Tag Archives: Anime

Chrno Crusade: I’m not crying, you’re crying

Chrno Crusade is an early 2000s anime based off of a manga by Moriyama Daisuke. The anime version was handled by the folks at Gonzo. Yes, the Bakuretsu Tenshi, Final Fantasy Unlimited & Trinity Blood studio.

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Story:

We open with representatives of the Magdalene order, a religious order that hunts demons, going into action. These are our main characters, Sister Rosette and her daemonic partner Chrno. We quickly learn that Rosette’s younger brother, Joshua, was taken to a twisted version of Shibuya to play a reaper’s game. I mean, he was kidnapped by a demon named Aion. To search for him, she’s formed a pact with her friend, Chrno. The price being her very life force.

I have to give Moriyama a lot of credit here. The writing is brilliant. It’s one of those series where the premise has potential but only if it’s handled very well. Which it is. The theme of time is a powerful one and it’s handled immaculately. The way the series builds up to big events is superbly done as well. It’s very good at giving escalating hints at what’s coming and of having worthy pay off.

This series is also excellent at mixing some more light-hearted comedic elements with its more serious, dramatic moments. Which is one of those things that most media can’t manage. But this series handles it by making the comedy more subdued and never going too far with its dramatic elements. Even the most serious moments contain a strong spark of hope and even the most comedic moment has some serious undertone playing out. As a consequence, the shifts are a lot more natural.

I can also credit the series with having fantastic world building. It doesn’t just throw back stories and fantastical terms at you. It eases you into them gradually so, when some aspect actually gets explained, you’re able to easily grasp it as part of the world and see where it fits in with the rest. It helps that the visions of heaven, earth and hell in this series are really compelling.

The ending is absolutely perfect. I won’t spoil it, but I will point out that a lesser writer would not have gone with the ending this series has. They would have seen it as too risky or not marketable enough. But it is also the ending that works best with all the build up and events of the series.

This series also deserves some credit in being one of those rare anime that makes me tear up. There are two scenes in particular where I had to dry my eyes. And I don’t cry at that many pieces of media. Especially not after multiple viewings but I re-watched this series for a third time for this review and it still got to me.

Characters:

My minor complaint here is that Chrno Crusade has one of those comedic dirty old man characters. To its credit, there is more to the elder than you would usually get with that type of character. He does have some complexity. But it’s still a tired and kind of shit archetype to work off of.

That gripe aside, the characters in this are excellent. Rosette starts out seeming like one of those more brash, action girl heroines. But as the story progresses she gains more complexity and you learn that a lot of her more reckless behaviours tie into her wanting to live every day to its utmost due to her more limited time.

Every major character is like that. They start with some, simple archetype and elevate it to something unique, complex and interesting. Which also leads to some superb character dynamics and interactions. Chrno and Rosette in particular have a superb bond. The minor characters may not be as perfectly developed and fleshed out, but they have enough complexity to come across as actual people.

I also have to credit the series for its antagonists. The villains, Aion especially, are complex characters with clear and compelling motivations. Aion makes such an excellent villain because he is very blatantly villainous but he’s also got his own twisted reasons behind everything he does and he excels at manipulating others into doing what he needs them to do. He doesn’t come across as the most physically intimidating but he doesn’t need to because his powers of persuasion and manipulation make him a terrifying opponent.

Art:

My minor gripe here is that there are points where Rosette or Satella will have their clothes torn in battle in a fashion that borders on sexualised. To the series’ credit, it never crosses that line but it does come uncomfortably close.

Aside from that, the artwork is very strong. The demon designs are great. The various technical devices the Magdalene order uses have interesting designs. Steeped in religious imagery, obviously, but that just adds to the aesthetic. Gonzo deserves a lot of credit for framing their important scenes very effectively. For instance, there’s a scene towards the end where Rosette is going out and helping people but its framed in such a way that it comes across as very unsettling. And a lot of that comes down to the art since she isn’t moving right and there’s something just a bit off about her face.

