December 30, 2012
I saw this in its 3D re-release. I hate 3D and this was no exception, but I hadn't seen the movie in a while. I think it and the Incredibles are my two favourite Pixar movies. I don't generally find their movies that funny (although this one does have some good comic moments) but I really admire their tight, disciplined story structures. The plot hits its various peaks and valleys like clockwork, and every single line of dialogue is either a payoff or a set-up to something else, which is always said to be the goal in screenwriting books. I also love the Muppet-like designs and the door-hopping climax is pretty cool. Plus, John Goodman.
Patlabor 1 the Movie
The placement of the "1" in that title bothers me. Anyway, I watched this and a bit of the TV series, mainly to have some context for the second film, which I've heard is great. 'Giant robots' isn't an anime genre I'm especially interested in, but I like how Patlabor takes a realistic, plausible approach to the idea, in which the mechs are mainly just used as construction machines. The movie was a pretty enjoyable, if forgettable, detective story with a sprinkling of trademark Mamoru Oshii philosophy. Any time I get to hear Toshio Furukawa doing his Ataru voice, I'm happy.
On a related note, I watched Gosenzosama Banbanzai fairly recently. It's another Oshii work-- a strange OVA series from the late 80's with a writing style that seems to ape some form of traditional Japanese theater. Not being familiar with the style, I don't know if it accomplished what it was trying to do, but I really liked it anyway. It's definitely not for everyone, as it's full of jarring product placement and long, mundane soliloquies, but there's also hilarious slapstick and a lot of work by amazing animators like Tatsuyuki Tanaka and Shinya Ohira. The voice cast is almost entirely made up of Urusei Yatsura regulars, including the aforementioned Furukawa in another lead role. To top it all off, it has an interesting abstract opening by Koji Nanke (the indie animator who did all the Urusei Yatsura openings) with a catchy song.
This was praised extensively on ANNcast's "Best of the 90s" episode, so I was excited when I found it pretty cheap on Boxing Day. After watching all four OVA episodes, I wasn't particularly impressed. It seemed fairly generic. The music by Yoko Kanno was good, and it's hard to go wrong with Bryan Cranston and Richard Epcar as the main characters' dub voices, but other than that it didn't do much for me.
I'm still eating up the Funimation dub of Shin-Chan, now that I've managed to fill the holes in my collection. I wish that more of the early seasons had been translated, as that mid-90's period where Masaaki Yuasa was working on the series is the stuff I'm most interested in seeing. There are a few of those episodes in these sets, but not enough! And I'm still sad they only used three seconds of the hilarious theme song.
Finally, I started watching Breaking Bad and obviously it's awesome, but I have nothing to say about it yet that hasn't already been said elsewhere by better writers. So that's it for now... Happy New Year, everybody!!