Ξ October 15th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ The Anime Annals |
Coming soon will be the monthly (or so) update on Unbound, but for now we’ll continue with pleasant diversions worth your time and (emotional) investment. I was going to write a post on how job-hunting sucks donkey balls but really, who wants to read about depressing shit anyway, right? In fact, anything I could write about worth reflecting on would be wayyyy too sober for my liking. Not to mention something of a buzzkill for you. I mean, if you had a buzz. I’m a lover, not a killer
So I’ll share something I love, how’s that? Yes, ANOTHER ANIME POST!!! Because I know what Visitors come here for (aside from Lily‘s story, anyway, which’ll very soon get another chapter added to the excerpt of Chapter 1.1 already up and waiting for you to read it)! How’s that for clever pimping -er, promoting?
Anyway, striving for some sense of normalcy regarding the buying of (any) entertainment since I’ve been so cheap miserly “prudent” over the last year or two, I recently bought and received a couple of DVDs of animes that I’ve been waiting for since last year when these two series aired: True Tears and Sola. While they aren’t considered classics or masterpieces by the masses, both of these shows really connected with me on deep levels, and so I rated them highly (both 9s on the MAL 10-scale). Convincing characters and emotionally deep stories can elevate an anime beyond its weaknesses, as long as they aren’t too glaring. These were series that I wanted to own, and support their studios’ efforts by buying their delicious product. The industry can’t survive if people just take what they find for free without ever compensating the creators. However, this is indeed a slippery slope, which I’ll explain about later, along with a few examples… I guess it can’t be helped!
Sola‘s character designs grated on me at first, with their “chins of doom” and larger-than-usual (for anime) eyes, but a funny thing happened… as soon as the story got my attention (i.e.: right away) those inconsequential and cosmetic flaws melted away, and I allowed the story, written by Kanon‘s Naoki Hisayato, to simply take me, especially after being so enchanted by the first episode’s Opening Theme, “Binkan Na Fuukei” (which you’ll hear later if you stick around ). The story transported me to places no other anime has, and that speaks highly enough of the series’ rough-edged but fantastic tale to elicit the highest regard, at least to my liking. And the basic character designs, by Naru Nanao, were actually very good despite a somewhat quirky animation. True Tears, on the other hand, had great-looking and realistically behaving characters and settings, and more than anything else was a “typical” love-triangle story; the wonderfully quirky Noe being the touch-of-fantasy that this straightforward story needed. So, let’s begin with that one, shall we?
Okay: first let’s take a step up that slippery slope. I’ve purchased and bought the official DVDs, but only after watching the series via fansubs, which are not official. But how can you know if you want to buy something if you haven’t watched it? Thankfully, the anime companies are beginning to grasp this concept and are now streaming select series in various places on the web. Emphasis on “select.” Venture forth at your own risk, as some streaming sites require registration or have episodes in lower quality or are ad-interrupted. But at least you can watch some of them now, probably for free. And that’s (pretty much) a Good Thing
So! I’m going to start off with the first section of True Tears’ first episode posted by a fellow on the Tube of You who has both True Tears and Sola up in their entirety (for now anyway). Since this video takes awhile to load (nice quality), what I’d suggest is to start it up, pause it, and let it load (i.e. allow the red bar to fill) while you’re reading the following, and then play it in Full Screen after you’ve read more here and possibly watched the others. Dunno how that’ll work out, but it beats waiting for that damn little “loading” spiral to stop interrupting your viewing pleasure!
And goddammit, a nasty surprise: “embedding disabled by request”!!! FFS!!! Sorry. Well, here’s the link to it anyway; you can still watch all the remaining eps (and the rest of this one) by clicking on VtownX7′s playlist or personal page. Remember they’re in thirds, right? AND DON’T WATCH ANY OF THEM OUT OF ORDER!!!
I’m going to try to present the following AMVs in something of a logical order, giving you more information with each one. But I’ll let the videos speak for themselves, as I’m sure you can only take so much reading If you’ve read the above Anime News Network encyclopedia link for True Tears (you did read the entry, didn’t you? tsk!) then you’ve got the gist of the story. Shinichiro lives at home with his parents who are allowing his childhood friend Hiromi stay with them after her father passed away. They had a little bit of history between them as children but not as much as he’d like, especially now that she’s older and attending the same school as he. He daydreams about her and sketches her and wonders about how reserved she is now and why she seems so sad, in contrast to his memories of them as children.
Also attending his school is a curious girl named Noe, who can best be described as somewhat eccentric. She talks to the chickens in the pen and especially one whom she is certain wants to fly. Shinichiro is somewhat skeptical of (a) the fact that her chicken will ever fly (because they can’t), and (b) her ability to cope with reality. It has something to do with capturing tears… but that’s for you to discover. This story has some very dramatic and heart-wrenching scenes, and very well-directed, in my opinion. My kinda anime I’ll confess to really liking Noe; she’s independent, marches to her own drummer, and definitely a free-thinker. Yeah. Very free! Maybe I’m just naturally attracted to that kind of girl; suffice to say that I do care for her a lot, and her backstory/subplot in the story is really involving…
So, here’s the first video, a very short one (barely 2 1/2 minutes) that uses a perfectly-fitting instrumental as background, ”Gypsy” by Ronan Hardiman that ends just as it really gets going. It’s quite fast-paced but serves as a good visual introduction to the characters. And that Muhiga dance… one of my favorite things about the series; Shinichiro is training for it throughout and when it’s finally performed it is breathtaking! Of course it happens at the highest pitch of the drama… Full Screen and turn it up! DANCE!!!
