Kaori with violin

Kaori with violin

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso was a challenging show to watch at times, but it certainly had its charms. There is a saying about Ludovico Ariosto, that he loved the characters he wrote about in Orlando Furioso, and thus he watched over them, like a benevolent god. Unfortunately the gods of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso are anything but benevolent; they seem to enjoy tormenting their characters. Watchers of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso should be emotionally prepared for tragedy and drama, but there are some very beautiful moments as well.

Personally, the thing that drew me to this show was the role that music would play. There are shows that purport to be about music in some way, but that don’t take that part of the setting seriously. I can happily say that Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso delivered here. The show included major performances that were built up in previous episodes. Often there is a lot of talking over the performance, either by observers who explain hidden layers in what they are hearing, or sometimes flashbacks are played out, but, in the final episode the music of the performance is allowed to fully command our attention for most of about nine minutes.

Was Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso worth watching? It kept me engaged, even though it could feel emotionally manipulative at times. If the setting of the world of pre-professional musical performers intrigues you, it does deliver. In the end, it probably comes down to your tolerance for teary story lines; if you enjoy being on an emotional roller coaster, this is a good choice for you. If you are looking for light-hearted comedy, this show should be avoided.

Aoi Miyamori of the Musashino Animation company.

Aoi Miyamori of the Musashino Animation company.

Although Shirobako looked, at first glance, like another “cute girls doing cute stuff” show, it turned out to be a great series about the trials and triumphs of working in the animation industry. The characters are entertaining, and the situations might prove familiar to people regardless of the industry in which they work.

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Oda Nobunaga embraces his wife, as the difficulties of the Sengoku Jidai threaten to overwhelm them.

Oda Nobunaga embraces his wife, as the difficulties of the Sengoku Jidai threaten to overwhelm them.

Nobunaga Concerto is a bit behind the rest of the shows airing this season; episode three is out now, however, and it does seem that it is trying to be something unusual. Most series based upon the conceit that a high school student that has slipped back in time to the Sengoku “Warring States” period (in this case about the mid-1500s) are light in tone, and often comic, but Nobunaga Concerto takes a different approach, both to animation (which involves motion capture and rotoscoping), and to the story, which is more serious.

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A quick post about how I think the season is going. In my first post on the Summer 2014 anime season, I listed several shows that had caught my eye based essentially on the first episode. We are now up to the third episode of most shows, and that gives a better sense of how what a show is like, so I am revisiting that list to see how it has changed. Most shows are holding up well, one is not performing as well as I had hoped, and a couple of other shows have managed to impress me.

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Summer 2014 includes some shows about artisans at work, including Barakamon.

Summer 2014 includes some shows about artisans at work, including Barakamon.

All of the Summer 2014 season anime series have premiered, so it is time for a quick post on what looks good so far. This is essentially based upon first episodes (some shows have had a second episode already), so things can still change quite a bit, but as of now, here are the shows that still look promising to me.

The shows:

  • Aldnoah Zero
  • Barakamon
  • Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
  • Glasslip
  • Rail Wars!
  • Zankyou no Terror

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Largo taking out a tank in Valkyria Chronicles.

Largo taking out a tank in Valkyria Chronicles.

Although I don’t blog here a lot, I continue to enjoy Anime, and check in on the many great aniblogging sites that are out there. One of the sites I check often is LuRa’s Anime Blog. Lucretia and Raven (with the occasional help of some friends) blog about several shows, but they also have an ongoing Song of the Week series.  I love many things about anime, including the music, so I love checking out the song of the week, either to hear an old fave again, or to learn about something new.

I listen to a lot of anime and J-Pop as well, so I occasionally link to music videos in my Twitter stream, but the tenacity with which Lu and Ra keep posting on their blog, despite being busy with exams (and all things life) inspired me to put up a song here for y’all.

I selected the second ED to Valkyria Chronicles. This was a show based upon a game that I really enjoyed. It had some substance to the themes, lots of characters to whom I grew attached, and most of all some killer game-play. The series moved off the PS3, unfortunately, so I only ever got to play the first installment. The anime adaption was interesting, and the second ED provided that emotional space to digest some of the more intense things that occur.

The song is sung by Hikari Inoue, and is named “Hitotsu no Negai” (My only wish).

These very sad eyes reflect the sky,
without understanding those words,
I simply counted the stars.

I hope you enjoy it!

Peco, from "Ping Pong, the animation", with his game face on.

Peco, from “Ping Pong, the animation”, with his game face on.

Ping Pong is the show I have been enjoying the most this season. One of the first things people notice are the unusual visual style, so I thought I would address that in a post.

Probably the first thing people notice is that some of the character designs are intentionally “ugly”, or that at times (well, frequently), the character designs morph in some way. I like the fact that Ping Pong character designs intentionally avoid the standard anime designs. Instead we are presented with a startling variety of characters: some with bushy eyebrows, some with faces so deeply wrinkled that you can barely identify the mouth, some with eyes that are tilted so far that they almost become vertical. Everyone’s appearance is horrific in a way, and has an eerie beauty in some other, and that works perfectly with the character studies that are developed throughout the series. Characters are shown from a variety of perspectives. Some views of the characters are unflattering, some are flattering. Nobody is shown completely to be good, or virtuous, just as even the characters that seem at first to be villains are shown to have nobility in unexpected ways. People are alternately selfish and selfless, lazy and ambitious, belligerent and respectful.

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