Friday, February 21, 2014

Sensory Overload: Anime Winter 2014

From a 20+ something anime titles I've been expecting to watch this season mine got narrowed down to not even a close fraction from the original list. It took me long enough to post this entry but I believe the one's I've decided to retain are truly good enough to keep.

1. Noragami (Bones)
My favorite series for the Winter season. I love the entire concept on Kami's, magic and spirits, which is an entirely different universe from my own background. Noragami is not afraid to go to dark places and still, it retains its humorous side without going corny. The animation is just superb; the character design, the scenery, the background, everything is perfect to a T and beautifully made. Yato is also my favorite character of this season (and possibly my front runner for favorite male character for the quarter roundup). 

2. Gin no Saji (A-1 Pictures)
I missed this show since its finale last year and this is one anime that I could just watch over and over again without bordering into sheer boredom. What can I say, it gives me unadulterated, pure slice of life bliss every single time. The characters, every one of them, feels like family to me already, even the new "annoying" one's introduced this season. I guess there will be more drama (and love life) for Hachiken this time around.

3. Space Dandy (Bones)
This is totally an unexpected choice for me. I was dead certain at first to avoid this show at all cost because it looks so outrageous and simply beyond my character. But hell yeah, the first episode didn't packed a lot of punch but the succeeding episodes - its back on a clean slate "reset" format - made me all hooked. And it helps a lot that my favorite seiyuu, Juunichi Suwabe, is the voice behind Dandy. I love them all, especially Meow, with his crazy and yet unaware antics.   

4. Hoozuki no Reitetsu (Wit Studio)
If there is a specific anime this season that would give you the 411 on Japanese-Buddhism then, this would be it. All their ramblings about hell (or at least the concept put into anime) can be heavy on one's ear and brain, especially if you lack any insight about any of their spiritual whatchamacallit. But everything about this series is so much fun as they poked around on divine punishments, sins and demons alike. 

5. Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (Production IMS)
A high school girl and her hopeless crush. The plot sounds cliché, but this series is just too cute and lovable to pass, and it doesn't hurt that it's about shrine's and Gods and all those Japanese-Buddhist-Shintoist culture, which I voraciously devour upon like a true-blooded Japanophile monster. 

6. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (TMS/3xCube)
Aviation oriented anime can never go wrong on my record, unless they botched the story big time. Romeo and Juliet love stories is a worn-out tale adapted on both the small and the big screen, but what makes Toaru special is its surprisingly smart execution, especially with the writing and the direction that keeps its viewers fasten tightly on their seats.

7. Wake Up, Girls! (Ordet, Tatsunoko Production)
I'm never a fan of idols, but Wake Up, Girls! is an interesting series nevertheless. It highlights the "make or break" drama of working behind the cookie-cutter industry of idol groups. The painstaking sacrifices and struggles that an aspiring performer must go through in order to succeed and reach the full potential of their dreams. There is nothing Moe about what they do or this show, despite the otherwise character designs it portrays and the cheeky songs that plays throughout the episodes. 

8. Hamatora The Animation (Naz Animation Studio)
Despite all the bad reps about this series from the blogosphere, the only thing I can find fault here is the poor animation, but put them aside, the mystery is damn interesting. I've decided to stay in tune because I know there's a lot of potential here. 

9. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren (Kyoto Animation)
This is one of my guilty pleasures. I mean, a sequel is kind of too soon and unnecessary in my opinion. I keep on complaining how the character development from season one became useless because Rika went back (much worse) to her Chuunibyou ways, and yet in spite of those things I never fail to watch a single episode. Honestly, I like all the characters with the exception of our main girl here, Rika. She never fails to trigger my annoyance button each week, and I don't understand the whole point of her being Togashi's OTP because he can actually do so much better. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Enemy - First Look

Believe it or not, I've been waiting for this film since it's pre-production, or possibly much longer than that. I love the works of Jose Saramago, and in my opinion 'The Double' takes the cake. Plus, it is directed by Denis Villeneuve, a director whose films has recently fascinated me. I'm expecting great things for this screen adaptation, and I'm looking forward to this already, may it be on the silver screen or on my miniature cinema.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hidden Love — The Grandmaster (Impression)

The fight scenes are well choreographed, and as expected from a Wong Kar-wai film, the cinematography is lush. But I think I like it more on its character study, how strong people can be defeated easily (at least internally) by their own weaknesses, even if they don't look like it. How revenge traps someone's life into misery instead of allowing them to move forward.

Ring of Fire — Incendies (Review)

There are films that entertains its viewers; takes their mind off from the pressure of analyzing and just let them sit down on the whole experience without question of what was thrown to them. While there are some that has the feels of a case study; even after you leave the cinema or switched off your player the work goes along with you until you figure things out. It's a sad fact but most of the populace chooses the nonsense over the depth all the time.

Incendies by director Denis Villeneuve seems to fit the bill as a film custom made to be averted by people with dislike for foreign language movies, subtleties, seemingly unreasonable slow pacing and too much reverie. The first few scenes is a long walk home from understanding its plot. And it doesn't help that the characters are pretty much in the same boat as us: clueless about the road ahead.

After their mother's death, fraternal twins Simon and Jeanne Marwan were left with a will -- two sealed letters to be delivered to a father and a brother they had never heard of before. To ascertain this, they could only bury and put an epitaph to their mother's tombstone when their task has been accomplished. While Simon is against this idea, Jeanne was driven by her curiosity, which lead her to their mother's origin in the Middle East. The story was told in a nonlinear fashion, showing us flashbacks of Nawal Marwan's life as a university student and as a prisoner of war.

Back in the day, there's a saying that it is difficult to be born a woman, given all the oppression and such. Maybe life is not only hard but also vicious especially for an Arab woman of Christian persuasion, and for Nawal Marwan she has seen and experienced first hand the atrocities resulting from the hatred of people coming from two different religions. She is a victim of her time and also a victim of her own free-will. To quote Jean-Paul Sartre —'man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does." There were circumstances that made her the way she is, but as much as they can be considered as accidents I see them more as the eventual outcomes of her choices, of her own accord, and not by some mere chance. Still, I am beyond amazed by the sudden turn of hopeless events resolved mysteriously by the workings of some deus ex machina.

In the pursuit of truth, as much as there is a silver lining awaiting at the end of the rainbow, the knowledge also goes hand-in-hand with danger, in which the cost is an irreversibly drastic change that one cannot escape from. Every self-discovery requires an equal price to be paid; it is a buy-one-take-one package that comes along with pain.

So in what purpose did the truth serve? Is there some kind of redemption gained in the end for our characters? Safe to say, yes. A modern reminiscent of a Greek tragedy, Incendies is like a novel that paces in a rather slow progress, attacking the story through its core aspect, peeling each layers of truth until we get the final result that is almost too glorious for a dramatic structure that begins at the end and ends with the beginning.

Incendies will likely appeal to viewers (particularly Cinephiles) with a voracious appetite for good storytelling and a tantamount passion for suspense. Denis Villeneuve has made his mark and I'll be on the lookout for more of his future film works to come.

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