Archive for September, 2015

Knights of Sidonia (Anime Version) Review Bryan Neef

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

[The Carlock Book Cafe is happy to welcome Bryan Neef, a hard-core anime fan from Normal, IL.  This is his first anime review.  He will write more reviews for us.   He is a great local resource of Japanese media products.  You will find his bio and business cards at bottom of the review.  Chizuko]

Knights of Sidonia (Manga) by Tsutomu Nihei; This review is about its Anime version

Knights of Sidonia (Manga) by Tsutomu Nihei; This review is about its Anime version

At its core, Knights of Sidonia is a thriller, skillfully woven with character development and action.  The story revolves around the enigma of who Tanikaze Nagate is.  He is the last, unmodified human on the colony ship Sidonia.  The others who populate Sidonia have been genetically modified to increase their chances of survival after a disastrous event two hundred years prior.

The set up to the series is that Earth has been destroyed by a race called the Gauna for reasons unknown.  Now, several hundred years later, Sidonia is again encountering the Gauna.  At the same time, Nagate is recovered from the deepest levels of the ship, where he was cared for by his now deceased grandfather, a hero from years past.

While in hiding, Nagate was taught how to pilot the ships used by Knights.  He is found to be extremely good at piloting and is quickly pushed into the Knight’s academy, by his guardian, Kobayashi Kanchou, the leader of Sidonia and a member of the Council of Immortals, where he slowly makes friends and quickly makes rivals.  He is even given the chance to pilot a coveted mech from a previous era.  Perhaps even the one his grandfather piloted.

As skilled as Nagate and his fellow Knights are, they don’t win every encounter.  Many of his fellow Knights fall to the Gauna.  Some out right, while others are “taken in” by the Gauna.  This leads the audience to wonder how much is known about the enemy, especially with hints from the Captain, her trusted aides, and the Council.

The writing is top notch, with solid character development.  The pacing is well done.  Fast, hard action is tempered with introspective and humorous moments.  These are even more poignant as the harshness of survival and war unfold.  The so-called disposable characters have meaningful contributions to the plot and story, even after their final appearance.

 

Throughout the series, the audience uncovers, with the characters, a rich, secret history of Sidonia and tantalizing hints about the Gauna.  Nagate’s own abilities are slowly revealed, raising questions about his grandfather, the Council of Immortals, his guardian, major events that are part of the backstory, the Gauna, and the people of Sidonia.  As with many tales, one affects another.  And as each mystery is revealed, a new one takes its place, leading the audience to want more.

The art is very well done, seamlessly mixing computer animation with traditional cell backgrounds.  A newer trend in animation is obvious, but also subtle:  computer colored characters.  This technique is not distracting, and in many ways, enhances the atmosphere of the series.  For the most part, the music matches the story, from the opening anthem to the closing credits.  The acting is, on a whole, some of the best I’ve seen/heard in a long time.  The English edition is worth listening to, even though it isn’t quite as dynamic as the Japanese cast, but that’s probably due more to how American animation is recorded rather than the talent selected.

Season one ends with a genuine desire for more.  And Season two opens with a sucker punch that wasn’t expected, even with its blatantness.  That’s a true credit to the writers.  Season one is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Netflix.  Season two is available on Netflix.

Bryan Neef

BusinessCard

I’m the owner and operator of Phantom Studios, an on-line pop culture store, and the founder and co-president of the Normal Society of Anime.  I’m a life-long animation fan with a particular love of anime.

My first introduction to anime, though I didn’t recognize it as such, was in the late 70’s with King Kong and Hercules.  From there, I’ve enjoyed the classic Speed Racer series and Starblazers in the early 80’s.  From there, it grew.  My love for manga started with Lone Wolf and Cub and Dagger of Kamui in the late 80’s.

In the mid 90’s, I started both Phantom Studios and the Normal Society of Anime, sharing my interests with others.  I’m also working with the Normal Public Library’s Manga and Anime Club (MAC) with programming suggestions and reviews.  I’ve also joined their adult version, both as a member and as a coordinator

I enjoy both the translated and untranslated versions of anime and manga.  Being predominately an English speaker, I get more out of the translated works, but I enjoy the linguistic flow and performances of the actors in the anime and the uncensored images and intent from the manga.

チコの独偏ブックレビュー  Book Review – Jiro Asada

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

『霧笛荘夜話』 浅田次郎著 (短編集)

20150929_112047

霧でむせ返りそうな夜。鞄ひとつ持って「ひたすら人目を避け、闇をもとめて歩けば自然とそこ(霧笛荘)にたどりつく」。運河沿いの外見も内装も異様な半地下・中二階の安アパート。纏足の老婆(管理人)が、6つしかない部屋をひとつひとつ案内してくれる。各部屋は住んでいたテナントの個性を残している。老婆が彼らの顛末を語る。

霧笛荘の住民は皆、わけあり、不器用。社会からあぶれ、死を怖れない。死ぬ方法を考える者。生と死の挟間であがき、最終的に生き残ってしまった者。6人の住民のうち、生存者3名という事実をみても、彼らが社会から離脱した者であることがわかる。

そんな社会の落伍者が、親身になって隣人の面倒をみる特殊な思いやりの輪を作っている。住民が2人3脚で援け合い、最終章で余命短い管理人と地上げ屋2人をその輪に引き入れる。老婆は若い地上げ屋に後を継がせてもいいと考える、希望を残したエンデイング。さて、あなたはここに滞まるのか?そうならば、どの部屋を取るのか?

重厚なストーリーです。ズシリとのしかかる重さに耐えられる心境の時にお読みください。再読したくなる一冊。

千津子

チコの独偏(独断と偏見満載)ブック・レビュー Book Review – Nao Yoshinaga

Monday, September 14th, 2015
Hagi wo Yurasu Ame

Hagi wo Yurasu Ame

『萩を揺らす雨』 吉永南央著    『紅雲町のお草』『萩を揺らす雨』他3作品を含む短編集

65歳で先代の雑貨屋を改築して念願の珈琲店を始める、数え年76歳の杉浦草(そう)。和服に割烹着姿でコーヒー豆と和食器のお店を切り盛りする。無料のコーヒー目当てで訪れる客たちの会話から、小さな事件に自らを巻き込んでいく。

おばあちゃんの探偵ミステリーながら、ハッスルばあちゃんが右に左に大活躍する探偵物語ではない。お草さんは、寄る年波をひしと実感している平凡なおばあちゃん。彼女が係る事件は、身近に起きている小事件。家庭内暴力、援助交際、いじめ、等。強い好奇心で自分を事件に巻き込み、誤解や早とちりで道草を食いながらも正義の道を貫いていく。

そんなお草さんを応援したくなるのは、彼女の生きる姿勢。次の一節が彼女の人生に対するスタンスを要約していると思う。

「わたしもね、昔は自分を強いと思っていたけど. . . . . . 若いうちに、戦争は起きる、兄も妹もなくす、離婚する、息子も三つで逝ってしまう。年委を重ねたって、雑貨やだった店も振るわなくなる、家族が病気になる、両親を看取る。生きていると、どうしてか大変なことが多くて。」

「弱いと認めちゃったほうが楽なの。力を抜いて、少しは人に頼ったり、頼られたり。そうしていると、行き止まりじゃなくなる。自然と色んな道が見えてくるものよ。」

喜寿近くになって、仕事を生き甲斐にし、家庭教師からパソコンを習っているお草さん。正しいと思うことには、危険も顧みず行動する。こんなおばあちゃんに出会いたいあなたにお奨めの作品です。千津子