A recent anime with noteworthy language that comes to mind is last season's Uchoten Kazoku/The Eccentric Family. It's focused on family of Tanuki living in Kyoto and there's a lot of interesting dialogue between the characters. Some is just fun comedy, like the exchanges between the idiot Ebisugawa brothers, but there's also some interesting discussions (one episode involves a human character who wants to eat a tanuki discussing his philosophy of, well, eating with main character Yasaburou, a tanuki whose father was boiled in a hot pot. The scene is a lot calmer and more reasoned than you'd expect from that description). I thought it was a really fun series all around with a great cast of characters, I'd definitely recommend it. It's based on a novel and the same author had a previous novel, Tatami Galaxy, adapted into an anime that I haven't gotten around to watching yet myself but I'm told it's apparently pretty dialogue driven as well.
Comparative Toons & Anime: What Are You Watching?
Posted Oct 29, 2013 @ 6:16 AM
I haven't heard of Uchoten Kazoku. I'll have to look for it. Thanks for the rec.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes has been on my to-watch list ever since I noticed that it's one of the rare shows to earn a perfect 10 at The Nihon Review. But seeing how I have commitment issues with shows longer than 26 episodes, I don't know when/if I'll get to it. I'm definitely leaving it on the list, though.
Part of why I was thinking about anime dialogue is because, in a moment of CLAMP nostalgia, I started re-watching X. Some of the dialogue is just awful. (I don't remember it being this awful.) And the voice acting is subpar, too. It's partly the animation's fault--the mouth movements are slow, so the actors have to talk slowly--but really, it's just badly written. And repetitive: in early episodes, every fifth word is KAMUI! I haven't been this annoyed by word repetition since Sands of Destruction, where the bear ends every sentence with Kuma.
It occurred to me later that [C]: Control has some decent discussions in early episodes, and I like it's final line: "I should've smiled."
Posted Nov 1, 2013 @ 1:44 AM
Umineko no Naku Koro ni (or Umineko: When They Cry, if you prefer the official mangled translation title), a horror/suspense/murder mystery title based on a video game by 7th Expansion, the same folks who gave us Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. The premise is that a wealthy family have gathered on their isolated family island to find out who Grandpa intends to make his heir, and the first person to figure out a cryptic puzzle before midnight will be the heir. Unfortunately the stick in this "carrot and stick" scenario is that people are going to start getting killed, and everyone dies if there's no winner by midnight. But wait, there's more!
And then there's an abundance of problems that any show might have: Bad dialog, off-model animation, inappropriate humor ruining the mood, breaking of the fourth wall. And ham acting. This is an entire cast trying to out-ham each other. Even the inanimate objects and the soundtrack are hamming it up.
And the best part is that the series ends at about the halfway point, so that they'd have to do another one to finish the story as told in other media.
So why watch the show? Snark value. Invite some friends over and make an MST3K-style day of it.
Posted Nov 8, 2013 @ 6:30 PM
Finished X. It’s about two warring magic angel factions, the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth, and their epic battle to embrace destiny and decide the fate of the world or...something generic like that. Ultimately, I was re-watching for the classic CLAMP iconography, but it was hard to ignore the show’s many flaws. When I first watched it years ago, I never noticed that the middle dozen episodes are a complete stall before the climactic battle, and that the show constantly recaps itself, repeating dialogue word for word. It could be 5 eps shorter, if not more, just from removing repeat conversations. The dialogue is painful anyway, as mentioned. (Show: "Can you feel the Earth's pain?!?" Me: "After that crappy line, yes.") I also forgot about the homoeroticism--it's so overt it barely qualifies as subtext (there’s face-licking).
The artwork by CLAMP is beautiful, though—the dream sequences are breathtaking and a reminder of how X set the standard for angel imagery. And also, tall guys in long black coats. (The dream sequences usually contain little or no dialogue, too, which not coincidentally only makes them better.)
I've moved on now to BGCT 2040, another old...ahem, I mean "classic" cyberpunk show on Funimation.
