Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Archive for the ‘ Review ’ Category

It really can’t be because I had high expectations. I didn’t really. I was skeptical. I’m always skeptical. Especially as the one series from the Winter season that seemed to be universally well-liked, I went into the whole thing with a large grain of salt. After all, I don’t seem to have a great track record for agreeing with the popular opinion (see Eureka 7 and Gundam SEED).

Magical girls? Yeah, okay, whatever. Even if Sailor Moon was my first and only, I don’t have a problem with magical girls — but my opinion towards the genre probably wasn’t necessary to factor in anyway, considering everyone was liking Madoka because it was “different” from what you’d typically expect from a magical girl series.

But the first two episodes bored the hell out of me. I didn’t see anything different. It wasn’t bubbly and shoujo enough to be typical magical girl, I guess, but it wasn’t groundbreaking in any way or even halfway intriguing. The characters were flat and uninteresting, wholly good and moral. Homura was a question mark, but did not provide a lot of excitement. Kyuubey was creepy though. Clearly he has an ulterior motive! The collage element in some scenes were kind of neat, but not neat enough for me to watch on that basis alone. And boy, was that opening theme fan-pandering or what.

So I thought about dropping because hey, when was the last time I actually ended up liking a series that I almost dropped early on? Oh, right, never. (The only halfway case was when I almost dropped Dennou Coil near the midpoint because it was slow, but I wasn’t bored at the beginning of the series.) But I was goaded into watching episode three because¬†it’s such a short series anyway, and episode three was the first instance of Puella Magi Madoka Magica being different.

(Spoilers for the entire series beyond this point.)

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So despite being a pretty terrible and inconsistent blogger all year, I decided to participate in Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa project. My choices of assignments were Gunslinger Girl, Tatami Galaxy, and The Place Promised in Our Early Days. I have been casually recommended Gunslinger Girl before, but had never been terribly interested in it. I have seen the first episode of Tatami Galaxy and had meant to watch it the season it aired, but that season I got behind on everything, and I never did get around to catching up ever. And Place Promised has been on my to-watch list for years.

Originally, I was on the over-ambitious bandwagon and planned on watching and reviewing all three of their possible choices in time for Christmas. Obviously this didn’t happen. I ended up going with Place Promised mostly because it was the shortest. I still kind of intend to watch the rest of Tatami Galaxy eventually, but the longer I wait the more I feel indifferent to it. I’m not sure that I’m ever going to get around to Gunslinger Girl unless someone gives a particularly passionate recommendation.

But here is the review for Place Promised. And here is the MAL mirror.

Merry Christmas!

Review: Tangled

December 5, 2010 Review 2 Comments

Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen a majority of Disney’s (non-Pixar) 3D animated films. …So maybe it was weird that I looked forward to Tangled as much as I did. Maybe it’s because Rapunzel is Disney’s first 3D princess. Disney puts so much effort and emphasis on its princesses; after all, Tiana’s role as their first black princess garnered far more attention than the fact that the Princess and the Frog was supposed to be a callback to Disney’s traditional roots. So Rapunzel’s “first” factor probably gives it more weight to it than say, 2009’s A Christmas Carol and 2008’s Bolt, neither of which I’ve seen. The fact that Tangled’s early tidbits and concept art were all very charming also helped, of course.

(this review does not contain spoilers)


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Review: Last Quarter

November 15, 2010 Review Comments Off on Review: Last Quarter

I have been meaning to watch this movie for years, ever since I saw Moon Child. It is HYDE’s only other film, and though his acting in the aforementioned is pretty decent, I was pretty sure that Last Quarter (originally Kagen no Tsuki) wouldn’t be any good. But I wanted to watch it anyway.

The DVD was licensed for R1 distribution by Geneon and released in 2006. I’m awful about getting around to things on my massive to-watch list, but despite being out of print, the DVD’s price has been steadily declining on Amazon for ages (an indication of suckage?). So finally, at less than five bucks, I figured, oh, why the hell not. (And even then, after it arrived, it sat on my desk for three weeks until I got around to it.)

(this review contains minor spoilers)

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At the beginning of August, I read an ANN article about the release of a legitimate fan remix album featuring a variety of otaku favorites. That the DJ, Pete Ellison, a.k.a., INITIAL P, bothered to get official permission to produce the album struck me the most, considering how few seem to worry about the legitimacy of selling anything fan-made, even as fanart rules are slowly sweeping through the Artist Alleys of various conventions. A week later, while I was at Anime Overload in Austin, I checked my inbox and was very surprised to find an email by Ellison asking if I would review the album. When I got home the following Tuesday, Anime Love Hardcore had already arrived on my doorstep.


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Review: Asterios Polyp

May 26, 2010 Review Comments Off on Review: Asterios Polyp

I don’t read as many Western comics as I probably should, though this mostly my own fault. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli was a title I’d heard tossed around a lot in the last few months, but even with a roommate’s recommendation and several mentions on SEQALAB, I put it off. Well, with my college days wrapping up, I decided I was going to take these last few days to read every single one of aforementioned roommate’s comics before we all went our separate ways for the summer. This collection, naturally, included Asterios Polyp.

Annnnd Asterios Polyp is easily one of the most amazing comics I’ve read in recent memory. This is also one of the shortest reviews I’ve written in recent memory, mostly because I find that language is failing me in my attempts to tell you just why this book is amazing. Besides, it’s always easier to ramble on about why I dislike something than why I like something. There are more synonyms for negative words than there are for positive words. Asterios Polyp been nominated for four 2010 Eisner Awards, and if it doesn’t win at least one, then by golly, the Eisners must not mean much anymore.

