Finally, a time of year when the darker side can come out and play! I guess once a year is plenty, so we might as well live it up with a collection of Anime Music Videos taken from various horror and psychological suspense shows. Be forewarned that some of it gets… messy (but nothing that you’d not see at your friendly neighborhood theater)! Also, I suggest watching these in FullScreen; I embedded the smallest sizes so the page will hopefully load more quickly. FullScreen really makes a difference in your viewing experience, and you do want to feel scaaaared, don’t you? So… blow it up, and turn it up! (Also, spoilers and etc…)
We should lead off with this classic featuring Marilyn Manson’s “This is Halloween” played against the Soul Eateranime ‘cos… well, it just FITS:
Here’s a pair from one of the better horror anime in recent years, Shiki. That link will allow you to “watch it now”, so… watch this first
Higurashi no Naku Koro niis one of the greatest horror/suspense/thriller/psychological/comedy/mysteries EVER. As if there could ever be another, with that mix! It’s a masterpiece of puzzle-untangling and keeps the viewer mind-f****d all the way up until the end of the second season, Kai. Here are the extended Opening Themes from each series, compiled over clips from both, plus OVA material. The cast is really what made this show, especially with the second season’s improved animation and designs, and the writing was brilliant! One of my favorite shows, but at times the most disturbing… and the link has the option to “watch it now” if you dare!
Le Portrait de Petite Cossetteis another classic anime movie but it was so drenched in blood; it made Elfen Lied look like a Sunday social. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, unless the kiddies (or your boss) is in tow:
Oh, I said “Elfen Lied” didn’t I? *cued* I’m pretty sure that I should be able to find something horrific from it to share here this Halloween, hmmm~? …*overdoses on blood*… Actually it was very hard to find an AMV that wasn’t simply all the gory scenes stitched together, but this next video does such a great job in playing down the violence and instead focus on the relationship between Lucy and Khouta that I thought it worthy of sharing. Elfen Lied was my first exposure to anime, and when I saw and understood the possibilities of the depth of the storytelling compared to how childish I had thought it was prior to this, I was hooked for good. EL just knocked me out, but it’s definitely nor for the squeamish. Many people focus on the show’s violence but completely miss the point of the story, which I’ll leave to the analysts. *I* thought it was incredible xD
Serial Experiments Lainwas more of a psychological thriller, but excelled at doing so. There was definitely no hand-holding in this show as both Lain and we try to figure out just what the hell….. all this psychobabble… means… o.O
See? We (sorta) try to letcha down easy; enjoy your sweets ;-)
Well, here we go! As expected, with about a fourth of the season gone by (give or take), the Fall 2011 anime season certainly is delivering the goods! Along with a handful of returning favorites, there are a bunch of new shows that also will be eating up 25-minute chunks of my time. Way better than TV, yup!
I’ve mentioned before about being pleased if I can find eight series to watch; after winnowing out the less-than-average titles I still have TWENTY-ONE series to track over this and the next season! Four of these are holdovers from Summer season and have been reported on a few posts below ( Carnival Phantasm, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, Mawaru Penguindrum, and The iDOLMaSTER), and the rest are new shows plus several sequels. Let’s get started with the heavyweights, shall we?
First up is the eye-popping prequel to 2006′s Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero. The combined talents of Studio ufotable, writer Gen Urobuchi, conceptual studio TYPE-MOON and creator Kinoko Nasu, come together with composer Yuki Kajiura to beautifully re-create and embellish the Fate franchise, and it gets exponentially better with each episode as all elements become more attuned to each other and invested in its tale. The story revolves around the previous Grail War ten years prior to the events of F/SN, and features many of the F/SN cast as younger versions with backstories that the first series didn’t reveal, some of them pretty damned heartbreaking.