Posted Nov 9, 2013 @ 2:07 AM
The X manga was abandoned in 1997 and never finished, so the writers had to make a lot of it up to pad out the anime.
Anyone planning to attend the inaugural Otakon Vegas? I've been thinking about it but now I'm seriously considering going because they got Nobuhiro Watsuki of Kenshin fame. If you are drop me a PM.
Posted Dec 1, 2013 @ 4:54 PM
I thought they only had to invent X’s ending because the manga wasn't finished. Guess there wasn’t enough written regardless.
Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Even better: I respect it. The story is classical cyberpunk about a group of female vigilantes who put on mech suits and fight androids, but it’s thematically so much richer than that. Even better: it’s feminist. Ideas such as cultural anxiety over women entering the workforce and sexual harassment are explored, but it also has something to say about underestimating women’s ambition. And there are a lot of good conversations here—many even pass the Bechdel test. The characters talk like people too, not just symbols or stereotypes. It was a reminder of how many modern anime shortcut female characters to “strong” only by giving them tsundere aggression or military or competitive rank. Or a magic sword.
Really, it was so refreshing to encounter an anime about grownups, working professionals, where women actually find joy in using their minds and bodies. I was also impressed that, with the exception of one family connection, the characters weren’t destiny-ed into their roles—they chose to be crime fighters and had to actually work towards their goals. By comparison, X, with all its epically epic-ness and symbolism, seems to be about little more than good vs evil.
BGCT 2040 isn’t about a war of the sexes, though. It develops relationships between a dozen characters including men. (And androids. And a motorcycle.) There are also several believable romances. Tensions and antagonisms abound, but there’s much less angst than you’d expect, and so much more humor. The witty banter is genuinely funny for once. Yeah, okay, sometimes the show is unintentionally funny. I had a hysterical laughing fit during one episode when Tokyo’s killer android problem was interrupted by a killer monster problem. Oh, Tokyo. The 80’s fashions are pretty laughable, too—the mech suits have shoulder pads, for chrissake.
Oh! Did I not mention that characters dress like bad 80’s music videos? And there’s bad 80’s singing because one character continues the glorious hideous tradition of being a pop singer by day, crime fighter by night? Yes, this happens. Red Garden could be considered a successor of BGCT 2040, come to think of it. They’re both about groups of women choosing to fight…and sometimes singing. The singing is less out of place in BGCT 2040, of course.
Though it’s from 1997, the show borrows a lot from the 80s—its cyberpunk themes and references are lifted wholly from Blade Runner; the monster imagery is out of Nausicaa—and it unfortunately looks really dated. I think it aired around the same time as Cowboy Bebop and Serial Experiments Lain, but it looks older than both. BGCT 2040 shares some technological and scifi aspects with those two shows, btw, as well as with Heat Guy J.
BGCT 2040 has flaws of course, one of them being a sour moment of gay panic. This is the second time I’ve encountered a show that interrupts its progressive commentary on women with homophobia, but I can’t recall the other show. Le Chevalier D’Eon maybe...
Edited by weyrbunny, Dec 1, 2013 @ 5:08 PM.
Posted Dec 1, 2013 @ 10:23 PM
Not sure if you're aware but the original Bubblegum Crisis is from 1987. Tokyo 2040 is a reimagined/update for the 90s. Plus assorted other spinoffs, prequels, sequels.
I read the first manga volume of Le Chevalier D’Eon and didn't continue because I didn't like the artwork, but the really fascinating part of the story is that it's based on an actual historical cross-dressing Chevalier.
Watsuki has cancelled out of Otakon. Poo.
Posted Dec 4, 2013 @ 6:54 PM
The show description mentioned that BGCT 2040 was a remake, but I’ve never seen the original. The 2040 story references it too: there’s a point of meaningful character conflict and development when the Knight Sabers (the vigilantes) discover that there was an earlier iteration of the group, and that they failed.
You’re suggesting though that BGCT 2040 inherited its 80's fashion and music video montage styles from the earlier show? Makes sense. But I still expect updates to look, you know, updated.
