Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Key The Metal Idol: Episodes 14-15 (Spoilers)

With this, the OVA series comes to an end with two Movie length episodes bringing the story to an indulgent end. With this the mystery of "what" Key is, is answered with her actually being a broken girl who like I thought was a "sleeper agent" to take out Ajo Heavy Industries while Sakura is sadly "harvested" for her gel (wich it turns out is an actualization of the human life force). While Wakagi and Tataki seek to save Sakura in episode 14 and bring about Key's "Idol debut"/ Making her human. Which it actually turns out that Key never was a Robot this was simply a girl who had powers so great she put herself into a mental state that kept her power in check. Sadly large parts of Episode 14 are long expository dialogues by Tataki about the importance of Idols that are downright soporific slowing down the pacing and momentum of the series. While episode 5 is nothing but "go" from start to finish with it building to ending that may frustrate some for its inconclusiveness. With Key almost bringing about an "Instrumentality Ending, till she learns that though being human is painful life has it's joys and sorrows in this one can see the zeitgeist of early 90s Sci-Fi and Mecha OVAs, Ghost In The Shell, or the latter Neon Genesis Evangelion. With a questioning of humanity and very much a "world of pain". Feel to it as is Key The Metal Idol is an interesting anomaly in a world of Anime that no longer exists when one could make an OVA sell it and overall make an interesting piece of art for a small base of fans. While Key is indulgent at times soporific in its pummeling of the message into the head of the audience and the dub feels wooden. It is still something I don't feel bad haveing watched because it is something that obviously had a lot of love put into it. It's a confusing but thoughtful piece on basic questions of what it means to be human while also allowing for flashy Sci-Fi battles.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spring Stream 2016: Hundred: Episode 7

The first half is standard beach episode fan service with Hayato accidentally falling into Claire's chest for what feels like the fourth or fifth time when Claire's older brother Judal shows up praises everyone and even lets Hayato in on what the real "power source" of Little Island is. It's a nice little bit of world building but sadly gets lost in the introduction of Emila's childhood best friend Claudia who is mostly played as the comically psychotic lesbian archetype it's funny for a few minutes but it's also set up to get old fast and be really annoying again it's an adequate episode that knows that ti's strengths are in fan service and small bits of character development. While honestly it's the secondary cast that makes it for me in particular Fritz and Reitia it would be nice if we got an episode based around them as the overall world is strong the main relationship of Hayato and Emila is bland even the harem element while thankfully not as overblown as some have become in the past this just feels like it's predetermined and as if no one has any real agency about who they love in short "the plot demands it". Still this is an entertaining trifle with some fun action scenes and a strong fictional universe that I really hope gets focused on more than the flaccid romantic plot lines.

Key The Metal Idol: Episodes 3-13

Picking up with the third episode the series continues it's probing of the question of Key's consciousness while also introducing a subplot involving a Japanese "New Religion" that starts to think of Key as some sort of Messiah. Also given the fact that these episodes were made around the time of March 20, 1995, Tokyo subway sarin attack by Aum Shinrikyo it wouldn't be too much of stretch to see the cult The Church of the Golden Snake Savior as a more inept analog to the infamous cult run by Shoko Asahara. This point aside wich includes some rather brutal scenes of D randomly killing cultists when he tries to take out Key. Fro the most part focuses on Key being in very much a blank slate while also apparently being able to tap into some sort of latent power that feels like a sort of "Manchurian Candidate" style power set instituted by her Grandfather. It's not really explained it just happens while the use of gel is actually tied into the Idol industry in some unsettling and none too subtle criticism oof the entertainment industry. I also watched all of the episodes six through 13 dubbed to get a feel for the dub track and some of the performances range from good to just okay Megan Leitch as Sakura Kuriyagawa is stiff and unemotive in comparison to Miki Nagasawa. While Nicole Oliver as Key is able to keep the unemotive aspects of the character without haveing it sound wooden or affected it also helped that as part of the performance a vocal filter was placed over her lines so Key's voice sounds even more metallic and robotic. As a rule, I prefer Subs to Dubs but this is a very good dub for the most part of particular note is Brian Drummond's scenery chewing performance as Hikaru Tsurugi Key's instructor who is unhinged in his pretensions to genius the series moves forward to its climax at a brisk paceing and while still almost nothing is known about Key other than little bits of her past and hints that her mother may be some kind of prefectural "demigod". It is still very much all mood and tone with characters being there to react in this strange world of conspiracies and a literally cannibalistic Entertainment Industry. How this will end I don't know but it's definitely unlike much of anything I have seen but could be seen as the spiritual ancestor to series like Clamp's Chobits or Plastic Memories while also raising some of the same questions that Ghost In The Shell raised about Transhumanism and Identity

Monday, May 23, 2016

Key The Metal Idol: First Impressions (Episodes 1-2)

