Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Violinist of Hameln: Slideshow, Slideshow #9, on the Imagawa Line...

Generally when a manga is made into an anime it's meant to be as accurate to the original source material as possible; on rare occasion it's a radical departure. On even rarer occasions, though, the anime is accurate yet a radical departure at the same time. The TV series adaptation of Violinist of Hameln is one of these super-rare cases, as it's nothing like the movie that came a few months before it. From a production standpoint 99.9% is different, from director to animation studio to even the entire voice cast, only Kouhei Tanaka returns for the music, but even from a storytelling perspective the TV series is radically altered from Michiaki Watanabe's original manga. Whereas the manga was a comical fantasy gag adventure, the TV series is a generally darker & dead serious tale, though it apparently is still accurate to the general plot of the manga; the anime adapts roughly the first 10 volumes. With something so radically altered yet still accurate does that mean it's bad or good? Well, when you have an iconic director making his debut as series composer with this show the end result should be worth watching regardless, right?

Fifteen years ago, Queen Horn of the Duchy of Sforzando was able to end the war between humans & demons by creating a magical barrier that turned all demons within it to stone, forcing them to retreat to the Northern Capital. Hell King Bass, one of the demon's Warlords, even beheaded himself when his body started petrifying, though he still lives by possessing a young boy. As a precaution, though, Horn had her baby daughter sent away so that she could live a normal life should anything go wrong. Unfortunately, Horn's barrier has finally weakened & Bass decides to go after her daughter, who has grown up to be the young girl Flute in the village of Staccato. To protect Flute, though, is her friend Hamel, who can use musical magic by way of his giant violin. The two decide to journey to Sforzando, Flute to reunite with her estranged mother & Hamel to learn more about his past, as he suffers from amnesia & has started growing a horn on his head.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Violinist of Hameln The Movie: Can an Anime Give an Encore?

Last year I celebrated Classical Music Month, every September by order of President Bill Clinton, by talking about a ton of anime OPs, EDs, INs, & BGM that doesn't get the appreciation that they deserve; it was kind of crazy to do. This year, though, I'll be celebrating this month of musicality by reviewing a series that is partially defined by it. Like I mentioned last year, however, I will not be covering any part of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes franchise; I reviewed the two movies & the Golden Wings OVA back in May of 2012. Luckily, there are other anime out there that utilize classical music, with probably the most beloved one (that got released in North America, at least) being Princess Tutu; maybe I'll do that one next year. For this year, however, I'm going to into the world of fantasy, a favorite genre of mine, and look at a certain group of instrument-toting warriors.

(The) Violinist of Hameln by Michiaki Watanabe (not to be confused with the anime music composer of the same romanized name [the sole difference in their names is literally a single kanji!]) was one of the first titles to appear in Enix's then-debuting Monthly Shonen GanGan magazine back in 1991, and it seemed to be an iconic title for the magazine's first decade as it ended in early 2001, lasting 37 volumes. The manga was a bit of an odd duck in that it was modeled as a fantasy adventure to save the world from destruction but the actual execution, at least early on, was almost a gag manga featuring a jerk of a hero & fourth-wall-breaking jokes. In 1996 the manga was adapted into a TV anime series that is notorious for changing the entire mood & feel of the story... But that's not what I'm starting with. A few months prior to the TV series debut there was a 30-minute theatrical movie that was part of the "GW Anime Festival '96" triple-billing with Mahoujin Guru Guru & Dragon Quest: The Emblem of Roto. This movie is more in line with the style of the original manga & generally gets ignored in place of the more-infamous weekly production. Let's see how it turned out.

The land is in turmoil due to monsters under the command of Hell King Bass. The kingdom of Antiphonal in particular is under attack by a squadron of skeletons & all looks lost. Luckily, the arrival of the legendary troupe of warriors lead by Hamel the Brave, who fights evil with the music of his gigantic violin, manage to drive away the monsters. The King & Queen ask Hamel & his friends Flute, Raiel, Sizer, & guide bird Oboe to rescue their daughter, who was transformed into a kitten & taken to the giant Medusa, the monster in charge of the area's demonic forces.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Karneval: Who's Kafka?! Tell Me!!

The subject of this review kind of breaks the basic idea of The Land of Obscusion in that I'm going off of a recent BD/DVD combo release of a show that originally aired last year & was brought over by the biggest name in the anime business here in North America, FUNimation. In fact, this is the first time I've ever reviewed an anime that "FUNi" released over here; the closest I ever got before was Fullmetal Alchemist Reflections, which they didn't bring over. Still, this was a show that didn't really get too much talk back when it aired, and didn't seem to have any real anticipation when the home video release was coming up. Now, since release, it's been reviewed by others, especially over at ANN (twice, even), but this anime was one that had my interest when it was announced, mainly because I had heard of the manga before & was interested in checking it out. So allow me to break away from my norm, in a sense, and let's take a look at Manglobe's 2013 anime adaptation of Touya Mikanagi's Karneval.

Gareki is a thief who robs from the rich, but during an attempt at stealing from Lady Miné's mansion he comes across an odd boy named Nai, who is handcuffed. Feeling bad for him, Gareki decides to help free Nai, but Miné herself transforms into a monster that hunts after the two, though they manage to escape with help from Gareki's bombs. Stowing away onto a train to escape, the two wind up getting involved in helping rescue an old businessman & his granddaughter from some hostage takers. On the train as well are Tsukumo & Hirato, two members of the government's Central Defense Agency, Circus. Finding an interest in Nai's super-hearing ability, Circus takes in the two boys & agrees to help Nai look for Karoku, who had lived with Nai until recently. Unknown to Gareki & Nai at the moment, though, is that they & Circus have more in common than they thought, as all of them have a connection to the mysterious organization Kafka, who claim to be following the path of evolution with their beings called Varuga.