Tag Archives: OVA


Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance

Evangelion 2.22  picks up where Evangelion 1.0 leaves off…but not with another rehashed scene from the original series. Thankfully 2.0 has very few of those compared to the first film. You Can (Not) Advance kept me…dare I say?…riveted.

Like Eva 1.0 You Can (Not) Advance continues the story from the original series, only it does it properly. Most of this OVA is new stuff: new scenes,  characters, and designs.  Shinji even stops his wrist cutting and acts more normally. His father, Gendo, also displays his human side. Gendo severely lacked any type of humanity in the original series. Here, he is a father who is forced to choose between those he cares about and the greater good.

Eva 2.22  grabs you by the throat by opening with a spectacular fight between Mari Makinami (a new character) and the remains of the Third Angel. The pace of the film continues at a comfortable cadanance of robot fighting and character interaction. The fights only get heavier. The red head Asuka Shikinami joins the crew – adding some interesting tension between Shinji, Rei and herself. Characterization, despite the limited time frame, feels better done than in the original.

I think that is because Shinji isn’t wrist slitting as often.

The main story line involving NERV and SEELE still requires heavy lifting in the believability department. It tries too hard to be deep as it draws in more religious elements.  Shinji, Rei, and Asuka are where Eva 2.22  is at it’s best. Their interactions (thanks to Rei being more talkative than in the original) did more to keep me interested than the fights or the unwieldy storyline.  I prefer a few more relating scenes to the fights, as grand as they are.

The animation looks more modern and smoother while still keeping the same feel as the original. The mecha fights between the Evas and the Angels are computer animated and blend better than in Eva 1.0. No computer screen or commander/staff action montages here. There are only detailed, crisp movements. The music is an excellent complement. It really heightens the mood appropriately.

Mari Makinami posing.

Evangelion 2.22  takes the series in a good direction. Despite the time limitations, the story flows better than the original and the characters are more believable. Shinji isn’t anywhere near as irritating. The sexuality of the series startles me consider the characters’ ages, but it makes the damaged characters feel more vulnerable and human as well. It is nice to see them joke, get embarassed, and cry. The humor feels natural and helps shove back the darkness. The unrelenting depression of the first series just turned me off to it.

I find myself looking forward to the next installment of the series. The Rebuild of Evangelion has turned a series I considered overrated and repugnant into something I am enjoying.


Evangelion 1.01 You are (Not) Alone

I didn’t really care for the original Evangelion series. It was just too pretentous, and the characters rubbed me the wrong way. Shinji in particular was a whiny wrist cutter who made me want him to just go “up the street.” So, when I heard Evangelion was releasing an OVA series I was hesitant to watch it.

I was actually surprised.  In fact, I must say, You are (Not) Alone is pretty good. Shinji still grates on my nerves, but with the faster pacing I can actually tolerate it and even see his character develop better than in the series. The story just works better in this shorter format.

You are (Not) Alone opens with Shinji being called to NERV headquarters by his father just as an Angel attacks. Angels are aliens bent on the destruction of humanity. Shinji is forced to pilot the last hope of humanity: the Eva. Mind you, Shinji had no experience piloting anything let alone a giant war machine. Evangelion never did get into exactly why teenagers had to be pilots. The OVA continues with Shinji’s meeting with Rei Ayanami. Asuka Soryu doesn’t fit into the timeline covered.

I still dislike how Shinji and Rei (along with the other characters to some extent) seek external validation for their lives to mean something.  Hmmm..the original series never did resolve this from what I remember.

I had forgotten the sexual awkwardness Evangelion had between the characters. There was  also a surprising amount of fairly detailed underaged nudity…Rei fans will be excited I guess. The jumpsuits were disturbingly tight.

The animation was polished, but kept the original’s feel. The computer animated Eva’s and Angels was noticeable against the animated backgrounds. Like in the original most of the action was in montages of computer screens, connection animations, and people spending 5 minutes announcing this or that system is ready. You know. The traditional mecha version of announcing an attack. At least the Evas fought crisply. Generally the animation is good but still looks dated compared to more modern feasts like my favorite mecha Eureka Seven.

I still think Evangelion is overrated, but it’s not terrible by any means. It takes itself far too seriously. How seriously can we take giant robots fighting each other?  The OVAs still are too pretentous.

Surprisingly, I was looking forward to the next installment. The characters were  far more interesting…and tolerable…in this shorter movie format. I’m just hoping the ending for the OVAs will be better than the mess the original ended with.


Pale Cocoon

If we lost our written memory would we remember our history? Pale Cocoon is a 23 minute OVA about a boy who reconstructs data from the archives. He is interested in what Earth used to look like on the surface, before he and his people built cities deep underground. One of the files he reconstructs causes him to question what he knows about the world and leads him to climb to the surface to see what is there for himself. The end is surprising. I won’t spoil it for you, but it isn’t what you would think it would be.

I loved the animation and the music. It has a sad but hopeful atmosphere.

Reconstructed from Archives


Hellsing Ultimate

There is no such thing as immortality…even for vampires. Hellsing Ultimate is an original video animation (ova) based on the Hellsing manga. Hellsing is an organization headed by Integra Hellsing that defends the people of Great Britain from the demons of imagination with hellspawn of their own: Alucard. Hellsing Ultimate opens with an increase in vampiric activity. The unusual increase pulls the Hellsing organization and Alucard into an ever deepening spiral of insanity and violence. Few things truly remain in their graves.

