As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a lot of time this week watching random anime shows. The library I work at actually has a rather large selection, the only trick being finding the first disc of the series, since those are most often put on hold. (There are advantages of being the guy who puts everything back on the shelfJ)
Unfortunately the majority of the shows I watched were not worth watching, one was so bad I barely made it through a single episode before throwing it down in disgust. I’ll get to the ones I liked in a bit, but first here are the ones to avoid.
Elfen Lied: (German for Elven Song)
This is the one I hated the most. I grabbed it from work simply because the first three discs were there, not that it mattered. It turns out that this anime, the first episode in particular, is notorious for the obscene levels of graphic violence and nudity in the first episode. Basically the series deals with the inhumanity of man, etc. but does so with an inhuman protagonist sociopath who kills basically everything near her in gruesome ways. Lucy, the protagonist, isn’t human. (Sorry I didn’t see enough to actually learn what she is) She has horns, and invisible arms that slice, dice, and deflect bullets. A shot to the head from a freaking anti tank sniper rifle gives her a split personality, (but doesn’t you know, kill her or anything realistic) one being the stone cold killer Lucy, the other a completely innocent, baby like personality not even capable of speech. There is some hint that the boy who finds her and takes her in (the innocent personality, obviously) had his parents killed by Lucy years before, but frankly I couldn’t bring myself to care. I’m not a wimp when it comes to gore and violence, within limits, but this is ridiculous. The first few minutes alone see at least two dozen men ripped limb from limb, with blood spraying everywhere, all at the invisible hands of a creepy naked girl breaking out of a top secret lab.
This one might work for some people, but definitely was not to my taste. Even so it was good enough for me to give it two whole discs before dropping it. This is one of the many anime shows that delight in confusing the heck out the viewer, only becoming clear in the second half, sometimes not until the final couple episodes. Noir was apparently the codename for the world’s best assassin a few decades back. One of the premier assassins of today, Mireille Bouquet, gets a cryptic message from someone telling her to make a pilgrimage to her past. What she finds is an amnesiac young girl with near supernatural skills at killing, calling herself Noir and carrying the musical pocket-watch Mireille had last seen the day her parents were killed. Most of the episodes (at any rate, the ones I saw) deal with an assassination gig the girls get, along with the efforts of some shadowy group to kill them. Somehow the two of them are tied up in a grand conspiracy of world changing portents, but again, even giving it eight episodes, I just didn’t care enough to stick it out and find out. The one element that stood out the most though was the music. It was some of the best I have heard in any anime, perhaps any TV show period. The music was a mix of several styles, including French regional music, opera, and techno.
The Hellsing Ultimate series of movies, (OVAs or original video animation for those of you familiar with anime lingo) is one I highly recommend, as long as you don’t mind violence and blood. I know I was just complaining about that very thing (plus nudity) in Elfen Lied, but here at least it isn’t completely gratuitous. (Even so, I am recommending this one only for those 18+) The basic premise of Hellsing is that Van Helsing, of Dracula fame, did not kill the vampire count, but captured him, eventually turning him into a servant of kingdom and crown, the vampire Alucard. The phrase “The bird of Hermes is my name eating my wings to make me tame,” appears in the various versions of Hellsing, serving as a symbol of Alucard’s position. Tame that is, in name only. Alucard may work for the good guys now, but he is still a monster, killing anyone who gets in his way, be they enemy soldier or simply a police pawn in the wrong place at the wrong time. The cast is rounded out with a novice vampire, a former police woman Seras Victoria who was the sole survivor of a vampire attack Alucard ended, (With no survivors, since she is, technically, dead) the current head of the Hellsing organization, Lady Integra Hellsing, and her butler/former assassin Walter. Amazingly the main story deals with remnants of the Nazi’s yet does without becoming utterly ludicrous. The absolute hatred portrayed between the Protestant order Hellsing and the Catholic order Section XIII: Judas Iscariot (the Vatican’s monster hunters) is almost worse than even the conflicts of the Reformation, but it just adds a layer of campy fun to the series. I am a bit worried about the future of the series, as the manga which this is based off of becomes so ridiculously bloody after the sixth issue that it is hard to tell just what is happening amongst such blood soaked pages, and the movies certainly haven’t shied away from blood and gore yet. But, if you like vampires, and don’t mind violence, give this one a try.
Tomorrow: Part 2 of the best and worst of anime I’ve recently seen.
[tags]Hellsing, Noir, Elfen Lied, Anime[/tags]