Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Now and Then, Here and There

As promised, here goes a little heads up on the 13 episodes' anime series, Now and Then, Here and There. Honestly, I have lost quite the urge to make this post but since a few persistent friends still want me to keep writing, I'll do this. Now and Then, Here and There (Jap: Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku) in short, is a story about a dumb-ass kid who puts everything on the line for a girl he barely knew. He is the stereotypical anime hero with all the traits you can imagine Pokemon's Ash Ketchum had. He's stubborn, idealistic, obsessive and basically.. a brat. I present this in a negative light but really, NNTHNT's lead Shu (Shuzo Matsutani) is quite the hard core. Initially, what started as a tiring kiddy episode about a dumbfuck of a kid and a really irritating, alien looking, bitch of a girl who doesn't open her mouth to this unusually loud mouthed boy, critically changed into a moral horror of sorts by the end of the series.
The series is serious. Period.
Though Shu, is himself an amusing character who if put in a series like umm.. let's say, Perman, would not really stand out much but damn, the situations he's put into would make you feel otherwise. The idiotically brave little boy meets some of the gravest decisions one could have to make in their life, but for Shu, the idealistic motherfucker, it's just a matter of stubborn outbursts of saving the weird girl with the weird name LaLaRuu, for whom he feels he is responsible for.. as a tomodachi. Sheesh. So far, so dumb, right? Right!? But no.. the series is dangerous, dark and difficult. At one point, you start to think like the characters and wonder 'if I were in thei
r shoes, whose side would I be on?'
The first episode follows the life of Shu who is enrolled in a kendo and who "relies on his instincts" to beat his opponent. Imagine Mugen from Samurai Champloo. Yeah, Shu could be his childhood, only more on the whiter side and not that sexy. So yeah, the kid relies on his instincts, fights without even knowing where his opponent is, goes all "Men! Men! Men! Men! Men!" and... loses. Poww! But just as I said, he's stereotypical, so like normal human beings, he doesn't give up or like other vengeful fools, plot a strategy against his opponent, he just hopes he'll win 'the next day, or the next, or the day after that." Yeah, THAT's Matsutabi Shuzo. After the fail kendo practice, he walks in the city and different aspects of the city life are shown. He then notices a girl sitting on top of a smoke stack. Since
there are many others in the surrounding area he climbs and sits on top of another smoke stack and like a loser, tries to strike up a conversation with the girl with dull and dead yet starkly blue eyes. He keeps yapping and talking out of his ass but the girl seems to be a person of few words. He introduces himself and asks her her name and in an inaudible voice, she, for the first time, moves her lips which form a La-La-Ru. That's her name alright but what next? Well, a weirdly sexy lady by the name Abelia suddenly appears with strange big monsters with in turn appear to be machines from the future. They come to capture Lalaru but Shu gets in the way and tries to save her, only he along with the fragile little girl with blue eyes, enters a world entirely new to him which marks the end of the first episode.

After seeing the first episode, I wasn't intrigued enough to continue with the second one. It can also be because I was staying over at my uncle's who is a stern lawgiver and wishes the lights be turned off soon after dinner. Whatever might be the case, before I watched the second episode there was quite a gap. I was sleeping off, reading.. whatever, but I didn't come back to the anime though it did stay on my mind.
So, I gathered all the patience I could, worked on my uncompromising laptop and started on with the second episode and what the fun, I didn't stop after that. In fact, there came a time, I slowed down in order to let the show run longer.

The first episode was the only happily normal episode of the series. Major themes are war and the aftermath, assault by and on children, child exploitation, rape, use of children in the army, torture, mass murder.

Now and Then, Here and There is a short and crisp anime series talking about some very serious issues that come with war without really showing the willingness to mark outlines around it and by just stating things as they are. The series has all the shades of white, black and grey. It's about making decisions and dealing with the consequences. Difficult, tiring and extremely powerful, is what this anime really is. I don't remember having seen a more powerful anime than this. I have seen war animes but not one like this.
The characters are not what you can call memorable but while it lasts, you come to form a bond with them. You see Spike Spiegel and you wish to be cool like him, smoke cigarettes and be a one woman man but you will not feel like being Shu or Lalaru or Nabucca, or Hamudo, Boo, Sara, Abelia or Sis. They're all in pain, have difficult choices to make that so real that you'd rather live your own life than ask for theirs. And it's true, the words that come out of those animated characters' are full of purpose. With an eerie feel and strong use of imagery, the series comes off as not only genuine but truly epic. Some might say the kind of moe style characters it used held it back a little but I can't picture it following the Final Fantasy style of animation. That would come off as trying too hard and sure, if it were live action, it would have been a hell lot more brutal but man, the animation gives it a weird edge as if to remind you it's just tale and to go back to your normal life afterwards.

To sum it all up.. Brilliant!

