11 November 2005

If I could pronounce .hack//sign, I could watch it.

I'm just kidding! I've watched .hack//sign (dot hack sign). It's been awhile, but I still have many lingering feelings about this series including both love and bewilderment. Part of the reason for my ongoing confusion about .hack//sign is the fact that there are many .hack series and games, and a friend of mine told me once that to really comprehend the plotline, you must watch and play them all. Well screw that! What if I just want to watch this one? So I did just that *smiles*.

It wasn't a complete bust. While I am still left quite confused about parts of the ending, there were also many themes in the series that became quite clear and were thoroughly enjoyable. To state a quick overview of the series; .hack//sign is about a virtual reality (VR) video game (think VR MMORPG) and the characters you meet both in and outside of that game (Tsukasa, Mimiru, Bear, BT, Suburu, Sora). You quickly learn that Tsukasa is "stuck" in the game for a reason that is illuminated in later episodes. You hear a lot about the rare item: "key of the twilight". Tsukasa journeys to attempt to figure out why he is not able to log out of the world, and meets several companions/enemies along the way including some of the VR administrators (Subaru and the Crimson Knights). There are captivating sub-plots involving both the player characters and their real-life counterparts.

As I said previously, the "ending" is a bit confusing, but I am referring to the ending as the whole conclusion of .hack//sign. The the sub-plots are extraordinarily done, and I thoroughly enjoyed the actual last episode. What makes this series fun for me is the fact that I've played MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games. phew!). One of the episodes involved Mimiru helping out a new lowlevel, frustrating little girl character, and many MMORPG players can relate to this. The music is well done, though a little repetitive. The animation is unique and characters are pretty memorable, though you don't form as much of a bond to these characters as compared to a series like InuYasha.

All in all, .hack//sign was definitely not a waste of my time. However, it should be noted that if you are easily confused and do not like being confused, DO NOT watch this series unless you plan to commit to the whole rest of it such as the games, .hack//liminality, etc. You may get hung up in the fact that you cannot understand some of the series conclusions, and miss the interesting sub plots. This does not mean you are a bad watcher, or that this is a bad anime; you are simply not compatable.

From a rating of (Excellent-Good-Fair-Poor-Horrid):
Plotline: Fair (due to the confusing nature and limits of watching only .hack//sign)
Characters: Good
Music: Good
Animation: Fair

06 November 2005

Starting Simple? InuYasha Overview and Review

InuYasha was originally released in 1997 by Rumiko Takahashi, and it was a long running 30 minute series that eventually made it state-side. After 7 seasons, 167 episodes and 4 movies, the series ended in 2004. State side you will meet many fans of this show, but also those who say InuYasha is garbage and does not do anime justice. What is the reason for this stark difference of opinion?

Let me give you a brief overview of InuYasha (- spoilers). InuYasha is a "dog-demon" and also notably a half demon (his mother was human), and he foolishly but nobly falls in love with a priestess (miko) named Kikyo, who is in charge of a powerful item called the Shikon Jewel. The evil character in the series, Naraku, tricks the two lovers into turning against each other resulting in the death of Kikyo and the suspended-animation of InuYasha (pinned to a tree by Kikyo). Kagome, a resident of modern Japan, travels down a magical well that connects the two time periods and ends up freeing InuYasha, and thus begins the hunt for Naraku. Miroku, a priest, is cursed with the equivalent of a black hole in his palm that must be covered at all times and will eventually consume him-- also Naraku's doing. Others who have a vendetta against Naraku or his henchmen also join the group (Sango, Shippou).

Back to the split opinions of this series: It has to do with the fact that the series ran for 7 seasons. I have watched the entire series beginning to end in Japanese with English subs. When I began watching, I found the series enticing, the characters unique but somehow engagingly familiar, and the story common but compelling. However, somewhere around episode 60, my interest in the show began to decline. Why? Repetition. The previously captivating storyline became what could be compared to level-griding in a MMORPG...tedious, boring, no plot advancement. I watched the series from this point on because I was still attached to the characters (specifically to the ongoing budding romances between several of the characters in the show), and of course to get to the end!

So, I can see where those who seek to criticize this show find their ground. It does get quite "mindless" at times, especially (and I don't mean to be sexist here but I find it true) to men because I feel they get less attached to the cute romances. Also, there are a lot of cut-and-paste sequences in it (reused= cheaper), which gets annoying. The music isn't that great, either

However, though I do agree with the critical minds, I also see where the InuYasha fan-girls/boys come from. It's a funny, cute, fuzzy-warm series that you can enjoy sitting down to watch. Call me a fence-sitter, though I do lean slightly to the side of the critical on this one.

I can't brand this anime as a "must-see", because it's a cult sensation. You simply have to WANT to see this one to be interested enough to watch all 167 episodes. Plus, now that they are state-side and airing on Cartoon Network, one must battle with the fact that they are forced to watch English dubs. Though I am not TOO much of an elitist here (some dubs for anime can be decent), the dub for InuYasha is HORRIBLE. Watching the show in subtitles and then trying to talk to someone who has watched the dubbed version is like talking about two totally different shows-- all of the special moves, items, etc are referenced very differently. But, this is a gripe for a different post.

I won't give away the ending to InuYasha, but I'll just say it's very "anime-esque"

My overall experience with this series is pretty good. As I said before, an acquired taste. From a rating of (Excellent-Good-Fair-Poor-Horrid):

Plotline: Fair
Characters: Excellent
Music: Poor
Animation: Fair

01 November 2005

Into the New: Exploring Anime

I am a devoted and enthusiastic anime watcher. I am not a rabid manga-swallowing, own-every-anime-ever-made, dub-anime-watcher killer. I thoroughly enjoy this form of animation and the ideas and concepts brought up throughout the media. The list of anime series/movies I have watched includes but is not limited to: Cowboy Bebop, Tenchi Muyo, Inuyasha, Rurouni Kenshin, Naruto, Wolf's Rain, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon, Record of Lodoss Wars, Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell, .hack//sign, Nightwalker, Magic Knights Rayearth, Saiyuki, Read or Die, Weathering Continent, Pretear, and Mononoke Hime. Some of these I have not seen in entirety (Ranma 1/2, Naruto, Saiyuki), and others I have not mentioned I have recently started watching (Noir, Haibane Renmei).

Hopefully here, through my explorations into the world of anime, I can come to better understand this form of art that I have come to love and respect. I do not consider myself an "expert" in this area, but instead am interested in learning more.

To better remember and catalog what I watch, I wish to share my opinions about the anime series I watch, perhaps even enticing others to watch without giving away too much of the plotline. Many of series listed above I watched quite a long time ago, and only remember general feelings and plots, while the ones I newly watch I can more succinctly state why I do or do not enjoy the anime. Either way, the posts will come as I get the urge.