Molly Rants-A-Lot- Because It’s Too $@%^ Hot Outside Part II

Posted on Jun 27 2010

It’s barely been a week and I’m back to my wordy shenanigans again. But you actually have to read this one so get those eyeballs warmed up because I’m picking up where I left off with part II of “Because It’s Too $@%^ Hot Outside”.

Last month I told you to embrace your inner magical girl, indulge in your holic and watch Fruits Basket (because I ran out of witty things to say). This month, well, you’ll just have to continue reading if you wish to find out.

Detective Conan (Case Closed)

There has been a slight change in menu this month. After some careful reconsidering, I’ve found that Loveless, the original title, was too dark and brooding for the happy time that is summer. Instead I’m going to piss off Sandy a bit and talk about a favorite of mine, Detective Conan (or Case Closed as most Funimation fans know it as). Despite what Sandy thinks of Gosho Aoyama’s creation, this series has a lot of potential and plenty to offer as a classic “who dunnit” series in the style of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

Shinichi Kudo, famous teen sleuth, prodigy soccer player and son of a renowned mystery writer (Ok, that’s pretty Gary Stu if you ask me), gets his nose into a bad deal between a panicked business man and a couple of shady characters during a date with the obligatory love interest and daughter of failed P.I., Ran Mori at a local amusement park. Ditching his girl to fulfill his need for poking around in other people’s business, one of the men in black (no, not Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones) plants a nice one into the back of Kudo’s head, knocking him out cold. These shady characters proceed to feed him a strange substance to “keep him from talking” and get out of dodge before the body is found, except there is no body.

Instead, Kudo wakes up to find himself in the body of a 2nd grader. To find the men in black and keep his love interest safe from harm, Kudo takes up residence with Ran and her father as Conan Edogawa (references to Aoyama’s interest in Doyle’s and Edogawa Rampo’s writing). He now solves crimes by putting the bumbling P.I., Kogoro Mori, to sleep and using a voice modulator. Doesn’t this happen to everyone?

Granted, this series is exceedingly long and formulaic, but it offers action, suspense, drama, humor and a heaping helping of mystery to top it all off. Better yet, each episode (or two, at times) entails a new story, with little to no relation to the previous which means you could almost watch it in any order after some initial introductions are done with.

Now, I can see why Sandy has some qualms with the series, attempting to cross over into science fiction and having the curse of death looming over our mini detectives seeing as someone always dies when he comes ‘round as a part of some elaborate scheme to simply kill a guy, but I see that as one of the show’s quarks. The plots are entertaining, albeit unlikely and way out-there, but isn’t that what anime is all about? Remember children, this is only a work of fiction by a guy who is overly fascinated by pre-meditated murder, so don’t try anything you see at home.

Ristorante Paradiso

If there was ever a series that made me want to go to Rome and eat fancy dishes with a tablespoon worth of food on it, this would be it. Ristorante Paradiso is one of those series that does not get enough love. Actually, if you liked Ouran High School Host Club, you would probably like this too. As Tyto from the forums put it, if you tracked down Ouran fans perhaps 5 years into the future, they would be watching this. As the title says, Ristorante Paradiso takes place primarily in an Italian restaurant with a very intriguing peculiarity: Every man on staff dons a pair of spectacles.

The story begins as a 21 year-old girl, Nicoletta, travels to Rome in search for her mother who left her on her grandmother’s doorstep to run off with a restaurateur who refuses to marry a woman with children. Her plan for revenge was to scout out her mother’s husband and reveal to him that she was the daughter of his ever-lying wife.

Nicoletta finds herself at the restaurant of her mother’s lover and what should she find but middle-aged women ogling the older male staff (sound familiar?) As the story progresses, Nicoletta struggles to decipher her feelings for an older gent who happens to be a divorcee and a popular face at the restaurant, Claudio.

So, why would I choose what seems to be a carbon copy of Ouran that has greatly progressed in years and maturity? Well, that’s simple: summer, romance, Italy. You do the math. Each member of the staff possesses distinct personality types similar to those of our high school host club (i.e. the stoic, the cold and oppressing, the jock, the gentleman ect ect ect), save for the fact that these men are exceptionally older and ALL wear glasses (though one pleaded guilty to his being fakers and merely for show).

This series is only 11 episodes long so this could easily be a two-day watch for the normal avid anime watcher (maybe one if you’re so intent on sitting through the entire series at once). I’ve been saving this series for a rainy day so I’m happy to finally get to share this bespectacled treat with the lot of you.

Millennium Actress

Most may know the series Paranoia Agent or the movie Perfect Blue. If you do, than you are already familiar with the work of anime mastermind, Satoshi Kon.Even if you’ve never heard that name before in your life, the next movie on your list should be Millennium Actress.

This movie acts as a sort of fictional biography and a clever excuse to put his characters in cosplay. The story, itself, is convoluted and fast paced and starts completely out of nowhere so a longer attention span and the ability to remember prior events will be necessary to truly enjoy this film to its fullest extent.

So, you may be wondering why I am making you actually pay attention to something while on summer vacation (or in general if you happen to hail from the southern hemisphere or for other reasons that don’t concern me). The reason would be that Satoshi Kon created something so well suited to almost every taste, that it would be an absolute shame if one were to space out.

The film follows the pursuit of director and super fan (or what we would consider a total fan boy) Genya Tachibana to create a documentary of famous actress, Chiyoko Fujiwara. Chiyoko had remained secluded in her old age but began to open up to Genya as she retells her life story during WWII Japan in a series of flash backs from her actual life and from those of her many movies.

We begin to lose track of what would be considered reality and fiction until our excitable and loyal director and reluctant assistant show up as aids to Chiyoko throughout the scenes that were captured from her movies (once a fan boy, always a fan boy, always inserting himself in the plot as her protector. This has more meaning than it initially seems).

The entire story of Chiyoko’s life revolves around her desire to return a key to an artist that she had helped escape from the police when she was a teen. She spent her life chasing this mysterious man down until she lost the key during an earthquake during a filming session as an older woman.

I hate to give away anything else because that would steal from the overall charm and subtle hilarity of the film. With a timeless and smooth animation style and a story that would keep anybody guessing, Millennium Actress deserves any and all praise it receives. The film has a bit of everything for every taste so it would be difficult not to find something to enjoy.

I have to admit, though, if you are not one for the complexities of the “play within a play” sequence, you might find the plot a tad aggravating as the line between reality and film is blurred beyond comprehension. If you can get past that aspect, by all means, proceed to consume and enjoy.

Well, that’s another month out of the way. Two pieces in two weeks! You best be sure I’ll be back next month for another dose of babbling so I hope you’ll be back to join in on the fun! Happy consuming!

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  • EagleEyes July 1, 2010 at 1:39 AM

    “Last month I told you to embrace your inner magical girl”

    I did that…. She filed a restraining order T.T

  • Ninja4759 July 21, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    Haha.. Fruits Basket.. Amazing piece of anime. My inner magical girl was well… >.> I forgot where I put her. 🙁

  • […] have sung Ono’s praises for her technique enough? Not nearly enough, I say! Let us move onto a title featured here on Rants-a-lot two years ago Ristorante Paradiso and her subsequent title Gente. Ono plays up the drama a bit more […]

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