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[personal profile] salinea
The last third of 2012, I spent watching a lot of anime with [personal profile] runespoor. A lot of those were rewatches for me, and I don't have much to say besides that I still love Utena and Princess Tutu to death, that the lack of Michiko e Hatchin fics is criminal, and that I can't help but love Code Geass to death despite a lot of flaws, also Kaleido Stars was even better than I remembered and I should go seriously hunt for fics some day. And Dark than Black is good. And so's Skip Beat! but it doesn't go far enough into the manga.

But there was also some new to me stuff:

Puella Magica Madoka
A deconstructive and dark take on Magical Girls, in a very Faustian way. Visually and conceptually brilliant, I can't say I was very eager to get into it (I was watching in a very paranoid mood), but it still works very well as a story and has powerful emotional moments, as well as some excellent creepiness. While I can't say I fell in love with the characters or their dynamics I did enjoy watching it a lot, and there were a couple of moments were it was a close call; and while I find some of the angle on Magical Girl as a genre unappealing, it still stands on its own in very efficient and elegant way. It's not the best anime of all time, bu yeah, it is actually almost as good as the biggest fans make it sound.

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha
Magical Girl meets Science Fiction seinen, with friending everyone for greater justice and also overwhelming weaponry.
Having already tried to watch the anime series and then given up after three episodes, we went with the movie this time, which I think worked much better for me. It still has pacing issues; but I had less time to roll my eyes at the all the moe aesthetics and wince at the fanservice, and it does have some very efficient storytelling and emotionally gripping moments.

Then we watched the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanonha A's series, which I also enjoyed for some of the good storytelling and emotionally gripping moments; but had a lot more issues with all the moe and bad pacing, and some of the overly manipulative set up.

We're in the middle of Strikers and have kind of stalled because, well, the same reasons. I think I'd enjoy the whole series much more if I stuck to movies.

Sailor Moon S1
With a skip-the-filler rec list. I was a little bit bored with it at the beginning although it was cute and funny; but it really gets into its groove by the second arc and then you get really attached to the characters and the story and the emotional moment and you realise why it's so iconic a series for so many people.
Both [personal profile] runespoor and I turned into very big fan of Zoisite.

Oban Star Racer
Actually a French cartoon, albeit one with a lot of anime like visual style and genre convention ;)
A Science Fiction racing pod series about a young girl who wants to connect back with her abandoning asshole of a father who gets thrust as a result into the big racing game that will determine the geopolitical balance of the whole Galaxy for the next 10,000 years and thus could save the earth from the evil aliens who'd like to conquer it.
Oban has a very stylisized and gorgeous visual style; including wonderful scenery porn, breathtaking action sequences, and adorable character design. It has great characters and characterisation and overall a lot of great relationship dynamics (including some very odd choice of slash subtext which I am not complaining about because I find it hilarious and awesome). The storytelling is also very good, although a bit on the shounen formula side it manages to keep you on your toes for most of it, and sometimes still surprises.Overall very much recommended.

On my own I watched:
Chihayafuru: An anime series of this year, about a girl trying to found a club for the obscure Japanese card game of Karita that's she's passionate about, along with her unlucky childhood friend.
This is a pretty awesome show, with an excellent balance between shounen-style training & competition antics and characterizations/romance (there's a romantic triangle in which all three characters are great and nuanced and have well drawn relationships to one another and you really feel for them, especially aforementioned unlucky childhood friend) - the demographic of the original manga is actually a josei! They do a lot of work to show the Karita game as great (which sadly I don't find very convincing, it mostly revolves around fast reflexes & memorisation + a flavour of traditional Japanese poetry; so Go or Chess it is not in terms of strategy) so you can get drawn in the story; and the storytelling/pacing is great. Mostly it's the characters who are adorable and well depicted - including very secondary characters who makes the show. Another interesting bits is the way they focus on the thematics of... I'd say underachievement? How people who feel like they will fail in any case are encouraged to not try at all; and how you fight that. It's a pretty odd point of view to have depicted in a sympathetic way in that sort of anime and is very well done.
The biggest weakness is the lack of ending, but hey! Second season starts this winter so it's the best time to get into it ;)

The House of the Eliotts S1 & a good 2/3 of S2
So somewhere on failfandom_anon I saw someone saying they couldn't get into Downton Abbey because they kept hoping for it to be House of the Eliotts. Since my own watching of Downton Abbey I kept hoping for it to be something else, I thought perhaps I could enjoy this more.
And it is very good. It's certainly much less sentimental than Downton Abbey (which is what I hate most about that series), and while it is still pretty soappy at times, it doesn't feel like it goes completely unbelievable (yet).
It's a Brittish series from the '90s. The story is set in the '20s, and focusses on two upper middle class young women as their controlling and overly forbidding father has just died and they have to find out how to live on their own, and finally enjoy their freedom, and set up a fashion house. It's really great in term of development of female characters and their relationships.
I don't think they handle class issues any better than Downton Abbey does, though, and possibly worse; though they get more into that in the second season and I'm curious to see where it'll lead.

An American buddy private detective show set in San Diego. Excellently well done, a shame it only had one season before cancellation. One of the main character is a recovering Alcoholic who lost his job as a cop and had his marriage broken by his addiction; the other is a former thief.
This show has a very gritty, down to earth and working class quality that is very intriguing. It has a very strange balance between comedy and grimness: I can't call it light hearted but it is sometimes very funny and at the same time there are a lot of darker elements to it. The characters are pretty messed up, and they try to do better and to help one another, but at the same time they also act in self destructive way and shoot themselves down a lot. The writing is overall very good.

