Macross Plus

If someone were to ask me to compile a list of the best OVAs ever made, there are a few titles that would immediately leap to my mind.  Gainax’s landmark 1987 anime Gunbuster is one, and so is Giant Robo, which had its first episode released in 1991.  FLCL (2000), Time of Eve (2007), Green Legend Ran (1992), Cat Soup (2001), Key: The Metal Idol (1991), and Bubblegum Crisis (1987-92) would each probably have places on that list as well.  It isn’t that there must be anything of profound substance in a work, nor even any incredible feats of narrative brilliance, for me to consider it worthy of inclusion among the “best ever made”.  A lot of it comes down to sheer enjoyment, I’ll admit, but the compilation of such lists inevitably involves some amount of subjective preferences.  But there’s no denying that a lot of that enjoyment relies on things such as animation quality, the uniqueness or quality of the cinematic form, the adroitness of the writing, the development of the characters and the presentation of the themes, etc.  And while I’d certainly consider these titles—and others, probably—as being within the top ten or twenty, I don’t believe any has what it takes to be the best ever made. Read more of this post

Black Rock Shooter

Released in July of 2010 after some amount of hype, Black Rock Shooter is an OVA scripted by the respected Nagaru Tanigawa (Haruhi Suzumiya novels) and directed by relative newcomer Shinobu Yoshioka.  Although there isn’t much to anticipate from Yoshioka’s side—seeing as how he’d mostly worked as staff on other projects but none featured him in a leading role—Tanigawa’s involvement is enough to spark most fans’ interests.  Well, any who has enjoyed the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise, both its television series adaptations and original novel source material.  Although the storyline of the novel series hasn’t yet reached completion, Tanigawa has proven himself a capable writer with Haruhi’s rather intriguing thriller-like narrative, balancing the serious against the mundane with what seems like effortless ability.

So although expectations for Black Rock Shooter may have been somewhat high, I don’t mean to imply that anyone was expecting the next Yuasa artfilm out of this OVA.  At the most, a thrilling, action-packed, balanced story with at least marginally strong characters were of foremost importance and likely guaranteed based on Tanigawa’s track record.  And suffice to say, these aspects were certainly delivered—just not that well.  For all of its pretenses and for everything it DID manage to do well, Black Rock Shooter remains surprisingly unremarkable and dull. Read more of this post

From the Dustbins: Vampire Wars

The OVA boom was a wonderful time for anime.  Well, make that “a terrible time”, actually, because it was one of the greatest creative slumps the industry has ever seen.  Studios tried to rake in cash by appealing to the Western demographics that were wowed by the graphic violence and general maturity of titles like Akira, so they churned out volumes of forgotten pieces of trash that usually aren’t even worth the plastic of the VHS tape that they were distributed on.  I call it “wonderful” only because some of the greatest pieces of animated bullshit to have ever come from Japan were released as a result. Read more of this post

From the Dustbins: Roots Search

There is a reason Roots Search has been forgotten: it’s terrible.  It isn’t terrible because the character development is shoddy, inconsistent, and arbitrary.  It isn’t terrible because the plot is convoluted to the point of making obtuse art films seem lucid in comparison.  It isn’t even terrible because of its low-budget animation quality or awkward pacing.  With the right mixture of each of these, one could make a title that is “so bad it’s good”.  And yet, somehow, Roots Search manages to just barely miss even this mark.  It’s simply a case of being “so bad it’s still terrible”. Read more of this post

From the Dustbins: Birth – A War of Two Worlds

Some two decades before Hiroyuki Imaishi made his directorial debut with the hyper-sexualized, over-stylized, action-packed short film OVA Dead Leaves—a defining work that collected nearly all of the stylistic signatures that would eventually establish him as one of the industry’s foremost young directors—was Birth (released overseas with the subtitle  A Legend of Two Worlds), spearheaded by animation director Yoshinori Kanada.  Years ahead of its time and ridiculously well-animated for its age, Birth stands as testament to the post-Macross era of the anime industry; only in that golden age of abundance could so much effort and money be poured into such a ludicrous title.  And I mean this with all the heartfelt sincerity and exuberance I possess.  This OVA is, quite simply, incredibly absurd.  And awesome. Read more of this post