Friday, January 06, 2012

:anime: Ani-Journal (BETA) - For January 06, 2012

"LOVE" in Mirai Nikki is spelled "YUNO". Other acceptable spellings include "CRAZY", "NUTS", and "CERTIFIABLE"…

What better way to ring in the new year, celebrate Three King's Day and Epiphany, and send off Christmas (the twelfth and final day of) than with a second installment of HD's newest feature (still under "BETA-watch", of course)!

--Chihayafuru notwithstanding (haven't seen it yet), I had considered Fate/Zero to be the best show of the autumn season. Theater-level animation, an intriguing storyline and take on the Dungeons-&-Dragons-type board games, and interesting characters (complete with fantasied figures from fables and world history) made for a very solid and enjoyable series with few hiccups.

…And then I saw Mirai Nikki/Future Diary.

In many ways, it is like the spiritual successor of Code Geass. Both shows are placed on grand scales with high stakes, and told not only with such pinache and bravado, but smarts and intelligence, as well. But while both work masterfully in the realm of bombast and the extreme (while staying grounded), Mirai Nikki is told on a more personal and introspective scale. For a studio in asread that's done mostly support work and only a handful of full productions, and a director in Naoto Hosada whose short list of projects helmed have been ecchi titles, they have done an outstanding job with it. On animation alone, the series has a high quality look to it, but its standout aspect is perhaps its dead-on facial expressions. There is no hyperbole when I state that this show might have the best, most spot-on expressions I've ever seen in an animated show. Literally every single one of them has perfectly fit the moment and/or the emotional state of a character, be it exaggerated or subtle, which goes a long way in portraying the kind of tense and psychological tale Mirai Nikki is.

The show also has great positives in its cast of largely newcomers and the memorable characters they voice, and it has shown to be adept at mixing humor in with the dour (not an easy feat, for sure). And it's not only great entertainment, but it has a good deal of depth to it, as well, especially with morality playing a central part. There aren't any real detractions about about Mirai Nikki, either, except that it tends to gloss over the aftermath of previous arcs and moves right along (though the positives greatly outweigh that).

Now, will its strength last through the second half? Who's to say--and I'm certainly not ready to christen it yet, as I've seen enough to know better--but it's on course to be something truly special.

Don't be worry, Yuuki! Your show could be one of the best if it keeps it up …

--Speaking of Code Geass, how about noitaminA's own GUILTY CROWN?


Yeah, about that…

In the block's preview special, I voiced my concern about how closely GC hued to CG and how all-star productions don't always bear expected fruit, so imagine my disappointment in how GC has been more "Star Driver" than "Madoka Magica". I actually mean that more literally than figuratively, where the production for Star Driver was good all-around, but the ultra-safe and predictable writing really killed the show. It's not quite as severe as that--and at least GC has had some bright spots--but similarly, it has held back a very game and very ambitious production with a generic script, one too predictable and derivative to find a whole lot of enjoyment in. Honestly, that has been the show's only real sin--but it is a very heavy sin. You get the feeling Tetsuro Araki is trying to wring every good thing he can out of it and framing scenes with different looks, but there is only so much you can do to cover-up substandard writing and muddy plotting, which is a major, if not the most major, component to any story's success (he must be a disciple of Osamu Dezaki with all of the action pans, triple-takes, and other visual tricks in his works). General sentiment on the quality and originality of the writing has been uniform, which is never a good sign if it's all negative on the same points, and it doesn't help matters, either, when the producers act ignorant to obvious.

