Monday, December 31, 2012

:anime: Ani-Journal (BETA) - For December 31, 2012

Don't fret. Hopefully, you'll be license rescued… (Hopefully…)

We started the year with an Ani-Journal entry and now we end the year with an Ani-Journal entry (although the gap was unintentional. Been a busy bee…)!

--Speaking of, I would've caught Sacred Seven a little earlier in the month, but I spent much of that time doing Christmas decorations and watching holiday programming (I'm the festive type… ^^;; ). Thankfully, it was a marathon-easy show and I had enough time to watch it over the course of two, because it turned out to be a really good show. I wanted to see it due to its production quality from some screenshots and promotional pictures, but given that it 1) revolved around rocks and 2) looked like just another shounen action show, I put it towards the back of my list of shows to watch. However, with Bandai Ent., who licensed it, going down and them relinquishing titles they are unable to release, Sacred Seven was one of them and was disappearing from Hulu by the end of the year (and already had from Crunchyroll).

I hope it gets picked up soon (and on BD), though, because it is quite the surprise of a series, one that puts its characters and plot ahead of its still-thrilling action pieces (of no surprise, given its from the same director as the unexpectedly-thoughtful Witchblade). It also manages to get good mileage out of cliches, either by solid execution--always the key--, poking fun at them, or by putting a good twist or amount of ambiguity on them. Overall, it was a very well-done show by Sunrise and hopefully it gets that hinted-at second season, although the sales of weren't incredible.

--Gratefully, I recently purchased Utada Hikaru's Sakura Nagashi, the end theme used for the recent Evangelion 3.0 movie, from iTunes. It's a melancholic, though great, song that ranks among her best. You can find a decent amount of (official) anime-related music on the music service, but as a music lover, I would like to see much more made available for download outside of Japan. Oh, music business, you…

--For the Haters Ball's Homecoming King and Queen, I hereby nominate Say "I love you".'s Yamato Kurosawa and Sword Art Online's Suguha Kirigaya, respectively! It's rare that I despise a character in anything, much less two in one season, but both of these wastes of line art and paint suck whatever's good about their shows into the dark abysses of their voids. Yamato is made out to be the caring, dashing young man in the shoujo entry, but he's so overbearing and nigh-manipulative in the way he courts the standoffish Mei that the otherwise laudable anime gets bogged down whenever he appears. He already seems vapid enough, but he's supposed to be a Prince Charming with his pushiness? Basically, the only thing that is keeping me watching it through its half-way point is to see if anything develops with him or if he is eventually called out for his actions (which has been touched on at times).

And then, there is SAO's Suguha. I don't think I've hated any character as much as I have her in a real long time--and it's not even for what she does in the series (…well, it sort of is). Prior to the second half, SAO was a pretty good, if unsteadily paced, show, but its second half is wound about with cliches. One of those is Suguha, the "little sister" to main character Kirito, of whom she has a crush on. Yes, a crush, as the icky trend in anime has been this year, but don't worry--they're actually just cousins, as Kirito moved in with his aunt/her mother when he was younger. This little subplot is annoying enough when you consider how unnecessary is in context with the already-established and substantive relationship he developed with another girl, with whom he and thousands of others were trapped in a life-or-death virtual reality game for a few of years.

Suguha's only good for two reasons in Sword Art Online

What kicks it up a notch is that she serves no real purpose beyond that. She is a superfluous and empty character who is only designed to be the cute, "unrequited love" character in a story that never needed one (with often not-very-subtle attention allotted to her, err, assets). Much like the other ill-fitting elements introduced in the psudo-second season that feel like they belong to other series, she really doesn't fit into the kind of show that was already established.  Just her mere existence drains the life out of what was once a fine show and all of the quite pinings grow old fast. I've made my distaste for empty, "pity them" characters known before, but this one's worse when not only is she unnaturally made central to the plot in an all-too-convenient manner and saddled with the insipid "forbidden love" trope, but she also has nary a real personality than beyond that of being a fanservice-magnet "imouto"-type. That last part is the most disconcerting, and in all honesty, I would probably still dislike her character even if she was an unrelated, "girl next door"- or "childhood friend"-type. Suguha still would have no reason to be given import the way she was. She is little more than manufactured, dull otaku-bait.

Well, there's your Homecoming King & Queen! Where's a Tsutomu Mizushima-directed remake of Carrie when you need one?

--Apparently, some critics were concerned about FOX's Ben & Kate from the outset because of its central relationship between a brother and sister living together and whatever possible ick factor may ensue. Clearly, none of them have watched any recent anime series…

--Scratch that--actually, it's good that none of them have…

--Although, I do have to admit, the character designs and animation quality of OniAi have looked pretty impressive based on some of the screenshots I've come across. Character designer Kousuke Kawamura seems to have a good track record at contributing good-looking designs and animation renders--too bad they're mostly of the ecchi variety (but I could say that about a lot artists…).

Well, that's all for this time. Thanks for your time reading & have a great New Year's!!

--HD :)

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