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16 February 2009 @ 09:36 pm
Anime reviews  
Kannazuki no Miko is a short (12 episodes) story revolving around a romantic triangle, mechas and magical girls: Chikane is a very naive everygirl, friend to both Ohgami, a young boy raised by a shinto priest, and Himeko, the young high-class overachiever girl idealised by everyone at their highschool. Both Ohgami and Himeko are in love with Chikane, and Ohgami was going to confess when suddenly mecha attacked! (it happens...) The mechas are the Orochi, some kind of monster that regularly tries to destroy the world, and to do so, empowers and uses 8 humans who have reasons to despair. The only ones able to stop the Orochi are the priestesses of the Moon and the Sun, who are reincarnated into Chikane and Himeko, by doing a ritual to summon Ame no Murakamo to fight off the Orochi - so of course Ohgami's first mission upon awakening as an Orochi is to kill Chikane and Himeko.

I watched this anime because I saw it mentioned in the Utena thread at RPG.net as one of the rare yuri stories but the two girls actually end up together in an uplifting way. This information was not actually entirely correct:
Since Himeko at one point rapes Chikane, even if there's an explanation to handwave it, and since Himeko eventually dies, even if she's supposed to get reincarnated and meet Chikane again. I think I'll take my happy-ending yuri fix from somewhere else. Athough at least this way it pushed my betrayal!angst button!
As a story, Kannazuki no Miko was just barely entertaining enough for me not to drop it. It uses a lot of obvious narrative tropes, some of which were appealing enough to me for purely buttons reasons (brothers set to opposite sides angst! Boy overcomes destiny of evil to save the one he loves! Meta commentary provided by one of the villain! Yuri! Unforeseen betrayal! Mindfuck!) rather than for any originality or cleverness in their execution and the ones that didn't appeal to me got on my nerve with their obvious Moe-ness set up (Chikane and most of the secondary character Orochi). Chikane is that kind of character who's supposed to be cute to your average anime fanboy, but who's really, really annoying to everyone else and feels like a 6 years old child was transplanted in the body of a 15 years old girl. She's not even genuinely kind and compassionate to overcomes her obliviousness, clumsiness and overall stupidity. Ohgami and Himeko are decent enough characters, if really generic ones. The visuals and animations are pretty good although I can't say I found the action scenes particularly riveting (of course I'm hardly a mecha fan). The yuri scenes were much better... and that's about it. I don't think I would recommend this anime to anyone but the diehard fans of yuri or perhaps the diehard fans of shinto mythology.

Ayakashi: Japanese Horror Stories is a series of three horror stories set in historical Japan of 3-4 episodes each. Each story have a fairly interesting and pretty visual design (the first one is done by Yoshitaka Amano, the other two by other people I don't know about).
The first story is a tale of betrayal between husband and wife leading to the ghost of the wife seeking vengeance. It's a rather gloomy tale where no one is particularly sympathetic, and then everyone die. In the hands of a very skilled storyteller that could make it a stark study of human nature, but as it was, it was pretty dull, with flat characters who you can't wait to see dying off.
The second story is a doomed romance between a falconer samurai and a beautiful fey girl (okay, she calls herself a forgotten god) who lives by preying on humans. It was somewhat more pleasant to follow and interesting than the first one, but rather lacklustre as well.
The third story happens as a household prepares to marry off their daughter, when they're suddenly attacked by a monstrous cat spirit, trapping them in their house as it kills family members one after the others. Thankfully a medicine seller is present who claims to be able to fight off the spirit if he is told by the family about what they did to provoke the spirit's grudge against them. This is the most successful story, both because of the investigation into the dark secrets of the family nature of the tale, and because of the claustrophobic huis-clot set up. The character of the mysterious stranger that claims to be able to help, and the young servant girl are both very well realised. There's a spin off of this story revolving around the same medicine seller called Mononoke which I will watch soonish-ly.
So overall this is a pretty mediocre anime apart from the gorgeous visual styles and the tie in with another series.
Tone: blankblank
baseball with elephants? bah!: mononokekeelieinblack on February 16th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I am anxious to hear your thoughts on Mononoke when you do see it. I watched it when it aired and was enthralled.

I wonder if the first story in Ayakashi would probably have more resonance for someone who's Japanese, or at least extremely familiar with Kabuki or Japanese ghost stories, since it's based one of the most famous ghost stories? Even knowing that it doesn't seem like a great adaptation--the best thing about it is the chance to see Amano's designs animated--but a cultural familiarity with it might have made the whole thing more palatable. Or maybe not!

(It's a rather gloomy tale where no one is particularly sympathetic, and then everyone dies seems like a perfect summation of a lot of Japanese drama, though. XD )
Anne-Elisa: fairytaleetrangere on February 16th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
Right now I'm busy enjoying two other series :) when I'm done with them, I'll start Mononoke.

Yeah, I got it was a classical tale, but it seems to be a straight retelling of the kabuki version? And it's only from the 19th century - I mean there are plenty of classical French tales from the 19th that I loath for the exact reason I didn't like this story. By contrast I think Kannazuki no Miko might be more fun for someone more savvy in Japanese folklore because it references a lot of Japanese mythology, but is anything but a straight retelling (no pun intended :)

seems like a perfect summation of a lot of Japanese drama, though. XD )
lol when I said 'in more skilled hands' I had a few classic black & white Japanese movies in mind (by Kurosawa and others) which are just as gloomy but manage being fascinating anyway :)
baseball with elephants? bah!: shadekeelieinblack on February 16th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, true, true, I didn't mean it in disparaging way. XD It just sounded like a basic template summary that could apply to at least 50% of the Japanese stories and films I've seen, whether they're good or bad.
Anne-Elisa: *g*etrangere on February 16th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
yeah, I mean, you were right on because that's exactly what I thought too and meant to imply XD
☂ Internet trickster: Medicine seller / All the sordid detailsrainmage on February 16th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
Now that I think about it, most of the Mononoke arcs, if not all of them, also have the claustrophobia factor. Most times it's a house, but in others it could be a ship or a train or a human mind. It's interesting if you think about it.

Nice seeing that you'll give Mononoke a chance ^^
Anne-Elisa: aryaetrangere on February 16th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
I think there's only so many set ups that work well for horror so I"m not surprised. Especially if it's the medicine seller MO :)
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Anne-Elisa: deeperetrangere on February 16th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
lol I don't mind slow paced personally so I think i'll be okay. Sorry you didn't like it though. I think storytelling approach can change a lot with times, generations, what people are willing to put through for the story...