lord! It's time for Robin to man up! Get a grip, woman!

      Yamato Nadesico Shichihenge episode 19 was especially funny because it really played up Sunako's "evil" aura. I'm curious to see if this episode will affect the remainder of the storyline.

      Hellsing OVA 3 had the most annoyingly pretentious and artificial dialogue so far, but it may also be the most successful episode so far because it begins to settle into a groove and concentrate on being just a straightforward action horror series. It feels as though now the series has a direction for its narrative, it's found its identity.


        Watched Negima!? episode 15. There's been some discussion over the show being the lowest rated anime program in its timeslot but I don't think that's a reflection of the show's quality. I think it's obvious that this was just a super-hardcore otaku show that was mis-programed to air in Japan during a mainstream timeslot.

        Since it's mostly just talking heads in an alternate world setting, I didn't get much out of the first episode of Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica. However, it did have possibly the most unusual mecha transformation I've ever seen.

        The first episode of the 1985 Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro series was much more like the 1996 series I'm most familiar with than it resembles the current series. Nezumi Otoko is more despicable. There's no supernatural city. The supporting characters are genuinely supporting characters rather than co-stars. This seems like a fun series. Maybe tonight I'll try to sample the original '68 version.

        John Carpenter's Masters of Horror second series episode "Pro-Life" is an unusual little film because it mixes social relevance, supernatural horror, monster movie, and psychotic killer movie. It all manages to work, but it feels a little uneven. More importantly, despite being pretty good, it doesn't really feel like a John Carpenter film. I don't think this is as strong as his first series episode, but it's definitely one of the better Masters of Horror episodes I've watched.


          In my continuing attempt to get first hand knowledge of what the April season new anime TV shows are like, I watched the first episode of the second Saiunkoku Monogatari series. For both good and bad, it seems like little has changed since I last watched the show, 40 episodes ago. This seems like an enjoyable series that I'd like to catch up on, but I just never seem to have enough time to watch all the anime I want to watch.

          I won't be so narrowminded as to call Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo outright bad, as its first episode isn't the worst anime I've ever seen, but it's definitely one of the weakest new shows of the season. Bland and cheaply rendered character designs. Very stilted animation quality full of recycled frames. I think there may be some viewers who are interested in a harem show in which the biggest conflict is that the new transfer student doesn't want to be friends with everyone, but I'm not among them. I don't plan on watching any more of this one.

          The first 99% of Sola episode 1 seemed like conventional dating sim anime. (I get it now, "sola" is "sora," hence the sky motif throughout the episode.) Then at the very last minute there's a sudden suggestion that the show is actually a bit different from what it initially appears to be. Maybe I'll watch a bit more to get some explanation, maybe not.


            The first episode of Toward the Terra is virtually identical to be beginning of the older movie, except with slick looking modern art. Not much more to say. If you like the original movie, you'll like the new TV series, and (hopefully) vice versa.

            Watching the first episode of Kaze no Shoujo Emily forced me to wonder if there are any literary drama anime starring children that don't begin with the kid's parent dying or separating from the kid? I think the character design for this series is a little odd looking, but it's not as noticable when it's animated and moving. I like Emily's personality, as she's got a bit of spunk and independance, although she's not rebellious.

            Can't say much about Death Note episode 25 without venturing into spoilers. Madhouse sure went all out on the visual design of this episode.


              I was thrilled to have an opportunity to see Paprika. (Warning, now that I watch it again, I realize that the trailer on the American site contains some pretty big spoilers.) The film is just breathtaking. I don't think it quite tops Millennium Actress as my favorite Satoshi Kon film, but this might possibly be his best film so far. In terms of pure anime, it may be one of the best anime films ever because it's heady, intellectual and philosophical sci-fi, and it's simply stunning visual creativity. This film epitomizes everything that we respect about anime. It's visually amazing, and it's intelligent and progressive. I think this is a film that really could only be made in animation because even with CG, it wouldn't have the same immersion and believability. I'm eager to watch the film again.


                Went out Saturday morning to see the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. Even though it's not a long film, it feels kind of long, and it does have a few slow points, but minor complaints aside, I thought it was hysterical. The opening rock music performance sequence might be the funniest thing I've ever witnessed in a theater. I also appreciate that the movie actually had a semi-cohesive singular story throughout, unlike the Family Guy and reportedly the Simpsons movies which are basically three TV episodes sewn together.

                The first episode of the Ookiku Furikabutte television series seemed okay. It has a very nice opening animation sequence. Maria's breasts are absurdly enormous. I can't say that the first episode really seemed spectacularly interesting to me.

                The first episode of Bokurano felt rather heavy handed and artificial. I suspect that whether or not the series will be effective will depend on whether it's able to overcome its conventional characteristics. The opening theme is especially nice.

                Manabi Straight episode 9 was especially good. I'm beginning to think that this series may be one of this year's overlooked gems. Apart from its great looking visual design, the show, and this episode in particular, do a great job of making the character sympathetic. We really feel the frustration that Manabi and Mikan suffer because we empathize with them instead of merely having their feelings told to us.