I loved the much-maligned-by-Visual Novel-purists original anime of Fate/Stay/Night, so much so that I bought the original artbox starter set from Geneon just before they went under. It was one of my first anime, and I enjoyed not only the depths of its characters and far-fetched story (…it is a fantasy, right?), but also the historical aspects having to do with the “Servants”, those heroic spirits from myth and legend summoned from across all nations, all times, to battle each other for their “Master”, a magus who will achieve what they most desire by winning the War and attaining the Holy Grail (no, not that one!). Finding out their “secret name” was a game in itself, and Saber’s was the most surprising of all! And that original ending was just so beautiful… at least to my eyes. I’m currently playing through the VN, but at glacial speed, I’m afraid (LOTS of clicking-and-reading LOL). From all reports it’s better than the anime, storywise, so it’ll be something fun to play alongside watching the prequel
So far, everything has been absolutely top-notch; Studio ufotable’s fluid animation pulls no punches and the few battles have been breathtaking. The direction by Ei Aoki has been flawless aside from an early “let’s circle the subject while we provide the exposition” scene; the sensitive Kajiura soundtrack is practically seamless yet stirring. The characters are as incredible as always, and Saber is awesome in every sense of the word. I really enjoyed the slow buildup while the principles painstakingly laid out their motivations and plans to fight (and win) the War. To say that this is a well-thought out story would be an understatement; Nasu’s deliberate and detailed world-building is always sensible, if incomprehensible at times! It all makes sense in the end. Well, most of what matters, anyway ;-)
As an aside, the above non-action figures are two of my first; I especially love Saber in her country dress. “She looks so beautiful in her armor…”, but so much more human out of it (as it were). Sakura has always been one of my most-favored characters; she’s so quiet, polite, and sweet, and a perfect homemaker. But… Fate/Zero has shown something of a very different Sakura, in a very disturbing past… one that really makes you appreciate her role more in the F/SN anime (I always did like her though, despite many who claimed her to be “useless”). Oh, and the action scenes are going to kick some serious ass, if the recent episode’s duel between Lancer and Saber is any indication! See what wonders (most of) this team previously accomplished with Kara no Kyoukai, below in this Post
Oh look… Anime News Network has a brand-spanking-newinterview with Gen Urobuchi, here! It provides some great insight into the creative process of Fate/Zero, especially in the collaboration of the many talents involved.
(The above pic was created by Kholdstare for this year’s International Saimoe League, in which Shana finally won her Ruby Necklace. The necklace in the pic, however, is named “Alastor”, no joke! This Blog was named before I discovered this series, so it’s kind of a cool coincidence xD)
Another long-awaited sequel to the Shakugan no Shana franchise, SnS III (Final)features the return of another favorite character in what may be her last series if the title is any indication. That’ll lend a bittersweet air to the show as it moves towards its conclusion; I’ll miss Shana, for sure. Rie Kugimiya is such a large part of what makes her so great; her voice acting is perfectly suited to the character, who has grown quite a lot since those early episodes, when she was ill-tempered and sullen. The story has taken a wicked twist however, and there’s no telling how this one will turn out… which I do like
Being that I’ve enjoyed this series from season 1, I’ll be a little biased towards it I’m sure LOL Here’s a Promotional Video for Final:
Another series whose originals I bought (I have the Shana season 1 box set as well as F/SN), Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam is a sequel that no-one saw coming, aside from the creators. The first season, 2oo3′s Last Exile, was space opera at its finest, although it wasn’t quite set in space, but rather in the atmosphere. The steampunk-like setting, intricate politics, fantastic airships, plus a cast full of memorable characters all designed by Range Murata made the first season such a joy to watch, and I’ve re-watched it at least four times! I’ve been champing at the bit to see the sequel ever since the announcement of the new series. I’ll miss the original cast, but several of them are bound to appear… like for instance in this OPening for the first season! (Couldn’t resist )
