Saturday, January 25, 2014

Down, But Not Out: Kill la Kill

A bit of a retro post here as we check out Kill la Kill.

Kill la Kill premiered as part of the Fall lineup, though it fell through the cracks for me and became one of those shows that I had queued up, but never really checked out.  It has a bit of a prestigious reputation, being another of the brain-children of Hiroyuki Imaishi, director of such works as Tengen Toppa: Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt.  One is a risque comedy about fallen angels with crippling vices, featuring villains themed after almost all the bodily fluids and uses every dirty joke imaginable, and one is a fighting-spirit fueled journey as a boy becomes and man...with mecha (I'll let you guess which is which).

Anyways, Kill la Kill gets one immediate vote of confidence from its older siblings, and another from various friends of mine.  So about a week ago, after polishing off the new episode of Space Dandy and Witch Craft Works (review to come), we at anime night finally put on the first episode of Kill la Kill (about fourteen weeks after its original air date).

Kill la Kill (subtitled by me as "Satsuki Scowls from High Places") takes place in a dystopian city/school called Honnouji Academy, where certain individuals are given special powers by their uniforms, which the student council regulate and extort to control and subjugate the other students and civilians below.  No one can do anything against the oppression because they can't get their hands on a uniform powerful enough (there's a power ranking system ranging from one to three stars) to stand a chance against the council.  If this is reminding anybody else of the plot to the first half of Gurren Lagann, rest assured that you're not the only one.

Anyways, things shake up when a mysterious transfer student, Ryuuko Matoi, rolls into town and essentially pulls a blade on the Student Council president (that girl Satsuki I mentioned earlier).  It's half of a giant pair of scissors.  The other half was used to murder her father and she's looking for answers.  Very much a "loose-cannon-cop-on-the-edge" kind of feel.

So she pulls a blade, gets her shit rocked, but eventually gets her hands on some kind of experimental uniform of her own (it was pretty sketchy, I think it molested her), and starts kicking butt.  Basically the first episode in a nutshell.

Don't take the dismissive nature with which I write this review to mean I disliked Kill la Kill.  I just thought it was an okay show, one that I will probably stick with to the end, but it certainly did not live up to the hype for me.  I think that it rides very heavily on the coattails of Gurren Lagann, using that fame and popularity to boost a show that would have gotten maybe...65% of viewers to stay onboard to one that locks in a whole 90% (these figures are entirely conjecture, none of it is based in fact, just my impression).  Simply put: Kill la Kill was good, but definitely has room for improvement.

Despite my disappointment, Kill la Kill had its fair share of positive points.  I really liked Ryuuko, she was a girl with spunk, but didn't have to act like a hardcore badass all the time.  The funny parts had good comedic timing and the comic relief character was dependably ridiculous.

Even though I would say Kill la Kill was a bit of a let down for me at first, I'm going to stick with it because, like I said, it has room for improvement and time to make that improvement.  I'm also reminded that even Gurren Lagann definitely ended a lot stronger than it began.  So I'm left with hope and aspiration for this show.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Space Dandy - The Show that Launched a Thousand Screencaps

I managed to catch the first episode of Space Dandy last night at my weekly anime sojourn.


Can I say.

About Space Dandy?

Much like previous works from its creator, Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo), this show is trendy.  And when I say 'trendy', I don't mean, "of, or in accordance with, the latest fashion trends".  No, when I say 'trendy', I guess I'm saying that this show knows what it wants to be and accomplishes that very well.  With Cowboy Bebop, it was a jazz/blues space western.  With Samurai Champloo it was a hip-hop retelling of feudal Japanese history.

And Space Dandy...well, Space Dandy is a disco inferno comedy that serves as both space odyssey and parody with apparent antagonists Satan and the villain from Planet of the Apes.

I wasn't joking about Satan and the ape, by the way.

Nailed it!
So anyways, how was Space Dandy?  It was everything I expected it to be and more.

It takes a real friend to laugh at you while you're drowning.
This show was a colorful acid trip through ridiculous pretense and occasional fourth-wall-breaking commentary, with a colorful array of characters (a space hero whose incompetence is rivaled only by the style at which he achieves it, a perverted cat-creature whose real name can only be articulated as a set of squiggly lines, and a criminally adorable robot), gorgeous visuals, and a really smooth animation style that you wouldn't see in your ordinary B-show.

What I'm trying to say is that Space Dandy is a trippy A-show that tries to be a B-show, which is part of what makes it an A-show.

What I love about Space Dandy is the how it serves as its own parody without constantly breaking the fourth wall.  It uses tropes from different anime but presents them in such a way that it shows just how ridiculous those things can be.  Like the arbitrary 'manly-tears-in-the-opening' trend.

Needless to say, I will be keeping up with this show on a weekly basis and I have high, high hopes for this one.  If you haven't watched it, you should.  You can catch it in English on Toonami, with Hulu, and I think on Amazon Instant Video.  As for the Japanese.  Well...that's not hard if you know where to look.

You stay classy, Space Dandy

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter Is...Well, Looks Like It's Already Here

This has been me with this post

But the times change, and so must I.  So let's talk about Winter 2013-14.

This week marked the 13th week of Autumn, meaning that Winter has come, and with it a whole new batch of shows.

Unfortunately, I find myself looking forward with apprehension, rather than excitement.

This is not to say that I look to the new season and see nothing good, I just see nothing...that strikes me as phenomenal, and I've got so many shows on the backburner--hell, I've got shows on the backburner for being on the regular backburner--and I'm thinking about spending this season catching up on that, as well as dabbling in the new material.

Above is the complete list of Winter anime as I know it.  As I said earlier, I wasn't particularly wowed by any one, but I've been wrong before.  So let's get into the nitty-gritty.

The first show that I will be pioneering--boldly going, if you will-- is Space Dandy.

This show was met with roaring approval from my anime night friends.  And I won't lie, when I originally scoped out the shows this season, this one caught my attention the most, because--as anyone who knows me will tell you--I love me a pompadour.

Everything I know about dandies I learned from Wally in Fairy Tail
So anyways, Space Dandy is, to quote "...a dandy guy in the space", and you can read the synopsis.  This show is animated by the infamous Studio Bones, who did such projects as Darker Than Black, Eden of the East, Wolf's Rain, and Soul Eater to name a few.  On top of that, it's directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, the man behind Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, which gives me the distinct feeling that this show's going to be stylish as all fuck, though this particular entry in his saga smacks more of disco than hip-hop.

I watched the trailer this morning and...well...I think I'll let it speak for itself.

Moving on...the second show I picked out is called Witch Craft Works.

And, before you ask, I can't tell if the title is meant as a statement, or just as a noun >__>

But I digress.  I watched the trailer for this one and gleaned very little, other than that it's a romantic comedy, and it has magic in it.

I did, however, notice that this had a very similar look to one of my favorite shows A Certain Magical Index, followed my nose and found that this show is, indeed, animated by the same studio, J. C. Staff.

So I'm onboard.

Last, but not least, there's Houzuki no Reitetsu

Because I've always wanted to know how Hell's upper management works.  The way I figure, it could be fun.  We shall see...

I checked out Wit Studios, and they were the animation studio behind the ever popular Attack on Titan, so there's that.

Apparently this will be a season with very noble lineage for me.  I'll keep you all posted as I get into this.  And if you see something in the list you like, hear something on the street, or read something on the internet and would like me to investigate, drop a comment, I'd be happy to look into it.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to a productive Winter.