An early 90s OVA directed and written by Hiroaki Sato Key the Metal Idol tells the story of the titular Key a robot girl who is told by her dying creator that she must make 30'000 friends or she will cease to function. This leads her to Tokyo where she almost gets coerced into making Pornography until she is saved by a chance encounter with her childhood friend Sakura Kuriyagawa. The first two episodes are all a murky atmosphere of implied dread the deadpan emotionless Key trying to fulfill the last words of her dead creator with flashbacks to the earlier parts in her life in wich people belittle her as a robot this reminded me of the subtext in Astro where robots are mocked but this is also a general trope in Sci-Fi as well. Iwao, Junko as Key is an odd performance emotionless, cold, and factual but also naive in short the perfect robot this is played with great effect against Nagasawa, Miki as Sakura although Nagasawa's portrayal can sound a little histrionic and panicky in parts it works to offset the emotional detachment of Iwao's performance. fOr the first two episodes, it sets up an intriguing premise with another storyline underneath Key's of a mysterious weapons manufacturer that is making Robots for military purposes and wants to seek out Key as well for some reason. Things are hinted at and it's all very disconcerting but for two episodes so far it's given me a lot to hink on and wonder how something so seemingly dense and eerie will go in a total of fifteen episodes. Expect to see a review of this series as I watch it two or more episodes each as I feel this is a series that deserves attention.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Spring Stream 2016: Hundred: Episode 6

This episode ugh this episode!! Other than a pretty intense fight involving the severely underused almost couple of sniper Hundred user Fritz and up close grappler and brawler Reitia this is more because it's interesting to see a female character fight up close. and As I've said previously it's the little bits of character development or use of secondary characters that keeps me invested or that Hayato has not been turned into an overpowered Marty Stu. While the introduction of the mysterious hunters looks less to be a case of them Quislings and more sadistic black market arms dealers. While these Hunters have their own power set of everything from a Shirou Emiya style ability to copy weapons to CQC. Still nothing explained and most of the second half is dedicated to a badly animated musical number with most of the cast looking like the awesome face emoji and the episode ends with the classic harem set up of one of the girls sneaking into Hayato's bed only to be confronted by the other girls. It's cliche but this show is fueled by pure unleaded full-bore cliche. Besides, next week is a beach episode so everything is right for the time beeing.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Doomed Megalopolis OVA Review

Doomed Megalopolis a four episode OVA adapting the first four novels Teito Monogatari by Hiroshi Aramata. Chronicles the vengeance quest of Katou Yasunori the spirit of a slain military officer who comes back to destroy Tokyo by doing away with the city's guardian deity Taira no Masakado. This leads Katou to become involved with the highly dysfunctional Tatsumiya family consisting of siblings Yukari and Yoichiro with Katou using Yukari as a human gateway to bring about the destruction of Tokyo. While other mystics and Sorcerers seek to avoid this destruction all while The Meiji Restoration grinds forth dragging Japan into the world more in tune with Science than the occult mysticism of Katou and his ilk. This OVA directed by Rintaro (Dagger of Kamui and X The Movie being two of his other works that have been released in America) is a mixture of outwardly bloody occultic battles, sexualized torture, and an over all ethos of dread and doom. It's in many ways now a museum piece to a previous time of Anime when titles like Ninja Scroll, Wicked City, and Vampire Hunter D were the main stay of Anime licsinsceing. Now Doomed Megalopolis feels old fashioned in its blood and gore with an industry now more replete with Moe tropes and adaptations of Manga, Light Novels, Visual Novels, and an over all cute aesthetic and character design. As a piece of visual story telling Doomed Megalopolis has amazing scenes of carnage and brutality mixed with an ethos of dread and gothic horror was the real monsters are not the summoned beasts or demonic parasites that torture poor Yukari. No the real monster in the series I feel is Yukari's brother a self-absorbed employee of the Financial Administration who cares more about public presentation while in private life he is a rapist, abuses women, and is more concerned about his personal comfort than caring for his traumatized sister. One could see the monsters in the series as an outward manifestation of the broken and unpleasant family dynamics. A sort of externalisation of inward feelings and it's this storyline the question of how one really is as opposed to how one wishes to be perceived is the stronger element to the occultic spectical of Katou trying to destroy Tokyo. A kind of occultic Id spewing forth hatred and loathing. Some will look at it as a gory piece of exploitation with little explotation of what is happening and admittedly it is hard to follow but that is more due to only haveing four episodes to adapt four books from a much larger series and Rintaro's Directoroal choices on what to focus on it's not gore for its own sake but definitely not for the squeamish. Still as a look at a different era of Anime, it is worth watching if only for the history of the medium. While the visuals are superlative in some places from the scene of Katou riding on the back of a giant occultic sting ray to the use of light shadow and how scenes are shot. The difference between the Dub and the Sub is noticeable the dub invents backstories for characters creates entire storylines and speeches out of whole cloth and overall has a grungy wooden feel in line delivery. While the Japanese track is loud bombastic and dramatic in particular because Katou's Seiyuu was (in his only Anime role that I can find) Kyusaku Shimada was and is a drama actor. While music is old synthizier and rock making it sound like a SNES promo video.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Spring Stream 2016: Hundred: Episode 5

In this episode, the forced harem element gets first place in the first half with Hayato accidentally seeing Claire topless than falling into one of the other student Council members. That the series breaks from that into Hayato getting taken into an impromptu date with Emila it's cute to see her a chance to be a cute girl for a change. While finally Sakura turns up and narrates her entire back story while flashbacks show what happens for the last half of the episode till a cliffhanger involving an attack by one of the invaders. It's nice to Sakura get a fleshed out back story but it feels like a retread of so much other old 80s Science Fiction Anime from Baoh to Akira with evil conspiracies to turn children into weapons. It gives Sakura some more definition from being the sort of "Manic Pixie Idol Girl" when she was introduced but it's also like much of this show tiresome and done before but it's the small little pieces of character work that make it worth watching from Emila fretting over what to do with the drinks she has in both hands of Claire's change in facial expression and tone of voice when dealing with Hayato even Sakura felt a little better handled in this episode haveing more range but this episode still feels like a build up to a payoff that may never come