Anime Review Thread

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Anime Review Thread

Post by Durn on Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:37 pm

I know anime is certainly not the biggest fad here at the Eternal Dream, yet, for those anime watchers that dwell here, I have decided that I shall keep a collaboration of reviews focused on the best animes I could find. The reviews and statistics have been taken from myanimelist.net.

Reviews
Grave of the Fireflies
Kuchu Buranko


Last edited by Durn on Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:33 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Anime Review Thread

Post by Durn on Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:45 pm

Grave of the Fireflies
Type: Movie
Air Date: April 15, 1988 - April 15, 1988
Aired Episodes: 1/1
Producers: Studio Ghibli, ADV Films, Central Park Media
Genre: Drama, Historical
Length: 1 Hour 28 Minutes per Episode
Rating: PG-13
MAL Score: 8.61
MAL Rank: #36
MAL Popularity: #139
Personal Rating: 10/10

I once heard a singer define what he thought of love. He said, 'Love is watching someone die.' For Seita, a young Japanese boy living during one of history's darker moments, he witnesses several events that can only be called true tests on the heart.

Set in the backdrop of World War II, Seita and his much younger sister try to survive while their country is wracked with the devastation of war. The Americans bomb their town, and they are forced to live with an aunt after becoming orphaned. A country torn by war leaves its people with homes ripped with dissent: their aunt starts to feel the pressure of having two young children in her house, and Seita decides, in a moment of pride, to take off with Setsuko and try to live by themselves in an abandoned bunker outside of the village.

Grave of the Fireflies is not a fairy tale despite Seita's attempts to make Setsuko think that they are living in one. The movie sadly follows their lives in this bunker where they don't battle soldiers and warmongers, but try to battle scabs, starvation and sorrow. In an interesting light, despite the very graphic and violent scenes that the movie opens with, the rest of the movie does not deal with fighting and war, but more of the war's impact on these two children. Calling it a history lesson would be wrong. It isn't. The film has often been criticised as anti-American in sentiment as it details the Japanese suffering. This notion could not be more incorrect. It doesn't matter who dropped the bombs--the bombs have fallen anyway, and people have been affected. This is not about who was right, who was wrong, who started it--this is about a young boy, his sister, and watching as life slowly trickles away just as the light of a firefly eventually diminishes.

This film encompasses what a tragedy is really. Terrible things happening to two children is tragic, yes, but there are different facets it also looks at. A true tragedy is not only watching the downfall of a person--it's watching that very person causing their own downfall. Yes, Seita should have swallowed his pride and stayed with his aunt. He would have been guaranteed food, shelter and safety. This movie is exceptional because it knows bad decisions are made all the time, and it shows that. Isn't war one of them? A terrible choice? It is, which makes wars tragic events. Isn't Seita's decision to try to be independent when he really couldn't bear the responsibility a terrible choice? It is, and this is why everything that happens afterward is a tragedy.

Art and animation for this movie are truly magnificent. Made decades ago, and yet it still looks amazing. The movie is gruesomely detailed, showing the exact look of a body burned beyond recognition, the little nits and lice that thrive from destitute and unhygienic living conditions, the bones pressing against skin that has been denied nourishment. There's something darkly, hauntingly beautiful about the artwork for this anime. The character design is realistic, and watching Seita and Setsuko, well, it could be any two Japanese children. Which I think means a lot more in the grander picture: how many boys and girls just like them have been victims of the second World War? Possibly more than we truly want to know.

Grave of the Fireflies has an excellent score. The technical aspects of this film are near perfection. The score utilises melancholy sounds, but it understands the quality of silence just as well. Take the first scene of this movie. There is dead silence. And breaking this silence is the voice of a boy, telling you that something has happened to him. Breaking this silence are his weak, laboured, quiet and quick breaths he takes as you watch him sitting on the floor of a train station, waiting for death to take him. There are few silent scenes in anime that have managed to bombard a listeners' very emotions. But where there is no vitality, where there is no life, then there is no sound. And when it's all over, the bustle and noise of life continuing swells and crashes. Grave of the Fireflies captures that perfectly.

Setting a World War II epic around young children who cannot understand the weight of the situation at large around them is possibly the most unorthodox, but most brilliant way to look at it. World War II was not only about the the Jews being executed or countless soldiers dying to defend their cause. There were other people who were affected. Grave of the Fireflies looks at two Japanese children.

Seita is a good brother. He tries, with all his might, to take care of his little sister. He plays with her, tries to take her mind off of their situation, and does things that would shame him to try to feed her. His character is defined by his pride as a Japanese male (whose father, in the Navy, must have taught his son about Japanese dignity). He refuses to be dependent, but his independence causes most of the problems for himself and Setsuko. He tries to be strong and tries to be a man. This movie looks at what happens after responsibility is dumped on a young boy and places him in situations where he has to become the adult. His mother dies, he knows he can't cry. He has to be strong. But how does he relate this to a little girl? He can't, because he doesn't know how and he does what he can to make her smile again, even if it does mean playing blindly after a devastating experience.

Setsuko is adorable and it's hard not to love her. Her childish innocence and her outlook on life is refreshing, when there's not much else but death and decay surrounding her. And it will break your heart to watch her, as she tries to entertain herself, as she tries to stop the rumbling in her stomach, and as she has to live in an environment of suspended unhappy playtime. The interactions between Seita and Setsuko are a marvel to watch. Anyone with siblings can relate to what they share. Their bond is deep. It's something else to watch them turn into each other's worlds when the world outside has turned ugly.

