Monday, August 8, 2011

Review-Otaku no Video

Hello there ^_^
I've been busy the past week since my first post. Anyway, today I'll talk about Otaku no Video. I watched a few times within the past week.

Otaku no Video (Fan Video-straight translation) is a two part OVA made in 1991 by Gainax. Gainax is the studio behind such classical series like Evangelion, Kare Kano, Gurren Lagann and more recently Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. The series they've made for this year 2011, Dantalian no Shoka, looks to be another great entry into their canon. Also, it has been 20 years since it came so yay i guess.

Now, the license and distribution in the States was done by AnimEigo, a company more known for their distribution of Japanese cult films and the like. From the dvd case, I deduce that the VHS came out in 1993, while the DVD release was in 2001 (Not too surprising). The DVD package is very well done. Here's what the DVD cover looks like:

It is pretty self explanatory, I must say. Yes, it has the typical anime girl who is ummm....well endowed to say the least. I like it. The DVD is very nice as well, even containing the company's address and phone number (and website URL, which still works btw).

The Plot:
Rather straightforward, compared to some of the other series Gainax would go to do. It concerns Kubo, a young college dude who gets thrusted into the world of anime and manga, and the impact he sought to bring upon the world. Now, this is interesting, considering the founders of Gainax are essentially former fanboys lol. The animated story goes through Kubo's life from 1982 to a speculative future. He starts off as a 'city boy', a preppie of sorts who plays tennis and has a girlfriend. However, by chance, he meets Tanaka, a former friend from high school. Tanaka is well your typical general anime fanboy (chubby, glasses wearing, too knowing on anime, etc.). I see myself a bit like Tanaka, though I will admit i saw a bit of myself in Kubo (i.e. me back in 2003, as I was just getting into anime).
Well, soon, Kubo becomes engrossed into the otaku culture. Now, some people might think Otaku just seems to apply people who are into anime, but it actually applies to geeks in general. Anyway, Kubo learns of the different aspects of anime culture (animation, SF knowledge, illustration, character development, military otaku, etc). Of course, as one of the otaku warns, "Once you enter, you may not want to leave". Indeed, as his behavior changes (gains a bit of weight, becoming unshaven, obsessing over anime, etc.) Finally, he becomes so 'in' to it that his girlfriend breaks up with him. So, in a fit of frustration, he and Tanaka decides to do something with their anime hobby, to become the greatest Otaku, the Otaking !!!

I won't spoil it further, suffice to say it is very good. Now, Otaku no Video has a mix of animated segments (Kubo's story) with live action sequences. These are a series of interviews with various types of Otaku. They range from the general aspects of anime culture to more specific types (former cosplayer somewhat ashamed of what he did, a gun otaku who is antiwar, garage kit model maker, cel thief). They are all done very well, though a minor quip I have is with the censored screen for the faces of the interviewees (works only slightly). One segment in particular I laughed at was one involving an American who was living in Japan, to get immersed in the Anime culture. He is clearly speaking in English, yet there's a Japanese narrator with subtitles anyway. Go figures.

Final Rating/Recommendation: 7/10. Otaku no Video does enough to get by, but manages to be neither bad or impressive. The plot is relatively straightforward, though by the last 1/4 it does get a bit ridiculous (just watch, you'll see). There are some minor quips. First, it is only available in a subtitled form (no english dub). So, if you are stickler of dubs, then sorry about that. Still, it is good enough without one. In fact, given the reference-heavy content, a dub wouldn't do it justice IMHO.
Which brings me to my next quip, the references. Well, it being from 1991, it contains lots of old school (70s and 80s) anime references. Now, for people who don't like too many references might have a hard time watching it. Good thing on the AnimEigo website, they have liner notes for that, so yay ^^ (link to that-
Lastly the animation is a minor quip. Now, it being Gainax, it is very good (in comparison to series that came out around that time I'm sure). Though, it is more like a pristine fossil. It holds up, though it definitely shows its age.
Now, I would definitely recommend this title. It is a good starting point someone who wants to get into Anime, apart from Miyazaki films. Of course, there is a more contemporary series that is similar to this-Genshiken, which I would also recommend.

Now, done with my first review. Wow, it seemed to be quite a ramble. I'll make a point of being more coherent with my reviews.
Well, what to review next?
I'll tell you next time I post or Ill post a teaser ^_^ Keep it a surprise lol


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