A treat for you: A great AMV done to the amazingly talented and lovely Vienna Teng’s gorgeous “Recessional”; this one focuses more on the dramatic elements involved, and the contrasts between Hiromi and Noe:
I think I’ll finish up with another AMV that imparts a little more info through what normally is a no-no for anime music videos: subtitles. You’ll also get a chance to see some other characters, most notably the third girl in the Shinichiro Sweepstakes who pretty much gets lost in the shuffle between Hiromi and Noe, Aiko. She works in an eatery, and is probably the most level-headed out of the bunch! This video incorporates Gundam Seed Destiny’s “Life Goes On”. Well, it kinda does, until you die, but whatever
Okay, now for something completely different! Sola really impressed me, despite the opinions of those who disliked it or found fault with various minor things that simply indicated it wasn’t their type of anime. If the story is hard to believe or understand, it’s because it’s a fantasy! Its real-world setting led some to believe that those fantasy elements were “unrealistic” or something. Jeez. It’s called “suspension of disbelief” for a reason! A Japanese poll voted sola (lower-case intentional) as the number one anime to air in 2007, so 300,000+ voters can’t be all wrong!
Anyway. That ANN synopsis linked above leaves a lot to be desired since it doesn’t tell you much of anything. Ditto MyAnimeList :-/ Well, I’ll help you out: Honestly, I found the story to be really good: Matsuri is in fact a “yaka”; basically a race of light-shunning immortals called “Calamity of the Night”, and can live hundreds of years unless killed by either a mortal wound or excessive exposure to sunlight. Matsuri explains to Yorito (the lead) that a yaka is the embodiment of human agony and pain, and that such creatures are meant to always be alone. So she has been alone for many years, and always avoiding daylight. She longs to see what she once glimpsed: the eternally-blue day-lit sky. She even carries with her an umbrella with which to shield herself from the sun’s rays; its underside is painted blue with fluffy clouds spotting it, so she can always look up and see it, or pretend to…
Yorito encounters her the next day being attacked by a Hunter named Takeshi; it’s noteworthy to mention that even the secondary characters have intriguing backstories, and his little companion Mayuko has a part in his story as well. She enjoys hiding from him in random containers (usually when she’s in a state of pique), causing him to have to go search her out. His devotion to her raises a lot of questions, until their story is revealed… like so: Here’s a little video of their relationship, and it’s done against the backdrop of that beautiful song, Binkan na Fuukei (“Colorless Wind”). This is a shortened version, though you’ll get the full one shortly It’s mainly included because it has the lyrics, which you should read. But… SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER ALERT!!!
Next up is a video with subtitles included to impart a little more of that story… not counting the secondary OP’s lyrics in the beginning, that is (Binkan was only used for the first episode). The song is by Angel Heart, and entitled “My Destiny”:
How about livening things up with Natalie Imbruglia’s “Sunlight”? This one has pretty heavy spoilers, but Batto (the creator of this AMV) did such a great job I had to share it, although its viewing should only be done by those inclined toward not watching sola or who’ve already seen it. If you DO want to catch this series, hang on for a bit and I’ll link you (By the way, the grey-haired girl is Aono, Yorito’s sister, and the brown-haired (cut short) girl is his childhood friend, Mana; also briefly shown is her little sister Koyori.)
Finally, the long version of “Binkan Na Fuukei” I promised you, though it’s against French subtitles. Don’t let that stop you though, it’s a great AMV! Its first minute and a half starts out just as the series does in episode one, with Yorito setting out in the pre-dawn hours to get to the riverbank to shoot his sunrise shot of the sky, where he happens to encounter Matsuri kicking the hell out of a cheating vending machine (have I mentioned yet how awsome a character Matsuri is? Consider it done )…
Okay, for those whose interest has been piqued (yay me!) here’s the link to the first third of episode one. As above with True Tears (same guy) you can watch all the regular episodes, but he doesn’t include the DVD-only eps which you’ll have to buy to see. Or “look elsewhere” for them. One of them is strictly silly fanservice, but the second is wonderful, and with the full version of Binkan to boot, only with Matsuri as the main focus, as it should be. I mean, try to imagine yourself in her shoes… how would you FEEL? And that’s the trouble with most anime fans. They gather together to watch a thoughtful anime and spend their time cracking lame jokes and over/under-analyzing without investing themselves in the characters or thinking about anything deeper than where’s the Cheetohs or how fast they can get the next episode to equally-thoughtlessly gobble it down(loaded). Hmph
And speaking of buying, if you like what you see, please do purchase the DVDs! True Tears was like $24 at RightStuf! recently which is basically 6 and 1/2 hours (13 half-hour eps) of anime, which when watched in a run will be just like watching a movie, albeit an animated one (and long LOL). As for sola, you can find it for around $30 and that’s for 15 eps! Hey, if you can stomach that Disney cartoon stuff, this should be so much more sumptuous a feast