Doamayger-D

Doamayger-D (2015)

Okay, so Doamayger-D fooled me for a moment at first, because I thought I was watching a show produced in the ‘70s but which had been released with extra notes onscreen for modern audiences 😀

But it was made only a few years ago of course and it’s clearly a loving tribute to (and parody of) 1970s mecha.

Everything from the ‘scratchy’ look to the character and robot designs and the battle scenes, down to the acting and narration, it all has that feel. It’s incredibly compact storytelling too, with each episode being about 2 minutes long, with the perfectly on brand ending theme stretching the overall running time a bit.

ILCA maybe wanted to make something truly regional, since aside from the ‘70s mech tropes, the show features baking and sweets common to Kyoto, and it makes me think the episodes are tv spots, or at least able to function as fun little promos for tourism?

Anyway, if you’re curious this won’t take long to check out and if you’re familiar with the tropes and aesthetic of older mech, then you might enjoy Doamayger-D.

3 Stars

Note: Doamayger-D is definitely fun and easy to digest, but I’d try to watch it via disc if possible, since even short load times between 3 minute episodes can feel like a bit much (but that’s no deal-breaker precisely).

Three

So, I haven’t been able to come up with titles for these posts and I didn’t want to ramble – but I kept thinking one post wasn’t enough, and so they’re just here as they are, but basically – if you’re in a position to support a POC creative somehow, then now’s gotta be a good time to do so.

For my part, I’m hunting for peoples’ ko-fi or similar tonight (and tomorrow) but I’m also open to suggestions if you know someone who might be struggling.

Two

Hope you’re all safe right now if you’re in the USA but also, I’m down here hoping things are better on the other side – whenever that may be.

I know here in Australia things are quieter on the surface… but there are plenty of examples of the same, horrific police brutality here, so look after each other if you’re out in public.

Promare

Promare (2019)

Whenever folks complain about CGI in anime (as I sometimes certainly do) it’s not about this level of application and integration, I hope.

Promare looks amazing, and some scenes are burnt into my memory I reckon – two of which I’ll mention below. There is definitely a lot to like if you’re a fan of Gainax, Trigger or mecha in general, or I’d add, even the neon aesthetic of the 1980s.

For a change, I’m going to include a short summary of the premise (from Wikipedia) though I imagine there aren’t tonnes of folks who aren’t at least vaguely familiar with the film:

The planet Earth suffered a calamity known as the Great World Blaze, where the fires from mass spontaneous human combustions killed half the world’s population. Certain ones developed pyrokinetic abilities during and subsequent to the event, and became known as the Burnish.

Thirty years later, Galo Thymos lives and works as a member of the firefighting group Burning Rescue, in the city of Promepolis. He responds to incidents involving the purported Mad Burnish, a group of liberating terrorists [led by Lio Fotia].

One thing that struck me, especially in these times, is that it was nice to see fire-fighters as heroes as opposed to say, police, which to be honest I couldn’t stomach at the moment. But getting back to Promare, I really enjoyed the dynamic between the leads (two hot-heads in a way) – since it was a little different from the classic kid must pilot mecha to save the world.

And while comparisons between Promare and Gurren Lagann (especially re: Galo and Kamina) can be made, I think it was fun to have two heroes who start off as adversaries work together to take on the glittering facade of a true villain. That’s a trope that I’m enjoying a lot lately, so I guess it spoke to me when I cheered Galo and Lio on.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way the film balanced itself to appeal to a range of audiences, and in a way it really felt like Trigger nailed that ‘commercially-successful but-still-artistic’ project really well. (I may have said this before, but I’m not a huge fan of those two things being set up as opposite ends of a quality spectrum actually).

So, if you’re on the fence about watching or purchasing this I think that Promare has that real blockbuster feel, with a fun blend of action, character and comedy, and for me it definitely had enough reveals to be interesting, pay-offs to be satisfying and both likeable and understandable characters to keep me hooked.

What I will mention is the visual aspect – the colour palette is extremely 1980s (or even Vaporwave if you’re younger, I guess) and that might wear some folks down – in some action sequences there maybe wasn’t enough definition between moving parts to really track what was happening, so I think it’d be worth watching more than once in that respect.