One of the best OPs ever, in my humble opinion. This year’s edition updates the story and adds in a new cast, and takes place not long after season 1′s epic conclusion, apparently on a different world. So far it shows a lot of promise (not to mention intrigues) already)
For me, this show’s something like an unabashed guilty pleasure, much as its first season was. Genuinely funny at (most) times, this rather random squid-out-of-water tale is incredibly wacky, as you might expect from a story involving a squid-turned-humanoid in a quest to take over the world, since the human race is so disrespectful of the sea. Having to work off some damage that she caused at a seaside cafe, the shrimp-addicted, ink-spewing Ika Musume dilligently works to pay off her debt. At her own pace, and on her own terms, to be sure! So… perhaps not so dilligent! See:
One of the cutest bits from the first season was one episode that featured a short “Mini-Ika Musume” segment and was so popular that she was featured in the following two specials, which’ll give you a sampling of the show’s zany humor:
Excuse the love-struck stalker girl in the next short; she’s just a little obsessed with Ika Musume:
Rounding out the returnees is Bakuman 2, which is just like Bakuman 1, only um… higher. Actually, it is a good look behind-the-scenes involving a couple of up-and-comers competing in the rough-and-tumble world of manga publishing, but it’s a fairly “everyday, anywhere” kind of setting. The story’s a bit cliche but enjoyable enough to stick with, since I did get through season 1. We’ll be kind to the bandwidth and refrain from posting any visuals
The other two sequels are Tamayura ~hitotose~ and Working’!!, both of which are worthy of watching, at least until/if/when they begin to bore me LOL The former is a calming anime about a girl who loves to take pictures, and the latter a workplace sitcom taking place in a restaurant, peppered with what you’d expect: misunderstandings, petty jealousies, a cute-but-man-hating waitress, assorted teasing, pining, and complaining, with a capable and funny cast who can act it all out and leave you laughing.
I’ll get to the remaining eight (!!!) shows in the next installment; it seems these reviews have been getting longer and longer with each season! With such a bountiful harvest I don’t see how this Fall Season can be topped, but I said that about the last season. And the season before that… which means, that at least for my tastes, things are definitely improving variety-wise, though there is room for the more truly innovative stories we are craving, if certain formulaic tendencies can be overcome. Meanwhile, I’ll be appropriately grateful for the bounty which we are about to receive…
Today Kate Bush released her first brand-new single of original material since 2005′s Aerial, and it is such a much-needed breath of clean, fresh icy air, as if blown down from the snowy peaks of the North over the arid landscape of Modern Music. In the wee hours of the tenth, I was privileged to sit in on a pre-release live stream of the new single over the BBC, with a bunch -er, make that several bunches- of Kate-fanatics in a couple of chaotic chat rooms. Probably the most frenetic, crazy, giddy, and anticipatory group of friendlies ever since… well that memorable Aerial announcement party at the HomeGround Forum’s chat room! Such a blast, and I thank those in attendance for *cough* “organizing” and contributing to the festivities. My head is still spinning :-D
Courtesy of creative video-maker and fellow FishPeople (-or, is that Person?) Sky Vibes, here’s a video that he put together in support of the wonderfully atmospheric extended edit; you’ll have to click the title link to see it (DO IT! But be aware that it won’t open in a new window, and will take you away from here; maybe save it for after the end?):
