Red Garden: Gantz Dresses Down


Powerful women, or women in power, have long been a taboo fetish in mildly repressive societies—particularly societies where women are traditionally viewed as meek or timid. Considering the Yamato Nadesico (the ideal Japanese woman) fits this description to a T, it shouldn’t be a surprise that anime starring or revolving around girls who, implicitly or explicitly, challenge gender norms are so popular.

Such anime, however, generally falls into one of two categories: the service-driven, and the story-driven. Although both challenge gendered constructions of power, the service-driven show gives the impression that the main reason for female preeminence is to provide plenty of opportunity for fanservice. The story-driven shows tend not to challenge the gender power structure as much, but also create more believable circumstances for an inversion of gender norms (without turning their female cast into purely sexual objects). Continue reading “Red Garden: Gantz Dresses Down”

Utawarerumono: Wait, Excuse Me, He’s Not the Father . . .


Just in case you’re wondering, it’s Ooh-tah-wah-ray-roo-mo-no. Utawarerumono. Like many of the words in this show, it’s something you’ll have to learn a bit about via outside sources, thanks in no small part to our friends at ADV films.

But I get ahead of myself. For those of you who watched this show on fansub, you’ll know that it has an interesting plot that develops gradually, with characters ranging from unique to tediously archetypical. It’s got attractive, if at times generic, art and the character designs are actually fairly interesting.
For those of you who didn’t… Well, the art is the same, at least. The plot is largely unchanged as well. However, the ADV subtitlers have (in the first volume) managed to severely damage any credibility they may have built up over the years (or at least, this subtitling team has). Continue reading “Utawarerumono: Wait, Excuse Me, He’s Not the Father . . .”

Le Chevalier D’Eon: Extravagant and Overrated


I was given the chance to watch the first episode of Le Chevalier D’Eon before its US release. A 24-episode series based on Tow Ubukata’s historical fantasy novel of the same title, D’Eon was produced by Production I.G., licensed by ADV Films, and previously serialized as a manga.

Unfortunately, unless you like Louis XV, Versailles, and France in general, D’Eon seems bound to disappoint. Aside from the Japanese fascination with all things French (which is inexplicable to me), the first episode has too much voice-over and too little everything else. The title character, D’Eon, is a French noble who joins the king’s secret police after his sister is killed. Her body was filled with mercury so that it wouldn’t decompose, which forced the (Catholic) Church to deny her a proper burial—which, in turn, forced her spirit to wander and periodically overtake D’Eon’s body for her own vengeance. If you don’t understand all that, it’s all right—I don’t really get it either. Continue reading “Le Chevalier D’Eon: Extravagant and Overrated”

Full Metal Panic: FUMOFFU

By Louis Klapper

Start with boy meets girl, boy has secret, girl has secret, they have an adventure for five episodes, have some feelings for each other that they don’t admit, toss in some filler episodes, add another five-or-six-episode adventure, follow with filler, then a longer plot arc, then more filler, and chase with epic conclusion.

Sound familiar? This recipe accurately describes many anime, including the first “Full Metal Panic!” series. But what if much of that filler was taken and expanded into a second “sequel” series? Perhaps you would entitle it “Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU”? Continue reading “Full Metal Panic: FUMOFFU”