Guaporense and Zotis Review Animation

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59) Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)

I have a history with Madoka, because like Nausicaa, it was one of the main masterpieces that opened my eyes to the possibilities of animation. In the case of Madoka it showed me how powerful TV animation can be. TV animation does not need to be only those cheap crude comedies like Family Guy, it can also be powerful and memorable. Indeed, Madoka is by far the single most memorable thing I ever watched.

It's so memorable because every line is delivered with a sense of gravity, an enormous gravitas permeates everything in the series and it's basic themes echo through my subconscious. The first time I watched it I was so impressed that I couldn't sleep that night and think of anything else for several days. It's emotional impact destroyed me. Afterwards I felt really ashamed and bad from being so affected by it as well because it's just a TV show.

So, now, after 3 years since I first watched it and after 9 watches i think I can understand why, now that I am not that affected by it. It's indeed pretty amazing thanks to it's combination of qualities, a combination that produces effects of greater magnitude than the sum of each individual element.

The plot is executed smoothly and efficiently, it is the series strongest asset that watching it's plot unfold is the greatest satisfaction it gave me. After finishing the series it looks like a carefully assembled piece of clockwork. The other strong element is the aforementioned sense of gravitas: everything about it is extremely dramatic and over the top, nothing is taken lightly and the characters don't simply talk, they ANNOUNCE themselves and their beliefs to the viewer like in a opera. Indeed, this is an opera, with a heavy soundtrack permeating everything.

Finally, Ioved it's postmodern gothic lolita shoujo manga aesthetic stylizations. The character designs are amazingly cute and I find it so much more entertaining than watching more realistic designs (one of the reasons why I found Monster quite boring). And the stop motion animation used many times (heavily influenced by the likes of Yuri Norstein) also adds additional depth into the already great animation here. The direction of Shimbo, extremely aggressive, featuring cuts every 2 seconds, also suits the over the top brutal nature of the show very well. Overall, this is essentially a horror love story, with a lot of dramatic muscle. And it's an accurate reflection of our postmodern 21st century world.

Princess Mononoke (1999)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

This was my fourth time watching it, and it has been a couple of years since I last saw it. I think I noticed it's exceptional quality a little more than I have in the past, especially in the artwork, but also in the story. The only thing I don't agree with is the niavite in the portrayal of the goodness of human nature in the end. A few important characters did some really evil, ignorant, and selfish things, and the movie sympathised with them and made them out to really be good people inside. I just don't think that was realistic at all. In my understanding things like that are a failure to achive true greatness. True greatness must be uncompromising. It's still an excellent movie.

Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

Directed by Michael Arias

This movie blew me away with it's level of detail and it's character designs. The villains tended to move really slowly when delivering fatal blows to exagerate long drawn out rescues, or they just failed to finish someone they fatally wounded off and those people would recover. The two main characters White and Black were wonderful. I loved them. It was such a fascinating movie, and I'm surprised I haven't heard more people talking about it. I also really loved the drawing style, and there was lots of motion going on. The backgrounds were extremely detailed and littered with all kinds of objects. I loved how the characters would defy physics to a supernatural degree, leaping tall buildings, flying, floating, and all kinds of crazy things. It was very fun. Normally I don't like wushu martial arts movies. I'm not saying this was wushu, but the way they did all the supernatural stuff was very creative and interesting, and I was thoroughly fascinated. I'm glad to have it in my collection too.

I really want to watch Naussica again. It's been many years since I saw it. There are quite a few Miyazaki movies I haven't seen yet too.

Actually really high on my to-watch list is Tokyo Godfathers. I also need to watch Metropolis.

60) Little Witch Academia (2013)

How could I ignore such masterpieces of animation for so long. Little Witch Academia features some of the best animation I ever had the pleasure of watching. It's easily among my favorite animated short films of all time and it's gorgeous to look at. But not only that, it features highly memorable and interesting characters although there is no significant time for character development it works like a Miyazaki film where information regarding the character's personalities is transmitted to the viewer through subtleties in their actions.

61) Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade (2015)

Now they had more time, instead of 26 minutes for the original short they had 55 minutes and oh, boy, it makes a difference. Now we have a real "film" in our hands, with time to flesh out a relatively complex plot (given the speed of storytelling in this animation it would be perhaps equivalent to a 90 minute long live action in terms of complexity of plot and character development). I even cried at the end. So CUTE, this, together with the first 26 minute short is like Kiki's Delivery Delivery Service 2 and yes, about as good as Kiki! Best film of 2015? Indeed, it's an extremely well made and well balanced piece, very cute and charming but also remaining in equilibrium, like Miyazaki's films it does not let one factor to dominate it instead being a well balanced product. And like Miyazaki's work it's good for all ages and tastes (even though it's manga is classified as "seinen").