The action sequences are fairly strong as well. There’s a lot of creativity behind them and they’re very effectively animated for the tone that the series is going for. The more light-hearted scenes come with more high energy, fun action scenes while the more serious scenes have heavier sequences.

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Sound:

The performances in this are superlative. Ishida Akira, Kawakami Tomoko, Chiba Saeko and Neya Michiko are all excellent. I don’t even care that Neya Michiko’s Deutsch isn’t quite natural. And you can’t fault Inoue Kazuhiko’s performance as Aion. The music is excellent as well. Amazing theme tunes with Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line & Sayonara Solitaire and perfectly fashioned in episode music. Which includes some lovely song performances by Saeko Chiba.

Ho-yay: 

There are moments in Chrno’s shown back story that make it seem like maybe he and Aion were more than friends but it’s not a lot and there’s nothing definitive.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Give the elder a different comedic attribute. Yeah, I admit that I just personally can’t stand the dirty old man trope. But even putting that aside, you could definitely do something more unique here.
  2. Less attire tearing during fights.
  3. Show a little more of Joshua’s fate in the ending. After the effort put in on his behalf, it would be nice to know a bit more about what happens with him.

Final Thoughts:

This series is excellent. In terms of writing, acting and animation it’s really exemplary. I did struggle a bit with whether to give it a 9 or a 10 since I do have two gripes with it that somewhat affected my enjoyment but given how stellar the whole thing is and how minor they are by comparison to everything it does right, I’m going with a rare 10/10.

Slayers Gorgeous: No, I’m not done with this franchise

I’ve talked about JC Staff’s Slayers franchise quite a bit. And by quite a bit, I mean thrice with reviews of The Motion Picture, Great & Return. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a largely comedic fantasy tale about a powerful sorceress who stops rampaging monsters, grabs treasure wherever it glitters and claims victory over her foes. Along with a colourful cast of companions. So, is this film as good as the others we’ve looked at?

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Story:

So, we open with Lina and Naga sitting in a town square, enjoying some tacos, when everyone around them starts panicking and running indoors. They find out why when an armoured girl appears with dragons. Lina fends her and her dragons off only to find out that her father rules the town and they’re fighting over a raise in her allowance. That moment when you realise you suck as a parent. Naturally, both Lina and Naga are brought in on opposite sides for the promise of gold.

The biggest weakness of this film is that it does hit some of the same beats as Great did. That on featured a father and son building golems for opposite lords in a dispute while Lina and Naga took opposite sides. To be fair, the reasons for parent and child fighting were different and the way their dynamic plays out is different, but the basic story lines are pretty similar. Another, more minor gripe is that the imagery accompanying the ending credits has a segment with Lina flipping a coin that’s pretty close to the same as the scene that Great had in its.

The strength this has is that the humour is at a very high level with most of the gags landing very effectively. This film also demonstrates the ability this franchise has to introduce a big threat and have a cool action sequence, but also add in a bunch of comedic elements during the fight that make it tonally fit perfectly. The reveal of the ultimate antagonist is also very cool.

Characters:

In terms of character, the strength of these films has consistently been Lina and Naga’s dynamic. They’re similar and distinct enough that you can both understand why they keep one another company and why they drive each other crazy. I can really buy them as friends. Hell, I’d buy them as lovers of the “old bickering couple variety” if that had been the route they’d taken. And their dynamic really shines in this film at the point where they’re working in combination and you can see them communicate intentions without saying a word.

The side characters also follow the same pattern as the ones in the last film. They aren’t complex, but they’re quirky enough for some good gags and to make them memorable.

Art:

JC Staff has consistently done a great job with the artwork in this franchise. It features some strong visual gags, well designed characters and some really good action sequences. My biggest complaint about the action sequences is that some of the scenes in them are a bit too clichéd. For instance, it has that scene where two opponents run at each other, it pauses for a moment and then you see the result.

