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[In which I review] New anime, Spring 2001

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#1
Spring has come ! And with it, a whole season of new anime from the faraway land of Japan.

You know the drill : I will be reviewing the first episode of nearly every single show that starts airing this season.[*]

[*] I will be skipping :
- The couple of shows that are obviously sequels to previous series I haven't seen.
- The kids' shows that I just can't find any access to. (On the other hand, I WILL be reviewing the kids' shows I can lay my hands on.)


So, without further ado, the first show of the season is...



Run=Dim
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

The year 2052. The world is still recoiling from a huge disaster at the end of the 20th century that wiped out most major cities. A terrorist faction has taken over a space station and threatens Japan with it. The government takes the "wait and see" approach, so the independent paramilitary organization known as "Jesas" (sic) sends in their manned mecha to recover it in a bid to get themselves established. They completely bungle it, but never fear : their new generation of mecha pilots, kids with prescience superpowers, are nearly ready !

Characters

Kazuto, our generic male lead. You know the type : when he falls off his bike, he manages to land watching under a girl's skirt.

Kanna, our generic female lead. You know the type : she goes changing into the men's locker room by mistake, and never acknowledges she did anything wrong.

There are six other new pilots, but they don't show any personality so far. They all attend a briefing given by your typical hard-ass instructor, who has no patience for Kazuto and Kanna's antics, and is of course voiced by Jouji Nakata. He's mostly there to deliver exposition.

The Jesas organization is lead by generic council of vagueness, with one woman objecting to nearly everything the others say ; this is presumably supposed to make her look better than her scheming cynical colleagues, but she just comes off as irritating.

The terrorists' only character of interest is a slightly creepy mecha pilot who annihilates his opponents without breaking a sweat.

Production Values

Oh, dear. Where do I start ?

This series is entirely computer-generated. And it looks terrible. The backgrounds are okay, if the "empty streets of Mainframe" look is what they were going for (after all, the setting is post-apocalyptic). But the characters look horrible, a bizarre cross of semi-realism and traditional anime designs, and their body language being all out of whack doesn't help them getting out of the uncanny valley.

It doesn't help that the directing is amazingly incompetent, with long shots where nothing happens and pregnant pauses that only underline the artificiality of these robotic characters. Every third shot has a sweeping camera movement that was presumably meant to show off the smoothness of the animation, but the fixed speed of motion makes it look like someone's fallen asleep.

Overall impression

This does have some (unintended) comedy value, but the novelty wears off after a while. Mostly, it's boring, and the cliché antics of our two leads don't help. There are some major failures of storytelling (I'm still unsure of the sequence of events between Jesas's first attack of the space station and the various scenes with our protagonists), and it's just ugly to look at.

You might want to watch an episode to have a good laugh ; but otherwise, avoid it.

Spoiler: Show


Doesn't this give him even more of a show ?
 

CynoT

Nuclear Energy Advocate
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#4
(Looks at Deca's post and thread title)

Sounds like it's pretty clear. Why the question?

I think I'll be giving Run=Dim a pass. A quick look at it shows that it's just another generic mecha show, and frankly, when it comes to mecha shows Nadeshico does it better. Even Gundam Wings have its moments. The use of full 3D CGI is neat, but that's not enough to carry an anime. Reboot has the same gimmick, but unlike Run=Dim, Reboot got an engaging story.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#6
Angelic Layer
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

In the future, the latest Serious Business fad is a combat through hi-tech dolls sport called "Angelic Layer". Cue start of your standard battle series. But since we're adapting a CLAMP manga, all the fighters (and their dolls) seem to be female.

Characters

Misaki, our 12-year-old ingenue protagonist, fresh off the countryside and new to the whole thing. It's heavily implied that her long-estranged mother (whom she hasn't seen since kindergarten) is the current Angelic Layer champion. She was brought up by her grandparents, but has come to Tokyo to live with...

Shoko, her aunt. But don't call her that, or she'll agressively point out she's still in her twenties. It's obvious she doesn't approve of her sister's behaviour regarding Misaki.