                I'm having a bit of trouble watching Claymore because I can't watch it without the knowledge I already have of the manga. The anime feels a bit condescending becaue it's spelling out plot points and providing overt answers to story elements which the original manga allowed readers to learn gradually, as they naturally arose. I'm also still bothered by the show's digital camera panning with makes the backgrounds look very artificial. Watched episode 2.

                Re-watched Lucky Star episode 1, this time fansubbed. I can see some potential for the series to grow on the viewer, but I'm disappointed to find that the first episode isn't especially funny at all. The humor in the first episode feels like it would work much better in manga 4 koma style than in prolonged anime form.

                The first episode of Kaze no Stigma began a bit weak. Its production quality is average - not special - and its story felt a bit conventional. But by the end of the episode the action scenes had gotten me interested. The action scenes are fairly well produced, and they're exciting enough to draw me back for more.

                Seirei no Moribito episode 2 was more dialogue intensive than the first episode, making it slightly more difficult for me to understand than the first episode. But I'm still very impressed by the show's highly cinematic mis en scene and production quality. Can't wait for episode 3 now.

                The Naruto Shippuden 6-7 special reminded me of One Piece's tendency to pad out episodes as much as possible. The episode 8-9 special, thankfully, didn't resort quite as much to artificially padding out length. But I do wish the new series would develop its narrative a bit faster and more efficiently that it has been. And speaking of efficiency, I don't understand why ninja's don't use vehicles or at least horses for transportation when they're in a hurry. Maybe it's because they can now apparently practically fly.

                Watched the new Thai martial arts/fantasy movie Dynamite Warrior. It's a mixed bag because it feels unnecessarily over long. If this film gets edited when it's brought to America, I won't necessarily complain because it feels like it wasn't edited efficiently in the first place. The action and fighting scenes are very enjoyable and quite awesome, but there are long, long periods between action scenes, and for the length of the film, it feels like there isn't enough action. Here's the English language trailer.

                Watched the first two four minute long episodes of the odd and oddly humorous live action Japanese TV program Yukipon no Oshigoto.

                After watching Oh! Edo Rocket episode 2, I still don't quite get what's going on and all of the character interactions since the show is so dialogue heavy, but I definitely do like it quite a bit.

                Read the third volume of Viz's current Golgo 13 graphic novel series.


                  Parents came to visit last night, so I didn't have any time for anime. Did read the 16th volumes of Dark Horse's Berserk translation. Geez! Gutts is as much of a monster as the Apostles are!


                    I have a mixed opinion on the first AIKa R-16 OAV. I appreciate that it gets the little details right that make it feel like a prequel to the original AIKa anime. But the 16 year old Aika doesn't feel like a younger version of the older Aika. She has none of the refinement, elegance, or femininity that the older Aika has, and personalities don't change that much in 10 years. The 16 year old Aika feels like a character designed to make an entertaining protagonist, not like a character designed to make a convincing younger version of the original Aika.

                    Watched Rocket Girl episode 8.


                      Watched Love Com episode 2. Still a little disappointed that no one has decided to fan translate this really fun show.

                      Ended up watching the hour long 1981 anime movie Natsu e no Tobira. Jeez! It's kind of like a bishonen version of Oniisama E. Within one hour it manages to squeeze in May-June romance, near yaoi, adultry, suicide, and tragic death. I also wonder if this might be the first shota scene in anime as an adult woman seduces a French schoolboy in the film's core event. Setting aside the movie's sensational melodrama, this is a nice reminder of anime the way they don't do it anymore. This Madhouse production is nicely animated, and it's filled with long, long scenes of no dialogue and no characters, and lots of highly artistic transitions typical of 80s anime.


                        After watching the second episode of Idolmaster Xenoglossia I've determined that I definitely do really like this show. It's nicely animated. It has a unique charm. And it's interesting.

                        Watched the current Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro episodes 2 & 3. (What's with the sexy outfit for Neko Musume at the beginning of episode 2!?) I like this new series, but I'm developing a feeling that I like older Kitaro anime more. This new series feels too contemporary, and more importantly, unlike all of the previous Kitaro anime, this one feels like it's trying to create a feeling that yokai can mingle in human society un-noticed while all of the prior anime always kept a distinct line between the yokai and human worlds.

                        Also finally watched the first episode of the original Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro TV series. Kitaro himself looks a bit dumpy, and the show's animation quality isn't stellar. But the episode itself is rather fast paced and quite enjoyable.

                        I really want to like Lucky Star, but after watching episode 2 I still don't find it especially funny or witty. It's mildly amusing, and I'll probably continue watching it, but it doesn't come anywhere near rivaling Azumanga Daioh as a witty and outstanding school comedy about nothing.


