Reviews of yesteryear: Night on the Galactic Railroad

Unlike a lot of anime films, Night on the Galactic Railroad isn’t based on a game, a manga or a light novel. It’s based on a children’s story written by Miyazawa Kenji. It’s a novel that’s unfinished. Miyazawa was still polishing the middle of the piece when he died in 1933. The novel was posthumously published as it was and it became a classic work of children’s literature. In 1985 it was made into an anime film. How well does it work? Let’s take a look and find out.

We open with our protagonist, Giovanni attending classes. Giovanni attends school with all the other cats… Yes, cats. All the characters in this were replaced by anthropomorphic talking cats, most of which need to put on pants. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it’s not originally about cats. That pointless change aside, Giovanni goes into town to get milk for his sick mother while all the other cats are attending the starlight festival. Giovanni stops to rest on a hill when he hears a train. A train that stops right in front of him. He gets on board to find that his best friend, Campanella is there as well. The two ride to a variety of different locations but what’s their destination and what’s waiting for them when they arrive? I’m not going to give that away, even though it’s kind of obvious. The symbolism in this is pretty effective and it ties together nicely. I’m not even going to complain about it being kind of heavy handed since this is a kid’s movie. The film does have some flaws though. There are some really slow stretches, especially in the beginning, where nothing of value happens. Changing all of the characters to cats would be fine, albeit pointless, but there are three human characters introduced later which doesn’t make sense. At least keep it consistent. The reason that Giovanni’s on the train is pretty weak as well, especially when you figure out what its nature is. They also separate the scenes with chapter cards which show a mostly black screen with some words like “Giovanni’s Ticket” or “Apples” which doesn’t really work in a film. It just serves to bring the action to a grinding halt for several seconds each time.

This film is more about the journey than it is the characters. The characters in this are a little deeper than those found in Animal Crossing, but they’re still kind of shallow. And, honestly, they aren’t as much fun. Giovanni and Campanella have a pretty good connection and Giovanni does develop a bit as a result of his experience, but aside from that there’s not much to the characters beyond their roles.

The art in this is a bit dated. To be fair, this movie is older than I am so that’s only to be expected. The art actually does hold up quite well. The backgrounds are very well done and nicely detailed. There are some spectacular environments in this film, especially when they’re showing constellations and representations thereof. The characters are the real weakness. Not because they’re mostly drawn as cats, but because of their expressions. Most of the time the characters either look slightly surprised or just blank. Actually, that might explain why most of the characters are drawn as cats. Since it’s more difficult to identify expressions on animals, it may have been a deliberate effort to conceal the fact that the artists only knew how to express dull surprise.

The voice acting is pretty good. Both Tanaka Mayumi and Sakamoto Chika do well in their roles. The rest of the cast is decent enough, although most of them don’t say much. The music in this is really well done. It goes perfectly with the art to maintain atmosphere.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There are only two important female characters. Giovanni’s mom, and the inexplicably human girl they meet on the train and they never meet.

My final rating for Night on the Galactic Railroad is a 7/10. It has some weaknesses in terms of story but overall it has aged pretty well. It may not be as good as the novel but it’s still a solid film and I think it’ll prove to be enjoyable whether you’re a child or not. Tomorrow we end this week of film reviews with Kara no Kyoukai 3: the search for more money… I mean Tsukaku Zanryu.

Reviews of yesteryear: Animal Crossing

You know what game franchise would really lend itself to film well? I’m sure you all had different answers to that, but I’ll bet none of you said Animal Crossing. And why should you? It’s a repetitive game about collecting random rubbish with basically no story that many call “slightly less boring than watching paint dry.” And yet, it has a film adaptation. I’ve been thinking about checking it out for some time just out of curiosity and this seemed like a good time. So let’s look at the Animal Crossing movie.