Nearly a month will have passed between first and second halves of GUILTY CROWN. Despite going on break with a cliffhanger in mid-conflict, I will be very, very interested to see what direction the show will move in with all of the criticism that has surrounded it. This show cannot be coming cheap and there is a wide breadth of multimedia attached to the project, not to mention a lot of hope and hype from the parties involved. Will Hiroyuki Yoshino and Ichiro Okouchi shake things up in major way, deviate from whatever they had planned and address the issues, or will they stay on course and deliver on what they started? They have a lot of work to do to convince many people GUILTY CROWN was worth their time, regardless, and they have nearly a whole month to get its second half straightened out. I mean, I hope they are taking full advantage of the break to make GC worthwhile…

--For the longest time, I avoided Hyakko, as the ungainly wide-eyed & -faced characters in the promo art and trailer didn't entice me back in 2008, and combined with it being another school comedy, it seemed like a cheap cash-in. Crunchyroll managed to get it at some point not long after, but had to take it down due to "licensing restrictions" (possible full license by another company?) before December 31, 2011. I never knew it was on there, but I said "What the heck?" and decided to give it watch before it went off.

And boy, was I ever glad I did, because I ended up loving it! I usually refrain from saying something like that, but I really did like it quite a bit. The character designs were a bit atypical, but not terribly so, and the comedy, while not groundbreaking, per se, was well-executed and consistently funny. It helped that the writing on the show was very strong and had some very humorous lines and scenarios. However, one of the series most impressive qualities was the amount of heart it had and how well it incorporated some of its more serious elements into all of the quirkiness without it feeling out of place. The final episode epitomized this, taking a decidedly different pace than the rest of the show and takes a gamble few comedic shows make in being so reflective and introspective, but it all works and makes for a warm, lasting impression of the show. Hyakko also did very well in handling its large, enjoyable cast and giving them good developmental time. I have no idea if a sequel will ever come to past (and there is more material from the manga to cover), but if it is truly licensed, I will definitely be hunting down a copy…

--Glass Maiden was another title that was taken down by CR for the same reasons (though this one is actually licensed by Maiden Japan (another ADV mask) and can still be watched at The Anime Network), and likewise, I managed to marathon through it before then. In all, it was a pretty good throwback to '90s-style mystery shows. It wasn't completely smooth, as the screenwriter overdid a few running jokes and too often tried to insinuate certain clever meanings in some of the characters' words and actions but was too vague or unclear in what he was getting at--and lest I forget one very annoying, bratty character that really busted the show's flow with her whiny, grating voice and moronic acts. However, GM did more good than bad, with its fine-looking character designs (if you can dig '90s-style ones), a nicely done jazz score, and an unabashedness for some daring content (well, though outside of their usual type of show, this was a Studio Fantasia production…). Its animation won't win any awards, but Glass Maiden was no waste of time, either.

--But why is it "Glass Maiden", when the show and its logo prominently call it "Crystal Blaze" (or by its forced pet name, "CryBla"…bleh…)? Dunno, but perhaps it's an international license thing, since it was made with an international audience in mind. I dunno if it was all that success at that, either, given some of its content and lingering Japanese-ish flavor. Personally, I'm more surprised by the fact that this was an original production and not one based on an old, pre-existing '90s manga or anime. It sure is a dead-ringer…

--Fullmetal Alchemist: Brothe…ugggghhh…ARRRGGGGGHHH--

--Durarara's dub turned out pretty good, one well-acted and well-cast. Didn't like the vocal choices for Baccano's Issac & Miria cameo, though. Even if it wasn't worth the extra expense to get the originals, you would think they'd try to stay in-line with that dub's voices instead of the Japanese one, for synergy's sake (which they didn't quite match, either…)

--So, Brain's Base, how about s'more, eh?

--Niconico, I really like you and all, but how about having the ability to delete your video comments. It really sucks when you mistime a snarky quip to a given scene or find out that you misspelled something and can't go back to redo or change it. And another thing: can we get a true "fullscreen" picture, not just something "close enough" and pillowboxed, and also having the ability to comment in that mode, too? Please-and-cheese?

Yeah, don't be the troll, Niconico…

Thank you for a read. Have a good one!


1 comment:

  1. my boyfriend loves this anime. It actually inspired him to make his own "Future Diary" ...without all of the going into the future and messing with time stuff.

    I'd really like to work with you! Can't find a contact information at all though. Guess I'll use Twitter!