I started watching GitS: SAC 2nd Gig last night and found myself unable to stop, thus resulting in no Mainichi post today. Gomen. orz

I expect it won’t be a distraction for more than another day or two. A review of Kaiyodo’s Win-chan PVC will be coming tonight regardless、as HobbyNet had her in stock yesterday and she should be in my local shop this afternoon (edit: it wasn’t. Looks like it’ll be in on Saturday).

In other news (not news), writing the second part of the recent anime roundup got me thinking about the nature of 2D fanservice, and particularly its relationship to three-dimensional equivalents. I noted in the roundup that Black Lagoon was devoid of moe-style service, which is true, but it’s hardly lacking in fanservice in the broader sense of “giving the fans what they want to see”.

Taking this line of thought a step further, when the decision is made to render a naturalistic object (by hand) in two dimensions instead of (photographically, sculpturally) in three, elements of its three-dimensional depiction must be sacrificed in the process. It then becomes the creator’s burden to decide just how much attention he or she will pay to the illusory “reconstitution” of three-dimensional reality in the 2D render; as early flash animation so eloquently shows us an exciting fight scene can be accomplished with stick figures alone. Why – as in the case of Black Lagoon – invest such exhaustive detail in realistic gun and vehicle designs? Personal creator preference is one factor, but fanservice is another, and just as compelling.

Presenting a subjective image that captures only part of a broader reality is a characteristic of all art, of course – there is no infinite canvas. What makes drawn film (animation) and drawn photography (comics) so interesting is the huge breadth of freedom a creator has to play with detail, lack thereof, and suspension of disbelief. The human form is remarkably mutable, as are notions of beauty, and the ability of an artist to choose between abstract and hyper-realistic two-dimensional renditions of characters – and still retain their core humanity – is one of the strengths of the 2D medium that I believe is inimitable in any other artform.

So, fanservice. Levi of Black Lagoon could just as easily be holding a pair of blunt triangles and convey the same sensation of vicious kickassery, but the director chose (and had the budget) to give her weapons detail above and beyond the call of narrative necessity. Whether this was personal choice or done with the fans in mind is immaterial – call it what you will, it’s this selective attention to detail that puts soul in the illusion that is animation (just a bunch of sequential images thrown together, at its core), especially Japanese animation. Perhaps primarily Japanese animation.

In some shows, it’s the panty shots (Himawari, Majipoka). In others, it’s the robots (Zegapain, Kiba – not robots, but close enough). In others, it’s the guns and cars (Cowboy Bebop, Gunsmith Cats, Black Lagoon). In others, it’s a single punch and that’s about it (Rabuge Chu). In others it’s the characters, their costumes, the way they look and move on screen. In others its the backgrounds. The majority of shows have some thought put into them, somewhere, that negociates the barrier between the second and third dimension in a way that I believe transcends the animated craft to become an artform.

I’m about out of ideas on that tack for now, so I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead(?). A few more post-second episode observations on the new season:

Majipoka: aside from the furry moment about half way through, a decent followup to the first episode. Will continue watching for mindless moe gaffes.

Ohran High School Host Club: a great followup to the first episode, with a surprise twist at the end that should make yuri fans happy. Definitely still on this one.

Air Gear: Oh! Great’s inability to write is already dragging this down; Tenjou Tenge on roller skates isn’t my idea of a solid plot. Visually it’s still decent, and I’ll probably hang on for another few episodes before booting the sucker to the curb.

Simoun: miss pink-hair has the personality of a bowl of instant Quaker Oats. Not the apple-cinnamon kind, either. For a country whose national currency is the lesbian this is an awfully half-assed show. I’ll last another episode, maybe two.

Strawberry Panic: devastatingly typical in every way, lacking the emotional resonance needed for a good yuri title. May grab the next episode whimsy strikes. Or maybe not.

Utawarerumono: a few snipped scenes and a bit of a rush in pacing doesn’t disturb suspension of disbelief enough to rate this down from a solid episode in the fine mold of the first. Definitely still watching.