                          Hot Fuzz lived up to my high expectations. It's a long movie (2 hours) and it deftly builds from beginning to end, developing the setting and situation and allowing viewers to get to know the characters before kicking into action in the final quarter. But despite having no action throughout much of the film, the long introduction is very humorous and enjoyable. Timothy Dalton hamming it up throughout the film is highly campy and amusing. And the movie's numerous references to other movies, including obvious and less obvious ones, enhance the witty comedy that comes from dialogue and situation. It's a very fun movie, and it's acted, directed, and simply assembled very solidly, so besides being just entertaining, it's also respectable as a good piece of cinema.

                          What the hell happened to the end of Ghost Hunt? Most of the series tries to be remotely realistic while the final 4 episode storyline seems to discard any sense of believability. It's entertaining, but not as the supernatural drama that the earlier episodes were. Episodes 22-25 feel more like some weird anime version of X-Men or something!

                          Similarly, what the hell with Matsuri in Rocket Girl episode 9!? Is she a Jedi!?

                          Ended up watching Ikkitousen Dragon Destiny episode 1 again, fansubbed this time. I finally have to admit that it just doesn't feel very interesting to me. In the back of my mind I'd wanted to return to this show, but I think I'm just going to pass on it.

                          As part of my ongoing effort to sample this season's new shows, watched the first episode of Nanoha Strikers. (Bringing me up to having watched 41 out of the roughly 50 new shows this season.) As expected from its lineage, the show as admirable production values and does a good job of revealing character personalities despite being an action oriented episode.

                          With episode 3, Seirei no Moribito continues to impress.

                          Claymore episode 3 was exciting, but I still dislike the way its digital animation sometimes looks highly artificial.

                          Animal Yokocho episodes 17 & 18 were particularly funny, although not the very best of the show so far. But these episodes were funnier than some of the immediately prior episodes have been.

                          Watched Gurren Lagann episodes 2 & 3. Unlike anime such as Tokyo Majin Gakuen, Kissdum, and even Gainax's own Aim for the Top 2, which use excessive visual style to create atmosphere, Gurren Lagann feels very closing to being pretentiously stylistic. Its visual and animation style draw attention to themselves as if saying, "Look at what I can do." The animation is saved from being pretentious by the fact that it doesn't have any pretentions. That's why it works. The anime is ostentatious, but also very effective and enjoyable. I have to give that some credit because I suspect that it's difficult to make anime so obviously flashy without being condescending. Gurren Lagann does it a bit better than the similar Trava and Dead Leaves. The overt stylistic excess feels organic and natural in Gurren Lagann.

                          The first episode of the The Skull Man: Yami no Joshou live action series was interesting, although it didn't seem quite as thrilling as the first episode of similar tokusatsu hero show Garo.


                            Kotetsu Shin Jeeg episode 2 was interesting because it didn't depict Jeeg as instantly superior to its enemies the way most super robot anime does. Of course Jeeg won the battle, but it wasn't the easy victory I expected, which is typical of this sort of anime.

                            Watched Kissdum episode 1 again, fansubbed this time, and continued to watch episodes 2 & 3. I love the show because it's a concentrated cocktail of adreneline and awe. So what that it doesn't make any sense? But I am disappointed that the first half of episode 3 recycled a lot of animation. And the second half of episode 3 took a dive like a second rate boxer in a title match. The animation quality in the second half of episode 3 was virtually non-extant. It's like the show used up its entire budget on just the first two episodes, so episode 3 had to rely on lots of still frames and voice-over.


                              Read Genshiken manga volume 8. Despite the fact that this book is still largely focused on two characters, I like Sasahara and Ogiue's story more than I enjoyed Madarame's story because Sasahara and Ogiue's story is about them dealing with being otaku while Madarame's story was about him hopelessly attempting to not be otaku.

                              Read Claymore volume 7. Not a whole lot of story development in this volume, although the seeming evolution in Claire and Raki's relationship is interesting. The most interesting part of the book comes near the end because it seems to imply a very interesting new direction for Claire's quest.

                              Watched Sisters of Wellber episode 2. I'm rather surprised that there are 3 current Production IG anime TV shows on the air, and the American fan community doesn't seem to be very interested in any of them.


                                Watched Oh! Edo Rocket episode 3. I still don't understand all that's going in, but I really enjoy watching the show.

                                Watched Idolmaster episode 3. The show has a very attractive, crisp look. I also appreciate the degree of character development that the show is emphasizing so far.

                                Watched the German "splatter" film Rigor Mortis: The Final Colors (note that the title has no relation to the movie). This is the second film directed by Timo Rose I've watched, and I'm now of the solid opinion that he's a terrible, incompetent director. I also put "splatter" in quotations because there's relatively little actual gore in the picture, and the one remotely effective scene is ruined by clumsy editing. In fact, the entire picture seems to have no comprehension of how to edit a film in order to convey a visual narrative. Many scenes drag on much too long and have no apparent purpose. There are attempts at giving characters psychology for no apparant reason. The film feels like a poor attempt at copying Reservoir Dogs and adding graphic gore, but it totally fails on both counts, and ends feeling totally pointless. I consider this film a real waste of time.