Monday, October 24, 2011

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam, otherwise known as Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing is the sequel to Gonzo’s original Last Exile series. It’s difficult to guess how much time has passed since the original series’ timeline, as only a few clues have been shown for fans. This is a new series with completely new characters and settings. Well, mostly… The only original character from Last Exile to appear in Fam, The Silver Wing is Dio. Do not be alarmed by this, as Gonzo has been hinting at Dio’s return in early trailers for Ginyoku no Fam.

I have so far seen the first two episodes that Funimation has streamed on their website, and I must say I am intrigued by the new series. Yet at the same time I am a little worried. The plot centers itself on Fam Fan Fan (what kind of name is that?!) and her navigator Giselle (Gisey). Unlike the original Last Exile where we witnessed character progression between Claus and Lavie for much of the series, Fam and Gisey are barely introduced in medias res. They are part of a team of sky pirates who hunt ships for… some reason. If there is an indication for why they are sky pirates I likely missed it.

The main plot features two princesses, Lilliana and Millia, of an empire named Turan that is under attack by the Ades Federation. Its leader’s name is Luscinia Hafez. Peace talks were supposed to be negotiated but that clearly doesn’t happen, and somehow Fam and Gisey get involved to the point where the save Lilliana and Millia. Suddenly Fam is caught up in a war and a great story is likely to develop.

The first two episodes of Last Exile: Fam of the Silver Wing should have been aired back to back in my opinion. They both compliment one another very well and create a flowing narrative that shouldn’t be separated by a week’s time. Characters are introduced, the main plot is stable, and the action is exciting. Yes, large-scale airship battles return in Ginyoku no Fam.

My main issues with the series so far are its lack of a main character and the attitude that Fam gives off. You would think that Fam is the main character because her name is in the title, but her character is not developing at all. Instead I feel like the main characters are Lilliana and Millia, because the story is more about them and their country compared to Fam’s adventures. I also have a hard time believing Fam’s character and the attitude she boasts whenever something serious is happening. In one particular instance of the second episode Fam jumps off a platform in midair, potentially risking her life. But we see a close up of her face and the smirk that compliments it. It’s as if she can’t take anything very seriously, or that she’s too good for the situation at hand. I haven’t seen any realistic qualities in her yet and this makes her a dull character to me. But maybe as the series continues on she will grow in ways I would never imagine. I really hope that’s the case.

*Image credit to Funimation.

-Jared C.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Redjuice - Guilty Crown

As I stated in my first post on Guilty Crown, one of the immediate draws for me was the artwork Funimation hosted on their site in promotion for the new series. It’s very catching and it looks great, so I decided to look into the artwork some more. I discovered that an artist named Redjuice has supplied his talents for the character design in Guilty Crown. This is the image I spoke of, but in a higher quality compared to what was posted before.

Redjuice is an illustrator for the band Supercell, an 11-member band where 10 of the members contribute artwork for animation, music videos, inserts, covers, etc. They’ve attributed works in the line of Hatsune Miku and Black Rock Shooter. Supercell has provided the intro and outro themes for this season’s Guilty Crown anime series, but from what I understand Redjuice is the only member to provide illustrations.

Check out Redjuice’s deviantART page here and his personal art page here.

-Jared C.

Guilty Crown: Episode 2

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the second episode of Guilty Crown. Yes, the first episode was good but you never know what to expect with a new series. It turns out that episode 2, Survival of the Fittest, pushes forward a little bit slower than the first episode. This is a good thing because we see more of Shu’s character and some development between him, Gai, and Inori. Speaking of that, Gai is kinda pissed off at Shu because the weapon inside Inori was meant for him, not Shu. Check out the imagery here with how the characters are spaced with the triangle in the background. Catch my drift?

The story goes further to explain the resistance faction that Gai leads, called the “Undertakers”, also translated to Funeral Parlor. They’re sick and tired of the government’s superiority over common people. The military exterminates anyone and everyone they want to, which explains the setting for a cruel and disgusting leadership. This hatred is likely sparked by Guilty Crown’s back story where Japan was ravaged by a disease, and by a separation of lower and higher classes, the people at the bottom of society have a “higher chance” at being diseased. It’s a great concept to feed an anime series with.

