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Steven M. Pickering "Heart of Storm" (England)

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Noein Complete Series Boxset [2007] [DVD]
Noein Complete Series Boxset [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kazuki Akane
Offered by lightningdvd
Price: £49.89

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Noein - A mixed bag, 3 Jun 2011
I picked this series up on the cheap from Amazon not knowing too much about it, after watching this once through I'll admit by overall opinion of this series is that its so-so, everything it does well is mitigated by the stuff it does poorly.

In essence, Noein follows the exploits of a group of teenagers in a Japanese town, who begin to encounter supernatural phenomena, ultimately leading to them meeting people (including alternate versions of themselves) from another dimension. There is an ongoing battle between the dimensions of 'La'Cryma' and 'Shangri-la' and the key to victory is finding an item called 'the Dragon Torque'

Starting with the positives, it has a very ambitious storyline, picking up on theories of physics regarding alternate dimensions and causality, together with some passing references to schrodingers cat, all of which it does a largely satisfactory job of explaining, pairing up a policemen with the shows high flying scientist forces her to explain things in laymans terms a lot, which is of great benefit to the viewer as when the sciency characters in the show get together any explanation becomes a bewildering mass of techno-babble.

Their is a lot of character exploration, both for small group of friends (most but not all of which experience signification growth) and their alternate selves in the other dimension, when this works it is handled very well, largely for the supporting cast (Yuu's controlling mother, Isami and Ai all stand out).

The animation for this show is also noteworthy, action sequences are very slick and well thought out and characters move fluidly. The artwork is more of a mixed bag, the show does an excellent job of portraying the various settings, from the picturesque japanese hometown, to the war ravaged, high tech and disturbing world of Lacryma, through to the very imaginatively designed mecha of 'Shangri-la'.

Where the show falls flat is on character design, for some reasons the character designs all look very flat and ugly against the backdrops - combined with some characters (notably some side characters) who look like they've been drawn in Flash, much of this is down to the style of art chosen, and kudos to the producers for going out on a limb and trying something different, but there are more then a few scenes where the characters just look badly out of place.

So, we have an engaging storyline with some good character growth and good animation, so whats stopping me giving this 5 stars? - basically, its the characters themselves, with some other elements.

The biggest gripe I have with Noein is its main characters, the support characters are generally excellent, howevert the protaganists (Haruka, Yuu and Karasu) are plain awful.

Starting with Haruka, she initially seems to be a decent enough character, however as the show progresses I found myself wondering if shes meant to have some kind of mental problem - she's effectively catanic for much of the show and thinks of things in the absolute simplest of terms, bringing out the very worst of the 'I want to be friends with all these people who want to kill me' cliche that plagues anime.

Haruka gets whisked from her own dimension, sees her own grim future where her home is destroyed, humanity faces extinction and all the hope and optimism of their youth has been sucked out of her friends, so what does she worry about? - how to help Yuu patch things up with his mother.

This isnt even an isolated incident, Haruka routinely misses the point and performs the least sensible action possible as often as she can, which makes her very difficult to bear..

Yuu is worse, he's so immensely self absorbed and angsty that you question why anyone likes him at all, and it takes a VERY long time for him to move on from this, as a male protagnist you should be able to root for him however I spent the whole show hoping somebody would kill the snivelling little runt.

As for Karasu (aka Yuu from the future), he doesn't angst so much but still manages to be just as self absorbed, his actions smack of selfishness rather then the noble self-sacrifice its meant to portrat and again, instead of rooting for him I was hoping he'd be removed as soon as possible.

As for the show as a whole, regrettably, it just doesnt work, all that massive plot exposition and referencing to parralel universes generally pans out for naught, and the motivations of the shows main 'villain' (when its revealed) are amongst the most laughably ridiculous Ive ever seen, so much so that it makes you question the whole point of the series in the first place.

The plot is interesting enough until it reaches its conclusion, however much is left unexplained and it lacks good characters to bring it to life, great animation is marred by hideous character designs.

