First Impressions: Spice and Wolf (Season 1)

spice-and-wolfI’ve gotten my way through 3 of the total 13 episodes of the first season of Spice and Wolf, and I am already completely entranced in the story. The ideas presented about markets, and trading are very interesting to listen to, and that is only helped by the fact that I find each of the 2 main characters very fascinating and intriguing. So far this series seem to be shaping up to one that I am going to greatly enjoy the ride through; I might even have it done before I finish writing this. Not really, but I have a feeling I’m gonna be on to season 2 before I can even bat an eye. While I don’t feel this series will be for everyone, I would certainly urge you to give it a shot, I’m sure enjoying it to quite the degree, and each time I finish an episode, I just have to get to the next. As of now, I can certainly say that this series seems to be right up my alley, and I can’t wait to watch more.

Initial Review: Spirited Away

spirited-awayI’ve finally done it. I’ve finally gotten to renowned Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki, and while I unfortunately can’t say it is the fantastical masterpiece that most people believe it to be, I can say that I still feel the film is very good, and kept me entertained throughout, and left me feeling satisfied with the movie as a whole. While I wasn’t one who thought the story was something fantastic, or amazing, I still felt it was a very strong narrative with some very rich (haha) ideas thrown in there for me to think about; I especially loved that the animal of choice for Chihiro’s parents was a pig, symbolizing gluttony in a very nice manner. I also liked the presentation of No Face and how the light he was shown in changed rapidly throughout the film’s run as we saw him through different perspectives. It really was a very well done idea, having a character with no real identity, (no face) be seen as something that was up to the interpretation of whoever was looking at or seeing him; very well done, in my opinion. While I do feel the film is very strong and has a lot to offer not to mention that it is accessible to all ages, I still did not feel gripped by the story as a whole and I feel that limited some of my enjoyment. The story did not grab me and force my eyes against the screen, but just kind of held my attention as the pictures (very pretty and fantastic, if I might add) flew by. This is certainly a film I am happy to have experienced, and would certainly recommend to others, but isn’t one of my favorites, nor something I believe is a masterpiece. It is with that, that I give this film an:

8 out of 10.

Initial Review: Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex

ghost-in-the-shell-stand-alone-complexIt’s rare to find a series as carefully crafted and made as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and it was a pleasure to watch the whole story unfold. As I mentioned in my First Impressions post, the series is divided into 2 different types of episodes, Stand Alone episodes, and Complex episodes; the latter dealing with one very specific plotline known as the Laughing Man Case, and the other just being individual episodes that tie into eachother in a loose, yet coherent fashion. The large enjoyment I got from the series was mostly through the Complex episodes, and seeing the whole mystery of the case, and intricacies play out. While I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the Stand Alone episodes, I was so enamored and encapsulated with the main case that I just wanted to watch more of that. I’ll probably end up watching the compilation film that deals solely with the Laughing Man Case, but that film happens to be almost 3 hours long, and that’s quite a bit of time to be watching a movie. To give a quick briefing on what the case is about, I’ll say that it involves the efforts and trials of an unknown hacker society has dubbed, The Laughing Man; the case also has some nice J. D. Salinger thrown in there if you like your literature references. The Stand Alone episodes deal with different cases that Section 9 (the organization the main cast is apart of) partakes in. The main members of Section 9 that the story deals with and revolves around would be: Batou, who is a lot more jovial here than in the films, The Major/Motoko Kusanagi, the lead squad member of Section 9, Daisuke Aramaki, the chief of Section 9 who is a master at pulling strings, and Togusa, the least cyberized member of Section 9. I also need to mention the little robotic tanks that accompany this crew, the Tachikomas. The Tachikomas add a nice bit of comic relief to the series, as well as being philosophically important during the later parts of the series, they even have an episode dedicated to them, and I remember that episode being a great watch. Every episode seems to mesh with the series almost perfectly, and the actions of characters in prior episodes come back to be impactful in later ones; the world building for this series is some of the best I’ve seen. Minor characters from earlier episodes come back to be impactful in later episodes, and that even happens across episode types. The whole world feels alive and everything seems to have an impact somewhere and nothing feels out of place. The depth the show goes into its characters and setting is phenomenal, and it’s great to see them interact with the world around them. I am excited to watch the next season, and if I can sit through the whole thing, I’ll definitely be watching the compilation film; the Laughing Man Case was incredibly interesting, and the I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. If you are at all interested in sci-fi, or if you enjoy yourself a little bit of philosophy, this series is certainly a must watch. While this series might not be one of my personal favorites, it is still a stand out classic that you should definitely check out and something I think anyone can enjoy. This is one of those series that makes you think and get your mind turning. After all of that, I would give this series a:

