Archive for anime

Anime Review: My Neighbors the Yamadas

Director: Isao TakahataYamada family portrait, kind of

based on comic strip by Hisaishi Ishii

Japanese release: 1999

U.S. release: 2005

I am torn in attempting to review this film. I have no complaints about the actual execution and stylistic choices of the animators and Japanese voice actors, which is predictably excellent coming from a pro like Takahata; but thinking about its choice of subject matter – the family – and its predictable treatment of that institution disappoints me.

My Neighbors the Yamadas is about a typical middle-class Japanese family living in the suburbs: there’s the overworked father, the somewhat lazy stay-at-home mother, the slacker son, the cutesy innocent daughter, and the wise-cracking, cantankerous grandmother. Oh, and a dog. Lacking any pretension of having a central plot, the director chose to instead put a lot of short stories together around the theme of “family.” While this makes sense when one considers that this film is based on a newspaper comic strip (thus its very minimalist complexion), it also prevents any maturation of the characters. Or, as one of the side characters remarks about the grandmother as she draws a line in the sand to separate her trash pick-up from his, “She’s still the same 60 years later” (in this case, 60 minutes later).

Despite this Is this Your marriage?movie’s seemingly low production values, it’s more like a cross between the Simpsons and a BBC comedy than a Saturday morning cartoon. The characters throw accurate punchlines – aimed at the middle-aged.

… continue reading this entry.

My visit to Kanon

Warning: Spoiler Zone Ahead!

Do not read unless you are certain that you are NOT going to watch Kanon or unless you have already seen it.

Kanon (2006) has been therapeutic for me.

The Makoto arc

Piro’s goneReunited

It’s painful to lose someone you love. I connected to Makoto’s gradual loss of human abilities and intelligence because “my cat” died not long ago. I say “my cat” because i had given the name and had been one of two people primarily responsible for Hazel’s wellbeing for several years – until i went off to college.

… continue reading this entry.

Anime Review: Kanon (2006)

Title: Kanon TV seriesAnd for today’s ceremony…

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara

Japanese release: 2006

U.S. release: n/a (internet fansub only)

Production company: Kyoto Animation, based on visual novel by Key

How does it look?Sooooo cute

Since the 2006 version of Kanon is one of the most blogged about recent TV series, i will try to provide a short description here.  I will write about my reactions to this series in a separate blog.

The setting is a northern town of Japan, which the wisecracking Yuuichi Aizawa has not visited in seven years.  He returns to stay with his aunt and to continue his education as a sophomore at the local high school.  Yuuichi has forgotten everything that happened to him in this town, but the other characters have not.

Quick introduction to the main characters:

… continue reading this entry.

Anime Review: The Place Promised in Our Early Days

Screen captures of Place Promised in Our Early Days

Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho/ Beyond the Clouds, The Promised Place

Aka The Place Promised in Our Early Days

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Japanese Premiere: Nov 2004

US Premiere: May 2005

“I always have a feeling that I’m losing something” – Sayuri Sawatari.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a blend of romantic fairy tale and science-fiction set in a parallel reality of post-WWII Japan. In this reality, Japan is split up, with one section controlled by “the Union” and the other controlled by the United States. An everpresent mystery is the role of a tower that stretches as high up as far as the eye can see, designed by an engineer with a crucial relationship to one the main characters.

As the story begins, two junior high boys, Takuya and Hiroshi, are making plans for the summer. They spend much of their time rebuilding an old airplane that they discovered using money, parts, and advice from their summer job at a munitions plant.

… continue reading this entry.