Contributing writer for The Artifice.
3D Films: The future of cinema, or a long-standing novelty act?
3D films have been dropping and out of vogue since the 1950’s and have, in actuality, been experimented with prior to even then. But are 3D films really a viable mainstream form of film making, or are they simple a novelty act that evolves with each new era of moviegoers? This article takes us through the history of the art form and discusses how successful 3D films and 3D elements actually are in comparison to their 2D bretheren.
A Crunchyroll of the Dice: Love Live! vs. Sword Art Online
There are countless anime series out there, and it can sometimes be hard to decide which ones to try and which ones not to. On top of that, there are always going to be anime that you know are supposed to be good, but that you just aren’t sure whether or not to give time to. This week, I embraced both two series that fit into that category for me, and did so completely by accident.
In order to make use of my Crunchyroll membership, I decided that it was time to try some new shows. To do this, I set myself some simple rules: I would pick two shows completely at random, if the series picked have more than one season then I start with season, and I make a real effort to watch the first episode of both, regardless of what series I get. The aim was to them post my thoughts on both shows, then set them in a face-to-face battle over multiple categories to decide which one I preferred.
In my first foray into taking a ‘Crunchyroll of the dice’, the two random series turned out to be ones that I knew of, but had intentionally avoided for various reasons: Love Live! School Idol Project and Sword Art Online. Did either win me over? Which did I prefer? Read on, and find out!
My Favourite Digimon Moments
With the release of Digimon Adventure Tri, the Digimon franchise has begun to pick up some steam again. While the quality of this new run has been high, the previous seasons had more than their fair share of high quality moments.
Herein, we look at a small handful of Digimon’s best moments from Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure Zero Two, Digimon Tamers and Digimon Adventure Tri. By not shying away from topics that are not commonly associated with Western children’s shows, we are able to see the characters develop through some tough moments, both physically and emotionally.
Tailmon and Wizarmon’s relationship in the first two seasons gave us a truly heartbreaking moment in the first series of the franchise, then upped ante to revisit the story again in the second. When season three rolled around, we were thrown into a far ahrsher reality where bonds were tested (such as in the case of Ruki and Remamon) and evil acts did not always lead to an easy redemption. Now, with the original cast back together for Adventure Tri, the characters are older, and their burden is heavier, with the possibility of death being an obstacle to overcome.
These are among my favourite moments in a wonderful franchise. What are yours?
Anime Review: Nisekoi Season 2
Where the first season of Nisekoi succeeded in taking an unoriginal set up and creating an endearingly sweet comedy around it, the second season was tasked with providing an adequate follow-up. One problem with following a popular show is the possibility of having to make a choice between risking stagnation by continuing on the same line or switching things up a bit and risking alienation instead. Nisekoi season two takes a strange middle ground on this by playing things out in much the same way that it always has while attempting to add new elements to the already strong mix.
New characters abound with three new faces joining up with the main cast, but the result of this is rather mixed. Given that the episode count for this season is almost half that of the first season, the newbies taking centre stage (as they should) for their introductions should ideally have been done to further the main storyline, but instead we end up with some detours and distractions from the overall plot. That said, the series continues to provide some good humour, and Hana, the workaholic mother of leading lady Chitoge is a fantastic addition to the cast. The voice cast puts in another stellar performance and both Raku and Chitoge are given some growth by the season’s end, meaning things end on a high.
With the mix of pros and cons though, how does the series compare to the first?
Anime that deserved another season
There are many reasons that different anime series succeed or fail, and this can have a great bearing on whether we get to see more than one season of each show. For every run-away success, and every hit that you just can’t see the appeal of, you can guarantee that there will be at least one series that you love even though it was ratings failure. The problem then becomes that you would just love to see a second or third season, but it never materializes.
Successes such as Spice and Wolf were certainly more than worthy of another run, but with the source material having finished, there can be little hope now of the world being revisited. Then of course, there’s those older series such Gunsmith Cats that never really had a fair shake of the stick to begin with but had material that was perfectly suitable for adaption.
Meanwhile, the current market is full of lesser known series. Dogs: Bullets and Carnage saw an anime adaption of its original four one shots, but the ever growing storyline has yet to appear outside the manga. By now, it would be natural to doubt that we’ll see the rest reach the screen. Traversely, there is still hope for some others. D-Frag! Continues its popular madcap ways in ‘Monthly Comic Alive’ and the recent OVA could well be a hint at a further run.
But which shows did you think deserved more time on screen?
Anime Review: Persona 4 - The Animation
The phrase ‘anime adaption of a video game’ has had a checkered past. Given how loved Persona 4 is, there was every possibility that the anime would fail to live up to the hype at all, if for no other reason than that comparisons between media will by nature split fans. Thankfully, the series was run by AIC ASTA who brought us the phenomenal Ah! My Goddess and classic Tenchi Universe series. The pressure of this pedigree appears to have pushed the team into making something far better than it could realistically have been expected to be.
The large but colourful and well-rounded cast ensure that the story is never without suitable foils to play off, and in turn the animation has a certain slickness to it that lends itself to this type of tale and shines in particular in the well-paced action scenes. For the most part, the series presents itself as a serious (and more than a little dark) action series, but throws in some comedy at suitable times to lighten the mood. In fact, for a short period, the series jumps into comedy overdrive and focuses on this side of the story for a few episodes before leaping headlong back into the main story.