There's a quirky scientist dude (introducing himself as "Icchan") stalking Misaki at the train station, and helping her buy her own Angelic Layer doll (you can apparently buy them at your local mart). He's kinda creepy, to be honest, although the charitable view is that he's betting on her to be a future champion (he knows about her mother). He does get hauled off by the cops halfway through the episode, as a store clerk did find him quite creepy too.

The OP and ED sequences suggest that Misaki is going to make some friends at her school and start going into tournaments, but we're not there yet.

Production Values

It's a Bones series, so it was bound to look at least good (although this is one of their lesser efforts). I've always found their work polished but a bit artistically sterile, and they certainly seem to overpower the CLAMP influence here.

Overall Impression

It's a battle anime. It'd have a hard time convincing me to continue watching it on any day.

Now, it does quite a lot to sell me on Misaki as a character, and her broken family background does hold some interest. The creepy scientist at least makes the exposition a bit less clunky than usual, and there's a genuine sense of wonder about the whole Angelic Layer system. It certainly sounds like a fun toy.

But, at the end of the day, it's a battle anime. Certainly above average, but it's obvious the series will continue into the obligatory tournaments, with our underdog prodigy quickly moving up the ranks (thanks to her deep connection with her doll) until a cathartic reunion battle with her mother. I feel like I've already watched the whole series, and thus I can't bring myself to really care.

Still, points for trying.

Spoiler: Show


Misaki fascinated by her new toy.
 

KoboldLord

Registered User
Validated User
#8
Fighting dolls might be a little tough for some viewers to accept, but I think Angelic Layer should be a good one to follow to the end. I think it's fair to say that it's on my watch list.

Spoiler: Show
I actually have the DVDs of Angelic Layer. I picked them up on clearance at some point or other, and it actually is a pretty good show. It's more of a sports show than anything else, so I've had some success using it to introduce sports fans to shoujo and vice versa. Easily worth borrowing from Netflix or the like, if you want some light entertainment.
 

JELEINEN

Sizzler Black Squadron
Validated User
#9
Fighting dolls might be a little tough for some viewers to accept, but I think Angelic Layer should be a good one to follow to the end. I think it's fair to say that it's on my watch list.

Spoiler: Show
I actually have the DVDs of Angelic Layer. I picked them up on clearance at some point or other, and it actually is a pretty good show. It's more of a sports show than anything else, so I've had some success using it to introduce sports fans to shoujo and vice versa. Easily worth borrowing from Netflix or the like, if you want some light entertainment.
Angelic Layer is when CLAMP made the jump from shoujo to shounen, so picking a sports theme makes sense.

OP: Gah! I'd actually managed to scrub Run=Dim from my memory. Thanks alot.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#10
Digimon Tamers
(51 episodes)

What's it about ?

Digimon is just another fad cardgame... or is it ? There's an awful lot of critters wandering around in the edges of the city, fighting harsh battles for unknown reasons.

Characters

Takato is our standard-issue kid protagonist. He somehow stumbles on a bizarre Digimon card that transforms his card player into something else entirely... which eventually creates a whole new critter from his handwritten designs. He thinks it's AWESOME... until the critter starts spouting fire at the scenery. Oops...

There are a couple other kids running around separately that can "see" the critters while they're moving around digitally... An aloof girl and a technophile boy. They obviously know quite a bit about what's happening, but they barely get a couple of lines each so far.

There's also a shadowy organization that secretly monitors the critters for whatever purposes. Their apparent leader is always compulsively clutching on some object I can't see.

Production Values

Average. The CG sequences are a bit clunky but perfectly serviceable.

Overall Impression

Much better than I expected from a cardgame tie-in. This is the one season that's actually any good, right ? It's pretty good at building a foreboding atmosphere, and the conspiracy angle looks promising. There's nothing particularly irritating, the product placement is reasonable, and I'm positively intrigued on where this is going.

I could see myself adding it to my popcorn "to-watch" list in the near future.

Spoiler: Show


I don't think store-bought cardplayers are supposed to scan random notebooks on their own, are they ?
 
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