March 8, 2014
TL;DR : “Go see what Cara said.”
For the most part the Spring 2014 Anime season seems to be samey-sameness, with one important exception.
Ping Pong: the animation
This one looks really interesting! Masaki Yuasa is back in the Noitamina slot. All the visuals so far really stand out. Should be a good watch.
Atelier Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~
I have written before about the Atelier franchise. I liked the emphasis on Alchemy, there were some interesting mechanics in the title I played, and it had some good art and music. Given that, I will be checking this anime adaptation out, but with some trepidation. They seemed to have played up the bishoujo elements, instead of some of the more interesting aspects. One of the most interesting aspects of this title is the very weird pun: the Japanese pronounce & (“and”) as toe (long O), so the characters names with an ampersand in it is pronounced as the word Eschatology, which is a sub discipline of Theology concerned with the End Days (with questions like What is Heaven? What is Hell? What happens after death? How will the world end?)
Kindaichi Case Files Returns
I have previously written about an earlier anime adaption of Young Kindaichi’s Case Files. The should be an actual mystery genre title. The mysteries in the previous series that I watched (I also saw a series of anime movies about Kindaichi) were fairly detailed and developed as actual mysteries (as opposed to masquerading as mysteries, but really being an action show, or something else). The author of the manga also did another mystery genre series that I enjoyed: Detective Academy Q. The problem with the author, as I see it, is that the characterization is very weak. I wrote about this before, too. Basically my view is that this could be a well-plotted Mystery series, but the characters are likely to be little more than one-dimensional.
I may seem dismissive in blowing off 9/10ths of the anime coming out this upcoming season, but three new shows to watch is actually not that bad. I still have some catching up to do from previous seasons, and #ESO Elder Scrolls Online will be launching April 4, 2014, so I’ll need to reserve time for that.
Enjoy the Spring, everybody!
January 5, 2014
The first episode of Space Dandy turned out to be mostly silliness. As I said in my season preview, this show just doesn’t look like it is going to have the heft that you might expect from Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop).
“X Jigen e Youkoso” by Etsuko Yakushimaru
Meanwhile the Ending theme, sung by Etsuko Yakushimaru was actually quite pleasant, although not as attention-grabbing as her work on, say Mawaru PenguinDrum.
January 3, 2014
January means it is time for another preview post, although I am not genuinely excited about the anime series this season is offering. (Maybe I am overly obsessed with the thought of Elder Scrolls Online coming out on 4/4/14; by contrast nothing in the new season seems as epic and engrossing).
Take, for example, Hamatora. On paper it sounds pretty good: people with psychic powers investigating a serial murder who is hunting their kind. The preview, however, just didn’t work for me. It looks more like a bishounen show than an action or a mystery.
Every time I start watching a preview for this show, I think, “hey, this looks pretty good!” The action looks exciting. There are older characters. The idea of “Wizard Barristers” is intriguing. Then, about half-way through the protagonist gets introduced and I think, “No. No. No. There is no way I am going to be able to put up with this series series.” I’ll probably check it out anyways. Then hate myself for it.
Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha
This is the RomCom that looks the most interesting of the season. A girl falls for some guy and gets the power to shapehift by saving a fox. I like shows about supernatural beings at temples. Unfortunately the artwork seems a bit lackluster. Still worth a shot.
Houzuki no Reitetsu
Speaking of supernatural beings, the most promising comedy seems to be about the everyday life of a demon.
Normally I would be immensely excited for a show by Shinichiro Watanabe. I certainly will be checking it out, but the trailer (and premise) has me thinking it is going to be too campy to hold my interest.
Why you so dissatisfied, dog?
I think it is a fair question for someone to ask me why, with all the shows I just mentioned, I’m just not feeling it this season. I just don’t feel like there is anything substantial this season. I read about some old favorites over on Metanorn last month, as people were writing up their Secret Santa posts, and it just left me thinking, when was the last time we had something really substantial, like Serei no Moribito? My top three favorite series are Haibane Renmei, Twelve Kingdoms, and the Crest/Banner of the Stars series. I don’t expect every show to be that great, but series like Dennou Coil have deep world-building, unique characters, mystery, action, comedy, and innovative art styles. I just don’t see anything from this season reaching that level (although I would be happy to be proven wrong).
Enjoy 2014 (and get ready ‘cuz Elder Scrolls Online is coming)
December 18, 2013
Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) turned out to be a fun watch, that was emotionally engaging at times, and had some very good artwork. I suppose there are several types of questions people might have about this show, depending upon their background.
For those who know close to nothing about the show, I imagine they would be looking for basic information like, “What can I expect from this show?” It’s a Fantasy-Action Anime from a top-tier production company (Kyoto Animation). It looks great, has some plot twists and exciting developments, but it isn’t go-to material for someone looking for tight plots, with no loose ends, or realism, or philosophy.