Of course, the series does have one lingering problem. The lead character is more than a little bland. In the games, he is a silent character and is no doubt designed as such to help the player immerse themselves in the world. Here though, he struggles to stand out against his far more interesting colleagues and, without the interactive element, this remains a constant throughout the 26 episodes. Don’t let that put you off though! The overall quality of the show ensure that this is a thoroughly enjoyable adaption and more than worthy of the Persona 4 name!
Anime Review: Our Home's Fox Deity
Our Home’s Fox Deity, also known as Wagaya No Oinari-Sama, is a genre-bent anime based on a series of light novels by Jin Shibamura. The plot is fairly standard (a family is plagued by youkai and so release the family guardian spirit to protect themselves, but said spirit has to find a way to fit in with modern society), but don’t let that fool you. While far from perfect, Our Home’s Fox Deity goes out of its way to differentiate itself from other shows with similar set ups.
Combining elements of shōnen action, a small degree of harem-esque set-up, a smidgen of horror (including some beautifully done werewolf transformations later in the series) and boasting a fair few slice of life tendencies, it’s no wonder that the show is commonly described as not knowing what it wants to be. Rather than come across as directionless however, the genre-bending pays off thanks to a decent cast that includes a nice variety of spirits: the title fox deity Kuu switches between male, female and fox form throughout the series (it’s been locked up so long that it doesn’t remember what gender it was) and works as a fine lead. Meanwhile, Ebisu (the god of commerce) throws out some wonderful comedic moments and Daigoro the fox child is absolutely adorable. The humans, while less interesting, are not without their charms either. Misaki Sakura, the potential love interest of the elder brother in the plagued family, is an absolute hoot when she lets her paranoid mind run away with her.
On the downside, the lack of pulling in one sure fire direction will no doubt be harder to stomach for some viewers, and it is undeniable that some characters have been given far less depth than others. In truth though, these are minor issues. The show may not be to everyones tastes as a complete package, but it can safely say that it has a little something for most. It’s simple, uncomplicated fun.
Plus, any show that has two bath house episodes and avoids devolving into a mass of fan service gags (one is a ghost story and the other a comedy mystery) has got to be worth a look-in!
Manga that never became an Anime
Art is subjective, and as such you could theoretically ask 100 people what their favourite song/painting/book/film etc. is and get 100 different answers. Being art forms themselves, the same can be said of anime and manga. One of the things that make them so enjoyable as art forms though, is the way they interact: manga, especially popular manga, is often adapted into an anime, giving fans the opportunity to watch their favourite characters and screen brought to life in full-blown, animated glory.
Now, several things affect whether a manga is adapted into an anime: a suitably large fan base is a positive, the reputation and connections of the mangaka, merchandising possibilities, current market mood, potential controversies, the pacing of the story arcs … all these things can affect the chances of a series moving from the page to the screen. How each of these things is perceived in relation to the series is then of course affected to different degrees by the subjective view of those in charge of the decisions as to which series get adapted.
The result of this is that you will likely find at least one manga series that you would absolutely love to see get the anime treatment, but it just doesn’t. But which series fit this for you? Perhaps you wanted a full-on Shōnen assault from the time travellers of Psyren? Maybe Masamune Shirow’s Orion tickles your fancy more than a new Appleseed? Does the realistic Yuri world of Octave appeal or do you prefer your romance to have a gender bent Shōjo feel like W Juliet? With a wealth of series out there, you just know that there’s something in your collection that somehow missed the animation boat.
Anime Review: K Project
K, also known as K Project, is an anime that clearly places some importance on style. Utilising a colour palette that seamlessly mixes the muted colours of Mardock Scramble with the bright tones of modern features like Summer Wars, it succeeds in creating a distinctive look of its own. Thrown in some consistently smooth animation and some well-placed visual effects and you have a series that is remarkably beautiful to watch.
Of course, when a series places too much focus on style, there is always the risk that the balance will become skewed and any potential substance will be lost. Thankfully, K manages to avoid this pitfall by weaving an interesting story that not only steps into the territory of world building, but also provides some surprisingly well rounded characters. The perfect example of the latter being the catgirl Neko: one look at the end credits and you’d be forgiven for thinking that she’s nothing more than the token cutesy-fanservice-character. As the series progresses however, you learn that she is genuinely quite sweet and that her powers are not entirely what they seem.
That’s not to say that K is perfect of course. No matter how cool the characters may be, it’s hard to look at them and not see other, better known characters. In all likelihood, you’ll find yourself watching the opening credits and thinking ‘Isn’t that Kanda from D.Gray-Man?’ or ‘Did I just spot Shizuo from Durarara?’ While a lack of originality in character design is a relatively minor gripe, far more umbrage could well be taken with the conclusion of the series. Throughout the show, you find little plot devices and backstories that you just wish were explored a little more than they were, but you let them slide because you expect everything to tie up in a big finale. Unfortunately, what you’re left with is a scenario where some things reach a satisfactory conclusion, but other points are left unsatisfactorily open.
Now, it’s worth noting that K is not just a single season anime. There are a plethora of light novels and manga out there, a sequel movie has been released and second season is on the way. When you take that into account, it becomes far easier to forgive the series’ failings in ending the story. With that in mind, K becomes something that, while not perfect, is well worth investing your time in.
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