diumenge, 29 de juny de 2008

GARO - Personal impressions

A warning to disprevented normal Westerners readers, before they dare to watch this series or any Asian other, should take some things into account:

- It is a different culture stuff. This means, for example, there is a certain restraint in the actors when expressing, even if their characters do not require it or, even, which we would say "overperformance".

- It is a sort of work we are not usued to, or we only accept it for children and teenage public because it is supposed that we have already overcome stages of fantasy, magic, special powers. If so, I have not overcome it. Plus, I think that we know as "reality” is an authentic fiction because it does not have a real foundation: what is seen is only based in what we see, touch, feel, they all are appearances. Science always tell us that senses and feelings continuament deceive us but, indeed, we do not believe it (the summit of inconsequence); even logic is subjective because it depends on what we know and what we can admit. Fantasy, magic, alternative worlds, beings that inhabit them, etc. magnificent metaphors and/or symbols of what for me reality is, can be taken out and, therefore, I find them more believable. This tv series belongs to a type of literature that has lost validity among us, but that for the Asians, and especially Japanese people, preserve a great estimation: it is about heroes. In this one, heroes are not perfect.

- The profusion of special effects and computerized animation are put below this mental orientation. And for them, fantasy and adult age are not incompatible.


Warnings done, I will tell you that review has never been my strong point, since I usually leave myself to take away by the story, which is what interests me more. Because of that, I only dare to speak about "personal impressions".

I do not usually like the stories that imply fight. Actually, I watched this because I found it amusing. I do remember asking myself, episode after episode "towards where all this ends up"?. You see, I missed a bit of movement in the main plot, but this could not put aside me from the TV, and I found it surprising. Step by step, some useful or to be useful information appeared. I did not get bored, did not find it heavy, nor childish, and either there was any "too" strident enough to bother me.

Yes, there are some shocking things, which it do not suppose me any problem because they have been made deriberately. For example:

- When they want to show a big spill of blood, we see an impressive red splash, which disappears blurred in the air... and we see any blood again nowhere. It goes so far that they leave intact even the cloth through the wound has been made. This should not be to us too strange -except if we like gore, and I do not- when we see that the characters, which are supposed highly trained and capable of making important physical feats, getting better of heir wounds almost immediately (depending on the opponent that makes them) and to continue struggling.

- The main character wears a kind of lovely white coat, long, open, wide, almost of design, that is always clean, it does not matter that its wearer was in full combat and he rolls on the ground or he is thrown against a tree -I ask myself how many of them they had to make. There are few exceptions, which disappear when the camera moves from him. They preserve it clean even while the boy has his face and hands dirty. On this coat allow me to tell that it endows to the protagonist a magestic elegance when it is in motion, in contrast to the tight two pieces dress of black leather that he wears underneath.

Which I call the "great descent" from chapter 25 is a different stuff. Here, this white coat does not move with the wind for a while: it resembles a fault. There are more. This is specially remarkable because in the disk of the Making Of it is said that they have cared a lot about details, but that one who spoke was the director of action scenes, and maybe he only referred to his field of activity.

Despite I am not an expert at all, even it is clear for me how the computerized animation improves as the series goes on. The "great descent" that I spoke about before is not the same that horror hunting in the first chapter.

Some few words about Hiroki Konishi’s performance, what got the starring role, Kouga Saejima. In general, I agree with some reviews that I have read: it looks a bit too much for him, not very good showing a cold and surly guy, but a lot better since third chapter ahead. And improving. We can see his expressive progress, as well as his evolution as a character. We will see him to learn to put his look in his role service. Often his eyes, only them, gives us an evidence that tells something about feelings of such a closed person as Kouga is. Further on, with the acceleration of the main plot, when events assault him and when some barreiers start to fall down, he shows us some excellent emotional moments -especially taking the Japanese standards into account.

