Greetings, my Fellow Toyboxers! Why? Why do I watch anime shows? And foreign films? Why? Because these forms of artistic entertainment always reminds me how there must be something “magical” or “supernatural” hidden within our everyday reality. If it can be “seen” or “imagined” in our creative minds, then it’s only one step away from being “touched” and “felt” in our physical world. New technologies. New languages. New relationships. New loves. New frames of mind and heart. So enough of this grand delusional monologue! Let’s strap-on our seat-belts and launch ourselves into a free-falling whirlpool of imaginations both tantalizing and terrifying, both mind-boggling and heart-stopping…
Part 1 of 5 > Crows, Prophecies & Revelations
Crows! Chasms! Castles! Chaos! Making up for my utter lack of speed-reviews last week, I’ll be sling-shooting no less than 4 anime speed-reviews plus 1 foreign-film speed-review for this week’s mighty 5-part mega-cast! Hopping from Japan to Germany to Turkey and every fictional city in between, lol. Yup, 4 anime titles, which brings my total to a blazing 26 completed anime titles-or-seasons this year! Nice! I’m already ahead of my 50-per-year pace, lol. Here are the titles: “Karas” , “Tales of the Abyss” , “Howl’s Moving Castle” , and “Chaos;Head” . Well, let’s begin!
Karas – The Prophecy (2005) & The Revelation (2007) . On 27 May 2009, I completed my 23rd anime title-or-season of the year. Due to the oddly-spaced nature of its releases, I watched the first 3 episodes about 1-3 years ago. But only watched the final 3 episodes a couple weeks ago. Yup, oddly released. Nonetheless, despite its lush 2D-to-3D animation, its enigmatic and powerful tale of spirits and battles still seemed to lack a heart. Or if it did have one, it failed to express it. No heart. No bond. No connection. Like a violent knight without a voice. Thus, 3 of 5 stars. In any case, here are a few images and wallpapers to transmit an electric taste of the story!
Here are a few scenes from “Karas – The Prophecy” (2005).
Here are a few wallpapers from “Karas – The Prophecy” (2005). Feel free to enlarge.
Next, here are a few scenes from “Karas – The Revelation” (2007).
Finally, here’s a wallpaper from “Karas – The Revelation” (2007). Feel free to enlarge.
Yeah, “Karas” felt quite “Batman”-esque indeed. Dark knights. Sad fates. Heartless souls. Hmm, Christian Bale wouldn’t mind starring in the live-action version (if there ever is one), would he? LOL.
Part 2 of 5 > Tales, Tears & Abysses
Hmm, I don’t quite remember how “Tales of the Abyss” leapt onto my list. But I suspect that Trendy Toyboxers such as Otaku Dan or Girl G33k probably mentioned it once or twice along my otakuspheric odysseys in the last few months, lol.
Tales of the Abyss (2008) . On 30 May 2009, I completed my 24th anime title-or-season of the year. Based on the original PS2 videogame (2005) and animated by Sunrise, this colorful 26-episode odyssey of wild hair, wicked outfits and oversized weapons reminded me of the classic “Thundercats” (1985) as well as the epic “Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion” (2006), another Sunrise production! Yup, a strange cocktail, but an impressive bit of storytelling nonetheless! The characters are multilayered. The relationships are complicated. And the identities are not always what they seem. Even the otherworldly pseudo-science is metaphorically understandable, lol. Unlike “Karas”, there’s a heartfelt and lyrical warmth that makes you want to follow their struggles through sand and snow. A brilliantly entertaining 5 of 5 stars! To celebrate, here are a few images and wallpapers to tickle your anime skin!
Here are a few PS2 and DVD covers for “Tales of the Abyss”.
And here are a few wallpapers.
Heyyy, if you’ve seen “Tale of the Abyss”, can you guess which character reflects me the most? Three seconds, 3, 2, 1. Got the answer? Jade Curtiss, of course! LOL, can you guess why?
Part 3 of 5 > Howls, Hearts & Castles
Speaking of Christian Bale from “Batman”, listen to this! Five years after its original release, I finally managed to watch Hayao Miyazaki-sensei’s classic fantasy film “Howl’s Moving Castle”. Finally, lol.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) . On 31 May 2009, I completed my 25th anime title-or-season of the year. I watched it for the first time with Japanese audio and English subs. Then two days later, on 02 June 2009, I watched it for the second time with the English dub, including Christian Bale as Howl, lol. And guess what? I decided to raise my initial 4 of 5 stars, to a full 5 of 5 stars! Yup, after familiarizing myself with such a richly-layered, steampunk-painted and magically-flavored world, my second viewing allowed me to enjoy the subtle details in Sophie’s elderly childishness and her newfound anachronistic wonderment, lol. Quite a surprise indeed! I mean, it finally makes sense that Madame Suliman was the one who turned the Prince into a Turnip, in an elaborate battle to capture Howl, right? Haha, a fantastical 5 of 5 stars indeed. In another celebration, here are a few “howling” images and scenes to warm your fiery starlit heart!
Here are a few images of “Howl’s Moving Castle” itself, lol.
Here are a couple of high-resolution (1400px or higher) scenes.
Finally, here are a few scenes from the official Disney website.
Sophie | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Calcifer & Sophie | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Sophie & Howl | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Sophie & Howl | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Howl | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Sophie | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Sophie & Calcifer | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Heen | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Castle | Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Haha, I guess it isn’t so wildly far-fetched for Christian Bale to move from this animated “Howl” to a live-action “Karas”, is it? Nooooo!