Elsewhere, the hard lines and solid colours also kept things distinctive – in a way, it kinda brought Ben 10 to mind, but that’s not a good comparison tone-wise. Promare is definitely anime.

For the two moments I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, I wanted to find images for both but I’m not sure the internet will provide what I need… but there are a few shots from (beneath) an ice lake that are perfectly serene, and there’s also a fantastic range of styles compressed into Lio’s volcano scene that I think fans of animation should see at least once.

You could watch it here of course, but in the context of the whole film it’s obviously better

Okay, that’s about it! Basically, I really enjoyed Promare and I think I’ll grab a copy one day, but I was lucky that just last week Animelab randomly decided to put the movie up for streaming across a three day period!

5 Stars

More screen-time for Ignis needed!

TTGL Collab with Scott from Mechanical Anime

Here it is!

I’ve been (typically?) awfully busy of late, and so a combination of scheduled posts + random bursts of energy have kept me in the blogging game, but today I want to share something that was heaps of fun and which I worked on with Scott for a while (I slowed things down a few times, sadly).

It’s a collaboration post on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (which I’d never seen before!) and it was awesome to work with Scott, who knows so much about Mecha and so if you’ve got a few mins and you want to check out what we talked about just take a look at the link below 🙂

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Collaboration.

It’s my second collaboration post so far and I hope to do more in the future!

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Gargantia)

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Gargantia) 2013

Once again, I’m going to fight my urge to ramble here – so, that means just a few paragraphs now, focusing on Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet this time.

If you’ve never come across this series I think I’ll mention that it stands out in the mecha genre a bit, in no small part due to the amazing setting. For me, I could have watched ten extra episodes more in line with the first half of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, which had a fun slice-of-life feel at times, as the characters go about their business upon a verdant and vibrant, connected fleet of ships. Likewise, I could have enjoyed the scenery just as long – it’s bright and textured, yet didn’t feel repetitive; I left off sure that we could have explored a lot more.

The show delves into the requisite fan-service at times, but the main focus in Gargantia… (aside from the eventual re-emergence of the science-fiction) is probably pilot Ledo’s faltering attempts to understand a new culture. I really enjoyed seeing his trials there, both with language and ideology, but for action fans you’ll be given more battles and violence in the last few episodes. There, a lot of the warmth is jettisoned, along with lead character Amy’s role but I suppose in exchange for that you do get some development from a different character – the somewhat dubious Pinion.

In some ways this is like two halves of a longer series condensed into one short series, where the ‘science-fiction space war’ part is mostly placed aside as the hero adapts to his new circumstances. Seen that way, I think Gargantia… has a fair bit in common with the First Contact sub-genre, only it’s one kind of human meeting others.

The anime looks great of course, with Production IG at the helm, but if you were hunting down the works of Gen Urobuchi don’t expect something like Pyscho-Pass… though there is a sub-plot featuring a cult here that would have fit into that dystopia. If you like mech design for salvaging as much as for fighting, and if you want some comedy and a fresh setting to go with your science-fiction, then I reckon you’d enjoy this despite some uneven aspects for me.

3 Stars

Ah, yes – the time-honoured tradition in anime of having animals resting on the heads of characters.

Gunsmith Cats: Bulletproof

Gunsmith Cats: Bulletproof 1995

Gunsmith Cats maybe still holds that ‘cult’ status now, even after the internet has no doubt introduced more folks to this mid-90s OVA. (So too, the Kickstarter campaign that funded a re-issue a few years back now.)

I love so much about this series but I’m torn when it comes to rating Gunsmith Cats.

And my main concern with the show is obviously Minnie May. I understand in the English language versions she is meant to be (technically) an adult and while she acts like one in some ways, she sure looks like a kid and so it’s creepy. In the manga, it’s worse than creepy.

So I can’t say this is a five-star work of art – even if the art and animation can be top notch, especially that car chase.

Obviously, if you’re a fan you’ll know that Gunsmith Cats and Riding Bean have a clear connection but I think the appeal of the show is the action rather than its links, especially the vehicles, guns and the way they’re both animated. I’m not one to rhapsodise over guns at all but the attention to detail throughout is undeniable.