I dont regret watching the show, it was an enjoyable enough ride at the time, however Id struggle to recommend it when their are many better series out there, doing a better job of running stories like this, [b]Bokurano[/b] springs immediately to mind.

Had it been executed better, Noein would have been something very interesting, regrettably it falls well short of its own promises and as such can only ever aspire to be a mediocre series
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2012 10:13 PM GMT

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art
Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art
by Shizuo Tsuji
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, accesible and delicious!, 1 Aug 2010
I was bought this book as a gift, despite its intimidating size I've found it to be a superb book that not only provides great, easy to follow recipes but also provides a lot of insight into Japanese cookery, teaches techniques and cooking styles and has a very helpful ingredients guide that gives an idea of what to subsititute when you can't find a particuarly obscure japanese ingredient.

The only difficult I find with it is that some stuff is just unavailable in the UK, however there are still plenty of recipes in the book that you can make using items you buy from asian supermarkets.

Excellent book, definetly recommended

Sky Blue (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD]
Sky Blue (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mun-saeng Kim
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £8.69

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't fall for the eye candy!, 29 Dec 2007
On the surface this film has it all, futuristic post apocalyptic world, political intrigue, civil unrest, an intriguing view of the future.

Unfortunately it lets it all slide by failing to develop anything, aside from a cursory narrated introduction very little thought is given to the world around them, coupled with a laughable plot that feels like it was churned out in the last 5 minutes of this films 7 year production, entirely 2d characters who, even after watching their trials and tribulations in this film I still couldn't care less about and some very obvious theft of some of Studio Ghiblis themes/imagery (although failing in any way to capture any of the charm or brilliance of Ghibli).

On the positive side, the voice acting isn't bad, and the animation itself is excellent.

I'd be tempted to suggest people rent this for the visuals alone, however if you want good CGI without a decent plot then Final Fantasy:Advent Children delivers this much more effectively.

For people wanting good drawn/cgi anime I would instead point you in the direction of Ghost in the Shell:Innocence, you even get a plot with that film!

If all a film has to recommend itself is beautiful visuals then its not worth buying, seriousely, spend your money on something else.

Ah My Goddess 1: Always & Forever [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Ah My Goddess 1: Always & Forever [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Artist Not Provided
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £11.13

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly beautiful series, 25 July 2006
What is there to say?

After reading a number of excellent reviews for this anime I chose to purchase the first DVD of this series.

Needless to say within minutes of watchint the first dvd I had ordered the remaining 5.

Ah! My Goddess is a fantastic series, a romantic comedy that manages to avoid the usual schmaltz/cliche attached to this particular genre.

The basic premise of the series is based around Keichi Morisato, a college freshman who experiences more then his fair share of bad luck on a day-to-day basis. As a result he ends up in touch with the 'Goddess Helpline' who offer him a single wish to turn his life on track.

Suspecting the whole thing to be a prank, and doing what any young man would do when a beautiful young woman appears in his room, Keichi wishes for a Goddess to be by his side forever.

The end result is that the Goddess Belldandy comes from Heaven to stay with him forever. And so the series begins.

The beauty of this series is how character driven it is, Keichi and Belldandy overcome all sorts of obstacles, from the mundane (eviction, finding a home in uni, making german class) to the supernatural (fighting earth demons, overcoming Belldandy;s willfull sister Urd), yet whatever they face, they never fail to interact, and provide a depth to their relationship that didnt exist before.

As an anime series, musically this series is quite good, the opening sequence being a heavily celtic influenced number, with a rather poppy closing song. Animation wise, this series ranges from 'average' to 'excellent', realistically the animation is of very high quality, but there are a couple of sequences that stand out against the typically aesthetically pleasing result of this show.

Voice wise, the english voice acting seems to suit the charaters very well, I havent seen the Japanese version yet, so couldn't comment on how well the natural voices suit.

For those of you looking for Mecha 2 Mecha annihalation type combat, this isn't the series for you, however those of you looking for a well written, well voice acted and beautifully directed character drama, this series should be at the top of your wishlist

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