5 and a half minutes of proofs that Senjougahara Hitagi is perhaps the best anime heroine of the last 20 years ^_^
Monthly Archives: December 2021
Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut
To tell the truth, this anime, know in Japan as 月とライカと吸血姫, is pretty average by all standards and normally I would’ve dropped it after a couple of episodes (and it’s about a vampire, meh). But! But! Considering that basically it’s trying to re-tell the story of the first man in space, as a Russian guy who knows how hmm creatively people in the anime industry can approach depiction of any country not named 日本 , I couldn’t resist the temptation to see how wild it would be.
The plot is very straightforward: the USSR (it’s renamed in the anime but for the love of Aidios I can’t recall the fictional name) is about to launch a human to the orbit. The first attempt has to be successful because the world is watching and the enemy (suspiciously resembling the US) is catching up. To make sure everything will go smoothly the Party finds a vampire to perform a test flight, because anatomy of our species is the same and who cares about those blood-suckers? The title character, Irina, is that vampire, and the main hero, Lev Leps, is in charge of her training. For about 10 episodes they are preparing for the flight at the same time realizing that they have feelings to each other. Irina flies to the orbit, returns and she knows she’s going to be disposed of; Lev becomes the first official cosmonaut, then publicly acknowledges Irina’s achievement, everyone hugs, happy end. Seriously, it’s okay but nothing special.
However, it’s legit funny that characters eat kholodets, drink nastoyka (in a jazz bar but who cares about such small details), the space flight program is called Mechta, most characters have authentic Russian names (although it’s hard to imagine some of them living in a real closed city in 60s — I’m looking at you, Anya!), the buses and cars look close to their prototypes, the Party is led by Dear Leader — I’m surprised to be writing this but the authors did their homework!
Soo yeah, Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut is nothing groundbreaking, but it might be interesting for people who like stories about space flights or those who want to see what might be best representation of USSR in anime — a questionable selling point, I know =)
The Aquatope on White Sand
Our prayers have been answered! After a series of, frankly, quite weak shows P.A. Works finally got their act together and released an anime in the genre they’re famous for — a slice-of-life about girls working at an aquarium. I mean it’s not that we’ve been waiting specifically for a chance to see progressively animated aquariums, crabs and other marine life, no =) Just most of the studio’s best works are about girls at work. Whether it’s an anime studio, ryokan or a touristic department in a small village the main heroines are going to work their butts off.
The anime has two distinct parts. The first half is about a small aquarium where Kukuru and Fuuka, two main characters, are “play-working” according to some. The aquarium is about to get closed for good but Kukuru is not ready to give up on it and is trying to do everything to attract new customers. (Un)surprisingly, she fails, as likely would do 99.9% of high school students even if they really, really liked aquariums. The second part is where shit gets serious. Kukuru, Fuuka and others who worked with them have joined a newly-opened fancy aquarium. Fuuka gets a position of an attendant but Kukuru joins the marketing department, something she didn’t even consider before, and she’ll have to see and think of the business side of things. Production drama, my favorite genre =) The day to day work at the aquarium, struggles to attract people, to come up with new ideas, to keep the animals (and employees hehe) healthy — everything is shown really well and I actually wanted Tingarla to succeed =) What’s even more important for such an anime is that it’s obvious that Fuuka and Kukuru in the 24th episode are different from the girls we saw half a year ago in the first one. Both have grown up and became such fine young ladies! *this old geezer is wiping off his tears* Anyway, the last but not least: supporting cast does what it’s supposed to do — they are fun and they are memorable.
Unfortunately, “The Aquatope on White Sand” is not a flawless anime. I like the main heroines’ development but the girls themselves… they are okay but nothing more, and I seriously doubt a lot of people will say, “Oh, I want to buy a poster with Kukuru!” Persona 5 had a line for such occasions, “Not terrible but not impressive”. Secondly, aquariums is a niche field. Yes, we all know something about penguins, fish and whatnot but it feels like it’s much easier to sympathize with someone who’s working as an anime producer or a waitress at a hotel. The last complaint from me is that here and there the anime is a bit preachy. It’s possible to be a compassionate show without punching the audience in the face with “OMG, climate change is going to kill the marine life!”, “OMG, we’re dropping too much plastic in the ocean!”