The episode was entertaining and was able to show Shu using his secret genetic weapon that comes from Inori’s chest once again. It seems as if the weapon has multiple abilities, and Shu can use it however he pleases. There must be some sort of a catch involved but I haven’t seen one yet. If anything, this episode introduces one of the main villains of the series, Daryl Yan. He has a twisted view on life and kills when he pleases. I’m pretty sure he and Shu will become rivals at some point.

There are certainly a few things I don’t care for in Guilty Crown. I can live with these things in the series, but I sort of wish they were handled differently. One is the close relation to Code Geass’ storytelling structure. Ichiro Okouchi wrote Code Geass and is supervising the script for Guilty Crown, so they have a very similar feel. This isn’t really a bad thing as Code Geass had a great story, but some of the same plot developments are popping up in this new series. Guilty Crown is guilty of having Inori show up at the same school that Shu attends as a transfer student. She’ll likely be undercover and keep her identity a secret, of which only Shu will know the truth. Code Geass has very similar concepts.

The other issue I have is the unnecessary amount of underage skin that’s shown. I mean come on, do all the female characters need to be dressed so scantily? One of the girls is only 14 and they have her wear a tight pilot suit to “show off her assets”. But come on! Yeah it doesn’t bother me that much but it seems that most female characters, who are only teenagers, are dressed like this. I wish Guilty Crown was just a bit more mature with their character designs, or that the female characters were old enough to warrant such outfits.

But in the end Guilty Crown is shaping up to be an interesting show that has the potential to keep getting better. I really hope it continues on the path it’s on now, because if it does it will be a hit. We shall see!

*Image credit to Funimation.

-Jared C.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Guilty Crown: Episode 1

I have to start out with saying that Guilty Crown is the first anime I've ever attempted to watch from a new season of anime in Japan. I was looking up ANN's Fall Preview Guide, searching around Crunchyroll, and I was on Facebook where I saw a post from Funimation about Guilty Crown just premiering and how I should watch it. So I went to Funi's site and saw this large banner with stylized artwork promoting the show.

And there you have it.

Guilty Crown is an interesting name for an anime where the title doesn't have much relevance in the first episode. Actually, speaking of the first episode, it packs a lot of setting and information into just 25 minutes. But it does it rather well, introducing characters and situations one after the other.

*Spoilers Ahead*

We follow the male lead Shu who makes it clear that he's not the strongest guy in his class. He's fairly average, seems to have a few friends, and is seen as "dense" by his fellow classmates. He acknowledges that he's a bit different in narrative dialogue, which is a bit too direct for me. But hey, I guess the guy knows himself pretty well.

Shu arrives at his own place, but it's hard to tell if it's his home or his secret getaway. He finds a girl named Inori that was shown previously being shot at by large mechs and the like. There's definitely something going on between Shu and Inori, because when he gets close to her he has a flashback. They may be siblings, or they may have been best friends when they were little. Either way, the government shows up and takes Inori from under Shu's feet, leaving him helpless.

Inori gave Shu the task to deliver a particular item to an anti-government group, and after she's been taken away it's the only thing Shu can do to prove he's worth something. After getting caught up in a battle and truly showing that he has a pair, Shu summons a large sword-like weapon by using Inori as a form of catalyst. Yeah, I have no idea what's going on but it's damn cool.

Guilty Crown really packs a punch in its production values and goes to great length to show off its soundtrack. The dialogue was nice and the actions of the characters were fairly realistic. It's easy to take this show seriously, and I like that. One of my favorite parts of the first episode is when Shu hesitates before going to possibly save Inori. He pushes himself to take that step and be a man.

If the story can keep up in quality and stay interesting, then I believe Guilty Crown has the potential to have some jaw-dropping moments. Hopefully it'll stand its ground in a season where there's not much competition going on...

*All image credit to Funimation.

-Jared C.