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[LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond

Hilarion

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*Checks out MAL synopsis*
Wow, that sounds like my kind of insanity. And I've got a weakness for spy-stuff, too. Added to my list.
Like I said, Le Chevalier d'Eon is my all-time favorite anime series, so I'm a bit biased in the matter, but it is phenomenally good and can be viewed legally for free streaming online, which isn't something that can be said for many animes. (That option is dub only, sadly, but the dub is pretty fantastic and of equal or, I'd argue, possibly superior quality to the original)
 

KoboldLord

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Le Chevalier d'Eon started out fantastic, but I found it derailed about halfway through. It was peril rollover, really. After the display of power in Russia by one of the villains, it was no longer possible for me to take seriously the street-level heroes' efforts to stop those villains throughout the rest of the series, and I've accepted a lot of ridiculous contrivances in shows that I watched.
 

Jhiday

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Have you had a look at the Tower of Druaga series?
Barely aware of it by name. Not sure I want to delve back into the RPG-style fantasy genre anytime soon, though.

It was evident from, IIRC, episode 1, that there were Haibane of both genders.
Yes, but the boys were only kids, and we didn't see male Haibane in the same position as our main characters until a few more episodes.

it can be viewed legally for free streaming online
Not over here, it can't. *Sigh*
 
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Dulahan

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Just got to add to the Chorus that Maria-sama is actually good. We watched it back in my Uni Anime club. It was one I did not expect to care for going into but it kept me coming back. Not a favorite I wanted to go out and buy, but enough that I stuck around while it was on. Quite beautiful and lushly animated as I recall.
 

Terra_Oblivion

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Not sure I count as a chorus. :p

It's more the art than the animation, really. It has this neat way of getting around a small budget by making these beautiful, almost impressionistic, backgrounds held in earthy tones. And like I think I said earlier, the character designs are an example of really solid work making distinct facial features and hair styles without ever breaking a realistic look in them, at least apart from Yumi's huge eyes. The same feel extends to the music which for the first two seasons is exclusively classic and only from the less pompous end of the style of music, while the third and fourth seasons do include pop ops and eds.
 

Jhiday

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Tons of characters introduced at once, way too fast to get a handle on most of them. Complex foreign-language[*] ranks that obscure rather than highlight the hierarchies. Byzantine politics.

Wait, am I watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes again ?

[*] And no, being a native French-language speaker doesn't help. Especially with the mangled pronunciation. (I have no clue how you'd transliterate "sœur" in Japanese, but スール sounds horribly wrong.)
 

Jhiday

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Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran
(13 episodes, 2000)

My previous exposure

Suggested in this very thread.

What's it about ?

Ran Tsukikage is a drifter that everyone she meets thinks is a samurai. (And she does have the skill : if she starts fighting you, you WILL lose, often in a matter of seconds.) She's a woman of few words who rarely gives a toss about anything around her, except when sake's involved ; in which case she'll start rambling incoherently like a mean drunk.

Her sidekick is Meow, a very talkative martial artist who stumbled onto Ran in the first episode and stuck with her ever since. Let's be frank, Meow is a bit stupid and gullible, which often provides the hook to involve the duo with whatever the plot of the week is. (This is a very episodic series.)

Mostly, they aimlessly roam the Edo-period Japanese countryside while getting on each other's nerves. And the audience's, too.

What did I think of it ?

Well, this could have gone better. While I don't have a problem against our protagonists' double act in theory, in practice it can get quite irritating very quickly (especially if Meow starts shouting a bit too much). While most of the time their antics reach the level of "mildly funny", they rarely rise about it, and sometimes go down to "bloody annoying".

It doesn't help that I'm pretty sure I've already watched half of these plots, with much better execution, over in Samurai Champloo. Sure, that's no fault of this show, but the comparison is unavoidable. Here, the directing is pedestrian, most of the characters are one-dimensional (special mention to the generic bad guys, who couldn't sound more B-movie evil if they tried), and the strict episodic format prevents from attaining any kind of depth.

As it is, the series is cute for a few episodes, after which watching it became a bit of a chore. (I think I lost most of my goodwill with the "Meow finds a baby" episode and its questionable gender politics. And the less said about the "idiot blonde foreigner" episode, the better.) Not that it's bad, but it just wasn't funny enough to really be worth the time.
 

