Mirai Fukuin had me grinning like an idiot and crying into my beer

Assuming there are any plans to revisit the Kara no Kyoukai story, I’m still not holding my breath for anything that takes things further than Mirai Fukuin. Kinoko Nasu procrastinates in a way that would make Kevin Shields blush: Mahoyo overshot its projected release date several times, and there isn’t even an ETA on that much-rumoured Tsukihime remake as far as I know.

Hold on to your ice cream pots, kids. It’s one hell of ride

Although it’s the ‘last word’ as far as this particular cast of characters is concerned, much of the movie explores side-stories that were either alluded to in the earlier films or didn’t get mentioned at all. It’s the final third that’s really Ufotable’s parting gift, but the whole thing is fanservice in its purest form. Does that fact bother me? Hell no.

Continue reading

Thoughts on Avatar: the Last Airbender

Anime fans tend to take ‘animation isn’t just for kids’ for granted, what with the likes of Dennou Coil or pretty much anything made by Studio Ghibli proving that ‘cartoons’ at the cinema or on TV can entertain adults as well as the intended younger demographic. The boundaries that define what constitutes a target audience can become retrospectively blurred in the eyes of the audience however; usually by good storytelling and memorable characters, so all you’re left with in the end is the question of whether you enjoyed it or not.

Because the range of its influences is so unusual for a mainstream TV show, Avatar: the Last Airbender is a little hard for me to pin down. After a while I stopped trying to decide whether it was a US kids’ show, an anime-inspired cult phenomenon, a combination of both or none of the above, because I was simply having too much fun being immersed in its world to care.

Continue reading

If Japan isn’t having babies, don’t blame the nerds

I originally wrote this article in late October 2013 but suffered a crisis of self-confidence immediately afterwards, which stopped me publishing it. It then sat in my Drafts folder for ages, but you’re probably bored of me blogging about Type Moon stuff at the moment…so here you go.

I’m reluctant to pass judgement on anything concerned with foreign cultures that differ from my own. The simple fact is, I’m not a professional journalist and there are plenty of those around who do this stuff better than I can. I’m also a bit of a wimp when it comes to locking horns with other people on contentious issues, or voicing strong opinions on how I think other people should live their lives.

In recent weeks though I’ve seen not just one but two online articles and then an hour-long TV documentary with accompanying online article tackling the same topic in a way that I wasn’t wholly satisfied with, but it wasn’t until I read another piece posted by The Independent that I felt confident enough to spill some virtual ink on the subject. Maybe I’ll regret it when I’m flamed for it…who knows.

Continue reading

Kara no Kyoukai Extra Chorus (Caturday edition)

Before I do a long and gushing article about the Mirai Fukuin movie adaptation proper, I feel I ought to say a few things about the ‘Extra Chorus’ first. I went in knowing full well it was pure fanservice: there’s nothing there that moves the story forward, but it’s still enjoyable and makes you feel like you’re catching up with old friends. It also has a cat in it, which automatically makes it worth your time.

I guess it’s one of those consolatory things that filmmakers do when their fans go the extra mile in being particularly obsessive loyal in regards to the franchises they hold dear. Presumably, Ufotable felt sympathetic to their viewers, especially with Japanese cinema ticket and home video prices being what they are, so anticipating how Type Moon fans are such vocal completists with big hearts and fat wallets, they decided to animate other little side-stories that formed entertaining asides to the main chapters.

Continue reading

Kara no Kyoukai revisited, part 7: “you were holding an umbrella”

After the defeat of the main villain of the story, the last thing to be revealed in Kara no Kyoukai’s seventh chapter is the true identity of the serial killer who appeared right at the beginning (which is of course, thanks to the shuffled chronology, in the second chapter). In some ways it feels a bit anticlimactic that Araya’s demise doesn’t appear in the finale considering how all the Bad Stuff led back to him, but the shift in emphasis onto a relatively minor antagonist at such a late stage does perhaps highlight how this is a character-driven tale first and a supernatural murder-mystery second.

“…When I catch your fingers reaching for me/I can superimpose my dream in my dream/I had a dream of you…”

Although this is indeed the Big Reveal where the story behind Lio Shirazumi is explained and we see him face up to his crimes, the most important thing addressed here is the final stage in Shiki Ryougi’s emotional journey. For all the magic spells and amateur crime-fighting this is her story, and Shirazumi’s transformation from mere murderer to homicidal maniac is really a just one last particularly fucked-up planet of several that we’ve seen/read orbiting around her star.