9 out of 10.

Manga Discussion: Nana to Kaoru

nana-to-kaoruI don’t often finish the manga I start reading, but Nana to Kaoru was something I had to read through to the end. The story follows the lives of childhood friends Nana Chigusa and Kaoru Sugimura as they interact with eachother and those around them. The story is a romance through and through and a story I would definitely recommend. It may be a bit off-beat with its quirks and presentation, but it tells a great story about 2 characters getting together. The whole series is 160 chapters in length, so it’s rather long, but it is certainly something you should be satisfied with. I would also like to mention the side story Black Label, which involves the same characters during a different time of their lives. It too is a great read and has many of the same elements that the original has and also expands upon the backgrounds of some minor but important characters. The story has some really well put-together characters that all have their own interesting ideas, philosophies and backstories, and seeing them all interact is certainly great to see. The way the romance in the series is handled is fantastic and very few if anything felt out of place or off-putting. If you’re into romance dramas I would highly recommend this to you, it is something I’m sure you’d enjoy. As I’ve said, the romance set up between the characters is very well done, and the execution of the narrative is fantastic. If you like romance stories, I’m sure this will be one you will enjoy as well. From me, this story definitely gets a:

10 out of 10.

Initial Review: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

ghost-in-the-shell-innocenceGhost in the Shell 2: Innocence, had some shoes to fill after the success and greatness of the original film. While it does do its best, I feel that it falls slightly short of filling the shoes the original left for it. The film was made almost ten years after the original, and this can certainly be seen in the animation quality; the only problem is that they used an incredible amount of CG in it, and while CG isn’t necessarily bad, the CG at the time was not all the great. This left a lot of things looking sub par, although the CG backgrounds were actually very well done. The film’s soundtrack was great, which make sense since it was done by the same guy that did the original film’s music, Kenji Kawai. Now with all that stuff out of the way, I can get into why I feel this sequel doesn’t quite cross the line set by the 1995 film. To start off with, the philosophical backing of the original, has been turned way up, and is basically shoved in your face at an insane rate. While I do enjoy my philosophy in  entertainment, I felt like it was way too forced in this movie. Quotes are flying everywhere, and every character seems to have gone to college and gotten a doctorate in philosophy, and while enjoyable, still feels forced, and takes away from the actual experience of the film; to ask a question on its own. The second thing that took me off guard, in the sense that I didn’t think it would actually be as impactful as it was, is the absence of Motoko Kusanagi, The Major. I didn’t really realize how much of a role she played in the original film until I watched this one. She really is a fantastic character that adds to the experience of watching the movie, and when she’s taken out of the equation, her absence is really felt. And while I’ve been talking about all the things that make this film less than the original, I would now like take the time to say that even though these are some large factors, they still do not keep the film from being good. The movie has a lot to say, and presents what it wants to present well. It brings up some very interesting questions, and poses some very intriguing circumstances. It is also very interesting to see the world viewed from the perspective of Batou as well. After considering all this, I still think the film is something you should watch after having seen the first; while not being as quite good, it still certainly enhances the experience. I give the film a:

7 out of 10.