Jhiday

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Random thoughts about two anime series I'm currently watching, and that you may take as teasers for upcoming reviews :

- Hey, finally an ALI PROJECT song that actually sounds pretty good ! You just had not to let them compose it, I suppose.

- Never trust a cute character voiced by Mai Nakahara. At best, they'll die on you. In this series, well, we're not quite billhook-level, but we're getting close.
 

Jhiday

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So, I was looking for one of the harder-to-find series of Spring 2012 for my seasonal review, and by mistake I ended up watching the first episode of Koi Kaze.

This was a deeply disturbing watch.

Not only did the scenario (27-year-old dude getting to "know better" his high-school-age sister he didn't grow up with) hit uncomfortably close to home, but then there's the presentation. If this was just generic panty-shot garbage, I'd have been to dismiss it easily, but it seems the makers are serious about being tasteful over the issue. The problem is that it's hard to see yet whether they're actually going to condone underage incest ; I'm getting a lot of mixed signals. Most of the time it's just normal familial bonding (reminding me of Usagi Drop), the annoying co-worker who keeps fantasizing about underage girls is rightly dismissed as a creep by everyone else... but then there's all those scenes of the two leads looking at each other as flower petals blow past them. (And it's called "the Wind of Love", darn it !)

I worry too much about where this is going to be comfortable watching any more of it, but on the other hand I'm curious. Has anyone else watched it ?
 

Jhiday

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Gankutsuou - The Count of Monte Cristo
(24 episodes, 2004-2005)

My previous exposure

I first heard of this one through the president of my college anime club, who was a big fan of the artstyle. I think he even showed us the first episode. I never got around to actually watching the full thing it for ages, though, as I waited until I thought I'd be "ready".

I've obviously heard of the basic plot through cultural osmosis, but I've never actually read the original doorstopper of a novel (or watched any of the numerous movie/TV adaptations). So I was mostly fresh on the actual plot twists the series had in reserve for me.

What's it about ?

It's the future, but conveniently society is basically the same as early-19th-century France (well, kinda, I'll come back to it further down). Albert de Morcerf is the young naive heir of an up-and-coming politician, engaged to the daughter of a rich banker, and promised to a bright future... until he meets the eccentric Count of Monte-Cristo on the Moon. Little does he know that his newfound friend is actually out for a (very convoluted) revenge against the three men who wrong him 20 years ago... including Albert's father.

Let's be honest, the SF setting is just a parlour game, as one will try and guess how each element is transposed from the original context. But it's also an excuse for the visuals to go marvellously insane. A duel will become a battle between giant armoured mecha... because why not, after all ? The show revels in its artificiality, using psychedelic images to make its story even more grandiose and baroque, as best exemplified by the use of unmoving elaborate textures to depict people's clothes and hair. It will either burn your eyes or make you fawn over how pretty it is.

What did I think of it ?

I loved it, as you probably can tell by now. Not only is it gorgeous, but it never sacrifices the clarity of its storytelling. This is a very well-structured adaptation, with my only little qualm being that the Count's plots take ages to actually go anywhere. But when they finally come to fruition, it makes all the build-up worth it.

It is interesting how little this adaptation cares about the Count's past life as Edmond Dantès. He barely gets ten minutes of flashbacks very late on, as the strict minimum necessary to explain why he became the implacable vengeance machine known as the Count of Monte-Cristo. (Not the how, though, the series doesn't care about that at all.) The Count himself is an antagonist throughout, with only token displays of hesitation while he tramples over the lives of innocents to get at his targets.

The focus here is clearly on Albert, which is a bit tiring at times given how much he's a naive spoiled brat who takes a lot of time to distrust the dude who looks like a vampire. (Or heck, even be aware of how much many of the adults around him are scumbags.) But then, this is not a series for subtlety, and the core goal here is to display how the Count's revenge wreaks havoc on innocents' livelihood. Albert, as innocence personified, is the perfect incarnation of collateral damage. The storytelling choice of making the Count's motives distant (and unrevealed until nearly the very end of the show) only adds to the monstrosity of his actions. Yes, those three assholes probably deserved punishment (not only for what they did to him, but also for their various other misdeeds later on), but the Count's sweeping retaliatory action was always bound to provoke more future strife in an endless cycle of vengeance.

Perfectly illustrating the pointlessness of the Count's actions, and looking great while doing so, this is a show well worth watching.
 
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