Tag Archives: mahiro maeda

Review: The Animatrix (2004) Animation | My Reviews 17 DEC 2013

the animatrix posterWhat is the Matrix? Before the Neo Saga, nine different stories are told, each highlighting a different facet of Earth, the Machine and the Matrix. These are stories of how humankind deals with the world it now lives in.

It delves in the present, the imminent attack on Zion. It looks at the past, how the machine finally usurped man. It looks at the training freed humans now have to undergo to fight against the machine. It shows how the Matrix influences people currently living in it. It describes how people strive to free themselves and turn machine against machine.

It shows us how a lonely boy can try to escape from reality. Or is it reality? Just what is the Matrix?

Animatrix is an interesting experiment. With so much interest in the Matrix franchise, the producers pushed for a product. The Wachoski brothers obliged. They are already anime otakus, so they decided to provide a few more stories based in the Matrix franchise world and get some of the best Japanese Directors and studios to produce them. The result? Nine brilliantly told visual masterpieces.

The stories are pretty average on their own, with a broader insight being set for the Matrix world in anticipation of the remaining films in the trilogy. What makes this series are the visuals. Simply breathtaking. Each episode is as varied as can be, but every one of them is sumptous to look at.

The sound and voice acting is of a very high quality, adding to the overall appeal of the package.

Because of the short story format, the series isn’t really coherent, but Matrix fans who aren’t into anime will enjoy this venture into this new world of visuals and likewise, the hardened anime fan will thoroughly enjoy the visuals brought to them by these great animation houses.

the animatrix screenshot

(Historical Note: This was written back in February 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then!)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animatrix

Review: Final Fantasy: Unlimited (2001) Anime | My Reviews 07 JAN 2013

Twelve years ago, a mysterious purple column appeared in the heavens – This was the Day of Succession. Out of it emerged two fearsome beasts, one white, the other black. These beasts clashed and the resulting explosions left nothing but the mysterious dark pillar stretching between the earth and the heavens. This pillar is the gateway to the Inner World.

Marie and Joe Hayakawa were two of the scientists present when the day of confusion first arrived. They were instrumental in chronicling it’s story. They were also the first two people to actually travel to the new and strange world, but on their last mission they left their children and simply vanished. They have been lost somewhere inside the Inner World ever since.

Now the young Ai and Yu have decided to enter the Inner World to find their lost parents. Boarding the mysterious dimensional subway train that appears only at midnight, Ai and Yu need to take a giant leap of faith to enter the strangeness of the Inner World.

As Ai and Yu continue their quest through the many strange places that make up the Inner World, they continually meet new friends and make new allies. Lisa, the girl who hears the currents of energy. Cid, the inventor genius. Nav, leader of the revolutionary Comodin. And Kaze, the Black Wind. Controller of the Demon Gun, creator of the Soil Summonings.

But the Inner World is run by Chaos. The Count rules these dimensions with an iron fist. Together with his Gaudium Deathlords, the Count has now turned his attentions to these outsiders in his domain.

And slowly the appetite of Chaos grows…

2001 saw the release of Final Fantasy: Unlimited, a 25 part sci-fi fantasy adventure based in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy franchise universe and directed by Mahiro Maeda, with animation production handled by GONZO.

The plot of Final Fantasy: Unlimited revolves around a brother and sister’s search for their missing parents. However, their search takes place in the Inner World, a dimension separate from ours. The many worlds that inhabit this dimension are varied and wondrous, though things are not all that well in the Inner World. There exists a tyrant known as the Count who rules this area with an iron fist, and slowly he has been making his way across the worlds, destroying each and incorporating bits into his own vision.

Added to this is the story revolving around the hate relationship between the mysterious Black Wind, Kaze and the White Cloud, Makenshi. Kaze controls the Demon Gun, responsible for the creation of summoned creatures using the power of Soil. Makenshi on the other hand controls the Mist, and is able to summon huge white creatures from its essence. These two are sworn enemies, destined to face each other in battle.

The story of Final Fantasy Unlimited slowly builds up until it finishes with a great crescendo, though unfortunately, it is somewhat lacking in the build up stages. It is pretty formulaic in that it follows the standard “New monster arrives. New monster defeated by Kaze’s summoning” plotline for well over half the series!

On the other hand, the characters introduced throughout this show are really cool. Character development is good, and the characters are all interesting. One can’t help but want to learn more about the Inner World with each and every episode.

The animation is okay, with a lot of CGI graphics thrown in. It kind of captures the feel of the later Final Fantasy RPGs which also make use of CGI to blend in with the in-game graphics. A small gripe that I have is that this series makes a lot of reuse of animation sequences – something that can become particularly annoying.

The voice acting is superb and the musical soundtrack is top notch.

Overall, this isn’t a horribly bad title, but unfortunately it just isn’t as engrossing as a Final Fantasy fan would have liked. Fans will enjoy seeing their favourite creatures such as Chocobos making an appearance, but other than that, most people could probably give this title a skip.

It’s a pity, because SquareSoft could have done so much more with it.

(Historic Note of interest: This review was written back in 2004)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy:_Unlimited

Review: Blue Submarine No. 6 (2000) Anime | My Reviews 26 JUL 2012

Blue Submarine No. 6 is a post-apocalyptic manga series written and illustrated by Satoru Ozawa, first published in 1967, which was then picked up on by animation studio Gonzo, who produced the stunning 2000 OVA entitled “Blue Submarine No. 6”, directed by Mahiro Maeda.

The story begins in the near future, when the Earth’s oceans have risen and flooded most of the sea-lying land on Earth. The rogue scientist Zorndyke caused the flooding, which killed countless individuals, and most of humanity’s remaining cities have been attacked or destroyed by Zorndyke’s army of half-animal “hybrids”. The remaining humans begin to wage war against Zorndyke’s seagoing creations for simple survival.

Humanity’s best hope for a resolution to the conflict lies with its submarine forces, among which is the focus of the story, Blue Submarine #6. It is revealed that Zorndyke is attempting to decisively end the conflict in the favor of his hybrid children by artificially inducing a polar switch using geothermal energy at the South Pole.

What makes this particular OVA stand out was its pioneering use of a hybrid mix of 3D computer graphics with traditional animation, resulting in an exquisite visual phenomenon which was pretty much cutting edge for that era.

Unfortunately though, the short nature of only four episodes hurts the storytelling of this beautifully rendered animation, and the plot ends up hurtling along at breakneck speed, losing a lot of the moments in between which could have been used to try and endear us to and flesh out the central characters that much more, and perhaps in the process manage to emotionally invest us deeper into the story being told.

All that said though, this isn’t any light piece of fluff and what is well delivered is a fairly emotional, heavy drama, with plenty of underwater action and of course, a very important environmental message to go along with it.

Accompanied by a fantastic score from the rock ‘n roll big band “The Thrill”, and featuring some great voice acting, Blue Submarine No. 6 still makes for a decent watch, especially if you are interested in witnessing one of the first and best attempts at the marrying together of traditional animation techniques with more modern CGI.

So in summary, if it is on hand watch it, otherwise don’t worry about making the effort of locating it.

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Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Submarine_No._6