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The backlog decimation, part I: artsy anime, part I

Many of my classmates have dubbed this free time (our version of the ‘summer break’) to be the ‘last summer of our lives.’ I mostly agree with them, especially because we will go on duty by this time next year, and have to establish ourselves in the medical community after that. It is most probably the last break we’ll have as students.

The best artsy anime ever

A lot of them are going places, enjoying trips to different countries or exploring the different landmarks of this country. I’m staying at my real home, doing nothing but reading, watching movies, and watching anime.

‘What a boring life!’ some of you might exclaim. I guess for someone not privy to my interests, it is quite a chore. But I watch and read precisely because it is the last chance I have to take care of everything I have obtained or downloaded to my PC. I grew up as a quasi-obsessive, and I think it evinces itself with this current status of mine: I simply have to finish watching everything before I part with my PC, and I’m doing it right now.

Most of what I have watched were artsy anime, aside from the more traditional (and more mundane) series. With this post, I’ll try to talk about the artsy anime I just watched.

Over the past week, aside from the Eden of the East movies and 009-1 I have also finished watching the laughable MM! and Freezing. I also watched Genius Party, 1001 Nights, Noiseman Sound Insect, and Alien Nine. In retrospect, it’s not really much, but I have also had to deal with real life despite it being at a distance for the most part.

In a nutshell, most of the artsy anime I’ve seen were shit: all that glitters is not gold. That saying may be trite, but it sure fits the bill for the artsy anime I saw. Most of the entries in the Genius Party anthology were forgettable, save for Masaaki Yuasa’s Happy Machine and the elegiac beauty of Shinichiro Watanabe’s Baby Blue. Limit Cycle deserves a special mention for being outright, utter crap. I don’t think anyone wants to listen to 20 minutes of whining psychobabble.

Baby Blue, despite its unimpressive character designs, really reflects the genius of Shinichiro Watanabe. It was the only entry in the series that, for me, deserved a 10. It seemed to be taken from a Haruki Murakami novel in its inventive method in dealing with forthcoming loss. It’s a short film, and if I were to pick one entry from the anthology I would unhesitatingly choose it, even over Happy Machine. While I liked Kaiba I didn’t think it was a masterpiece: I still don’t.

Alien Nine is more understandable than 1001 Nights, but I still don’t think of it as good. At best, the series is average: Kumi is a girl scared easily, but she was chosen to battle against monstrous aliens. She, of course, fails nearly all of the time with her teammates picking up the slack. I think she’s even worse than Shinji in this regard, because Shinji at least fought even though he was extremely hesitant. Maybe the fourth episode will change my perception of things, but I highly doubt that.

Noiseman Sound Insect was actually a pleasant music video, although due to its length there is wanting depth and nearly nil character development. The variegated color and the potent imagery somewhat compensate for that, however. Trees Make Seeds was a great ending for the short film.

1001 Nights is the last and the least. It featured 23 minutes of music and imagery, but little more. I thought it was horrible. A vanguard anime only works when it is complemented by a plot that serves as a foundation to the kinetic art, and there was none of that here. I’m glad I finished watching it.