Ξ September 29th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ The Anime Annals |
Yes, it’s a real term, so take your meds and get over it! After spending anywhere from 12-26 weekly episodes with certain of those recurring characters and stories, after that last episode airs it’s time for a sad “Sayonara” to our little animated friends. The sudden feeling of emptiness and longing just doesn’t vanish with the last screen. I’ve noticed this after finishing quite a few series; realizing that there’s no more water in the well can leave one so very thirsty for just one more glimpse…
But that’s what sequels are for!
So, with the Fall anime season just around the corner, it’s time to bid farewell to all the Spring and Summer series coming to an end. When a new season begins, another one (or two) will end; it’s the divine nature of the scheduling. Springtime’s longer (24-26 episode runs) and Summer’s shorter (11-13 ones) are coming to a close, and Fall is about to begin… and I’ve really no notion of how many (or few) series are going to be worth tracking next season. After the bounty of this awesome Summer season, it’s going to look pretty pitiful in comparison, I fear. Here’s hoping for a few surprises!
The four Spring shows that I was watching that just recently wrapped up were Pandora Hearts, Saki, Shangri-La, and Phantom~Requiem for the Phantom. Here’s a look at each…
Despite its quirky start and atmospheric settings, Pandora Hearts kind of led to a jumbled breakdown. It wasn’t exactly confusing, just kind of… all over the place. The character designs didn’t wow me, although several of them were intriguing, such as “the Mad Hatter” Break, the Cheshire Cat, and Alice (both of them). But it’s not exactly the Alice in Wonderland that you might expect! Still, it’s a uniquely bizarre and pretty unusual series considering its concepts, settings and plot twists, so your mileage will definitely vary! And actually, I did like most of the characters. But… a gigantic, ass-kicking… Rabbit??? Oh…dear. A few too many plot holes and unexplained loose ends remained at the end, nonetheless, it was entertaining for the most part.
Saki was enjoyable except for the cartoonishly-large breasts of Nodoka, and the implied yuri (lesbian) relationship between seemingly half of the girls which had nothing to do with the story. But if you enjoy mahjong, this is the show for you! Those minor quibbles won’t affect your appreciation for it at all. And I don’t have anything against yuri per se, but it had better not be gratuitous, and that also goes for gigantic anime boobs! I don’t like being pandered to, or presumed to want to be pandered to. I prefer realism in my fantasy! (CANAAN handled its yuri implications much more realistically and sensitively, both for the characters AND the Viewers’ sake; more on that in Tab Two.) But Saki had a wonderfully diverse cast of likable characters (too many perhaps) and the relationships made sense, in a mahjong kind of way Light ‘n’ fluffy!
Shangri-La I enjoyed quite a bit. It’s not often that an anime has a couple of transgendered supporting castmembers, and both of these were among the strongest characters in the series. From the start I was intrigued by this series due to the character designs by Range Murata, who also created those for Last Exile. His two little lolis, Karin and Mikuni, were a joy to watch in action; he must’ve lavished a lot of attention on them. (They lead off the Murata artwork in the following ED.) With his trademark attention to detail and beautiful depictions of …well, anything, I looked forward to his work being animated in Shangri-La, with its futuristic eco-sensitivity and interesting apocalyptic plot involving carbon-economics. Thing is, is that intricate character designs oftentimes aren’t as apparent after an animation team gets through with them. Not that this team was bad at all (quite the opposite); it’s just that I feel that Last Exile showcased his work much better. But this show really is better than its reception would indicate; lots of action, character development, and plot twists to keep the Viewer involved until the end. Satisfying! Now check out Murata-san’s amazing talent:
Which brings us to Phantom – Requiem for the Phantom. Aside from Eden of the East, this is the series from Spring that will stay with me the longest, I think. Eden really was quite short, and could have lasted longer. Phantom shows just how much a 2-cour term (2 seasons; ~24-26 half-hour eps) can make of its time span. Eden had a more satisfying story on the whole, but Phantom did more with what it had in terms of plot, action, and direction. Eden may have even been more likable (I’ll want to marathon it to be sure), but Phantom was more heavy, involving, and deep, with many well-developed characters. Not too many funny or humorous moments either; it’s fairly dark and serious. The only quibble I had, and it was a major one, had to do with the sudden aging of a character over two years’ worth of story-time. Sorry, a girl just doesn’t (…)*SPOILER SNIPPED!* …But anyway, I quibble This series oozed atmosphere from Opening Theme to Ending Theme and had me well-hooked throughout (although Ali Project’s music takes some getting used to!). BeeTrain finally refined its Noir and Madlax lessons and produced a sure winner. And the ending… the “ending”… THE ENDING! Wow. You’ll make of it what you will; you’ll just have a long and perilous journey to get there ;-)
Here’s a pair of Opening and Closing themes featuring my favorite songs from Phantom, “Karma” and “Transparent”. Forgive the fairly-horrible animation in the final walking figure in the second; dunno what they were thinking. Yikes! But it’s here for the song
(HINT: You can search YT for the Full versions of these songs ) (Also, parenthetically (see?), here’s a link to a review of the first 13 episodes that, while outdated since they aren’t streaming anymore, you may find interesting and informative nonetheless. I mean, why else would I insert it here, huh??? )
I think I’ll sum up Summer sometime tomorrow (or so); with nine series to cover (to varying degrees) I’ll need to be giving you a well-deserved break! And, as always, thanks for reading