September 12, 2012

Rambling Reviews

Time for another round of my thoughts on things I've watched lately.

Paranorman
Despite the main character being annoyingly passive and whiny for most of the film, I liked it a lot. The designs are great, both in the characters and their environments. They're full of unusual shapes and angles, and the result is a film with a really unique look to it, which is rare. The story and characters felt pretty familiar, but the filmmakers did throw in a couple of clever twists. The ending sequence was genuinely creepy, and featured really impressive animation. Overall Paranorman was truly a breath of fresh air in American animation. I'm now interested in what else Laika has done, which means I'll have to finally see Coraline.
 
Download
Directed by Rintaro, this OVA from 1992 has impressively loose, wild animation. Yoshinori Kanada did the character designs, as well as some animation. It also has some amazing Tatsuyuki Tanaka scenes, which are what made me want to track it down.Unfortunately this thing is ridiculously obscure-- it's never even been released on DVD in Japan, let alone translated into English. And obviously the name makes it difficult to look it up online. So I couldn't understand most of what was going on in the story, but it was very enjoyable.

Neo-Tokyo
I may have covered this late 80's anime anthology before on my blog, I can't remember. But anyway, here's what I thought upon seeing it again recently-- I absolutely love the first segment, "Manie-Manie" which is also by Rintaro. It's probably one of my favourite animation pieces ever. It's packed with neat ideas in the designs, the direction, the animation and the sound work. Too bad it ultimately doesn't seem to have any real point. "The Running Man" has lots of great FX animation but again, there's not much of a story. This one feels longer than it is. The final segment by Katsuhiro Otomo, "The Order to Stop Construction" feels a bit like a warm-up for Akira. It's pretty fun. All three shorts work better as mood pieces than as narratives, in my opinion, but they all have great visuals. I'd say it's worth seeing.

Samurai Champloo
I'm only up to Episode 9, which has the Masaaki Yuasa animation sequence, which was just as amazing as I'd expected. Overall I like the show, but it's not quite as absurd as I hoped. There are some hip-hop elements and some funny moments (my favourite example of both being the vomit scratch-cut in Episode 6) but neither the hip-hop flavor or the comedy are as prevalent as I'd expect from a series that bills itself as "samurai/comedy/hip-hop." So far it's mostly just been a bizarrely anachronistic samurai series. I do love the main title sequence though.

Shin-Chan Season 1 Part 2
I picked this up cheap and I'm really enjoying it. Up until now I'd been avoiding the English dub because I didn't think I'd like all the extra dirty jokes they added, but it turns out I do like a lot of them, and I already knew I liked the original series so this is turning out to be a lot of fun. I'm now trying to get the other volumes at a decent price. The English voices are surprisingly close to the Japanese originals. My only problem is that they cut the great opening theme short.

Yellow Submarine
Every time I watch it I feel the same way-- there are a ton of cool visuals, and obviously the music is spectacular, but the script is a jumbled mess and I find it hard to watch the whole thing in one sitting.

Tenguri
(a late-70s one-off short by the staff of Lupin III)
The story is ridiculous and childish but the Miyazaki-animated scene near the end is fantastic. Between this and his epic battle scene in Animal Treasure Island, he's become one of my favourite animators. His animation work is a lot more cartoony and wild than I'd have thought from his directing style.

Roujin Z
Written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, soon after Akira. The budget is noticeably lower but there is some very good animation in certain scenes, and it's generally a well-told satire about how society treats the elderly, with a wacky science-fiction bent to it. I like the character designs, even though they're not as caricatured as the stuff I usually prefer. They don't really stand out that much but there's enough variation within the characters to keep them interesting. The ending theme has been stuck in my head for days now.

I also re-watched Shin-Chan - The Adult Empire Strikes Back and Urusei Yatsura - Beautiful Dreamer which are both still great.

In other news, I'm back to school for my final year. It's going pretty well so far. I'm also working on Scout Raskin's Bakerman and the Bunnymen short, coming up with ideas for another project and working on designs for Fester Fish t-shirts. The shirts should be available soon, I hope...

1 comment:

Bruce Walker said...

FWIE, Louise and I just love Coraline. It's a gem of a film. You should see it ASAP. :)