The story opens with a young girl named Ai moving to the animal village, pretty much exactly like the games. She introduces herself at the post office and heads to get her key from a massive tosser, Tom Nook. Who instantly put her to work without giving her much say in the matter, just like the games. Nice to see that he’s still a giant wanker. We then spend the rest of the film watching Ai collect random rubbish, just like the games. Okay, that part’s a lie. We actually follow Ai as she interacts with the folks in the village. She makes good friends with a cat named Bouquet and an elephant named Sally who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Most of the film is just a slice of life look at their interactions with each other and several other colourful characters. It’s all very simple, light-hearted and whimsical. Surprisingly, I don’t really have anything to complain about storywise. Sure it’s really simplistic, but it’s also a kid’s movie. The pacing is pretty well handled. There’s always something happening, but it never feels overly hectic. The humorous elements work pretty well and the overall theme of finding yourself works effectively. The cherry pie metaphor that they use for the theme is silly, which adds to the whimsical nature of the film as a whole.

The characters in this are pretty shallow, but they’re mostly a lot of fun. Halberd and Yu’s misadventures provide quite a bit of amusement. Kotobuki’s re-election side plot has a lot of amusing moments. Ai’s relationship with Sally and Bouquet is pretty well handled. The interactions between characters tend to be very lively and fun to watch.

The art in this is actually pretty amazing. I’m not a big fan of the art in the Animal Crossing games, but the translation into film is very vibrant. The characters look pretty much exactly like they do in the games. The flowers, fossils, and other various background features are amazingly detailed. The animation itself is very smooth and it all just looks really good.

The voice acting is well handled. There are some really good actors in this like Kanai Mika, Yamaguchi Mitsuo, and Horie Yui. The entire cast does a good job with their roles. The only real weakness is K.K Slider’s live performance. It sounds pretty much exactly like it does in the games. Like an overly-synthetic piece designed to empty a room.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. It’s Animal Crossing, what did you expect?

And that was Animal Crossing, the film. I thought this was going to be a crappy tie-in film with lots to poke fun at, but there was a lot of effort put into this. It’s almost like the production team said “Yeah, this is an Animal Crossing movie but let’s give it our all anyway.” It’s a simple but highly entertaining piece that’s sure to appeal to fans of the series, kids and people who can appreciate whimsy. For myself, I give it a 7/10. I found the whole thing rather charming and enjoyed it quite a bit more than the games themselves.

Liebster award Nomination.

liebster

I was nominated for this thing by MariaRantsaboutstuff. Apparently, it’s an award that involves filling out a bunch of questions and then nominating five other people for. Sounds and looks suspiciously like the blog form of a chain letter, allow me to be completely not serious about this.

You might be wondering, why are you even doing it if you think it’s just a chain letter type of thing? There are two reasons. The first is that I never really answer questions or talk about myself and it seemed like a good way to let you all see me in snarky bastard mode. Usually you guys just see me analyse things or try my hardest to tell a compelling story. The second is that it seemed amusing enough. So, let’s get to those questions and pretend to be serious.

1) What inspired you to create a blog?

Well, one night a ghostly apparition appeared in my room and ate all my biscuits. I later found out that it was my dog and I started the blog as a way to pass the time while guarding my stash of sweets.

Honestly, I used to maintain a blog on Gamespot. It was a way to do some creative work, which is something I enjoy greatly but the primary reason I went there specifically was to post in the Unions that they had at the time. When they announced that they were getting rid of those I brought the blog here.

2) What was your first anime?

When I was a small child my mother exposed me to one of the darkest, most twisted anime ever made, Superbook. I don’t even remember whether it was the Deutsch dub or the English one, nor do I remember much about it except for two kids traveling through Bible stories with a robot, but I do remember it being an unholy abomination of annoyance. True story.

3) If you could cosplay any anime character (assume crafting skill and money are not an issue), who would you choose?

Nausicaa’s little rodent friend. Then I too would be able to be adorable while riding on peoples’ shoulders.

Now for the honest answer, I would have to find someone that I have the build and look to pull off competently like Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop.

4) Aside from reviewing anime, what are some of your hobbies?

Every night I get my assistant and we try to take over the world. Sometimes I spy on the neighbours with my binoculars because I’m sure they’re up to something. I mean, those perverts have telescopes by their window.