Those who saw that it is listed as having Significant Objectionable Content on Anime News Network might be wondering, “What’s up with that?” Personally I think that is ridiculous. It has a lot of fantasy violence, including a character that can control her blood (and usually shapes it as a sword, as in the screen cap above), but it is so fantastical that, despite the blood, it is a bit tough to think of it as gory. It also has frequent references to perversions, including a sister complex and a fetish for girls who wear glasses, but this has to be one of the tamest depictions of perversion in anime in years, compared to the amount of ecchi that is standard in just about any mainstream series out there.
Some knowledgable anime fans might be wondering, “Can KyoAni make a Fantasy-Action series, without loading it up with moe?” I think the answer we received was an emphatic NO. The series looks great. I am glad that Kyoto Animation, which has immense talent for animation, worked on a real Fantasy-Action series. But I, let’s face it, this show was loaded with moe tropes. If you can handle that, it is a fun watch, but isn’t going to change a lot of minds about KyoAni.
Finally, there could be a few individuals who watched the series who wonder what I thought about this or that. I personally didn’t feel the show was weighty enough to invest a lot of time in speculating about the many loose threads left dangling. “Would you buy it? Do you think it would be worth buying a set on, say DVD, to have available for a rewatch, or to loan out?” Hmmm…. If I had to choose between buying KnK or buying Hyouka (another series by Kyoto Animation), I would certainly buy Hyouka. “Okay, but would you rather re-watch KnK, or Endless Eight?” Heh, you got me there. I’ll would probably buy Kyoukai no Kanata before I buying the second season of Haruhi no Suzumiya.
I did have fun watching Kyoukai no Kanata. It is a bit mindless, but it is a beautiful spectacle.
November 24, 2013
Episode 83 of Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai) was enjoyable, and not just because it showed animation of sea turtles crying. I generally have a problem with any series that lasts this long. In my opinion, long series allow the story to meander and the production team succumbs to the temptation of adding pointless filler. Space Brothers is an example of this phenomenon, and I have considered dropping it more than once. The pace seems to drag, as concepts that don’t deserve entire episodes are given precisely that. Also “Mr. Hibbito”, might have been a cute idea, or a fun aside, or even useful for an episode or two, but it is really just filler and thus should stop.
All that having been said, there was something quite well done in this episode. The main premise was the effects of having told Mutta and Kenji that they are competing against each other for a single position on a moon mission. Kenji becomes cold (and hates himself for it). Mutta’s inferiority complex almost leads him to give up. All the while a side character was raving about sea turtles this and sea turtles that. The more sea turtles were discussed (sea turtles cry; sea turtles can’t breathe underwater; sea turtles are graceful; the sight of a sea turtle is considered good fortune; …), the more the viewer is lead to believe that an event with a sea turtle will be pivotal in leading the astronaut candidates out of their gloom. And yet that doesn’t happen.
What does happen is that a school of barracuda enter the area where Mutta and the others are constructing a mock moon base. We have been set up for a close encounter with a sea creature of some sort, but instead of a beautiful, empathic creature, it is scary and certainly dangerous. I wouldn’t say that the scene with the barracuda was everything one might want it to be, but with all of the build up, it is easy to see how it would be a transformative experience.
Obviously I do like this show, even when I can see it’s faults. At 89 episodes I’ve watched more Space Bros than I have other long-running series (Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Prince of Tennis), which I typically drop at about episode 50. I do wish the production team would do a better job at picking specific dramatic moments to develop, rather than handling EVERY hesitation, EVERY fear, EVERY question with the same approach of dragging it out so that it takes up a whole episode. This show would be much better if they trimmed the fat. There is a lot of good stuff underneath it, nevertheless.
October 21, 2013
Hello everybody. I have been taking a break from blogging, but not from anime! In the past I used to try to write a post for every interesting series upon having seen the first three episodes as a “taste test”. The last of the “first three” have just aired, or are about to do so.
Having seen the first three episodes of many shows this season, I conclude that the one I enjoy seeing the most one quarter of the way into Fall 2013 is Kyoukai no Kanata, a series about a meganeko blood mage, and the boy who loves her.
Kyoto Animation has done their usual spectacular job of animating the series — everything looks great, and this time there are actual fantasy action scenes (sword fights, yeah!) that get the KyoAni treatment, but they also throw in some amazing animations of small things, such as Ayaka’s hands while she was tracing out the occult circle. Remarks from around the blogosphere are mostly positive, including surprise that we already are pulling out a serious battle this early.
Other shows that I have enjoyed so far include:
- Kyousougiga — This show is great fun, and I really like the way the mythology is mixed with almost a Sci-Fi feel.
- Log Horizon – This show is holding up better than I thought it would. The story is starting to develop, and I think they are managing to build up tension without using the same — you die if you lose trope that has been used plenty already.
- Yowamushi Pedal — so far this one looks better than Ace of Diamond, the other sports-themed anime this season, but I often lose interest in these shounen sports shows, which have a tendency to go on far too long.
- Yozakura Quartet Hana no Uta – I went into this without having seen previous entries and find it pretty entertaining so far.
- Golden Time — I wouldn’t say this is one of the better shows I am watching, but the third episode certainly went in an unexpected direction.
I hope the rest of you are enjoying the Autumn as much as I am!