ALso, it's the best film to feature teenager wizard in a wizardry school (forget that Harry Potter BS).

Essay (now I want to talk about things in general in animation, not specific titles)

Essay - Miyazaki and Children's movies

Miazaki often claims that his movies are "children's movies". However, Miyazaki is an enigmatic man. What he says and what he actually does is very distinct. According to Miyazaki essentially a narrative where the main characters do not die is a children's narrative. He says that adults can appreciate a children's narrative but the inverse does notcl apply: children will not appreciate an adult's narrative.

His definition of children's narrative is fundamentally distinct from the American understanding of what constitutes a children's narrative. In American films a children's narrative is essentially simplistic. Writers and creators regard the child's intellect as essentially inferior to an adult's, such as themselves, hence in American children's movies it is apparent the conscious dumbing down of the film and it's thematic contents. Miyazaki's work is fundamentally distinct from this tradition. I will give two examples.

Spirited Away, for instance, is according to Miyazaki a film for 10 years olds. Indeed, it is apparent from the way the film is executed that he follows his definition to the letter. For instance, no character dies during the film: even the frovs . However, its a very complex and sophisticated film. Spirited Away is a criticism of the state of Japanese youth by the beginning of the 21st century. Miyazaki grew up in the Japan of the 1940's and 1950's which was a very poor and humble society. By the 1990's Japan changed to a completely distinct society, a very wealthy and affluent society, children who grow up in this world become terribly spoiled and immature. Miyazaki's film is a criticism of this general tendency for spoiling children in contemporary society. This is not a movie made for a specific audience but instead an auteur film. And one of the best films ever made. Spirited Away is awe inspiring work of art, the sort that changed my perception of the possibilities of animation and film in general, its an essential film and a great example that films can be artistically accomplished and still entertaining. It is visually amazing, features some of the best soundtracks ever and is an overall perfect masterpiece of cinema.

Porco Rosso by contrast is a very personal film. Miyazaki claims its a film made for tired middle aged men but actually was Miyazaki's own personal statement that he was worried about turning into a middle aged man: he turned 51 when Porco Rosso was finished and the film is about a pig undergoing a mid life crisis. Porco Rosso was a film that grew on me, when I watched first time it felt a bit weak and Miyazaki's weakest film, mainly because the main character wasn't cute. But after watching it several times I developed a better appreciation for it. I now regard it as one of Miyazaki's best films and easily one of the best animated films ever made. A true masterpiece of art. Some people might confuse it for a children's movie but it is an adult film in every sense. Its far more mature than any of these R rated Hollywood violent films which are mostly juvenile in essense.

Essay - Miyazaki and Children's movies

Continuing with my rambling of children's stuff. First I should quote C.S. Lewis that perfectly express my opinion regarding the appreciation of media targeted originally to children:

ďCritics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.Ē
― C.S. Lewis

While it's true that I often claim to dislike children's movies, that is not fundamentally because they are aimed at children but because their creators conciously dumb down their work because they have contempt for the intellect of children. This applies to Western children's stuff, specially western animation. Fans of western animation usually are people who like simplistic stuff.* In Japan, children's media has acquired a very different tone and perspective. For example, One Piece, a Manga originally/officially aimed at children is mostly read by adults. While Fullmetal Alchemist, whose TV adaptations I just finished watching a few weeks ago, is powerful and serious work. It has some childish elements in the way the main character acts, for instance, the fact that he resists drinking milk, but these elements gave it a perhaps more charming aura in its mixing of very serious and complex elements.

Overall though it's also true that the people who care about the movie having "mature" elements like violence and sex are teenagers, who wish to be very grown up. When I was a tennager I was actually scared of watching Disney's movies, but when I was 20 I was actively watching stuff like Wall-E. Criticizing that a movie is juvenile is not valid criticism and basically mean that the person saying that is a child at heart who wishes to be very grown up.

*Although there is indeed some variation in Western animation, delicate and elegant, Petrov's films are rather different from Family Guy. But overall the vast majority of it is very simplistic, including adult stuff like Family Guy and The Simpsons.

62) Ouran Highschool Host Club (2006)

Classic series adapted from a shoujo manga. Ouran Highschool Host Club is an excellent example of the essence of girl's manga and of the way Japanese females think and their ideals and interests. While manga aimed at men usually consists mostly of either macho men or (more common these days) one guy surrounded by tons of girls, here we have the inverse: a girl main character surrounded by men. And these men represent the Japanese girl's ideal of a man: guys who look like stick figures and could dress in girls clothes without looking weird.