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Sound:

Hayashibara Megumi & Kawamura Maria are amazing as ever. The actors for the film exclusive characters give strong performances as well. You can’t really fault Hikami Kyouko, Kamiya Akira, Takiguchi Junpei or anyone else in that regard. The music is pretty great. Hayashibara Megumi’s ending song in this one is Raging Waves, which is fantastic.

Ho-yay:

There’s still none to be had. Yeah, they could make Lina and Naga work as a couple, but there are no hints of that.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Vary the film plots more. I get that every writer has a “thing” but it’s going to get a bit tired if we keep seeing parent/ child squabbles as a central plot element.
  2. Lose the action scene clichés. I’m sorry, they just don’t work all that well.
  3. A different ending gag. I get that they vary it slightly, but it’s close enough to the same thing that it doesn’t work all that well when you’ve seen the film before it.

Final Thoughts:

This is a pretty great film and definitely worthy of the franchise. Ultimately, my complaints with it are more minor nitpicks than serious, enjoyment affecting problems. So, I’m going to give it an 8/10. If this franchise is your thing, you’ll enjoy this film. If it’s not, at least look up the song Raging Waves by Hayashibara Megumi.

Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki:

Angolmois is based off of a historical fiction manga by Takagi Nanahiko. It’s based off of the events of the first Mongolian invasion of Japan from 1274. So, this was back when Kublai Khan was running things. But enough history, the anime adaptation was handled by NAZ. One of those rare anime studios that I haven’t seen anything from. Let’s see how strong of an introduction this is.

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Story:

Our narrative is set on Tsushima Island. We follow a group of Japanese exiles who are being sent for the sole purpose of serving as troops against the incoming Mongolians. They soon find themselves as a small unit trying to stay in hiding and avoid the larger, more powerful Mongolian force.

Now, it makes sense from a narrative perspective to follow a small, guerilla force since it’s pretty well known that Tsushima fell very quickly during the first Mongolian invasion. The problem this has, as a narrative, is that there are literally a million characters and none of them are memorable. The tension in the story hinges on us, as the audience, caring about our small group of plucky survivors but even with a relatively small number, there are just too many characters and there’s never time taken to flesh them out. It doesn’t help that the climax of the story involves a huge ass pull with a certain character being underwater for a good twenty minutes and somehow surviving.

Characters:

Herein lies the big flaw to the series. The huge cast of characters. We’ve got big, shark teeth guy, bullseye head, the short merchant, the barely adolescent scout, the doctor, the grizzled dude, the sleazy one and the main samurai. That’s just the exiles who play major roles too. That’s not even going into the named native islanders, the Toi Barai or the Mongolians.

A more important character in this series might get close to being two dimensional, but the vast majority of these characters are just stock tropes. Which makes it really difficult if not impossible to give a shit when things start going badly and characters start dying.

Even our two major characters, Jinzaburou & Teruhi, aren’t all that interesting. He’s got a vague honourable warrior shtick going and she’s pretty much a highly emotional action girl who’s attracted to him for no adequately explored reason. Will they get together? I really could not care less.

Art:

The art is a bit unusual. Everything has a weird texture to it. It’s like they want to visually marry the idea of an old sepia toned samurai drama to modern animation techniques. So, the colours are a bit muted and the whole series just looks a bit off, visually. And I’m not sure it’s for the best. I’d hesitate to say it looks bad, since there are some nice details and the action scenes generally flow pretty smoothly. I also could not say it looks good.

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Sound:

The acting is decent enough. You won’t get highly skilled, emotionally deep performances. Even though there are some amazing actors like Ishida Akira & Koyasu Takehito. There are also plenty of good actors we’ve heard give strong performances before. But this is one of those cases where the lack of character complexity really hampers the actors’ abilities to give strong performances. The music is fine. It’s not Katayama Shuji’s best, for certain. But it’s okay.