No, I do have quite a few hobbies. There’s my non-professional writing. I also like to read, play video games. There’s weekly D&D and there’s the time I spend on the AFT forum.

5) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Antarctica, where the only people anywhere nearby are scientists and I can be as reclusive as I damn well please.

Okay, that’s not the real answer. I’d really like to go to Japan, I know big shock coming from someone who reviews anime for fun.

6) Which was the saddest anime you’ve ever watched?

That would have to be Superbook. Who thought it was a good idea? Who watched it to the extent that it got a second series? It’s very existence is mind boggling and says nothing good about the world we live in.

Wait, did you mean intentionally and skillfully sad? In that case, I’d have trouble choosing from among Grave of the Fireflies, Blue Drop, Chrno Crusade or Wolf’s Rain. Those anime are all really tragic.

7) The funniest anime?

Well, clearly I don’t know how to laugh or have fun since I’m so busy doing analyses.

This is another tough one, actually. I’ve seen some really funny anime like Galaxy Angel, The Slayers, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, K-on, Muteki Kanban Musume, Steel Angel Kurumi 2, and many others. I don’t think I could choose the funniest overall if I wanted to.

8) If you could star in any anime, which would you choose?

Isn’t it obvious? I have the perfect voice to take the lead in Mermaid Melody. I’m sure that being a guy and not being able to sing in the least won’t be a problem whatsoever.

No, I would not star in an anime. The Deutsch dubs are almost as bad as the English ones and I certainly am not an actor. I would only contribute to the problem. Now, if an anime studio wanted to pick up one of my stories and have me work as the head writer to turn it into an anime then I would not be opposed to that. I still wouldn’t be the star, though.

9) If you could take any anime character out on a date, who would you pick?

Lina Inverse. Hello, Paper Cuts.

Yeah, it’s obvious why this wouldn’t work. Anime characters are pixels on a screen or drawings. While you could take a drawing on a date it’s something that people are going to give you dirty looks over and it doesn’t really accomplish anything. Besides, I’ve got my Fluffy for dates. That is a nickname, obviously.

10) If you could have any career in the world, what would you want to do?

Supreme Emperor. The reign of terror of the old world leaders would be over in favour of my reign of terror.

No, no, too much paperwork. I do like the job I’ve got now. I love article writing. But I might elect to switch to the head writer for a television production of one of my stories. Maybe with the BBC or with an anime studio. The BBC would probably work better, though, since I am quite fluent in English.

11) What is a goal you wish to accomplish this year?

To get a sixth bookcase for my apartment.

No, that might be something I need to do at some point but it’s not really a goal. Honestly, I’d like to finish a story I’ve been working on and get it published for e-book or for print.

*****

Well, I got through those. Let’s go with some random facts.

1. I have a pretty extensive plushie collection. Way back in my Doki Doki Precure review, I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted plushies of the min characters. I got ones of Mana, Rikka, Alice and Makoto. I wanted one of Regina, but I couldn’t find one. I’ve also got Levi, Holo the wise wolf, Lina Inverse, Roy Mustang, The Elric Brothers, Black Rock Shooter, Deadmaster, Nanoha, Fate, the Sailor Soldiers (except for the Starlights and ChibiUsa), Nausicaa’s rodent friend and many, many others mostly from anime and video games but also some from Western TV shows and assorted others.

2. I own all of Milk Moriyama’s manga that’s been released in any language I speak. I really admire the way she writes romance.

3. I don’t get along well with most of my family. My dad scarpered when I was really little, my mother treats me like crap because I don’t buy into her religion and my older brother is a prick. The only ones I can really stand being around are my little sisters.

4. There actually is a reason that I write so many LGTBQ characters that goes beyond “I can.” Many of my closest friends growing up, and even today as well as my youngest sister are a part of that group. Most of the really good relationships I’ve seen have been queer relationships. And I know that they don’t have a lot of media that’s about them.

