Tag Archives: followup

Psycho Pass, further thoughts

Instead of doing the finishing touches on my K-On review like I should be, today I want to talk a bit more about how Psycho Pass is going, because HOLY SHIT THIS WEEK’S EPISODE.

Well, holy shit the last few episodes really, but Akane’s actions in particular in this episode just take it to another level. Also, significant spoilers here. Don’t read on if you want to watch it and be surprised.

Akane’s gone through a lot, going from the naive newbie to good cop to not quite willing to kill Makishima against the Sybil System’s judgement and now to outright threatening to kill Makishima (who the System wants alive) if she doesn’t get her way on a related matter. And the System agreeing to her demand, because it can tell she means it.

And things are looking about as peachy for the other characters too… Kogami’s gone rogue with murder on his mind, Ginoza’s been staring too long into the abyss like Kogami had before becoming an Enforcer, and Kagari’s dead. Whatever way things go from here, things are in for a pretty big shakeup and nothing’s going to be the same as it was. I don’t like to call things like this so quickly, but Psycho Pass may well be the best thing I see all year.

Advertisements

Sasami-san actually is the best thing this season

Yeah, I’m posting about Sasami-san again. I like the show, okay.

Really though, it is actually a very good show. I will admit that when I first heard about it, I was expecting the series to mostly be Sasami staying at home and observing amusing antics between her brother and the Yagami sisters – and getting involved now and then – and this would have been a reasonably amusing show.

But instead… instead, in amongst the bizarre stuff it gets up to, there is something meaningful. Even Tama, who I thought would be the weakest character in the series, has more depth to her than you’d think. Rather than have Sasami housebound for most of the series, effort goes into sorting out her issues and getting her out and about – and in fact, she doesn’t stay hikikomori for more than a couple of episodes.

And then, when we think her family situation is on the improve when the Tsukuyomi Shrine is destroyed, her mother comes back from the dead and things get worse. It’s going to be really interesting to see where this show goes.

Rebuild of Evangelion

So now that I’ve reviewed the original Evangelion, I can review the remake; the Rebuild of Evangelion series of movies. Now most of the time when something gets remade, I’m one of the first people to roll my eyes and complain about the producers milking something for every cent (or yen, as the case may be) it’s worth, and how it’s almost never for the better. But sometimes… sometimes, it is. A word of warning, I’m mentioning a hell of a lot of major spoilers here, as well as some wild speculation.

It is still Anno Hideaki at the reins, so that’s a pretty significant point in its favour. He can command a greater budget than they original had, which certainly can’t hurt the animation – as noted in my review of the TV series, they made the absolute best of what they had, but were still limited. Plus advances in animation technology and techniques offer even more possibilities. But what about those things that I say are what really matters, characters and story? Well, read on.

First we’ll go with story. In the first movie, things play out mostly the same way they do in the TV series. There are differences; some very subtle and minor, some more significant. The most notable difference is right at the end, where we see Kaworu (aka Tabris, the last Angel from the TV series) awakening on the moon and muttering to himself. More on the significance of that later.

In the second movie, things start off quite differently, with the appearance of a new character, Mari, her (short-lived) Evangelion, and an Angel battle that never occurred in the TV series. Things get somewhat back to familiar territory with Asuka’s arrival, though with some key differences there – for example, she doesn’t rope Shinji into helping defeat the Angel attacking her Eva; she does it solo. A few Angel battles get skipped over, and a couple are familiar but play out differently.

Before I get any further, I need to talk about the world of Rebuild of Evangelion. As we’re only partway through the series, much is uncertain, so a lot of what I’m about to say is speculation. Based on some hints in the first two movies, there is a theory that Rebuild isn’t just a re-telling of the Evangelion TV series, but a sequel to it too. If this is the case, it is likely that the Second Impact event in the Rebuild world was actually the Third Impact event in the original one, and the world was rebuilt, guided by Shinji. If that’s the case, it would follow that it’s a better world for Shinji and the people he cares about – and it is, but in small ways.

Some differences that support this theory: Rei shows more personality early on, and is even shown to be proactive about interpersonal relationships. Asuka doesn’t seem to be pursuing the doomed crush she had on Kaji in the TV series, and gets along better with Shinji. Shinji isn’t kept in the dark as much; he’s shown the dead Angel in Nerv’s basement much sooner – and for that matter, it’s more widely known that it’s Lillith and not Adam – and is told the identity of Eva Unit 03’s test pilot before the activation test happens. His friend Touji’s little sister recovers from her injuries, and Touji himself doesn’t become a pilot and get mangled (though there is a bit of a downside to that last one). Asuka isn’t the one to be dealt the crushing defeat by the Angel that trashes Nerv. Heck, even the more lighthearted bits get a bit more romantic comedy-like; complete with borrowing background music from His and Her Circumstances, the romantic comedy that Gainax and Anno made after Evangelion.

