Gankutsuou (+ Summer Season?)

July 13, 2009

Ah, summer. How do I love thee… A LOT, that’s how.

Before I get on to Gankutsuou, let me interrupt myself to discuss the 2009 summer season.

Well, it turns out I’m too lazy to actually investigate the new shows myself this season, so the only new ones I intend to watch are Spice and Wolf II (I just finished the first season) and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (because I’m so intrigued by apocolyptic life-and-death events, and it’s kind of the new Higashi no Eden). I was thinking about also doing Canaan, but I’m gonna wait on that. If I hear anything about it that intrigues me later on, I’ll catch up. Of course, I’m also continuing Phantom.

Tokyo-Magnitude-8-wide

OH OH OH! The unthinkable has happened! I may actually be watching some dramas again this summer! I noticed SARS was planning to sub Manhatten Love Story so I will check that out, and there’s supposed to be a show airing later this summer that I would love to watch if anyone subs it, Haken no Oscar. Of course I have absolutely no idea whether it’s decent or pure crap, but we’ll find out (if anyone subs it, that is…) Oh I should watch Rose of Versailles, too… forget the sparkling huge eyes, it IS a classic…

Ep-Rose-of-versailles

LOL. But anyway, yeah I have a lot of things to watch. I now am behing on posts for Ghost Hunt, Natsu no Arashi, Spice and Wolf, NANA, The 12 Kingdoms, and Nodame Cantabile. Sigh. I have too much time on my hands. I will write those posts! I promise! But for now,

GANKUTSUOU

Count and Albert

The thing about Gankutsuou is… it is FANTASTIC. It… oh my god. From the very first episode, it hits you and keeps going like that huge stone thing that Indiana Jones is always running away from. But lets be organized.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Gankutsuou is based on Alexander Dumas’ classic (and really long) novel The Count of Monte Cristo. And I have to say, giving Romeo X Juliet, also by Gonzo, you might not expect much. Also, I haven’t read the novel so I may not be the best to judge this, but from what I read on Wikipedia I’m gonna say that Gankutsuou did a way, way better job of adapting The Count of Monte Cristo than Hollywood. I recently rewatched the 2002 movie; that movie had more cheese in it than all of Wisconsin. I know for a fact Gankutsuou stayed truer to the original story. Just how true it stayed, I’m sorry I don’t know but at least THEY didn’t cut out 2/3 of the characters… I’ll read the book sometime. But no matter the original plot, Gankutsuou stayed amazing from beginning to end.

Count 2002

DVD cover for the 2002 adaption. CHEEEEEEESE.

Plot

Majority of credit to Alexander Dumas. However, some brilliant person arranged the adaption and pacing and dialogue, and that person deserves some kind of statue in their honor. The way in which the story was molded to fit a new setting and the added character and element of Gankutsuou himself that possesses (ish?) Edmond Dantes was all just excellent. And the ending… people in Hollywood just don’t make endings like that. It was awesome.

Setting

At first I wasn’t sure what I thought about the setting. It’s a little weird, you don’t quite get the full story about what’s giong on in the universe, but along the way I noticed that I’d become comfortable with the setting and I had a grasp on the events that had been happening. You find out at the end what year it is, but I guess I won’t say it… nyaha.

Animation

I would say this is the controversial aspect of Gankutsuou. I found the animation to be awesome. It was overwhelming, but overwhelming like a party, not like insanity. The style is comparable to Mononoke, the way textures or patterns are used in sort of blocks. But then it’s mixed with more normal animation and some CG. So yes, it’s like a party on your screen. I thought the first episode was amazingly well done. But I think maybe because it was Gonzo (sorry Gonzo, but you know you have issues) none of later episodes had quite as good animation as the first one. There were some things that just felt wrong. Also, a couple of the CG elements were a bit off. Like the duels in armor… I didn’t really like the way those were animated. It was surreal though, so in the end I just went along with it. Oh one thing they did that I really liked and stood out was Albert’s eyes. Instead of outlining them in black and having the iris be blue, all parts of the eyes were different blues (not the whites) but I noticed it every time there was a close shot of Albert’s eyes and liked it.

Overall I thought the unique animation ended up added to the show rather than subtracting.

