Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sunday Morning Anime 1

I intended to go for my 12-mile run this morning before work. Mother Nature had other plans and scheduled a nice thunderstorm instead. So, I figured I'd get my Sunday dose of anime while waiting for the storms to clear and work to start.

This post will encapsulate three series that I've watched. Two of them I watched this morning (Bubblegum Crisis and The Rose of Versailles) and the other I watched earlier in the week (Appleseed XIII). First, some quick information about the series I am watching:

(1987) was made available in the United States by . A company that no longer produces anime, but some of their product is still available on the market. I have several anime series from their catalog and enjoy most of them because they are usually older anime series.

(1979) is published in the United States by . Possibly one of the best anime publishers right now, they usually put out a very good quality product.

Finally, (2011) is published in the United States by ubiquitous Funimation. Most of the anime published in the US right now is done by .

I'll start out with the newest series, Appleseed XIII. This is actually a sequel/re-imagining of an older anime () drawn out into a 13-episode series. I watched the first episode of this and I'm feeling like this one might be a long haul. The animation is wonderful in spots, but other times it doesn't really work with the source material. Speaking of which, the writing and sequencing of the first episode are enough to put some people off anime altogether. It's possible there is a good series here, but I think the average viewer (aka myself) is going to have to work at really enjoying it. We'll see how this one progresses.

The next, Bubblegum Crisis, is an example of what I should enjoy in an anime series. The traditional style of animation is fantastic, but I feel like the series is heavily mired in the 1980s. That would make sense because it was produced in the early 80s, but other series manage to overcome this problem whereas this one seems to wallow in it. After watching the first OVA, this is another series that I think might not hit the "to-watch" pile very often. Giving a nod to your contemporary era is no bad thing, but drowning in it is something altogether different. I have a special place in my heart for this series because the first fan fiction I ever read was about this series, even though I'd never seen a single episode of it until now. I'm hoping that nostalgia will carry me through the series and let me enjoy it more. It remains to be seen.

Finally, we have The Rose of Versailles. So far, I can't find enough good things to say about this shoujo series. A fantastic anime from an all-star production, this is a top notch show. The story line is progressing nicely, not too fast, not too slow, and the historical elements make the show that much more interesting. I realize that you wouldn't want to take a quiz about the French Revolution after watching this, but it still makes a thrilling story line. This one has already earned a place in my permanent collection.

The interesting thing about all three of these series is that they are all female-centric. The main protagonist in each is a woman or group of women. I don't have enough of a feel for Appleseed XIII yet, but I feel like I can say that Bubblegum Crisis and The Rose of Versailles should both be empowering to women. Whether this was a design consideration for the series, I'm not sure, but it ends up being a very strong element in both series.

The premise of The Rose of Versailles can feel a little silly (a man raises his daughter like he would a son, subsequently the daughter becomes head of the Royal Guard for Louis XV and Louis XVI), but it does work. Her feminine charms haven't come to the fore yet in the series, but from a synopsis I read, it will later on. Bubblegum Crisis has a group of women who are elite mercenaries contracted to combat rampaging bioroids called Boomers. Since I've only seen the first OVA (equivalent to two TV-series episodes), it's hard to say how the characters will develop.

Watching older anime is part nostalgia and part research for me. I love the older style of hand-drawn animation, but some of the stories and concepts can feel very dated. This extends to anything that goes far enough back into cinematic history. It's also fascinating to see the roots and origins of what is contemporary series whether it's robot action or shoujo.

I look forward to exploring all of these shows. I'm not sure all of them will end up in my permanent collection, but until I've finished them, I won't be able to tell.
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