The same goes for the cars – Rally’s Cobra is pretty amazing.

But not all of the action sequences are based on the road – there are a few tense moments indoors too, often fed by that classic action convention of ‘who can the good guys trust?’. If you like the type of US-style action films that bring stuff like Lethal Weapon to mind, there’s a good chance you could enjoy this despite the loli crap.

I’ve always found the story engaging and one of the antagonists is something a little different in some ways, yet so clearly ‘action film’ in others. It can be fun to spot those moments, and in terms of spotting things – it’s also clear that care was put into the setting too. Production teams spent a bit of time in Chicago and so what I imagine are a few key tourist spots or buildings pop up during the three episodes.

Ultimately, I think this is a key text in the ‘girls with guns’ sub-genre but it’s definitely not without an unpleasant flaw.

The Perfect Insider (Subete ga F ni Naru)

The Perfect Insider (Subete ga F ni Naru) 2015

Okay, so in an effort to avoid spoiler-territory I’ve been wondering how to phrase what I guess you’d call a ‘content warning’ about this one – something you’d see on the cover of the DVD, basically. Here in Australia, my copy says that The Perfect Insider contains “strong themes and sexual references” but that’s not very specific, of course.*

Instead, I’ll note that while indeed there are certainly shows and films that are far more harrowing, The Perfect Insider is still concerned with the worst of humanity.

But in other ways it’s a classic murder-mystery that uses the “locked-room” premise to tell its chilling tale. What is a little different here is that the detectives aren’t in law enforcement and instead we’re solving the crime with a university professor, Sōhei Saikawa and one of his students, Moe Nishinosono.

I do like police procedural a lot but it’s also nice to have a break, though this isn’t Jessica Fletcher in Cabot Cove either.

Yet the story does take place in an isolated setting and the production team has to address mobile phones and their impact on isolation as a plot device, since as society’s technology develops, I guess writers have to spend more time closing it off in realistic manners. And, considering The Perfect Insider is based on a novel from 1996, mobile phones might not be the only changes you notice if you’re familiar with the book. (Having said that, I haven’t read the novel, Everything Becomes F, but I believe some of MORI Hiroshi’s other stories featuring the same characters have been translated into English.)

In my obsession to find links between texts I wondered if this sequence wasn’t a clear nod to Lum.

Hmmm, as seems to be normal for me, I’ve barely touched upon the actual series so far – so I’d better do that now.

The Perfect Insider has the pacing and character-focus common to a Mystery, rather than the action of a Thriller, and I know some folks consider the series dialogue-heavy but I really enjoyed that. There’s some fun verbal sparring between the leads too and all the way through I was quite curious about the central mystery, so that worked for me, as did the pay-off for the most part.

Visually, don’t go in to this anime expecting a lot of flashy things but I loved the colour and lighting throughout, the character designs stood out for me too and there are a few great sequences like this one:

The show can be a little gruesome, and while that aspect is not relentless, there is the element I alluded to at the beginning of the review to keep in mind if you’re trying to decide whether to give this anime a shot.

I suppose you could argue that there were a couple of detours that didn’t add a whole lot to the central questions but they are generally character-building. There was one POV choice that I think didn’t work and I’m curious about the novel there, but again, I won’t mention specifics here re: spoilers.

I could possibly watch The Perfect Insider/Everything Becomes F again in a year or two, just to see how many more clues and hints I can pick up on this time around. I reckon detective or mystery buffs out there will figure things out before I did, but as is often the case with a murder-mystery the question of ‘why’ can be more gripping than ‘who’ or even ‘how’.

4 Stars

*I could circle endlessly around what I want to mention, I guess. Ideally, I’d just write: “this is a great murder mystery but be aware that it contains [aspect]” yet I still think even that much would constitute a spoiler here.

Get ready for the 1990s to be echoed a little in the cigarettes
This shot was interesting as the composition hid nearly everyone’s faces – but it didn’t feel like a red herring kinda, “let’s cast suspicion moment” either.

The song for the end credits maybe doesn’t suit the mood but it is pretty great nevertheless 😀