Tag Archives: Anime

Anime-Breakdown: In This Corner of the World (2017)

In This Corner of the World is a coming of age drama set in Hiroshima during World War II. Following Suzu Urano, an artistic, kind, supportive young woman who moves to Kure, a small town just outside Hiroshima as she struggles with the daily loss of life’s amenities she still has to maintain the will to live. What separates In This Corner of the World from other movies set within the same time frame like The Glass Rabbit (2005), and Struck By Black Rain (1984) is the depiction is broader in capturing the emotional state of its country, and its people. Unlike the two films I mentioned earlier, In This Corner of the World shows the happier times as well as the hardship of its characters eventually befalls. Detailing the lifestyle Japan once had before it permanently change through the course of world war 2. Providing an almost episodic structure for half of it run time to live through the wonderful times Suzu had early in her life. It’s during this portion of the movie the viewer will see Suzu adapting to new a home over the span of a couple of months, and eventually years. You get to witness the free spirit, and dreamer side of Suzu during her out of the blue marriage proposal.

With the realistic backdrop set during a turbulent time in Japan the film isn’t solely serious. Understanding in order to properly get across what eventually gets lost some fun is meant to be have. Injecting humor into the film before eventually cutting it off during a certain point in the story. Besides using the humor to loosen some tension. Humor is also used to characterize Suzu. Showing the audience how her mindset contrast against reality, and family members at certain points in the story. It’s also through humor that many of the character dynamics shine through displaying the strength this family has. The family interaction with each other feels natural, and certain family members develop makes them much more sympathetic, even a character who gives Suzu a hard time through a good chunk of the story. What this balance also avoids is the pitfall of tonal whiplash. It does so by ensuring the humor isn’t taking the spotlight away from the story, nor drawing too much attention to itself. Making the eventual absent feel subtle as a narrative device instead of a issue in balancing tone.

itcotw4-770x512
Besides being a nice looking movie. There’s plenty of good bonding moments like this throughout

When the second half kicks in, you know the drill if you’re familiar with these type of movies. Instead of putting you in the middle of the chaotic nation during war time, the film takes it time to slowly establish the new normality of this new lifestyle. Empathizing the difficulty in obtaining simple rations, bombing drill being more common, learning about explosives, and everything surrounding the war finding it difficult to remain calm in hectic times. Just like in the first half, the film chooses to wisely not over dramatize this portion of the story. Keeping it subtle touches that help make the second half as great as it becomes. Getting across the essence of struggle, and lost in a way that feels true to life. It is through this second half where it attempts to get viewers in the heart strings; showing hardship, after hardship, after hardship, and its characters struggling to keep it together. Suzu being the focal point of the movie greatly shows the impact living during war times had on Suzu herself, and the strain it puts on her family.

What movies of this nature usually forget is no one wants to be see force a message about the horror of wars, or the fake enthusiasm about a brighter future that awaits beyond harsh times. In This Corner of the World knows it doesn’t have to tell any of this to the viewer. Sure, the film is positive about moving forward without sugarcoating the harsh realities the characters face. Hearing Suzu speak about how she would have preferred to die as a dreamer one point in the movie carries a more impact to itself when Suzu, along with several other characters, are so nicely fleshed out, and grounded in its depiction of its events. Without being created for the sole purpose to deliver a specific message it’s able to tackle many themes leaving a stronger impression.

While they are present, the shortcomings don’t take away from the overall narrative. From a writing perspective, Suzu isn’t shown interacting much with her own family. Suzu does form bonds with her husband family, and that is shown throughout the movie, but when it comes to her own family they don’t get the same luxury. It’s not bothersome at first, but overtime it becomes more noticeable when certain characters are not given enough screen time given the impact of they have. One of this includes an abrupt revelation of the death of a family member from Suzu side who wasn’t on screen for much time. It would be less noticeable if there weren’t a funeral scene, and another scene dedicated to that character. There’s also a few other non-family related characters who appear in the movie without much importance. Thankfully, the movie keeps those type of characters down to a minimum.

Director Sunao Katabuchi (Black Lagoon, Princess Arete) helms the project, and the animation is handled by studio MAPPA (Terror In Resonance, Yuri!!! On Ice). In the hands of Sunao Katabuchi the story is told with minimal usage of music. A wise choice that served this movie well allowing the strength of the visual themselves convey the mood of a scene instead of the music. Katabuchi grounded approach to storytelling is what the movie needed; without resorting to over dramatizing anything the film plays out better. Same with his handling of characters which never feel to out of place within the story.  Another welcome departure is he doesn’t demonize the US during this time not because he doesn’t harbor any ill will, but because he’s more concern in the characters we see rather than the enemy you don’t.

in-this-corner-of-the-world-air-raid-paint
Despite being a drama, the film offers some unique visuals like these

The artstyle is reminiscences of water color drawing that Suzu is seen drawing many times in the movie. Studio MAPPA is able to capture Suzu’s personal art style, and apply it to the entire film. Perfectly getting across how she sees the world as it unfold. Backgrounds generally are colorful while being pleasant to the eyes. Character designs are surprisingly in the moe category. However, not to a point where the simplistic designs clashes with the tone of the story. If anything, in its own way, it continues the notion of Suzu being able to see beautiful things around her despite how ugly the world can be to her. Aesthetically, it’s one nice movie to look at, especially it’s extensive recreation of Hiroshima, and Kure. In movement, there’s nothing special about it since virtually everything is kept mundane, but given what type of movie it is the animation is fine the way it is.

When it come to voice acting you can’t go wrong with either. The Japanese cast are more expressive in a way when delivering their dialogue while the English dub cast is more subdue in their performances. Both approach work in favor of the movie. If you had to choose, probably go with the subs since you’ll get the Japanese songs translated, but that’s honestly the only factor. I would say the Japanese audio is more historically accurate. However, it’s fictional story based around some true events so the language you watch it in won’t matter. Performance wise, Japan gets that win for Rena Nounen who voices Suzu. Much like actor Koji Yakusho in The Boy, and the Beast, Rena Nounen primarily acts in live action films, and television series. Her experience in those field helped be able to carry the movie with ease. Delivering a powerful performance. Laura Post in the English dub voice Suzu, and he’s not as good. Her lack of experience in the leading role shows a bit in some of her inability to express Suzu emotion. Sometime coming off distill in her portrayal. Aside from that small complaint, Laura Post does a good job still.

In This Corner of the World is a captivating drama being both optimistic through it’s perseverance while never hiding from the harsher side of reality. It’s a coming of age drama whose subtlety in its storytelling leads to a dramatically rich experience. All without the any of the usual tricks films of this sort would rely on. The slow pacing, and uneventful structure of the movie will make it a tough watch for some viewers. Harsh as the world presented may be to the Suzu, and her family, you’ll come out of the movie with a positive experience.

Rating: 9/10

Anime-Breakdown: Satellite Girl and Milk Cow (2014)

Korean animation, much like India animation industry, are things I know almost nothing about. They usually get overshadowed either by Hollywood, Japan, and heck even the French in that area. While South Korea do have their success story like The King of Pigs which is a generally well received movie. Anime fans on the other hand know South Korea for their work on trashy knockoffs like Super Kid, Diatron 5, and Blue Seagull. All three which are infamous for their bad quality, and in the case of Diatron 5 a classic among the so bad it’s good anime. The general public on the other hand is unlikely to clearly name you a Korean animated movie, or TV series they like from the top of their head. Would you believe me that AKOM, a South Korean animation studio actually animated over 200 episodes of The Simpsons, and also worked on Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, Bob’s Burger, and several other series. Shocking I know South Korea animation industry contributes a lot more than what the average person probably think they do. Today’s movie likely won’t cause that huge wave of exposure Korean animation desires to match Hollywood, or Japan, but the strange, and charming movie might get you more interested in checking out their stuff.

vlcsnap-2018-06-30-21h07m37s238
Wizard toilet paper, not the strangest thing you’ll see in the movie

Satellite Girl, and Milk Cow tells the everyday story of KITSAT-1, a satellite, who wants to learn about human emotions, and crash lands on Earth. After crash landing on Earth, she is transforms into a girl, and tries to help Kyung-chun who has been transformed into a milk cow. As unusual as the premise sounds, don’t worry this is only the setup to a strange, but charming love story. Offering a strange cast of leading characters to follow; you have a satellite who falls in love with a musician after hearing one of his songs, you have a musician who turns into a milk because he’s broken hearted, and magical wizard named Merlin who got turned into toilet paper. Once you accept the strange story the character themselves are a lot fun to be around. KITSAT-1 is trying experiencing human emotion for the first time, and Kyung-chun is trying to sort out of his life, and his love life. The film does a good job exploring both of these characters conflicts. Giving both characters a fair amount of screen time tackling their issues together, and on their own to reflect what they’re looking for in life. Providing a full understanding where each is coming from, and taking the time to slowly show how they change.

A consequence of the film’s runtime is parts of the film are rushed, and in some cases lead to some head scratching moments. One of these happens late in the movie where a woman calls the police on Kyung-chun in his Milk Cow form suspecting him of attempting to abduct a child. During the scene, Kyung-chun acts out of character, and instead of sorting out the situation he goes to eat grass letting KITSAT-1 calm the angry citizens. Parts of the story aren’t properly explained like the organization the villain works. A minor complaint about the writing is aspects the world aren’t clearly explained. You’ll be left wondering where in the world did the Incinerator come from, and how widespread is the problem of broken hearted human being turned into animals is. Part of it remedied by keeping the conflict confined, and the villain’s motivation simple. Yes, it’s all about money. However, a lot of it charm seeps through the weaker aspects of its writing. Everything about the film feels sincere in its efforts to have fun while touching on the theme of love in its unique way. Not shying away from taking advantage from the strange world it created, even if the results is all over the place.

As individual characters both KITSAT-1, and Kyung-chun have satisfactory arcs, but in the romance department the bonding moments are rushed at times. One moment it’s all lovey dovey, and the next moment it’s the sorrowful we can’t be together. It still works since the story puts effort into ensuring they have plenty of bonding moments, but if allowed to play out more naturally it would have end up feeling more meaningful than it did.  Lastly, wizard toilet paper Merlin appears in frequently in the movie. For the first act he’s on screen, but after that his appearance is random. Given he has magical abilities some of the film conflicts could have been resolved easier if he was present his is made more noteworthy because of it. Although, Merlin is given some great, over the top dialogue which makes him a pleasant whenever to see on screen.

kznng8
Ah, the magic of toilet paper

The studio behind this is Now OR Never Studio, with animator/director Chang Hyung-yun handling of the project initially looking rough. When you do see 2D digital animation for the first time it is rough looking. Seeing a 2D cow running away from a mechanical Incinerator with jenky 3D movements, and obvious 3D background. The animation is consistent in quality. In particular when it comes to framing, and moving the camera in certain shots eliminating any semblance of perspective. The rotation of the camera in points inadvertently makes the 2D part look really bad.

