Spare Time Anime, Round 1: Gungrave, Those Who Hunt Elves, Devil Lady
Posted on February 21, 2007 by Chris Nelson
Things have been insanely busy these days between writing for Dreamlogic, software releases and making the dean’s list, so my downtime is something I treasure. Now, while I do watch a lot of movies in my downtime, I also like to sneak in the occasional anime series.
You see, one of the cool things about Anime series is that episodes come in wonderfully short 20 – 25 minute bursts, but can provide stories as in-depth and thought provoking as current popular serialized television fare. Furthermore, these tales are often tighter and more focused than current live action fare due to their limited budgets and production schedules. You have a story for one season, and one season only. No bets are made on subsequent seasons until the first proves successful. Therefore, there’s no time to make up the narrative as you go along. Often times these simple “cartoons” deliver quite the emotional punch in their final episodes.
But that’s assuming you’re going for stoic drama/sci-fi/adventure fare. Sometimes you just want to laugh, or be entertained by rock-em sock-em flashy visuals. Anime has you covered there as well. So, without further ado, here’s a list of three titles I’ve found to be worthy of my spare time.
Gungrave – A brilliant tale of tragic heroism, doomed friendship, gangland intrigue, posthumous vengeance, and much much more. Brought to you by the creators of Trigun (which I honestly couldn’t stand), Gungrave is at once a crime drama, a western, a love story, a sci fi tale, and good old bullet-ridden action anime. Two best friends dream of better lives, joining the mafia in pursuit of opportunity. Time passes, and the friends gain respect, power, fame — until one of them gets greedy. The power mad friend kills the other. The murdered friend is then brought back to life in order to right the wrongs suffered. Okay, it sounds a little cliche, but I guarantee the series will grab you. The series spends roughly 16 episodes on character development alone. That’s before the undead hero really even comes into play. My recommendation? Skip the first episode until you complete the fourth disc. This will provide you with a bit more of an emotional response to the events that unfold there. It’s one of the coolest shows I’ve seen in recent years.
Those Who Hunt Elves – So imagine you find yourself transported from modern day Japan into a fantasy world filled with elves, magic, and all that hooey. You want to get home, but a magical mishap spreads all the necessary spell elements across the fantasy land. Now you have to collect them. Oh, yah, there’s one catch: The spell fragments have emblazoned themselves on the skin of random elf women. You have a few choices. You could a.) Systematically poll the residents of the land, asking if they have noticed the sudden appearance of any skin blemishes, or b.) ride around with your friends in a tank (possessed by the spirit of a cat no less), stripping elf women at random. Yah. I knew you’d choose b. But the thing is Those Who Hunt Elves isn’t nearly as trashy as it sounds. In fact, it’s surprisingly sweet. While I initially set about watching TWHE by myself, it soon ensnared Kris as a viewer, and our belly laughs could be heard for miles around. Plus, if you’re at all a student of mythology or folklore, you’ll enjoy TWHE‘s brilliant takes on various fairy tales. Very funny, very smart.
Devil Lady – Another female superhero tale from Go Nagai. This one is essentially the Devil Man series’s equivalent of She Hulk. The look of Devil Lady herself shares quite a few similarities with Nagai’s Cutie Honey and Kekko Kamen. The basic story is thus: A young woman is approached by a secret government sponsored devil-fighting organization. She is made aware of the devil powers hidden within her, and forced to join their cause. Mega monster battles ensue. It’s not the highest brow entertainment, but it is fun.
There you have it. Three titles worthy of your spare time. I plan on making this a recurring column, so keep watch for the next installment.