The other day I got Read Or Die from Netflix. I know a lot of people that actually love this anime, but I’d be hard pressed to explain why. It’s amazingly forgettable. As evidenced by the fact that I can’t remember it very well even these few days later. There’s not a lot of character development, and what little there is often gets wasted on characters that have little real bearing on the overall plot. I think the real reason that people like the show is that the main girl is a sexy nerd. Not nearly as sexy as the opening credits want you to believe. I’m not sure when the show was made, but it seems like it desperately wanted to cash in on the popularity of Cowboy Bebop by trying to emulate its general vibe. If that’s the case it fell well short. Having never seen the source material I can’t be sure if the manga is better than the anime. There was a time when that was almost always the case, but that’s not so true anymore. R.O.D. isn’t terrible or anything either, it’s just not as spectacular as I was led to believe. There are some cool concepts and, given more time perhaps, the characters might even be made compelling, but what I got from the two parts didn’t get it done.
I also picked up a half priced collection of Astro Boy comics. Dark Horse released them, but they’re a real mish mosh of stories in no particular order, which kind of detracts from the whole thing. It feels like I was just given a handful of comics to read. Osamu Tezuka is super revered in Japan. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I have to admit I was unimpressed, particularly with the storytelling style. I think that problem is specific to Astro Boy, as it’s for a younger audience and very dated in its style. Tezuka also takes time out to get preachy about the subjects he’s taking on. The lack of subtlety is jarring. I know that this isn’t true of all of his work because I read several issues of Black Jack years ago and they were spectacular. The book was just too cheap to pass up though. I’ve had my eye on some of his other work for quite some time, and I expect they’ll be more to my liking. The strangest thing about reading these old Astro Boy comics is that I realized how true to the source material the CGI movie from a few years ago tried to be. In actual fact they did a better job of telling the story than Tezuka did. It falls apart in the second act, but they were aiming for a broader audience and that always leads to issues. So far the best version of Astro Boy I’ve ever seen have been the cartoon series they did in the 90s I think. They released some cheap DVDs when the newest movie was out, so I got a couple. Better storytelling than the film and the comics too in so far as they were linearly told at the start.