I remember the Le Chevalier D’Eon anime graphics being really, really flat. So flat, I called them “educational coloring-book” when I posted. But the story and storytelling definitely make the anime worth sticking with--it's much better than the similar Black Butler, for instance. The mystery and political intrigue are engaging too, and the commentary on gender politics is a rarity. The zombies, I’m guessing, are not historically accurate, though. :-)
ETA: PIVOT, the hipster news channel, has been airing [C]: Control on the weekends. It's always nice to discover anime in unusual places on the dial.
Edited by weyrbunny, Dec 4, 2013 @ 7:00 PM.
Posted Dec 6, 2013 @ 2:48 AM
They didn't give a scale for "how did you do" on that time-waster. For the record, I got all of the Easy ones except #4, the first four Mediums, and Whodat #1, 2, 4, and 5. Because I have no life, apparently.
I notice that the Easy column is heavy on characters from [as] and CN shows.
Edited by Sandman87, Dec 6, 2013 @ 2:58 AM.
Posted Dec 8, 2013 @ 3:46 PM
Pssst; Gatchaman CROWDS has been picked up for a second season. Pass it on!
Posted Jan 16, 2014 @ 10:01 PM
My holiday viewing consisted of Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and From Up on Poppy Hill. (It sure is a good thing that my mom likes anime.)
Wolf Children is sublime—such a delicate portrait of parenthood. I think it’s the best (new) film I’ve seen in the last year, anime or otherwise. I was kinda stunned in a few scenes by how emotionally mature it managed to be, and I think philosophically Wolf Children is about chasing after knowledge. There’s a reference to the Socratic paradox— “I know one thing: that I know nothing”—and thematically the characters do engage with this idea. I also really enjoyed the commentary on nature conservation—I realized afterward that it builds a subtle portrait of climate change due to global warming (too much rain). At the same time, water consistently symbolizes/accompanies rebirth. So it’s a bittersweet story about progression and change more than anything, with a bit of Beauty and the Beast intertwined. Much like Summer Wars and The Girl Who...—all made by Mamoru Hosoda and his team—I wanted the story to go on and on. And on.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is still about chasing after love and your future, and I still loved everything about it. (It’s my favorite of the Hosoda films.) I noticed more darkness, more depth this rewatch and the many clues pointing to a dystopian future—mentions of famine, war, no rivers, no open sky, and no people. Also, Chiaki was combative when he arrived—further evidence of the world he’s from—even though he seeks beauty (the painting). It was interesting then to realize how more than just the main character changed towards love. I also noticed that the universe (time?) seemed to repeatedly attempt course-correction through death—this only added to my sense that dystopia was inevitable. Oh, and I finally remembered to look up the film’s painting—White Plum and Two Camellias—and…it’s made up. According to the Interwebs though, plum blossoms symbolize Spring or the transition of Winter to Spring and camellias symbolize love, longing, or the transitory nature of life (this might be Chinese, not Japanese). Both are thematically fitting, regardless, and ultimately one more layer of excellence in the film.
From Up on Poppy Hill then was…solid, well-made, just fine. Okay, it was really average. And for a Miyazaki film, even one directed by the junior, average doesn’t cut it. Tales of Earthsea was underdeveloped, but it was at least visually exciting. Poppy Hill just felt like the least creative Studio Ghibli film I’d seen in decades. (It also suffers particularly when watched in proximity to Wolf Children or The Girl Who…) Also, Whisper of the Heart already covered the same themes more touchingly. It’s been 20 yrs since Whisper and not many have seen it, so Poppy Hill’s ideas might seem fresher to others. Anyhoo, I was underwhelmed by it, though my mother enjoyed its portrait of the 1960s well-enough. Maybe my opinion will improve when/if I rewatch it in 5 yrs, like it did for Howl’s Moving Castle.
BTW, the Jan. 12th episode of The Simpsons paid tribute to Miyazaki. Even that brief clip made me want to rewatch all of his films.