5. My role model growing up was Captain Picard. I loved Star Trek: Next Gen, still do, and he was just the perfect leader. He was rational, had enough wisdom to know when to compromise, strong in his convictions and just had so many words of wisdom.

6. I have a fondness for silver age writing in Western super hero comics. Sure, the Bronze age was when the best writing happened, but I do enjoy reading those goofy over the top stories and I still watch some old shows that have that aesthetic on occasion. Like the version of Batman starring Adam West or Spider-man and his Amazing Friends. 

7. When I really need to relax I open my Open Office Writer, play some Hayashibara Megumi songs, let my Labrador sit in my lap and type whatever I feel like. The stuff I write usually ends up being a mess that I would never share with anyone and promptly delete, but it is a good outlet and it does relax me.

8. I am really critical of adaptations when I know and love the work they’re adapting.

9. When I don’t have any requested reviews, or the ones I have are just too long to finish in a week, I’ll choose what to look at pretty arbitrarily. I’ll just check for something I haven’t seen that’s the right length and that doesn’t look like it would be painful to watch. Although I do sometimes end up with things that are painful to watch anyway.

10. There are a lot of writers I really admire, Gail Simone, Alan Moore, Chris Claremont, Miyabe Miyuki, Terry Pratchett and several others. I sometimes look at their work and have to make an effort to not compare myself to them. Lest I destroy my self esteem.

11. People often think that I’m a super serious type of person. Probably because I’m heavily introverted and don’t spend much time around people I don’t know which leads casual acquaintances to get the impression that I’m really uptight.  I do take my writing seriously, for the most part, but I rarely take other things seriously.

Well, thanks again to Maria for adding me to the chain letter. It was fun goofing about with it. If I nominate you and you want to do it then send me an email at: ktuluthedarkone@hotmail.com. I’ll give you your personalised questions. I will warn you, the first two will always be asking your name and quest. Now, if you do ever have questions for me just leave a comment or send an e-mail asking them. I don’t mind answering unless it’s something really personal. Maybe I’ll even do another entry that’s just answering questions if I get enough. Just don’t be surprised if you get a somewhat snarky answer followed by the honest one.

Natsu no Arashi Akinaichuu: Ever so slightly improved

Not long ago I looked at the first series of Natsu no Arashi. It was okay, suffering quite a bit from tonal problems, repeating an episode basically wholesale and some jokes that didn’t work, but it also had quite a few good points and it was decent overall. So, does the second series improve on any of those aspects? Does it degrade? Let’s take a look and see how it compares.

Story:

The story continues with Arashi, Hajime and everyone else working at the cafe. This series does drop the attempts at dramatic stories about their time traveling and goes completely into comedic mode. Which is what the series should have been doing the entire time. Consequently, this one doesn’t have the problem with tonal weirdness. Now we can focus entirely on the comedy. So, is it funny?

Well, the series still has comedy that’s hit and miss. We’ve still got the “jokes” that are just references to something from pop culture without anything funny being done with them. We’ve got a reoccurring joke about one of the cafe’s regular customers wanting salt but not being able to get any. Why is that funny? The short answer is that it’s not. I have no idea why someone not being able to get salt is even supposed to be funny. It’s not like he does anything weird or over the top in an effort to get some. He just asks for it and then doesn’t get it. Some of the jokes don’t even make sense. You’ve got one where the joke is that a girl accidentally puts on a wedding dress without noticing until she’s done. It’s funny because… no one in reality would accidentally put on something as cumbersome as a wedding dress especially when you add in all the accessories? If you got the hyper masculine dude in a wedding dress then that would at least be a funny image, but a girl wearing a wedding dress isn’t funny, even if she is doing it by accident. There are quite a few jokes like that too.

