Update Quest 2020 (9)

The ninth batch of these posts does include the first game I reviewed here, but I think at this point I’m still back in Sept of ’19 in terms of ‘catching up’.

Origin: Spirits of the Past
Big Fish & Begonia
Hollow Knight (Switch)
Castlevania (TV Series)

Fairly sure I still have a few of these posts left too, based on what I remember as having only a few images/being in need of an update. Had a bit of trouble sourcing images from my Origins disc, hoping this won’t be a recurring problem though.

The Sword in the Stone (1963)

The Sword in the Stone (1963)

To begin, I thought I should note that this is the Disney film where the team emotionally torments that poor chipmunk character, and also mention that The Sword in the Stone isn’t an exploration of the Arthurian legend.

That timeless Chip ‘n’ Dale chipmunk design

Instead, I think you can consider it more of a series of fun, loosely connected sequences put together to delight young children with colour and slapstick. Which is not a bad thing at all, and it was a film I watched over and over as a kid on my grandmother’s TV, so I have fond memories indeed!

And it’s always great to see Disney’s love of forests on display too, something I notice and compare each time I watch a Disney film. Most of Arthur’s transformations make for exciting scenes but as an adult, I could feel certain moments starting to drag a little, and others felt a little rushed compared to what I sought from a King Arthur/Merlin tale.

Feels like you could draw a neat link from this scene to ‘Finding Nemo’

One scene that sticks around a little long for me is obviously the squirrel one, whereas anything in the city tends to be a more rushed. Having Wart’s character voiced by three actors (including two brothers which was cool) made the variance between them quite stark, even too stark at times.

Overall, I don’t want to call The Sword in the Stone a bad film but there are enough better Disney ones to maybe seek out first. I still enjoyed the moat chase and the dueling magicians (when Merlin confronts Madam Mim) but I wasn’t enchanted this time around.

3 Stars 

Classic Dinsey to bring in the present to any historical story.

Amon Saga

Amon Saga (1986)

Amon Saga is classic sword and sorcery in anime form that is definitely up front about its influences – obviously via tropes common to the genre, but this revenge story might also bring to mind Schwarzenegger-era Conan too.

Elsewhere, there’s an interesting mix between what I think of as hints of Elric of Melniboné and ‘D’ from Vampire Hunter D.

And maybe that’s partly due to the character designs by Yoshitaka Amano?

The OVA also has a few exciting sequences and some memorable moments and characters (for me, it’s Alcan who almost steals the show) yet what I think what I enjoyed most was the visuals – especially the use of colour and shadow. Some older films, especially those that pre-date modern CGI techniques, spend a lot more time on composition, on shadow or colour, and while my screencaps probably don’t back up my claim, it’s definitely there.

I really enjoyed Amon Saga but it’s probably not one I’ll watch annually, despite the visuals.

There’s a lot to like there but the story didn’t match it, I think, whether because of what I thought was a bit of missing world-building or the sense that Amon rode off into the sunset simply ‘because’, or the fact that I didn’t really get to know him enough.

However, if you like retro anime, fantasy and adventure, then this is still going to satisfy on some levels at least, even if it probably won’t end up your new favourite.

3 Stars

Thanks to Josh for bringing this to my attention too 🙂

Not my best screencap effort here 😀
The transfer for my DVD seems a bit darker than it probably looked upon release.

Treasure Planet

I believe Treasure Planet was at one point among the most expensive animated films ever made, and while that obviously didn’t automatically make it brilliant, I think the movie is still pretty great.

Treasure Planet (2002)

Equally, it’s ‘under-performance’ box-office wise doesn’t automatically make it poor, either.

To me, this early 2000s era of Disney is kind of a push toward making animated films for somewhat older audiences. This one and Atlantis or even Hercules perhaps, seem to point to that (since-abandoned) trend, but most folks consider the time period as a slump for the company.

Still, tweaking Robert Louis Stephenson’s Treasure Island and transferring it into a sci-fi setting definitely let the artists showcase a new world and fun ideas (like the solar surfing) while at the same time holding onto a tried and true storyline.

For me, everything pretty much works great in the change from sea pirates to sky pirates.

There are a few aspects I didn’t love (like poor old Ben), but they were minor. One thing that stood out were the performances, especially Brian Murray as John Silver and David Hyde Pierce as Dr Doppler, though it was impossible not to hear Niles Crane the whole time 😀 (I was also thrilled to recognise Roscoe Lee Browne as Mr Arrow.)

While I’ve hinted at the maybe slightly older audience here, our hero Jim never crosses over into what could be called ‘cold-blooded, weapons-based violence’ – even to save himself. So that’s one reason for me to note that it’s still clearly a PG text, but that’s not a mark against the film either.

There’s a classic, adventure mix of action, suspense, mystery and exploration in Treasure Planet but above all for me, I think it’s the mentor/surrogate father figure relationship that keeps everything together.

4 Stars

This is what I always think of as the ‘One-Eyed Willie’ homage, just with bonus eyes of course.

A Little About Anime in 2006

More than once, I’ve mentioned that my favourite eras of anime tend to be the 1980s and 1990s. However, the 2000s certainly contain many of my favourites as well. And so today I’m going to write about just one of those years – two thousand and six.

This post won’t have any structure, I guess (apologies!) – but I’ve got some facts and figures here, a bit of trivia and some ranked lists before I mention my own favs, all mixed in with the occasional general thought.

… And I think I’ll start with those stats (as per Wikipedia):

  • 306 anime television programs produced.
  • Sales of DVDs and Laserdiscs in Japan: 95 billion yen.
  • Box Office earnings for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: 300 Million Yen.