Thankfully, a good chunk of the movie looks just fine. While it pales in comparison to 2D from other countries it works fine here. Generally the movie is colorful, and the backgrounds are decently detail in 2D. Always trying keep what’s on screen in motion. Offering some nice visual gags along the way, as well as some strange sights like Merlin the wizard toilet paper having arms, and legs. It’s strange to witness, but overall charming.

When it comes to voice acting both the Korean, and English tracks are pretty good. Thankfully, the English dub actually dubs the Korean songs in English. So you won’t get taken out of the moment when viewing the movie. I personally prefer the English dub because Kirk Thornton who voices Merlin is the highlight. He delivers such goofy sounding dialogue with plenty of charisma its infectious. I also like Daniel J Edwards (assuming he sang it) of the few songs that get played. However, there’s the consequence of the voice not matching the lip flaps of the characters on several occasions. It’s very distracting, though didn’t ruin the experience for me.

Satellite Girl, and Milk Cow is jenky in its animation, and wonky in its writing at times, but a lot of its charm seep through despite these issues. The production team is clearly trying to create a good film, and it shows through in the final product. It’ll a take a while to get over it shortcomings on all front, and you’re willing to a give it a chance despite that you might just find a good underneath the rough, and strange front to enjoy.

Rating: 7/10

Anime-Breakdown: The Boy and the Beast (2015)

Out of all genres when it comes to storytelling fantasy is easily my least favorite. It’s for the sole reason almost anyone who writes a fantasy story in general lacks the creativity to depart from being a Lord of the Ring copycat, or don’t bother putting their own spin on tired formulas. Among these tired formula is the young child being transported into another world, and growing up after their journey is completed. A simple setup like this allows the writer to come up with anything fantastical they want. In this case, the writer is Mamoru Hosoda who also directed the movie, and it shows his incompetence as a lone storyteller. Quite the bold statement to make, until you realize screenwriter Satoko Okudera who shared screen writing credits on Hosoda previous films from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Summer Wars (2009), and Wolf Children (2012) is absent from screenwriting duty this time. You would think working with someone like Satoko Okudera (an experience screenwriter in TV, and films) during his career that Hosoda would learn how to craft a compelling story with fully realize themes on his own. Apparently not since The Boy, and the Beast comes off embarrassingly amateur on every front.

giphy1
You’re not the best, around! Everything’s gonna keep you down!

The Boy, and the Beast tries to be a coming of story following Ren, a pre-teen with a bad attitude who runs away from home after the death of his mother. This eventually leads Ren to discover a portal to Jutengai: The Beast Kingdom where anthropomorphic creatures roam free. Inadvertently, he become entangled in a feud between two powerful warriors vying for Lord of Jutengai. Detailing more about the little snippets of story this film has to offer would be spoiling it. Simultaneously accomplishing the impossible task of meandering, and being rushed in its writing. Meandering in the way it takes longer than necessary to establish, or get across simple plot points. Taking it sweet before introducing any sort of an overarching story thirty minutes into the movie. This late start dampens the experience since the introduction sequence tells you about the world of Jutengai, and the conflict between two powerful warriors vying to be the lord of Jutengai. So minutes when characters are explaining this to Ren it makes the introductory narration pointless.

The biggest issue this introduction brings up is the fact this is one pointless usage of a fantasy world. For starter, it hardly bothers to explain much about Jutsengai being more akin to duplicating the human world in how it function. There’s so little effort to make Jutengai its own distinct entity apart from the human world that if one removed the fantasy setting hardly anything in the story would change. There’s one scene where Ren, and his temperamental master Kumatetsu go traveling to learn what true strength is from eight different gods across the land of Jutengai. I presume it’s eight since eight letter of introduction is given to Kumatetsu, and it’s establish they’re just letter of introduction. Showing the audience only half of the lords in the land. This half explored idea rein true for the entire movie; concepts are half baked, and dropped as a moment instance despite the fact they could provide the much needed substance the movie needs.

The dramatic focus of the story is Ren tackling several inner turmoils that the movie poorly handles. For starter, in the second half of the movie Ren becomes confuse if he’s human, or beast. This simple idea of uncertainty where Ren belongs has the foundation to be a compelling character arc, but instead glosses over it since Hosoda doesn’t know how to show Ren conflicted being a part of two worlds. Another issue is Ren coming to terms with his father, and learning to forgive him for leaving him at a young age. Instead of showing the steps to that character arc it’s resolve in three exchange; the reintroduction, the fight, and the resolution. That’s all! Being it very bothersome because his father absent is one of the main motivation for Ren running away in the first place.

vlcsnap-2018-06-27-19h33m06s620.png
This is about as imaginative this movie gets with it setting

Bringing me to my biggest problem of Ren writing which is he has no consequences for running away from his problems. Ren doesn’t learn from Kumatetsu to suck it up, smell the roses, and endure the worst temporary aspects of one’s life. No, Ren turns out well for himself. I’m left to presume this since the movie skips over a decade to him being an adult. During that time I’m left to presume that Ren never felt alone as the only human in Jutengai, out of place, or any kind of conflict during this time. It’s now when he’s an adult returning to the real world for the first he has any spontaneous issue living in Jutengai. If you think the movie would wisely show Ren attempting to adapt again into the human world you’re wrong. Anything regarding his education is brushed aside since he has a friend who helps him study, and presumably quickly since the passage of time isn’t properly established. Fixing up his relationship with his estranged father is done in a haphazard manner. Ren sees his father just whenever the story feels like it. Ren is a simply a tool that goes through the various motion without having much to take in, even on a surface level. On top of this, Ren even has a home to return to in the human world so even less conflict to overcome.

We then  come to the characters of Tatara, and Hyakushubo who only purpose in the movie is explaining to the audience the moral of the story, and the significance of scenes. Being very insulting to the audience intelligence since the film tells a very simplistic story. They explain the growth of Ren when in the hospital looking after Kumatetsu, explain what Ren is doing when imitating Kumatetsu movements, and sometimes other characters do the spoon feeding when Tatara, and Haykushubo are absent on screen. Like two important figures commenting both Kumatetsu, and Ren learning from each other, even though the visuals clearly got that across. There’s also the time Kaede explains to Ren that metaphor in the novel Moby Dick, which in turn is actually meant to tell the audience Kumatetsu is an extension of Ren. Something that is obvious to interpret from the simplistic writing. Instead of trusting its viewer to connect the dots it dedicated the creation of two characters to spoon feed you the events you’re seeing on screen.

vlcsnap-2018-06-27-19h48m42s757
The movie lost me before the Whale appeared, but it certainly helped in lowering my interest.

This wouldn’t be needed in the first place if Hosoda actually fleshed out his themes, and characters. For the first half, the story attempts to have Ren, and his master Kumatetsu learn about finding strength, and learning to cooperate with each other to achieve their individual goal. When the time skip occurs the characters haven’t changed much. Being one dimensional prevents meaningful growth, especially when the movie has it characters telling the viewer things they could pick up on easily.

The climax is simply a clusterfuck. Introducing a villain that was poorly foreshadowed leading to a battle of ideology. It’s at this point the poor world building comes into effect. So, when the villain is causing havoc in the human world there suddenly some explosions in Jutengai. The world building is virtually absent that this only in this point in the movie is it even mentioned in throwaway dialogue that chaos in the human world also means chaos in Jutengai. No, I don’t know if the same applies in reverse since this is the first time anything of the sort is brought up. The only other mentioned of this is when Kumatetsu is warned that if a human is consumed by darkness it could affect more than him. A warning so vague it could translate to anything. By the time I saw the sight of a CG whale brought to life by the fact that Ren dropped a book called Moby Dick I knew I was already in too deep, and might as well finish it. Leading to a very cheesy resolution in the climax, and a callback makes it hilarious to consider that Hosoda idea of foreshadowing is just briefly mention something once, and have it be absent for a long time.

tumblr_o4uszg6j2w1trpnp2o1_500
Smooth animation!

Animation is handle by Studio Chizu, and it’s fine. The movement is smooth regardless of how many characters are on screen. Character expressions are very exaggerated same with body movement. Where the animation falls short is the visual design; it’s mundane. Studio Chizu applies as much real world function to Jutengai as possible making it barely look any different than the human world. When it comes to designs the background are very detailed, and vibrant. Unfortunately, the characters in them lack creative design. This is mostly due to the baffling decision to have all of its fantasy creatures where Japanese clothing retroactively homogenizing every beast visually. Hardly deviating from the anthropomorphic animals designs not creating anything unique of their own. The few action sequences are fluid, but not exciting to watch since there’s hardly any dynamic camera angles. The few usage of CG blends in well with 2D animation preventing things from sticking out like a sore thumb.

Voice acting is the only aspect of the movie I consider to be fine. If you ask me, I would say the Japanese audio is better simply for the fact Kumatetsu is voiced by Japanese award winning film actor Koji Yakusho. Providing a welcome change in the reluctant master role in his more relax portrayal. Typically, a voice actor would play temperamental characters by simply shouting, screaming, or yelling their lines into the mic. For example, Josh Swasey who voices Kumatetsu does exactly that for the entire film. Preventing there being any wiggle room for him to get across a softer side of Kumatetsu. Koji Yakusho on the other hand simply plays him like he would any other character. He puts himself into the mind of Kumatetsu, brings out his temperamental side without purely relying on shouting, and lay on some charm through a rough, charismatic voice. Unlike Josh Swasey portrayal of Kumatetsu, Koji Yakusho makes an unlikable character likable. As for the rest of the cast they’re fine in both languages. However, with one actor portraying Kumatetsu properly, and the other one doing it badly. The Japanese audio is the recommended choice if everything I wrote doesn’t dissuade you from watching it. Music is easily forgettable while I’m at it.

