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I have been blogging about anime series, but haven’t really
blogged about anime movies, other than to comment on how wonderful Miyazaki
Hayao’s movies are, especially coupled with Joe Hisaishi’s music. I think it may be time to post about one of
my favorite Miyazaki films, Mononoke Hime or Princess Mononoke if you prefer.
This film follows the actions of a young man named Ashitaka,
who is a prince of his own small clan. He is injured and cursed by a dying Boar-god
when he prevents it from ravaging his village.
Because of the curse he must leave his clan, and he must also attempt to
find a cure for the curse before it kills him.
Ashitaka follows the back trail of the Boar-god to a town on
the edge of a lake, where the townspeople mine iron ore and smelt it into
usable metal. The town forge is “manned”
by women that have been rescued from less savory occupations by the town
leader, Lady Eboshi. The town leader is
beloved by the townspeople, for keeping them employed, housed and fed and
protected from other warriors who wish to take them over. She also keeps a colony of lepers employed in
developing new weapons. She is a mixture
of good and bad, keeping her people safe, but at the same time working to
destroy the forest and the old gods in the name of progress and her town.
Fighting against the townspeople are a wolf-god, Moro, her
two wolf-children and her adopted human child, San. These four are trying to stop the
townspeople from destroying the forest and the old gods by making random
strikes against them and against their supply chains.
Ashitaka enters this set-up and discovers that the iron ball
which killed the Boar-god and indirectly cursed him was made by the townspeople
and fired by their rifles. Ashitaka is
caught in the middle of the battle between the townspeople and the forest. He prevents the townspeople from killing San
and is injured himself while rescuing her.
She in turn takes him to be healed by the Forest Spirit. The two of them then try to prevent the
destruction of the Forest Spirit by the humans and the rampage of the boar-clan against the humans in retribution
for the death of the Boar-god.
In the end Ashitaka manages to save the townspeople and he
and San return the Forest Spirit’s head to him after it is stolen by the people
trying to kill him. Although a lot of
forest destruction is accomplished by the bad guys, the forest is coming back
in the end, and Ashitaka and San and most of the townspeople are alive and
This movie is a clear struggle between old ways and forests
and progress and towns. Although some
coexistence can occur between these two sides, parts of both are lost in the
process and compromise is essential.
Besides the clear moral to the story, the story itself is
wonderful. The character and design
style is awesome, the music is awesome.
If you haven’t seen this one yet, you should. It’s arguably one of the best anime movies
I am happy to say that the new anime season has some pretty fun new series that look like they will be worth watching. This post will be a sampling of a few I’ve
tried so far, and my impressions after just the first two or three episodes.
My favorite of the season so far is probably Tonari no
Kaibutsu-kun. This series is a slice of
high school life series which follows a mismatched couple, the studious,
impervious, girl honor student Mizutani Shizuku and the misunderstood,
difficult boy who never comes to school, Yoshida Haru. They meet when the teacher asks Shizuku to
take printouts to Haru. The rest, as
they say, is history. But this is a fun
history. All the characters so far are
unique and interesting and their interactions keep you smiling and asking for
more. There are also hints of a darker
back story to come. Even though I rarely
enjoy high school slice a life a lot, this one shows considerable promise.
Zetsuan no Tempest is another one I’m continuing to watch
after two episodes. This series appears
to be a battle between two magicians.
The bad guy magician, Kusaribe Samon, starts the battle (and the series)
by marooning the good girl magician, Kusaribe Hakaze, alone on a shielded
island, and proceeding with his plans to bring major badness to the world. Even though she’s a powerful magician, Hakaze’s
capabilities are limited by the shielded island, but via a message bottle she
hooks up with a teenager looking for revenge and reasons for his sister Aika’s
death. The teenager, Fuwa Mahiro, and
his best friend, Takigawa Yoshino, are swept up into the magical battles. I’m watching this one because it’s pretty and
interesting so far. I hope it fulfills
Kamisama Hajimemashita is also one I’m watching. This one looks like it will end up being a
reverse harem anime, but the first couple of episodes had me either smiling or
laughing pretty much all the way through, so I’ll continue to watch it as long
as I’m enjoying it. This series is about
a poor girl, Momozono Nanami, whose father skips out on his gambling debts and
house is repossessed. She has nowhere to
go so when she helps a stranger he offers her his house to stay at. His “house” is an old temple, and he has just
turned her into the new god of that temple.
