Archive for April, 2010

Alien Nine – Adolescent Blues

Posted in Alien Nine, Random Shit with tags on 04/30/2010 by Shinmaru

Alien Nine is a hell of a trip.

This four-episode OVA presents itself as a cheery slice-of-life series about three 12-year-old girls who travel around school on rollerblades catching aliens that are invading the planet for reasons that are never truly revealed but are vaguely hinted at. There are disturbingly dark underpinnings to the story, though; the anime uses the same cheery veneer — bright colors, simple character designs, bouncy music, etc. — to present scenes such as bonding among the girls, a cleaning/feeding ritual with their Borg partners (the Borg being aliens who attach to the heads of the girls and take part in a symbiotic relationship where the Borg protect the girls against the aliens in exchange for feeding off their sweat) and the brutal slaughter of various alien creatures.

It’s all quite disturbing, and purposefully so. But what the hell are these girls fighting for? (Major spoilers for Alien Nine within. Read at your own caution. Also, all my speculation is directed solely at the OVA, so I can only make sense of what was chosen to be included in it.)

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Giant Killing 4 – One Cog in the Machine (or FLOPPERS ARE SATAN)

Posted in Giant Killing with tags on 04/28/2010 by Shinmaru

Still definitely liking Giant Killing‘s approach to teamwork and structure. I’m now certain this series is aware of The Secret.

What really makes it is that while players like Gino and Tsubaki have elite skills, they’re not taking over games and dominating in an unrealistic manner. Even those with elite skills need to fill a role and have all their teammates fulfilling specific roles and executing to at least an adequate extent to have a chance at victory.

Even in the NBA, where elite players are certainly capable of winning games by themselves, a team-oriented nature takes hold. Look at the Miami Heat, recently eliminated from the NBA Playoffs by the Boston Celtics — that team is the superhuman Dwyane Wade and a bunch of garbage. Wade won game four essentially by himself (46 points, asserted himself everywhere he needed to be) and kept the Heat close in other games, but they lost four games to one because that team just blows and can’t execute at a proper level. Miami’s players did not fulfill the needed roles. There are maybe a dozen players in NBA history (and that is debatable) who were capable of carrying a team to a title when surrounded by a decent-to-solid team.

Everyone else is prey to The Secret.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 54 – The Right Way to Kick Ass

Posted in Fullmetal Alchemist with tags on 04/26/2010 by Shinmaru

Unlike with the previous episode, it’s a bit tough — at least for me — to get behind the execution (pun not intended) of the storyline. In theory, Envy’s jealousy should be a heartrending moment, but at this point, who can muster even a scrap of sympathy for that little wretch?

“Aww, he started a horrific war and contributed to the deaths of untold amounts of humans because he was jealous of them! The poor little guy! Hug time!” Yuck, no, ick, get away.

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Durarara!! 15 – The Measure of Strength

Posted in Durarara!! with tags on 04/24/2010 by Shinmaru

Shuji Niekawa’s search for strength in Ikebukuro is interesting. He wants to write a magazine article about the strongest person in the city, but right from the start he seems to get it wrong because his approach is all out of whack.

For one thing, the word “strength” itself is so vague. There are so many different kinds of strength — can one really be placed on top of another so easily? Shuji narrows his search to focus on physical strength and determines (through his own observation and through interviews) that Shizuo is the strongest person in Ikebukuro. Certainly seems like a good choice at first glance. When Shizuo lets loose, which is often, he is capable of unleashing holy hell upon anyone in his way. Being on the opposite side of a pissed-off Shizuo is a frightening experience. Outside of, perhaps, Simon, nobody in Ikebukuro seems to be a match for Shizuo from a physical standpoint.

But is he the strongest around?

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Diary of an Anime Lived: Kamina Is My Bro

Posted in RahXephon, Serious Business with tags on 04/22/2010 by Shinmaru

Sorry, probably not the Kamina who comes to mind for most of you. :p

(This post is part of the Diary of an Anime Lived series.)

RahXephon is a series with the right content that I viewed at the right time in my life. I was still a relative newbie to anime back in 2004 and was still discovering how mature and complex some series could be; Cowboy Bebop — and, to a lesser extent, Trigun — had blown my mind, but RahXephon has stuck with me for six years after my first watch despite it being a notoriously difficult series to crack. And although I love many aspects of the series, it is series protagonist Ayato Kamina who struck the deepest chord within me, and for reasons I haven’t seen elaborated upon much in anything I have read about the series. (Although if someone can point me in the direction of some similar posts after reading this one, I’d definitely appreciate it!)

(Minor spoilers for RahXephon within this post, although there is nothing huge, storywise.)

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Giant Killing – Learning The Secret (ep3 post)

Posted in Giant Killing with tags on 04/21/2010 by Shinmaru

One of the cornerstones of Bill Simmons’ Book of Basketball is “The Secret” — namely, winning in basketball has nothing to do with basketball itself.

What the hell does this mean? Well, any team can have talent — even the worst teams in the NBA have someone of worth, or else they’d never win any games. But there are a ton of teams with great talent that never seem to get over the hump and win a championship. (The 2000 Portland Trail Blazers, the 2002 Sacramento Kings, the Seattle Supersonics of the mid-’90s, the Utah Jazz teams of the late ’90s, etc.) That is because pure talent cannot win on its own: It comes down to how the individuals mesh as a whole; how they understand, accept and execute their specific roles on the team. How well they can squelch their egos and greed and contribute to victory.

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Robot Carnival – The Strong Sound of Silence

Posted in Random Shit, Robot Carnival with tags on 04/20/2010 by Shinmaru

I recently started re-reading Justin Sevakis’ Buried Treasure columns and decided I wanted to start watching the titles he recommends. I’ve seen a decent number of older series/movies, but unlike with movies — my other main passion — I don’t really have a grounding in anime history. The first I started with is also the title Sevakis used to kick off his column — the 1987 anthology movie Robot Carnival.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – 53

Posted in Fullmetal Alchemist with tags on 04/19/2010 by Shinmaru

How hot are the flames of revenge? Hot enough to boil a homunculus’ eyes and burn his tongue out. Eesh.

There is no doubt that Mustang brings the pain to Envy in a swift, brutal matter — it’s almost unfair, actually, and I might be inclined to feel some pity for Envy if he weren’t such an enormous asshole. However, while Mustang’s Lust barbeque 34 episodes back (has it really been that long??) sent many a fan — including myself — into hysterics at his badassery, there was also a coldness to his attack that is taken to a further extreme here.

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Durarara!! – 14

Posted in Durarara!! with tags on 04/17/2010 by Shinmaru

This episode is interesting, and not so interesting at the same time — slowly paced, reveals quite a bit of information and is actually rather funny, mostly due to what a (purposefully) goofy character Shingen is. Normally, Info Dumping Episodes are incredibly irritating because despite a wealth of information being revealed, the episodes themselves are usually rather lazy; however, though this episode toes the line between interesting and lazy, it at least has enough going for it to not be too horrible.

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Giant Killing – 2

Posted in Giant Killing with tags on 04/14/2010 by Shinmaru

While Giant Killing continues building a head of steam, it is the little things that will probably carry me through episodes. And that’s not a disparaging comment at all, because the little things are part of what make sports more fun and not so super serious. (Even though we sports fans treat it like Serious Business much of the time!)

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