The Boy, and the Beast is terrible movie that made me feel every minute of its two hour runtime passed by. Checking multiple time when the movie would be over since it provided nothing of value, even on a surface level the animation isn’t enough to enjoy. It’s a simple story about finding one self, conquering the darkness, and growing up stretched to a at time unbearable length. If you removed 75% of the film content, you would have a stronger movie which is the saddest part of all. So clumsy in its exploration of ideas, and so little to grasp on in everything else ensures this is (currently) Mamoru Hosoda weakest movie. He needs to learn in order for his ideas to work they need to be properly fleshed out, clearly defined by how his characters face these ordeals, and most importantly don’t spoon feed the audience the meaning of your story simplistic story.

Rating: 2/10

The joy, and pain of watching bad anime

Having recently completed Anime-Gatari, and the characters in that series talking about classic anime got me thinking about the bad anime I’ve watched…while currently watching that bad anime. If you could go on my mal profile (which MAL won’t let you see as of this moment) you would notice a good chunk of the things I’ve watched I awarded negative rating towards. A simple fix to this would be to simply watch more good series, in particular a lot of well regarded classics on my plan to watch list. I could do that, but at the same time I’ll feel like I’m missing out on hundreds of titles if I ignore all the bad anime there is too watch.

When I first started watching anime, much like Asian movies, I thought everything I watched was good. After a while, it became increasingly evident that not all anime is equal to each other. The first one that brought up this thought was Beyond the Boundary (Kyoukai no Kanata in Japanese) from Kyoto animation. Being the first bad airing anime I watched to completion. At first, I thought I was going crazy thinking this series was bad when I either scroll down to the comment section of a streaming site, or go to its page on any anime aggregate site to read dozens upon dozens of positive reviews for it. Eventually, I got over it, and finally settled on it was bad, and I was in the minority with that viewpoint. Something that would be more common as I spend more time watching anime.

Over the years, I watched more good anime, and more bad anime. For me, I try to balance my good anime with the bad ones. This way, I feel like I’ll become less jaded in my viewpoint on anime the more I watch it. A lot of people in the community I talk too whenever sharing their experiences of watching anime have one thing in common; they marathon one good series after another. Doing that for months, or years made them eventually reach a point where they don’t see anything on the level they used too. Also, from the same people, hearing, or reading their thoughts on how they feel anime is getting worse over time, and it makes them lose interest in watching anime is something I don’t experience. For me, I never stopped watching anime once I got into it. I do increase, or decrease the amount of anime I watch depending on how busy my life is, but other than that I never once consider dropping anime completely. Some of the people I’ve talked too have dropped watching anime for a bit because of how bad something was.

Now my sample of people I interact with is rather small so their viewing habits vastly differs from mine. For instance, there’s someone on this Discord server who claims to finish one anime a day, which if I’m being honest is probably not a healthy way to consume media. Me, and this individual who I shall nicknamed Orge sometime clash when it comes to the quality of certain animes. This end up going into a long winded debate where neither of us change their viewpoints on something. The best example is me having a strong dislike for Assassination Classroom season 2, and Orge on the other side having the complete opposite opinion to me. I consider Assassination Classroom season 2 among the worse animes I’ve seen, and trying to get that across to this individual was futile since all my points went over his head. Me on the other hand, I more, or less glimpse into the reasoning why someone can like that series, even if I don’t agree with the reasoning. Now that my longer than expected sorta preface is done, I shall more, or less generalize my thoughts on watching bad anime.

unsee
Artistic recreation of me watching Assassination Classroom season 2

First being what does bad anime offer me that I can’t find in good anime? That’s nearly impossible to justify since even I consider good anime to have some bonkers moments in them. Sure, nothing will ever beat the classic bad line of “He has a hat!” in the edgy Ajin anime by Polygon Pictures, but at the same time my favorite anime of all time follows a young man who kills people by writing their names in a notebook in Death Note. For me, it’s all about the experience itself, and it ultimately ends up offering me. Only in my exploration of viewing bad anime can I truly grasp the full picture of a bad series.

Two days ago for example, I finished an obscure anime OVA by studio Magic Bus called Wounded Man with my brother. Needless to say it was awful. My idea of good writing is typically in favor of execution. I feel the same type of stories can be told countless of time if the execution is good. In Wounded Man, needless to say that wasn’t the case. Something about good anime is experiencing those type series that exceed your expectation, and become a new found favorite. The same applies for my experience of Wounded Man. There are just things about writing a story I feel should be commonplace, but surprisingly I kept getting proven wrong. For example, I think it would be outrageous to have your hero rape a woman, and than have the hero claim it was for her benefit to warn her about the danger of the amazon. You might be thinking no one would ever be dumb enough to do that, and yet that is what happened in the first episode of Wounded Man, and on top of that the women ends up falling in love with her rapist. Much like how good anime has the potential to exceed expectations, and engage you in ways you never expected. Well, bad anime has the same power to reach a new low you never thought it could go, or even thought anyone would go to.

Another reason for me watching bad anime is it comes with the territory. I know beforehand in everything I watch, or read I won’t like everything I check out. So instead of avoiding any possible anime I might dislike I’ll simply give them a chance. Earlier this year I saw a shojo anime called Ultra Maniac from studio Production Reed for the first time. Initially, I saw it because I enjoyed it in a ironic sense, but over time I actually began to enjoy it. The characters were being fleshed out, and it surprisingly did a decent job talking about love, and some of the shenanigan the characters got involved in were entertaining. When I finally finished Ultra Maniac, I was pleasantly surprised it turned out to be a good series. If I purely judged it on the first episode, I would have never continued it since it was quite the hot mess! However, I kept going, and found something I enjoyed.

One anime I didn’t expect to have a dislike for would be Rainbow: Nisha Rokubo no Shichinin by Madhouse studio. On paper, I should have enjoyed a drama series that shows it delinquent leads overcoming numerous hardships through the course of their life, except I didn’t. I didn’t go into Rainbow with the expectation that is was bad, but that how I felt by the end of it. There are numerous reasons why I consider it a bad anime, and explaining them is also difficult. Rainbow is the kind of series where describing its bad writing is difficult because the methods it uses to get a reaction from the audiences do work. I watched it with a group of friends, and I can tell even if I saw it by myself I would have still disliked the anime. I saw a story that tried every cheap trick it could think of to make it viewer feel sympathy for it characters, but one other person saw an engaging story. Unfortunately, I never had a back, and forth discussion on why I consider Rainbow bad with that person.

Rainbow.png
Ishihara in Rainbow, completely over the top

That same person who also enjoyed Rainbow a great deal, unlike myself, also recommended me an anime called School Live by studio Lerche. I have no idea why she thought I would enjoy that series, but I’m guessing it’s the fact I have Cardcaptor Sakura in my favorites, and in that Discord server it’s pretty much the one thing everyone knows I like a lot. Instead of shrugging off her recommendation because it has zombies which is something I generally find boring. I went ahead, and watched it. Surprised, I didn’t like it, and I told her that too. However, from that experience it reinforce my notion to check out any recommendation, even if I’m not interested in the genre. The reason is simple, someone recommending me something tells me they want to share that series with me. It’s more preferable than someone telling me to skip something because they think it’s bad. For example, I still online numerous posts telling people to skip the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime from 2003 in favor of Brotherhood. Reason being most of the users considered it a bad series for the original material. If I had followed their advice, I would have missed out on watching one of my favorite anime series of all time.

Before I end up going on forever on this broad topic. The last thing I would probably address is in general it’s also an engaging experience in the opposite way. Much like how not all good anime will always be consistent in quality, there are bad anime that have rare moments where they turn out something of good quality. No other example better stand out to me than the character of Jou Yokosuka from the anime of Rainbow mentioned earlier. His storyline about finding his sister, and desiring to be a singer was tackle really well in the anime. Unlike the general series, Jou Yokosuka suffers the least from over sensationalizing it tragic story, and manage to craft a good character arc in the sea of bad writing.

Offline, I watch anime with my brother from to time. Alongside the good series I show him like Noragami, Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), and Mobile Suit Gundam: 08Th MS Team we also watch the bad ones. He’s very thankful that I introduced him to Green Green (what he consider the worst anime he ever seen), and Wounded Man. However, we also had some fun enjoying the occasional “so bad, it’s good” type of bad anime like Dark Cat, Brain Powerd, and especially Mad Bull 34. From those selection of title, watching anime is like a roller coaster in a unpredictable pattern uncertain if it’ll go up, or go down at any moment. It’s through these titles, and a balance of good, and bad anime that we both have a lot fun watching anime together when we do. It makes the number of discussion we can have increased compare to if we only saw good series, and it would have simply ended up being a non-stop discussion of things we like. Something we both would have eventually gotten bored with.

face 3
Artistic recreation of someone reaction when seeing Cardcaptor Sakura in my favorites on MAL

Bad anime is simply a bad anime plain, and simple to some. To me however, bad anime is also part of what I enjoy about watching it. If I only watched anime to enjoy it than I’m going to miss out on a lot anime because of that. Some of the bad anime I’ve seen by myself. I would also later on recommend some to see together as a group. Dark Cat I recommend a group to watch together, in the moment they might have hated my guts for picking something that awful to watch, but thinking back on it. Turned out watching it was a fun experience. Sure, the experience will varied every time depending on the title, or if you watch it in a group, or by yourself. Sometimes it’s trashy fun like Mad Bull 34, and sometime it just makes you hate watching anime like Wounded Man. Or it could be the third type like a friend who watch Kakegurui, and it made it quit watching anime for a while. He didn’t like it.

For me, bad anime are part of the medium I’ve come to appreciate. They are frustrating, and some in particular anger me to no end, but that’s something I value from what I watch. As opposed to it leaving me with no impression once its over. Whether it ends up making me hate teenagers like Assassination Classroom season 2, or make me want to punch something like My Hero Academia season 1. It all keeps me watching anime in the end. Knowing there’s a counterbalance to something like Cardcaptor Sakura that made me consider being a father with something like School Live that made me hate little girls ensures watching anime is never just a single path. Rather, I feel it keeps the rollercoaster that is watching anime a ride worth taking; whether I end up liking it, or not.

Well that’s about it. I went all over the place with the topic, but that sometime happens when I have a lot to say, and plenty of it just rushing out all once. If you made it to the end, I would give you a digital cookie, but Cookie Monster destroyed my house once I mentioned the word cookie. Blame him for stealing your cookies! I have nothing clever left to say, or a clever exit to end this post. Have a nice one, and keep on watching anime (even the bad ones).

