Category: film and animation

Animated Opinions (on New 2013 Anime)

I’ve always been rather hit or miss about following new anime each season. Even with a Crunchyroll subscription, I’ll go one season following several new shows, or at least giving several new shows a chance, then go a season without watching a single thing. I hesitate to call this a “busy” season, since what counts as “busy” for me is light compared to the more serious fans out there, but I am watching a few things so I figured I would share my impressions of the handful of shows I’ve checked out. (Oh, and note that I’m only covering new shows here, so this is in addition to other things I’m watching, i.e.¬†Fist of the North Star and my film backlog).…

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Wired Theology: Godhood in Serial Experiments Lain

I mentioned last week that one thing I like about¬†serial experiments lain is how many ideas it incorporates, or at least references, throughout the show. Most of these relate to technology and man’s relationship with technology, but since a major element of the plot involves a (self-proclaimed) god, it does touch on a couple theological issues as well. Since the show itself doesn’t delve into these very deeply, though, I thought I’d put together a few thoughts about what it does say.

When Lain first meets Eiri Masami, he points out that a god cannot be a god without believers. I’ve heard that this idea is a relatively common trope in fantasy and science fiction, but I find it very odd. After all, in the Christian theology I’m familiar with, the exact opposite is the case. God, as the Uncaused Cause, does not need anything outside Himself; rather, it is Creation that needs Him, and Scripture often mocks man-made idols (e.g., Wisdom 13:10, “Unhappy are they[…] who have called gods the works of the hands of men”).

That’s a rather weak god who needs to have worshippers, and Lain (or someone else?) exploits that by destroying Eiri’s believers.…

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Serial Experiments Lain on Glorious Blu-Ray

As I mentioned in the second Anime Autobiography post, serial experiments lain is, by far, my favourite anime, and the show that really made me into an anime fan. So, when Funimation finally, two years after licensing it, released it on glorious blu-ray I felt obligated to pre-order it.

Now, I’ll focus on this specific release rather than the series itself for this post, but I will say that what I love about lain is the show’s ambition. Writer Konaka Chiaki and his co-creators really packed a lot of ideas into this show, and the result is a series dense with information. There’s a good deal of exposition and a few infodumps, and though the generally slow pacing keeps this from getting totally out of hand, it is fair to use one of the episode titles, “infornography,” to describe this show’s approach to storytelling. If you want to know a little more about the show itself, I’d recommend reading Lawrence Eng’s short review (his site, “thought experiments lain,” is also a great resource for information on the show’s many allusions and plot points).…

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The Anti-Waterworks – My (Not So) Emotional Reactions to Fiction

Last week, Charles over at Beneath the Tangles asked “What scenes from an anime or which series have evoked a powerful (and perhaps unexpected) response within you? Why?” It’s an interesting question, but I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head. So I thought about it some more later in the day, and found that even if I broaden the question’s scope from anime to media in general I still couldn’t come up with much.

I can’t think of any fictional work that’s moved me in the sense of changing the way I think or behave, at least not in any way discernible to me. As for a simply emotional response, I’ve never been an emotional person; I’ve never cried over a novel or film, and never really get worked up over real-life events, either. During an election, for instance, my father commented that he wished he had my stoicism. Even if we broaden the question further still to non-fiction, the only such work to effect an almost-immediately discernible change in me is Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno.

After some reflection, though, I can name a small handful of works that, even if they didn’t move me to tears, did provoke a fairly strong emotion, whether that be sadness, fear, or just a great sense of satisfaction.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Bambi

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: The Three Caballeros

After a couple films in a row that I wasn’t really familiar with, we make it to a film I’ve seen many, many times with Bambi.

My first impression is that this film is beautiful. It’s one of the best-looking animated works I’ve ever seen. I’ve mentioned that some of the previous films‘ backgrounds are soft and reminiscent of watercolours, and that’s the case here, as well, but Bambi has probably the most elaborate yet. The character animation is, needless to say, fluid throughout, and I imagine it took a lot of work to get such a variety of animals to all look right. The animation doesn’t go into any of the weird, experimental stuff I usually like; the closest it comes to something like “Pink Elephants” is in Bambi’s fight with a rival deer near the end. However, it does remind me of Fantasia‘s Tchaikovsky segment with the lush colours and use of lighting, so I would consider this as a culmination of everything the studio had been working towards so far in animation technique.…

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Fate/Zero on Glorious Blu-Ray: The Second Set

Just today, I finished rewatching the second season of Fate/Zero on the recently-release blu-ray box set. Since I’ve reviewed the full series as well as the first box set, I’ll go ahead and give my thoughts on this second set as well. Most of what I said about the first set will also apply to the second, so I’ll focus on the things that are different, including a few disappointments.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: The Three Caballeros

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Fantasia

The Three Caballeros is another of the few Disney films on my list that I haven’t seen before, so I didn’t really know what to expect going in. What I knew of the premise, Donald Duck getting a tour of Latin America, didn’t sound especially promising, and the first part of the film gave me little hope, but a strong second half made the experience a pleasant surprise.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Fantasia

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Dumbo

I’m fairly, but not entirely, sure I saw Fantasia as a child; however, I have almost no recollection of it, so going into this film I had very little idea of what to expect. Having seen it now, it’s easily my favourite Disney film yet, which shouldn’t surprise those who’ve read my thoughts on animation in general because Fantasia is easily Disney’s most experimental work outside of Dumbo‘s pink elephants. Its seven shorts, each introduced by a live-action presenter with the whole film bookended by an orchestra setting up, are set to classical music and each intended to complement that music. They vary wildly in style, from abstract to fairly traditional. They also vary in how much they draw in one’s interest, and the film may have benefited from cutting out one or two.…

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Fated for Mediocrity: the Fate/Stay Night Anime

After finishing the excellent Fate/Zero anime adaptation, I decided to revisit Fate/Stay Night, the anime version, which I hadn’t seen in several years (before you visual novel people jump on me, I’m in the process of playing the VN and am a few hours into it). Though the show does have a few defenders, I’ve found that it’s much maligned by fans of the original. Though these critics often overstate their case, the show as a whole is a mediocre execution of a brilliant premise.

Starting on the technical side, the show was produced by the less-than-prestigious Studio Deen, and their work here comes out to merely competent. Most of the animation looks alright; the fights generally look decent, despite some still frames and pan-and-scan, especially in the climax. I have no complaints for the bulk of the show, but occasionally they try something odd. For example, they use split-screens several times, and at a couple points even tilt the frame sideways, as though someone dropped the camera on its side in a live-action film. Neither technique adds anything to the show, they just call attention to themselves and distract from the action.…

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