Vandread: Initial Thoughts

So I’ve seen the first 8 episodes of Vandread, and I should be finishing the first series early this week. So far, it’s pretty good. I’m holding off on pronouncing any final verdict until I reach the end, but I have to admit that I’m enjoying myself so far and I’m kinda looking forward to a long-term story that has an actual ending.

American TV has recently experienced an explosion of the sprawling, multi-season story. This has been bolstered by the emergence of the TV DVD market, which makes it possible to catch up with a series really quickly. The problem is that I honestly think this Writers of Lost parody is a fairly accurate representation of what goes on in the writing office for some of these series. I gave up on Lost after watching the first season on DVD and I won’t watch another episode until someone tells me there’s a definite ending and that it’s a good ending that actually makes sense. I actually enjoyed watching the first batch of Heroes episodes, but I get that same sorta feeling that the writers are just screwing around and making it up as they go along. As Dalton Ross writes in a recent editorial in Entertainment Weekly, “As much as I love all the drawn-out mysteries and soap opera shenanigans, there’s something I crave even more — closure.”

This is one of the things about Anime that really appeals to me. I’m sure there are a bunch of ongoing series, but it seems like a lot of the series have definite ends, and thus have good, long yet concise character arcs, etc…

Vandread has its share of mysteries and open questions (especially in the first couple of episodes), but the series has progressed nicely, and I’m looking forward to the ending. Indeed, I already put Vandread: Second Stage in my Netflix queue. If the ending of the first series stinks, I can always remove it, but I don’t anticipate any major issues.

As usual, I’m noticing little bits and pieces of culture that I’m not familiar with. For instance, when Dita first encounters Hibiki, she makes some sort of greeting gesture with her hand (I added screenshots in the extended entry below). Dita appears to be a UFO nut, so maybe that gesture is some sort of universal greeting or something (like the lights and tones at the end of Close Encounters). Hibiki returns the gesture (further supporting the universal greeting theory), and then promptly runs away. Did I mention that in the Vandread universe, men and women have segregated themselves to different planets and are pretty much at war with one another? I thought this was a little strange, but it makes for some interesting dynamics (and I’m sure it will play a role in the progression of the series).

Dita chases Hibiki

More screenshots & comments in the extended entry below…

When Dita first encounters Hibiki, she makes a greeting gesture with her hand, like so (the small pictures are kinda hard to make out, but if you click on the image you can get a bigger version):

A stunned Hibiki then returns the gesture:

Again, I’m assuming this is some sort greeting, though I’ve never seen it before.

6 thoughts on “Vandread: Initial Thoughts”

  1. I’m with you on the question of stories. The endless milking of a premise until it is dry is disgusting. Can’t make any more sequels to Startrek? No problemo, let’s make a prequel!

    It’s not to say that anime is immune to the problem. The ka-ching sound exerts an enormous power over studio execs. But I think that at least the artistic staff begins to understand that the proper way to exploit a franchise is with stories based in the same world or perhaps just using the same marketing (can I say “Gundam”)? It is clear to all involved that Pokemon jumped the shark when after captuing all original Pokemon, 50 new ones were added.

    About the Hibiki’s gesture, I think that he copied Dita’s gesture because he was confused and didn’t know what to do. Dita, very likely, picked it up in some book for UFO nuts.

  2. Yeah, Hibiki did it because he saw Dita do it. As to where Dita got it, it’s anybody’s guess. But the one thing we can be sure of is that it isn’t a commonly used gesture. It’s entirely possible she made it up, thinking it something that aliens do.

    Anyway, it never shows up in the series again that I noticed.

    The overall story in the full Vandread series (the two parts put together) makes sense as a 26-episode series, and it was clearly planned out that way. Because it was actually done as two half-series, they needed a slambang ending for the first half, and they got one. It’s great; you won’t be disappointed. Of course, then it meant they needed an even bigger ending for the second series, and they got that too. By the end, all the things you would want resolved are resolved. It was completely satisfying. (To me, anyway.)

  3. It’s been a while since I’ve seen either, but isn’t it *exactly* the hand gestures from Close Encounters? It helps if you’ve seen the long version of Close Encounters, where a small city of Indians are singing the notes and showing the hand gestures to the scientists tracking it down. The hand gesture is then repeated to the big alien after they give us a passing grade on our music recital.

  4. Sorry, Mark, was going to bother defending Pokemon but then realised there’s no problem counterattacking an argument based on a false premise.

    Carry on, and continue to rock!

    (but yes, Heroes is totally just doing all of these text book moves to impress those who are unfamiliar with the text book)

  5. I second what Big D said. I didn’t even think it was a question, but now that you mention it, some of us aren’t _old_ enough to have seen CE3K.

    At the theater, that is. First run.

    Pass the liniment, sonny…

  6. Big D & ubu roi, I thought it had a Close Encounters sorta vibe to it (hence my remark in the post), but I didn’t remember it actually being in CE3K (maybe I’ll check out the extended cut).

    Steven, I’m glad to hear that the questions are mostly answered and again am looking forward to a series that has closure.

    Alex, So far, I don’t mind being jerked around by Heroes so much. I’m sure I’ll get sick of it eventually, unless they really attempt to put some closure to the storyline.

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