Big O, Season 1 (1999 Anime)

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The Big O started life, at least here in the United States, as one 13 episode series that ended on a cliffhanger so big that everyone who watched it screamed and hollered until the sequel was produced.

The setting is Paradigm City and a world devastated by an unknown Event forty years ago. Said event apparently destroyed the rest of the world and wiped the memory of every living person. We follow Roger Smith, a Negotiator, who makes deals between parties wishing to exchange “memories” (bits of data from the old world). He is the operator of a megadeus known as Big O. While rare, other megadeus do exist or can be built and these are usually run by various criminals, etc, giving Roger the chance to flex Big O and beat the living daylights out of them. In the first episode a hostage negotiation goes wrong and Roger ends up with R. Dorothy Wayneright, a robot that was built in the image of the original Dorothy Wayneright. Various adventures happen while it is hinted at that the world might not be as empty as supposed and that the power movers of the city know a lot more than they are letting on. Roger fights to preserve Paradigm City with the help of Dorothy,  his butler Norman and of course the megadeus Big O.  Series One ends with a huge fight between Big O and Big Duo and while Big O ends up victorious, in the distance we see 3 megadeus stalking out of the ocean towards the city.

I really enjoyed this anime. The art style is almost copied straight from Batman: The Animated Series. If you like that kind of art, this is going to really float your boat. The lines, the curves, the angles, it just works so well.

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Second is the music. The opening theme song is pretty much the singer just saying “Big O, Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty” 2 or 3 times while some seriously Queen sounding music plays. It seems to be almost intentionally modeled on the music in the Highlander. While I wouldn’t listen to straight up Queen music, it has it’s place. The episodes are filled with a mix of saxophone jazz and some really intense and serious fight music. As odd as that combination seems, they stay separate and work perfectly.  The music man in this series had a great sense of what music fit where and how to blend disparate types seamlessly together.

The characters are pretty 2 dimensional. Roger is simply the cool private eye and while a romance is hinted at between him and R. Dorothy, that has more to do with her journey about learning to be her own person and not just a set of programs.  Norman is Alfred the Batman Butler and there are a whole host of side characters ranging from erstwhile allies to pure villains. While each character has a pretty specific role to play and a bit to fill, they never exceed that or become something more. It didn’t bother me but it is something to to be aware of.

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Finally, we have the “mystery”.  It is the strongest part of the anime and yet the weakest at the same time.  Tons of hints and vague memory flashes show the sky being filled with megadeus and a world so advanced as to be a paradise. And yet we get hints of nothing being as it seems.  There are so many things that don’t make sense, whether deliberately or because of lazy story telling. If the memory loss happened 40 years ago, where did Roger learn to pilot the Big O. Why are so many young people (and I use the word “young” to mean anyone under 50) so obsessed with memories? They didn’t lose anything. something just doesn’t add up. Why can the megadeus sometimes act on their own?

I call this the strongest part of the anime because it allows the viewer to speculate endlessly with others who are watching. It is the glue that binds all the previous parts together. It is also the weakest because things simply don’t make sense. A story must be internally consistent for it to be a strong story.

Overall, I still enjoyed the heck out of this. Not as “cool” as my 25 year old self thought it was, but I think this is worth hanging on to for another view in several years.

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I did not expect to write this much. We’ll see if I’m so wordy about Season 2 next Sunday.

 

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Karas: The Prophecy, The Revelation (2007 Anime)

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Where do I even start? By the time I was done watching this I was scratching my head desperately trying to figure out why I had bought this back in 2007 when it was released on dvd for American audiences.

I have 2 good things to say, so I’m going to get them out of the way. The visuals in this anime (there are 6 total episodes) are absolutely stunning and the fight scenes are so action packed and awesome that it took my breath away. And that was it. Nothing else about this anime is anything I would recommend.

This was a confusing mess that made so little sense that it wasn’t until I went over to the Wikipedia page that it started to get straightened out in my head. The anime opens up with what appear to be 2 jet planes flying over Shinjuku strafing each other and obviously fighting against each other. Then they suddenly transform into old school samurai looking guys (like the armor on the cover) and begin hacking away at each other in front of the moon all the while being a bajillion feet up in the air. Then one guy eventually kills the other and the dead guy turns to black feathers.

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Two Karas with their feet towards each other, preparing for the final confrontation

 

There are robot demons, and a cop who investigates supernatural stuff and Karas is supposed to be a protector or something and one karas went rogue and is trying to take over the city with the demon robots. And there is more stuff that I don’t even remember because I was so bewildered and lost as to what was going on that I didn’t know what to look at or who to pay attention to or anything.

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A mikuras, ie, a robot demon

By the time these 6 episodes were done, all I knew for certain was that I would never watch this again and if I could get rid of these, I would in a heart beat! It was a waste of my time and I doubt anyone now, 13 years later, is going to spend any time on it, nor should they.

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It did make me want to go through some of my other anime though, to see just how much my tastes had changed. So in July I think I’m going to be dedicating Sundays to anime.

