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[In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Yeah, I don't really see the classic seme/uke roles in Yami no Matsuei. At least not yet.

Now, Gravitation is a whole other kettle of fish, but we'll get to it soon enough ; it's right around the corner. Before that, though...



#35 on the list is Mr. Digital Tokoro, a full-CG-animated series of shorts (130 3-minute-long episodes) based on comedian Tokoro George. (A guy famous enough to lend his name to half a dozen Mahjong videogames ; he also dubs Homer Simpson.)
Frankly, this sounds dreadful, but I couldn't find even one of them.

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[#36] Vandread
(13 episodes, + 13 for the second half a year later)

What's it about ?

Space opera. With a litteral war of the sexes ! For a few generations there's been a complete separation between the Male Empire and its female counterpart, with enough hysterical propaganda to keep the war going for a while.

Characters

Hibiki, our protagonist. A third-class citizen in the Male Empire, his job involves building parts for mecha. He made the foolhardy bet with his co-workers/bullies that he could steal a completed and brand new mecha from the cargo hold of the warship about to join the front ; and he might have gotten away with it if the jingoistic commander-in-chief hadn't ordered a launch two hours ahead of schedule. On the other hand, he's resourceful enough for an attack of the female forces on the ship to be enough to spring himself out of the brig. (Into a warship full of female shock troops easily overpowering the taken-by-surprise male crew, but them's the breaks.)

Other noteworthy members of the crew include the cowardly heir of the Food Company (more interested in shilling his crap than acting like a real soldier), and a tall loner who makes a point of peacefully engaging their captors ("I'm a doctor") and looks like he's got an agenda.

Dita is a pilot amongst the female forces who crashes her fighter halfway into the starship (oops). She then runs into Hibiki, whom she seems to be trying to catch as a pet. (The language barrier seems a bit inconsistant ; those two clearly don't understand each other, and only a few elite female soldiers can decypher male script ; on the other hand, the female troops don't seem to have too much trouble handling their prisoners...)

And then the male commander-in-chief triggers the warship's self-destruction (from the half of it that safely detached itself) ; most of the female forces manage to evacuate in time, but Hibiki, Dita and a couple of her teammates get sucked into a space wedgie...

Production Values

Fairly impressive. The CG integration looks a bit clunky nowadays, but it isn't too distracting, and the traditional animation shows off some good cartooning skills, with tons of little gags always happening in the background.

It's thus a bit disappointing that, under their entirely sensible and suitably alien-looking spacesuits, the female soldiers wear weirdly fan-servicey clothes.

Overall Impression

Wow. This is a dense first episode, introducing its premise and a good number of characters while still moving the plot along at a brisk pace ; it's also packed to the gills with world-building. (For example, there's a throwaway line between male extras that suggests they can somehow have children together ; this is a stark contrast with the female "let's capture some dudes" tactics, which itself is clearly at odds with the Male Empire's propaganda that demonizes females so much I can't see it having the same needs. There's just so much implied about this universe's bizarre politics in all this, I'm really curious.)

As a result, the episode sometimes devolves into montage, such as this curious scene where the screens behind Hibiki broadcast a flashback of his as he's busy infiltrating the warship. It feels like something from a Shinbo anime, symbolic and weirdly surreal... and hey, if it helps making the exposition more fun and visually interesting, I'm all for this kind of thing. You just go along with it ; it's not as though the show is particularly realistic anyway. I get the impression it's something of an indictment of mordern Japanese jingostic politics... because like all good S-F, it's more interested in commenting on the present than predicting the future.

As you can probably guess, I found this lovely. It's not flawless, but there's enough going on here to keep me enthalled. And, you know, it's very funny indeed.
 

Dawgstar

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Vandread is a lot of fun. As a fun fact, the boom was taking off right as it came off, so the distributors ordered way more of the last series they had which was a legitimate hit. That last series was Trigun. Vandread did not compare favorably in sales.
 

JELEINEN

Sizzler Black Squadron
Validated User
It got cut even shorter in that only two (of four) DVDs were released in the US, leaving me and all three other people who bought it hanging.
I think they were trying to market it as a kids show, and dropped it when they realized that it's not so much. I really enjoyed the show and don't remember the ending having problems.

Brigadoon is another one I liked. The first few DVDs in the US release can usually be had for pretty cheap, but the last couple only got a small pressing so tend to be pretty expensive.
 

Arilou

New member
Banned
Vandread is fun. (and occasionally slightly smarter than it first appears, although it's very dumb quite often :p)
 

Icarium

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Yeah, Vandread lampoons and lampshades things, but also has its dumb or cliche moments. But it's totally awesome. And it has some REALLY GOOD scenes. Plus, while the protagonists are a bit heteronormative (Dita likes Hibiki, some others are curious so want kids the old fashioned way) it goes out of its way to say 'These planets /are/ homosexual, and hey, while there's issues with their cultures/politics, this is not the cause of them.'

It's pretty cool.
 

Dawgstar

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Yeah, Vandread lampoons and lampshades things, but also has its dumb or cliche moments. But it's totally awesome. And it has some REALLY GOOD scenes. Plus, while the protagonists are a bit heteronormative (Dita likes Hibiki, some others are curious so want kids the old fashioned way) it goes out of its way to say 'These planets /are/ homosexual, and hey, while there's issues with their cultures/politics, this is not the cause of them.'

It's pretty cool.
And there's a very interesting relationship at the end -

Spoiler: Show
In Second Stage Bart falls for Buzam, but she's actually from the male planet and was surgically altered to be female to infiltrate. When he finds out, he doesn't care. What's kind of interesting is she decides to "stay" as BC and he still doesn't seem to care.
 

acksed

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Vandread was a disappointment to me and my anime club. There was a chance for a really indepth examination of gender roles, with some interesting science fiction, yet it was ignored in favour of the what-is-this-feeling harem-type bullshit. :-/
 

Arilou

New member
Banned
Vandread was a disappointment to me and my anime club. There was a chance for a really indepth examination of gender roles, with some interesting science fiction, yet it was ignored in favour of the what-is-this-feeling harem-type bullshit. :-/
I suspect expectations are where it comes. I expected the latter and was positively surprirsed by the tiny smidgeons of the former we got.

Hmmm, I'm almost feeling like rewatching the show.
 

Dawgstar

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Vandread was a disappointment to me and my anime club. There was a chance for a really indepth examination of gender roles, with some interesting science fiction, yet it was ignored in favour of the what-is-this-feeling harem-type bullshit. :-/
The funny thing is there's not exactly a harem. Dita is interested in Hibiki. Meia can't stand him and while she does kind of warm up to him, it's never romantically. The third pilot just wants him to be around him for the prestige - she's in a completely happy relationship with another woman.
 
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