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Anime Review 13: Blame!, Samurai Pizza Cats, and K-On!
A hard-to-follow, plotless, but admittedly cool-looking train wreck.
Another critic praised Blame! for doing a lot with a little budget. However, I failed to get into either the OVA (which is incredibly short, you can watch the whole thing in about half an hour), or by reading the first "log" of the manga's story.
What can be said about Blame? I'm not a real expert on animation techniques and usually prefer to talk about characters and story. Blame lacked a story that I was capable of following at least, and lacked characters whose heads you could get in. It's a lot of lovely action, but without hearing insight into the minds of either fighter in a fight sequence, who do I know who to root for? I think the artist took a lot of lazy short-cuts here. Not just with the animation but with the need for the animation to mean something. They assume, for example, in the fight scene in the first log of the manga that you will automatically sympathize with the fighter (possibly the protagonist) who looks the most human. And be ok with the less human-looking one getting horribly dismembered and getting a knife in the eye. And the sound in this show was grating to the ears. What the other critic generously called "music" in the background of most of the anime was this heinous mix of various electronic screeching noises.
Really, with such nice visuals, you expect more out of this show that is not delivered. The show looks like it has potential to be great, because they do accomplish a lot with a little budget when it comes to the visuals. However, it seems like the creator is primarily an artist, but lacks even a basic understanding of writing, and to me, seeks to avoid it altogether. I think that no matter how futuristic the setting of your story is, that's no way to escape storytelling by pushing the "it's post-modern and therefore deliberately incomprehensible" Easy button.
The translator of the manga doesn't seem like a native English speaker, either. It's one of the worst translation jobs I've seen. Why? There is precious little dialog to be had in this story, most of the manga's words I saw were sound effects. However, they were all awkward sound effects that were hard to figure out, and none of them are actually used in English comics or familiar to an English speaker. It would've been fine to just leave the original sound effects in or put them into romanji, but if you're going to use a translation, try to make it look like something other than a messy jumble of letters. 'Tschac' is not a sound effect. I find it weird that I'm sitting here complaining about the translation in a manga that barely even has actual dialog! Seriously people!
Anyway, when another critic I saw said something like, 'this may not appeal to all anime fans', I would say he's just saying it nicely. Blame! sucks. It just does. Its empty animation with no purpose, with a story that doesn't go anywhere, characters you couldn't give a hoot about, and a lack of both emotion and reason. I wouldn't waste time on it, even though it takes considerably less time to watch it than it takes to watch a real anime.
Samurai Pizza Cats
A sublime feline bag of silliness!
The story of Samurai Pizza Cats goes thusly: The people in charge of making the English dub never got the translation of the Japanese script, or possibly they got one that was badly translated. Whichever. This led to said dubbing people simply deciding to re-write their own dub for it on the spot. The result is a lot of hilariously intentionally bad-but-funny writing, with many puns and a Fourth Wall that is shattered into dust.
The series is good to me because it makes fun of a lot of things you see in typical kids/action type anime, and things about the show that don't make sense are often highlighted hilariously. This kind of show would be great for watching with a group of friends (I wouldn't know what that's like, I'm a proud loner). Personally, I enjoyed watching while intoxicated because, well, it's just that kind of show. In fact, I'm pretty sure they wrote most of the scripts if not all of it while drunk.
This is great to watch if you enjoyed kid-oriented action anime as a child, such as Sonic and TMNT, because it's a similar show that makes fun of itself.
And this week's winner is...
K-On! is a cute, slice of life show about a group of underclassmen high school girls who want to continue running the school's Light Music Club after the seniors who ran it graduated. There's basically 2 mature girls (Mio and Mugi) and 2 immature ones (Yui and Ritsu). The immature ones have similar faces and hair and can only be told apart by the fact that Ritsu wears an orange headband à la Haruhi, and Yui wears a hair clip and is sort of the main character.
Mio was my favorite character because she was like a big sister to all the other girls, and often had to be the voice of reason and keep the other girls on task. What's funny about her is that she has a crippling fear of barnacles, which Ritsu teases her about a lot.
Yui is a very interesting character. She's very flaky. In one episode she flunks a midterm test badly because she was practicing guitar, studies hard and does very well on her retake, but then promptly forgets everything she learned about guitar. The Abridged Series of K-On (I'm a big fan of abridged series and parodies) makes fun of her extreme attention deficit, too.
Ritsu is spastic, a little tomboy-ish, and playful, often teasing the other characters. Mugi is a rich girl who really likes doing ordinary things like having fast food. She seems like a possible lesbian, and Ritsu jokes about how she might have a crush on her (female) teacher.
An interesting part of the episodes I saw involved the girls uncovering said teacher's past as a shocking rock singer, and, since she's nice now and doesn't want anyone to know, they use that to blackmail her into being the sponsor for the Light Music Club, of which she was a member a long time ago when it, despite the name, did very heavy style of rock music.
Overall I would recommend this show to people who like cute schoolgirls, the slice of life genre, and humor similar to that of Azumanga Daioh.
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