Part 4 of 5 > Dreams, Delusions & Chaos
Sliding from romantic dreams to raving delusions, we finally reach the psycho-maniacal main event! Yup, after stumbling across a couple of recent “Chaos;Head” reviews, including *Toyboxer* Girl G33k’s post “Chaos Head” (25 May 2009) and *Toyboxer* Aprilius20’s post “Chaos;Head: Delusion=Reality” (29 May 2009), I decided to chase my curiosity and take a blind peek. To be clear, I haven’t fully read their reviews yet. But in the past, I’ve tended to slightly-to-overly disagree with their perspectives, hehe. But that’s okay. That’s the beauty of artistic interpretations. The endless variety! Now enough of the back-story babble. Here’s my chaotic speed-review!
Chaos;Head (2008) . On 07 June 2009, I completed my 26th anime title-or-season of the year. Based on the original visual novel (2008) and animated by Madhouse, this schizophrenic 12-episode spiral into hallucinatory madness reminded me of a skull-full of anime titles. Virtual pieces of “Persona – Trinity Soul” (2008), obsessive bits of “Ef – A Tale of Memories” (2007), psychotic shards of “Perfect Blue” (1997), as well as the blue-haired shades of “Evangelion” (1995). But if I had to pick two highly-colliding titles, I’d say this anime is a poorly-executed puddle of the sublimely-cyberpunk “Serial Experiments Lain” (1998) mixed with a grimly-diluted form of the romantic-comedy “Akikan” (2009). Yup, like mixing two of my favorite intense colors into one muddy mess. Especially when compared to the impressively high-quality shots from its original visual novel (see images below). In this light, the “Chaos;Head” anime could have attained the quality of the “Fate/Stay Night” (2006) anime. But it didn’t. Thus, a mediocre yet mildly provoking 3 of 5 stars. Not too bad. Luckily, here’s a striking collection of wallpapers, visual-novel scenes, and fan-made art to soothe your desperate illusions!
Here are a couple of high-resolution (1600px) wallpapers.
Here are 6 horizontal high-resolution (1600px) scenes from the visual novel. At least, based on the quality, I *believe* they’re from the visual novel.
Next, here are 8 vertical high-resolution (1200px or higher) scenes from the visual novel. Again, based on the quality, I *believe* they’re from the visual novel.
Next, here are a couple of fan-vectored high-resolution (1600px or higher) wallpapers.
Finally, here’s a huge-resolution (3300px or higher) wallpaper featuring the fictional 107 Building in Shibuya, followed by a 2006 photo of the real-world 109 Building in Shibuya, Tokyo. Haha, nice!
Yup, Shibuya! Here’s one of my replies to Girl G33k’s “Chaos Head” post (25 May 2009).
As for Shibuya, that’s the notoriously infamous “shopping district” in Tokyo. The highest mecca of popular fashion, magnetic trends and superficial decadence, lol. In that light, I suppose it could be compared to “Hollywood & Vine” in LA or “The Strip” in Vegas… Don’t all apocalyptic nightmares occur in highly-populated intersections? LOL. ^_^
Well, don’t they all?
Part 5 of 5 > Suns, Moons & Stars in July
What? A live-action film? A German foreign film? Hey, why not? Actually, this film has probably been sitting in my Netflix.com rental queue for years! Maybe even *several* years! So when the rental DVD unexpectedly appeared in my mailbox, it was quite a surprise, lol. After all, to enjoy your favorite things (like anime), sometimes you need to take a refreshing and cleansing break from it, right? Hence, a randomly foreign film that caught my eye, all those years ago!
In July (Im Juli) (2000). On 06 June 2009, I finished the German romantic comedy “In July”. Hahaha, a geeky German physics teacher named Daniel (Moritz Bleibtreu) befriends a free-spirited street-vendor named Juli (Christiane Paul). But when Daniel meets a beautiful Turkish tourist named Melek and spontaneously decides to follow her from Hamburg to Istanbul, what does Juli do? Where does Juli go? To Istanbul, of course! Or doesn’t she? Doesn’t Daniel? I guess you’ll have to find out. Nonetheless, an amusingly charming and unpredictably sweet 4 of 5 stars! Awww.
Here are a couple of impromptu images, lol.
Wow, I gotta say, actor Moritz Bleibtreu is impressive! In fact, I clearly remember his intensity from “Run Lola Run” (Lola rennt) (1998). But here, he’s even more impressive! Beyond that, it was hard not to fall in love with actress Christiane Paul, lol. Definitely.
Ah, magic! Did we remind ourselves of the “magical” or “supernatural” possibilities hidden within our everyday reality? Did we remember that we’re only one step away from “touching” and “feeling” those possibilities in our physical world? Realizing new frames of mind and heart. The grand illusion shifting into the grand reality. Or not, lol. In any case, let’s thank Tear-chan, Sophie-chan, Rimi-chan, Nanami-chan, Ayase-chan, Sena-chan, Yua-chan, Kozu-pii, Seira-chan, Juli and Christiane! Hmm, wait, how did the 3-star anime titles get the most images?
Till next broadcast. Peace. Out.
Speaking of July, here’s one coincidental post “Blog 145 > Vegas in July” (31 July 2008), which otherwise, has nothing to do with anything, hahaha. Well, except for “new frames of mind and heart”. I think?