Updates!

exclamation-markOver the the time I’ve been blogging and things, I’ve reviewed and given shows scores. As of now, I’ve really gone over a lot of shows I’ve seen and really changed the way I’ve rated a lot of them. Some shows/movies have seen an increase in my appreciation for them as well as my overall impressions of them, while others have more  or less slid by the way side. This post is here give you a more recent and up-to-date look of my opinions on certain works. The title of each piece will link back to the original review, so you can see my original thoughts in the work. The format this’ll go in is “(Title of work here): Original Score (score here): Current Score (score here): (brief reasons for the change)”. Also, each original review will have an update link to this page to show how opinions have changed. And without further ado, I’ll get started with a movie that has slowly become one of my most favorites.ghost-in-the-shell-1995Ghost in the Shell (1995): Original Score 7: Current Score 9: After having reviewed the film, I proceeded to watch it again. After watching it for a second time, some time passed, and I was always finding myself thinking about the film and what it means, and the points it’s trying to make. Th question that it asked has had even more impact on me than I had initially thought, and has continued to be a part of my thoughts since that second watch. It’s a film I’ve been able to chew on a lot, and has given me a lot of insight several days and weeks after seeing it. It has certainly become a film that I would recommend to almost anyone and I can almost guarantee it’ll give you something to think about.alderamin-on-the-skyAlderamin on the Sky: Original Score 7: Current Score 5: I’ve spent some time with this series, and from thinking about it for awhile, I came to the conclusion that I was very generous to it. The setting was somewhat unique, and magi-tech style things are pretty cool, as well as having a genius has the main character. However, I still do not feel it fits in the category as other things I have given a 7, and example being FLCL, a series I feel is miles ahead of Alderamin. I would normally say 7s are series I would certainly recommend to people, they aren’t one’s I would highly recommend, but they are series I would feel safe recommending to someone who’s looking for something they’ll enjoy to a mild degree. I don’t feel that way for Alderamin, mostly because I feel a lot of the characters are fairly one dimensional and can get annoying at times. I also feel that the show overdoes its main character. It is almost instinctual to make all the other characters look like babbling  idiots in front of our main, and not only that, but the show actively points out just how smart he is through characters directly stating it rather than showing him do it. It also doesn’t help that almost all of his strategies are directly explained to the audience instead of making an indirect reference as to why they worked, or simply just leaving it up to the interpretation of the audience and letting them figure it out for themselves. This isn’t a series I would recommend to everybody, but if certain aspects of it peak your interest, I would certainly tell you to give it a shot.kuromukuroKuromukuro: Original Score 7: Current Score 6: My opinion on this series has changed slightly, it isn’t super fantastic at any one thing, but it doesn’t seem to do anything extra poorly either. There definitely things in this series that make it watchable and there are also a lot of elements that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t quite feel all that strongly about it. I’d say it is slightly weaker than what I initially thought, but I would still encourage you to at least take a small look at it, it may just be the hodge podge thing for you.91-days91 Days: Original Score 8: Current Score 7: At first, I was enthralled with the setting and period of the series; it’s quite rare to get an anime based around the mafia, and while I would still, certainly recommend it, it isn’t something I would recommend highly, if I give something an 8, I would highly recommend it. 91 Days is a solid and well constructed mafia story, no more, no less. It won’t blow you away with being amazing, but you will still probably enjoy it.macross-deltaMacross Delta: Original Score 9: Current Score 8: The reasoning for this one is pretty straight forward, I was maybe fanboying a little too hard when I wrote that initial review, it isn’t a 9-caliber series, but I would still highly recommend it if only for the music alone, the narratives good, and it has some great characters, but the music really make the series come alive, it is still a fantastic watch.tales-of-zestiria-the-xTales of Zestiria the X: Original Score 7: Current Score 6: This series is unique in its genericness; I wouldn’t say it excels in any category (aside from animation), but I also don’t feel it is all that poor either. The story is incredibly simple, a “the hero saves the world” which I had already mentioned, but it also has the small little bit of intrigue with its few interesting characters, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wanting to see the story continue so I can finally know what’s up with the character Rose, a character I feel could have made the series slightly better had she been fleshed out a little more, but luckily there’s a second season and it looks like my wish might be granted. I would definitely say you should give it a shot, especially if you’re into video game stories. Who knows, you might find some of the other characters more charming than I did.gunbusterGunbuster: Original Score 5: Current Score 6: The reason for this one is fairly simple, I feel I was a little too hard on the series, and I have also come to the conclusion that I would recommend this series to most people, thus, the small bump in score.perfect-bluePerfect Blue: Original Score ?: Current Score 8: This is probably as simple as it gets, I’ve finally decided on a rating I’m happy with. This film is one I would highly recommend to just about anyone and a film I feel you will certainly enjoy.tenshi-no-tamagoTenshi no Tamago: Original Score 10: Current Score 9: I was a little over enthusiastic about this one, and gave it a 10 very quickly. I should have thought about it more, before writing the review. It isn’t a 10/10 masterpiece, but is more of an exceptional piece of art that everyone should certainly experience and form their own opinions on. It is still something I think you should definitely see.

