February 13th, 2005

Kashira? Kashira? Gozonji Kashira?

Finished series: Maria-sama ga miteru ~ Spring

We've finished watching Maria-sama ga Miteru ~ Spring, the second series of MariMite goodness. My first episode review is here.

Based on the first episode, I had expected the focus of the series to gradually 'open up', to go beyond the tight confines of the Lillian's Catholic Girls School, but that didn't happen. At least, not as much as I had expected. However, Yumi and Sachiko aren't the exclusive stars of the series anymore -- we get much, much more drama surrounding the other characters.

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There are several plots about the feelings of the other characters, and the focus shifts away from Yumi/Sachiko, which serves to make the series slightly less claustrofobic than the first season. At the end, though, it's very much back to Yumi/Sachiko, and the ending is actually pretty good and offers some sort of closure.

If you're allergic to drama, or when (relatively) small things are blown up way out of proportion, then you better stay away from this one -- but you'd already know that from the first season. There's slightly less shoujo-ai in this series, but still plenty of girls hugging and declaring their undying love to eachother.
The big difference between the first and second series is the opening theme. It's the same music, but this time they've added a vocal track, by Ali Project -- known for their opening themes to 'Kajiura anime' like Noir and Avenger. This must be the most a-typical thing they've ever done.

Good points:
- Character animation is very detailed and nice;
- Lots of great and dreamy visuals;
- Shoujo-ai undertones;
- Drama!
Bad points:
- A bit 'claustrofobic';
- Drama!

I've greatly enjoyed watching this one. I'll give it an 8.5.
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Bishoujo squad!

Memories

This christmas, I received Memories on DVD as a gift. It's a collection of three short anime works, based on the short stories by Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of Akira. Each part is directed by a different director, giving each work its own character and feel.
Two weeks ago, we watched the first part together with jangerben, and yesterday we watched the rest.

First is 'Magnetic Rose', and, to me, it is the best story of the three. The salvage ship Corona receives a distress signal when on the voyage back from a salvage mission. It's a semi-derelict spaceship that sends a fragment of opera as its distress signal. Two astronauts go in to rescue the occupants of the ship, but they get more than what they've bargained for...
Great visuals on this one, and a great story. Free of the confines of a TV series, the creative team really made something great.

Second is 'Stink Bomb'. This is more humourous: a lab assistant turns himself into a deadly stink bomb by accident -- however he himself is unaffected by the stench. An order by a top executive who doesn't realise what is going on sends him off on his way to Tokyo! The full military might of the Self-Defence Force is used in an attempt to stop him from reaching the millions of people in Tokyo...
Visuals were pretty good, and the story is amusing in a highly bizarre way.

Third, and, IMO, least interesting, is 'Cannon Fodder'. This shows a city that is completely obsessed with firing cannons all through the day -- at the mobile fortress of an enemy that no-one has ever seen. Everything is geared towards firing the cannons: kids get lessons in artillery geometry at school, women work in munition-factories and the men load incredibly large, steam-powered cannons.
There is no story in this one, and the visuals are relatively crude. It's too bad the trilogy ends on a low note.

Overall, a 7.5, with a special recommendation for 'Magnetic Rose', which by itself would deserve an 8.
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