Ho-yay:

There is not any.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Flesh out your characters. This is probably the biggest thing. This premise needed strong characterisation for the tension and investment. And we simply don’t get it.
  2. Humans can not breathe underwater. I get what they were going for with this. They were trying to build the tension by showing a character tossed underwater and then cutting to other stuff while occasionally going back to that character. The problem is that they leave him down there so long his survival comes across as absurd.
  3. Lose the filter. Again, I get what they were going for with this. They wanted the call back to old period dramas. But the series would, quite honestly, look a lot better without it.

Final Thoughts:

Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki isn’t a bad series. It has a premise that could easily work, some of the action sequences are nicely handled and it just doesn’t have anything it does all that badly. Unfortunately, the characters are dull and stock. The muted artwork does not do the series any favours and it’s just not compelling. So, I’m going to give it a 5/10. If you really love historic samurai dramas, you might be able to forgive the nothing characters but I can’t recommend it for most.

Satsuriku no Tenshi: I saved the Worst for Last

This horror anime month has been pretty middling in terms of the series we’ve looked at. We’ve seen some decent anime and some sub-par anime. We haven’t seen anything great but we haven’t seen anything terrible either. Maybe we’ll be able to break up that pattern with a look at Satsuriko no Tenshi, an anime based off of a horror game. Now, your first thought when I mention anime based off of a horror game might be my history with trite rubbish like Galerians or Corpse Party. But at least those two were entertaining in their incompetence. And we have reviewed some good anime based off of games. Maybe this will be one of those.

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Story:

We open with our heroine, young Rachel Gardner, waking in a strange place where she’s chosen as a sacrifice. She quickly discovers that she’s going to have to go up through several floors of serial killers to escape the complex. Wanting to die, she approaches one, Isaac Foster, who agrees to kill her after she helps him escape.

There are two fatal flaws with this narrative. The first is that the story makes very little sense when you think about it to even the slightest degree. First of all, how did the dude who set all this up find all these serial killers and how did he get them to actually agree to all live in this system and work together? Serial killers all have their own shtick. They have certain things they look for in their victims, specific ways they want to murder said victims and they generally don’t work well together. How did he persuade them all to work together with rules about who gets what floor? How does he find “sacrifices” who work for all of them? And how did he manage to build this vast complex to house all these killers with no one noticing? This premise is objectively stupid.

But let’s put that aside for a moment. Let’s pretend that either our brains don’t quite work properly or we’re really willing to stretch suspension of disbelief and let’s talk about the second fatal flaw. Mainly, there’s no possible tension to this scenario. One of our protagonists is openly and unapologetically a mass murderer with no redeeming qualities. There is no compelling reason for us to give the remotest shit what happens to him. Our other protagonist wants to die. You’d think that would be easy in a complex full of serial killers, but she decides it has to be this one guy who does it for very insipid reasons. There’s no reason for us to care about her survival because she doesn’t even care about her own survival. Therefore, any dangerous scenario they find themselves in doesn’t matter.

And it is pretty stupid that she’s in a complex of murderers and can’t figure out how to get herself killed. That would be like going to a university frat party and not being able to figure out how to get laid.

Characters:

The characters in this do not help. Isaac is obnoxiously stupid. Rachel is an insipid nothing character. And the killers they encounter on each floor are just a bunch of stereotypes out off old, cheesy slasher films. Roger Corman’s horror films had more menacing adversaries than these morons. It doesn’t help that the interactions among the characters are really dumb.

Art:

There are moments where you can see how a floor’s design might be a bit creepy, if the execution was very different. That’s about the most positive thing I can say for the artwork. The character designs are pretty stupid looking. Isaac wears bandages all across his face, including over his mouth, but he somehow left enough of a hole that he can talk and open his mouth in spite of the bandages being clearly placed on his lips.

The action sequences aren’t very good either. They’re a bit slow-paced and dull.

