Monday, August 17, 2009

Valkyria Chronicles - and character death .... again.

Lately I've been watching some series that didn't really hook me hard in the beginning, but the plot and characters are interesting enough to keep me watching. Valkyria Chronicles is one of these series, and it's been something of a surprise to me in several ways. For one thing, as a rule I'm not that fond of series that are derived from games. They tend to be disjointed or derivative or require you to have played the game to know the back story and inter-relationships between the characters. So I wasn't expecting much from Valkyria. I began watching it for my usual reason .... I liked the way the characters looked.

Another reason I wasn't expecting much is that it's a war series. *laughing* Hai, hai. With my penchant for liking historically-based anime, I'm bound to watch war series. Human history is defined by periods of war and events are described in relation to it. We call something "post-WWII" or "pre-Civil War", etc. Humanity is described as a war-like race and we've managed to saturate our history with blood. We're still doing it. In my more delusional moments I like to think that we can eventually evolve beyond it. Oops, got a little philosophical there. Anyway, the problem with war-series, is that they are pretty much guaranteed to kill off characters. So I go into them expecting less over-all survival. Unfortunately I never seem to get the hang of not getting involved in the characters lives.

So, along the way in watching Valkyria, I've been slowly drawn in by the plot. On the surface it's fairly typical, with a nice love triangle going among the three main characters, and various side-characters interacting more or less happily, and a sub-plot that is hinted at in the OP, but not developed much yet (which in itself is a little scary, given that we're on episode 20 of 26. They may never really develop the sub-plot, which would be a shame.)

In episode 17 they kill off Isara, one of the main characters. I'm not sure yet whether this is the start of character decimation, or if she will be the series token death. Since everyone who's read my blog knows how I feel about token death, I won't go there. Where I want to go with this blog is this: WTF is the point of rubbing our noses in the death for TWO ENTIRE EPISODES!!?! Yes, the up-coming death was obvious. Episode 16 was a warm and happy episode showcasing the growing love relationship between Isara and Ramal. You just knew one of them would die, and sure enough in ep 17 Isara is killed. Take my advice. If you're watching this series, skip episodes 18 and 19, and go immediately to where the plot resumes in episode 20. 18 and 19 are excruciating, agonizing detail of how people live on and deal with the death of everyone's favorite. Of course Isara is the most non-threatening, lovable character in the series, so the whole cast is filled with guilt and despair, which the creators drag us through for two episodes. It took me half a box of Kleenex to make it to ep 20. 'K'sou. Was that really necessary? Her death was bad enough. Why waste two episodes of plot time on it?

*exasperated sigh* Given how much the Japanese like to kill off their characters, I'm going to have to accept that characters die, and stop ranting about it in this blog. Actually, that's not it. It's not that I can't accept that characters die. I just don't get why they have to die in the worst possible way. Yes, I know horrible, senseless death is a part of life. Maybe I want my anime to be a little less life-like. Somewhere there's got to be a happy medium. I'm not particularly fond of anime that's all sweetness and light fluff, with nothing more pressing than the next school day and confessing to one's boyfriend/girlfriend. Still somewhere between drag-everyone-through-anguish and don't-have-a-plot-to-speak-of, there's got to be reasonable anime. Right? I'm sure I'll be able to think of plenty of examples .... later when I'm less frustrated.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Still here!

Wow. I am so far behind in my blogging. I knew this summer was going to be bad, as far as free time goes. Hopefully it will get better.

You'll notice that I now have a second contributor to this blog. I invited "y" to be a guest blogger and post whenever, so hopefully there will occasionally be more from "y". We're both pretty busy, so we'll see. *laughing* With any luck it won't turn into a free-for-all. Occasionally we don't agree on certain aspects of anime. And of course I'm always right.

I'm still watching anime, of course. If I ever don't have time for that, better check for a pulse. I'm still watching the series I started in April and enjoying them. I tried out a few new series which started this summer but really wasn't interested in any of them except the second season of Spice & Wolf and one called Canaan. I'm only watching 12 series right now, which is probably an all-time low for me ... since I started watching anime seriously with Inuyasha back in 2002. Usually I'm following around 20 series at a time.

Higashi no Eden ended of course, and I will place that series firmly in my 'good series' category. It was a non-ending ending in that the story continues, but they tied up some major plot lines and nobody died. Two 'must haves' for a series to achieve my 'good series' list. I really enjoyed the characters which were done by the same person who did the characters for Honey & Clover. Takizawa Akira and Morimi Saki are in the picture to the right. Plus the music was good and the plot was really unique. I'm looking forward to the two movies they will be doing as follow-up.

I'm also following the new version of Fullmetal Alchemist. I've been struggling with this version because I liked the original version really well. I didn't realize though exactly how far from the manga the original series was. I've been faithfully watching this version and noting all the divergences from the original series. Now that they've introduced characters that were never in the original, and the plot has diverged completely, I went back to the manga (which I'm collecting but haven't read yet) and looked. Whatta ya know? The new version is faithful to the manga!! So I've finally given up on the comparisons and am enjoying this version as a separate anime series. I'm a little slow to come around sometimes, especially with a favorite anime.

So I guess that's enough to get this blog restarted. I'll put more in later.