Also, the short black haired one in the middle in the picture up there is supposed to be the girl. As clearly seen here:

Miyazaki heavily criticized most animation and live action made in Japan because of it's heavy manga influence in the way it's directed and the way mangaisms such as the distorted expressions of the characters show up. Overall though, Ouran is indeed extremely manga-like and I loved this aspect of it: this series shows the strengths of manga-like as a language for visual storytelling when applied to film.

Finally, I would add that I liked the way this story was executed, like most manga, the focus is on the characters. Japanese fiction historically has a better grasp of characters than western fiction which is more focused on the fantastical over the routine of daily life. Hence the characters in Japanese stories appear more human, at least to me.

OMG I'm just watching that for the first time!! I am really liking it so far, I love this type of animes, they are really funny. My favorite characters are the twins

63) Ghost in the Shell SAC (2002)

This is a TV series that is distinct from the adaptations of Shirow's manga of Mamoru Oshii's films. Oshii's films are essentially the French new wave applied to animation using manga aesthetic designs and genres (Sci Fi and fantasy) while this is much more conventional stuff. In fact, its so conventional that I found it quite boring a lot of time.

One thing that I like about manga is the use of extreme stylization, because I am bored by most conventional narratives using photographic realism. GitS suffers a little bit here, because the graphic style is very conservative and not very distinct from reality (exempt for the female cyborg main character).

And in terms of cyborg themed stuff I am finding the original movies and manga to be more interesting. Overall though the best cyborg type fictional narrative ever made is Gunnm. Psycho Pass is also better. This show is more like Law and Order crime procedural investigation with cyberpunk elements rather than a cyberpunk narrative with crime procedural elements.

I think you expressed some feelings towards Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex that I share. I found it's conventional approach extremely boring. I couldn't stomach more than a couple episodes.

I really like C. S. Lewis' thoughts on childishness. I think there are elements to Miyazaki's work in terms of Japanese culture that I don't perceive in terms of the depth of meaning behind his art. But I appreciate gaining further insight into your feelings and thoughts about him.

(2001-2002) Animation, Action

Directed by Umanosuke Iida
Written by Chiaki J. Konaka

Kouta Hirano wrote the original manga. While the series uses the same setting and characters, it isn't based on the manga's plot. I first watched this around eight years ago. I remember liking it quite a bit and so I bought it. I didn't enjoy it as much this time around. It doesn't have a lot of depth, and the animation quality and artwork are not particularly good. Most of the time barely anything is moving on the screen. There are a lot of still shots with camera pans and effects that give the illusion of motion, or voice over and off-camera dialogue that distracts you from the fact that nothing is moving. It's almost a visual novel as apposed to an animation. The English voice acting is actually pretty decent. I haven't actually experienced the original Japanese, so I can't compare it with the English voice acting. I would say this is a pretty typical mainstream Anime, and for that it's pretty decent. I wouldn't particularly recommend it though.

64) Charllote's Web (1973)

Really boring movie. While it shows a certain level of passion and a certain magic atmosphere it is a very simple chidren's tale. The animation is also pretty outdated although it's obvious a high level of effort was put into animating it. But I liked the art quite a bit, although not the character designs, which were really boring looking. Overall this is not a movie I would recommend to people who are not fans of children's movies (like myself).

It doesn't have a lot of depth, and the animation quality and artwork are not particularly . Most of the time barely anything is moving on the screen.
That's why I am a Manga buff now. Most animation are just poorly animated Manga adaptations so why consume the animation if you can consume the original which is the real deal? Anime is a western thing: manga translated to TV is easier for westerns to digest, in Japan the stuff is manga, animation is just adversiting for manga, a way to boost Manga sales. There exists some special stuff like Miyazaki and Oshii's work but the bulk is inferior to the manga.

Interesting thoughts on Charllote's Web. I haven't watched it since I was a kid, but it affected me considerably when I was that young. I have no idea how I'd feel about it now. Sounds like the story is probably the strongest element.

I don't read much manga, but I have noticed that some of them are way better than their animated adaptations. Gantz for example is way better. The manga has some considerable flaws, but the anime looks like they cut a lot of courners, and they butchered the ending.

I really appreciate Anime that's original, and not based on a manga, like Angel's Egg and Kite.

Well, Haibane Renmei and Serial Experiments Lain were both based on short Manga stories but greatly expanded on those. Most great Anime is original though.

It's kind of interesting too though how some Anime is based on light novels, like Vampire Hunter D and The Twelve Kingdoms. I have one of the The Twelve Kingdoms light novels, but I haven't read it yet.