Monster has always struck me as a broadcast revenue rather than DVD revenue centric show Ė the one place Iíve heard itís a hit in the west is French cable TV. Actually, Iíd say that the relative strength of broadcast revenue and DVD /Bluray revenue explains a lot about anime in recent years, as the way I understand it the former has been weakening considerable since around 2007.
(Know what else has aired on French cable? Kurenai. Which as you know isnít even licensed in English markets.)
I met my girlfriend through doing cosplay photos at conventions so I our tastes might be a little more otaku than those of most couples that watch anime. Iíll start with the stuff we watched together after it aired:
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Bungaku Shoujo (the movie, I think we saw the OVAs separately)
Bakemonogatari (Bluray cut)
various episodes of Azumanga Diaoh and Sketchbook.
One of the major reasons I still havenít gotten around to Kara no Kyoukai is that she wants to see it and isnít available most weekends. Thatís probably my top priority for Christmas break, then. She also expressed interest in attending events for Serial Experiments Lain, Toradora, and Haruhi (all of which she has seen) but was too busy to attend.
And as far the stuff we've watched as it airs:
Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
A Channel (stalled)
Mawaru Penguin Drum
Ikoku Meiro no Croisee
Yuruyuri (stalled, then she watched the last few episodes without me)
Mawaru Penguin Drum (carryover)
We were going to watch Fate/Zero together but that kind of fell through because sheís been super busy and thereís limits on how long Iím willing to wait before watching new F/Z episodes.
What would that list of shows be, out of curiousity? I'm interested to hear about what couples watch together anime-wise.
The more I watched Monster, the more it just blew me away. For me, it's writing, storytelling and characterisation at its finest. There are many examples of directors aiming for epicness and either derailing or settling for too low. Monster is the one time I can say from start to finish that the author knew exactly where he wanted to go and how to get there, as well as a studio giving it exactly what the adaptation needed. Amusing that botched epicness is what sells most yet when someone gets it right, hardly anyone notices. And I know that the new crop of anime fans would probably be unable to appreciate it, because so much has changed in the fandom in the last 5 years. One one level, I'm glad that I know of something utterly sublime that a lot of people of people will never know about. Yet that same fact makes me equally sad. The fact it got a full licensing in English then got halted after only 15 eps were released in the West and likely never will be fully released sickens me.
Will add it to the list of things to watch with my girlfriend over Christmas break - given that she was apparently a huge fan of the show when she was around ten or so (as in, can still remember what clips are from what episodes ten years later), I think it would be kind of wrong not to invite her.
BTW, I've actually seen - in full - and liked Monster, although my gut feeling is that a lot of this had to do with the (brilliant) decision by the then president of my university anime club to split the series into twelve 6-7 episode blocks and show them weekly in the course of a single semester. Mushishi on the other hand just did not work for me at all.
Will probably still be a bit before I get around to replying to the Infinite Stratos review, but did you know that a then 14 year old Kana Hanazawa was involved in Last Exile? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9FVi...ayer_embedded#!
Fairly typical KanaHana role... but that clip surprised me in that some of the stuff she was doing as far back as 06/07 shows some variety.
Finished with IS. Can't believe there was actually no plot/story whatsoever. It really was harem service with nationalism, visuals and pretend-mechs. Charlotte was delightful but left high and dry. Houki became likeable somewhat by the end but was still underdone. Laura was potentially interesting but almost a non-factor. Rin is horses for courses and not my type - plus became irrelevant damn fast. Cecilia is just a joke. I don't regret watching it but next time, might only watch parts with Charlotte and Houki. Shame because this could have been really cool if it bothered to have a story! Instead it feels like a video game. Hell, the harem was unresolved...
I facepalmed a lot. Yet...I finished IS...and fairly fast. I found it easy to watch, actually. I'm just underwhelmed. *shrug* I don't even know how to rate it. Maybe 7/10 - that's my usual mark for a show I finished but thought was still lacking considerably. I could watch it again but I ain't buying it. That Charlotte figure by Alter will do just fine.
All in all, thanks for getting me to watch it. If anything, I learnt how much nationalism and character designs mean compared to story and writing. Although I think if it did have a decent story, it would have sold 5-10k more.
Hoki - Well...I actually like her somewhat overall. She's got some valid motivations, she is somewhat severe but really, considering what a bonehead Ichika is normally, he somewhat deserves it. If she was honest, she'd be more likeable. I.e. Being too much of a textbook tsundere hurts her character. I get the feeling there was potential to make her a good character but they will blow it due to the time frame. Yoko Hikasa voices her well.
Ichika - Honestly, he's better than the average anime male, these days. Which isn't saying much, but in terms of fitting the target audience, he's appropriate. He's likeable, he's believable, he's not a player or a jerk. His naivete is rather annoying, though. It only makes him compatible with Charlotte.