X-Men Evolution S4
And I finally finished the last season. Had some difficulty with that because I was really getting sick of the bad characterisation of some characters and mishandling of the X-Men themes by the end. Not only did they mess up with Magneto, Pietro, Wanda, Storm and Mystique, but they also managed to fuck up with Gabby and Legion at which point there is just no forgiveness.
The second season will remain my favourite part of the series.

And for the anime series I watched this Autumn season:
Kami-sama Kiss: A very cute romcom about a young highschool girl who just lost her home due to eviction who becomes the new God of the Land (despite being human) at a local shrine, and then has to deal with her new temple familiar, a bad tempered, acidic tongued wild fox.
Despite the threadbare production values, this was pretty good. Good comedic timing, fun characters (our main character does have agency and even badassness at times, her love interest is quite charming in a fun way and isn't a jerk in an annoying way for a shoujo, but in an entertaining, vixenish way. There are some iffy issues with another secondary magical characters later on, which the series doesn't dwell on though. But overall, quite the fun little series.

K (may have a second season somewhere down the line): A urban fantasy series revolving around two magical groups skirmiching against one another - one is a gang, the other are rules-bound and uniforms-clad - the mysterious young happy-go-lucky student who may or may not be evil (spoiler alert: he turns out to be a Nazi scientist, but a nice one. Bet you didn't see that coming. Yeah, I'm spoiling you guys because I don't think people want to watch series where the protagonist turns out to be a Nazi scientist, surprise!, especially a nice one) and the samurai who is looking for him in order to kill him (if he is evil).
This is the sort of series of which people say that it is very anime. It has a lot of tropes for the sake of tropes, naked catgirls prancing around gratuitously, maleslash subtext between a bazillion of characters, lots of cool fights with powers and nifty animation and abuse of a blue filter. So yeah, overall it is very zany, and style over substance. I've seen people say that they weren't sure it had any real themes - I guess because it's better than admitting that the fun & zany anime series they've just enjoyed is about how fascism makes everyone happy. The sad thing is, I didn't even dislike it.

Zetsuen no Tempest (still on going): This one revolves around two highschool student who are childhood friend, one is a reckless, selfish hotheaded, and the other - our viewpoint character - is more levelheaded and somewhat manipulative; as they get involved into a big epic magical showdown that involves Lovecraftian fruits turning whole cities' populations into metal and a Magical Princess exiled on a desert island communicating with out protagonist with a "voodoo" doll. Also there was the hotheaded's sister who died a year ago, and his resulting quest for vengeance, and our protagonist hiding a key fact to him about his relationship with the sister. Oh, and, also, there are a lot of Shaekspeare quotes. Especially Hamlet and the Tempest (at some point our protagonist actually muses that he's trying to shift the story from being Hamlet into being The Tempest, with a happy ending).
I'm not sure this is a very good series - some characters are underdeveloped and the way it revolves around expositions and very long dialogues as main key of dramatic tension shows it's probably not a very good adaptation. However, it is pretty fun. I like the main quatuor of characters - that's the highschool students, the princess, and the dead sister who shows up in flashback and is very deadpan snarker - they all have strong and charismatic personalities which make for good banter, except for our protagonist who is much more low key and long suffering but entertainingly sarcastic about his supposed best friend. There are some fun dynamics. The world building of the magic system is so-so, it doesn't always feel as interesting as it should be and they spend a bit too much time on it, but it's followed up with seriousness which I always like and has a few intriguing ideas.

Psycho Pass (still on going): A distopic cyberpunk series about cops in a society where everyone's Psychological status is constantly monitored for the sake of determining if they're a potential criminal (or, for that matter, to determine what's the best life for them), with a fresh new cop who is a young, idealist, supposedly very smart woman, and one of her subaltern, belonging to the group of the Potential Criminals who do the actual investigation in cases.
This is the sort of series... that isn't quite as smart as it thinks it is, and revolves a little bit too much on hamming the thematics for the viewers. It is however still pretty good, and as some pretty good ideas and follow up on the thematics and some quite good storytelling and plotting overall. The characters are pretty weak and sometimes not very credible though.

From the New World (still on going): Another distopic SF story, this one about the society a thousand years from current days, that exist in a world where humans develop telekinetic power. It follows a group of children as they are educated and socialised in a very agricultural and seemingly peaceful world, but where they are taught to fear all sorts of creatures on the outside, as well as the possibility to turn into demons. As they grow up, they find out a lot more about their world and the terrible secrets it hides.
Probably the best series of the lot, this has a touch of horror underneath a quiet exterior that is wonderfully chilling and well done and yet remains very fresh in its texture. It develops the ideas and follows their conclusion in a very intriguing way. The characters are believable if not extremely charismatic, and the complexity of their relationships are overall well done. Unlike Psycho Pass - since they both deal with the concept of going to very far in order to monitor the psychological state of people - you can actually why the system exists, why it got this far because people were desperate without denying the horror of it, and that works out much better in dealing with those thematics for it.

Date: 7 January 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
meganbmoore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meganbmoore
I like House of Eliott a lot. Sadly, they ended season 3 thinking they were getting another season, and then didn't.

Is Kami-sama Kiss finished, then? for some reason, i thought it was still airing.

I need new icons

Date: 8 January 2013 09:16 am (UTC)
runespoor: steph as robin, somersaulting joyfully, while cass uses a grapplehook to try and catch up (batgirl&robin | flying)
From: [personal profile] runespoor
Some of these things look very interesting.

The biggest weakness is the lack of ending, but hey! Second season starts this winter so it's the best time to get into it ;)
-_- ffffffff

Also you forgot a "0" in the Oban count. The Great Race is a much bigger deal than you or anyone sensible likes to think. >:D

I was just thinking I needed to do this kind of post as well. Strange minds think alike!

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