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Sound: 

The acting is not as bad as every other element in the series would lead you to believe. You can tell that Okamoto Nobuhiko, Sakurai Takahiro and some others have skill. The problem is that their performances in this range from stilted to not giving a shit. The music is fairly mediocre.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any in this series. The character dynamics are too boring to have romantic tension of any kind, really.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Have one serial killer who puts their victims at the bottom of a trap-riddled complex as their thing. If there was one mastermind and you barely saw them, it would have a much stronger, actually creepy atmosphere. As opposed to a bunch of one note idiots on different floors.
  2. Have a protagonist who has a personality and wants to live. It’s much easier to care about a character with a personality and be invested when they themselves care. Honestly, I’d have ten characters at the start and show them all going through the floors individually. IE, starting with the first floor and then showing the people who survive that going through the next and so on. The audience would always be curious as to which characters would make it through a particular floor.
  3. Have strong character designs. The characters in this are basically built around taking some horror monster/ slasher like a mummy, scarecrow, mad scientist, warden or priest and making them look really stupid. You would do better just having the antagonist be a somewhat sketchy looking person.

Final Thoughts:

Satsuriku no Tenshi is pretty awful. And not in an entertaining way like Corpse Party or Galerians. The narrative has massive holes. The characters are rubbish. The designs are stupid looking. It’s just genuinely terrible. I’m giving it a 2/10.

I hope you all look forward to a very special Halloween bonus review.

Kyuuketsuhime Miyu TV- Not Quite as Good

I’ve talked about the vampiric Princess, Miyu, once before. About seven years ago. Like the OVA, this is from AIC. The same studio that brought us Blue Gender, Night Walker, & Bubblegum Crash to name a few. This series came out almost a decade after the OVA since that was late 80s and this was late 90s. But the important question is, does it maintain the same level of quality?

Story:

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The narrative follows the same basic premise as the OVA. There are supernatural beasts called Shinma that feed off of humans. Fighting against these monsters is the Guardian, Miyu who uses her flames to send stray Shinma back to the darkness. Each episode presents a different encounter with the Shinma.

Honestly, that’s the big weakness of the series. It was fine for the OVA to be somewhat “monster of the week” since it based its dramatic tension on the mysteries behind the scenarios and they were building up to something. This tries to do the same thing, but it doesn’t work nearly as well when everything is stretched out over twenty six episodes and the bulk of them have little or nothing to do with the big finale. It also doesn’t help that the only episodes strongly hinting at the turn for the finale come at the very end, shortly before the event itself.

The mysteries also aren’t as well handled. Yes, they can be interesting and the scenarios can be quite engaging. However, a big part of what made the OVA’s mysteries work was having the outsider’s perspective. This doesn’t provide that. There is no equivalent for Himiko. The closest we get is a single episode that focuses on a young woman trying to hunt down a Shinma that killed her family. Which generally means the episodes that want to push the mystery aspect more will focus on an ordinary human who finds themselves targeted by some kind of Shinma and Miyu will appear largely in the background until the end where she confronts the Shinma.

I will credit the series with being engaging. Even though the episodes are fairly formulaic, there’s enough variation to keep the scenarios interesting. It’s not one of those monster of the week series where nothing interesting happens. Or one of those ones that’s full of pretentious nonsense juxtaposed against stupid shit like mecha pilots using DDR to sync their movements. It does help that there is a strong mystery element to some of the episodes. It also helps that the people being targeted are neither faceless parts of a crowd nor are they guaranteed safety.

Characters:

This is actually a bit improved over the OVA. The OVA gave us largely nothing characters with a few main characters who were worth mentioning. In this one, the side characters being targeted do tend to come across as complex and very human. Which makes the changes they undergo more disturbing and adds some investment to their fate. The major characters are still the most compelling. We even get some strong back stories for Miyu, Larva & the ice-powered Reiha in this one. It is also interesting to see Miyu & Reiha clash ideologically. There are some very strong interactions in this series in general. Which is a big factor in how it remains compelling in spite of following a monster of the week formula.

The weak point is that some of the Shinma are just kind of dull. Some are well developed and have a strong sense of personality, but others are just kind of generic villains.