Posted Jan 17, 2014 @ 11:04 AM
Just finished season 1 of Attack on Titan, and while it started slowly, the anime really got me hooked by the end. I just finished catching up to the manga, and it's still a total mindfuck. It's dark, confusing, and different from most of the anime I used to watch. Really violent too. You really have to dig in to this series to catch what is really going on, or else you'll get lost fairly quickly. All the info is there, but I'll admit, I didn't catch everything on the first go round.
I'll skip a week or three, and then binge watch Naruto Shippuuden two or three episodes in a sitting. I'm far too invested to stop watching now.
Archer, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers, and Chozen round out the cartoons I watch, it those even count. All are hilarious to me in their own special way, H. Jon Benjamin continues to be my favorite voice actor ever.
Posted Jan 17, 2014 @ 12:23 PM
I've just been turned on to a pair of crazy-ass shows! First: Attack on Titan (as seen above). Humanity (circa the 1600s-1700s, judging by the swords & cannons) is attacked by giants that eat humans for breakfast--literally. The humans fight back with high-flying, death-defying grapnel-and-pulley systems that Batman himself would be proud of. Ehren, Our Hero (although his gal-pal Mikasa is actually tougher) fights to avenge his mother and the thousands of others who have been killed in the never-ending war. Can he do it? Tune in and find out! Warning: graphic violence, blood & gore. Not for kids!
Second: Kill la Kill. A super-ecchi classroom comedy/Fight Club Gone Wild. Special uniforms give students superpowers, but there are only so many of those uniforms to go around. Enter Ryuuko, a transfer student with a strange weapon and a bad attitude. Can she beat the Big Bitch on Campus, Student President Satsuki? Tune in and find out! Warning: Nudity, violence, sexy sailor suits and naughty talk (mostly by Mako). NSFW! [But damn, it's awesome! :D]
Edited by stekkin, Jan 19, 2014 @ 10:16 AM.
Posted Jan 25, 2014 @ 5:39 PM
I’ve gradually been watching the meta-tastic comedy Okami-san and her Seven Companions. Well, okay, I’ve been folding laundry and doing chores, but as background noise, it’s pretty good. The best part is the narrator’s sarcastic running commentary—there’s nothing she can’t insult, even the show’s writers. And it takes swipes at other anime like Black Butler, Prince of Tennis and Soul Eater, to list a few. It’s not as fourth-wall meta as Excel Saga--which didn’t just insult its creators, it blew up its director, IIRC--nor is it as clever as Ouran HSHC or even B Gata H Kei. It’s also not as funny compared to those three. And it doesn’t bear close scrutiny, because when you stop folding laundry you notice things like a he-said, she-said assault backstory (date-rape?) that is played off as a just-kidding mind game that’s only there to prop up a third (male) character. Just…no.
I seem to be backing my way into not recommending Okami-san, except that I did chuckle during multiple episodes. It just suffers if you think about it, I guess. So, multitasking is the way to go.
Posted Mar 3, 2014 @ 11:47 AM
I’ve noticed a couple anime lists on non-anime sites lately—figured I would share them.
IGN has updated their Top 25 Greatest Anime Characters list. It’s an OK mix of old and new characters, but it strikes me as kinda safe, too mainstream, really. I give them points for including Lain from Serial Experiments Lain, though. What’s interesting is that there seems to be a shift away from heroes, with more villains and supporting characters now than in the 2009 version. A side-effect of living in the age of anti-heroes, I suppose. (Pop-culturally, that is.)
To promote The Wind Rises, EW has listed Hayao Miyazaki's 16 Best Creations. I agree with what’s included, but I’d radically reorder it. Howl’s castle at #2? No. Nausicaa's toxic jungle or the Nightwalker from Princess Mononoke would be my top choices.
If you’ve got more time to kill, there’s also IGN’s Top 25 Animated Series for Adults. Adult Swim would be proud.
Posted Mar 3, 2014 @ 5:19 PM
Shinji in the no. 1 slot? No. I don't care that he wasn't superhuman and that his fraility was supposed to be an appeal factor . . . he was a whiny little wuss. And what sort of "best of" list doesn't have Monkey D. Luffy?