16 August 2010

Review: My HiME

I finished watching My HiME a couple days following the announcement posted on the 6th of August. However, things have been extremely busy for my family as well as me, and posting a review seemed to be an indulgence rather than a necessity. I felt that now would be a good time to post a few thoughts about this series, especially since that will allow my mind a good change of pace from all the logistics of the new position. Warning, spoilers will be posted below.

My HiME is, on its face, a bog-standard magical girl anime. There's actually quite a few magical girls hanging about in this series as well, twelve to be specific. It would seem that there are too many of them, and the show tends to agree. A couple of the magical girls serve as early cannon fodder rather than actual characters, which is not a shock. The show is actually a bit like a ripple from a stone... there's one main protagonist, two fairly up-front supporting characters, and a set of about four surrounding supporting characters that jump-start the final portion of the plot. It's a reasonable way to give us a good set of sympathetic characters and the characterization corresponds to the amount of time that the character needs on screen.

The characters are a bit pedestrian and nothing to really write one thousand words about. However, the plot and the series pacing were rather thrilling, I felt. There are the usual eight to ten episodes that set up the premise and put the pieces in place, and then an arc of about two or three episodes around the midpoint where the crew deals with what was in essence a mid-level boss. However, it did not feel like a mid-level boss on the first watching... it felt almost as if it was the final boss. I enjoyed that the show was able to build up the midpoint climax so well and that there really was a palpable sense of "now what?" that you don't usually see with other shows.

Of course, building up to the second climax necessitated a completely different style, and it was accomplished with what I thought was a rather gutsy move. The viewer was treated to a few views of the final baddies, including the reveal of one of the starting character's motivations... but the story almost divorced them from the first couple ramp-up episodes. They really didn't do a whole lot of active motion, they just sat back. The reason that the show did it, I thought, was to build a sense of suspense, for the viewer to wonder just what would happen from that point. Of course, some viewers may feel cheated from this type of plot decision, but I feel that it really allowed the show to breathe, it allowed the characterization to come forward while still ratcheting up the stakes. This form of plot did not last for an overlong time, it was deployed in a way to not be obtrusive or annoying and did not last long enough for this viewer to wonder whether or not these fellows really were doing anything.

One of the setting elements towards the end of the series was rain. This was a good context as well as a nice way to compare the plot. One knows that rain is coming when the clouds start to gather, thicken, darken, and the wind kicks up. In many storms, there is that quiet period where it seems that sounds are muted just a bit. When I've witnessed a few of those times, I always wonder exactly how a storm will come about, what destruction it may generate, and try to figure out a spot to ride it out...

...well, this is almost exactly how the second half of the show felt. There was that calm spot before all heck broke loose, and all heck really did break loose. To put it into plot and story context, and without trying to be TOO spoilerish about it, the story raised the stakes in ways that I completely did not see coming. Destruction absolutely abounded in the final couple episodes. I really sympathized with the characters as I thought about issues with the plot; the plot set up very unfair scenarios for some of the characters, and you could emotionally feel as drained as the characters were if you thought about these situations and the rules of the universe that the plot set up. I was extremely happy with the way that the stakes were raised and I think that it completely helped the plot.

About the only other spot that I could point to as not being thrilled with was the way the climax resolved and the epilogue. I almost wished that they kept some of the aspects of destruction, just to see how some of the main characters would react and to really get a good idea of their growth and future path. Considering the paths the plot took, it was almost as if a lightning strike set off a forest fire. I was truly hoping to see a few saplings in among all the ashes of trees. Alas, the climax and the epilogue pretty much took the status quo and completely gave it the rose-colored glasses routine that is fairly common in the genre. The epilogue reminded you fully that you were watching a magical girl anime, emphasis on the "magical" part. I almost could not believe that the same people who wrote the stakes so high and made such interesting decisions in the run-up to the climax wrote the epilogue. To put it into context though, this was nowhere near as terrible as the climax to season one of Code Geass

Overall, I'm definitely happy with the series and enjoyed watching it. I would give it a very solid nine out of ten, and could certainly be talked into an extra half-point sometime down the road. For those who like the magical girl genre and wanted to see a bit more grown-up take on the plot and story arc, I heartily recommend this show.

