The ground tread by Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is well-worn. Its original form, a serialized comic, began in 1986 at the height of Fist of the North Star’s popularity, a few years before Dragon Ball Z would codify the tropes and structure of the teenage-boy action story. Jojo falls into many of these tropes, especially in its first arc. In its structure and in much of its characters, it gives the appearance of yet another standard shonen action show. But Jojo pushes these tropes to amazing heights, through its unique style, clever writing, and balls-to-the-wall daring. Jojo, like Fist of the North Star, has few restraints, but it works with intelligence and care. It is brute force applied by the hands of a master artisan. David Production’s Jojo anime reflects this as well as it can, and it’s by far the truest adaptation yet. Continue reading
Psycho-Pass is a grand example of the wrong way to merge genres. It wants to be a large-scale political drama, an intimate character drama, and a raw action show, while throwing as many allusions at the audience that can be fit in the script. In the end, it’s an inconsistent mess loaded down with pretensions of its authors. Psycho-Pass had a lot of potential in its early days, but it builds and builds until it collapses beneath the weight of its plot holes, unrealized character development, and bland twists. Continue reading
Let’s face facts: slice-of-life high school comedies are a dime a dozen nowadays. They’re easy to make, easy to market and they’re almost always guaranteed money for a production studio, new or old. So whenever I hear about a new slice-of-life with a decent twist, I get pretty excited to see if it’ll be one of those slice-of-life shows that actually shakes it up. It is for these reasons combined that Kotoura-san is without a doubt the biggest disappointment of the season, and maybe even of all of 2013.
As it is a subject that will likely come up many, many times in the course of my writings on anime for The Stereogram, Masaaki Yuasa is my favorite currently-living director working in the anime scene. In an industry fueled by pandering (generally to lowest-common-denominator male enthusiasts), he is one of the few people willing to look beyond selling merchandise and expand the medium. Each of his works brim with passion he poured into them; there are few anime directors who are as recognizable, especially not in the modern age.
The Tatami Galaxy, Yuasa’s fourth directing effort, is in many ways a reaction against generic means of storytelling, an issue common in modern anime. Though The Tatami Galaxy initially presents itself in a standard form, with a few notable exceptions, it soon becomes a commentary on formulaic plot design, eventually collapsing upon itself in a fantastic conclusion. Continue reading
If 2012 will be remembered in the annals of video game history, it will likely be for the utter dominance of indie titles in the year-end lists. Moreso than ever before has the term “indie” meant nothing about the game it describes. What’s more, those games have been getting coverage with a capital C. So I guess as a way of saying goodbye to the fantastic games of 2012, I’ve decided to talk about my favourite indie game that has not enjoyed the level of coverage as many other stellar indie titles this year have.
Saga starts off with your standard star-crossed lovers – in this case from two warring races – who have eloped together. The pleasantries and clichés are thankfully skipped and we’re greeted with the birth of their first child, while the narrator (the child herself) muses on the nature of ideas; “This is how an idea becomes real.” It becomes clear this is writer Brian K Vaughn’s manifesto on his creative process and why he prefers to collaborate (in this case with impressive artist Fiona Staples). It’s obvious and a little heavy-handed, sure, but it’s offset well by the humour in the characters’ dialogue and serves as a nice introduction to the tone of the book. After a relatively quick and apparently painless birth, we learn some more about the characters (winged lady Alana and ram-horned Marko) and the universe outside through their dialogue and then we’re off.
“Welcome to Miami
Bienvenidos a Miami”
–Will Smith, “Miami”
Few games invite the description of “murder simulation” to the degree Hotline Miami does. Though the bodies splayed across these empty halls are faceless and pixelated, you sacrificed much of yourself for them: your lives (marked by the many presses of your R key), your time, your concentration, the main character’s sanity. Everything is a trade-off, and here you’re bargaining it all for the pure satisfaction of the kill. Continue reading