Even though this anime doesn’t live up to the glory of Shirobako or Hanasuku Iroha, it’s certainly a step in the right direction for P.A. Works. Heh, why do I have a feeling that I wrote that before? Whatever. Hopefully, it’s not just an outlier and we’re going to get more shows like this or, who knows, even better =)
The beatings will continue until morale improves. Part 3. Or 4? And unfortunately doesn’t look like the last one. The government of Ontario has announced new capacity limits and various gathering limitations before Christmas and it’s fascinating to realize that after almost two years with covid, with 90% or so of adults in Ontario having gotten their shots we now have more restrictions than we had last year. Last December one could go to a restaurant working at limited capacity, had to write down the name and wear a mask while not at the table. This December it’s the same but additionally this person would have to go through the cleansing ritual of “papers, please” and maybe mask up between bites or something. No one knows if the new scary variant is actually scary but just in case we’re going to “do something™” This “something” mostly includes shots, more shots and masks, more masks. Ah, also The Science represented by Ontario health bureaucrats recommends to spit on any unvaccinated person if you encounter one — they are endangering all of us, you know.
I know that twitter and reddit are dumpster fires 90% of the time, unless you’re very selective with who you’re reading, but the users there are usually quick to pick up the trends, so it’s amazing to read up on the current state of affairs regarding covid measures. So far I gathered that covid science is settled at all times but, simultaneously, extremely fluid. Schrodinger would be proud. No one should question what’s being the official position at any particular moment but if this position has changed — you should just accept it. The same people on twitter go from “Vaccines work perfectly well against infection and transmission” to “No one ever said that the vaccine was going to protect you against infection — it helps to reduce the symptoms, idiot!” without as much as a blink of an eye. “We always knew the booster was needed. It’s not even a booster — think of that of a 3-dose vaccine, you illiterate antiscientific moron!” I do want to hope that omicron is actually mild and covid will be declared as defeated thanks to whatever, whether it’s a vaccine, a mask or the rule that you can’t order alcohol after 10pm, but the politicians have come to like fighting the virus, a lot of people have come to like being afraid of it and performing the role of the heroes we need, you know, those who are yelling at others to be afraid, so looks like the show must go on.
A huge, long-awaited cinematic quest is here =)
The biggest addition from the graphics perspective is decals — they are used extensively in some parts of the quest and yes, they are deferred-renderer only. Also volumetric fog is tweaked up here and there and can use sun shadows and realtime lights =) Steve tuned and fixed up a lot of stuff with hair, eyes and skin, so now all these materials should look better and use lighting properly. Now it’s time to
sleep fix some bugs and hopefully everyone will enjoy the quest and its visual =)
She has arrived!
The delivery took a couple of days longer than it should have but whatever, the figure looks great! A funny thing is that her hat (protection from headpats is important!) is a separate part, so there was an instruction in the box in the case someone can’t figure out how to put the hat on the head =)
As a huge Monogatari fan and someone who enjoyed Owarimonogatari a lot I can say positively that no one needed this final-final chapter. Zoku Owarimonogatari is a very long (about 2.5 hours) and, frankly, a bit dragging sometimes movie about nothing. Araragi somehow ends up in a mirrored world where almost every member of his harem has a slightly different personality. Does it sound like a good foundation for a story? The authors themselves are joking that the premise is silly and they are not wrong. Yes, it’s fan-service-ish and kind of cute sometimes: we get to see the all-mighty god Hachikuji onee-san (the mirrored version of our beloved 10-year-old god Hachikuji), Shinobu as a grand noble with the aura so powerful that you want to kill yourself in her presence, feminine Karen, friendly and happy Oikura-san and so on. Zoku Owarimonogatari also gives a lot of screen time to Ononoki and who doesn’t like her, right? However, all that cuteness is good to keep the audience in awe for 40 minutes tops. If this movie was that long it’d be perfect. But it’s almost 2 hours longer! This anime doesn’t add much to the universe and it can’t, because the story of Araragi Koyomi has already ended. At the same time it’s way too long and boring to be a good side-story.
Don’t get me wrong, Zoku Owarimonogatari is a weak movie only according to ridiculously high standards set by the previous chapters: personally, I consider Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari to be in the top 10 anime ever made and, honestly, Kizu- and Owarimonogatari are not too far either. Zoku is a gorgeous anime, with well-written dialogues, lots of questionable jokes and with a fantastic final scene (“I have regrets but I know that I don’t have any about meeting you, Senjougahara”). It’s good — just not good enough comparing to other stories about Araragi.