labingi: (riki)
If you’re in the mood for some horror anime this Halloween, you may want to check out Kara no Kyoukai (Boundary of Emptiness), a series of seven anime films (Ufotable, 2007-2009) based on the light novel of the same name. Each film is a standalone story, forming the loosely arced tale of a dark and quirky detective agency investigating magic-related crimes, usually grisly ones. As character drama, the series has its moments, but it is most notable for its dark, violent, intricately plotted mysteries showcasing strong female characters. Not for kids.

The central characters are Shiki Ryougi, a somber young woman with amazing supernatural fighting abilities; Mikiya Kokutou, a kind young man who was her high school friend; and (to a lesser extent) Touko Aozaki, their boss and a powerful, offbeat sorceress. The arc narrative—sometimes more central, sometimes less—concerns Shiki’s nature and how she grapples with her incredible powers and her desire to kill. In the course of Shiki’s search for her place in society and sense of identity, the team encounters numerous murderers, sorcerers, destructive spirits, and so on.

Read the rest at The Geek Girl Project.
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The Unlimited: Hyoubu Kyousuke (2013), produced by Manglobe as a 12-part anime sequel to Zettai Karen Children, follows the adventures of the original anime’s antagonist, Hyoubu Kyousuke, as he fights–violently–for the rights of “espers” (people with superpowers) in a world dominated by norms. The Unlimited has all the elements of a truly great anime but misses a lot of chances to deploy them to the best effect. Overall, it is well above average without being spectacular. I have not seen Zettai Karen Children and so can confidently say that you don’t need to in order to enjoy The Unlimited.

The story is fairly simple, though the plot has some convoluted twists. Hyoubu Kyousuke is a very powerful esper (he can fly around, use telekinesis, shoot energy waves, etc.). He was born in the 1930s, but thanks to his powers has an extended lifespan and still looks like a teen, albeit white-haired. A child hero within a special esper unit in World War II, he became disillusioned with “normals” after experiencing cruel persecution and devoted his adult life to forming a criminal esper organization, P.A.N.D.R.A., to resist and possibly exterminate norms. Opposing him is nigh everyone, including B.A.B.E.L., a norm-esper organization founded by one of Kyousuke’s esper companions from World War II, Fujiko. Unbeknownst to Kyousuke, he is also being opposed by a young esper he has recently recruited, Andy Hinomiya, a Japanese-American who is, in fact, a US undercover agent. But things are more complicated than even Andy knows, and he may find cause to switch his loyalties. The three titular “children” from Zettai Karen Children, now middle schoolers, also make brief appearances as B.A.B.E.L. agents but are not central characters.

Read the rest at The Geek Girl Project.
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The latest X-Men film, The Wolverine, has recently opened in theaters. As you might guess, it’s about Wolverine–but I need to talk about the women. As gender fail goes, The Wolverine is by no means an egregious offender. In some ways, it handles its female characters well, but this is all the more reason to critique it: its gender fail not a fluke. It’s not a movie that just happened to be penned by a sexist writer. If anything, its handling of women is better than the norm for a Hollywood superhero flick. Yet it’s still offensive, and we have to do better. Now.

Spoiler-lite summary: the film is set after X-Men: The Last Stand, in which Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) killed an insane Jean-Grey-as-the-Phoenix (Famke Janssen) to stop her wreaking destruction. We catch up with him haunted by dreams of her and trying to put his identity as “Wolverine” behind him. But his past finds him in the form of an old Japanese acquaintance (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) he saved from the bombing of Nagasaki.* This old man wants to see Wolverine before he dies. Thus, Wolverine is whisked off to Japan where adventure ensues, including romance with his old friend’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). The story is based on one of Wolverine’s more famous comic book plotlines, but I’m going to address the movieverse as a standalone.

The film does some redeeming gender work. One enjoyable character is Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a multitalented mutant sidekick with amazing fighting skills, wit, charm, courage, and culturally plausible Japanese cuteness. (But note the word “sidekick.”) Mariko is also updated from the traditional damsel in distress. Though not a mutant, she has some decent fighting skills of her own and is courageous, proactive, and intelligent.

Read the rest at The Geek Girl Project.
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Ano Hi no Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (aka. Ano Hana: That Flower) (2011) is a very pleasing slice-of-life anime with a supernatural twist: five teenage friends are visited by the ghost of a friend, Menma, who died in an accident when they were children. Through revisiting her death, they must come to grips with their feelings about Menma and each other and find a way to move on.

Read the rest at the Geek Girl Project.
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I have reviewed Gungrave at the Geek Girl Project. Now, I've written many abstruse posts on this series, but this is legitimate, basic review (with pictures), so if you'd like an overview of the anime, check it out!

The Review:

This month I’m an evangelist for Yasuhiro Nightow’s 2003 anime, Gungrave. Disclosure: this is one of my favorite stories ever, so your mileage may vary. Based loosely on the video game of the same name, Gungrave is a seinen anime following some thirty years of the relationship between two orphans, Brandon and Harry, who become best friends and join the mob together in a fantasy America, where tragic missteps ensue.

Gungrave has two distinct modes, which might be described as “video game” and “human drama.” In its video game mode, it has lots of “necrolyzed” people (i.e. zombies), who are in need of being shot. And at its dullest, it levels up through a series of boss battles that are probably more exciting to play than to watch. This is the weak side of Gungrave, but I, for one, can brush it off–because Gungrave is about the human drama, and the human drama is almost perfect. Spoilers follow for the basic story structure…

Read the rest at Geek Girl.
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The Hour before Morning
Met with Matt today about The Hour before Morning. We actually didn't discuss the film much because it's getting on toward done. We did chat about trailers and marketing, which it was kind of exciting. Matt also showed me some of his color correction, which helps the look of the film a lot!

We picked a song from the score for the trailer. Grayson's score is haunting and just right, and [ profile] haemony sings the Ash'torian chant beautifully, almost androgynously.

The Crow
While fish-sitting for a friend today, I saw part of The Crow on his Netflix. (I missed it when it came out.) It's not a great movie, but it did make me miss enjoying stories with that tone: dark fantasy, angst. If anyone knows any such that are well written (i.e. not a just rehash of the usual tropes), I'm open to rec's.

The Geek Girl Project
I have started writing for The Geek Girl Project, a blog by geeky girls (or "firls" as Kitty would have me type), looking at media, tech, writing, etc. It's a great group of people and lots of fun.

Another Good Review Blog
Check out Nye Joel Hardy's science fiction, fantasy, and other book reviews.

Life Post-Trigun
It is very restful to be done with Trigun. I've been pondering a final cleanup post of miscellaneous thoughts, but I probably won't do that right away. I think it may be time to obsess on Mirage of Blaze again for while. (MoB looks oddly gentle and comforting after Trigun.)


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