*sigh* -I tried like hell to get the Vimeo video to embed, but don’t think it works with WordPress. So, here’s the “radio edit” video courtesy of YouTube. No moving pictures to distract you, so just close your eyes, turn it up, and let Kate’s homage to the Wild Man fill you up. Listen…
“They call you an animal
The Kangchenjunga demon
Lying in my tent
I can hear your cry
Echoing round the mountainside
You sound lonely
While crossing the Lhakpa La
Something jumped down from the rocks
In the remote Garo hills by Dipu Marak
We found footprints in the snow
The schoolmaster of Darjeeling said
He saw you by the Tengboche Monastery
You were playing in the snow
You were banging on the doors
You got up on the roof
Roof of the world
You were pulling up the rhododendrons
Loping down the mountain
They want to know you
They will hunt you down
Then they will kill you
Run away, run away
While crossing the Lhakpa La
Something jumped down from the rocks
In the remote Garo hills by Dipu Marak
We found footprints in the snow
We found your footprints in the snow
We brushed them all away
From the Sherpas of Annapurna
To the Rinpoche of Qinghai
Shepherds from Mount Kailash to Himachal Pradesh
Found footprints in the snow
You’re not a Langur monkey
Nor a big brown bear
You’re the wild man
They say they saw you drowned
Near the Rongbuk glacier
They wanna hunt you down
You’re not an animal
The lamas say
You’re not an animal…”
(Lyrics to the extended version of WILD MAN by Kate Bush; these above are best-guestimated by a small cadre of dedicated Kate-Fans; you know who you are, and thanks xD
I’ll leave the reviewing, speculating, and commentary to the more analytical among us; that’s not really my forte. Kate’s lyrics always affect me on both a meta-level and micro-level; descriptive words never satisfy me in explaining “what they mean”. There isn’t really a need for me to interpret her lyrics; or rather, Idon’t feel the need to. I just Feel them, I guess. The experience of absorption alone is enough
I discover several layers of meanings to her lyrics with every song it seems, so I do go over the lyrics upon the second listening. And then many times after that But to breathe in her atmospheric compositions and hold them inside… and then out into de-composition and de-construction? I can’t do that. I do enjoy reading other fans interpretations though; they never cease to amaze me. Such intelligent and knowledgable people, these Kate-Fans, Kate-Fancies, HomeGrounders, LoveHounds, and Fish People! I am humbled to be counted among you :-D
So I’ll just say that she is indescribably delicious :-)
It has always annoyed me to read articles and reviews opining that Kate is weird, loopy, mad, and reclusive. They examine her beneath their shoddy microscopes as if she were a thing of curiosity; a microorganism; an animal. She’s not an animal…
It’s too bad that whenever something doesn’t fit comfortably into a preconceived genre or box that it’s simple mindedly labelled as “weird”. It is NOT weird. It is thinking outside the box, which should be considered a positive trait. The delightful abandon with which she pursues her Muse does not signify distracted ramblings, these are carefully-orchestrated compositions that speak of true genius, and the depths of her poetry reaches souls both shallow and deep, and satisfy both. We read of her being “mad”, when this is simply the easiest word used to dismiss her unusual brilliance; it dims the writers’ comprehension, especially in light of their inability to Compare With Something Similar. As for the “R” word, a true artist works at their best in Solitude, and guards it with every precious breath of their body. I have long admired her for all these qualities, and am happy that she knows what she wants, how to get it, and how best to create it. And, I am happy in Receiving it
Kate, by Yirry Yanya
It takes courage to live like this. It takes patience. It takes fortitude to remain true to one’s vision against pressures from all sides, and a determination to seek companionship with one’s creative Muse, with no compromise. It takes a huge love of people to exist apart from them solely in One’s Own Time, to simply give us something to enjoy, to wonder at, and to cherish. Much like her fans cherish her :-D
You’re not “weird”.
You’re not “mad”.
You’re not a “recluse”.
You’re not an animal.