There’s also a problem with the romance. In the first series they had some romance with Kaja’s backstory and they had the implied stuff between Yayoi and Kanako, but most of their attempts at romantic content were pretty downplayed or left as one-sided crushes. In this series, Kobayashi decided that it would be a good idea to develop romance between a girl who’s been a ghost for sixty years and a thirteen year old boy. Even if you only count the summers when calculating her age, since that’s apparently the only time the ghosts wander the Earth, she’s still far too old for him. Why do works of media think it’s a good idea to pair teenagers, young or otherwise, with supernatural beings who are far too old for them anyway? Inukami did that too. As did the infamous Twilight. Now, I will give this series some credit. It doesn’t use such an extreme age difference and it does downplay the content as opposed to putting it front and centre, but it’s still screwed up and it definitely leads to some uncomfortable moments.

To its credit, the series does have some really funny moments scattered throughout. And it does have more jokes that work than jokes that don’t. Even if most episodes are going to have plenty of both. The secondary romance between Yayoi and Kanako is kind of cute too and it does lead to some good moments. It’s almost like romance works a lot better when there isn’t a disturbing age gap.

Characters:

The cast remains pretty much as they were. Those characters who were pretty fleshed out are still well fleshed out, which is most of the main cast, whereas those who just followed their tropes still follow their tropes. So, it’s still a pretty strong group of characters, particularly for a zany comedy work.

Art:

Most of the art problems from the first series are gone or at least minimised in this one. The wonky perspectives are still around, but they aren’t nearly as prevalent. However, that doesn’t mean that the art as a whole has improved. This series has its own major issue. It likes to incorporate ridiculous amounts of fan-service. The first series had a little bit but not so much that it was really a problem. With this one you get a lot. There are various shots animated so that the focus is on a girl’s bosom or bum. There are also a bunch of cases of the girls being shown in states of undress because the series really needed to remind you that they have boobs. That was far more important than keeping things classy. Now, I will still give the series credit for having nicely done character designs, when they aren’t throwing them into random fan-service outfits, and for doing expressions really well.

Sound:

The performances remain competent. It’s still nothing special nor are there any that stand out, but the actors all do well. Now, I will give this series credit for having slightly better music. Most of it is still pretty standard, but there are some pieces that are actually good and do stand out.

Ho-yay:

In the last series the ho-yay came exclusively from Yayoi and Kanako. In this one, there’s an episode about a manga artist trying to get Arashi to kiss one of the other girls. It’s a dumb episode, overall, but it still does have near kisses between Arashi and most of the other major girls and it nearly has one between two of the male characters. Yayoi and Kanako are also featured a lot more and they are definitely being portrayed as a couple. Even if the series never comes out and explicitly states it. So, the ho-yay factor on this one is a 5/10.

Final Thoughts:

Natsu no Arashi Akinaichuu definitely improves in some regards. However, it also degrades in a variety of ways. Is it an improvement over the first? Slightly. My final rating for it is going to be a 6.3/10. It’s a decent enough series. If you enjoyed the first series you’ll probably like this one too. There’s no real reason to watch it otherwise. Next week I’ll look at Akuma no Riddle.

Reviews of yesteryear: Blood: The Last Vampire

You know, during my time doing these reviews I’ve looked at both Blood+ and Blood-C. Both of which had a lot of issues, but I felt were decent enough overall. The odd thing is that I’ve never seen the movie that inspired them before. This is one of those rare cases where the anime film wasn’t based on anything but had a manga, light novels and several anime based off of it. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. It might be. It might exceed those works based on it. It could also be rather dreadful or just decent enough like the anime it spawned. Only one way to find out, this is Blood: The Last Vampire.

We open our story with Saya working hard to hunt chiropteran because… she can? It’s never really explained in the context of the movie. She’s sent to a school on an American base where chiropteran are suspected to lurk and that’s where the story elements mostly end and it becomes a long string of action sequences. This film does present some interesting ideas, the issue is that they aren’t quite there. The chiropteran seem like an interesting monster, but you don’t learn anything about them except that they feed on humans and can shapeshift. The organisation that Saya is working with seems like it could be really interesting, but you don’t learn anything about it, it’s just vaguely mysterious. It’s hinted that Saya has some connection with the chiropteran, but there are no details or clues about what it could be. What little plot you get is kind of a standard monster hunting story.

