In contrast to last fortnight, we have a bumper crop of material this time around: twenty blogposts and columns, plus the usual smattering of podcasts and newly-translated episodes! As usual, remarks from Feez are in blue and those from Thaliarchus are in red. (And I recently noticed that these colours don’t come through in feedreaders, or at least not in the one I use. I’m, ah, thinking about whether we can do anything about that!)
Land of Obscusion carries a detailed review of Monkey Turn (2004), a decidedly obscure show about hydroplane racing, which George calls ‘one of the best sports anime that you’ve never seen’.
Dave Merrill tackles God Mazinger (1984), exploring how and why its manga and anime incarnations differ, and why it’s so little remembered.
R042 offers a discussion of the time and place of the Tsukasa Hojo manga adaptations Cat’s Eye (1983) and City Hunter (1987). I’ve never gotten on with City Hunter myself, but I’m very fond of its various openings and endings, which are well worth looking up even if you’re not planning to watch the show. R042’s got a point, I think: those openings do depict a never-existent urban 80s that’s rather thrilling. Similarly, I’ve never gotten around to City Hunter, though it has been on my backlog for years, and I didn’t know that Cat’s Eye shared the same source author and is stylistically similar.
Over at Cries in Newtype (what a good blog name), idango has put out a translation of an interesting 2001 interview/conversation between Yoshiyuki Tomino and Mamoru Nagano. Tomino is of course the director of Mobile Suit Gundam and many other anime, while Nagano is a manga author and artist noted for his mechanical design work; they worked together on Heavy Metal L-Gaim, Zeta Gundam and Brain Powerd. I love interviews in which Tomino is being humble, as that’s not how he’s commonly portrayed. I’ve also always found it interesting that Tomino (and Nagano too, it seems!) is critical of video games. It falls in line with my research of Turn A Gundam; he was outspokenly critical of fighting games while working with akiman.
Humble Ace’s series of episodic notes on the original Macross reaches episodes 13–15.
Feez has a couple of new posts on Turn A Gundam up: a selection of production materials, reference tools created to help the staff keep the show consistent and understand crucial distinctions between characters; and a post for the show’s nineteenth anniversary with an updated animation video and notes on some of Turn A‘s prominent animators.
Schoolgirl Milky Crisis has a piece of news about a show that’s both old and current: Sazae-san (1969–the present, and the world’s longest-running continuous animated TV series).
Mike Toole has put out a column covering the origins and anime history of A Dog of Flanders, not just the well-regarded 1974 TV show but also some odder and less well-known adaptations…
One of the ripples spreading out from Isao Takahata’s death is this fairly comprehensive retrospective at Sakugablog. I think this pieces’s highlight is its attention to contingency. Artistic obituaries sometimes slip implicitly into a great-person theory of creativity and, while Takahata very much was a great director, his course in life was also the result of many collaborations and intersections.
The Afictionado explores genre play in Utena and a more recent title.
Shojo Power assesses the theme of motherhood in Sailor Moon.
Over at Zimmerit, Tom Winnicki traces the history of just one fictional giant robot design. Which might sound like an especially dry and dusty thing to do, but is perhaps more interesting if you regard it as a case-study in the marginal life of an idea, surviving through the minor spin-off materials surrounding a big anime franchise. I appreciate Tom’s thoroughly researched examinations of forgotten Gundam topics.
ANN carries a survey of anime from 1998 by Daryl Surat.
The Anime Nostalgia Podcast treats the 1992 OVA Handsome Girlfriend.
Retro Anime Podcast have a very draconic episode on the early 90s OVAs Dragon Slayer and Dragon Half.
Anime Feminist’s podcast discusses the first six episodes of Michiko and Hatchin, the directorial debut of the now-fêted Sayo Yamamoto.
Dynamite in the Brain covers the first part of the Dirty Pair TV series (a show which I watched not too long ago and thought was rather good fun! I particularly remember some episodes having exceptionally good cold opens…), and also has a new ‘MANV Feud’ instalment on Manga Video UK’s releases in the first half of 1996.
- Daikengo 21, Daikengo 22 and Daikengo 23 (Luurah)
- Hidamari no Ki 14–19 (orphan)
- Dallos (better video; orphan)
- Starship Troopers (better video; orphan)
I’m going to take a moment here to note that the announcement posts for orphan’s releases on collectr’s blog are, unusually for fansub announcements, often interesting and detailed blog posts in and of themselves, introducing and contextualising their material. The one on the 1988 Starship Troopers OVA linked above, for instance, touches on some of the ways the novel is and isn’t adapted by its reflexes in other media. Not that I’m any kind of expert, but I’ve thought for a while that the effect of Starship Troopers in anime is sort of diffuse: widespread, but more filtered through secondary and tertiary influences than exercised by its direct adaptation. (And, you know, that slightly arm’s length relationship might not be such a bad thing!)
- Captain Future special (South Wind)
- Yuusha Raideen 31 (/m/subs)
- Bismarck 38, Bismarck 39 (GANGO)
- Bonobono (1995) 17 (GANGO)
- Dr Slump and Arale-chan 67 (shiteatersubs)
- Lensman 9 (TSHS)
What we’re up to
Feez — Well, I’ve reached the final stretch of episodes in my Dunbine rewatch. I plan to have it finished by the end of the week, so stay tuned for my final thoughts! This anime season’s been busy for me. I’m watching four anime, which’s more than the usual one or two. It’s great to see Full Metal Panic back in action—they’ve done a fantastic job maintaining the style and feel of the original series (CGI aside…). Aside from anime, I’ve been playing Super Robot Wars V, a game I’ve technically been at for over a year. It’s the first non-OG SRW I’ve played in English, so that aspect’s been particularly engaging. I plan to have it finished by the time X rolls around. Oh, and Atelier Lydie & Suelle, which I have mixed thoughts about. On the one hand I do feel that this is the most polished Atelier in years, and probably the best in the Mysterious trilogy. Yet I can’t help but feel disappointed that they took a step back from Firis‘s ambition.
Thaliarchus — I finished watching Aura Battler Dunbine. Overall, I wouldn’t say I’d immediately recommend it to all anime fans, but I enjoyed it a fair bit, and would suggest it if the idea of a 1980s isekai mecha story intrigues you. Assuming the threading works (…) you can find my thoughts as I watched it gathered in this Twitter thread. I’ve also been dabbling a bit in Daitarn 3, one of Tomino’s early giant robot shows, and an anime notable—so far—for its happy-go-lucky attitude. One of the episodes I watched recently was a non-stop barrage of movie jokes and film-star caricatures mixed with deliciously unfettered action scenes.
Outside anime, I recently read K2: The Savage Mountain (Charles S. Houston and others, 1954), a report from a failed attempt to climb the world’s second-highest peak. It has all the blind-spots you’d expect from a 1950s mountaineering book, but it’s nevertheless startling and gripping. I’ve been making steady progress through Super-Cannes, too, though I have some hesitations about it. And I’ve been playing games: both more of Fire Emblem: Echoes and also Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology. The latter’s more or less the first JRPG I’ve ever played, and it’s been pretty neat so far. I like the combination of turn manipulation and positional rejigging in its battle system, which requires you constantly to think about time and space at once.