Spring 2009: The Great – Shangri-La, Ristorante Paradiso, Eden of the East

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I finally finished viewing all the new shows for this season that looked interesting, and I’m glad to report that they all seem decent or better overall.  There’s also a bunch of OVAs like Spice and Wolf that’ll be premiering at some point, so things look good.  Three series that stood out to me were Shangri-La, Ristorante Paradiso and Eden of the East for their well-rounded nature.

Shangri-La

It’s super weird to hear May’n sing anything but Macross Frontier related music.

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First thing that comes to mind?  I love Momoko. Love her.  Usually transsexual people in anime are portrayed as ladies of the night or are just placed in the story as a gimmick (unfortunately I’m looking at you female Tieria).  But Momoko’s proud, kicks ass and has a body that puts many female anime characters to shame.  The rest of the cast also seem interesting, with Kuniko being the main heroine.  Hopefully there’ll be more exposition on her, because it’s not so good when supporting characters are more well rounded.  Right now she’s just the typical athletic girl who follows the call of justice.  However, I do like her boomerang knife contraption.

The plot revolves around the concept of carbon emissions and the international laws that severely limit countries from producing them.  Much of Japan has become like a jungle, although I don’t know whether that’s mankind’s fault or the lack of industrialization.  There’s strained relations between an organization called Atlas, which is in charge of a huge tower that rivals Lord Genome’s base in Gurren Lagann, and the Metal-Age who are forced to live in conditions where using electricity can get them in trouble.  Kuniko’s the next assigned leader of the Metal-Age (whether she likes it or not) so it’s her duty to protect the civilians.  There are also other mysterious entities such as a young girl genius who controls the carbon market with a Dratini-looking computer program, and a heterochromatic girl who can smush people into pint-sized bloody packages with her mind.  I’m really digging this so far since it’s much like Real Drive with the environmental motives, and hopefully things will come together at a good pace since there’s only 12 episodes.

Oh, and this totally should have been the song for this series rather than Hataraki Man.  Momoko could sing it~~

Ristorante Paradiso

Grandmas and housewives, fret no more.  You may be losing a lot of your standard lunch-hour soap operas, but Ristorante Paradiso is here to save the day!  It’s like Antique Bakery minus the ghey (so far), plus a 19 year old woman who has an insatiable appetite for good food and old men.  And I’m sorry, but I have to pause for a moment and point out that her name, Nicoletta, makes me laugh for days.  If that’s a normal name, I apologize, but the nicotine patch will always pop up in my head first.  Nicoletta travels to Rome to confront her mother, Olga, who pretty much dumped Nicoletta at her grandparents’ house as a child.  Olga’s pretty much a bitch who was more concerned with her own personal delusions of marriage than raising her child.  Even worse, she makes Nicoletta promise not to say that she’s her daughter because her new husband would “never marry a divorced woman”.  I wonder how much of that is his words or Olga’s.  It all reminds me of the movie Nobody Knows, but luckily Nicoletta had other family members to take care of her.

Ristorante Paradiso approaches the idea of restaurant hospitality in the same way Nodame Cantabile weaves with music.  It’s probably just my “lol fat American” brain in motion when I look at the tiny meals that they serve with disappointment.  I’m also disappointed that this is yet another short-run series that’ll only have 11 episodes.  Maybe it’ll catch on like Nodame did?  I mean I thought things would be kind of Aria slice of life-ish until Nicoletta pretty much came a zipper away from raping Claudio.  I love how he just leaned back with that fretful hand to his forehead.  I think this old/young dynamic works well in this show since it’s animated, but I’m not sure if it’d be as hot seeing a live-action wrinkly faced Claudio.

Eden of the East

Wow, round of applause from me.  First off, it’s by Production I.G. and I pretty much swear by most of their work.  Secondly, I can appreciate any original anime not derived from another source that still does well.  It’s rare that popular anime or manga relate so closely to specific current cultural items.  I mean, yeah, you may get some form of technology like an iPhone or the dropping of a celebrity’s name but Eden of the East has used multiple references just in the first two episodes.  I was genuinely surprised by the Freedom Tower reference, and it’s too bad that it won’t actually be done by the 2010 timeline of Eden’s plot.  I guess it’s been long enough that works can tread carefully on the subject of Ground Zero, but it didn’t bother me at all.  I was actually more shaken back during Gundam 00‘s second season when the orbital elevator fell to pieces, and it showed the shuttles falling.

Eden of the East has a lot of comedy, action and mystery that’ll carry through for 11 episodes.  Akira’s connection with the Selecao organization is more than likely related to “Careless Monday”, and I have my doubts that nobody actually died that day.  We see how ruthless Selecao can be when the other cell phone holder kills off a random witness, so who’s to say that the organization can’t control the media and government?  Hopefully Saki will play a bigger part than “the love interest”, but she’s just a normal girl who has no idea what a mess she’s stepped into.

I actually like the ending better, mostly for the paper animation.  I mean, damn, paper cutout shadows?  I wonder if they used 3D printing for this.

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