The characters aren’t very well developed in this either. Saya is just an archetypal action girl with unclear motivations. David is largely a blank slate character. He supports Saya in battle, whether it’s due to some sense of duty or a connection with her is never clear. Most of the remaining characters show up for one or two scenes before disappearing from the film. Except for the Nurse who pretty much just exists to get rescued.

The art is pretty good. There are a lot of good details in the backgrounds and the chiropteran do have interesting designs. The action sequences are well paced and intense as well. Of course, the blood in this works nothing like real blood, that seems to be an issue with the whole Blood franchise. The facial expressions are also off, frequently looking nothing like the emotion that’s supposed to be being expressed.

The voice acting is one of the weaker elements. Part of the problem is that they did a lot of the dialogue in English. Which makes sense in the context of the story but neither Kudou Youki nor Nakamura Saemi has a great sense of the language. You can tell they’re really trying, but a lot of the dialogue frequently sounds kind of stilted like they’re reading from a script and there are some lines where you can just hear them struggle. Kudou Youki only has noticeable problems with more complicated words like “jurisdiction” or “investigate.” Nakamura Saemi doesn’t fare that well and just about every English line she gets sounds really unnatural. Then you have Joe Romersa who, although he has no problems with the dialogue, is just awful when it comes to acting. The music, on the other hand, is fairly well done, although it’s nothing special.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s no yuri in this.

My final rating for Blood: the last vampire is going to be a 4/10. It’s not a bad film and it obviously has some good ideas. However, the ideas aren’t quite there and the execution is riddled with problems. It’s kind of enjoyable in a generic action film way, but there’s very little in terms of substance. In the end, it’s a sub-par piece. 

Reviews of yesteryear: End of Evangelion

It’s here, the one I really am not looking forward to. Yeah, I’m familiar with Neon Genesis Evangelion. I watched a good amount of it before deciding to just read the synopses for the remaining episodes to see if the characters ever stopped being unbearable only to immediately drop it when I learned that not only were the characters never going to improve but the plot was going to get really stupid really fast. I have since gone back and done a full review after watching all the episodes. It was even dumber than the synopses indicated. To this day the popularity of the franchise baffles me. My best guess is that a lot of people can’t tell the difference between depth and pretension so anything like Evangelion that puts on airs of intellectual merit can attract a lot of attention in spite of not actually having any. Now that I’ve pissed off all of Evangelion’s fans let me just say that I’m not trying to be mean or attack any of you personally. You can enjoy whatever you want to. I just don’t get your attraction to this franchise. Let’s look at End of Evangelion, an alternative ending to the series. Which is understandable given how absolutely idiotic the original ending was. Frankly, I doubt that this is going to be an improvement but I could be wrong.

Now, since this is an alternate ending for the series I can’t really go into plot details without giving spoilers. Instead, let’s talk about what the plot does poorly. I was going to start with the positives, but there aren’t any. I’ll start with the simple and easily explained issues. The first is that they can’t decide whether they’re referencing Christianity or Judaism with their self-important imagery and dialogue. Yeah, there’s some overlap but a lot of their references are specific to one or the other. The ending is also really stupid. Apparently they confused being deliberately obtuse with depth. Also, in one of the oddest production decisions I’ve ever seen in a film, they actually split it into two episodes. With credits and an ending theme between. I know this is supposed to be replacing the last two episodes from the series, but did they really think their fanbase is too thick to figure it out without making it painfully obvious? They should’ve just subtitled it “End of Evangelion: An alternative to episodes 25 & 26.” It would’ve been just as insulting, but at least it would’ve been good for a laugh. Let’s discuss how they attempt to introduce depth into this festering boil of a film. Spoiler alert, they fail. One thing that bugs me about both this film and the series that spawned it is that the mechs have organic internal systems, which are connected to the pilots in a way that causes severe pain to the pilots when they get damaged. They’re obviously trying to create a connection between man and machine, but it’s still a massive design flaw that would render these things useless in any semi-realistic context. If you want to see the idea of man and machine being connected handled well check out Eve no Jikan, Ghost in the Shell, or Battle Angel. Although I’m sure there are a lot more examples, those are the ones that readily come to mind. They also like to wax philosophical with the dialogue. Unfortunately, they never say anything thought provoking or witty in any sense of the words. It’s almost like Anno flunked his Philosophy 101 courses and wanted to prove that he could figure it out if he wanted to, only to flunk again. Not only that, but some of what they say is just demonstrably wrong. For example, they have one of those “humans are horrible because we’re the only animals that kill each other” moments. Which is complete nonsense. Dolphins, lions, tigers, gorillas and even horses will kill their own kind and that’s only to name a few examples. Anyone who gives you that rubbish about the horribleness of humanity is either an utter moron or deliberately lying to you. I suspect the former in this case. The symbolism in this is both trite and poorly done. A lot of it is just an attempt to obscure the meaning in order to disguise how paper thin the plot actually is. But it’s such a poor attempt that my dog wasn’t even fooled.