One odd thing is that Miyu comes across as much more sullen and duty-driven in this one. In the OVA, she came across as more of a trickster figure. I kind of preferred the OVA version, but I can see why AIC considered this more suitable for a main character.

Art:

The art style does, generally, look pretty good. The Shinma have interesting designs. The backgrounds are nicely detailed. The action sequences are where the series falters a bit. One issue is that Miyu doesn’t come across as all that capable. In a lot of her battles, she’ll summon Larva to block attacks and weaken the enemy so she can deal the final blow with her flames. Which kind of creates the impression that she can’t handle things on her own. The battles themselves aren’t all that interesting to watch. There’s strong build up to them, a well done reveal of the Shinma’s true form and then the fights themselves are kind of short and one-sided.

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Sound: 

The acting is well done. They didn’t get the same cast, but this did come nearly a decade later and the people they get do do a good job in their roles. Nagasawa Miki, Miki Shinichiro, Ogata Megumi & Shirakura Asa are all fine actors and their performances are definitely a strong point for the series. The music is very good. Kawai Kenji did a great job.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit in this one. There’s an episode that deals with a doll maker that explicitly involves two women getting into each other. Larva also meets a man from his past who seems interested in him in more than a friendly way. Some of Miyu’s interactions with women also come across as a little gay.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. A stronger over-arcing plot. Yes, episodic anime are fine. But monster of the week series generally only work when they’re made for children. Which, this isn’t. I think it would really benefit from a more complete narrative.
  2. Start hinting at the twist early on. Not obvious things that you’ll easily pick up on, but subtle hints that take on a new meaning in retrospect would work a treat.
  3. More effort in the action sequences. More physical clashing and varied use of powers would go a long way.

Final Thoughts:

I can’t say I enjoyed this as much as I did the OVA. While the episodes are interesting and the characters are well constructed, the weak over-arcing narrative does hurt the series. It’s still decent. If you liked the OVA and can look past the formulaic nature of the series you’ll enjoy it. I’m giving it a 6/10.

Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari: Short of Competent

Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari is a Madhouse production from the tail end of the 80s. It features three different segments, each from a different director. It’s no secret that my history with Madhouse is heavily mixed. On one hand, they’re the studio behind rubbish like Bio Hunter and the X-men anime. So nice of them to royally mistreat one of my favourite super hero teams. But they’ve also been behind such excellent anime as Monster & Petshop of Horrors. So, any time I see the studio attached to something, I don’t know whether to expect garbage, mediocrity or something amazing.

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Story:

The segments aren’t really connected. So, I’ll go through each one as its own thing.

Our first segment involves a young girl and her cat entering a mirror world and encountering all manner of strange things. Including the one person who liked Hollywood’s Jem film and English cuisine that isn’t hideous.

The second segment involves a futuristic race where competitors risk their lives. We get to see a particularly disastrous race. You might think health and safety proponents would never allow such a deadly race to exist, but as all the racers are Frank Miller fans, no one actually cares.

The third segment is about a young man who gets sent to the jungle to shut down a building operation after the old foreman went silent. He finds the robots working on the project to be less than responsive has to figure out how to stop their activities. He could ask them to calculate pi to the last digit, but he doesn’t want to completely destroy their circuits.

The big problem that every segment shares is that they all value spectacle over substance. The first and second segments both have very little story. We get a parade of odd images in the first and a big, overblown sequence of crashes and cars getting torn apart in the second.

The best segment is the third because it, at least, has something of a narrative. And even then it’s a bit lacklustre. While I will credit the people involved with having a strong premise, there just isn’t enough time to give it proper build up and its climax basically devolves into a big, over the top sequence.

Characters:

There isn’t much character to speak of. Even in the last segment, what we get is very basic and simple. It’s hints of personality without anything properly fleshed out. You could make the argument that these are sixteen minute segments and they can’t really develop the characters, but Yami Shibai came closer to having fleshed out characters in under five minutes. Or, in the case of the final segment, it equalled the characterisation.

