Monday, January 28, 2008

MST presents: Clannad ep 13

Nice Weeds.

My apologies to Mystery Science Theater...

Crow: Is he *weeding*? What the hell is going on here? Tomoya's doing freaking lawn work so Kotomi gets the hell over her parents dying ten years ago already? Is this a "very special episode brought to you by the Garden & Lawn department at Wal-Mart" or something?

Joel: Well, if he recreates her backyard like it used to be, and has the birthday party he missed a long time ago, maybe she--

Crow: Then she can relive her seventh birthday, and mentally regress even more? Oh, wait, she *already* acts like she's seven. Actually, I've heard seven year olds play the violin better than Kotomi.

Joel: Yeah, but I'm pretty sure *I* could play the violin better than Kotomi too, and I've never touched one...

Tom Servo: I think this where we're supposed to gasp at the awesomeness of Kyoani's animation--I mean, look at the detail on the roots that Tomoya's pulling up, on those weeds. It's amazing--

Crow: When Kyou is onscreen, I'll admit it's awesome. When it's the Tomoya Weeding Show--kill me. Speaking of characters that don't suck, where the hell is Tomoyo? Is she even in this series any more? I'm pretty sure the retard with the starfish fetish talked to her once, what was her name again...

Joel: Wow, I'm sensing a disturbance in the Force here...too much hate for Fuuko and Kotomi...

Tom Servo: Crow hates everything, it's like his mission in life... But I have to agree Kotomi's arc's not really striking me as a masterpiece. I mean, yeah, what happened was tragic, but what kind of parents would leave a seven-year old Kotomi home *alone* while they leave the country? Who exactly has been raising Kotomi since they died?

Joel: Not to mention, what's with Key and every time something traumatic happens to their male lead, they just completely forget people around them exist?

Crow: Oh, great, here comes Nagisa. "Okazaki-san~! I just came to help because I want you to knock me up!"

Joel: Not a Nagisa fan either, I see...

Crow: Please, between Kyou, Tomoyo, and Nagisa, who do you think would get ranked dead last in any kind of popularity poll? That's what I thought. And don't get me started on Ryou.

Tom Servo: You know how they detect planets around other stars? Planets are so small and faint that they can't be seen with even the most powerful telescopes--so they have to look for the slightest changes on the star they orbit, either from gravitational force or the planet passing between the star and Earth. Ryou's the planet and Kyou's the star.

Crow [heavy sarcasm]: Yeah, I got it--and thanks a lot for the astronomy lesson.

Joel: It is kind of sad, Ryou coulda been a contenda in any other series but here...she's forever going to be Kyou's sister, background character. "Do you want me to tell your fortune?" Kind of moe but...yeah, she's not going to Hollywood.

Tom Servo: If this was Minami-ke Okawari, Ryou would be black...

Crow: So that's the end of the episode? They're all weeding together? Wow, this is great stuff. Good thing you had the bright idea to wait for the widescreen version, because I'd hate to only watch people weed a lawn in 4:3. God, that'd be a freaking crime.

Joel: Seriously, I don't think this episode was *that* bad...Kotomi's story may not be the greatest, but you've got to be a cynical bastard to not at least tear up a little at what Kotomi had to go through.

Crow: Sure, but it was like ten years ago! They should have arrested her parents for child abandonment, running off saying "invite your friends over and party without us--oh, and don't stick scissors in any electrical outlets while we're gone." Didn't that happen in real life when some dumbasses bailed on their kids to go to Mexico for a week, and they got five years in jail?

Tom Servo [sweatdropping]: I think we're done here...

For the record, I am enjoying Clannad so far...but yeah.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Keroro Movie 2: The Deep Sea Princess...de arimasu

Wow--just watched Keroro movie 2, and the easiest way to describe it is to say it's 77 minutes of everything that makes Keroro Gunso awesome. Natsumi reaches truly epic levels of moe-ness, Giroro gets the "twirled around by the evil magistrate pulling on the obi of his kimono" treatment, there's action, drama, family, friendship, afros, even Moa-chan unleashing Armageddon twice. The only thing that could have made it even better is if they'd somehow worked in Giroro being forced to say "Natsumi, my love--kiss me tender, and hold me tight forever" like in episode 38. Giroro is forever the king of GAR in my book for being able to say that twice without dying of embarrassment on the spot.