Continue reading

Caspian: Hymn for the Greatest Generation

It’s taken me a few weeks to get around to publishing this, but the Massachusetts instrumentalists Caspian had a rollercoaster of a year in 2013 and deserve a bit of attention. Following the release of their Waking Season LP in 2012 they’ve toured extensively, playing benefit concerts and joining the UK outfit 65DaysOfStatic on the road for the stateside promotion for their own new record. It’s been a triumphant year for them, but one with a significant amount of tragedy when bassist Chris Friedrich passed away suddenly in August.

In the wake of this shocking news, the band continued undaunted with a planned EP that was intended to be a companion piece to Waking Season, consisting of remixes of album tracks along with previously-unreleased material. Hymn for the Greatest Generation is poignantly dedicated to Friedrich’s memory but the meaning behind the title track is more universal and, quite frankly, I can’t imagine a more appropriate way to remember him.

Continue reading

Welcome, 2014 and welcome back, Mushishi

Happy 2014, everyone! What better way to kick off the New Year than the news of a second season of Mushishi, eh? I was pleasantly surprised that I’m not the only one who’s absolutely stoked about it: my Twitter feed and Tumblr dashboard went utterly nuts for an entire evening when the OVA special was put up. it was great to see some old online acquaintances chatting again about an old favourite but it was also great to see that it’s still remembered at all: we’re talking seven or eight years here, unless you picked up the DVDs in the meantime.

For those of you who weren’t around the aniblogosphere during 2006 or so, it might not be obvious as to why this show is so outstanding. It doesn’t shout its greatness from the rooftops, and doesn’t have the bold, arresting spectacle that propels the Miyazaki movies, Redlines and Attacks on Titan of this world into the speeding traffic of mainstream appeal. It’s subtle, serene and undeniably strange, yet it’s probably going to be one of my highlights of the year.

Continue reading

New gear day: Zilla 2×12 speaker cabinet

During all the years that I’ve been a musician I’ve plugged my guitar into a combo amp – whether it’s a tiny ten watt practice amp or a forty- or fifty-watt valve-powered thing that costs hundreds of pounds and seemingly weighs half as much as I do. Being an amateur on a budget, it’s a practical and cost-effective option so until recently I never considered the alternative: a separate amp and speaker cab.

Even in my limited experience of playing in a live situation, it doesn’t make much sense to play through a high-powered amplifier these days: a small amp is fine in your local pub or club, and larger venues have a PA that you can send a line-out or microphone signal into anyway. Even so, a good speaker (or set of speakers!) can make a real difference.

Continue reading

The Edinburgh SLA anime festival 2013 retrospective

The London-based BFI has some fantastic non-mainstream screenings and other events, but the practical hurdles of actually *getting to* the capital can be pretty inconvenient for many UK movie geeks. From a personal POV Edinburgh isn’t such a bad proposition, since the journey north over the border is shorter – and cheaper – than going in the opposite direction.

Source: Pixiv (click pic for direct link)

Scotland Loves Animation, an organisation spawned from the relatively small and tight-knit (in the sense that you see the organisers, PR folks and guest speakers mingling with the audience in the bar between screenings) UK anime industry, has organised an annual film festival for several years now. After seeing the 2013 line-up I figured it would be an opportunity to catch some top-tier animu on the big screen and enjoy a weekend city break at the same time.

Continue reading

Kara no Kyoukai revisited, part 6: “the man of golden words”

The sixth Kara no Kyoukai movie is…let’s not go there, okay? Without interview material or commentary from the studio production team, I can only guess at why that film turned out the way it did. Visually, it’s wonderful and the music is, likewise, an absolute delight. Beyond that, there’s not much I can say about it. The corresponding part of the novel, on the other hand, is a different matter.

Hey! Where did our storyline go?

It wasn’t until I read the sixth chapter of the original story that I appreciated how dark and hard-hitting it is…and how truly menacing Satsuki Kurogiri turns out to be. Many of these nuances and undercurrents aren’t necessarily apparent on the first reading either, so I’d strongly recommend finding the time to give it another go.

Continue reading