Anime Odds’n’Ends From the Summer Season

I realized that due to different reasons I’ve missed mentioning a few anime related things over this summer season and had the idea of making a single post out of them.

The first thing was to mention the Gurren Lagann Parallel Clip Project. This was a project by Gainax in which Gainax employees would create short videos using the music of Gurren Lagann but create new animation not from the series and these videos would be different or “parallel” to the world shown in the series. From this setup we get one video that puts the Gurren Lagann characters in a medieval Europe setting, another in which Kamina is evil and Viral is the hero, yet another that involve a huge pachinko mech that Viral gets Simon and friends to play, and so on.

The last one, entitled “All You Bast*rds, Get Fired Up!” deserves special mention though. This one gives us the story behind the Spiral King and how he ended putting the humans underground. It’s amazing on one hand because they fit what probably could have been an action-packed 6 episode OVA into a piece that less than 4 minutes long and we, the viewers, can follow the story and it makes sense. And on the other hand it’s amazing because of the story. The spiral king’s ascension to power follows quite closely the same trajectory as Simon from the series. Their paths diverge when the Anti-spirals make the spiral king and later Simon aware of the danger of the spiral races. The spiral king despairs, kills his comrades, destroys human life on the surface of the earth with the help of the beast-men and puts the very small remnant of humanity underground. This creates the world that a thousand years later Simon is born into.

I don’t want to spoil the series so I’ll save the analysis for a later time. After watching all eight videos, I’m more convinced then ever that there’s plenty of stories left to be told in the Gurren Lagann universe. And I, for one, can’t wait to see more.

Next, there’s been a few interesting developments on the upcoming show front. Two shows from the summer season are getting second seasons, Birdy the Might Decode and Natsume Yuujin-chou. I’m really glad since I’ve been enjoying both and in hindsight it’s obvious how the pacing of both fits a 2-season anime better.

Also getting new seasons is Full Metal Alchemist and Minami-Ke. This year has really been a banner year for Bones so far and that makes me more interested in seeing FMA then I would have been. I thought the first series derailed into weirdness by the middle of the second half and I lost most of my interest but I’m going to be cautiously optimistic that the new season will be good.And I’ve been hoping for a third season of Minami-Ke since finishing the second season. Coming from a larger family, I enjoyed the family-centered comedy of Minami-Ke a lot.

Third, the Clannad OVA came out over the summer. It’s a retelling of Clannad using Tomoyo’s route from the game. I’ve mentioned before that I really like Nagisa and hoped that Tomoya would end up with her and I was happy that he did but this OVA was spectacular.

I’ve learned to accept the slight weirdness and implausibility that comes from adapting visual novels into anime. This time though all we had was Tomoya, his best friend Sunohara, and Tomoyo. This stripped away a lot of the distractions of the series and we got to zero in on one relationship and as a result it felt very authentic and moving. It got to cheat a bit because we already knew the characters from the series so, for instance, we know why Tomoya wanted to save the cherry trees; however, I can’t help but say that this OVA is quite possibly the single best episode KyoAni has done so far. Not only was the story awesome, they reminded us how great their animation is. Who else can take things like sunlight peaking through leaves or snow and make our jaws drop from how they animate it. I hope the continuation of the Clannad series will be as good as this OVA.

And finally, Cartoon Network (CN) has pulled the plug on it’s Toonami block after it’s 11+ year run and that greatly saddens me. I’ve been watching CN pretty much from it’s inception, does anyone else remember in June they’d do “June Bugs” and run a bunch of Looney Tunes with Bugs Bunny in it? I remember when the Space Ghost show started at night (which has to be thought of as the kernel that would become Adult Swim). Toonami has always been one of the primary ways of Americans have gotten into anime. I, for example, watched shows like Voltron and Transformers in the 80’s but I didn’t realize that they were from Japan. It was CN’s Toonami block, and my younger sister’s watching of Yu Hakusho and Kenshin, that sent me down the road of becoming an anime fan.

Toonami’s been sliding for a long while now but that’s been the fault of CN and not the block itself. It could have survived as just being a Saturday night thing as long as it continued to show new shows and new episodes of it’s existing shows. However, I think CN started being cheap about the block, and that became apparent once they got Naruto. I’ve been a Bleach fan but was interested in catching the other huge shounen series. It was decent enough but then CN started showing a total of 2-4 episodes of Naruto during the block per week. It would cause other shows to jump around week-in and week-out and made following these other shows very difficult. So not only was there far fewer shows to look forward to, the chance to actually catch the non-Naruto ones became so difficult that I just gave up.

I guess this result shouldn’t surprise me, it seems that Cartoon Network as a whole isn’t managed as well as it used to. I could point to many things, including the end of Toonami, but I only need one; the fact that live action shows are being broadcast on Cartoon Network. What’s up with that?

What’s a “Natural Material Shop”?
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