Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! Saddam Hussein's dead for crimes he committed when he was our ally! Bush has a trophy! The Empire's marching on America!

I have an ipod! The nicest thing about the little beauty is that it holds eighty gigabytes. I can use it as a portable hard drive--I took twenty gigabytes of anime from Tim's house just the other day. I finally got to see the rest of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which only got better as it went along. Aside from top notch design and animation, the show wasn't afflicted by broad characters and empty, irritating romance teases, as so many anime series' can be. The series is told from the point of view of Kyon, a teenage boy and confederate of Haruhi Suzumiya in her S.O.S. Brigade club. We hear his irritable but copious and interesting internal monologue. The show has far more character coloured dialogue than most anime series', in fact, and it was very refreshing.

Apparently it's going to get a U.S. release, and I dread hearing the English dub most U.S. audiences will inevitably know it by. There's simply lack of appreciation for the role a voice actor plays in animation here. I was thinking about this when I finally caught Hellboy: Sword of Storms on Cartoon Network a few nights ago. The writing was decent and some of the direction was very good, but what was truly nice about it, apart from the familiar Hellboy characters, was the quality of voice acting. Ron Perlman's great, but I'm fairly used to hearing him do voice work (as he does a lot of it), but Selma Blair was the revelation. Not only was she bringing good acting chops to the table, her voice was also wonderfully atypical, reminding me somewhat of Claire Danes in Princess Mononoke. Inflection, thickness . . . All interesting, and evocative of character. It's a shame she looked awful.

Unfortunately, Hellboy: Sword of Storms looks awfully similar to the new The Batman series and Teen Titans, featuring characters with freakish, hard edged, Easter Island statue faces. Hellboy himself comes out fairly well, as the look is somewhat similar to his comic book appearance, but Liz Sherman, Blair's character, suffers the worst, with an oddly triangular head and enormous eyes without iris or light reflection, just huge black pupils that're a lot eerier than is appropriate.

The lighting schemes and the animation itself were also fairly lacklustre. These things tend to be outsourced, and I sort of get the feeling the people at the drawing boards were thinking mainly about paychecks. I believe that's why a regular Japanese television series like Haruhi Suzumiya looks enormously better than a top of the line, American television animated project like Hellboy: Animated--everyone cares more, down to the lowest grunt, and the people in charge are more in tune with the people working under them.

Don't believe me? I invite you to compare;

From the first, which is the second, episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the Hellboy: Sword of Storms trailer.

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