And that does it for all of the updates, leave a comment if you’d like a further opinion on what I think of any series in question, and certainly let me know some of your opinions on these works. I love to hear all the opinions there are.

First Impressions: Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex

ghost-in-the-shell-stand-alone-complexAfter having watched the first 4 episodes of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, I can safely say that I see a ton of potential for the series going forward. So far, the series has proven to be incredibly smart, and does an excellent job of merging its philosophical bits into the story. The series seems to be divided into 2 different types of episodes, Stand Alone episodes, and Complex episodes (hence the “Stand Alone Complex”). The Stand Alone episodes seem to deal more with the philosophical portion of the series, and the Complex episodes seem to deal more with world and character building, as well as having an overarching narrative to drive things along. I’m really looking forward to watching more of this classic series, and I imagine I’ll have it finnished very shortly; it’s really grabbed me and made me wanna know everything. As of now, I would absolutely recommend this series to any one at all, especially those who like anime. Going forward, I would love to see this series continue to push itself, and to let tension rise and ideas continue. I’m loving it right now.

Initial Review: Summer Wars

summer-warsI’ve finally finnished the last of the 4 main Mamoru Hosoda films that are out as of the writing of this review (please more) and unfortunately I believe that Summer Wars is his weakest work. With that being said however, I still think it is a strong will with some strong elements and a satisfying conclusion that should leave you entertained at the very least. The story basically follows the battle between a recently created A.I. and  Kenji Koiso, and his newfound friends/family. The A.I. has an incredible thirst for knowledge, and so it begins to absorb user accounts to this mega-cyber-structure known as Oz; this structure just so happens to be used for just about every single computer authorization system throughout the world, and your account in Oz is basically your identity; it’s like your Social Security Number on crack. For some reason the A.I. also decides that it must act against humanity, and it seeks to cause a nuclear disaster by hurtling a satellite out of orbit and into a nuclear power plant using one of its stolen account’s authorizations. In full, my biggest complaint about the film would be the lunacy of it all; all large major world entities using the same security system, and A.I. built solely for the purpose of hacking, reconfiguring itself to suddenly have it out for humanity, and also the sheer simplicity of the cyber-structure’s security system. The premise is ridiculous, but that doesn’t keep the film from at least being entertaining, although I do feel it had some elements that, if explored, would have made the film better than it was, but that’s not what the film is. Now, onto the parts of the film that make it actually pretty good and decent. First off, the romance that the film throws in there is actually pretty well done, and ends on a very satisfying note, and with enough complications—and interesting ones at that—that it was very enjoyable to watch unfold. The progression of the conflict, while sometimes painful, was still fun to watch develop. The soundtrack was great to listen to, and the animation for the film was absolutely outstanding; especially the way in which CG was utilized, which made the film look even better, and I’m usually someone that hates CG. This film was enjoyable during its run, but I wouldn’t say was was anything spectacular, something enjoyable to watch for a few hours, but nothing that’ll really make you think or feel, and because of this, I give this film a:

7 out of 10.