Some Quick Thoughts On: Yagami Family Affairs (1990) OVA

If you have seen anime long enough you’re bound to find those bizzare titles that make you question everything logical. First one that usually comes to my mind is how that did I get to a point where I watched a anime that tackles incest, terrorism, essentialism, and with penguins involve in a anime series called Mawaru Penguindrum (2011). I don’t know, but it what an interesting experience. That’s the kind thing you gotta expect, especially when you go out of your way to check out obscure anime on a whim. Most of the time, I simply don’t bat an eye at an anime I watch. However, this is one of those certain anime titles that make me question what in the world I’m watching, and it’s a thought that never leaves my mind.

huh
This isn’t even the strangest thing she does in the OVA.

I’m going to write about one such anime called Yagami Family Affairs. The OVA is based on a manga called Yagami-kun Katei no Jijo which ran from March 1986 to May 1990. I was unable to look up any sales figure to see gauge how popular it was at the time, but apparently it was popular enough to get an 11 episode, live action tv adaptation which I can’t find any information on either. So, without any interesting facts about it to share lets move forward. I should give out a warning that yes, I’m going to partially spoil this OVA, but in the long run the overarching story really doesn’t matter much. If you so desire to watch a incest comedy OVA animated by Production IG (I’m not kidding, they actually did it) completely blind stop reading here. If you don’t care about minor spoilers, I shall continue to ramble on.

Yagami Family Affairs premise is on the ever so classic setup of a teenage boy named Yuji Yagami who loves his mother, and in a incestual kind of way. I would say Japan in particular has some kind of fascination with this type of taboo subject matter, but at the same time Game of Thrones made incest mainstream in the US, there’s also a US book from author V.C. Andrews called Flowers In the Attic which has a incestual plotline selling over 40 millions books world wide, and even my favorite horror movie, the original 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre US movie couldn’t escape having incest on some level in its story. So simply saying Japan has a fascination with it is a bit misleading when I also live in a place that is just as fascinated by it as Japan. However, from what I’ve encounter, incest is typically a sign that whatever piece of media you’re going to consume is likely going to turn out bad since it’s hardly used in quality works.

Moving on, the 3 episode OVA initially makes such a baffling premise for a comedy somewhat watchable for two minutes before derailing itself immediately. The biggest problem is everyone non-chuntantly accepts that Yuji Yagami has a sexual drive for his mother, even his father, and mother seems to be cool with it laughing it off later on in episode 1. I mean, just how am I supposed to make fun of that. There’s a moment in the first episode where several male students talk about how their mothers looks, and how their mothers are unattractive compare to Yuji’s mother. These um, mother fuckers/friends are envious, and rightfully tease Yuji for having a crush on his mother. I mean, how am I supposed to take a scene where a group of teenage boys compare how attractive their mothers are to a particular student. Just, so questionable on so many level. Yuji also ends up sleeping with his mother during episode 1, and no they don’t have sex. Get your mind out of the gutter!

3rexlarge
Hmm, I honestly don’t know how to respond to that.

If you think I’m simply overexaggerating Yuji’s affection for his mother, well in episode 2 Yuji teams up with one of his teacher who also has a crush on his mother. Both call a truce because, you know, Yuji’s father is married to her, and both Yuji, and his teacher decide to resume their competition once they get her divorced. There is just so much wrong to untangle from that last sentence, and even more so from Yuji stupidity since how in the world do you forget your own mother is married to you know, your father! Oh man, Yuji Yagami, you’re really stupid. In episode 3, he teams up with a woman named Mitsuko Nanase (image below), whom I gotta admit I do find pretty hot.

77617
Yes, it’s an excuse to post picture of an anime character I like in this OVA for shallow reasons.

More importantly though, Yuji teams up Mtsuko to help her capture the heart of his father. While people are deep in thought wondering what the meaning to life is, here I am wondering what in the world compel the creators of this project to come up with these kind situations. Everything that Yuji does in the service of him potentially hooking up with his mother, and no, no amount of light hearted music is going make cheer Yuji on for that.

The anime OVA exaggerates the humor, and the characters reaction in order to get a laugh out of the viewer. I did laugh somewhat at some of the jokes when they weren’t related to Yuji wanting to bang his mother, or around sex. It eventually gets repetitive when the jokes basically center around Yuji wanting to bang his mother, and the crazy lengths he’ll go just pound his own mother. One of the jokes is Yuji mother getting the measurement of her son’s penis in secret. Yep, that a thing that happened here. There’s also the moment where Yuji imagined his mother naked, and also briefly think about how many times he showered with his mother. If these things don’t have you laughing then maybe the moment Yuji confesses to a girl he likes that he’s in love with his mother, and the girl he likes also seems to be cool with it. The scene doesn’t end there either, he brags about kissing his mother everyday to this girl he likes. I’m in awe in the anime ability to just constantly keep me watching because of how questionable everything it does is.

vpzmoz
This moment actually made me laugh.

By this point in this post, if you’re expecting anything resembling normal human behavior from the characters in this OVA just don’t. This is a comedy where Yuji gets hit by a car, and motorcycle at some point, and just brushes them off like he got hit by a spitball. Further adding to the insanity is that it actually has an overarching story with a central message about unrequited love. Granted, the setup is perfect for that because mother/son incest is just plain wrong. However, the overly lighthearted nature, Yuji attempt to want to fuck his mother by any length, and his strong sexual desire towards her makes the whole unrequited love lesson not work at all. It ends with Yuji setting a goal for himself to get over his mother complex, and the viewer doesn’t get to see that in progress. With everything I’ve seen in the OVA I would honestly not like think about what happens afterwards.

Also in episode 2, Yuji comically blows up his classroom with a rocket launcher when they him to make it a threesome with his mother. Seconds later, a character says Yuji can’t take a joke. Yeah, because Yuji who gets constantly teased for having a mother complex would laugh at people telling him to make sex with his mother into a threesome. I should probably do the same kind of teasing with one my friends, and see how he reacts to it. On second thought, probably shouldn’t considering what one of them did, and that will probably be a story for another time. The anime is filled to the brim with odd moments like this that one joke is at least bound to make you laugh.

9qv88j
Context: Son sees teacher cock blocking him for his mother. Obviously you assault him with a tank.

Only other thing to mention is the studio responsible for making this is none other than Production IG. Yes, the same Production IG responsible for Eden of East, Ghost In the Shell, and Psycho-Pass. The animation is actually decent for the comedy; movements are exaggerated, characters are very expressive, and typically filled energy. It’s weird complementing this OVA when I just spend the last couple of paragraphs questioning it story. I have no clue if the entire studio was blackmailed into making this, or the even crazier idea if the studio thought this project would sell well. Going down in anime history as one of its greatest unanswered mystery.

Would I recommend Yagami Family Affairs? Yes to be honest because it’s such a bizarre comedy with no semblance of logic you have to witness for yourself. It especially makes for a good viewing in a group where you can share the odd experience together. It’s such a questionable piece of animation that I couldn’t help, but finish it. If the premise isn’t something to your liking it’s understandable because incest is also something that makes me want throw up my soul, and enter into another worldly realm. For those who are okay with watching anything, no matter how questionable, I recommend checking this out, and revel in complete lunacy that is Yagami Family Affairs.

If I were to rate this anime I would give a 1 out of 10.

Anime-Breakdown: Patema Inverted (2013)

Patema Inverted follows Patema, a young girl from a civilization that resides in deep underground tunnels. While exploring one day, she gets herself trapped in Aiga, an inverted world, and teams up with a resident to escape and return home. Instantly having the appeal of its unique world set up in the opening minutes, Patema Inverted will make you curious to seek answers. Once the film ends, you’ll end up almost exactly where you started in your understanding of the world. The origins are explained, and some of the aftermath on the creation of opposite gravitational pulls, but other details like the changes that might occurred after the film events, and the new discovery from our main characters are left unanswered. The effect of a device that created a shift on Earth’s gravity is also vague implying it does whatever the story demands it, like shifting the weight of characters when traveling. Without proper world building it’s uncertain how the Orwellian dystopia of Aiga would change at all from the events in the film. Furthermore, it’s distracting with the lack of proper world building will make you wonder what exactly happened to the Earth itself since twice in the movies Patema, and her friend reach the highest point of their respective civilization, and there’s no stars to speak off. Adding onto this issue is the lack of explanation of what happened to the first people that fell into the sky given a specific revelation at the beginning of the third act. That revelation leads to more questions that aren’t answered, and some plot holes while the ending also does the same adding to the list of plot holes. 

Patema Inverted 03
And on your left, you’ll see more pointless buildings.

Aspects of Aiga civilization are very broad, and one dimensional in its portrayal. Being a civilization rule by a over the top evil leader Izamura. From the onset, having a villain who thinks he’s doing good in order to maintain order isn’t bad, but it becomes downgraded when the portrayal is over the top. The villain of the film has little motivation to act the way he does, and the religious like mindset to punish sinners isn’t delved into enough to make up his shortcomings. There’s also the unanswered question of how he obtain so much power despite him clearly not being in the right state of mind for it. Given how dead set Izamura is to keep order the only protection he has to prevent outsiders from entering is a fence. More leap in logic includes Aiga being surrounded by cameras, and later implied in the film to be under constant surveillance makes it baffling how the security in Aiga didn’t catch Patema crossing the boarder sooner. I could also bring up the fact the Aiga has students shown to be given points with the implication of worth, shown strict regulation on how people can act, and no parents to be found. However, the film chooses to gloss over these functions of its society, and simply speculating on them will do the film no favors.

At the center of it all is Patema, and Age both teenagers who bond is rushed in the film. Patema dreams of seeing more to the more, and Age likes looking at the stars. These two characters eventually meet each other only to have what should be the emotional anchor of the story to be left shallow. The most effective scenes the quiet moments where Patema, and Age simply talk about their lives. It’s doesn’t sound exciting, but it works in creating good drama. Unfortunately, the quiet moments are sparse throughout relying mostly on a comedic back, and forth between the two. Yet, because of how rushed their bond is there is little time they spent together before one of them gets captured, and has to be rescue. On top of that, because Patema, and Age got separated so early in the movie it renders their eventual reunion ineffective. There is also some kind romance building, though that’s hard to buy since it was rushed, and accepting both characters fell in love after spending like three days with each other mostly apart with everything else going on might be a little too much to accept.