Charlotte - If there's one thing this show does right, it is Charlotte. It's almost as if they loaded the cast up with violent/bratty girls to make Charlotte the one people adored. Frankly, they didn't need to. Charlotte has a great character design, well drawn, a backstory that gets fleshed out immediately, makes for good conversation with Ichika and they have a great dynamic. This is the duo you do want to watch. Charlotte is kind, pretty, brave, more mature, somewhat tragic. Kana Hanazawa is the perfect seiyuu for Charlotte. Honestly, I may be turning into a fan of Kana Hanazawa...not of all her characters, but damn, she's got talent! Seriously, Charlotte would easily be amongst my fave 5 female characters from 2011. Deserved the top 16 finish she got in ISML 2011. Now stoked I ordered that figure now I see the context of the outfit. Such a nice character...SHE DESERVES A BETTER SHOW!
Aesthetics - There are better out there. But I admit the visuals are good overall and there's actually some good in-episode music. I don't like the OP/ED themes, though. Some of the battle music, a couple of the spoofier pieces and the pieces I think is Charlotte's theme are nice.
All in all, I think I now get why this show sold the high numbers. Charlotte, aesthetics, nationalism, harem service. Otaku fork out their money for characters and atmosphere more than actual content in the end, don't they?
Will let you know my final thoughts when I finish. I don't think I'll regret watching it but I think this show should have been better and that Japanese otaku overrate this show big time.
Thus far, it doesn't seem to be a bad show, but not that good a show either.
I'll go over the positives and negatives I've had just far.
Nationalism/could possibly be racism at times - Man, they couldn't make Cecilia more unlikeable if they tried. Okay, there is a certain degree of aloofness within England. But they have blown it out of proportion. I honestly thought the food joke they played on Cecilia in Episode 5 was worse than the one in Episode 1. 'Let's have Hoki and Rin make good food and Cecilia fail at sandwiches!' Yeah, really...that wasn't remotely funny...Seriously, English cuisine may not be the most exotic, flavoursome kind out there. But they are good at using all parts of an animal carcass or improvising with limited ingredients. So what if bangers and mash, spotted dick, bubble and squeak, beef wellington, shepherd's pie, egg and chips or Eton mess aren't three Michelin hat eating?! It's still good cuisine. But no...fail at sandwiches...They went way too far with how far they made Cecilia into a joke. Honestly, she doesn't even sound or act English! Voice tonality/refinement is off, general behaviour too extreme. I knew loads of English people growing up and present. They're damn nice people! Rather disgusted with how they made a character unsalvageable. Even if they tried to develop the character now, it's way too late.
As for the Chinese girl, Rin - not into her. I honestly think Japan took a swipe at China too via Rin. Sweet and sour pork puns....yeah...like that one still doesn't get overused! At least it wasn't a fried rice joke...Honestly, jealous of China being a powerhouse in the world now despite your war history with them, Japan? As for the character, it's got some backstory, but again, seems like they didn't want to try with her either. Instead of a spunky young thing, she's comes off more like a brat. Her voice irritates me almost as much as Cecilia's and her maturity is about the same level. I.e. Can't like her, don't find her cute.
Laura - Haven't seen enough to be conclusive yet, but concerned with how she's being portrayed. I guess after this tournament, she could soften. But honestly, the way she was marketed in Megami and Dengeki, I thought she was the high-pitched loli of the bunch. Now watching this show, I see how wrong I was and that she's the one character I was innaccurate on guessing what they would be like. Very cold, clinical, authorative. Can't help but feel that the Japan-Germany WW2 relationship is eluded to in some way here. Is this meant to be respect for Germany or is this meant to be a swipe? I don't know and I need to see more. As for being the character to stir things up, Laura does that well at least. Voicing of her is okay. But I'm confused as to how she fits into this harem...What I do understand is how she went 0-49 in ISML 2011. Christ, she is not the type of character for that contest at all.
Where's the plot?! - I honestly thought the tag on AniDB was a joke. There is no plot or story...there's plot lines in several places (Hoki's sister, Charlotte's father, Ichika's relationship with his sister, Laura's lust for vengeance) but I get the feeling they won't be resolved. I'm sure of it. And there really could be a LOT MORE done to show what the IS system exists for in the world. So far it feels more like an arcade game...oh wait, theat's probably why people liked it, isn't it...Is it just me or is story almost irrelevant in becoming a big selling title now?!
Characterisation only - Really, this seems to be all this show is about. I get the feeling this was just to show off some flashy battles and surround Ichika with girls. It's not that enthralling...
Iíd forgotten about the nationalist barb shots between Ichika and Cecilia. I honestly donít know if the writers were shooting for ďarrogant westernerĒ or merely ďarrogant rich girlĒ. The only other bit of nationalism I remember doesnít really lend itself to anti-western interpretation since itís by the German pilot against her English and Chinese opponents, but I suppose the two scenes should be considered independently.
My general feeling on the characters was that the British and German characters are pretty stereotypical (one arrogant, the other militaristic), while the French and Chinese characters were not.
Also, I keep stressing this: I donít think much of the show aside from Charlotteís arc. I donít care much for Houki or Cecelia, although the third girl introducted, Fan or Huang depending who Romanization you go with, is kind of cute).