Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eden of the East (Japanese)

What if you played a game where the objective was to save Japan? The only thing you have in order to do this was a cell phone with 10 billion yen. You can spend it any way you want, but you have to use it for the above objective. If you don't use the money or if you run out and have not won the game, then you die. Would you wanna play?

Eden of the East is a Psychological/Romance/Mystery anime written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama. It originally was produced by Production I.G. Studio and was licensed by Funimation. There are eleven episodes total with two novels released after the anime. Three films were also released between September 2009 and March 2010.

On November 22, 2010, ten missiles strike against uninhabited areas of Japan, claiming no victims. This apparent terrorist attack is referred to as "Careless Monday" and disregarded by most people. The series begins three months later, with a young Japanese woman named Saki Morimi visiting Washington D.C. as part of her graduation trip. When she gets into trouble, a mysterious Japanese man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, helps her through it. The man appears to have no memory and is completely naked, carrying only a gun and a cell phone charged with 8.2 billion in digital money.

The look of the series and the animation are rather well done. There was no laziness or lack of budget to cause problems with this series and that is easily noticeable. Though at some points, the animation doesn't quite fit the original look, but it's only used for comic effect rather then calling it lazy. The story is good too. For the most part, you're following Takizawa, trying to figure out who he is, and what organization he's a part of. There are few things that escape the realm of explanation, and this series is going to leave you with questions in the end, but not unsatisfied.

After I watched this series for the first time, I told my friend about it. When I did he said to me, "So it's pretty much like the Bourne movies." And, yes, in some ways it is. The main male character has no memory of who he is or what he has done before losing those memories. He also works for a secret organization bent on some purpose.

The characters are fairly well developed, Takizawa being the best. Then again, the series is pretty much all about him and his journey to find out who he is. Saki is developed decently, sometimes you don't completely understand why she does certain things, but she is a good companion to Takizawa. The rest of the cast has small bits of development here and there, key word being small.

And then there's the running joke of the series. It's fine for a few episodes and can be funny when referred to, but by the time you get to the forth or fifth episode it's just annoying and completely unnecessary. I am, of course, talking about the "Johnny" gag. It's called by no other name but Johnny. Not penis, not dick, not wood. Johnny. There's even a character in the series who is called the "Johnny Hunter". She hunts down rapists and cuts off their...... Yeah...... Are you seeing the problem? I understand that the series wanted to have something that makes people laugh, but referring to a male's genitally as Johnny, ALL THE TIME, is just plain stupid. Unless you're into stupid things like that which, in that case, you will absolutely love it.

I mentioned that this review is about the Japanese version, but I am going to talk about the English dub for a second. I only watched part of an episode that was posted on YouTube. All I have to say is that Takizawa and Hirasawa were tolerable in the ten minutes I managed to watch. Everyone else didn't seem like good fits. Again, this was just based off one episode. The entire series might have had character partnered with good voice actors that I didn't take a look at. But for those who wanna watch the series, I would stick to the Japanese. Mostly cause I'm a sucker for this version.

The end result is Eden of the East being a good visual anime with some kinks here and there along with a real good story that takes another story, tweaks it, and make it interesting. There is more to the story with the movies that were released during the fall so the story doesn't end with more bombing and more memory loss. No, the fun has just gotten started. Hopefully, they'll resolve some of the plot points in the movies.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Canaan Review

A thirteen episode Action/Drama series, Canaan is based on the manga written by Type-Moon. The manga is published by Kadokawa Shoten, but has yet to reach the states. The anime had it's original run in the summer of 2009 from P.A. Works Studio, and has been dubbed be Anime Network in September 2010. The story actually takes place two year after the Nintendo Wii visual novel, 428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya de. I had already seen the Japanese version and recently watched the English, so I'm gonna take on both versions.

Two years ago, Shibuya was ravaged by a biological terrorist attack using the deadly Ua virus. Maria Osawa was saved when her father inoculated her against the virus, but is left with partial amnesia from the shock. She works as a cameraman when she is reunited with a girl named Canaan in Shanghai, China. A gifted assassin with synesthesia, she is under orders from an organization for a yet unspecified mission. (Anime News Network)

There are two types of people who are infected by the Ua virus, Borners and Unbloom. Borners are those who survive being infected, some gaining powers (Hacko) or just some extra body parts (Yun Yun). Unbloom are those who also survive the Ua virus, however gain no special abilities and become extremely vulnerable to UV rays and outside noises. Snake, a terrorist group run by Alphard, ran experiments on people in a distant villiage a few years prior to the events in the anime. Their goal, to study the effects of Borners and Unbloom in order to use the Ua virus to, pretty much, cause war. The only person really standing in their way is Canaan.

The look of the series is pretty much your generic Action anime series with decent animations. The most interesting look of the series is Canaan's synesthesia powers. Whenever we look through her eyes everything becomes color coded, depending on people's emotions and conditions such as gray for hunger and blue for hate. The story is pretty basic: a girl working for a mystery organization (Canaan) is out for revenge against the person who killed her mentor (Alphard). At the same time, she also befriends another girl turning her into her new reason for living (Maria). Add a strange virus and some sadistic characters and you've got this anime.

There are a few parts that are never explained in this series at all. For instance, in the beginning we are just told Canaan and Maria are friends. The only thing about their past that the anime calls our "explanation" is a) Canaan saved Maria from bad guys and b) the two of them bonded over Cat's cradle. Another piece that is never explained is why Minrou went to Shanghi, besides trying to get "the big scoop" What kind of "big scoop" are we looking for? Did the gossip magazine he worked for get a tip that a teenage girl who can see colors and can shoot like a ninja-monkey would be tearing around Shanghi? However I did find out that Minrou was actually one of the main characters from 428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya de, and survivor of the Shibuya incident two years prior. So if you haven't even heard of the game then you are completely lost.

Both the English and Japanese version aren't bad, but if I had a preference I would stick to the Japanese. The voice actors in the this version match the idea of the characters better thn the English. Although both versions have very good portrayals. Both Maaya Sakamoto and Lesley Pederson give good performances as Alphard, as well as the actors for both Minoru and Santana. Shelly Calene-Black plays a decent Canaan, but I preferred Miyuki Sawashiro's more tom-boyish and naive Canaan better. When it comes to Maria and Yun Yun, the Japanese voice actors are certainly superior. But I believe the best portrayal of a character in either version is Liang Qi. Both Rie Tanaka and Jessica Boone do an amazing job with this role. Playing out not only her obsession for Alphard but the insanity that goes along with it. You almost feel sorry for her and the torture she goes through both mentally and emotionally.

The downside to the series is, again, the fact that it's your generic action series. It has huge gun fights, secret organizations bent on taking over the world, and the occasional necrophilia... Oh wait.... That's just this show.... The other major downfall in the series is the story. The characters are decent, with some of them developed nicely while other not at all. There are patches in the story where, unless you have seen it's proceeding visual novel, then you have no idea where some parts of the story come nto play, or why some of it matter. It's still enjoyable to watch whether you want to see those gun fights or watch the complexe mind games between Canaan and Alphard. Or, hell, see Liang Qi lose her marbles!

In the end, Canaan is a good action series that has a few twists to keep the audience's attention. It sticks to the sotry through and through with a few fun parts at times. Mostly from seeing Yun Yun and her many many jobs, plus the jokes about her boobs, or lack thereof. It's one to at least take a look at, and either you'll love it, hate it, or just go "eh".
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