Archive for the 'banner' Category


Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

I often find myself catching subtitles on purpose.

Also, I was accidentially sucked into rewatching Banner of the Stars. That would be the 4th time.

Rethinking mecha

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

It is quite plain that a certain level of anti-mecha sentiment festers among the anime fans. In my recent memory, Impz wrote about it, and so did Steven den Beste. The core belief here is mecha series generally tend to suck because the shiny metal takes the focus away from the characters and the story.

I used to subscribe to this notion, but I am starting to wonder if it’s true at all.

Over the years I saw a number of series and movies with mecha in them, and taking stock it becomes clear that quite a number of them did not suck outright. Here is the cream of the crop:

  • Banner of the Stars: I’m going to go on a limb and consider the assault ship a degenerative mecha. It is crewed with 20, but we only ever see 5. The amount of gizmo obsession going around there can put Macross to shame (I am talking about the cutaway views of VF-1 here). Fans of the franchize discuss solemnly the imaginary properties of weapons and ships in the way Gundam fans do. So it really is a mecha series, but it provides excellent story and characters.
  • Dai-Guard: An underappreciated series with the goofiest-looking giant robot. Surprisingly deep characters and an interesting storyline, and there’s more going on than meets the eye at first. I think I watched it first at a convention when nothing else was available. What a serendipitous chance.
  • Stellvia/Vandread: Essentially twin series in my mind. Decent story and characters in both, although the mecha is not goofy like in Dai-Guard, just impossible and/or magical. Stellvia I watched because I liked the OP; SDB’s relentless advocacy made me watch Vandread.
  • Gurren-Lagann: This I dropped after the 3 episodes to ease my fansubbing duty because I knew it was going to be licensed. But it’s a very decent series with manic action. Bloggage was quite positive.
  • IDOLM@STER Xenoglossia: Dropped too, but it’s on my list to watch if I have money when it’s licensed in R1. Cutest animation; characters somewhat shallow, IMHO; plot is driven by a conspiracy and girlmecha.
  • Macross, or whatever the right name is. I place it undeservingly low on the list, I know. More about it below…
  • Martian Successor Nadesico: Parts are good, parts are bad. Referrential, breaks the 4th wall, uses patterns too much, has filler, and the harem lead sucks. But it still has a certain amount of goodness. I haven’t seen the ending yet.

To be sure, quite a number sucked as well. I didn’t like NGE much (although perhaps I didn’t watch it right), GiTS:SAC was a silly derivative, Sakura Wars the Movie was ruined by the whitewashing of the prewar Japan, Dual was not too bad as far as mindless fluff goes, but failed to resolve the harem, Escaflowne the Movie was goth, Voltron‘s mechanical tigers were ludicros, Macron 1 was just old rank-and-file series, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs ditto, and the less is said about Zoids, the better (except that admitting to watching that should be as embarrassing as to watching Yu-Gi-Oh).

In the end, the final suck ratio is not that bad. Harems produce about the same divide, too, for instance. It may be some kind of Sturgeon law in action. Why single out mecha for punishment then? There’s no rational reason.

But if done right, mecha provides interesting possibilities. My personal favourites would be the ace and power multiplier. They were provided by air forces, especially during the WWII, in the real life, so they are realistic. Anyone with a martial arts experience knows how a stick multiplies power of an adept user, but is dangerous for an inept one. More sophisticated weapons tend to magnify this effect. This is how Galland’s Experten, Bong, Pokryshkin, and Sakai came about. These people were fascinating. All mecha needs to do is take this a bit further (but it has to stop before the progression reaches the absurd if director is any good).

Now that my worldview is adjusted, I’m going to give mecha a fair consideration. In simple words, gotta see me some of dat. But what?

Gundam is obvious. I always avoided it because the franchize was too extensive, with a truly bewildering array of series. But after reading about it on the Net, it appears that there’s not all that much that stands out. I saw some of the W in the U.S. broadcast and the story seemed overstretched. The 0083 looked like having good comedic moments (I wanna hear the following classic in the original Japanese: “Yes, sir!” — “Don’t call me “sir”, you idiot! I’m your enemy!”), but it was too little. Brickmuppet linked an article about 0080 at ANN, which seemed interesting but not quite there. So, after careful consideration, I’m going to look at 08th MS Team for starters and then we’ll see.

I’d love to see Macross too. I saw bits and pieces here and here, and it looked intriguing. But I still cannot figure out what the definitive version is. Also, it’s long in all incarnations.

Finally, I am going to watch the new NGE movie. Maybe Asuka is not such a bad bitch in it anymore. One can only hope.

These three items should do mecha justice that it was denied, and I’m going to keep an open mind in the future (Kaminaaaaaaaaa).

