This week I’d like to talk about this surprisingly charming slice of life series. And I guess gather my thoughts about Shinbo at the moment. I mean, I consider him to be an excellent director. The thing I hate however is how he is working on way too many projects. Just get him to work on one single project every year or two years: that will make them extra special, especially with the wait time in between. Why can’t he just leave Shaft’s other projects to the other directors at Shaft? Why does he need to hold their hands for every single series?
My big annoyance with Shinbo is that I’ve just seen too much of his series and I really do not want to sit through another one of his uninspired series. At this point, those series are easy to spot because he ends up doing one of two things:
1. Repeat himself. The best example of this is Natsu no Arashi 2, in which the first four episodes talked about the exact. same. freaking. subject. But also Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei. My guess is that that’s also why I can’t enjoy Arakawa Under the Bridge: there are just way too many similarities between the two.
2. Take his style way over the top to the point where it loses all its charms and ends up only getting in the way of telling the story. Examples of this (in my experience at least) were ef – a tale of melodies and Bakemonogatari.
Soredemo Machi is neither: it neither tries too hard, and while maids have been milked to death in anime, the delivery is fresh here. It doesn’t try to force down as many random jokes as possible, but instead focuses on just portraying the characters without trying to pretend to be anything more, and on top of that the different stories are varied and not repetitive. Finally.
Arashiyama is quite likable. In this episode she was mostly just a side-character, but even there she was pretty enjoyable as she tried to encourage Toshiko and her brother’s romances. It neither dragged on, and yet you could see that she loved to tease them. These kinds of romances are now also cliched as hell (‘I want to propose to you but I’m too scared so I just say something that sounds like “love”), but the creative characterization still made them enjoyable. If the characterization of Togainu no Chi was as good as this episode, I really would not have minded it being a dating sim.
On top of that, I’m glad that we finally have a Shaft series with a proper budget here. Especially the first two episodes had very good inbetween animation, but this episode too was very dynamically animated. I also like how all of the characters have their distinct character-designs, rather than just feeling like stock puppets with different eyes and hair pasted on top of them. On top of that, it’s also an interesting technique to use CG in frames that aren’t moving: it certainly took me a while before I noticed it.
It’s not perfect, especially in the way that those title cards get more annoying every episode, and there are times when it tries too hard (like with the chair in the previous episode), but I like its charms and how down to earth it is. It’s also got some good jokes as well (like the Czar and Luther).
Rating: ** (Excellent)