The Making Of disk tells another very interesting thing that left me shocked. So Konishi and Ray Fujita, who plays Rei Suzumura, received Keita Amemiya's gratitude for having accepted to shoot their action scenes by themselves, without stunts; he considered it a miracle. If you get the chance to watch it, you will notice that this is sometimes very risky for physical integrity. Is also said there that Mika Hijii, who played Kaoru Mitsuki, made hers from chapter 24 by herself. God bless them all!

In spite of that a lot of scenes were filmed in bright day -interior of buildings, parking lots, urban streets, roads etc- hunting horrors and most of action was made especially by night, so the series has a Gothic air.

Really, I did not expect that they showed Kouga’s house like an almost Victorian mansion, but of austere and shady insides, nor that they used cutlery in an Occidental style. Even, his sword is straight and has a double cut, and if we forget the handle and the mechanism of closing, it might be European.

About this, it has also drawn my attention strongly that in no moment any proper noun of city, of village, of country, had been mentioned; the only names of places -building, residential complex- were in English. If people’s names and their racial shots are Japanese, –and some images show the city as Tokyo– it looks almost as a coincidence. It is as if they wanted to tell us "it can happens in any place". Yes: proliferation of horrors as a reflection of the human miseries and sins has a true universalistic will, and the lot of times that humans and humanity as a species, in contrast to the horrors, are mentioned, too.

The fight against the horrors -beings of demoniac nature- along so many episodes gives it a look of "monster of the week" but has not been too heavy for me.

The fight choreographies have left me fascinated. Thanks to Garo I know why "choreography" is named so: they have the precision of a ballet and, if you can abstract from the real images in, and you focus in aesthetics, there is even some beauty.

The splendid armors wore by Kouga and Rei are awesome. They have got a great realism, despite being very different: Kouga’s one is golden and bright -ironies of fate that the more closed of characters shines in this way but, hey, he’s the hero!-; Rei’s one is named "silvery", but it looks a darker metal, in spite of shining. And since we speak about clothing, I have already mentioned Kouga’s, magnificent in black and white; but Rei’s, everything in black, with a long coat and a sophisticated circular trimming|on the back, is great as well. Kaoru’s is the most normal, because she is a normal girl, which both boys are not.

The talkative jewels of both Makai Knights are also spectacular: Koga’s ring and Rei’s pendant with chain. They are very elaborated, and when they animated them for making them to speak, it shows as if they have got facial muscles, and it gives them a shocking realism. The script has endowed them with intelligence and even with personality.

Although the plot is not complicated -too much simple, in my opinion- they complement it with colaterals stories of people that, involuntarily, have attracted horrors that have possessed them, and we see why they were taken easyly.

The one that I find poorly used was the villain of the series. We only see him to move about the end, and he disappears in quite unexpected way, leaving me a bad aftertaste: too little villain for such a plotting dust. There is a question that I would do: really was this guy needed, if it is destroyed by another upper hierarchycally villain? Yes, I supose, since, as we were revealed in episode 22, he has been a key piece in many events. Well, the main plot has not been started off until finishes chapter 17, and it could have started before.

As a matter of fact there is a succession of three villains in the two last episodes. Probably this does not have another goal than forcing the protagonist to facing and fight them. But even this is not made tiresome, in my opinion: each one struggles in a different environtment. I would describe the fight of the main character against the three successive villains like this:

1. Will of respecting the own path.
2. Triumph of love.
3. Self improvement.

I expect to be able to comment on it later on, since I am noticing some few ineresting things.

On the other hand I consider that they have abused of the archetype of the damsel in distress rescued by the boy. Certainly, big part of the series turns about this, and it has no sense that bothers me. But I think that the amount of fainting and fallen down so easily that poor Kaoru suffers, is going too far. Moreover, if I put myself in her shoes, she would find very annoying that after each memoristic lapse, the same unsociable guy remained near me, even too close -perhaps I am going too far: Kouga has always been very honorable.

And, at last, I miss a right kiss. But -oh!- I am afraid that Japanese people are quite puritans.

The end is unexpected. Actually it is the only thing that remains without closing in the series. To see the real end it will be necessary to send the watcher to the last scene of the special The beast of the White Night.