The plot revolves around two new aliens, Meru and Maru, who kidnap Natsumi to be their "princess". There aren't really any "bad guys" in this to speak of--while Natsumi does get kidnapped, the kidnappers are really just kids, and at first she ends up being more like a mother/babysitter to them. The core cast is all involved, and get at least some screentime--although Natsumi is definitely the star of the movie, which is a definite plus in my book.

With movies based on a TV series the most common complaint I hear is "it just felt like a really long TV episode", but I think this avoided that fate. Scenes like the creation of the underwater city, or the swim Meru and Natsumi take in the ocean, just had that cinematic feel to them where you just look at it and part of your brain can't help going "wow". I think Deep Sea Princess succeeded much better on this note than the first Keroro movie did.

I do feel a little bad not waiting for ADV to release this before watching it, but since they have yet to release even volume 1, the smart money says I'll be wearing adult diapers and re-living 1977 by the time they actually do get around to putting this on DVD. But assuming I'm still alive and mentally competent by the time it hits R1 DVD, this is definitely getting a place on my bookshelf. I'd highly recommend it for any Keroro fans--although if you're not familiar with Keroro Gunso, this probably isn't the best movie to start with, since it doesn't do much to introduce the characters.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Minami-ke Okawari: First Impression

Haruka-nee: No Mercy

So it's not subbed yet, but I was looking forward to this enough to watch the first episode raw. Trying to watch anime raw is something that always sounds like a good way to test my Japanese skills, but inevitably it just serves to remind me that no matter how many people you meet on vacation in Japan who say you're all jozu and shit because you can say 'koko...doko desu ka? Kyoto desu ka? Eeh? Hokkaido? maji?' I am still not ready for prime time. Watching this I'd catch a word or a fragment here or there, but to be honest they could have discussed particle physics, choco cornets, or anything in between and I'd have missed 95% of it. Having said that, based on what I've seen Okawari so far lives up to, and has the potential to exceed, the first season of Minami-ke, although I'll have to wait for the subs to say if the dialogue is as good as its predecessor.

Nintendo Power

The first episode goes right into the OP, and the OP is well animated, catchy, and while the new character designs take a little getting used to, the animation quality looked good to me, equal to or better than its predecessor. Okawari is being done by Asread, the same studio that did Shuffle, but it's not obvious--there aren't the talking heads that Shuffle had, and while there's an onsen scene with some fanservice, we're not talking anything like the Asa-senpai wardrobe malfunction at the beach.

There's already a better first episode summary than I could write up at Subculture Anime Blog, so I'll just restrict my rambling to a list of pluses and minuses:

(+) It's Minami-ke. It keeps the same spirit and sense of humor as the first series, and it's good to see the cast again, even thought it's not like there's been a long wait since the first season. Honestly, I was about to drop the first season after episode 3 or so, since I was suffering from a Kana overdose, but the longer I watched it the more the cast grew on me and it ended up as one of my fall favorites.
(+) Animation quality. It takes a little adjusting to, but I think I like the character designs and animation better than the first season.
(+) Haruka-nee + onsen = why the hell didn't the first season's studio think of this? It's not rocket science, people!
(+) Ahoge in Motion. Chiaki's ahoge actually moves now, like Tenma's hair in Sukuran. Brilliant.
(+) OP and ED. They'll be finding their way into iTunes as soon as I post this.
(+) Snow. Maybe because I watched volume 1 of Kanon and I live in a city more likely to fall into the ocean than see snowfall, but it was cool seeing snow in the second half of the episode.
(+) Haruka-banchou showing no mercy at ping-pong, even against Chiaki.
(+) Fujioka's face when he sees Kana.
(-) Eyecatches at the CM break. Somehow it doesn't seem right without someone saying "Minami-ke!"
(-) Asread fails at gradient hair. Badly. Chiaki's hair is kind of gradient hairing to brown towards the bottom which just...looks weird. They need to watch Manabi Straight over and over until they learn how to do gradient hair right, then give it to the whole cast and not just Chiaki. Night Wizard had gradient hair down well too, now that I think about it...watch and learn, Asread.

Yes, I am way too lazy to screencap a whole episode myself.

Overall, Okawari exceeded my expectations--I'm also looking forward to more H2O (preview Engrish notwithstanding it didn't "rock my soul" but it was a solid first episode), and to seeing True Tears once it's subbed, but right now Okawari has pole position for the winter season for me.