Selasa, 10 November 2009

Inuyasha: The Final Act

With the assistance of wind demon Kagura, Hakudoshi plans to help Moryomaru, who houses within him Naraku's expelled heart, acquire enough power to overthrow their mutual creator. Where to get the necessary power? Why the Shikon Jewel of course. As they have in their possession the only extant shards of the jewel, InuYasha's band comes instantly under fire. The resultant clash leaves all parties playing right into Naraku's scheming hands.

Back in 2004, Sunrise made the wise decision to cease animation of InuYasha until enough original material was compiled to justify reviving it. Five years later, Takahashi's manga has finally run its course and Sunrise has carefully reassembled the original cast and crew to bring the franchise's last remaining stories to the small screen. For the fans who have been waiting with bated breath for the beast to rear its head once more, this will be mana from heaven: pure canon bliss, with more advancement in a single episode than many of the previous seasons saw in their entire runs. For the less scrupulously faithful, or the plain forgetful, though, this will be a thirty-minute whirlwind of unadulterated confusion.

Since its humble beginnings as a “feudal fairy tale”, InuYasha has become a colossally convoluted monster, and this episode drops us with no preparation into the middle of the miasma. Moryomaru is a demon who ate the demon who sprang from the half of Hakudoshi that had within him Naraku's heart which Naraku had expelled in order to…oh f***. Who the hell can keep up with that after a five-year gap? This is one for the fans—and only the fans. The production's impeccable tho.

Darker Than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini

Probably this season's most anticipated sequel after Kiddy Girl-and and InuYasha Final, Ryūsei no Gemini begins in fine form with another tale of an ordinary person plunged into the extraordinary world of contractors and their handlers. The ordinary person this time is Suou, whose twin brother Shion is transformed one bloody night into a contractor. In the years since, her scientist father has been studying contractors and Shion has been confined to his prison-like room while Suou has been busy living the life of a normal girl and dreaming of visiting her mother in Japan. That ends the day her best friend Tanya also makes the shift to contractor and the Russian army descends on their town like a flock of buzzards. Suou escapes the chaos in the care of MI-6 agent April, only to run afoul of an old acquaintance of April's in the woods outside of town: BK-201.

Ryūsei no Gemini hits the ground running and barely lets up for a breath, only slowing long enough to introduce Suou before dumping her into the middle of a dark and very dangerous puzzle. The series makes fine use of its somewhat uneven first season, taking full advantage of the characters and world established during its rather slow start and the personal issues and human/contractor conflicts left unresolved by its hurried conclusion. Using Hei as the episode's bogeyman is a nice Touch, and the contractor battles are as endlessly inventive and sadistically unpredictable as ever, not to mention freakishly cool. This is a sequel as they should be: a work that builds on what came before without losing what made the original work. Smart, engrossing stuff; not to be missed by anyone with a taste for action and intrigue.

Letter Bee

Beautiful settings and intricate costuming continue to create an enveloping fairy-tale ambience and the simple purity of its plot continues to appeal, even as Tegami Bachi as a whole fails to congeal into something compelling.

As orphaned Lag Seeing continues his cross-country trek with Letter Bee Gauche, the two naturally grow close. Gauche tries to distance himself, but the strengthening bond between the two is undeniable. Later Gauche is wounded saving Lag and Lag valiantly drags him miles to their destination. Once fully recovered, Gauche affirms his friendship with the one-eyed tyke and Lag swears to one day become a Letter Bee like Gauche.

There are suspiciously shonen-ish elements sprinkled throughout—Lag's dream to become a Letter Bee, his powered-up false eye—but the languid pace and quiet atmosphere set Tegami Bachi definitively apart from hyperactive action-fests of the Shonen Jump stripe. It's a deliberately slow and introspective show, far more interested in its characters and vaguely spooky fantasy setting than in its frankly cursory action. It can, and does, cross the line to maudlin and loves dropping specialized terminology (anime's answer to world-building), but it's also well-constructed and genuinely touching. That said, it has neither the insight nor the poetic bent of, say, Junichi Sato's forays into myth-building, nor does it have the compulsive watchability of the best serialized entertainment. Ultimately it's a good-looking, guilt-free diversion. Not something to be ashamed of, but nothing to cheer from the rafters about either.

Senin, 09 November 2009

New anime: Fairy Tail

Death, taxes, and super-powered teens who pummel evil—the three constants of the world. Honestly, no one really needs me or anyone else to tell them what to expect here. We've been reliving this experience for decades:

In a land of magic, Lucy is a Celestial Wizard yet to be enrolled in an official guild. Her heart is set on Fairy Tail, the wildest of the guilds, but she has no idea how to get in. In a port town she meets, and treats to a messy meal, an odd duck named Natsu. Natsu is looking for a dragon named Igneel, and while Lucy can't help him, when she's kidnapped by slave traders, he most certainly can help her. As fate (or the shonen gods of wildly unrealistic coincidences) would have it, Natsu is a Fairy Tail wizard. Who better to introduce Lucy to the craziest guild of them all than its craziest member? After he kicks some slaver ass, of course.

You know the movie Super Size Me, where the guy eats nothing but McDonalds for thirty days and turns into a bloated, apathetic, pate-livered wreck? If you did nothing but watch shonen action series, that's basically what would happen to your brain. That said, like a greasy hamburger, there's nothing wrong with indulging once in a while, and there's no denying it's tasty when you do. The fights are cool, the buffed-out lead is just unbalanced enough to be fun, and in a surprising move, Lucy is given a healthy slice of the action spotlight. Natsu may save her rear in a pinch, but she's plenty capable enough to reciprocate. Plus her astrology-based magic is a kick (her summoned creatures bad-mouth her). Amusing. In moderation, of course.