As separate characters, Patema is the stronger of the two. She gets more development, and has more lively personality compare to Age who is simply nice guy. Patema backgrounds get delved into, and getting to see her absorb the beauty, and harshness of a new world she hasn’t seen. Her enthusiasm, and expressed wonder in seeing this new world for the first time helps in providing the film a sense of adventure. Age on the other hand just accepts whatever happens. This changes later on when he becomes more proactive, but lacks growth, and any sort of pay off for following him. Patema eventually gets a rewarding emotional scene when she discovers the fate of her father like figure, but Age is not given that same luxury. When alone Patema is a character that’s somewhat worthwhile to follow, and sadly Age isn’t lending to the uneven nature in the film.

Patema Inverted 04
I can assure you that I am not evil!

Supporting characters remain simplistic, and stay one dimensional. They don’t serve any greater narrative purpose other than what a certain scene requires them. Either be hesitating to shoot Age, have a side character provide comedy, or helping Age in breaking out Patema from a tower. They are functional since in Patema’s home there is an attempt to depict some kind of everyday life for the people, and some world building. Aiga, I already mentioned glosses over its world building. One side of the world you have some fleshed out characters, and a lead character who experiences a satisfactory growth on her journey. On the other side of it you have a major character, and a world who are glossed over during the film. It’s odd, one half of the movie knows what makes a good story, and the other half is that bad movie. Sadly, it’s the bad portions that eventually become victorious as the weaker aspects of the writing overwhelm the good parts the longer it goes.

When it comes to voice acting I would say neither the Japanese, and English track have a clear winner. The Japanese cast has two better lead actors in Yukiyo Fujii, and Nobuhiko Okamoto with a more heartfelt performance. Especially Nobuhiko Okamoto performance helps mask the shortcoming of Age bad writing through his more emotional delivery. In the English dub both Cassandra Lee Morris, and Michael Sinterniklaas are okay in their role. Only Cassandra Lee Morris of the two is able to make Patema captivating. On the other hand, the English dub has a better supporting cast keeping in line with the film overall tone. In Japanese, some of the supporting voice actors can be prone to overact their parts creating tonal whiplash in a scene that isn’t found in the English dub. Dialogue is underwhelming in both version either being fluff, or clunky in places. Regardless what you choose to go with, neither the Japanese, or English voice track will impress.

Patema Inverted 02
Animated sequences like this are the highlight of the movie.

The animation is handled by Purple Cow Studios Japan (yes, that’s the studio name), and it’s nice looking at times. Character designs are uninspired, but make up for it by having them be very expressive. Background are also simple, but during night sequences the background will be given more details to display its beauty. The underground city where Patema live is brittle with detail as well. Anything outside, or inside during broad light though is unimpressive. There’s a few time where the cinematography would have scenes animated upside down. Making for a few unique looking sequences. In rare usage, the camera will also turn sideways, or upside down to show the perspective of the other character. It’s obvious the animation studio abilities are limited since these type of usage of the camera are in short supply. The music is composed by Michiru Oshima making some wondrous tunes. His music elevate certain sequences giving them a sense wonder where the writing lacks in creating. My favorite pieces of his music are for creating a foreboding mood providing a sense of danger, or mystery that severely lacking.

Patema Inverted is fascinating conceptually while the actual movie ends up being less than it could have been. The world is more fascinating to me than the rushed character bonding it’s more focus on showing. If it wasn’t rushed in developing it central relationship than I would have engaged despite the half baked world building in place. All around interesting, and all around somewhat disappointing. It had high goals that it couldn’t grasp fully.

Rating: 4/10

Anime-Breakdown: The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017)

Coming of age stories are one of the most relatable type of stories. Growing up isn’t a thing that comes easily, and upon reflection youth is something that feels like it had gone by way to quickly. All sorts of media from novels, to movies, and even anime itself love to do these type of stories. Transitioning from adolescence into adulthood is something that can be apply almost universally. However, finding something in these type of stories to stand out is almost as mundane as sport stories themselves; virtually sticking wholeheartedly to realism, and never venturing into any unfamiliar territory, or experimenting in different genres. Bringing you, and me to the film I’m reviewing today titled The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome in Japanese). A coming of age film excessive on energy, carried by bizarre imagery, filled with wild characters, all coming together into a insane, yet very thoughtful anime film.

night_sap_0877
Yes mam, you where this fish!

The Night Is Short, Walk On GIrl follows young woman named “Otome”, and her “Senpai” through an insanely long, bizzare night around Japan. After the first four minutes of the movie briefly setting up a bit of information for its characters, and sharing their plans for the night the movie completely does away with any semblance of normality. Turning into what appears to be a random series of events with some clever ideas getting illustrated along the way. For example, there’s a sequence where Otome, and some pals she met earlier in the night entering a bar, and briefly end up talking about time. The elderly in the bar, and Otome friends mention how time is moving quickly for them, and even show Otome their fast ticking watches. However, when Otome shows the group her watch it goes a lot slower. When brought up, the idea is simply interesting to ponder as it quickly moves on to the next crazy event. The film is filled with small touches like these that through the course of the movie are expanded upon. Going back to the watch passage of time, it’s a detail that rings true to the movie. A majority of the film actually enforces this idea by how long Otome night is, and the crazy amounts of events that occured within the film. There’s also another example of this later on in the film where in the background when Otome visits Rihaku-san it’s shown his clocks moving rapidly forward. Rihaku-san in this sequence, much like Otome, experiences life at such a breakneck while living in the moment, but not having a desire for longing to see someone. Rikahu goes into his sadden state considering his life a failure, and shown in the background clocks slowing down after a discussion with Otome.

The whole film is brimming with seemingly unrelated sequences from a group of students performing Guerrilla Theater, a competition between five men under a large tent eating very spicy food to see who can last the longest to obtain a book of their desire, a drinking battle, the God of the Used Book Market collecting books aiming to set books free, and other craziness ensues. How the film chooses to connect these seemingly random events is through the theme of threading fates. There are a few moments in the film where it plainly lays it out for you; like the God of the Used Book Market explaining how several different books are connected to Otome, and when Otome has a drinking bout against Rihaku she mentions everything happening to her is connected by fate. While virtually the rest of the film doesn’t spell it out for you. When in the moment of experiencing the odd assortments of events it’ll seem unrelated. However, there’s always a small piece that leads into another events either be Otome wanting to see another part of town, or Senpai being pulled into something to win Otome affection. No matter how random it seems, it always lays out how it got from point a to point b successfully thanks to some carefully planned writing. Ensuring self control in its outlandish nature.

The eccentric Otome is front, and center of the story following her night with Senpai endeavors being splice into each other stories. Both are opposites of each other with Otome always being one to move forward, and Senpai taking thing as they could have been. Both of them interacts with a cast of characters that influence growth in them. Otome with her positive outlook on life, and insistent to constantly move forward makes her the life of the party in her scenes. Typically being wild, and crazy as much as she is. Naturally in the course of the movie her encounters with other slowly makes her reevaluate herself, and much like Senpai, discovers a new balance in their life.

7882hff
The power of love compels Senpai.

Senpai on the other hand scenes are just as crazy, but as not as fast moving in comparison to Otome. Allowing the audience time to take in the lunacy they had be taken into. Seeing Senpai constantly having to put himself out into the world to have a chance to achieve his goal of capturing the girl of his dream. Going through to great lengths to overcome his many obstacles in his path whether it be an endurance competition of eating spicy food, or running as quickly as he could to take the spot of a lead actor in a play to get a kissing scene with Otome.

Another thing the film covers more subtly is Senpai behavior in obtaining the girl of his desire. At the beginning, he lays out his plan detailing he desired to remove obstacles, and meet Otome by chances so she would notice him more. It’s a strategy that comes across stalkerish initially, but Senpai slowly overcomes it eventually find a more direct answer. Never giving into temptation to fall into creeper territory, even if the desires to read a file detailing about Otome no matter how strong the temptation is within him. His endeavors throughout the movie receives a greater payoff in the final act when it gets into the more nitty gritty thought Senpai conflicting on the best course of action in his endeavor of romance. Thinking about every possibility to approach the situation, and overthinking his affection for Otome wondering if its worth anything.

When it comes to substance there’s plenty to be found in The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl that someone can find some level of deeper meaning in it. There’s a foundation, no matter how small it seems, that eventually comes together into a larger, and broader picture. However, there’s two things that will likely hold the film back from general appeal. One of them being the zany nature of events contrasting against its actual message. It’s a movie about making the transition into adulthood, yet the film has so many bizarrely enjoyable it’s become easier to lose sight of that message. It’s more likely a viewer will remember the bizarre sequence of Senpai competing in a contest of endurance eating hot food against other men than the scene where Otome expresses her life view to live in the moment, and judging things by its own merits. Same thing happens later on in the movie; you’re more likely to remember the odd musical number of romance story involving a singing apple, and a cross dresser than the segment of someone believing love being determined through destiny over life experience. Given its main characters Otome, and Senpai contrast each other, as well as some other characters they meet are contrasting one another. The execution here while deliberate for its own good by design has about as much chances as being taken as pure escapism as much as being something enlightening.

image
Look at those lovely visuals.

The second thing that might plague this movie are the loose connection to the bigger picture. Certainly the film has plenty to say, but how much of it can tangibly be linked together is where its get messy. For example, earlier I mentioned the clocks spinning at different speed for Otome, and the people she interacts with. Unless you made a note of that nothing about time is express in the film for over half an hour. Same thing applies with the thread of fate appearing in conversations, and then disappearing at it own leisure. It want to pack so much in its 92 minutes runtime making it very dense in story content. Like the movie mentions several times, everything is connected, but it’s easy to lose to connections with so much going on.

The animation is done by studio Science SARU, and helm by Masaaki Yuasa giving the film a unique style. Characters expressions are expressive, and over the top. Lending itself greatly for effective comedy with exaggerated characters expressions, and fluid movement for 92 minutes. Yuasa let his imagination run wild making sure the film hardly has time to sit still. Nearly every scene is hyperactive in movement, or through various shot compositions makes simple moments memorable. For example, the simple action of someone eating spicy food isn’t made as simple as that. In this film, it’s implements a heat stroke like effects, excessive sweating with huge sweat drops, and disportional puff up lips to get this across. He also empathizes his free range in animation get across other emotions in other manners that aren’t as exaggerated. Another positive about the animation it is ability to allow chaos rein with a surrealism touch, especially in the final act where things are at it crazies. No matter how often it bombards you with visuals the film always make sure there’s always something to see.

tumblr_ozx1mhfn9r1sfqz8qo3_r1_540
Notice me Otome!

