Sayuki + Bubblegum Crisis + TekkonKinkreet

In the interest of time, I am combining my thoughts on the three most recent anime I have seen into one post. That, and maybe I don't think one of these deserves that much thought anyway. But mostly it's in the interest of time, and because these are pretty long overdue.

Saiyuki: Journey to Nowhere

This summer we somehow made it through Saiyuki. I wanted to watch it, because I have been a fan of the original story. It's a good story, and serves as a good basis for much creative work. When I saw that an anime had been done based on Journey to the West, I was pretty excited. Of course, that was some time ago now, and we just now got a chance to see this anime.

Little did I know what I was getting myself into! Overall, Saiyuki was little more than a giant waste of time. So where do I start? Well, let's see... This anime is a formulaic journey to nowhere. It's low production values show in the first episode with the animation quality seriously lacking. On top of that, the plot is boring, since most of the episodes don't connect to the main plot arc anyway. After getting through two box-sets I came to the conclusion that the characters are pretty static and trite, and that this anime has little more in common with the original story than the name itself. So there's a good chunk of time I'll never get back.

In the end, the only purpose which Saiyuki serves is to present all the fangirls with a handful of bishonen. Yet it doesn't even do that well, as the animation never approaches the quality of the cover illustrations. The irony, is that the women are drawn much better, and even the guys all have a feminine look to them. Some episodes even move towards yaoi, which is where I just shake my head.

Bubblegum Crisis: Still a Classic

This fall I had finally gotten my hands on almost all of the Bubblegum Crisis DVD's out there. I say "almost" because the only thing I didn't get is BGC Tokyo 2040. That was more of a choice though. So other than that ommission, this includes the first AD Police Files, the original Bubblegum Crisis series box-set, Bubblegum Crash, the name-recycler AD Police, and Parasite Dolls.

The first series of OVAs, AD Police Files, is an excellent three part animation. It's gritty and mature stories gave it a Bladerunner-esque feel. Probably one of the best pieces of the whole franchise. The BGC series was also very good. Originally, the story didn't jive with me as well, back in the day when I first saw this, but somehow it made more sense now. I'm not sure why, or maybe I realized that it was more about the action and animation quality than plot. Following this up with Bubblegum Crash made for a much more complete package and left me pretty satisfied with this classic. The latter still had the animation quality of the original series, though some of the voices, most notably Priss, were different and of lesser quality.

The next installment, AD Police, was nothing like the rest of BGC. Low production values brought this series down, and much like Sayuki, I couldn't wait to be done with it. What I didn't expect, however, was to be pleasantly surprised by Parasite Dolls. Set in the same universe, but pretty far removed from a lot of what makes up BGC, this feature-length film went back to the roots. As in, back to the style of AD Police Files, with enough gritty cyber-punk action to satisfy most GitS fans. With top notch animation, sound, plot, characters, and plenty of gratuity, Parasite Dolls is a definite sleeper hit. Don't pass up this gem, especially for the cheap price tag it's got on Amazon.

Maybe some day I will give BGC Tokyo 2040 a shot. But I don't know that I can ever get over the fact that they butchered Sylia, one of the best characters from the original. So for now, my recommendation is to stick with the classics, and to save Parasite Dolls for dessert.

TekkonKinkreet: Wow!

The wonderful Nikki was kind enough to surprise me with TekkonKinkreet for Christmas. And after watching the film I can best summarize it with the word Wow! No wonder it grabbed so many awards.

This film oozes creativity and originality. It's plot is set into a simple enough framework, gang rivalries, but it's core is pretty heady. I'll have to watch it another time or two before I can really wrap my mind around it better. For the time being, I can only marvel at the awesomeness. With excellent animation quality, not to mention a unique art style that I haven't really seen in anime before, and fantastic characters, TekkonKinkreet goes in the direction of struggles between good and evil within the self.

It's heavily metaphorical, allegorical, and symbolic. Since I'm not Japanese though, all of the metaphors and allegories and symbols will inevitably elude me. Maybe with some time I can decipher more of the meaning behind Black and White. I love that those are the names of the two protagonists. In fact, there is nothing bad I can say about this film, so if you still haven't seen this phenomenon then it's about time you do!

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