 

I plan on watching Big O Seasons 1 & 2 (think Batman the Animated Series in Japan with giant robots), The Record of Lodoss War OVA (my manga reading this month inspired that choice!) and to wrap things up, the Tenchi Muyo OVA (scifi romcom) that got me hooked on anime back in the early ’00’s. Prepare yourselves, Bookstooge is going Old School Anime next month!

 

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Ranty Ravey McRantyPants!!!!!!!!!!

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Please don’t spoil books for people. Ever. Like, even if the book is 200 years old and everyone else has read it. Respect your fellow bookworms  A Re-Tweet

I saw this re-tweet. I wanted to take this little brat over my knee and paddle some sense into their head through their butt. What an arrogant little piece of trash. Who do they think they are to dictate to me, or others, how we can, or cannot review a book that we read?

It has nothing to do with respect. It has everything to do with a sense of self-entitlement and a self-centred view of the universe where that person is god and everyone else must bow down to their wishes and fulfill their desires. The attitude shown by the above tweet shows a breathtaking lack of thought and intellectual fortitude.

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All Because King Georgey Porgy tried to tell George Washington how to write his book review!

DON’T YOU DARE DICTATE TO ME HOW I MAY OR MAY NOT REVIEW A BOOK.

I am so pissed off right now that I can’t even think.

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Every single part of the above sentence is incorrect, IF you know your anime. And if that tweeter knew what free speech actually was and what it cost, they’d commit seppuku in shame AND they’d convince their parents to commit seppuku for raising such a dumb ass.

/rant

 

 

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Skies of Dawn

Skies of Dawn
The Twelve Kingdoms #4
Fuyumi Ono
Light Novel
4 Stars
dtb, 642 pages

the story of 3 girls. Yoko, the new king of Kei, must face rebellious underlings who isolate her and keep her out of the loop. Shoukei, a former princess of another kingdom, must learn about real life and the responsibilities she forsook as a princess. Suzu, a human from our world, like Yoko, learns that she alone decides if she is miserable or happy. All three stories intertwine and weave together seamlessly and the end works out very well. I continue to enjoy these light novels and the wonder and joy began by the anime is alive and well in these novels..

The world Ono describes and writes about continues to grow in our minds. A well written story, even as it covers up its “morality play” underpinnings.

A worthy continuation of the series.

Ergo Proxy- A Review

This is a review of the anime series, Ergo Proxy.

There will be plenty of spoilers, mainly because I know that none of you are hardcore enough to get past episode 8.

The story centers around Re-L [pronounced Ree-el], Vincent Law [a human, a Proxy and some sort of Shadow of the Creator] and Pino [a cute little girl who is actually an AutoReiv, a robot].

The world is desolate and the last remnants of humanity live in dome cities. Turns out that each Dome city was created by a Proxy, who in turn were created by humans when they realized the scope of the destruction about to overtake the earth. The domes are pretty much little hothouses of humanity waiting for the earth to be livable again.

The problem is, the Proxies, while pretty nigh all powerful, were created with the need for love and acceptance by the humans they were to shepherd. You guessed it, humans don’t do that very well 🙂 So one proxy, Ergo proxy, created a doppleganger of himself, erased its memories and sent it out on a complicated mission to destroy Romdo Dome, all as his revenge since nobody loved him.

So Re-L, Vincent and Pino fly around the land, which is getting to the point where humans can live on it again, recovering Vincent’s memories. Come back to Romdo, defy the original Ergo’s plans and pretty much sum up the whole thing as “I think, I feel, I love, therefore I have purpose”. Ends with Vincent/Ergo saying he is the Agent of Death to anyone who threatens the citizens of Romdo [as some sort of flying fighters come over the horizon] an Re-L and Pino standing strong beside him.

Blah, blah, blah. One review I read called this show pretentious. I agree. The creators of the show made a mystery of EVERYTHING! There were way to many episodes relying on dreams, psychological/mind games and general whining to make this a cult favorite.

Vincent. The VA who played him [I watched this dubbed] sounded constantly tired and whiny. How many times can a character complain about “why me” or wonder who they really are? [especially AFTER they already know that they are a Proxy and not a human]. I wanted to throttle him for almost the entire series. He was pretty good for the last 4 or 5 episodes though.

Re-L. She looked like a Goth hooker. Blue eye shadow. So in one episode they are stranded and almost dying of no food, but does she ever go without the HUGE amount of blue? Nope! As a character, she was pretty capable, maybe one of the most capable characters in the series. Had a nice pistol shotgun and knew how to use it. Her VA though was a very flat sounding woman. She had one tone and that was it. I really want to watch this again, but subbed, to see how the japanese sounds.

Pino. She made it all worth it. An auto-reiv who has been infected by the Cogito virus, which gives the auto-reivs self awareness and feelings. She is funny and cute and her clear non-understanding of things like sadness, death and other such subjects really lighten things up.

Overall, the show tried to be to mysterious by keeping information until the very last. As far as I was concerned, this ruined the show. Many shows you CAN make that work. It didn’t here though. I plan on watching this again, but couldn’t recommend it to anyone but a hardcore fan who has the patience to sit through it and just accept without wondering why or how. You go down that path and this show will drive you completely nutters. The how and why’s are for a second or third viewing.