It is debatable on whether you can call Grave of the Fireflies 'enjoyable'. Can watching the spiralling descent of two innocent children be entertainment? I highly doubt. This movie is utterly depressing, and if your heart isn't made of stone, you will probably bawl your eyes out. I've seen unemotional, grown men break down during this movie. There is something darkly fascinating about watching Seita and Setsuko. There won't be a minute to stop after you've started this movie. It is slow, depicting the side of war we rarely ever see in movies, which is living. No battles, no enemies, no guns. Just a boy, his sister, and them trying to get by and see another day.

Grave of the Fireflies is tragic. From seeing Setsuko dig a grave for the delicate fireflies after they die to seeing Seita figuratively dig their own graves with his choices and the lifestyle he gives himself and his sister, this movie is an experience that will move you greatly.

-- Tehnominator, of MAL

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Re: Anime Review Thread

Post by Durn on Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:32 pm

Kuchu Buranko (Trapeze)
Type: TV
Air Date: October 15, 2009 - December 24, 2009
Aired Episodes: 11/11
Producers: Toei Animation
Genre: Comedy, Psychological, Seinen
Length: 25 Minutes per Episode
Rating: R
MAL Score: 8.23
MAL Rank: #198
MAL Popularity: #893
Personal Rating: 10/10

So, you may be thinking: "Durn, what the hell is this?", and my answer to that is: "Something out of the ordinary."

Anyways, on with the review.

Here is an anime that will turn 90% of its viewers away. Why? Because it dares to be distinctly different. For the remaining 10% who watched after the first episode, you probably know already how great this anime is. Now let's hope to switch these figures, so everyone can enjoy.

Story: 9/10
The story is of Dr. Irabu, a psychiatrist who also happens to be the vice chairman in his fathers hospital. He's an incredibly skilled doctor who welcomes many patients, and his treatment is always vitamin injections. The story revolves around the people with disorders such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and many others. The story takes place all within ten days, December 16th to December 25th, and all the stories somehow affect one another, whether it be minutely or dramatically. Now up to this point you may think this sounds really dreary and serious, right? Wrong. The stories are very light-hearted for the most part and the comedy is boundless. There's a case where a man has an uncontrollable boner, and the only way to cure it is by forgetting his past. Crude? Yes. Hilarious? Yes. The interwoven ten day tale of the wacky doctor and his just-as-wacky patients will surely amuse you if you give it a chance.

Art: 10/10
Well. You might hate it. You might love it. But you gotta admit, it's interesting to watch. Kenji Nakamura used the same kind of art in Trapeze as he did in Mononoke. It's really cool stuff if you're a fan of his. The terrificly strange style really does help the mood of this anime, a psychedelic off-key kind of a mood - something weird. And listen here folks, this is anime is as weird as it gets. Trapeze sometimes even incorporates live-action materials like faces and bodies, once again setting it apart from the usual anime. If you liked the art styles of anime like Mononoke, Mind Game, and Gankustuou this may be the artsy-fartsy anime for you.

Sound: 8/10
Character voices for Irabu are great. Whiny and shrill, loud and fast-paced, slow and chiseling - actually three different "voices" altogether (two voice actors). When Irabu changes persona's from his middle-aged man, to his bear-mask, to his child form, his voice changes and personality slightly changes as well. A really nice touch. As for the rest of the cast, nothing out of the ordinary, good voices, but nothing historic. The opening is loose and odd and fits the anime quite well, it has a good beat you might even start to hum. The ending is really great though. It fits the anime perfectly and whenever I hear it, I just feel like dancing. The ending suits the feel you get at the end of an episode of Trapeze, and that's what really counts. You have to make your catchy songs not only be catchy, but also connect to viewers emotions for more of an impact, and that's what Trapeze does.

Character: 10/10
A new character every episode? How am I supposed to like that? I won't even care for them if they just disappear in twenty minutes! Right? Wrong. A great cast of characters, just about every single one of them memorable. The recurring cast is Irabu, who I've already touched on, Mayumi - Irabu's nonchalant maid-nurse who supplies the patients with injections (and cleavage), and Fukuicchi the live-action doctor who pops up from time to time to inform the viewer about certain things he may not be familiar with (i.e. what OCD is). The interchanging cast is the patients. All appear in more than one episode, but only one episode is mainly focused on them. There's a reporter who's afraid of causing people trouble, there's a failed child actor who still thinks he's "got it", there's a baseball star who's feeling like he's lost his touch, there's even a man afraid of sharp edges. Just check them out for yourself.

Enjoyment: 10/10
Not a single episode I didn't enjoy more than the average anime. If I had to rate each episode, I'd give nine out of eleven of them a solid 10 and two of them a 9. Not too shabby. But this rating is only mine. It's not yours. If you don't like this anime, it's not because it's bad, it's because you simply *didn't like this anime*. It's a psychological show, about emotions and personal distress and what can happen to it when left alone. It's not the kind of a show with a message that reaches the world easily. All I can ask is that you try it out, and if you didn't like it after one episode don't drop it and give it a 1 out of ten (unless you seriously hated it that much, but I'd have to question your judgment skills - only watching one eleventh of something and turning it off).

Overall: 10/10
Wildly different and stunning in every sense. I'd be terribly disappointed if this anime didn't win some kind of award somewhere out their, whether it be for "Strangest Anime of All Time" or what I don't know. But this is good. Watch it, and watch more than one episode. Why not watch two? I mean, twenty minutes won't kill you if you end up enjoying it.

I guess the point I'm trying to hit home is that a lot of people drop this anime because it isn't their cup of tea, and there's nothing wrong with that. This anime deserves more than that though, it deserves a chance for all the hard work put into it for making it as off-beat as possible and I'm just trying to supply a voice to do that. Now go forth, and witness the birth of the freak known as Trapeze!

-- Detective, of MAL

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