Characters

I really liked the chara designs. The many faces of Edmond Dantes were great. Andrea Cavalcanti was a great character, because they made him very aristocratic and fancy looking, but then his wild expressions give you a hint of who he really is. Character development was great. During the opening of each episode you get a review of how things are getting messed up and how Albert is getting messed up. Obviously he had the most development. The girls were a bit weak however. Valentine – nothin. Eugenie was mostly playing the piano. You got a bit of Mercedes’ personality when she tried to go see Edmond, but not much else. I liked Haydee, but we could have had more of her too. However, I really didn’t notice or care about that until just thinking it over now.

Edmond Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo, Monte Cristo Hakushaku, was stunning. Best character ever. Nuff said.

Sound

I loved the BGM and the seiyuu. The OP… well some days I liked it and some days I didn’t. I loved it when Eugenie played it on the piano, but I could never decide whether I liked the vocals or not. The OP animation was really cool though, so I didn’t relaly care about the vocals. Pretty much the same for the ED; awesome animation, song – good background, iffy vocals.

haydee

So looking back there were a couple of flaws, but they didn’t affect my opinion of Gankutsuou; which is that I love it. And all the analysis in the world will not change that.

Is Gankutsuou right for you? (LOL) Well, I don’t know about my tastes. But if you like different, DEFINITELY go for this.

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Welcome to the NHK!

July 4, 2009

Woahhhh. A+!

NHK

I really loved Welcome to the NHK. From the very first episode.

The thing about slice of life is that lots of shows get put into that category just because they don’t really have a plot, and it’s really easy to say something is slice of life just because every series does show a life. But real, good slice of life isn’t so common. Actually I can’t even decide on whether I should call Honey & Clover slice of life, and I can’t decide on NANA either. Great, now I’ve gotten myself into this, how do I get myself out? What the hell is slice of life, anyway?

Whatever it is, I’m going to use slice of life to define Welcome to the NHK. What makes it a great show is the life it chose to take a slice of. Many shows called slice of life are just about your average guy/girl finding romance and a purpose; but NHK is unique because Satou is such an interesting main character. First of all, there’s the fact that he’s a hikikomori. Then, his hallucination-like thought process. Next is the way he relates to people like Yamazaki and senpai and Misaki-chan. I thought it was very realistic. Often when I watch anime, the characters will do something really dumb, and it makes you want to yell “NOOO don’t do that, idiot!” But Satou wasn’t like that. He was an idiot sometimes, but not in the melodramatic stupid way. I think that’s part of what made me call this slice of life.

Shows that have a very realistic take on life, that don’t necessarily follow a rigid formula for plot are what I call slice of life.

Back the Welcome to the NHK, I’ll do the rest of this post in a more organized way

MUSIC/SOUND: I liked the music a lot; the opening seemed dull at first but I got to like it. The first ending was crazy, but I liked it too. I don’t know about the voice actors, but I thought they did a good job (Sadly I don’t pay much attention to the voice actors…). The background music reminded me of the JDrama Stand Up!! See my post on that if you want =)

ANIMATION: Well… it was Gonzo… so no, it wasn’t completely consistent.  Especially Satou’s body proportions ended up seeming a bit off quite a few times. Which is strange since he’s the main character and everything. But everything else was good. I like the style of coloring they used. Speaking of Gonzo, I’ve been watching Gankutsuou. The animation is that is so overwhelming and awesome that I was surprised to hear that was Gonzo, too. I guess they can do good things too. But the point is: the rest of the show was so awesome that I didn’t end up caring very much about the animation quality.

CHARACTERS: Of course, one of the most important things that made this series so excellent. I really loved each of the small cast of characters. Satou was awesomely hopeless, Yamazaki was actually kind of cute, you got to like Misaki more even though she was kind of ridiculous at first, Senpai was interesting… it was a really great character study.

STORY: As I said before the story is unique. It really drew me in. It’s been a while since I had a real marathon, but I just basically marathoned then whole second half of the series.

I don’t really know what else to say; but I think Welcome to the NHK would be entertaining for anyone. It’s funny and interesting and brings up all the crappy points of society with humor. It’s pretty much just I’ve been wanting to see.