Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

Gundam AGE Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – The Next Generation

November 1, 2011 2 comments

It’s difficult to just talk about a Gundam series absent any deeper context. As one of the two most venerable mecha franchises in anime history (the other being Macross), there were Gundam episodes coming out before I was even alive. And although Sunrise has been willing to effectively reboot the series on more than one occasion, there are certain tropes that always seem to apply to any show with “Gundam” in the title somewhere.

Gundam AGE is another reboot, with no acknowledged ties between it and any of the predecessor series beyond the bare minimum: the name Gundam for the hero’s “mobile suit,” the usual mecha designs, and the annoying spherical robot named Haru (see above). In fact, there are enough differences, at least in the opening episodes, that I feel an initial review is warranted, even though my pledge to cover every new show this season didn’t extend to kids’ series.
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Un-Go Episodes 1 and 2 – The Truth Will Out

Well, having taken a season break after wrapping up their lovely but ultimately flawed Gosick, it looks the animation studio Bones is ready to try their hand at another mystery series, this time set in a near future Japan. And like with Gosick, the mystery trappings of the show are just that: trappings. It’s clear that the heart of the show is elsewhere.

I suppose that’s a good thing, because if Un-Go was meant to be a mystery series, it fails horribly. Thus far the mysteries have been mostly predictable and easily solved (particularly in the second episode). The feeling of a just resolution that comes from seeing the guilty be caught and punished is also absent, for the guilty more or less get away with it. This show is not about crime solving because solving crime is about discovering the truth. This is show concerns itself with a more basic question: whether it is possible for the truth to win out in an age of mass media and government manipulation.
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Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing Episode 1 – Stalled Flight

October 20, 2011 1 comment

Last Exile is a famous and iconic anime series from the once venerable Gonzo Studios, which has struggled over the past half-decade to produce anything decent. But once upon a time, Gonzo was the map for cutting edge use of CG animation combined with traditional hand-drawn work, and Last Exile was the shining star of that portfolio. So when Gonzo announced they were finally doing a sequel series, set two years after the end of Last Exile, longtime anime fans immediately started salivating at the prospect.

Those fans would include yours truly: Last Exile was the first anime series I ever bought. While it probably doesn’t make my top ten list now, I still recognize it as a quality series which has stood the test of time. The only question was whether the new series could possibly live up to the standards set by the previous series. The answer, of course, is that it does not.
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Guilty Crown Episode 1 – The Future Starts with You

Funimation spent 2010 simulcasting every noitaminA show it could get its hands on, which gave us gems like Tatami Galaxy, Shiki, and Princess Jellyfish. This year, the company has been much more selective about its simulcast choices in general, including with the noitaminA block. It selected the high-concept sci-fi dystopia series with thinly veiled social commentary over the carefully crafted character drama in winter and spring, and didn’t even pick up the dystopia show in the summer. That last decision was wise, as No. 6 was the worst noitaminA show we’ve had in years, but Fractale and [C] were also far weaker than their less political counterparts.

Guilty Crown is the latest show set in a dystopian future; here Japan has been taken over by a shadowy multinational organization and a band of resistance fighters seeks to liberate the country. One would think that Funimation would still be a bit shy of this sort of series, given how their last picks turned out, but instead the company is doubling down on their pick, running ads on anime related websites about how Guilty Crown is “the most anticipated new series” of the season.

Given the show is vying with the swan song of one of the most iconic series of the past decade, and the lavishly produced prequel of the popular Fate/Stay Night, that was and is a rather grandiose claim, but it may well be true. The more amazing fact is that all that anticipation looks to be justified.
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Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere Episodes 1 and 2 – Dumbstruck

Thus far it’s been a very promising fall season. We’ve had great shows, good shows, decent shows, and shows that are perhaps on the way to faceplanting but are alright for now. What we haven’t had is anything that’s just plain awful. This is actually sort of disappointing to me as a reviewer, because writing fiercely negative reviews is one of the more fun parts of the job.

Well, I am disappointed no longer. I said yesterday that Sunrise was giving us three new shows this season, and this one, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, is the only one which isn’t an original series. Still, Sunrise thought so highly of the original light novel series that not only did they adapt it to the small screen, but they greenlit a thirteen episode sequel season before the first episode of this season even aired. They clearly have a lot of confidence in this property, and after seeing it, I have not the slightest idea as to why. The show is a complete trainwreck from beginning to end.
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Tiger & Bunny Episode 25 – Fighting to the End

September 17, 2011 2 comments

Well, I shouldn’t have been surprised that Tiger & Bunny pulled in the one loose plot thread from last episode and did something useful with it. After the heroes gather around the fallen Wild Tiger, Maverick and Rotwang show up and unleash a squad of H-01s on the heroes. The safety feature mentioned last episode, activiated at the last minute, is the only thing that saves the lives of the heroes.

Do I mind another obvious attempt at padding through an artificial threat resolved by an artificial solution? Not in the slightest, at least this time, as the animators blew what remained of their budget in a glorious hero on android brawl. Note to studios: If you’re going to stall for time, do it with enough style and we won’t mind.
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Tiger & Bunny Episode 24 – Courage under Fire

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

It seems that both bear and I have been frustrated by stalled narratives as of late. Tiger & Bunny isn’t stalled, per say, but it’s going a lot slower than it needs to be. The central fight of this episode could have been over in five minutes if the writers wanted it that way.

Instead, the show has Tiger and Barnaby start fighting before their time-delayed powers are ready again (and why did they charge in early in the first place, knowing they’d be comparatively helpless?) so the two play wack-a-mole with H-01 for a while. Wack-a-mole, for reference, isn’t nearly as much fun when you’re taken the part of the mole.
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