I think the only fair way to review a movie like The Great Gatsby
) is to ask how well it stands on its own. How good would this movie be if you had never read the novel, or if the novel had never existed and this were an original work?
By that standard it seems a mixed bag. It’s a high quality production. It looks really terrific. The soundtrack seems a bit off for a story set in the 1920s but there’s nothing technically wrong with it. The acting is appropriate for a rather melodramatic story, including a fine scenery-chewing star turn by Leonardo DiCaprio. The story however is the main problem. As told here it leaves me cold.
The movie begins with a framing device that was not in the original novel but which is presumably intended to allow the movie to be “novelistic”. Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) has been committed to a sanitarium for depression and “morbid alcoholism.” His psychiatrist tells him to write down the events that are haunting him. Carraway sits down at a typewriter and begins to pound out a manuscript that will eventually form a novel called The Great Gatsby.
Red Data Girl
) is not going to appeal to everyone. For one thing it’s very shoujo
. I can deal with that if it is done well and the heroine isn’t too much of an annoying loser.
The heroine in this case is timid and lacks self-confidence, but she seems to be working hard to overcome this so I’m willing to give her a pass so long as she continues to show personal growth. And the show has some great visual imagery, plus miko magic which is always fun.
The OP suggests a standard otome (reverse harem) story but it doesn’t seem to follow the usual pattern. That is, there is only one plausible romantic prospect so far.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Garugantia) (Crunchyroll) is…interesting. The first half of the first episode looks like a fairly routine mecha battle in space. Then it suddenly gets downright Ghibli-esque. Sort of “Nausicaa on Waterworld“.
The animation is really good by TV standards–one of those shows that would almost be worth watching just for the visuals. So far it seems fairly light but it may turn dark and tragic later. It is written by Gen Urobuchi the screenwriter for Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu-Kome ha Machigatteiru) (Crunchyroll) is yet another anime with a name too long to type. Even more annoying, there are 2 popular abbreviations: “Hamachi” and “OreGairu”. I’m going to use “Hamachi” since a Google search indicates that it is more popular and it doesn’t sound like the abbreviation for 12 other series titles.
One thing this show has to offer is the spectacle of smart and witty people exchanging creative insults. This is pretty rare in anime. In Japan you usually insult someone by using the wrong honorific. The point is that it’s hard to be sure whether you have been insulted or whether the speaker is just ignorant of the proper forms. Or, if your making a cartoon and want to show something so over-the-top that nobody will take it seriously and be offended, you can show the hero getting kicked in the face.
The new season is sort of a question mark for me. I don’t see any obviously great shows but there are several that have had a promising start and could end up being pretty good. Or they could end up being big disappointments if they run out of ideas or flub the ending.
For about 5 minutes The Devil is a Part-Timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!) (Funimation) looks like a fairly conventional dark shounen fighting fantasy. Then it gets wierdly hilarious. By the end of the third episode it seems to be getting more serious again, but that may just be a setup for more goofiness.
From Up on Poppy Hill
) (Kokuriko-zaka Kara
) is not the greatest movie that Studio Ghibli ever made. Still, even a second-rank Studio Ghibli film probably beats a first-rank film from any other animation studio. If you are an anime
fan or just interested in Japanese culture you probably will want to see this, but it may leave the average American viewer cold. In any case it seems to be getting a fairly limited theatrical release, so if you want to see it in a theater you probably need to move fast.
The screenplay was co-written by Hayao Miyazaki and the movie was directed by his son Gorou. The story is set in 1963 and perhaps deliberately the animation has an old-fashioned look, more like Totoro than Arrietty. (Of course that means it looks like late-1980s anime, not like early-1960s anime which would be very crude by comparison.)
The story, based on a 1980 shoujo manga, is a low-key high school romance and coming-of-age story. Umi Matsuzaki helps run her grandmother’s boarding house located on top of “Poppy Hill.” Every morning she goes to the flagpole in the garden and runs up naval signal flags spelling out a message to her father, the captain of a supply ship that went down during the Korean War.
At her school some of the boys are trying to save a decrepit building called “The Latin Quarter” which serves as their clubhouse. A boy named Shun Kazama catches her eye with a dangerous stunt and she is gradually drawn into the campaign. It seems hopeless since Japan in 1963 is focused on modernization rather than preserving the past. She has the insight that the only chance to convince the adults to preserve the building is to make it more presentable.
The move 42
) begins with the disclaimer “Based on a true story” which is commonly a bad sign. However this movie sticks pretty close to the facts–a good idea since the facts in this case would be difficult to improve on.
“42″ was the number worn by Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era. He was an extremely talented all-around baseball player, noted particularly for his base-stealing abilities. He was also noted for his gentlemanly demeanor and his refusal to be provoked by the repeated racial abuse that he had to endure.
It would be easy to fall into the trap of portraying such a legendary character as a saint but the movie does a good of showing him as a human being–a human being who had to work very hard to control his temper under extreme provocation, but who had the strength and determination to rise above it and get his revenge by playing great baseball.
Harrison Ford almost steals the movie as Branch Rickey, the President and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who signed Robinson in 1947, a time when no one else dared to challenge the unwritten rule against hiring black players. Rickey was a colorful character, a canny old man who did a lot to shape the game of baseball as it currently exists.
As described by The Oatmeal.
As I’ve said before, Akiyuki Shinbo is an enormously talented director but his work tends to leave me cold (with the major exception of Madoka Magica which is all-around amazing). I enjoyed Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Anime Network) more than most of his shows but I still can’t really recommend it, particularly after watching the final episode which was not titled “Sasami Makes a New Frenemy” but might as well have been.
We have an interesting premise about ancient barbaric gods in a modern setting. The story is fascinating, often unsettling and sometimes quite funny. But ultimately the characters are not people I would like to get to know better and the story itself doesn’t make much sense. Sure you can look up the mythological references, but some random mythological references don’t make an incoherent story coherent.
Bottom line: interesting but not great.
I really wish I could recommend Maoyuu Maou Yuusha. Its heart is clearly in the right place with its innocent enthusiasm for Enlightenment values. It’s all about lifting the world out of the Dark Ages by promoting science, peaceful trade, religious tolerance and human rights. It’s too bad that it is so badly executed.
I’m not sure whether the main problem is with the original light novels or with the anime production. Part of what’s wrong is this: they seem to have crammed all 5 of the light novels into 12 episodes. Based on other more successful shows I think a one-cour series has time to do a good job of adapting 2 light novels or 1 light novel and 3 or 4 short stories.
As it is they have jammed so much action into the 12 episodes that there is no time for any character development or even an adequate explanation of what it going on. What we see seems less a proper story than a recap of the high points of the books.