Three Anime Reviews: GunXSword, The Castle in the Sky, and Desert Punk
Here are three brief anime reviews. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Desert Punk(2004, Gonzo) based on Usune Masatoshi’s manga series is about a teenager named Kanta who serves as a mercenary called, obviously, Desert Punk. Through a series of connected but standalone episodes, Kanta becomes more human culminating in a series of events which question everything the audience thinks they know about the erstwhile Desert Punk.
As a character, Kanta is simply grotesque. He is mercenary, greedy, perverted, and psychopathic. His antics are both hilarious and offensive. His actions, particularly towards his apprentice Kosuna and love interest (?) Junko are repellent. That the situation often turns against him is both satisfying and hilarious.
That the series is geared towards a seinen audience should be no impediment to enjoyment. The series finale is, perhaps, one of the best I’ve seen in the revelation of Kanta’s true loyalties and the rebuilding of hope in a landscape of shattered trust.
The setting is suitably postapocalyptic and dystopic, of people willing to do anything and everything to survive. A society drained of hope can only hope to produce Kantas and Junkos.
GunXSword (2005 Goro Taniguchi) is similar to Trigun in that a mysterious wanderer travels a colonized world on the brink of collapse. But Van of the Dawn is no Vash the Stampede. Whereas Vash is, at times, frustratingly pacifist, Van is brutal in his pursuit of vengeance. Almost to the point of madness.
I really enjoyed this series. It has a crisp, wonderful animation and excellent voice acting (I watched the dubbed version). The story, in my opinion, is excellent. GunXSword at first seems to be composed of standalone episodes, but this changes with episode 11 when the series becomes far more tied into the overall arc of the series (the defeat of the Claw Man).
The characters are excellent, especially Wendy and Carmen 99. But the whole cast from ally to villain is well realized with dreams and motivations for what they each do.
My only issue is that, though Van is more violent, he is rather too similar to Vash the Stampede.
The Castle in the Sky (1986 Miyazaki) is a delight. Based in part on the Laputa of Gulliver’s Travels, the movie details a young princess’s search for her roots and a young boy’s desire to prove his father’s discovery of the Castle in the Sky as fact. Add into this a wonderful cast of sky pirates, locals, and menacing government agents, the movie is a wonderfully realized adventure.
The animation is delightful and the acting is well done.
The transformation of Laputa from a militaristic, technological castle to a gentle, beautiful floating garden is, I think, a testament to the temporary hold our technology truly has on the world.
Is the movie a little too childish? I don’t know. I really enjoyed it, but some of the more simplistic messages in the film is grating. And I really don’t think the pirates should have been as friendly as they are.
But the visuals make the movie. The scene in the cave where the etherium is is just beautiful. And then there is Laputa itself which is just amazing.