Even the newcomer Mari fits into this theory. It’s been observed that she appears to be a collection of character traits that also appear in the other members of the main cast. I speculate that she’s some kind of by-product of humanity having previously been merged into one being; bits of other people stuck together and given human form. This probably explains why she’s so screwed up and everyone else is slightly less screwed up than before; she’s the more screwed up bits of them rolled together. Not to mention she has some abilities a bit beyond the “normal” Evangelion pilot – different from what Kaworu displayed, but abilities beyond nonetheless.

Comparison image #1

Exhibit A. Someone else put in the effort on the image; I’m just posting it.

Comparison image #2

Exhibit B. Also not made by me.

Or maybe Anno’s just thrown in entire schools of red herrings. Either possibility is easily plausible.

So what has the Rebuild done for the art and animation? Improved it greatly; everything looks much better than it did before. The Angels, though, deserve special mention here. They’re much more complex, and very clearly 3D CGI, as opposed to the hand-sketched digitally painted everything else. Usually, when you get a mix of traditional and CGI like this, the effect is a bit jarring; the CGI always looks ever so slightly out of place. It is the case here, but it works for it and strikes me as being deliberate; it serves to show just how alien the Angels are in appearance, how out of place they really are in the world. Oh, and the other thing it’s done for it? Added blood. Lots more blood. The bodies of the Angels, once killed, basically transmute into blood. I’m not sure yet if that’s supposed to mean something, or if Anno’s just doing it for the sake of how it looks.

Another thing of note is that there are scenes showing Tokyo-3 as a living, breathing city that people really live in – something that we never really got the feeling of in the TV series, though it was said that people were living there. So they’ve gotten better at the old writing adage of “show, don’t tell.”

So far, it’s striking a good balance between the familiar path of the TV series story and things being changed. And not just that, but starting with smaller differences early on and building up to larger ones. And the changes mostly don’t feel like change for the sake of change, but changes with some point behind them… even if we haven’t figured out what the point is yet. And I’m seriously impatient to see more, so it’s clearly doing something right.

So in conclusion, if you’ve seen the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series, it’s well worth seeing the Rebuild. If you’ve been living under a rock on Mars for a decade or two and haven’t seen the TV series, it’s also well worth seeing the Rebuild.

Sasami-san is the best thing this season

Well, “best” might be a bit of a stretch, but Sasami-san@Ganbaranai is certainly the show I’m enjoying the most this season. Episode 5 was fairly mundane compared to previous ones, but relatively mundane in this show is still pretty bloody strange by any other standards. I’m kind of tempted to do something about getting it screened at a convention I’m involved with, if only so I can include the phrase “at which point Sasami told her brother not to put sushi on his nipples” in correspondence.

Anyway. This episode deals mainly with Sasami trying to make friends, and in particular trying to make friends with Kagami, which I approve of. I’ve got something of a soft spot for androids and various other kinds of artificially created beings as characters. I’m also pretty fond of a deadpan delivery, and Hanazawa Kana is doing deadpan very well here.

Kagami and spilled noodles

Deadpan even in situations like this

And the above picture is the least of the problems Kagami has to deal with this episode, but fortunately it’s nothing a heavily armed divinity-powered robot girl can’t handle.

Maoyuu

Maoyuu continues to go well. Hero is off working on the military side of matters, Demon King is working on the economic/political side of things. About a year has passed and they haven’t seen much of each other in this time, which Demon King isn’t too happy about. When he does drop by at New Years, they have their heartfelt reunion, talk about how much they mean to each other… and berate each other about the attention the other’s been getting from members of the opposite sex. It’s like they’re a married couple already.

Demon King and Hero in the bedroom

Of course, Hero has to say something to get her a bit mad. And yes, that is a body pillow of Hero that she’s beating him with.

Of course, they’ve both still got a lot of work cut out for them, and there’s new campaigns in the war starting. It also looks like Hero is going to make contact with another one of his party soon, which should mean more help with the endeavour – but of course, it’ll probably take a bit of effort to get him on their side. And speaking of which, Demon King wants to properly make friends with the Lady Knight nun, so she confesses that she’s been lying to her and is, in fact, the Demon King.

Demon King confesses to Lady Knight

About what you’d expect to happen

Luckily, Lady Knight forgives her for lying and decides that merely being Demon King isn’t actually a sin, so it’s all good.

Compared to most seasons, there isn’t much in this one that I’m excited about, but so far the quality here is making up for the lack of quantity elsewhere.