The Japanese voice acting is also phenomenal. It might be lacking in terms of range since nearly every voice actor has be over the top, everyone gives it their all. Either be it through having good comedic timing in the comedic scenes, or offering good singing during the Gorilla Theater scenes. Both Kana Hanazawa who plays Otome, and Gen Hoshino who plays Senpai are the ones taking the lead. Kana Hanazawa perfectly imbues Otome energy into her performance. Bringing to life an infectious, energetic character. She’s also able to deliver some serious dialogue without ever seeming to break her character personality. Gen Hoshino excels in his awkward performance of Senpai. While not as energetic as Hanazawa, he ables to express much more emotional range than Hanazawa. He’s able to be very fridgetity, determined, depressed, and panicky into a likable portrayal. Hoshino pulls of the difficult task of making a character who initially comes off as a stalker as likable. The music is done by Michiru Oshima, and it’s pretty good. Lively during the party sequences, and melancholy during the more slower moments in the final act.

The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl offers a thrilling experience as much as it is enlighten on subjects pertaining to life. Offering a slew of fantastic visuals, memorable bizarre sequences, a wildly fun cast of quirky characters, and an unusual execution of a simple message delivery. Regardless of what you take from The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl you’re ensured to be in for a great time.

Rating: 10/10

Some Thoughts On: Lostorage Incited WIXOSS (2016) Series

On March 20, 2018 I finished the third installment in the card playing anime franchise of WIXOSS, and it sucked. Before I go further I will established that I liked the first two seasons of WIXOSS. Both Selector Infected WIXOSS (season 1), and Selector Spread WIXOSS (season 2) even though they had convoluted writing. I enjoyed both seasons as it told a good story, developed it characters fine, handle most of it themes well, and concluded satisfactory. So, you could imagine my surprise when Lostorage Incited WIXOSS first premiered, and I just completely ignored it because I wasn’t watching anime much during 2016. However, in 2017 when I finished the first two seasons of WIXOSS I still had no interest in checking it out. This is for the sole reason I liked the English dub, and so I was simply going to wait for it. As of the posting of this right now, that clearly hasn’t happened, and unlikely to happen anytime soon. What got me to check out season 3 of WIXOSS was seeing a promo poster for season 4 of WIXOSS called Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS. The reason I finally got to seeing this was because a character I like, Ruko Kominato (also nicknamed Ruu-Ruu), protagonist of the first two season, was returning in season 4. That’s all the convincing I needed, and so forth witness the crash that was season 3 of WIXOSS.

Another thing I should add is I knew this was a bad anime before going into it, but I simply skimmed through some reviews on MAL to get a gist of its reception. I didn’t read any story specifics, but general complaints like it being a rehash I knew to be aware off beforehand. After seeing episode 1, I knew I was in immediate trouble. So basically, the setup of the previous two seasons was you play a deadly card game, fight to get a wish granted, and if you lose three times you could never obtain your wish, and everything in the world would make sure you never did. It’s nifty concept when explained like that, but the execution of it eventually got continuously convoluted, and some establish rules got thrown to the wayside as it went on. Other things were happening in the game, but that would involve going into spoiler territory.

fjlasflasdads
Card games are typically more exciting to watch in anime than actually playing them.

Now that you understand in the previous two seasons players were fighting over to have a wish granted you would think the same would apply for season 3. It simply doesn’t as players fight for the grand prize of choosing how to alter their memories, and all losers cease to be themselves. Yeah, already the stakes feel they were immediately diminished from the previous seasons. For starter, losing memories doesn’t sound as big of a deal compare permanently being unable to obtain a wish. For example, if you lost in the first two seasons of WIXOSS, and your wish was to be a track runner. The consequences of your lost would permanently prevent you from being able to achieve that wish. Compared to “losing yourself” it simply doesn’t pack the same punch. Especially, considering that in the first two seasons some of the characters loss their memories while being participants of the game. There’s something else to it, but, eh, that would lead to spoilers!

With the prize being changed there’s also the consequences of the new rules. In the first two seasons, you only had 3 chances, and if you lost three times at any point you were done. Fine, that’s not entirely true with a certain character, but that’s a spoiler if I delve into that plot point. However, in this season you get five coins; the goal is to turn all five coins gold, the amount you start with is random, and if you lose a coin it turns black. You can use coins in card battles to use a special ability. At the end of a battle, the winning player gains a coin. The losing player loses a coin, in addition to any coins they may have bet during the battle. There’s also a 90 days time limit where the longer you wait the more coins that get blacken, and the more memories the user loses. As for how the actual game is played, the previous two seasons didn’t bother to explain that so this season won’t bother either.

I’m skimming over some details like the fact the players are called selectors, and are given LRIG’s (a entity created to fight for/with you during Selector battles) created based on their memories since such details aren’t delved into much. Alongside the poorly explained rules in the previous paragraphs, there’s also the fact when a battle is initiated players basically go into another realm for the fight to be held. The only way the battles end is either when someone loses, or a non-selector interrupts the battle. From the first episode of season 1, the rules were clearly established, and then later on the consequences were clearly explained. Here, despite the rule of non-selector breaking battles up by simply interrupting them appearing in the first two seasons. Lostorage Incited WIXOSS makes that rule feel convoluted in usage. Rules despite being laid out don’t apply to the main heroine of season three, Suzuko Homura, who has important battles simply work out in her favor because of luck.

Not a fan.png
Oh Suzuko, not a fan.

I don’t want to compare the heroine of Lostorage Incited WIXOSS to Ruko Kominato because I clearly like Ruko way more than Suzuko. Part of this has to do with the fact Ruko gets more characterization than Suzuko does. Sharing similar traits, both characters are goodie-two-shoes, have trouble socializing when the series start, and have family issues. Hell, both Suzuko, and Ruko don’t know what they want to fight for initially at the start of their respective seasons. In Ruko case, there were more going on around her, and unlike Suzuko, she actively sought out information on Selectors Battles. Ruko goal, once she finds something worth fighting for, is bigger in ambition compare to Suzuko who’s only wants to retain her memories of her best friend.

Another thing that made Ruko better is her many interactions with other players so it wasn’t simply random people she was fighting. Lostorage Incited WIXOSS attempted to do something similar, but after Suzuko beats some blonde guy who lost his sister the idea is dropped. The characters Suzuko plays against in season 3 aren’t as fleshed out compare to season 1 & 2 making the battles less interesting in comparison. What also devalues Suzuko Homura appeal is nearly in every episode she has to say “Chi-Chan’, and remind the audience she’s her best friend. It doesn’t work because the anime is completely overblown with its execution. I know it’s possible to get viewers to cry with a good story, but hitting the same beats over, and over again won’t work in a TV series. 

I thought I was done, but I went here to say a bit about Suzuko Homura character design. It trying to hard to be cute I feel. Could be J.C. Staff thinks if you see something cute being miserable it’s easier to sympathize with the character. It’s not, and at the same time what relatable traits she has have been used a dozen times. One of her parents became deceased when she was little, and is never brought  up again. You know, in Cardcaptor Sakura the main character also had a parent who was deceased, but the difference being the parent got characterization, and it was treated as a proper character. So whenever when Sakura (in Cardcaptor Sakura) ever talked about her mother the emotion of the character felt genuine. Here, and other animes that do the samething the dead parent is just there.

Sadist Dude WTF
Yes, this guy’s our villain for the reason. (facepalm)

One of the biggest changes I wasn’t a fan off was the villain. In the previous season there was an attempt to make the big baddie be more than just someone who enjoyed a twisted game. Season 3 goes exactly for having someone who takes pleasure in making other people miserable. If that sounds silly, well it’s even sillier in execution because the villain is written, and animated in a over the top manner. Having obviously evil bad guy written all over him.

The one character I did like, Kiyoi Mizushima, was someone who appeared in the previous two seasons, but as a supporting character. Here, her role of supporting character is the same, but compare Suzuko, Mizushima backstory has more going for it. There a lot more to her endeavors than simply desiring to obtain a single wish. She isn’t a complex character, although I would have been more interested in this season if Mizushima was the main character because there is more shades of grey to her compared to Suzuko. It’s a shame that she appears in about 4 out of the 12 episodes, and only in two of them does she a sizable part to do anything.

I would continue bashing Suzuko, but you get the point. If there were more episodes I would probably feel differently, although that would be unlikely considering I spend a lot of time on the rules, and complaining about Suzuko instead of the bigger picture. Can’t help it when the characters, the story, and themes feel inferior compare to the previous seasons. It tries too much in such a short amount of time resulting in a series of half baked ideas, especially the ending since it attempts to play it off as a happy ending despite the fact almost nothing changed. Of course, there was also that deus-ex machina of a victory in the final battle which was never established beforehand was doable in battles!

tumblr_oepwyf3g501qa94xto1_500
Yep, difficult to make this look interesting.

There’s also an OVA called Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS Missing Link that is absolutely worthless! It’s simply the first episode of Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS (season 4) just with the title card, and opening animation added in. Technical stuff is fine. Only thing that stands out is the over the top acting from the villain, and the characters saying “Coin Beto” which I get a kick out of hearing. There’s the music which is surprisingly good. It deserved to be in a better anime, but at the same time without else to compete against it stands out that much more.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS was simply bad. I was hoping to find the same kind of appeal like in the first two season, but didn’t get that. I got a water down version of a series I liked; characters weren’t as fleshed out making selector battles mean very little, the new rules to the selector battle minimize the stakes as well as the consequences, and finally the silly villain turned it into a battle of good versus evil. The first two seasons had some sloppy writing with similar issues, but since it had more time to tell a singular story it was able to improve itself in areas season simply couldn’t.

If I were to rate this anime I would 4 out 10. That’s probably a bit too generous.

Quick Thoughts on Loststorage Conflicted WIXOSS

So season 4 is currently airing, and as of this moment five episodes have aired. Since I’m watching it currently I might as well put something here about what I think of it so far. It’s slightly better than Lostorage Incited WIXOSS, but at the same time if the total amount of episodes is going to be 12 it might end up having the same fate. Once again, the rules have changed, and there’s more addition to the game where certain abilities feel overpowered. With characters from the previous seasons being participants in the game I have doubts 12 episodes will be enough to give everyone a fair shake, let alone add to their established characterization. Yes, I still don’t like Suzuko Homura, and at this point I’m overreacting whenever she appears on screen because she’s still boring. She’s doesn’t say her catchphrase “Chi-chan” as much though so that’s a little better I guess. Kiyoi Mizushima might actually beat out Ruuko Kominato as the best character in the franchise. One main reason being five episodes in and Ruu-Ruu hasn’t been given much to do! It bugs me, but at the same time I might be expecting too much out of J.C. Staff. I don’t what it is, but I might have a thing for stoic female characters. Should probably talk to a psychiatrist about that. I might write a post about Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS once it ends, but I’m not sure since I usually don’t write about airing anime.

