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Dareka no Manazashi

After watching Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters Per Second film, I followed it up with this 6-minute short. Like with 5 Centimeters, it incorporates a hyper-real world, beautiful scenery and colors, all in a fun little near-future tale of a woman dealing with growing up and the relationship she maintains with her father. I recommend watching this as well.

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5 Centimeters Per Second

As I wrote yesterday on my personal blog, I’ve just discovered Makoto Shinkai, and started my viewing of his works with this film, which is made up of three interlocking chapters. The story of young love didn’t really grab me, but what did grab me was the stunningly beautiful animated world we’re presented with, both in terms of its hyper-real portrayal (it’s a Japan you recognize as true) and its inspired use of color. Add to this an intriguing structure and edits, and it resulted in a film I loved taking in.

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Ronia the Robber’s Daughter

I finally got around to watching the second half of Ghibli’s Ronia series, produced by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki. The entire series is made up of 26 episodes, and I had really loved the first half. As I wrote back then, there are times where the cel shaded CG can feel a bit, well, CG, but overall it’s a gorgeous series, with lovely vibrant colors that make it a joy to watch. It gets pretty intense – in the sense that it’s not all fun and games – and watching the final 8 episodes in a one go really made me feel like I was experiencing an interesting and emotional journey for the main character. I really hope that Ghibli produces more TV series like this.

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Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt

Watching this series, which was released online over the past year (and only counts 4 episodes that are each about 20 minutes long) immediately after finishing the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam was just amazing. It takes place in the same year as that original series (the year 0079, during the one year war), and so you get to see the world you were introduced to with crap 70s era animation, but here, through the lens of beautiful slick modern animation and designs, and I was just blown away. The space battles that take place between the Gundam and Zaku suits are simply breathtaking, and the fact that the soundtrack uses a lot of jazz throughout (it’s the obsession of one of the characters) adds so much to the mix, bringing back memories of Cowboy Bebop. The story itself, although on the short site, is quite interesting as well, and so we get to see a very different – and darker – take on the 0079 war. I can’t recommend this enough, especially if you’re into “Universal Century” Gundam.

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Mobile Suit Gundam

I wrote a while back about watching the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam series with my wife, and how, despite the poor animation, I was enjoying it. It did take us a while to get to the end, because in the middle of the series (comprised of 43 episodes) you hit a long stretch that I found to be pretty uneventful, but yesterday we hit the homestretch, and watched the final 14 episodes in one go. I think I would recommend you instead watch the 3 compendium films that were made out of the series (using footage from the series), as they cut out a lot of the fat, which for me was really the close to 20 episodes in the middle (the essential bits I’d say are the first 10 or so and then from around episode 30, when they return to space). Also, the idea of “Newtype” gets introduced ridiculously late in the series, and has a lot more focus in the compendium films, and in fact, Gundam creator Tomino is said to have used these compendium films to fix a few things he saw with the series. That being said, I’m still happy that I watched the entire series, to see where it all came from, and I’m hopelessly addicted to exploring the rest of the “Universal Century” shows (this refers to shows that take place in the same timeline as the original series, whereas a lot of Gundam shows over the decades take place in different timelines that have nothing to do with the original series, and are simply inspired by similar motifs). I’ve been using this guide to help me plan my journey, as I continue to watch shows in order that they take place in the timeline, and not based on date of release – immediately after finishing the original series, I watched Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, which I loved to bits. 

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Master Keaton (Anime)

Along with the manga series, I’ve also started watching the anime adaptation that was done in 1999-2000, with 39 episodes (originally on TV, and then through OVA releases). I’ve only watched the first few episodes, but it’s really well done, and they do a great job of adapting the manga stories. Also, it’s not done in order, so for example I’d never read the story for the first episode, but I knew the story of the second episode. I’m really looking forward to watching the entires thing.

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Ghost in the Shell

After getting back into Ghost in the Shell recently through the Arise series and the new movie, I wanted to go back and re-watch the original Mamoru Oshii film. It’s always interesting for me to re-visit these movies that I watched so many times back in the day, but haven’t watched in years (in this case, surely 10-15 years or more). Even though I go in not really remembering the story, everything feels so familiar as I watch it, specifically certain scenes and imagery. I can say that this movie still really holds up, and I really enjoyed it, both for the story and the fantastic animation – there’s also a sequence that lasts of a few minutes of just scenes from the city with that haunting Kenji Kawai music that’s just fantastic. Looking forward to re-watching Innocence as well.

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Mobile Suit Gundam

I wrote recently that I watched the new Gundam “Origin” series with my wife (the 2 episodes that are out), and that it was making me want to watch the original 70s series, something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. It’s one of my wife’s all-time favorite series, and she’s been suggesting I watch it for what feels like forever. I finally started doing that last night – with her – and 3 episodes in, it definitely shows signs of being something I can get into. Sure, the animation is horrible, but you can see that the story goes beyond the normal space anime tropes, and it’s interesting for me to see how the characters that I was introduced to in The Origin are doing now – and I’m now even more eager to see the 3rd episode of The Origin when it comes out, to see how Char and his sister get separated. It can be fun to watch these old series – I absolutely loved watching Future Boy Conan last year.

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Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie

On the same day that I watched all 10 episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture, I then watched this movie that came out last year, that pretty much acts as the cap to the story told in the Arise series. That means that if you like the series, you absolutely need to watch the movie. I really hope they keep on doing more stuff based around the Arise reboot (because that’s what it is, a reboot, featuring a young Motoko who puts together the team we’ve come to know from the older stuff), because what we’ve seen so far is really quite good. Not only that, it now has me wanting to go back and re-watch the Stand Alone Complex series.

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Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture

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I was absolutely obsessed with this series today, and ended up binging all 10 episodes today. As for what this is, it takes the four Ghost in the Shell: Arise OVAs (original video animation) and re-edits them into a TV series, then adding another 2 new episodes to conclude the storyline (although, it’s really Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie that ties all loose ends). I had originally watched the first 3 OVAs (they were on Netflix), but hadn’t seen the fourth one. They did something strange with the order of the TV series, starting with the 4th OVA, which had me a bit confused, so if you’re new to it I would highly recommend you watch the series in this order: 3-8, 1-2, 9-10. The whole series is fantastic, as is the music by Cornelius – especially the opening theme song he composed for the Alternative Architecture series, which I love so much. As I mentioned, the movie that was released last year properly concludes the story arc, so I’m hoping to watch that very soon.