Art:

The artwork is quite nicely detailed and well animated. The biggest issue is that the second segment has a lot of bizarre shading and a lot of it looks a bit shit as a result. Like, we’re talking a urine coloured filter over everything. Which isn’t what you want from something that relies heavily on the spectacle. Give the first segment some credit, it may look like someone’s illicit drug trip but at least it’s interesting to look at.

Sound:

The acting is passable. There aren’t any amazing performances that will stick with you, but there also aren’t any bad ones. The music is fine.

Ho-yay:

Romantic dynamics are as lacking in this as strong interactions between characters in general.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Give us some characterisation. Honestly, each of these segments lasts about fifteen minutes. And each one would benefit from taking a bit of a break from the spectacle in order to flesh out their characters a bit.
  2. Some basic narrative for the first two segments. Like I said, the third segment is, hands down, the best because it puts some effort into a narrative.
  3. Good art for the second segment. Lose the over-shaded, piss filter look. It’s pretty awful.

Final Thoughts:

If you’re someone who likes to watch fifty minutes worth of spectacle without substance, you may enjoy Manie-Manie. For me, style over substance doesn’t do a whole lot. The last segment certainly had potential but it needed more time to expand on it. That being said, I didn’t think this was awful. Well, maybe the second segment was. It was mostly serviceable at what it’s trying to do. I’m going to give it a 4/10.

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror & Other Stories

Back in 2007 Toei animation decided to make a short OVA based on some short stories by well known racist Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Lovecraftian horror is quite tricky to pull off. Simply because so much of it relies on stoking the audience’s imagination and adaptations usually make the mistake of showing too much of the ancient ones and other Stygian creatures. Let’s see how Toei handled it.

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Story:

There are three short Lovecraft stories in the OVA. We start with The Picture in the House, move to Dunwich and end with The Festival. If you’re familiar with Lovecraft’s work, you know what kind of content to expect.

The big narrative problem this has, and first major stumbling block it faces as an adaptation, is that the pacing is a bit shite. Good horror needs quiet, slower moments to build up suspense and get the viewer tensed. The problem with the slow moments in this is that so many of them are outright full stops while we pan over a still image. That doesn’t build tension, it derails the situation and bores you.

To their credit, the pacing aside, they do a decent job of adapting the scripts of the short stories. They’re pretty close to faithful and will likely satisfy those fans of Lovecraftian horror.

Characters:

The characters don’t have any real complexity to them. The ones who are meant to be unsettling pull that off well enough. But the ones we’re supposed to root for and identify with, we really don’t have any reason to care about. They’re just a bit boring.

Art:

This is the second major issue with this as an adaptation. The art style does not lend itself well to horror. The OVA looks like it has less of a budget and cheaper claymation than an old Gumby cartoon. And it doesn’t help that Gumby also looks more like an Eldritch abomination than anything you see in this OVA. And I’m not just saying that as a joke. That’s the trouble with clearly showing the creatures in Lovecraftian horror. When you see a very vague, unsettling description of the Dunwich Horror, it works. When you see a mess of walking squid ink spaghetti, it just looks silly.

Sound:

The acting in this is passable. It’s not good, but it’s not bad either. The music is the same. It’s a bit generic for horror music, but it’s functional enough.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any to be sad. The characters barely have relationships to begin with, much less well enough developed relationships for that.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Build up the suspense properly. Don’t pause and derail the plot to pan over your clay landscape.
  2. Don’t show your monsters. Take a lesson from Lovecraft in this matter. Show enough to give the idea of the monster and let your audience’s imagination do the rest. Trust me, we will come up with something way more frightening than your spaghetti monster.
  3. Do not use Claymation. There are things claymation works for. Horror is not one of them. The models and environments just look too much like a child’s panorama art project.

Final Thoughts:

This OVA has three fatal flaws. The first is the long pauses that derail the suspense. The second is that it shows its Lovecraftian monsters in great detail. The third is the claymation art style. I can’t say it’s bad, but you’d be much better off reading these stories. I’ll give it a 4/10.