Now scram and go get downloading!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Updating Content

From last year until today, the official list of all the books I could manage to read until their last page:

1. The Savage Detectives (Roberto Bolaño)
2. Ek Gadhe Ki Aatmakatha (Krishna Chandar)
3. Diary (Chuck Palahniuk)*
4. Love Creeps (Amanda Filipacchi)
5. Thérèse Raquin (Emile Zola)
6. Girl With Curious Hair (David Foster Wallace)
7. Sputnik Sweetheart (Haruki Murakami)
8. Kafka On The Shore (Haruki Murakami)
9. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (Haruki Murakami)
10. Best American Short Stories
11. Brief Interviews With Hideous Men ( David Foster Wallace)*
12. Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
13. Maximum City (Suketu Mehta)
14. White Noise (Don Delillo)
15. Once Upon A Time In Scandinavistan (Zac O'Yeah)

Apart from the above mentioned, there were several fail attempts at reading many a Hindi books notably Nirmal Verma's Laal Teen Ki Cchat and Manohar Shyam Joshi's Kuru Kuru Swaaha. The latter is slowly coming to a victorious end as these days rapidly fly by.
Speaking of fail attempts, yet another one was made when I tried reading Dostoevky's The Idiot which was impulsively borrowed by a senior and returned at the end of the semester without reading even a page of it. That sucked but I shall resume with The Idiot once I am in Bombay. Another fail attempt was at reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami but this time the fail lied in the fact that I tried reading it in the bookstore itself because I did not have the money. Yeah.
Now that we are at the topic, I thought of reading Bolaño's 2666 but having learned from the most reliable source, N.F., its a thousand page read, I think I'd pass but I do think I will first buy and then read Hariya Hercules Ki Hairani. The alliteration makes me interested enough to give it a try leave alone the fact that it is written by the sassy dude of Hindi Literature, Manohar Shyam Joshi. In case of 2666, it was the numbers.
God I am simple-minded!

Regarding movies, well, I watched a lot of them. So many in fact that I wouldn't be able to recollect all the names and list them down. Point to be noted is that I was never the kind of kid who'd go to the cinema halls and witness the movies on that large screen but times change! Friends bring about such changes.
If you'd ask me what's up!?.. I might actually have an answer to it unlike always.
My friends crash at my place nearly everyday and since we don't have much to do, we usually go out for a movie. In this process, I have already watched a decent number of movies to brag about. In this list would be Salman Khan's "ready-made blockbuster" Ready, Green Lantern, X-Men First Class and the Hindi thriller Shaitan.
I give up but my friends don't so we are yet to watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon, animated film Cars-2 and Delhi Belly's D.K. Bose.

I am struck with this unusual sense of mild but affirmative grief knowing I couldn't watch Kung Fu Panda 2. Not cool. Oh, and I watched this one movie I wanted to watch for the longest time, Blue Valentine.

Jumping right on with my previously awesome superpower, otakuism, I am sad to say, I have nothing impressive to offer. Back in Bombay I rarely had the time to sleep and with no internet connection, all I could do in my spare time was read so no accomplishments in this section. Still, I finished reading the previously on-going and now completed manga Oishii Kankei. Updates from Nanga Fakir made me feel I was handling his department while he handled mine. I mean, I was reading and he watched anime. Anyway, I watched this one series he casually mentioned to me. I am not giving out the name but I will make a detailed post of the same in the next few days.
Oh.. and I watched Death Note.


* Revised Data

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Start From Scratch.. Or Not!

Yeah, I am back and I shall write.

I have been busy as hell the past one year dealing with a really 'professional' student life offered by the institute I am currently enrolled in. Yet again and like every other year, I pray I pass gracefully or, with grace marks.. whichever suits the teachers.

I have also shut down my Facebook page in order to flee from difficult folks, useless communication with unimportant people and updates that form the basis of a compelling today.

Last year was spent staying up nights finishing assignments, creating a really bad impression on a particular teacher (who is to decide my fate from the coming year) and traveling Bombay in local trains. The last year was also particularly happening for me because it was the first time I was away from my place for such a long time.. away from my parents, being independent. God, it sucks when stuff doesn't come ready-made. Seriously.
Also, I read a sufficient amount of books.. most of which I came to know through this bookslut and I do not bear a certain sense of pride when I say this but I am the kid who read the most number of books in my college. The reason why I am not proud of this apparent achievement is because design students don't read much at all and those who say they do.. well, they just say they do.

A formal list shall be put up as a separate post one of these days.

Home is good. For one, I get edible food to eat and two, I literally do whatever it is that I want to do.. which is not much considering I continue to be the lazy fuck I have always been.

I watch more T.V. than I read. I read more than I sleep. I sleep more than ever. So yeah, twenty-fours time makes for an insufficient day.

The coming semester is going to be a new pain in the ass. I am supposed to work with:
1. various design software
2. uncompromising models
3. judgmental teachers
4. ignorant working partners
5. surprising flat-mates
6. a new laptop
7. an epic camera.. hopefully
8. a back-ache
..if I said any further, I'd just be trying too hard to reach for a perfect 10.

Anyway, there are movies waiting to be seen, books willing to be read and a bed waiting to be slept on.

Yeah, I am back and I shall write.. later.