UPDATE: Nick Istre writes:

Just to throw out one hypothesis, it might be a reaction to the sometimes rabid fanbase of mecha? I know a few people who are hardcore mecha fans. Heck, a few of them form the core of “Mechacon” that’s held here in Louisiana.

Could be.

Reader Michael Gardner asks what is GiTS:SAC a derivative of. Of the original movie, of course, which was quite good. Coincidently, the movie didn’t have any mecha (unless we consider a tank a mecha). It certanly didn’t have a mechanical insect with an outhouse stuck to its butt.

UPDATE: Oh, snap. Netflix lists 08th MS Team as “3-disc series”, starting with v.2 (ep.4). It’s not just “availability unknown”, but seems like v.1 never existed. Now what? RACS seems to have v.1 on sale for $12.98… I wish I knew it last week when the previous order went in (I gave up on hunting RahXephon and just ordered a thinpack). Still, ordering a standalone v.1 seems retarded, so I suppose the best course of action would be to netflix v.2, check if it’s any good, then get a thinpack. Hey, the out-of-order thing is all the rage these days since it worked for Haruhi.

UPDATE: Owen insists that I watched Code Geass. In my judgement, it is too fresh to rub with the likes of 08th MS Team, so I added it to the common queue. It is #40 now. I might see it in about 18 months from now if nothing bumps it.

UPDATE 2007/09/10: Fledge makes a post about upcoming live-action Robotech (which is an ugly child of Macross, or perhaps vice versa). I am not holding my breath, because of two words: Wing Commander. Hollywood is capable of trampling any great franchize into dirt.

UPDATE 2007/10/14: Watched 08th MS Team. I torrented the gaps in Netflix’s coverage.

Nanoha’s season A

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Since Nanoha is such a freaking cult where I rub, I am basically ready to be a fan of it sight unseen and can’t wait for the R1 releases. The other day I saw a comic at Avatar’s place (BTW, it’s very funny, check it out) and it got me thinking.

The comic deals specifically with Nanoha A. I gather that attributes played in the comic are missing from plain Nanoha.

Now, let’s look at something else. Everyone knows that Banner of the Stars is “better” than the Crest. Crest is just a middling space opera, whereas Banner is one of the greatest military dramas ever. Those who are not die-hard fans of the franchise and just want to watch the best anime has to offer are advised to skip Crest and see the Banner.

So, is the same true for Nanoha? Should I go to Nanoha A and bypass the original? The sentiment among fans comes pretty close to that. Of course it may be too early to worry about that, but just a thought.

UPDATE: Jeff e-mailed with a suggestion to quit searching for non-existing analogies and watch from the beginning. OK, I lied. Being a polite guy he is, he wrote only the later and implied the former. Anyway, I hear and obey.

Kaedrin opens Banner of the Stars

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

The post is rather agreeable. But also look into comments, always comments! It’s a whole Beginer’s Guide to Abh. I’m a little surprised Steven would rather hide all this material in Mark’s comments rather than put them up on his own blog, but not unduly so. I suspect it’s easier for him to retype it again and give it a particular focus rather than hunt bits and pieces scattered across Chizumatic.

Banner 01 vs Starship OPS 01

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

To verify my impression of S/OPS, I reviewed the opener of Banner of the Stars. As expected, it is an outstanding piece of work, and I liked it better. That said, it’s a bit different.

The most obvious part is that there are only 5 characters to present. This gives the creators of Banner the necessary room. In S/OPS they decided to pile it up, with rapid-fire introductions, and without the help of character announcements as in PPD. Was it so necessary? I think not. They wanted to showcase everyone involved, and I consider that a mistake.

But then Banner is the greatest military classic in anime form, and it’s no bigger shame for S/OPS to lose than for Lafiel to lose to Hecto-commander Kokoteil. I remain quite positive (while keeping the documented reservations).

P.S. The scene where everyone is looking at Jinto while voiceover runs was a pure genius. It felt good, it saved animation budget, it saved exposition time: win all around.

PSgels on Banner II

Monday, April 12th, 2010

The second in succession for the Omni’s crown proclaims boldly:

The third Seikai series more than surpasses its predecessors.

And that is because:

It doesn’t just take the best of the two prequels: the dialogue of Monshou and the combat of Senki. It also introduces a complete new layer: diplomacy. A huge part of this season is about the two lead characters, in charge of a planet full of prisoners that’s about to descend into a civil war. The planet’s political system consists out of [blah blah blah].

Dunno if this qualifies Banner II to be “courageously different from its predecessors”, but yes. It is different. It actually is the reason why I did not watch it: I am afraid it would spoil the impression from the Banner.

The dialogue of Seikai no Monshou and Senki was already really good, but Senki II’s dialogue turns out even better. The creators put so much meaning in just about every sentence. Every sentence is spot-on, whether it’s about the characters in the series, or the politics. The scenario itself is also full of twists and turns that yet make full sense when put into the story itself.