Saturday, 21 April 2012

Kid Icarus – 3DS animations

As part of the promotion for the upcoming release of Kid Icarus, Nintendo are releasing six shorts for the 3DS as part of the Nintendo Video program. I plan on writing thoughts of a few of the shorts on there, but mostly as part of their respective larger series. Kid Icarus doesn’t (yet) have one, though, and after all I’m quite excited abut the game overall, so they get their own entry – even if I have to update it over the course of six weeks, by the end of which I’ll have had the game a while. 

There are really three shorts here, each by a different studio. The first, Thanatos Rising from Production IG’s CGI wing, is a three-parter very much like a game cutscene in the Nintendo style, with bright colours, relatively simplistic textures and over-acting that I’m sure some will find very hard to bear. Obnoxious and overacted though Pit is, I find his voice pretty cute – though it goes too far in the second part with lines about blogs that presumably are an incredibly awkward translation of some Japanese pun and really don’t work in context. Basically, Medusa’s minion, the obvious showtune admirer Thanatos, turns the tables on an army coming to combat him by taking over a giant Trojan walker and attacking a town. Pit gets the gift of flight, as ever, and sets off to save the day. The main point is that Pit is adorable and looks cool, and if that’s all you’re looking for – and in a six-minute animation to promote a game, it should be – you will be satisfied here. Plus there’s something about gears that will always look awesome in 3D – and the 3D without glasses on the 3DS truly is the best kind.

The second, Medusa’s Revenge, is a single 3-minute short from Studio 4˚C, in more traditional anime style. For the first 40 seconds, it looks like 4˚C are going to be lazy and cop out with a whole lot of simple, barely moving animation made vaguely dynamic by camera movements – and Pit is drawn so stumpy and young-looking that he almost looks out of PoPoLoCrois. But while it’s very simple in terms of plotline – Palutena and Medusa exchange threats and Pit fights his way to her – somehow it makes the hairs on my neck stand up and comes across as very cool. I’d like it to be included in the game as an alternate intro, even. True, there’s quite a bit of laziness (a whole lot of those monsters are copied and pasted) and some of the 3D at the start is a bit overdone and flat, but I really liked this nugget. And somehow, perhaps because they were unused to the process and cranked it up too far, I actually got the best 3D effects from this film I have in any since the recent boom. It’s the first time in ages it’s seemed like anything is coming out of the screen at me. So kudos for that.

The third, Palutena’s Revolting Dinner is a two-parter from – of all people – Shaft. I was wrong to expect their trademark quirkiness, though: beyond the daft premise – Palutena accidentally brings some carrots to life and has problems with them – it’s really remarkably ordinary and predictable, which is frankly the opposite from what I’d expect from Shaft. They have anime on the more ordinary side of course – just look at REC – but they actually got Shinbou Akiyuki to helm this. The way the story builds to its chaotic ending felt quite Pani Poni Dash!, but otherwise it struck me as a pedestrian way to deal with the property.

That said, the art is really cute in it – though Pit looks a bit young – and it’s fun seeing Palutena uncomfortable, or with a big squash on her head. I just had hoped for something cleverer and a little less like any given anime for small children. 

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