Saturday, December 23, 2006

Anime lately

It's been awhile since I've seen a really good piece of anime. There are a few to look forward to, though. Paprika, the latest feature by the always-worthwhile Satoshi Kon, is being touted as an Oscar contender, so it should be out soon. And there's a lot of teasing information about the U.S. release of the hot series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya, but it could be months before Bandai gets it in stores (and libraries).

In the meantime, there's a number of interesting, if not great series available via Netflix. I've started both World of Narue and Gantz, but I'm not sure if I'll be back for the second disk. The nice thing about Netflix is the ability to try lots of things without a big financial or time commitment.

In the meantime, it looks like a long time until the next Studio Ghibli DVD...

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Planetes, vol. 4

This fourth volume of Planetes continues the solid job of story-telling and animation. As with earlier volumes, there are some similarities to the terrific original manga, but also some unique features to the anime. This volume covers the changing relationship between Hachimaki & Tanabe, and introduces the Jupiter expedition and Hachi's father.

A particular strength is the ongoing development of the minor characters. Several supporting players receive some good character development, sometimes in the foreground and sometimes in the background, adding to the richness of the story. The writing and directing uses a broader range of character development than the manga, and also uses a variety of comic, dramatic and suspenseful storytelling and pacing to sustain and build the long overall narrative. The animation features some nice grace notes supporting the character development.

While the single DVD in this package has fewer extras than some of the earlier two-disk sets, there is still a nice group of features, including an audio drama, a brief documentary from NASA and a deconstruction of the opening credits, with scenes from the history of space flight. This series continues to impress and is becoming one of my favorites. The respect that the creators give to both the material and the audience is notable.

Review originally posted on