(this review contains no spoilers)

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VAMPS
VAMP’s debut album
10th June 2009

VAMPS

You know, I really dislike self-entitled albums. They kind of make mentioning them in a [band]’s [album] format awkward. Moving on, despite being a fan of hyde, I was never really that interested in VAMPS. I mean, I adore hyde’s work with L’Arc~en~Ciel, and his one-time collaboration with Gackt for “orenji no taiyou” was also amazing, but his solo work leaves a lot to be desired (especially in his third solo album, Faith), and that’s what K.A.Z. had previously worked with him on. And as VAMPS’s debut US tour did not visit any city I was remotely close to, I felt even less compelled to familiar myself with the music.

Additionally, the overt-vampire references in all of this — in the band name, the album name, the label name, and pretty much all of the song names and imagery — kind of made me facepalm. I would expect it from Gackt, who only recently came out as a mere mortal and has a long history of vampire and goth sound and imagery. But, well, I guess it really isn’t that big of a surprise coming from hyde either… considering the fact that he’s acted as both a vampire and a ghost, songs like “Midnight Celebration,” various photoshoots, and a lot of his fashion and accessory choices. Well, whatever brings all the fangirls to the yard, right?

And in the end, hyde is hyde, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I eventually decided to pick this up. So here we go:

TRACK 01: BITE
Thirty-second opening track! Starts off with some very classic horror elements — swanky TV noises in the background, creeking door, clock striking, howling, a woman moaning sensually and a scream! Classy.

TRACK 02: LOVE ADDICT
Now some rockin’ guitar with a very catchy beat. hyde’s vocals start rough and excitedly, a welcome throwback to some of his older work. Lyrics are in Engrish and they are hilarious as usual, so I’m not going to try too hard to decipher what he’s saying. Melody is pretty negligent as the song progresses, but the guitars carry a steady beat, so there’s at least that to tie things together. End of the first chorus has a weird break before hyde comes back in slowly, in a lower voice. K.A.Z. (I guess?) providing some backup vocals here and there, but nothing really substantial or interesting. I think the repeated lyrics near the end are “right on time, let’s go,” but it could also be “let go.” It frustrates me sometimes that hyde has spent so long singing in English, but it rarely seems to get more understandable. Guitars fade out to the end. Not a good song, not a bad song.

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A lot of people from my generation like to complain that traditional animation methods such as 2D cel animation and stop-motion have been replaced by less-worthy 3D counterparts. We’re all a little nostalgic for the oldschool stuff, but I think it’s a little unfair to suggest that 3D is somehow inferior or that it somehow takes less work. Sure, the time and effort it takes to draw every single frame of a character animation¬†may have become a little under-appreciated, but those in the offended camp probably under-appreciate the time it takes to model, texture, render and rig a 3D character animation. Appreciation aside though, I did think it was a damn shame when Disney closed down its 2D animation branch after the disastrous Home on the Range movie, and was amongst the hopeful when the company later turned around and decided to make a return to its roots.

The periodic trailers and behind-the-scenes looks released for the Princess and the Frog all looked amazing. The character designs felt like they would have fit in well with the Disney movies of the early 90’s and the animation was similarly nostalgic. In addition to being a throwback to the animated features I grew up with, I was happy to see another film focused on a slice of American history and culture, in this case, the French Quarter of New Orleans before and after World War I. The music and musical style were less of a concern for me since movies like Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch and the Emperor’s New Groove worked perfectly fine without much, if any, bursting into song. Still, the last Disney musical was Mulan, and Mulan was all kinds of amazing, so anticipation remained extremely high for this film. I finally got to see it yesterday.

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Review: DOGS OAV

September 4, 2009 Review 1 Comment

I finally got around to finishing up my review for the DOGS OAV. (MAL mirror is here.)

DOGS OAV

I put off watching the last two episodes for a while just because the first two were so… underwhelming. It’s fairly rare for me to discover a manga before a corresponding anime is made since I watch a lot more than I read, but honestly, it’s probably better that way considering how annoyingly purist I tend to be about adaptations. I don’t want to feel this way! This feeling of burning injustice when something turns out much less amazing than you’d like — when something doesn’t seem to do the original justice at all. The strange thing about the DOGS anime is that it doesn’t really seem to be its fault that it sucked (well, aside from the shitty animation). I feel like the format just didn’t suit it. DOGS is just something better read than watched, even if the voice actors all do great jobs and there are lots of action scenes.

Then again, maybe the anime only proves that underneath all of Shirow Miwa’s beautiful artwork, his story and characters aren’t that interesting after all. Maybe that’s what pisses me off the most. Nobody wants to be shown that something they loved isn’t actually that awesome. Is the love that comes from blinding nostalgia enough? The manga marches on, so I guess I’ll keep seeing what Miwa’s really made of. Viz’s release of the first volume of DOGS: BULLETS&CARNAGE came out earlier this month and I’ll be picking it up soon; might do another semi-review, but we’ll see.

Review: Solanin

August 27, 2009 Review 4 Comments

It’s always hard to ignore a title after someone writes an excellent post about it, but Solanin is also a highly attractive two volumes in length — perfect for my limited time and short attention span. And I guess there was also some masochistic curiosity to it because I knew Solanin would be painful to read. It’s about post-college life. It’s about life in general. It’s about still growing up even after you thought you’d already done so. And it hits very close to home.

Here is the review, and here is the MAL mirror.

Solanin

Reading it was very hard in the beginning. Sixteen pages in and I could already relate absurdly well with both Meiko and Taneda, and hell, all their friends as well. It was depressing, but it got easier the further I progressed because they became their own people, rather than just ghostly representations of myself and people I knew. The story is how they choose to live their own lives, one path in a forest of many. Theirs aren’t the best choice, nor the worst. It isn’t an answer, but it’s there. Highly recommend.

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