Ongoing Investigations: Case #092

House of Five Leaves was a quietly compelling series that came full-circle in its story. Something about beginning and ending with the same gesture really gets to me in a good way. As Masa starts to connect to each member of The Five Leaves he is changed but through his gentle and honest (minus, you know, being part of a kidnapping ring) nature he genuinely surprises and moves the people around him. Yaichi remains a bit of an enigma throughout to the people around him, even Masa is still making the connection with him in the end but learning about his past allows him to be more of an open book atleast to the audience. It wasn’t immediately obvious from the first couple of episodes that this story would be more of a personal journey rather than about the crimes playing out. As the you begin to puzzle out the story it becomes gripping despite the languid pacing. House of Five Leaves has atmosphere and characters who tell you who they are with the slightest of actions. Beautiful and recommended, I am looking forward to picking up the manga as well.

hisuiconI must say that the House of Five Leaves anime picked the perfect place to end. When adapting an ongoing manga it can be hard to decide where to end especially when the source material is very character and plot driven. But Tomomi Mochizuki ended at the point where you had insight into all the main characters and everyone had a good arc of character development. You got the impression that everyone had changed greatly since you had first met them and you had a decent idea of who they were. Masanosuke still has growing to do, Yaichi still has unfinished business, and we could have learned a bit more about Otake but overall if the manga had ended here I don’t think anyone would have felt cheated. I was sad to hear that this was got fairly low ratings for a noitaminA show in Japan. When something that is extremely experimental like Trapeze gets ratings like that I am not too surprised. But I would have assumed the mature quality would hook a noitaminA audience. That is a shame because this is a well done historical character piece that while not extremely fast in it’s execution is great at building up an atmosphere that draws you into a group of very unusual kidnappers and their stories. I hope to finish the story through the VIZ manga.

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AnimeNEXT 2010: Kenji Kamiyama

A great guest elevates a convention. And a great guest at a smaller con is an opportunity not to be missed. Kenji Kamiyama is that type of guest. There is a level of intimacy present at AnimeNEXT between attendees and guests that you just can’t get with 20,000 more fans milling about the halls. With that in mind and a press badge to boot we got to hear a lot from Mr. Kamiyama over the weekend.

hisuiconThe multi-talented Kenji Kamiyama is a high caliber guest and I was extremely pleased to see him at the convention considering how much I have enjoyed his body of work. AnimeNEXT and Kenji Kamiyama were very accommodating in providing everyone an autograph and Q&A sessions on Friday and Saturday as well and a Press Conference. AnimeNEXT bent over backwards to make him as accessible, this is the real thrill of a well run mid-sized con; you still have the ability to interact with a Japanese guest.

Kenji Kamiyama has filled many roles in the animation industry from background artist to writer but he said the goal was always to direct. And direct he has. After studying under the famous Mamoru Oshii and still working with his mentor from time to time, he has created a modern, intelligent, and growing body of work which includes directing Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East. Production I.G’s great library, and place in my heart, is in no small part thanks to this man. I happily waited in line to wait for his autograph with a crowd that was content and dignified when they approached him. He acknowledged two people cosplaying Takizawa and Shiratori from Eden of the East happily and I saw him chuckle a bit when someone handed him a Tachikoma to sign (I then chastised myself for not doing the same). This open and light vibe was felt throughout the con.

hisuiconWhile he is most famous for his work on Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East, his directorial work on Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit, Mini Pato, plus his various other scriptwriting and assorted jobs in the animation industry are equally remarkable. He is someone who slowly but surely worked his way to the top. I am curious to know if any of our readers could spot how his various roles in the industry have influenced his directorial style. I too regret not bringing something better to sign as I own all of Stand Alone Complex, Moribito, and a Stand Alone Complex shirt. Like Narutaki I got him to sign my program guide which was still a treat.

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