Thank you :-D
The new single is now available for download, and the forthcoming album “50 Words For Snow” comes out in November, so get to the usual suspects and place those (pre-)orders now! And as always, please feel welcome to leave any comments
Well, it’s taken me forever, but I finally finished up the last of the Summer 2011 Anime Season entries, and just in time for the Fall Season. What a bountiful harvest this summer! Since there were so many titles I tracked, let’s take them in batches, the first being those Spring shows that spanned two seasons:
I’m firmly convinced that Steins;Gatewill be viewed as one of the greatest all-time shows ever, and in checking Anime News Network’s Top Ten Anime List I see that it already is listed at number 4! It’s great to see that it’s been so well-received, as it’s a personal favorite and one I enjoyed every second of; it’s among the easiest 10 scores I’ve ever given. (FYI: my “grading” isn’t based on technical merit but what I consider to be the overall entertainment value. YMMV )
(Self-proclained mad scientist Rintaro Okabe on an intelligence-gathering mission spies an American and gets a chance to practice his “Engrish”:)
…and I suppose that the video’s “time loop” is a sort of wink at the series
Steins;Gate has it all: complex and deep characters and a wonderful cast in general, a riveting storyline, very clever writing and dialogue, excellent soundtrack, a story-weaving that is (apparently) inscrutable but doles out its enlightenment in alternately teasing and treacherous doses, suspenseful to a pitched degree at times, painful and heartbreaking at others… this show simply has everything. The following anime music video gives an excellent overview, and it uses Oasis’ “Falling Down” as a fitting backdrop:
Of the other Spring shows I watched that just ended were Ao no Exorcist (8), Hanasaku Iroha (9), Nichijou (9), and Tiger and Bunny (9), all of which ran for around 24 episodes. (Scores are generally high because if it’s something worth my time watching I’m obviously going to enjoy it, to one degree or another!)
All of the above are quite distinct from one another: Ao no Exorcist(aka Blue Exorcist) is an action-comedy that blends in a big dose of the supernatural, Hanasaku Irohaa sweet slice-of-life coming of age story centered around Iroha who has just started working at a country inn, Nichijou(aka My Ordinary Life) is a hilarious, totally random slice-of-VERY-unordinary life, brilliantly animated by Kyoto Animation, and Tiger & Bunny, a refreshing (and funny) take on “super-heroes” in an alternate future where sponsors pay to advertise on the heroes’ outfits and a television program follows their exploits in pursuit of ever-higher ratings. Note that many of these can be watched (legally) from the links provided
Here’s a taste of Nichijou’s insanity where the school’s principal takes on a trespassing deer:
That leaves us with five Summer series that ran for roughly twelve episodes: Dantalian no Shoka (8), Ikoku Meiro no Croisee (9), Kamisama Dolls (6), Kamisama no Memochou (aka “God’s Notebook”) (8), and the wonderful Usagi Drop (10).
Kamisama Dollsis one of the lowest-rated shows for me to have gotten through. It’s a very average anime (blending mecha, sci-fi and a little romance), but a few of the characters and minor plots proved interesting enough for me to soldier through it. The Opening Theme was the best thing about it! Glad it’s over LOL The gratuitous gravity-defying big-boobed girl was extremely off-putting and distracting; totally unnecessary. The character designs and animation didn’t do anything for me, either. Still, I didn’t hate it, but wouldn’t recommend it either.
Kamisama no Memochouwas much better; at least Alice, the frail reclusive detective, was interesting, if mildly annoying at times. Dantalian (“The Mystic Archives of Dantalian”) reminded me a lot of Gosick (but with more supernatural elements): early twentieth-century setting, period-appropriate designs and dress, and a pair of main characters whom you care about. But for me Huey and Dalian are slightly less-knit than Victorique and Kujo, so Gosick wins the mystery-pint-sized-detective award this year. Nevertheless, Dantalian is gorgeous to look at, and its characters fetching. I’m going to miss hearing Dalian’s cute “Yes” ;_;
That leaves us with a pair of gentle, funny, and very unlikely champions of the year. Ikoku was completely delightful, featuring a nineteenth-century Paris gallery where a young Japanese girl named Yune is brought to help out in a sign-maker’s shop. The wonder and delight she experiences is shared with the viewer very well, as are the pitfalls of being a “stranger in a strange land”. The interaction between Yune and the various French citizens are both touching and amusing; it’s a great family-oriented show and ultimately very heartwarming. Not for everyone, but one’s patience is rewarded in the end, as long as the viewer isn’t an action-junkie
Usagi Drop… now this was a very pleasant surprise; I loved this show. Another anime better-suited for all ages (though a bit mature in its aspects and perspective), this story involves a grown single man who suddenly (and impulsively) volunteers to take in his grandfather’s love-child, a quiet, withdrawn and lonely little girl named Rin, who has been spurned by their family, and deserted by her mother. The manner in which their at-first difficult relationship develops is a marvel to behold, as Rin begins to blossom and emerge from her shell, and Daikichi begins to understand what parenthood and responsibility mean. Highly recommended, if the genre suits you
ANN’s Carl Kimlinger wrote up a review of the full season over here, if this series sounds appealing to you.
