Sunday 19 August 2012

Big Windup! Season 1

Big Windup! Season 1 Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima, Produced by A-1 Pictures
Having transferred schools, Mihashi promptly sets out to become part of his new school’s newly formed baseball team. Quickly, he catches the eye of the team’s catcher Abe. However, while Abe feels Mihashi has potential to become a great pitcherhe must first deal with Mihashi’s personality and mysterious past. Will he succeed or fail?
This show lives and dies with the viewer’s passion for baseball. It you’re passionate about it and love the idea of it being combined with the medium of animation you might enjoy this show. If, however, you are like me and are completely disinterested in baseball this show will do little to change that. Big Windup! adapts Asa Higuchi’s sports comic of the same name which ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon comic anthology in Japan.
To the show’s credit it has a very organic feel to it from the ways the characters think and act to the colour palette used. That being said the baseball games themselves drag on for ungodly long periods of time. The second (and final) game is the worst offender spanning eleven episodes of the 26 episode first season. Even the first game feels slightly too dragged out at five episodes. The amount of detail the series goes into for both games is nigh maddening. In the second game it goes so far as to practically give the thoughts behind all the involved players of a certain action at any point in time.
The series main problem however is its own protagonist. Mihashi is grating on the nerves (and the ears) of those around him and the viewer. While he makes for an interesting character his introverted personality results in his many, many inner monologues grating on the viewer. It is also difficult to identify oneself with a character  whose so erratic.
If the series had been edited to roughly half its run time and the viewer was allowed to infer more this rather than each detail being so thoroughly explained this may have been a truly great show. However, while the title succeeded well enough in Japan to warrant a second season in North America Funimation (the company which dubbed and distributed the title in the United States and Canada) publicly announced it sold poorly for them that they would not release anymore of the series or any other titles in its genre.
Big Windup! is available digitally and on home video in North America from Funimation.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Jormungand vol. 2 & 3

Jormungand vol. 2 & 3, Story and Art by Keitaro Takahashi
Jonah, Koko, and the rest of the crew’s exploits continue. Get ready for one bullet crazy adventure! One question remains however: Will our heroes survive?
It speaks volumes about a series when one of the most memorable things in a book is the one character’s-lack-of-underwear subplot which is played straight. The only other notable area in these books is Jonah’s long overdue backstory which appears in the third volume. Jormungand remains by-and-large a forgettable title.
Those in search of adrenaline filled titles will be satisfied but anyone looking for substance of any kind really will be sorely disappointed. Even the adrenaline moments feel meaningless because there is practically zero emotional attachment to the characters. One point in this series favour, though,  is how stylish it is but even that will not be enough to keep readers interested.
Jormungand is available in print format from Viz Media.

Friday 10 August 2012

Oreimo episodes 1-12

Oreimo episodes 1-12 Directed by Hiroyuki Kanbe, Produced by AIC Build
Kyousuke was living a relatively ordinary life. That is until the day he discovers one of his sister’s, Kirino’s, deepest secrets… Will Kyousuke be able to keep Kirino’s secret double life as an otaku from others?
An adaptation of a light novel (the closest western equivalent I can think of to light novels is YA Novels) by Tsukasa Fushimi. Oreimo is easily one of the most accessible titles I’ve seen when it comes to animation geared towards Otaku. The fan service is kept to a minimum and the characters are on some level relatable.
The title also has a much more organic feel than most titles in the genre which typically trend towards being ludicrously over the top. The title is also gorgeous visually as well complete with visually appeasing character designs and fluid animation. The more I watched the more apparent it became that much care and attention went into creating this title.
Oreimo is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Crackle, the title is available on home video from Aniplex USA