She has no powers, even as a god, so she traps a strong fox-youkai named
Tomoe to be her servant and help her.
The interactions between them are simply priceless, so I have great
hopes for this series too.
Another one I almost dropped after the first episode is
K. Lots of violence in the first
episode, but I decided to watch episode 2 and now I think I’ll keep
watching. Episode 2 was funny! I have no clear idea what is going on in
K. Right now all I know is that several
different groups are all looking for a particular kid named Isana Yashiro, with
the intention of killing him. The kid
seems innocent and pure but they’re after him for killing one of their own
people. The series is full of people
who can wield magic to some extent, and one of the main characters is a cat who
becomes a naked woman. So basically I
don’t know what’s going on or what the basic plot line will be, but if you read
this blog much at all, you know I like a mystery. I’ll watch this one a bit farther.
The last one for today’s post is Shinsekai Yori. The premise for this one seems to be a future
world where humans have evolved to have extrasensory powers. It’s not completely clear yet, but it seems
that people with those powers have run rampant in the past and caused much
evil, so in the current world, kids with powers are raised carefully and
strictly. Any signs of deviation cause
those kids to disappear. The series is
following the current class of kids through their training and lives, with
occasional flashbacks to the bloody history that led to the current state of
affairs. It’s interesting enough to
keep me watching for now.
So those are the series from the new season that I’m
currently watching. And of course I’ve
picked up the second season of Jormungand.
I’m enjoying them all quite a bit so far. It’s great to have new series to watch and I
hope at least some of them turn out to be outstanding series.
I’m starting to watch some new series which are beginning
this month so hopefully soon I’ll have some newer series to blog about. In the mean time I thought I’d post about
Speed Grapher is another one of those series with a unique
plot that I just couldn’t resist following, mainly I think because I have a
hard time quitting a series that I don’t know what’s going on. The story follows two main characters, an
ex-war-photographer named Saiga Tatsumi and a poor little rich girl named Tennouzu
Kagura. Kagura is abused both mentally
and physically by her mother, who is the head of the very rich and powerful
Tennozu Group. Kagura's Mom cannot stand that her daughter is more beautiful than
she is, so Mom starves Kagura and basically
makes her life as miserable as possible.
On top of that Kagura is plagued by weird nightmares.
Saiga enters the story following a trail of money and
corruption to a secret pleasure club where the rich and famous play both erotic
and brutal games and where lives and careers are made and broken. In this club, Kagura is a demi-god-like figure, and the
night Saiga infiltrates it, she is there.
Saiga is caught and they try to kill him, but not before Kagura has
kissed him which not only allows him to heal almost instantaneously but also
gives him a power that makes things explode when he takes a picture of
them. He grabs Kagura and runs.
Kagura has no conscious memory of the time she spends at the
secret club (thus the nightmares) and when she regains consciousness she asks
Saiga to take her away from everything so she can be free. Saiga agrees, and the two spend most of the
rest of the series avoiding the Tennouzu minions and searching for the answer
to their weird physical capabilities.
Leading the Tennouzu minions is a bad man named Suitengu Choji, who has
been manipulating Kagura’s life and who has one ultimate goal, to own the world
and then use money to destroy it. He runs
near the top of my ‘evil guys’ list, but when you find out his back story,
you’re more sympathetic towards him.