8 comentaris:

Yee ha dit...

Thank you so much for sharing your personal impressions and totally agreed with some of your points.

Always wonder how many set of the black & white costumes he has in his closet and as far as I've noticed it is actually summer in Japan which means pretty hot. Lucky Kaoru gets to wear lot of sleeves tops but poor boys have to bear the heat in long coat with leather inside..phew sure felt hot for them!

As for Konishi Hiroki performance I though he did pretty well as Kouga as the series progress from the cool, cold & grumpy knight into a considerate & romantic hero with still fewer words. Indeed, he has a charming & cute chemistry with Mika's Kaoru despite their obvious difference at first and when their story start to intertwine its simply leads to a very pure and subtle romance. For me, the beauty of their relationship is that the word of 'love' was never ever mentioned and I believe the creator intent it this way, it simply heightened our imagination & expectation of their romance. As for the only kiss their share, it's a case of the classic fairy tale whereby our Sleeping Beauty need a kiss from her knight in golden armor in order to save her. Another thing is the most logical & sensible reason why the heroine will always be a "damsel in distress" and need our golden knight to save her every times, you just can't complaint why these things keep happening caused duh she's the bait for horrors neh! I remembered in one of the scenes in "Statue" even Kouga complaint that there should be a limit to her bad lucks when she asked why he's there after catching her from a fall, I find that amusing! Sure one unlucky lady to attract those horrible horrors every time.

As for Japanese being puritan, well I don't really think so caused no where in the world whereby a high school girl can take off her underwear right there & then placed it in a bottle and attached her kawaii photo for a price! Nor after midnight the reality shows over there are extremely over the top, whereby female contestants will bear their breasts to be measured & weighted, the host even asked whether he can touch them..yikes!! You can even find nude photos in their daily newspapers!! Nuff said!

What he PROPOSES to her?! When, where, did I miss anything? Or are you referring to the episode where she ask him to kill her to stop Meshia and his reply "Don't you get it" "I need you" or did you means something else, I'm confused here neh!

I would love to know what is the LAST page of the Picture Book and so curious what touches him so deeply that he CRIED? Any comments on this?

OMG you have the MAKING OF, can you please upload it in YouTube, please? Would love to see the process and it's indeed AMAZING & a MIRACLE that they actually does all their own stunts, I just loved all those fights between Kouga & Rei especially when he provoke him about his father, those fighting scenes are so fantastic, cool, swift & slick moves! Even those with Jabi are very impressive,I think she does all her stunts too..absolutely ROCKS! I wonder how long it takes for them to master those action scenes...it's as good as those veterans Jackie Chan & Jet Li!

Totally agreed that they don't eat like a typical Japanese, there is no ramen & sushi in sight instead English tea, anyone?

Mitra ha dit...

Acording to the Making Of disc, they spent seven months in shooting: while they shoot the second episode, it was August, and you can see “smoke” getting out from their mouths since 19th... winter, I supose.

I am not able to put the Making Of report in Youtube: I have neither knowledges nor software to do it. Moreover, it is an original version subdued in Spanish over 70 minutes. It came with the discs of the series: they say it is a collector edition, so there is the Making Of. I am really sorry! And, yes, Jabi made her stunts, too.

Your vision of Kouga and Kaoru’s romantic relationship is beautiful, but I think it got Kaoru confused most of time. She did not know what to do and I am sure she did not know if there was any romance at all. Did you see “Gaiden”, the 26th ep.? Her mother asked if she had got a boyfriend, and she answered she was not sure, what got her mother surprised. So, she had to deduce from his actions (he does not speak) and, even, I think sometimes she did not deduce at all or, perhaps, she is afraid to deduce anything to avoid wrongs. I think Kouga became a bit desperated about it. Really, Konishi’s performance endowed Kouga’s eyes with the power “to speak” about love since he came to see Amon. Of course, his actions “spoke” too. But Kaoru’s feelings are not clear at all, I mention it in my article about her. And, this article gives a theory about why Kaoru is so much a target of horrors (I am translating it, be a bit patient, please).

