Ongoing Investigations: Case #158

I went to see Studio Ghibli’s latest, The Secret World of Arrietty, in theaters this week. It follows a family of very tiny people known as The Borrowers because they take just what they need from the humans’ houses they live in. Borrowers move to a new location if they are seen by humans because it becomes too dangerous. Arrietty has just turned fourteen and will be doing her first “borrowing” with her father that very night. At the same time, a new human boy has come to live at the house. It is a fairly simple story of friendship and fantasy and therefore charming from beginning to end. There is a timeless quality to the country (thanks in no small part to Ghibli’s art style) and with the exception of one appearance of a cell phone it gives no hint of the broader world. The exploration of the house from the view of Borrowers is well-crafted and alive making the ordinary noteworthy. This is especially true for green Arrietty who has never ventured into its walls before but possesses all the youthful courage and curiosity you might imagine. The final resolution is possibly the most adventurous of all and made me sad that I could not see where it will lead. In a quite positive way, it breaks the spell of it being a small world and opens it up to thousands of possibilities. My only complaint is the English voice acting was not very good, there were a lot of times the voices sounded completely disconnected and disembodied. The only exception was Arrietty thank goodness. So I look forward to picking this up on DVD and hope the Japanese does it a bit more justice.

I might just stop watching Bodacious Space Pirates not because it is a bad show but because everyone loves it so much I think it is beginning to make me hate the show. When I originally watched the first episode I thought it was serviceable if a bit forgettable. But more and more I just heard people praising the show like it was the second coming of Fullmetal Alchemist. Narutaki and I joked that we must have accidentally watched Totally Tubular Space Pirates which must have been the inferior knock off show. It seems like the one show that is able to get the jaded old school fans and the young moe fans to sit down at the table and agree to enjoy something together. This keeps me watching the anime while trying to discover what I am missing that everyone else is in love with. But the more I watch the more flaws I see with the show. I feel more and more these are flaws I would normally forgive if it were watching this in a vacuum but are unmistakable when I examine the show so minutely. Plus being a Space Pirate seems to be more like a glorified Sea World stage show than the brave adventures of Captain Harlock. Maybe if I come back to this show a year from now I can give it a fair shake. Right now I feel like those people who picked apart Summer Wars until it was devoid of any fun because it got all the hype that it did and I don’t want to be that guy.

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S.W.A.T. Reviews: Winter 2012 Pt. 1

The premise of these reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. As always we only review new shows (so no sequels or continuations) and try to avoid anything that just looks outright awful. These are the first four of the new season:

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Listen – Episode 1 of Bodacious Space Pirates from Satelight with the opening ”Extreme Space Symphony’s Movement VII ‘Infinite Love‘” by Momoiro Clover Z and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Recorder and Randsell from Seven with the opening “Glitter” by Aoi Tada feat. Sister 773 and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Knight in the Area from Shin-Ei with the opening “Higher Ground” by SRS and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Senki Zessho Symphogear from Satelight with the opening “Synchrogazer” by Nana Mizuki.