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15 May 2009 @ 04:42 pm
Anime reviews  
I haven't been all that good about reviewing series as I was watching them. Soooo watching up on series I've finished watching a few weeks ago:


Continuing on the Bakeneko arc of Ayakashi, Mononoke tells the stories of the mysterious medicine seller, as he goes about historical Japan, finding malicious spirits and exorcising them by finding their nature, the cause of their existence and what they're trying to do (roughly).

This is done in one of the most mesmerizing, baroque, gorgeous and stylistic art style and graphism ever. Not just the visuals, but the way it's used for storytelling, highlighted by sound and animation.

Each arc takes two to three episodes. Despite all involving a claustrophobic experience, the reactions of the various people haunted wo may or may not be the culprit for the creation of the Mononoke, while the medicine seller investigates in order to be able to do his exorcism, the show managaes variety in his formula by playing with setting and our expectations in clever ways. To my pleasure the sassy servant from the Ayakashi Bakeneko reappears in one arc, and what could be her future incarnation in the Taisho era also does. The atmosphere of creepiness and anxiety is always done perfectly well, with a few notes of beautiful catharsis. The exploration of the grimmness and selfishness of human nature is also great.

A lot of stories are about women in position of victims or antagonist, or both. I had this in mind because of meganbmoore remarking this about both Tokyo Babylon and Petshop of Horror. There's a certain logic to it : because women in patriarchal societies are very likely to suffer, and because they have no exultoire to express their pain, anger and spite, they're the ones to create magical creatures to avenge themselves. I did not find it to be a flaw of the story, I thought it was an interesting way to explore different female characters and their lives, but different viewers might react differently.

If I have any real criticism to make it is that the medicine seller remains mostly very mysterious. We have a couple of hints about his nature and reason for actions, but no real answers. I would have liked to have had something more conclusive about him. Perhaps for another series?

In any case this is a gorgeous, haunting show worth watching.

Spice and Wolf

In a Europe-like setting of the high middle age/early Renaissance, Lawrance is a wandering trader who goes about his business, when a pagan wolf deity of wheat (in the form of a young girl with wolf ears and tail) by the name of Horo hitches a ride on his cart and makes a deal for him to bring her up north to her native land.

There is two big draws to this series. First the 'Economics: the Anime' aspect. Most of the intrigues and plots revolve around the business of trading, buying and selling stuff, and the subtleties and tricks one can do to be richer. This is done in a way that is both informative and fun. I really love the low-key focus on peasants and day-to-day life for a fantasy story, and this is a very refreshing take.

The other draw is the relationship between Lawrance and Horo which is simply adorable. Both characters are pretty interesting and likeable, and they really have a great chemistry, with a lot of mutual teasing and little mind games. Lawrence is mostly easy going as well as a crafty merchant; but Horo is a very savvy and experienced Trickster goddess who saves his skin many times. The fact that she's also a scary wolf-like goddess also comes into play in interresting ways. Their relationship developps slowly with deft and light touches and I was totally sold my this aspect of the story.

The pacing is relatively slow, but compelling enough to draw you in quite easily, with just enough action. I watched it all in about two days. The animation is fluid and lovely. It's a short series of 12 episodes, with the sequel coming up next summer (yay!).
Tone: accomplishedaccomplished
Tune: Ooshima Michiru - Kyoudai
Ariss Tenohariss_tenoh on May 15th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
Oh my. That first show looks interesting. The style reminds me a little of Gankutsuou.
Anne-Elisa: chagalletrangere on May 15th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
yeah it's the same kind of texture applied to animation. It's really pretty. If you want to watch it, I advice you to start off with the last arc of Ayakashi. It's a spin off from that ^^
baseball with elephants? bah!: mononokekeelieinblack on May 15th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Mononoke is ♥! I still can't decide which arc is my favorite--I loved 'Noppera-bō', but the 'Umibōzu' arc was terrific because of the reappearance of Kayo and the biwa-playing demon fish. XD (I ended up having to watch each episode twice or more, too; I kept getting distracted from the actual plots by trying to spot neat things in the art and staring at all the beautiful swirling patterns.)

Ahh, and now you've made me want to watch Spice and Wolf! I thought it looked interesting when it first aired, but then it got so much fanboy love I thought it might be overly fanservicey or something, and steered clear.
Anne-Elisa: *g*etrangere on May 15th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I wouldn't mind watching it another time.

I really loved the last arc, and the one at sea indeed... and the one with the incense testing!

Spice and Wolf is a fanboy bait/moe anime in many ways, it's just that it's a good fanboy bait/moe anime, with good characterisation and plotting. There's not that much fanservice (Horo's first appearance is naked, and she obviously doesn't care about that, but the camera doesn't even emphasize it much). The pandering really works more by playing to how cute the characterisation are, but it's not the kind of silly infantilisized cute. So yeah, I, for one, loved it despite the moe-ness :) (or because of, it's just my kind of moe XD)
baseball with elephants? bah!: squee!keelieinblack on May 15th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Spice and Wolf is a fanboy bait/moe anime in many ways, it's just that it's a good fanboy bait/moe anime, with good characterisation and plotting.

Ahh, I see! I don't mind moe-ness in general (obviously), but if it's badly done or overloaded it can make for a weird and uncomfortable viewing experience, and when a summary includes "woman with wolf ears and tail who spends a fair amount of time naked"...it's easy to leap to the wrong conclusion. XD (It probably doesn't help that 90% of the fanart of Horo seems to have her naked, too.) You've alleviated most of my concerns, though, so thank you! I'll definitely check it out...in my er, copious free time...
Anne-Elisa: aryaetrangere on May 15th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
I don't think she spends more than one, maybe two episodes naked XDDD I'm glad I have alleviated your concerns, it's an utterly charming anime.

Good luck with the free time :)
Her Hamsternesshamsterwoman on May 15th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
Wow, the art on the first is gorgeous!
Anne-Elisaetrangere on May 15th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
It really is!! And it's even more beautiful in movement :)
☂ Internet trickster: Medicine seller / All the sordid detailsrainmage on May 15th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Mononoke ♥

Huh, I really thought Spice and Wolf was regular moe from the art I had seen.
Anne-Elisa: creepy anthyetrangere on May 15th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
See my answer to keelieinblack, it's kinda moe, but not in a bad or regular way ^^
issushaim: medicine sellerlefcadio on May 15th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
Mononoke~ ♥ I love it so much. Could never decide which arc was my favourite though :)
Anne-Elisa: masksetrangere on May 16th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
^_^ it's a great anime, yes.