Yes, you are right about Japanese “puritanism”. Perhaps I was not very precise. Usually normal tv shows and films are that puritan. It is just now that young people is starting to kiss in public places and, they do not touch each other. I was in Japan in July, and my guide confessed that she did not touch her children except to attend their needs. In short, I think that “puritanism” must be considered as a “public” thing to show, not a private one... and you can buy “dirty” magazines everywhere, but you do not show them to eneryone!... What shocks me: Rei touches Kaoru exactly when he wants, even in front of Kouga!

Kouga’s “proposal” (LOL) Of course, I meant that “don’t you get it? I need you” and, little after in the same chapter, when Gonza allows Kaoru to enter inside the training room, he says that only those who are within his heart can enter. I think that poor Kaoru will not get anyother “proposal” than this indirect thing. He is not an easy man to bear.

The last page of the picture book? Oh, everyone in all forums in the planet ask the same thing, I only can theorize what I wish, but I have no basis at all.

I thank your comment very much, Yee.

Yee ha dit...

Hi Mitra, you're most welcome!

I think the earlier episodes begins during summer times since Kaoru wears lot of sleeveless tops. You'll noticed that it's autumn when the surrounding trees are pretty bare and she wears lots of long sleeves top especially when they said their farewell. Winter over there only starts in November.

Don't worry about the "Making of" since I've no knowledge of how-to upload any videos there too but kids these days does it as easy as ABC, must learn from them, one day! Nevertheless, thanks for the info!

Yeah I've watched the GAIDEN and it does offer more hindsight towards Kouga feelings for her. Even though the dream is weird & funny but it's actually to convince her since she would not have the knowledge like we audiences on how he has risked his lives to save her countless times. His actions indeed speak volume of his feeling and ever since his chat with Amon Priest that feeling is showing in his subtle eyes. It also appears that she is not aware that she's a horror bait judging by Silva's reaction. Therefore, she had yet felt betrayed by him then, just confused why he saved & protected her on all occasions. Or she thinks it's his duty anyway to protect humanity.

In the dream, it also reinforce to Kaoru that he indeed loves her by the people who know him well and her parents too. But then she has never met them especially Kodomo & the Watchdogs. That's why the 3 loli loli girls are hinting to her that he loves her and her paintings the most. Agreed that she is pretty confused by him too, I mean who wouldn't be, they do not have a normal couple relationship, he was always cold towards her and they never date. If I'm in her shoes, I'll give the same reply to her mother too. Heck, he is more like a bodyguard material than a boyfriend LOL! He don't really said what he mean or rather direct to the point, that reminds me how Rei said that too "this guy never get to the point, neh" very amusing scenes! Well I guess the episode where he brings her to the landscape that resembled her painting can be considered as a date. Did you noticed that he seems to blush when she said 'arigato', was a little shock, how sweet! Really appreciated how the director create a romantic mood with the long shoot from the leaves when they were crossing the little stream and love how he waited for her then. Sweet moment like this are pretty rare, so must savour it!

Mitra ha dit...

Mmmm...I never thought about “Gaiden” as a serious material to be studied, you know, dreams are almost always pretty weird. But you are taking a lot of stuff off. I thank your comment a lot, so this lack can be solved by you writting.