Plot bottom line:
Kagura is the product of advanced genetic manipulation and her body
produces a substance that reacts with a genetically created virus in other
people and causes their DNA to mutate in any way they want it to. A person has to be infected with the virus to
begin with, but then if they come into contact with the substance from Kagura,
they heal almost instantly, and they can mutate their bodies into essentially
whatever form they wish. Suitengu has
been hypnotizing Kagura and using her kiss in the secret club as a way of
bestowing favors on people who then owe him allegiance and use their powers for
him. Unfortunately, Kagura is dying
from her genetic manipulation, and that will accelerate if she goes through
puberty. Suitengu-tachi have been
suppressing her hormones, a fact which is unknown to Kagura and Saiga. Also, once activated the mutational ability
of the virus is finite. Saiga will
eventually go blind if he keeps using his ability.
story line is interesting enough that it kept me watching. It’s not until late in the series that you
find out Suitengu’s background, and also figure out why and how Saiga was
infected with the virus to begin with.
There turn out to be a number of twists to the story line, which is one of the resons I
enjoyed it. I also enjoyed it because
Kagura and Saiga end up surviving, with a happily ever after ending – or as happily
ever after as can be expected. I also
liked the OP very well which was Duran Duran’s Girls on Film. Unfortunately, for whatever reason the
American release of the series does not use that OP. They make up some instrumental version of
some of the background music. I’m
assuming they couldn’t get permission to use Girls on Film or weren’t willing
to pay the royalties. Too bad
really. Other than that it’s a good
series and I recommend it, especially if you like plot twists.
Another series I watched early on in my anime viewing is
Noir. Noir is a story about two women,
Mireille Bouquet and Yuumura Kirika, who are raised separately but both raised
as assassins. At the story beginning
Mireille is contacted cryptically by Kirika, who has lost her memory. They meet and realize that they seem to be
tied together in some manner by a mysterious pocket watch and a melody. They decide to work together as an assassin
duo until they unravel the mystery of their ties and discover Kirika’s past, at
which point Mireille promises to kill Kirika.
Thus the two operate as an assassin duo which goes by the
name of Noir. The bad news is that “Noir”
turns out to be the name of an assassin duo that’s been in existence since the
dawn of time and is controlled by a shadowy group called the Soldats. Kirika and Mireille spend the series
alternately running from the Soldats attempts to kill them and meeting with
Soldat members to try to figure out the mystery of the Soldats and how it
effects them personally. Spoiler coming.
In the end it turns out that three girl children were born
with the genetics and capabilities to become Noir assassins, Mireille, Kirika
and a third girl named Chloe. Kirika and
Chloe were raised and trained to be assassins by Altena, a Soldat bigwig, at a
secret vineyard Abbey hideaway. Mireille
on the other hand was born to parents who were high up in the Soldat hierarchy,
but they loved Mireille and refused to give her up to the Soldats. In return, the Soldats had them executed,
leaving Mirielle to be raised by her uncle.
Mireille grows up to be a good assassin in her own right.
What is also revealed as the story progresses is that the
pocket watch belonged to Mirielle’s father.
Kirika has it because Kirika is the assassin the Soldat’s sent to kill
Mireille’s parents. It was probably her
first assassination. When Mirielle and
Kirika realize this, Kirika begs Mirielle to be true to her word and kill
Kirika. Mirielle walks away, and Kirika
returns to the Abbey with Chloe. Kirika
and Chloe begin preparations to become the “true” Noir.
Mireille decides she can’t leave it at that and goes to the
Abbey to finish things. In the end, she
and Kirika save each other’s lives, and end up killing Altena, Chloe and a
variety of minor players. They both
survive the series!
This series will always be one of my favorites, and part of
that is because Mireille and Kirika end up alive and teamed up again. Beyond that though, the music is beyond
outstanding, the plot is fast-paced and twisty and the style is wonderful. Overall, this is one you shouldn‘t skip if
you haven’t seen it.