Seeing that number of shows produced, woah – you could nearly watch one a day for the entire year. In comparison, 2018 seems to have at least 260 produced and jumping back to 1982, it’s only 42 with about 15 of those films, not tv series.

Clear marker of massive growth!

Okay, now for some ranked lists from a few different places – sadly, finding historical lists was not possible based on the short amount time I spent on this search 😀

First, here’s one from IMDB focusing on 2006, which placed the following shows at the top:

  1. Aria the Natural (2006– )
  2. Code Geass (2006–2012)
  3. Black Lagoon (2006)
  4. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006–2009)
  5. Negima! Magister Negi Magi (2006–2008)

And now MAL – last night when I checked over there, the all time ‘Top anime’ list contained two shows from 2006 inside its Top 50:

13: Gintama
40: Code Geass

(I also saw Mushi-Shi a little further below, though the series started in 2005 and finished in ’06 so I’m not sure I should count it here.)

And two more sites I checked also feature familiar titles from 2006 in their favs – Anilist has Death Note at #3 whereas over at Anime-Planet the first entry for 2006 I found was Code Geass sitting at #43. Next up from the year in question was Death Note in position #96.

How about you – got a fav or two from 2006?

I can’t really disagree or agree too much with those lists, since I haven’t seen enough from each (although Death Note wouldn’t be so generally high for me). Obviously, none of my searching represents anything comprehensive. I’ve also missed a few titles, left off a few that I came across too, since I can’t mention 306 shows here 😀

But finally to my lists – these ones aren’t ranked, it’s mostly just things that I found interesting, favourite shows or ones I want to see.

So, based on my memory + the recent reading up on the year, and lists, it does seem that 2006 was dominated by the following two anime:

  • Code Geass
  • Death Note

But if I was sharing longer lists before, you could see that 2006 was also the year when the following titles were released/continued/wrapped up, many of which also remain fan favs today:

  • Higurashi When They Cry
  • xxxHolic
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society
  • Aria the Natural (second season)
  • Hellsing Ultimate (OVA 1 and OVA 2 I think)
  • Hell Girl (finishing)
  • Mushi-Shi (finishing)

And, there’s a whole host more, of course!

But in terms of anime from the year, ones that that I’m still chasing down, here are three on my list – and I’m ranging from ‘very keen’ to ‘curious’ about these:

  • Ghost Slayers Ayashi
  • The Wallflower
  • Nana

If you’ve seen any I’d love to hear if you’d recommended them!

At long last, here are my favourites from 2006, though I might have forgotten to include some. So far, I’ve reviewed only 5 here at the Heap, but I’ll include just a line or so about each now, before finishing up!

  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

A huge film from Mamoru Hosoda – fun premise, memorable leads and everything looks great, of course. Is it old enough to call ‘classic’ yet?

  • Intrigue in the Bakumatsu – Irohanihoheto

I haven’t seen a whole host of anime featuring travelling theatre groups, so this really caught my eye, in addition to the historical setting and supernatural elements.

  • Ghost Hunt

More supernatural – mixing suspense and some comedy, though this single season leaves a lot up in the air, I still really liked it.

  • Pumpkin Scissors

Sometimes compared to FMA, Pumpkin Scissors is a dark but not oppressive war-time anime following a small team of soldiers fighting injustice and corruption.

  • Ergo Proxy

My all-time number 2 from my top ten – one of my favourite science-fiction works in any medium, I think.

  • The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye

I also love adventure stories, and usually ones based on light novels or just novels in general, tend to have great plots and charactarisation. I’ve always found it interesting that The Third has a narrator.

  • Black Lagoon

Girls with guns, but also crime drama + a SE Asian setting really makes this stand out for me. Over the top but that’s a definitely plus.

  • Red Garden

I don’t see this one mentioned a whole lot, maybe because it’s aged visually? But it’s a supernatural crime show that once caught my eye, grim but engaging.

  • Le Chevalier D’Eon

I think I’ve said this before, but this has one of the greatest first episodes I’ve seen in anime, though I did find myself struggling with the pacing at times. Still, swords and the supernatural 😀

  • Paprika

Satoshi Kon’s Paprika is a superb psychological thriller, great science-fiction that looks great too and is far superior to the Christopher Nolan adaptation known as Inception.

Done! *wipes brow*

I’ve been working on this for a while and foolishly, I thought it’d be a ‘quick’ post but of course, I got carried away a bit.

In any event, how about for you – what stood out in 2006? Anything I haven’t mentioned here that’s worth investigating? Have you seen Ghost Slayers Ayashi, The Wallflower or Nana?

Hit me with thoughts on 2006!

Toward the Terra (1980)

Toward the Terra (1980)

I tend to really enjoy stories that feature big concepts – especially imaginings of the future, and Toward the Terra features both of those things.

While it’s a generational story that skips a few years here and there, the beginning especially gives us a look at an unsettling ‘utopia’, a place boasting order and health but a place where a character might say something like “I’m sick of boys, let’s get a girl next time” and this statement would be perfectly normal.

The repressive society featured in Toward the Terra isn’t the main focus precisely, but it is the structure that our Chosen One (Jomy) must rebel against.

Ultimately, the story is a far-future struggle between humans and Mu (Mu are humans who can use psychic powers) and while the film does feature space battles and struggles, it’s not so much a war between equal and opposing sides, it’s more like a brainwashed humanity seeking to commit genocide upon the Mu.

It can be pretty grim – and while the ‘80s designs and animation might not make some of those things seem as visceral as modern shows could, it’s still compelling.

For me, the time skips I mentioned before suggest that this adaption would have worked really well as a series (and twenty-seven years later maybe it does :D), allowing the story to further explore things like Jomy and Physis for one, but beside that and similar issues related to the huge story and limited running time, I enjoyed Toward the Terra plenty.

4 Stars