The landscape shoot. I hope it was a date (or sort of) in behalf of both of them! So, you think that Kouga waiting for her while crossing the stream is romantic. Ouch! I thought the only reason was that he walks very fast and, plus, his steps are veeery long (did you realize?), so he had to wait for her, otherwise she might be lost (he was the only one that knew where they were going). Silly me! I am afraid that I am not as romantic as you. But I have remained long time in front of the frozen pictures of Kaoru and Kouga trying to guess what they were thinking/feeling (and enjoying Konishi’s beauty, of course!), and I think that Kaoru is hiding a lot more, or she does not dare to do a step at him. It is a bad thing because, as you said, they are not a normal couple. He is (and looks) so innocent (and shy) about this stuff that needs her help. Beyond to blush when she thanks him, I bet he never got any thanks from anyone: his work is risky and anonimous, so nobody knows to be protected, so nobody thanks. Kaoru only knows to be saved some times, but ignores some others. And he does not tell her because does not tell to anyone. Even, he risked his soul for her, twice, and she does not know either. Plus, he does not contact people. Really, he needs her help to feel loved, but she does not seem to be aware. A single “thank you” is a BIG shock, and I am not sure that she meant any more than “thanks”. Several little things tell us that Gonza, the steward, was happy to see Kouga in love, and was so upset when Kaoru rejected him: I am sure Gonza knew deeply about Kouga’s need of affection, now that he was in love and had uncovered such a need. But he is used to be anonimous, and does not mind to work to save her even if she has left him and his heart is broken. And more broken after he fighted to death with Rei to rescue her... and she had left again when he woke up. But no complaint at all, to be ignored is normal to him.

OMG, sometimes I fear my capability to put within Kouga’s mind (a fictional character!)

Yee ha dit...

Well to me, her 'arigato' is not a big shock to him that caused him to blush. Remember, she practiced her gratitude with a bear in the 'Clown' episode and chased him on the street to say her gratitude & he was like "what you want, can't you see I'm busy hunting horrors"..his usual cool self! I think acknowledgement & gratitude is never an issue with him, in fact he doesn't welcome it at all judging by his response to her then. Probably he finds it a nuisance and troublesome!

When he brings her to the 'date' (yeah we are agreed it's a date), he was pretty prepared to explain himself for once when she started the conversation with their first meeting. But she stopped him with a 'It's OK' caused she managed to meet him 'there' and then she shows her gratitude. After that, he BLUSH caused it suddenly hit him that she totally understands him, probably know how he feels about her & the most important - she has FORGAVE him! In his head must be...."oh boy she forgive me, understand me & probably know how I feels about her, better gets hold of myself before I do anything baka".. then off he goes..or something along this line with a much cooler attitude I'm sure... LOL! There is no doubt that she is giving him more than gratitudes with her lovely smiling face and she is obviously very happy with him! Later, it will give him the confidence to show his affection by placing his arm on her shoulder and what a blissful scene! Who's the one who said happiness is fleeting, so soon...sigh!

Gotta agreed that he has a pair of long legs that seems to stretch forever and a fast walker. Well, I guess after watching tons of Korean, Japanese & Taiwanese dramas, it does help me to perceive a romantic scene when I see one! : ) He paused & waited while crossing the stream caused he wanted to make sure she is doing fine & will catch her if she ever falls again, remember earlier she just stumbled when she was trying to catch up with him. The mood just simply spell romance caused the camera only focus indirectly on their legs through the long distances. If is was a direct shoot, then no doubt that he might be impatient with her and like you said might gets lost!

I guess lots of fans criticize Kaoru for leaving him when he was wounded by Rei, well we got to understand her state of mind then. She just knew that she has been betrayed by the one she trusted and loved. Then just a few minutes ago that she will died a horrible dead in the next days, gosh her world is crushing down and life sure sucked doesn't it? In fact, her presence will only make the situation gets worse and not better. She has lost faith in him and no matter what Jabi says it failed to convince her. I don't think that he will be able to convince her either. He's only concern that she's fine and was not heart broken that she has left. Secretly, he might be relieved she's not there, caused he knows that he's the one at fault! Her well-being is more important to him than his own feelings. Blessed Zaruba for telling Gonza, and he managed to convince her but she's probably still angry at him judging by her reaction when she met him in the Glen forest! Yeah, Gonza is absolutely thrill that his young master is in love and he was so amusing when he first met Kaoru. His jaw was dropping & closing all the times when he saw their interaction with each other neh!

Mitra ha dit...
L'autor ha eliminat aquest comentari.
Mitra ha dit...

