Thursday, March 4, 2010
Think I saw a quick Bayonetta one in there too.
After thinking about it, I'm no longer bothered by how much I enjoy BakaTest; what does bother me is that I'm enjoying it more than anything else airing. Katanagatari is sadly inert, Vampire Bund is neither good nor bad enough to enjoy genuinely or bathetically, and almost nothing else even interests me enough to try it. I'm about six episodes behind on Dulalala, mainly because the first two episodes were too busy laying groundwork to hook me. I'll probably end up waiting and marathoning it like I did Baccano. So, time to clear out the DVD backlog a bit.
Guyver TV actually has a pretty decent story, but unfortunately the show as a whole is terribly bland. It's missing any kind of directorial style, distinctive shot composition, or special attention to detail so it comes off as fairly boring overall. "Sedate" is pretty much the last word you want to use to describe a laser-spewing monster fight, but that's just how this show rolls. The monsters are the highlight of the show, particularly the occasional glimpse of EvilCorp office politics; they're like glimpses into some much more entertaining series marrying Power Rangers and the Office, with various rubber monsters undermining each other's authority and criticizing project overruns. In fact, that kind of takes over the last three episodes entirely, sadly underlining the Guyver's own lack of screen presence, and then it has one of those "time to go read the rest of the manga" non-endings. OK at best.
Fortunately, the Skull Man turned out to be a much better (and slightly gothier) version of Guyver than Guyver was. It's actually surprisingly demanding of the viewer; the plot is quite twisty and treats the title character's own identity and motivations as one of the major mysteries, and there's kind of a Man in the High Castle alternate history happening in the background too (with some very retro touches like all the right-to-left script on the signs). I watched this all in one sitting, and that really helped keep everything straight, especially since many of the male characters look pretty similar. Another mild knock against it is that the sequel hook at the end will probably seem abrupt if you don't know the origins of other Ishinomori heroes like Kikaider and Kamen Rider. I enjoyed this quite a bit, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes moody pulp action and doesn't mind the occasional missile-shooting cyborg clown showing up.
Watched X-Cross the other day too. I think I mainly want to write about it because hardly anyone else has, but I don't have all that much to say about it either... mainly because I don't want to spoil what fun there is in the surprises. Overall it's OK, maybe even a little above average but I was still left wanting something a little more audacious. Perhaps my barometer has been permanently warped by true loonies like Takashi Miike and Nishimura's posse but X-Cross seems neither fish nor fowl-- it's zany but not campy, tense but not scary, and definitely not splattery despite one or two onscreen amputations. It's a popcorn movie, which is OK if you're expecting that, but I was hoping for better. I note that the notorious cat-eating Shokotan is in this, but she's in Tokyo Gore Police too and I know which movie I enjoyed more.
I also finally checked out Michiko & Hatchin, which at least early on seems to be relying entirely on charm and atmosphere-- so it's a good thing it does both of those really well. I've never been to Brazil, but I've spent a fair bit of time in the Caribbean and it's definitely bringing back memories.