Archive for November, 2009

DtB: Ryuusei no Gemini Episode 8 – What Misaki heard

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Playing the part where she listened to the recording again and again in a slower pace, I can figure out the words ‘anata dake ni kikoeru,’ more or less.

This roughly translates to ‘And to only you I will listen.’ This ties in with the assumption that the contractor who can see the future is Amber. I assume it was her saying this, and she was saying this to Hei.

Of course, this is all guesswork. But try playing the scene again. The words are relatively distinct.

General thoughts on Darker than Black

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

When Darker than Black was announced, I was among those who jumped into the bandwagon. I just knew it was going to be a good show even if I didn’t know what it was about yet. When it aired, I was awed and amazed by the smoothness of the protagonist, and I vowed to finish watching it. Circumstances, however, prevented me from doing so: at the time, my laptop was technologically antediluvian, and I wasn’t able to properly view the releases by [sudo], which were, sadly, only in high quality.

I waited for a while and tried a second time to watch the show. I was able to reach a little further (I was able to watch fifteen episodes this time, but to my dismay I had a lack of disk space and I couldn’t delete anything). Yet again I had to postpone my enjoyment of it. Finally, a few months ago my aunt bought me a laptop that remains to be cutting edge. It possesses a decent processor, and it has a lot of RAM and HD space: finally, it was something enough for me to be able to watch and enjoy anime properly. Having recollected about Darker than Black I sought to watch it, and I finished doing so the previous week. I thought the ending was great, and while there were some middling moments in the series, the action was finely crafted and I was sympathetic to the protagonist Hei. The ending was quite bittersweet and made me recall the ending of Evangelion (as they were very similar): Hei was given a choice to either be with his loved ones (contractors) but sacrifice a significant part of humanity in the process, or to choose both humans and contractors but to lose the only things in his life that he ever valued, namely Pai, Amber, and the real stars he had always wanted to see. He chose the latter, and while it was a painful choice (not only emotionally scarring, but also physically enervating, as he now has to run from both contractors and humans), it was a most noble choice.

I was thus both happy and wary of the current season airing: I had already read the manga (which serves as the bridge between the first and the second season), and a most remarkable loss was that of Yin. She was no longer in the second season, and Hei was far from the Chinese Electric Dark Knight he was in the first season: on the contrary, his physical qualities reflected a broken man. I did not want to watch the show because I did not want to entertain the possibility of Yin having died, but my curiosity and affection for Hei got the better of me. So I watched.

A lot of new characters were introduced and the most notable among them (perhaps because she is the heroine of the second season) is Suou. Contrary to the kind and meek Li and the highly efficient (and clean-cut) Hei of the first season was a desperate, alcoholic, and nomadic Hei. His demeanor was also as rough as his looks, and I could only assume that it was because there was also none of Yin to be seen: he has slapped and beaten Suou up, although I would argue that these were merited. He never hit her just because he wanted to: there was always reason behind his violence, just like the first season.

I was glad that Mao eventually resurfaced. I was even more glad when Yin was finally confirmed to be alive, and that she had transcended even her past self. From what could be seen in the sixth episode, she exhibits contractor-like powers in addition to the seemingly unlimited range of her observer spirit. It was also clearly evident that Suou has developed feelings a lot more than mere hatred for Hei: I would even argue that it was a jealousy not quite yet because of love, but nearing there. A lot was revealed in the sixth episoode: I just wish that, at the end of it all, Hei will get his happy ending with Yin, because I firmly believe he deserves it.

Evangelion 2.0: there is none more lonely than the man who loves only himself

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The original TV series of Evangelion was one of the few anime series I rewatched (I actually watched it three times). I personally don’t think it’s the best anime ever, but I do believe it ranks up there. Despite the complications and the complexities of the plot, especially elevated during the final two episodes, I was able to appreciate it as a moving character drama within an intense and eminent science-fiction series.

I did not like how it ended; End of Evangelion placated me a little bit more with regard to the TV ending, but there was still something missing. I still wanted more, despite everything.

Of course I was extremely delighted when it was announced, back in 2006, that a re-imagining of Evangelion was in the works. It was to be called Rebuild of Evangelion (very apt title), and it was to be shown in four movies. I did not expect anything much from the film series: I knew that it was much easier to fail than it was to succeed, and even more so with a series hailed to be among the best ever made. I was pleasantly mistaken: the first movie was a most impressive beginning, and it closed with a very positive note, clearly delineating the difference between the TV series and the film: this time, Rei was human.