If there’s anything more wretched than the plot, it’s the characters. Now, it is possible to have a cast of horrible people and still have an interesting story. Frank Herbert proved it in Dune. Alan Moore did with Watchmen, and no, I’m not talking about the movies. The movies can fornicate themselves with something hard and sand-papery. Ohba Tsugumi did it with Death Note. A part of why those work is that the characters, although they have mostly negative traits, do have some sympathetic qualities. They’re horrible people, but they’re developed enough that you can understand their motivations and why they’re doing what they’re doing. In Evangelion the characters have one or two personality traits apiece and their motivations pretty much all boil down to them responding to some past trauma. It’s a real problem when most of your main cast have parent issues, it’s almost like someone was projecting their own parental issues onto the characters, and are only set apart from one another because they have a different predominant trait. Like Shinji being ceaselessly whiny, Asuka being a psychopath or Rei being largely a blank slate. All those “psychological” elements it tries to have don’t mean a lot when the personalities we’re trying to examine in-depth are more shallow than a thimble of water. You’d be better off trying to analyse your wall’s personality.

The art is… okay. Although it certainly has its share of problems. The facial expressions are really off. For example, there’s a scene where Asuka is caught up in the frenzy of battle and tearing things apart in rage. Her expression makes her look like she’s suffering from constipation and trying to get something out. The blood is also way off. The texture, colour, they’re all wrong. I’ll let it pass for the stupidly organic machines, but the same thing is done with human blood. This film is also far too fond of fan-service. So you get shots of Misato’s bum when she’s walking as opposed to, say, her face. Yes, it was very important that this scene focus on her bum. You also get random nudity. Rei spends almost the entire film naked for no adequately explained reason. Does she become a nudist at the end of the series and the synopses just failed to mention it? No, the real reason is that they want to divert blood away from your brains so that you won’t be intellectually alert while watching it. The computer screens in this are also far too busy. Seriously, no organisation is going to program their emergency signal as a bunch of hexagons individually displaying the “emergency” message. Why? Because it’s distracting and you want your people to be able to focus. They just thought it looked cool, which it doesn’t. Now, those issues aside, the art is decent. The machines look interesting. The fight scenes are intense. The gore looks appropriately disgusting. Although you might consider that a detriment if you dislike gore.

The voice acting is the best part of this film. Even if Miyamura Yuko butchers the only word she says in Deutsch. They apparently couldn’t be bothered giving her a pronunciation guide for a single word. Overall, however, She, Hayashibara Megumi and Ogata Megumi all give surprisingly strong performances, given how stilted the dialogue is and how one note the characters are. It’s still not good acting or even all that decent, but they did manage to take nothing and do something with the acting. It is an improvement to the series in that sense since they sound like they can’t act in that. The music, while not anything special, is pretty well done as well.

The yuri factor is going to be a 2/10. Just because of a scene later on in the film with Ibuki.

