Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tell me what, Tell me what, Tell me what you want

Looks like the beloved classic Berserk is getting a new anime project. Sankaku Complex reports (the site is NSFW) that the latest volume of the manga includes a note simply saying that "a new anime project has begun."

Rumors have been flying around about a new season of the Berserk for the longest time. I've spoken with folks at Media Blasters who would have been more than happy to put up a pile of cash to make it happen, but it just dragged on. Apparently there were some leaked images in 2009 (Sankaku Complex - again, the site's NSFW) that not only looked nice but apparently hinted at some involvement from Studio 4C, which would be a dream come true for me.

The Japanese website for Young Animal has a number of very suggestive dates: 9.30, 10.1, 10.2, 10.4 & 10.5. The English phrase "commercial film" makes me wonder if this anime project is (or will include) a movie.

Few details. Lots of possibilities. I guess we'll have to see what happens over the next few days, but I'm pretty excited.

Just remember: put your glasses on, nothing will be wrong.

Pretty much all gleaned from Sankaku Complex (links above) and a pointer by a friend

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"I understand. Your only choice is to revolutionize the world."

Now THIS is the Utena I remember.

Ikuhara is fully in his occult-opera groove, and mmmm, that is some glorious nonsense. It's
downright magical. My desire to blog wars with my desire to not ruin anything for anyone lucky enough to not have seen this yet, so I'll just stick to the big picture.

So, after the student council spent all of last arc trying to break Utena's will with their own, we switch tactics from the overt to the repressed... and make a clean break from their themes with a remix of "The Revelation of Absolute Destiny", themed dueling arenas, and the infamous Elevator of Emotional Torment.

The Black Roses' schtick is creating duelists from that old Jungian anime favorite, the shadow. In response, Utena starts relying more on her own "higher self", Dios, to win battles, rather than her own skill, or even luck.

Not that she seems aware of this. The Black Rose antics provide the first overt "magic" we've seen that isn't dismissed as a trick of some kind, and while Utena doesn't seem too shaken up, she does turn to another character to stay centered. We'll see how this works out.

Amazingly, the dub is actually sort of good here! The always magnificently-hammy Dan Green and Liam O'Brien foreshadow their yaoistic pairing in Descendants of Darkness with Mikage and Mamiya, and Akio's fiancee totally sells her trip through the Elevator. Shame the rest of the cast is as awkward as always.

So yeah, the Black Rose arc is full steam ahead for loopy greatness. Utena's particular charm is the way it totally wears its heart on its sleeve, but isn't above blowing off some steam by going even further over the top to poke fun at itself (which is to say yes, there's another Nanami comedy episode on this disc, and it's actually one that gets directly referenced in the movie). I genuinely have no idea how much of my love for this show is totally legitimate and how much is camp value, but the series definitely swings both ways.

I felt it important to note

This thing totally exists.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Halcyon Lunch

The more things Hiroaki Samura writes, the more convinced I am Blade of the Immortal is his least interesting work. He's been writing the final arc of that manga for as long as I've been reading it, so either he was crazy wrong, or they won't let him end it. (I think it and Oh! My Goddess sell more than all the other titles in Afternoon combined, so this would not be surprising.)
But they have begun letting him run two books at the same time. He's done some work for the art porn magazine Erotics F, and now he's doing Halcyon Lunch, a launch title for Afternoon's new spin-off, Good! Afternoon.
He's been, apparently, drawing sketches of this girl since 1997, but largely unconnected to any actual stories. He seems to have vaguely intended it to be some sort of magical girl series, which is pretty far from what he ended up with.
Instead, Hiyosu is an omnivorous prepubescent space alien hanging out with a homeless dude and pot-growing hippie girl. She can and will eat anything, and vomit it back up. But once she vomits things back up, they generally get recombined into hideous monsters.
The presentation is even more dense and meta than Ohikkoshi was; the first chapter alone has a Find the Differences in These Two Panels puzzle and a shot demonstrating the dangers of lazy video game camera programming. A shot of Hiyosu bursting into the bath is handily covered by a postcard soliciting reader comments, and one chapter is riddled with insipid comments from an off-screen character's Twitter account. It is very much the sort of manga filled with lines like, "Oh no! He's imitating Unit-01 while reciting the names of train stations on the Hachinohe line! His mind is gone!" are very much par for the course. The zombie dog is even retconned as the dog from the cover of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure vol 1.
I suspect it will be criticized for lacking any real semblance of a narrative, but I'm predisposed to enjoy books with an insane thing on every other page.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When? Where? Who? Which?

So, thirteen episodes into the Utena rewatch, and I find myself curiously dissatisfied. It's not like this stretch of episodes is bad or anything-- sure, two of the six episodes are taken up with a Nanami comedy episode and a recap, but we do get four episodes of Touga in full manipulative bastard mode, along with an expanded version of Utena's rescue by the prince that toys with dramatic irony and unreliable narrators.

It's good stuff, and finishes establishing the characters and obsessions the rest of the series will be riffing on, but somehow it's just not hitting me like it should. The only part that seemed especially Ikuhara was the the hilarious bit from Miki's two-parter where he remembers Touga's dialogue much more homoerotically than he actually said it.

(and speaking of that, the awfully-acted dub takes some... interesting liberties with the dialogue here and there. I can't imagine the rerelease will keep that. Almost a shame)

Are operatic swordfights just not enough to hold my attention any more? That seems doubtful. More likely, I've just watched and rewatched this opening stretch too damn much for it to have any impact any more, which would make sense considering the first thirteen eps were all CPM had for like four years thanks to some poorly worded contracts. I believe the movie actually came out here before the Black Rose arc, which is probably the worst possible way to see that film, but more on that much, much later.

Anyway, we're finally out of the setup phase and headed into the meat of the show, and hopefully towards the amazing, lush lunacy that made me remember it so fondly. I never did actually watch the Black Rose sequence in full, hopefully that'll shock me back to life.

Mysterious Girlfriend X 6

Idol Master, scourge of the manga industry, has claimed yet another victim.
Volume five already had me worried that he was being led astray, abandoning the hints at a larger mystery in favor of more conventional romantic comedy plotting, and this volume entirely centering on a The Prince and the Pauper storyline involving an idol singer that looks exactly like the mysterious girlfriend is not really qualming those fears.
Not that he does this in any normal way, of course. Urabe is completely against the idea of replacing the idol singer, obviously. And the idol singer herself wears a bizarre set of bondage gear under her skirt to prevent her from losing her temper and flattening people with a high kick. (She's gotten pretty good at undoing the spring.)
The early stuff works best, before the idol fetishism comes into play, and the scissors versus high kick fight is entertainingly id-riffic. But the whole idol thing has pretty much always left me cold, particularly when they aren't exploring how fucked up it is.
Even beyond the idol thing, however, this plot line feels like a tangent on what I really want out of the book. Even if she'd been a normal actress or something, I'd have still wondered why he was so obviously avoiding following up on the foreshadowing about Urabe's identity, and her family. Perhaps he started to actually break that storyline and it didn't work, or felt like too much of a departure from the twisted romantic comedy early on, but unless he cracks it soon, I'm worried the series will peter out.
Then again, the increasingly terrible Seattle Kinokuniya stocked a huge pile of it, suggesting this approach has boosted sales quite a bit. So what do I know.