I was eagerly anticipating for the second movie to come out, and often checked certain indexers for it. I am glad someone told me to check another indexer, because despite being a cam-rip, the sound was good and the subs were relatively OK: I finally was able to find a copy of the movie, which, despite being shabby, was good enough for me.

I love how Rei and Asuka react in this picture.

I love how Rei and Asuka react in this picture.

I won’t do a piecemeal summary of the film, seeing that a lot of you can watch the film more clearly and with more quality in certain theaters in your place, but I will give general statements about the film in general. First, the film’s animation and art are top-notch in every sense of the word. Even with just the cam-rip I was amazed at how the film was constructed; I believe the feeling will even be more intensified when one is in the theater, enjoying it at the quality it was meant to be shown. Second, the film, in my personal opinion, has a lot more soul and humanity in it, and this is because Asuka and Rei are no longer philosophical representations, but were designed to be thinking and feeling people. Asuka remains to be her hot-headed, headstrong self, while Rei remains to be reticent and reserved, but a lot of difference as regards their characters can be seen: Rei actually treasures Shinji, and evidences this in a most kind way; Asuka is no longer the young angry girl, but the girl who tries to deal with her circumstances. Third, I think Mari, despite despite her short stint in the film, is a good character who actually represents, in my own opinion, the normalcy among the pilots. Whereas Shinji deals with unwillingness, Asuka with anger and Rei with silence, she tries in her simple ways to fight the EVA and enjoys doing it without any emotional snags to her. She attempts to cope with her lemons, and tries to make lemonade.

Finally, and I believe this to be the reason why the film is so much better compared to the original, Shinji grows balls, a heart, and humanity that is extremely visible throughout the film. He still deals with the demons of his father’s abandonment, and his willingness to be loved, but the climax itself revolves around the transubstantiation of his humanity into something transcendent: he decides to no longer wait and be appreciated by his father, but to live his life in his own shadow and with his own decisions. He shows his appreciation and kindness to his co-pilots, they reciprocate in their own ways to him, and this gives the movie a gentility and a humanity I was hard-pressed to find in the original series.

The film was excellently made. I still have yet to see Summer Wars, but I would unequivocally say that Evangelion 2.0is one of the best anime of the year, and probably the best film, if not second-best.

Qualms regarding Horo’s development in Spice and Wolf 2

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

The past week has actually just been one long joyride for me: after I realized that anime, after all, is not as harmful an addiction, I have enjoyed the free time that would be absent until perhaps Christmas. A day after I watched Bakemonogatari, I started watching a series I vowed to finish when it aired, and it was the second season of Spice and Wolf. As a show fuelled by character development, the show was solid and quite well-done. However, I did not like it as much as the first season because it seemed as if the second season revealed a cornucopia of Lawrence’s character: despite being a merchant, he has grown to be kinder and more caring as well as knowing what his real priority in life is. On the other hand, I felt Horo remained relatively staid: nothing really developed from her, and from what I observed she has changed little from her actuations during the first season. This has been most obvious especially during the final arc of the second season, where while Lawrence pours his entire heart and soul just to have Horo as a companion, and finally realizes his own feelings towards her, Horo nonchalantly remains the same knowledgeable, kind, but flirtatious character.

I thought this scene was especially sweet.

I thought this scene was especially sweet.

It is undeniable that Horo has feelings for Lawrence. Even when he felt she was going away from him, she was actually trying to assure his victory over Amati. Her loyalty lies with Lawrence, and it reflects in her actions that she treasures Lawrence beyond just a friend, or even a best friend. However, she keeps on dragging Lawrence, playing with him, and never telling him what she truly feels for him. While this unwillingness to open herself up is extremely understandable (she has loved before, and it has ultimately ended up with the death of her love), I was just thinking that she should stop toying Lawrence around. If she could perhaps curb her tongue when she speaks, and perhaps just cherish their moments together it would probably be better.

It is no longer Lawrence’s turn to act. He has willingly sacrificed everything he had valued before because he loves Horo, and he has put that into words. He lost a significant amount of money, could no longer be a town merchant, but he was willing to give all of his previous apices just to be with her. Even with that, Horo barely reciprocates his emotions. I just don’t really find it funny, sweet, or heartening.

Has anyone watched the second season and observed this? Perhaps actions speak louder than words, but words are still important to convey one’s truth in one’s emotions. One cannot live with actions alone, and it is with this reason that people get mad when they have no one to talk to. Madness arises from the inability of people to reach out to others and to ask for help through their own words. Horo may have been hurt in the past, but I don’t think that’s an excuse to skirt the truth of the matter regarding Lawrence.

The second season remained to be an eminent show. But for all its beauty, a unidirectional development will eventually be tiring. My own ranking of the season would be an 8/10.