My final rating for End of Evangelion is a well deserved 1/10. It’s an imbecilic piece of tripe that insults your intelligence throughout with it’s laughable attempts at depth and obtuse twaddle. The characters are a group of terribly written twits without a sympathetic feature among them. I can honestly say that I’ve seen better written characters in bad fan-fiction. The only people I can really suggest it to are Evangelion fans since the problems are the same ones that plague the series and it obviously hasn’t caused them to turn away yet. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go read something that’s actually intelligent to recover from this film. I actually did too. I read through Watchmen, V for Vendetta and a god chunk of Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey. 

Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka: Did that rabbit talk?

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Was a series of 4-panel manga written by Koi and published in Manga Time Kirara Max. From April to June of last year, it got a twelve episode anime adaptation from White Fox Studio. You may remember them from their work on Jormungand, Steins;Gate and their one fail that I’ve seen, Katanagatari. How does this one hold up? Let’s find out. This is GochiUsa.

Story:

Our tale begins with our main character, Cocoa (she’s Cocoa but she’s not quite loco), moving to a new area. There’s just one problem, she can’t find the family she’s supposed to be staying with. She stops at a cafe called Rabbit House to ask for directions where she meets young Chino. Luckily for her, Rabbit House turns out to be the place she was looking for. What a fortunate coincidence. While working part time in exchange for room and board, Cocoa meets several other girls, Rize, Chiya and Sharo. Rize works at Rabbit house with her and Chino while Chiya and Sharo work for two other cafes. Various hijinks ensue since this is a comedic work and the story is minimal.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the comedy. GochiUsa has a style of humour that’s a lot like K-on’s. You’ve got a cutesy and zany group of girls working their hardest at tasks related to a specific thing and the humour is largely derived from their interactions with one another and their various quirks. The big differences are that they usually aren’t working together in this and they introduce some really bizarre supernatural elements. The series does somewhat take advantage of the comedic possibilities presented by them working for competing businesses, although it really doesn’t do a lot with it, preferring to keep their relationships cutesy and amicable while downplaying any conflicts that may have been brought up. It also makes some jokes about the supernatural elements, but they’re easily the weakest part of the series. Honestly, a lot of it is just repeating the same ventriloquism joke with slight variations. I will say, to the series’ credit, most of the humour does work really well. I will also give GochiUsa credit for having some really well done cute moments throughout the series.

Characters:

The characters are pretty simple. In all fairness, they are a bit better developed than a lot of slice of life comedic casts and they do have a good mix of characters who can play off of each other really well. I will also give the series a lot of credit for having a lot of really strong character interactions that extend beyond just comedic bits. There are some strong touching and heartfelt moments.

Art:

There are some real positive aspects to the art. The backgrounds are nicely detailed and the animation really flows well. The series is also really good at drawing rabbits, when they don’t get lazy with it. The character designs are kind of standard too. They don’t look bad by any means, they just aren’t anything special.

Sound:

The vocal cast does well. Sakura Ayane, Minase Inori, Uchida Maaya, Taneda Risa & Sato Satomi all give fine performances. It is a little strange hearing Hayami Show play a perfectly nice, normal guy when I usually hear him voice complete villains like Tenzen, Aizen, Zarbon and Muraki. Don’t get me wrong, he’s good in this, but it is a little weird. I like the music too, it really suits the series.

Ho-yay:

There’s certainly some les-yay. Sharo has a crush on Rize, and that’s actually stated in the series itself. There are also two different pairs of girls who can communicate psychically with each other, I’m guessing by the same mechanism that allows Akari and Kris to speak with each other while competing in the semi-finals during Battle Athletes. Cocoa is also really intent on having Chino call her “sister.” It would be suspect even without a younger girl referring to an older girl as “sister” being a fairly common shoujo-ai trope. Don’t ask me why it’s common, I don’t really understand it either. The ho-yay factor is going to be a 6/10.

Final Thoughts:

GochiUsa is a funny, entertaining, cutesy and really endearing series. It’s not a complex series, nor is it the most original series out there, but If you want something light and fluffy for a quick laugh, it would be a really good choice since most of the jokes do work well and it has some really good character interactions. For myself, I give it an 8/10. It knows what it is and it does it really well, although not perfectly. Next week I’ll look at the second series of Natsu no Arashi.