First of all, let me say how much I’m enjoying this conversation with you. I haven’t had a lot of chances. Thanks very much!

May be, as you say, he already heard her “arigato” that day in the street. But remember: she was practising and waited for him at her room, so she lost all her “scenario”. If she had practised meant that she didn’t feel like improvizing, and at the street she had to improvize, with a man less ready to attend her, and only thinking about his hunting.

When he brings her to the 'date' (yeah we are agreed it's a date), he was pretty prepared to explain himself for once when she started the conversation with their first meeting. The shoot starts right when she speaks. Look at his concerned face when we can see them coming from the front: he begins to stop and turns his head a bit right before she strumbled. I guess he was like: “she’s lecturing me, she hasn’t forgiven me yet. What can I say?!” After he catched her, he began to explain himself, or to apologyze, with that “Ore wa...” It was not easy and stopped, before her did with her 'It's OK' caused she managed to meet him 'there'. Indeed, I think he noticed that she DID forgave him, enjoyed her lovely smile and his heart opened widely: his look at that moment is wonderful, in my opinion. Then, she thanked him. I think he felt so overwhelmed that, I agree, he was going to do something “baka”. LOL. But I am not sure he thought she understood him, she was sincerely grateful (and loved him, but he didn’t know yet), but it meant a lot for him, and it might be a beginning to a something else. Perhaps he needed some time to calm himself and to think his next step to make her to understand. So, I think his (indirect, of course) explanation (proposal?) came before he placed his arm on her shoulders. And, too, I think she answered in the same way just to mantain him quiet (I don’t believe he had endured a direct talk). And, yes now, they understood each other, or almost: she got surprised feeling his arm on her. Perhaps she understood just right then, so she smiled. And what a blissful scene! Who's the one who said happiness is fleeting, so soon...sigh! Sigh! In short, it’s the same than yours, but in a different moment LOL! We’re romantic-focused ones.

Gotta agreed that he has a pair of long legs that seems to stretch forever and a fast walker. Well, I guess after watching tons of Korean, Japanese & Taiwanese dramas, it does help me to perceive a romantic scene when I see one! : ) Ooops! Then I bow before your wider knowledge.

I guess lots of fans criticize Kaoru for leaving him when he was wounded by Rei, well we got to understand her state of mind then. She just knew that she has been betrayed by the one she trusted and loved. Then just a few minutes ago that she will died a horrible dead in the next days, gosh her world is crushing down and life sure sucked doesn't it? I totally agree. I feel sorry for Kouga, but I understand her. Also, I agree that his goal was her well-feeling (his unselfishness is obvious), but he loved her, and his heart was broken because he didn’t trust to get her back, and he knew it was his fault. Look at his pain and frustration (perhaps rage against himself) as he trained before Gonza told him about Amon’s death (chapter 18). But... well, I always felt as if he was pained when saw she was not there. Perhaps he kept a small hope, even an unconscious one. Blessed Zaruba for telling Gonza, and he managed to convince her but she's probably still angry at him judging by her reaction when she met him in the Glen forest! So I think. But he got a bit of her trust right then. Shinjirarenai Kouga! And a total trust after keeping her alive! Yeah, Gonza is absolutely thrill that his young master is in love and he was so amusing when he first met Kaoru. His jaw was dropping & closing all the times when he saw their interaction with each other neh! LOL, Gonza’s face was priceless! That 3rd chapter is among my favorites.

Anònim ha dit...

Tenia moltes ganes d'enviar una petita paraula per dir gràcies pels punts fantàstic que està escrivint en aquest lloc. El meu temps de recerca d'Internet té al final ha honrat amb idees molt bones per a l'intercanvi amb els meus amics. I 'd expressar que molts dels visitants del lloc que ens són realment molt dotat que hi ha en una comunitat notable amb persones precioses amb tants punts útils. Em sento molt afortunat d'haver utilitzat la seva pàgina web i esperem que els moments més divertits que moltes de llegir aquí. Moltes gràcies de nou per un munt de coses.