Now, this is the actual end of the blog which turned longer than intended even though I barely said everything on my mind. That’s what reviews are for….I’m sure right? Oh well. Til next time, and insert clever closing line here.

Some Quick Thoughts On (Currently) My Favorite Animes

I hardly finish any anime series in April so expect a couple of these blog posts of me writing about whatever anime related topic comes to mind. This post is also thrown together very quickly since I was unsatisfied with how my review of the Makoto Shinkai movie Your Name turned out. Instead of posting it in a unsatisfied state I would prefer working on it until I’m satisfied with it since it’s surprisingly difficult to express exactly how I feel about it. I would include more entries on this list besides of favorites the 5 (well, technically six for one of them) that I have on here. At the moment, I can say for certain these 5 animes are certainly in my all time favorites, and unlikely they’ll be removed from there any time soon.

The animes in this post are organized by alphabetical order instead of ranking them by favorites. Also, only anime tv series are included on this list, and not movies since there isn’t enough I adore to the point to make a blog post. So, here they are.

Cardcaptor Sakura (1998 – 2000)d2e

I dislike slice of life anime, and I also find it difficult to find anime where I simply sit back, and enjoy watching it. Cardcaptor Sakura breaks that trend for me as it has elements of slice of life, but done tremendously better than most. Who knew simply having characters grow up, and changing through the course of the series doing everyday things would go a long way. Not only that, but Cardcaptor Sakura also tackles the subject of love far better than a majority of romance, and harem animes I’ve seen. While not complex, it explores it in a broad sense from family love, understanding the differentiation between different type of love, and so forth. Never becoming to sappy, or overbearing when exploring the subject matter. All the while making me forget it’s a series starring little kids, and it shouldn’t be this good at doing everything it does.

There’s also a sense of wonder, and adventure that rarely capture it like Cardcaptor Sakura. For me, the experience of seeing the series was just like watching a Studio Ghibli movie. Making the real world seem fantastical, virtually without leaving it. Another reason I like enjoyed it besides the endearing characters, and good theme exploration was it felt like it always made progress. Nearly every episode would have Sakura capture a Clow Card causing trouble, and saving the day. When she wasn’t capturing a Clow Card, Sakura was simply doing her best to either finish school work, or something important for a friend. It had a formula it was more than comfortable repeating through its entire run, but I didn’t mind it. It either offered me a good source of entertainment, a well written piece of fiction, or both at the same times. Like Sakura deceased mother actually being developed in the series instead of just being a thing in the background. Too frequently do I see the dead parent trope/plot device used just a mean to sympathize with the hero. In Cardcaptor Sakura, it never felt like, and the series treated her as an important like it should have. Most surprisingly, multiple episodes to Sakura learning about her mother leading to some sweet moments.

Cardcaptor Sakura is only one of three anime that has ever manage to get some tears out of me, and currently the only anime to do it twice. Typically, in media I consume I rarely ever tear up at things I watch, even more rare at the times I actually cried watching something. Aside from Paddington 2 (yes, the talking bear movie), Cardcaptor Sakura is the only anime to ever get tears from me because of how heartwarming it was. The episode that did it for me was episode 22, titled Sakura, and Her Caring Father. By this point in the series, I grew to like Sakura, and her kind hearted nature came across as genuine. It was a likable part of her character. Also by this point, I was also invested into the other characters, and seeing them was simply a joy. It basically felt like seeing family. When seeing this episode, I wasn’t expecting it to get me surprisingly emotional as it did. It simply treated itself as another episode in the series, and didn’t go out of it way to get to me cry. All the characters acted as they usually do, and it was business as usual. By doing so, it didn’t make me raise my guard, and all my reaction to the episode came naturally.

Too frequently in anime do they try too hard to get me to feel something, and more so that short length anime try to get me to cry when I spend so little time with the characters. This is different since I spend 21 episodes beforehand growing to like the characters, and getting to know them. When I finally got around to seeing episode 22, ah, it was so heartwarming that it went from a anime series I thought was already special to become something I simply adore. There was also another moment that got to me tear because of how sweet it was, but unfortunately that would involve going into spoilers, and I rather not be the one to spoil that great moment.

I could go on gushing about how I enjoyed the growth of Sayaron Li over the course of the series. In particular, how his rivalry with Sakura grows simply beyonds being rivals in love with the same person. There’s also the huge praise of anime original character Meiling Li whom I felt added more to the series especially in terms of having a great character arc, and how her involvement in the series made for some great character interactions. Her absent in the manga was strongly felt for me when I eventually read it. There’s also the possibility of gushing about the fantastic soundtrack, the great animation, great voice work, and so forth. However, just like everything else on this post, if I did this would go on for probably another dozen, or so paragraphs.

Death Note (2006 – 2007)death-note-anime

Pft, it’s only my all time favorite anime series of all time, and for a while it took up the top two spot of my all time favorite anime series. Yes, I liked Death Note so much there was a time where there wasn’t a series I would put below it in terms of favorites. That eventually changed, but that’s on the next entry. For Death Note, simply put set a new standard for what I consider great writing. Before even starting Death Note, I constantly questioned how something with such a limited sounding premise be any good. One viewing of the entire series later, if it wasn’t for Death Note I wouldn’t have gone on to see like over 300 or so animes.

I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did since it took me about 4 episodes before I became addicted to the series. The first three episodes I thought were good, but nothing that would personally get me hooked into seeing it. It wasn’t until the halfway point of episode 5, and seeing Light Yagami on that subway threatening an investigators to give up the names of the investigators after him that the series became something I had to marathon. Within two days, it became the fastest anime I’ve ever finished, and only among the likes of Breaking Bad where no matter how much I saw of it I simply needed more of it. The mind games between Light Yagami, and L were always engaging to me. Seeing those two trying to get one up on each other seal the deal for me. Wondering how Light could match someone equal to him intelligence, and simply witnessing him face against L was pure bliss in terms of excitement.

Another aspect I liked about Death Note is the descend into madness. Witnessing the downfall of Light Yagami from a self-righteous young man whom came from a background of justice simply wanting to do good, and letting power get to him was good to see. I see part of myself in Light Yagami which is partially a reason why I love him so much. Well more specifically the part of him that easily detaches himself from anyone close to him to in order to meet an end goal I can relate too. Going into specifics on the other hand, not happening any time soon.

Even if that wasn’t part of Light Yagami character, there was also the intrigue of seeing officers trying to solve the case of Kira. How does one exactly capture a criminal whom is able to kill anyone, anywhere, and anytime if he has their full name. Most importantly, how does one capture that individual. I didn’t know the answers to that, but this anime series certainly did, and it offering surprises one right after another.

Of course, there’s also the last 12 episodes which I enjoyed honestly. At the same time, I am also the same person who enjoyed the first 25 episode of Death Note so much that I’ve yet to see another anime surpassing the sheer enjoyment, and expectation breaking experience that this has provided me.

 

Fullmetal Alchemist (2003 – 2004)fma.pngFullmetal Alchemist is the only anime on this post I saw twice, and it’s because of that rewatch that it certified itself in as permanently being my second all time favorite anime. More specifically, the first question why the original, and not Brotherhood. Simple, Brotherhood is a typical shounen, but excellence execution of everything shounen is known for. Therefore, I found Brotherhood very predictable, and also the first 12 episodes of Brotherhood ruined some of my favorite moments from the original series. Now, on the original Fullmetal Alchemist. What appeals to me more about it is the story remains a personal one, and unlike shounen doesn’t devolve into a saving the world story line. A nice change up from these kind of series aimed at it demographics.

Much like Cardcaptor Sakura, the cast of Fullmetal Alchemist is among my favorite of all time. Nearly all of them are complex, and given amount of depth to them. Every character is presented with shades of grey, and rarely does anything is ever presented in a simplistic way. When it does showcase something simplistic like the methods the Homunculus would use to make a philosopher’s stone it’s usage tends to help serve a greater purpose. Among other things, it’s world given a detailed history burden with conflict. Something this series does that I wish the fantasy genre in general would showcase with magic is the effect Alchemy has in its own, and different viewpoints on it. Alchemy simply something that everyone clamour to embrace wholeheartedly.

In spite of it shounen demographic, never once does it feel like it’s undermining the audience intelligence. Too often in shounen do I feel like they cover the same themes of power of friendship, never give up, believe in yourself, and so forth in a broad sense. Hardly do shounen aim series offer much food for thought. Fullmetal Alchemist on the other hand offers just that both directly, and indirectly. Tackling the human condition, and limits of it in a world where the existence of Alchemy can seemingly make anything possible. Showing to the viewer the sacrifices are willing to make in order to obtain the power to achieve their desire. While the battles are nice, the action is never something I’m excited to see because they don’t do anything special in my eyes in terms of animation, or choreography. However, I’m always engaged in them because the events leading up to them makes them a rewarding pay off.

On my first viewing of this series, that was a funeral scene that I found powerful in the anime. However, it was during my second viewing of the same funeral scene that got me to tear up  (not cry, there’s a difference). Despite the fact I knew what was going to happen it became it even more effective on me. Growing a greater appreciation for the strong character writing that I always loved, but now adored because of how powerful it can be. Yes, that makes Fullmetal Alchemist the only other anime beside Cardcaptor Sakura to actually get a tear out of me.

It’s thanks to Fullmetal Alchemists characters that makes it a special anime to me. Not only did it help me get back into watching anime again after being burned out on so many disappointments at the time, but gave me a greater appreciation for how special anime can be sometime. Capturing you emotionally, and impacting you in ways you didn’t think were possible. There’s the filler material I honestly prefer over Brotherhood because everything feels more personal to its characters, and doesn’t become lost among the dozen of cast member in a large scale battle. Also the ending in the series, one of my favorite of all time best portraying family love, and the consequences in the pursuit of gaining what is lost in anything I’ve seen.

Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor (2007 -2008) & Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Hakairoku-hen (2011)

0eabcfd9eddc99f7caa211e2ca160716-1000

I know, yet another anime series made by Madhouse. What can I say. With my favorites they made each time I went into them pretty much blind, and everytime they exceeded expectation. This was another case of that of taking simple games with big risks, but breaking my mold of what I originally thought good writing was capable of. The psychology of its characters is perfectly presented by its visuals. Empathizing the atmosphere the games being played, and the mental of its player in these games. It’s the only time I would say a card game about Rock, Paper, and Scissor was ever made exciting. Akiyuki Shinbou director of March Comes In Like A Lion takes notes of how to use a similar direction correctly, and apply it consistently for your series. I know throwing that bit of shade is unwarranted, but that bugged me a lot in March Comes In Like A Lion, and I wanted it off my chest.

Episode 1 of season, no doubt about it. Without question, Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor currently has the best first episode I’ve seen in any anime. It establishes its premise right away, it has a fantastic hook, and sets up a good leading character right at the beginning. The only place left of it to go is simply up, and remains up there for the entire run. What I love about both seasons of Kaiji is about it manages to take simple games, and makes them addicting to watch. Despite the fact my mind tells me it’s all determined because it is written I still can’t help, but me constantly engaged in it. Never once during my viewing of either season of Kaiji did I see just a single episode. I needed to see multiple episodes to be satisfied.

It was the unpredictable nature of the series that kept me desiring more. Never before have I seen this type of story been told, and one of the few times where I didn’t bother predicting the events because I knew I would be wrong. Brimming with imagination, and creative ideas in its games it wouldn’t be the same without it main man Kaiji Ito. This guy, easily one of my favorite character of all time. Aside from being flawed, one aspect of Kaiji that engrossed me into the series is his constant belief, and desire to become a person than he originally was. He’s a man of fear, and man being to the lowest point, yet keeps on fighting no matter how powerful the urge to give up is. Becoming a constant uphill battle that Kaiji Ito seemingly makes step forward, but also takes an equal amount of steps backward.

An ongoing cycle that keeps me rooting for its protagonist. There’s the also the characters whom in spite of being cartoonishly evil are given surprisingly good reasoning for why their behavior going beyond the “I’m superior” notion. One in particular simply believes it’s human nature itself that is incapable of claiming responsibility for their action, and its through this irresponsibility they seek an easy way out. Both seasons of Kaiji provided me a great deal of addiction in terms of entertainment, but it’s the fantastic writing that kept me around, and why I love it so much.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995 – 1996)116788-rai-ryuga-thunder-jet-anime-rai-ryuga-thunder-jet

Currently the oldest anime in my favorites (but not the oldest anime I’ve seen). As someone who consumed movies for a majority of his life Neon Genesis Evangelion is one example of a series I would point to when it comes to replicating the cinematic experience in tv format. From a purely technical level, the cinematography, and framing scenes is masterful creating from some unforgettable experiences. Whether it’s seeing something as awesome as two robot synchronizing they moves together to destroy a monster, or something as funny as framing a comedic scene. Yes, some of it is cheap, but it knew how to use that to is advantage. Like the infamous elevator scene that simply have two characters in a elevator not talking for about minute can be seen as cheap. However, it can also been seen as the distance between characters who are unable to connect despite how close they are in the room. Due to the way the series is actually written, the later interpretation is just plausible.

I could recall episode 4 when it became something special for me. Just the ending of Shinji on that train station platform, with Misato looking at him from the other side, and the episode concluding with Shinji saying “I’m home”. I know, such a simplistic moment to call back too, but for me that moment always stayed with me, and I haven’t forgotten about it. However, I would say one Neon Genesis Evangelion ditches it’s monster of the week formula for something more thought provoking, existential, and psychological driven is when it grew on more so than I thought it would. Typically, I wouldn’t be in favor of a series doing a complete 180 from what it originally started since from my experience they turn into trainwreck. Evangelion proved to be an exception evolving to become something far more memorable than it thought it would be.

The psychological breakdown of its many cast of characters embedded in my mind. Shinji Ikari in particular went from being a whiny twerp in the first episode I saw him in to being a character I love despite how fucked up he truly is. Being incapable to decide for himself what to do, having an over reliance on commands for other, refusing to pilot the robot even if the world is in danger, being capable of able to change positively, and so much more. Unlike everything else in post where I enjoyed the first episode, this is the only entry where the first episode of the anime I simply found okay. Thankfully, being one who never drops an anime no matter how bad it is I continue forward with it, and gave me for more than I would have expected.

 

That concludes it for this post. I would have gone more into detail about some of these series, but I rather just generalize what made them enjoyable for me, and if possible kept it a bit vague to not spoil anything important. Like I also wrote earlier in the post, this was thrown together last minute because my review for Your Name didn’t turn out like I wanted it too. Hopefully, spending some more time on that review will help me get it to the quality I want it at. Depending on what I do next, and my offline schedule I shall you good folks next time, and hopefully show more of my less professional side when it comes to writing about things. And hopefully, less of these last minute posts to come from me in the future.

 

I would like to credit the artists responsible for the artwork I used in my featured image for this blog.

Cardcaptor Sakura (left) artwork done by ManuLuce 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/luce4Red

Death Note (middle) artwork done by Dr.Monekers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrMonekers

Fullmetal Alchemist (right) artwork done by ddjvigo

Facebook (couldn’t find a Twitter):  https://www.facebook.com/ddjvigo/

 

Some Thoughts On: Kino’s Journey (2003) Series

On March 10, 2018 I finished Kino’s Journey (2003) anime series for the first time, and found it average. As usual, this is not a review, and it’s simply scattershot thoughts. If I actually ever bothered rewatching this “eh” anime again I certainly would form a much better blog post than this.

From the onset, Kino’s Journey is about a traveler, who travels the world, and that’s about it. For an episodic anime this quickly came across as something I would not enjoy. However, after seeing the first episode I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out good. It was wondrous, had good world building, and a nice twist by the end of the episode that I didn’t see coming regarding the town’s history. Then episode 2 happened where it’s philosophical dialogue conflicts with the visual medium. You can talk about the true nature of man all you want, but you have a character who doesn’t like staying in one place too long. Making me question if I’m supposed to care what topics she brings up? The anime wants me too, but I don’t because one moment it’s absorbing with it philosophical talk, and something over the top happens to kill the mood. Like the ending of episode 2 simply felt like it just happened to have a “the folly of man” message.

Episode 3 was probably the high point of the anime for me. It displayed the most towns, the messages it had were delivered quickly so they wouldn’t get drowned out, and for once it was all tightly written without anything silly ruining it. In essence, it’s about this point I realize the series is literally just about Kino’s journey in the world, and the societies she witness. Leading to not creating any memorable characters, including the lead herself, and her talking motorcycle named Hermes. Leading to series where the main character you follow is the least developed aspect of the series. When it doesn’t to have the audience feel something about it’s world citizen is when Kino’s Journey at it strongest. Using the town’s people as plot devices to get across some kind of theme, or message.

At it weakest, you get episode 4 which delves into Kino’s backstory. Around half of the episode is good since it uses it characters to get across broad ideas. In this specific episode, it’s on what makes an adult, and what it means to be one. Where it falls apart is when you’re expected to care about the effect the society has on its people, even though consistently they never show up again once the episode is over. Much like Kino, everything feels passive. Kino goes into a town, passively observing it citizens decay in misery, and moves on to the next town. Aside from the two parter, every episode follows this formula. When not asking its audience to care about the characters it work because the ideas it touches are interesting.

My whole experience with Kino’s Journey (2003) was simply “eh”. Episodic anime, like mentioned in Hell Girl, aren’t things that draw me in. Kino’s Journey is an example of why; it’s a series of standalone adventures not connecting to anything resembling an overarching story. It’s main difference being it has more interesting ideas it touches on than a majority of episodic anime. Consequently, the lack of an overarching story make Kino seem like she is simply running away from her problems instead of facing them contrary to her backstory.

Just like Kino, the town’s people simply let things happen to their society without wanting to change it. Only once does Kino’s bother to interfere with the town itself in the two-parter Coliseum which is underwhelming. Aside from this one example, Kino, just like my attention, simply goes on to whatever is next without a connection. Speaking of connection, I struggle to figure out how this many decaying towns, or conflicting societies would be able to coexist in the same world without much conflict. Than again, that’s yet another victim of the passive writing.

I saw Kino’s Journey (2003) with the English dub for around 5 episodes, and I saw the entire series sub since I’ve watched it other people on a Discord server. When I saw the anime alone with the English dub, I found the English dub to be fine. From the episodes I saw, the performances were fine. None of the voice actor stood out. However, it was a lot easier to watch. For a series that’s wholly uneventful visually, being able to ponder about the themes it brings on without reading subtitles kept my mind stimulated. Watching it sub on the other hand simply make things a struggle to pay attention. Kino isn’t the kind of anime that likes raising action, so everything comes off as benevolent in a way. I did not care to read exposition dialogue for several minutes in multiple episodes especially when the town itself won’t matter in the next episode.

On a technical level, much like everything else, it’s average. The animation is at times soothing to look at, and some of the OST does wonders in bring the world to life. The opening theme, “All the Way” by Mikuni Shimokawa, on the other hand I wanted to skip every time I heard it. I heard some of Mikuni Shimokawa music beforehand, but never an entire album. The few songs I’ve heard from her make me feel like her singing in “All the Way” was half-assed. Shimokawa singing on songs like “Kimi ga Iru Kara” which is Fairy Tail 4th ending theme, and “Sore Ga Ai Deshou” which is Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu opening theme are better example of her singing. Now, I don’t think Mikuni Shimokawa is a great singer by any stretch since her inability to express strong emotion through singing prevents her from coming across as genuine. All the Way feels phones as the instrumental simply try to overtake her singing to disguise her stoic delivery. However, on the song “Sore Ga Ai Deshou” puts in the effort to pull on the heartstrings, even if she’s incapable of doing so. Unfortunately, since I was watching the series with other people I couldn’t skip the opening, and came across more phoned with each listen. The ending theme, “The Beautiful World” by Ai Maeda is okay.

Aside from that that, I ain’t got much left to say on Kino’s Journey. If it weren’t so passive in its, well just about everything it might have left me with some other impression. Something much more meaningful than “eh” by the end of it. The only noteworthy feature of Kino’s Journey (2003) are the ideas it brings up, but I’m sure you could find those same ideas executed better, and worse than what this anime could provide.

If I were to rate Kino’s Journey, I would rate this a 5 out of 10.