I've got both Mai Otome as well as Gundam 00 seasons one and two to see, but it seems that the summer of anime will be drawing to a close shortly. I can now count the number of days I will be working on both hands, which means that I can also count the number of remaining bus rides... and time will not be as available as before. More news to come, and posts whenever I can find time to write an update.

06 August 2010

Yes!!

I received an offer letter today. I'm not sure that I could have received a better offer letter even if I stayed in the market another six months. As it is, I am very impressed with the company and the culture, especially compared to BigConglomCoInc's dysfunction.

Of course, this will bring about its own set of new problems, challenges, and pitfalls. This position's most major upside is that I will not have the crushing money issues that I've dealt with... pretty much my entire post-graduated adult life. This is the place that I can stay for a few years and finally rid myself of the debt of being unemployed for all of six months way back in 2003.

I'm not sure if I'd covered this topic before, but due to this time of being unemployed my family lived on credit cards rather than an income. One of the many credit cards we've had through that time has a high balance on it, though it's only between 5k - 10k. Now that federal law tells credit card companies to publish the amount of time it takes to pay off a credit card, we have been informed by this ONE company (we deal with about three or four total, multiple cards) that if we pay the minimum, we will have repaid our debt five times over with the interest charges and it will take us until age 60 to do so. This is *multiple* decades, for those of you who think I'm already archaic. And this is the story with more than a couple other credit cards that we've had to deploy in order to make up the difference between poverty and semi-poverty.

Well, I can do without that kind of crap, and I will finally have the path with which I can take in order to do without that kind of crap. There are challenges, but the ability to move from my area of the country with highly depressed wages, getting away from BigConglomCoInc's idiocy and backwards business methods, AND getting more money... is a win-win-win in my book.

So... you'll still probably get status updates from me about the transition, but you don't have to endure too many more whiny posts from me. To bring this post back to some semblance of being on-topic, I am five episodes away from completing My HiME and I have been pretty happy with the plot and developments leading to the final battle. I must admit that the show has taken a turn or three that I did not see coming, and I love when shows do that. I'd far rather be kept on my feet than fed clich├ęs, even if the plot twists could have been handled better. Queued up following this is Mai Otome. Hopefully, I will remain as excited to go through to the sequel as I am to finish the first series.

03 August 2010

One down, one to go:

Another quick post, because this current swing is not through yet. I have felt as if I was in some sort of weird movie through the last two days, though. I hope that there will be some calmness as I finish the last few steps and head back home. Even if there is nothing of note to report following my post today, there's more than I can put down within the next fifteen minutes prior to my next appointment. Suffice it to say that the cancelled flight was very unhelpful. I still have to deal with the airline provider later tonight, so I won't be blabbing until after everything's said and done... there's still time for rectification, or a full-out double-barreled frontal assault.

In the next couple days, there will be time for either one extremely long post or a couple of broken-up posts about this extended weekend. Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of a content update except that Megane 6.7 and I are moving ever closer to finishing the first draft of the latest MSTing, and we may also have a target for the next MSTing already. For those people who remember the past few reviews I put up, we found a story that has a newer series as its focus. We're still kind of looking it through, but hopefully if we think that it has good potential we'll be able to gain permission for the story. It's not a very long story, so there's a distinct chance that we will have a fairly decent turnaround through the next few months. (No promises though.)

It's heating back up out there again, so stay frosty!

01 August 2010

Going abroad:

Not a long post tonight, it's already 10:30 and I need to be up by about 5:30 in order to get ready for interviews starting tomorrow. Already, there's been a few bumps in the road, the most major one is the rental car for tomorrow. Hopefully I can get that rectified following the interviews.

Of course, I get to the room and check the TV out while I'm ironing my shirt. I kid you not, on channel 7(WMLW) is a showing of Roadhouse. I wonder if that's some sort of sign.

More to come tomorrow.