Despite all the bloodshed, this isn’t just a mindless gore fest. Characters are well developed and complex. Even Alucard’s insanity is laced with almost-human regret and loneliness. His loneliness is only thinly veiled around Seras Victoria, a police woman Alucard turns into a vampire. Seras is trapped between her desire to remain human and her vampire tendencies and madness. Just about every character is bent in this series. Understandable when you consider how they deal with nightmares on a daily basis.  Integra Hellsing is strong willed yet still shows her fragility and doubts about her decisions. She refuses to back down even when her conscious nags quietly at her. She is willing to do what must be done. The other characters are an interesting cast of vampire hunters such as Integra’s butler, Walter Dornez, and paladins. Even the Vatican is pulled into the mess when they send their ultimate weapon and equal to Alucard: Alexander Anderson.

Hellsing Ultimate is not for the weak of stomach. Riddled with brutality, the anime revives the dark roots of vampire stories. Alucard is far from a sparkling emo vampire. His bloodlust is never sated, nor does his insanity abate. Even his master, Integra Hellsing, is taken aback with how cruel her weapon is at times. The animation is done in a dark comic book style and laced with contrasted chibi-like comedic scenes. The thick ink and rich detail makes the characters feel solid and alive. The comedic scenes make the bloodletting even more hellish. Be ready for impalings, beheadings, and worse. Action is fast paced, violent, and smoothly animated. Computer animation is used for many of the scenes, but it meshes well with the traditional animation. The contrast between the types of animations make many of the scenes feel more surreal.

The music is haunting. It leans on operatic pieces and classical but throws in enough techo/rock pieces that it is not overbearing. The music doesn’t distract. It pulls in the long history of western vampire lore. The use of foley is well done. Footsteps creak the wooden floors and blood splatters and drips.

Some of the anime’s problem areas is with accents in the English dub. Some of the accents are off, but this is just a small peeve. The violence is over the top and unrealistic, but we are dealing with vampires. Alucard is also a little too powerful. Most of the fights have little real challenge for him. I find myself often rooting for the villain to knock Alucard down a few rungs.

If you are a fan of true vampires and not the modern watered-down sparkly versions, Hellsing Ultimate will not disappoint.


Vampire Hunter D

Vampire Hunter D is what Twilight could have been. It wasn’t the best anime, but not terrible either. The future is a Wild West wasteland a la Cowboy Bebop but with a Victorian Goth twist to the decor. Humans have almost made vampires extinct or flee the planet on rockets. A few half-human, half-vampire hunters still exist and hunt their full blooded brethren. The main character, D, is one of them.  Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust opens with D, who looks like a character from a Final Fantasy game, accepting a bounty to kill a vampire and bring home the noble’s daughter – alive or dead.

Another crew of all human (well kinda) vampire hunters is already in pursuit of this vampire and missing woman. After facing off against the vampire’s blood sucked zombies (who strongly reminded me of Hellsing‘s zombies), D discovers the human daughter is genuinely in love with the vampire. Sounds familiar? And like a certain sparkly vampire, this vampire also fights his urge to feed on her out of genuine love. Well anyway, the vampire decides to seek help to escape the hunters so he and his human love can live happily ever after. Of course, this being anime, things are not as they seem.

Vampire Hunter D is incredibly detailed. The environments look like paintings hanging from a museum, and D looks wicked as a Final Fantasy wanna be complete with a body length sword. Unfortunately this anime suffers from the 1980s-90s animation despite being made in 2000. In fight scenes you convulse in epileptic seizures to make the action feel more exciting. Flashing backgrounds behind static, detailed characters in action poses does not action make with action like Naruto, Bleach, and Ghost in the Shell the norm.

D has some type of demonic parasite living in his hand. The creature is useful, but the anime would be better without it. It was annoying and unnecessary.

Vampire Hunter D had the same love story of Twilight, only these vampires are violent and cruel. They were also very hard to kill. Even a split head can’t kill these ones. This makes the love story far more interesting than the wimpy, safe vampires of the cult phenomenon.   The anime is violent and bloody but nowhere near the vampire insanity of Hellsing.

Vampire Hunter D was a decent watch. The action animation greatly detracted from an otherwise beautifully drawn anime. I don’t like to have seizures just to feel like violence is happening. The music was forgettable and barely noticed. At least the voice acting was decent; although D sounded like he was mumbling through his few lines. If you enjoy vampires, beautifully drawn landscapes, and love stories you will enjoy this one. If you think Hellsing is the measure of vampire than you may want to skip this one. Vampire Hunter D doesn’t measure up to the intensity and insanity of Hellsing, but then it wasn’t intending to.


Kigeki

Kigeki (Comedy) is a short anime film produced in 2002 by Studio 4°C, and directed by Kazuto Nakazawa. It features two Schubert pieces, “Ave Maria” and “Erlkönig.”

In this dark fairy tale, a young girl, desperate to save her village from invading English soldiers, sets out in search of the legendary Black Swordsman, who accepts only rare books of a specific genre as payment.

The film is dark and atmospheric. The backgrounds are full of detail, and the composition of each scene is excellently done. The characters themselves lack any sort of detail, but the contrast of the simple characters and detailed background works well. The selection of Schubert’s pieces as the background music gives the anime a haunting feel. As a short film, the characters remain completely undeveloped, but they still have a sense of personality.  The story is narrated from the perspective of a young girl who witnessed the most secret aspects of the mysterious swordsman. She is fearless around the swordsman and even heckles him like he is an older brother.The English army’s design looks more at home in a science fiction film than a fairy tale, but they are certainly menacing! The short film captures the feel of a fairy tale on the order of Grimm’s fairy tales.

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