Two series I’m still watching will continue to run through the Fall season, the excellent, inscrutable, and bizarre Mawaru Penguindrum, and the amusing and entertaining The iDollm@ster which at first seems just a girls’ show about (Japanese) idols, but whose dozen characters are funny, quirky, and very much individuals. It’s a great show for fans of J-pop though! I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m still watching it, but enjoying it quite a lot. As I’ve said before, I’ll enjoy any good story with good characters of any genre, even if drawn in stick-figures
Here’s an intense (as it says) trailer for the surreal Mawaru Penguindrum, another strong contender for anime of the year:
EDIT: I just finished episode 12… and all I can say is … well, I can’t say it. Half the episode I was going “Huh? “WHAT?” “OHHH-hhh” “‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ -this is not the Mary I remember!” and “NOOO-ooo…” My eyes were tearing up for much of it; what a turn of events. Many events at nearly the same time, as is normal in this show. It’s going to be a 10 for sure, as long as it keeps this up, which it has for every episode so far. I also spent some time reading the episode’s sub-forum at My Anime List, and you wouldn’t believe the symbolism running rampant in this series, let alone the mass of interpretations regarding the convoluted plotlines. As an example, here’s an excellent blog suggested by one of the more analytical and thoughtful members, where much of this episode is discussed in detail. Be advised before clicking: MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!!! But… the uninitiated won’t be able to make heads or tails of it anyway, so I guess it’s alright to take a peek Not that it’s like you’re going to remember anything! Heh heh… please step over here: to the Altair & Vega Blog!
Annnnddd… EDIT TWO: Just finished episode 13, and the plot gets even deeper (if that’s even possible), but things are beginning to make sense now. A little. Well… kinda. I know more than I did, ’nuff said LOL And I’m really impressed with Studio Brain’s Base; this series came totally out of left field! The direction is amazing, and the pacing keeps propelling the viewer forward (and backward) relentlessly. They out-Shaft Studio Shaft, an impossible feat; they make Shaft’s brilliant shows look almost conservative in comparison. That’s saying something! (Everyone knows I love Studio Shaft )Anyway, since there’s so much text here I’ll have to break it up with a video, this time it’s the first “Survival Strategy” scene which will shed (damn little but a lot) light on the new “relationship” between brothers Kanba and Shouma and their sister Himari, now something very un-Himaro-like…
I’m also following several OVAs (straight to video) series that are interesting (to one degree or another):Carnival Phantasm, a tenth-anniversary celebration that’s a wacky tromp through the Type-Moon universe which I’m loving, being a big Fate/Stay Night and Kara no Kyoukai fan (see the full KnK/Kalafina post below). Mardock Scrambleis a dramatic sci-fi series of movies with an intriguing storyline, and the lamentable (to me) Higurashi no Naku Koro ni spinoff Kira, the less said the better. It’s supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the masterpiece Higurashi (aka the “When They Cry”) series, but the fanservice is WAY over the top, and seems insulting to the original characters. Still, it’s great to see the cast again after their nightmarish ordeals in the main series. In comparison though, this is painful; a complete 180 degrees from the originals.
And now… the Fall harvest is about to begin! Er… or begun, as it’s two weeks in and I’m so behind I have yet to dive into it! Approaching the diving board… now! *splash*
on the water
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
For info on our novel UNBOUND, please see our website in the Blogroll!