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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

009-1 vol. 1 Impression

Let's cut right to the chase. ADV's latest spy thriller, 009-1 is a mixture of 007 action and intrigue shaken, not stirred, with the beauty of Charlie's Angels and a dash of the Bionic Woman to make for the perfect anime drink. Thirsty for something fresh, look no further than 009-1.

As one might guess form the title, 009-1 like 007 is the code name/number given to one bad-ass, sexy female super spy. 009-1 is one in a group of such spies, fem fatales with looks to kills and the jubblies to match. The first episode begins with 009-1 silhouetted against a window in a hotel room, covered in nothing but a sheet and her birthday suit. Her target and most recent bed partner gets the drop on this seemingly unarmed agent only to end up on the wrong end of a bullet, a boobie bullet to put it bluntly. Do the math, figure out where the deadly projectile comes from and your on the way to enjoying a spy anime not seen since … I'd say Lupin, with more blood. The overall story is a fictional Cold War that never ended its spy vs. spy on a new level. Neither side is really good as proven by the treatment of mutant children. What I like about the story is it sets up so many possibilities down the road without overcomplicating things, but I do have a few beefs outlined further down.

The art style of Shotaro Ishinomori with its unique design lends itself so well to the variety of good guys, bad guys and everywhere in-between guys and gals found in a good spy thriller. The animation is clean, sharp with just the right colors to add to the vibrant action, or dull enough to setup the mood just right. It may take a little time to get used to some of the characters eyes, just black dots, but that's part of Ishinomori's design appeal, it's unique. The story did have me scratching my head just a wee bit. Episode one does focus on 009-1, but also here compatriots, the rest of the 00 squad, but that's it for DVD 1. I was thinking we'd get to know each girl better, see her adventure, but nope, it's all about 009-1 after episode 1, and trust me, you won't complain. Each episode stand very, very well on its own, but I did find myself wanting more, more of a background, or at least a tease of future background stories and strife. We shall see with volume 2 of the series.

All in all, 009-1 is a series for anyone who loves fast paced spy filled action. Some fans may be put off by the art design, but try to get past this as there is a beautiful anime to be had, one that is shaping up nicely, but I really want to see more on 009-1's background. That's on me, so we shall see. Check it out, watch the trailer and satisfy your hunger for 007'ish action.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Tsubasa - Reservoir Chronicle vol. 1 Impression

Say hello to anime at it’s finest. Clamp, the manga studio behind such great series as X and Chobits, brings anime fans Tsubasa, a story of love, sacrifice and self discovery. Sounds like a Lifetime move of the week, but it’s anything but. When you put the Clamp name on a series, be it anime or manga, there is a quality delivered that few studios can match, a quality that continues in TSUBASA – RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE distributed by Funimation.

Sakura is a princess, one with a destiny tied to her one true love, Syaoran, the son of an archeologist. They met at a young as when Syaoran’s father requested permission from the king, Sakura’s father, to excavate ruins in his land. It was in these ruins that Syaoran’s father lost his life, and the son picked up the mantle of the father, and over time grew closer and closer to Sakura. From childhood friends to young adults with deep love for one another, love not yet expressed and in danger of never being realized. Sakura’s destiny begins to unfold in the ruins and as they do, and Syaoran rescues here she loses all her memories, scattered to numerous words in the form of feathers that must be recovered or else she will die. This is just the beginning of a story that is shaping up to be as grand as any anime I’ve experience, and that includes Lodoss War.

While the story may sound basic, it’s not. In the first episode you learn what the twist is. In order to find these lost memories Syaoran must traverse many worlds and face many challenges, but he must give up that most dear to him, his relationship with Sakura. As she regains memories, those of Syaoran will not be present, he will be a stranger. Talk about a raw deal, but not every story is Sleeping Beauty where there’s a Happily Ever After. Also on this journey with our lead duo is Fay, a wizard, and Kurogane, a warrior, each from their own worlds, each with their own reasons for traveling, each making their own sacrifice. All are tied to the same path.

When is comes to character design, settings and overall visual feel all I have to say is its Clamp. Top quality, gorgeous design that draws you in, and it’s enhanced with such an excellent story that I was not done with volume 1 that now I’m feeming for volume 2. For Clamp fans this series is a no-brainer, for anime fans, both Shonen and Shojo alike, this series will please each, and for action movie fans, give it a try. I’ve not recommended a series to such a broad audience before, but I feel Tsubasa is that one rare series that offers the action, romance and heart touching moments that everyone will find something to love, and a few new anime fans will be created.

Her Soul, His Sacrifice, Your Joy … give Tsubasa a try, its well worth the dime.