Anime Review 24: Mononoke, Soul Eater, and D. Grey Man
Not to be confused with Princess Mononoke the studio Ghibli movie, this is an anime where weird shit happens. Weird ghosty shit. I thought it was interesting that all the animes this week happened to involve ghosts or spirits in some way, I didn't plan this. So I guess picture Elvira on your TV telling you about these shows. You won't be listening, you'll be staring at her cleavage. Ok. So.
Mononoke is beautifully animated and every episode I watched was thrilling in a way that had me on the edge of my seat. It's pretty trippy but it still manages to have characterization and plot development that one can follow, the story is not nonsense as much as the way it's shown to the viewer is kind of a mind-screw. It was creepy and bizarre, there are images from this show that continue to haunt my memory. I would say it was one of the best animes I've reviewed so far for this blog, because I found it to be captivating, fascinating, and hair-raising. It's hard for someone like me to be scared by a scary movie or show. I'm not particularly superstitious and things that are rampant in the horror genre are cliches, predictability, and crappy special effects. However, Mononoke is anything but predictable. The artists behind this show created a world that's both uniquely Japanese (I couldn't imagine the story working in any other setting than historical Japan) and completely alien to normal existence at the same time. With horrifying sea monsters attacking a boat in the 4th and 5th episodes, I was reminded of H.P. Lovecraft's work, especially the darkly memorable short story Call of Cthulu. This is the best horror work I've seen or read since I read that, the storytelling is at the same level as greats of the genre such as Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Edgar Allen Poe, but with a refreshingly new setting (those three aforementioned authors tend to write about either England or the east coast of the United States) and a Japanese cultural twist. Just be warned, this anime is not for the faint of heart.....
To me, this is what happens when you take Naruto or Bleach and give everyone generic Halloween costumes. There are ghosts, demons, and witches. The story seemed definitely a shounen aimed at an adolescent crowd. The animation and story were simplistic. The show is about teenagers who work for the Grim Reaper. Some of them are weapons (they can transform into weapons and back into human forms, sort of like how Digimon Digivolve for battles and then transform back into their usual forms), trying to become a more badass weapon called a Death Scythe. They can do this if they partner up with a Meister/technician and collect 99 souls of bad guys (Al Capone and Jack the Ripper are shown as targets in the first episode) and 1 soul of a witch. The weapons partner up with a Meister or Technician of their choosing who is matched with their soul. So the weapons and Meisters work in synch trying to work hard at learning their trade at this school run by the grim reaper, Mr.Death himself. Who has rather silly looking hands.
There is silly humor, dumb catchphrases that will get stuck in your head, and Naruto-like humor along the lines of "ahaha that kid's trying to be badass but is really made of fail". I thought the story was cute and funny, also had good fanservice, but was perhaps a little too shallow and juvenile for my tastes. It was good for entertainment value and had interesting characters though.
D. Grey Man
A while back in high school I was in anime club and a friend told me this was his favorite of all time. I read the first manga back then but I'd since forgotten about it so I re-watched it. It's about this boy who's an Exorcist and has powers that stem from his odd-looking left arm. The anime overall is dark and otherworldly.
Allen Walker is the main protagonist, a silver-haired boy who is trying to learn the ways of the Exorcist from his master when he is sent to a kind of weird underground boarding school, that is run by a mysterious organization. He is then sort of molested by a giant monster that feels his Innocence level. Innocence being some kind of magical god power or something. She tells him that he has an 83% synchronization rate with his magical arm, that is, when he uses it in combat, he will have that percentage of success. Of course he's special since he's the protagonist, so he seems destined to be one of the best Exorcists ever. Seems sort of like a creepy version of Harry Potter, but with more sexy girls running around. Black and silver predominate in the character designs, making me label the show as having a bit of an emo feel. He has to defeat a mysterious, weird-looking bad guy with a big grin known as the Millenium Earl. There's also a lovely 16 year old badass girl known as Lenalee Lee who is (surprise!) Chinese. Seriously though, is every Chinese person in anime named Lee? Wtf?
I liked this show as a more gothic styled shounen show. It reminded me stylistically of Trinity Blood and Hellsing, even though it doesn't seem to be about vampires but rather ghosts and/or demons. So, the kind of show that'll go great with your black eyeliner and your goblet of blood this Halloween.
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Anime Review 23: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Desert Punk, and Serial Experiments Lain