Posted on 31 December 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario

This series is, in retrospect, a really appropriate title that speaks to the very spirit of noitaminA block: an adult drama slice of life about the making of dictionary that surely don’t try to target the young audiences. Sound as dry as it is, Fune wo Amu’s actually one of the strongest noitaminA show come out for the last few years (not that the TV programming have been doing well to begin with). In Fune wo Amu, we follow Majime as he transferred to the dictionary department with the main mission is to publish a new dictionary called The Great Passage, along with the small team. That process, of course, taking time: 10 years, 20 years, you call it. The series is divided into 2 parts, the first follow him as he begins on the project and detailing how his normal workplace look like, the second part jumps 13 years later at their nearly-publishing phase. The decade-long efforts that he and the people he worked with delicate themselves in is something that you rarely seen in this anime medium.

I will be the first to admit that making dictionary doesn’t sound like an interesting subject matter to me, not because there isn’t anything great about it, but mainly because the subject will get dull very fast. But even I am surprised to say that the show keeps me hooked from start to finish. The tricks of how the show nailed it in making dictionary interesting are 1) the way the show managed to demonstrate how important dictionary is and 2) show us how those characters giving their all to make it possible and 3) point out to us the love for words and that each dictionary has, in fact, each own personality. For the first point, the show frames dictionary as the passage for everyone (not “everyone” everyone. Japanese people only) to communicate and connect to each other. Words are the way to express our thoughts, our feeling, so using the right words at the right time can make others understand the context completely. The Great Passage is one of a way to connect that gap between what we want to express and what we actually express, between one person to another. It is irony, but still fitting to that theme, that our main character Majime is a socially-awkward type. He has an extended knowledge about words, but he’s struggle to express what he wants to say. His love letter to Kaguya perfectly demonstrate his geeky nature, as even Kaguya herself can’t figure out it was a love letter, but being moved nonetheless.

But the beauty of dictionary means nothing if we don’t see the love and efforts of people behind it, and thanks god, this is where the show shines as well. Even in the wear-down corner of the otherwise-busy publisher, with so few people in it, it’s their passion to the project that counted the most. As in a line in La La Land (great film! Go watch it), people are enthusiasm about it because YOU are passionate about it. The love that you have can affect other people in the most positive ways. In the series, Nishioka, Majime’s co-worker, isn’t a type of person for this job. He’s socially active, care for others but never really interested in words. Through Majime’s passion though, he started to feel the joy of his works and committed himself fully to make The Great Passage the reality. Other characters, Mr. Araki and Mr. Matsumoto, we can feel their whole lives devoted in words, their meaning and they’re damn proud of what they’ve achieved. Last but not lease, the show successfully depicts dictionary as a creation, something akin to the work of arts. To be fair, think of it that way make the whole process makes much more sense too. The Great Passage is a brainchild of all the people behind the project, so everything has to be perfect, from the selection of words that eventually appear in the dictionary, the description process, down to how to choose designs, mascots and even page’s quality that best represent the personality of The Great Passage. That lead us to the painstaking task but ultimately rewarding of double-checking every single entry to see if there are any words missing. As the tasks done, the team (and ultimately, us) feel relieved that The Great Passage going to be a masterpiece.

Fune wo Amu, moreover, isn’t simply about dictionary-making process, it’s the show about people, too. As with the nature of dictionary, it’s a desire for connection that brings those people together. In the show, we witness how Majime and Nishioka, as vastly different as they are, can really bring the best out of each other. We can also follow Majime and his love affair, as quiet and poetic as it is, this is for me one of the best depiction of romance that I’ve seen so far for the last few years. The romance speaks to me because it grounded to reality, it’s beautiful because it is quiet, and isn’t it the best kind of relationship when you regard your spouse as a partner for life (well, for me it is). Even the new girl Midori fits into that pattern as well. Her struggle from being forced to transfer to the department that she had no idea of (you might not know but this happened regularly in Asian culture, especially 20,30 years ago, but I still have no idea why Nishioka had to hide his relationship with his co-worker partner), we see her from being distressed about the new workplace, come to really appreciate and love her job is nothing but a rewarding experience. Every one of the cast have their own different traits and characteristics, and that precisely the point that the dictionary (and the show by that extend) need all of their diverse voice in order to become multi-layered production.

If anything, the passage of time is the show’s main theme as it lingers in various forms throughout the show. The sudden time-skip, for example, signals us how everything is supposed to change (it’s 13 years for Peter sake), and yes, we can see there are some minor changes from the settings and the characters. But the sameness from the dictionary department’s office really tell us that in the room, time flows slowly; and really, that amount of time spent for making dictionary is nothing compare to how the dictionary might flourish for generations to come. In that 13-year gap, people leave, new people come in, it’s that cycle of life that make the show timelessness. Furthermore, Mr. Matsumoto unfortunate leaves us at the end of the show, but we know full well that the old plants gone in order for the new plants to blossom. Through every change, the words inside the dictionary will continue to live on and connect more and more people together as time goes on.

The show, although very well-pace, still has some flaws too. The subject matter is decidedly niche that unfortunately it will fly below the normal viewer’s radar. The passing away of Mr. Matsumoto before the time of the publishing is a tired cliché that for me bring an unnecessary regret to Majime. The animation as a whole, while serviceable enough and really don’t have many high actions, still a bit below par compared to your regular anime. Although we have a big time-jump, if the series meant to highlight the progression of making The Great Passage and the life of our main characters, I would’ve much preferred if they show us instead how they were doing along the way. I want to follow their journey from beginning to end (not the beginning and the end), and I don’t care one iota if they’ll successfully publish it or not, what I want is the ride to get there.

To sum up, Fune wo Amu, along with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, are the titles that I’m really glad they are made after all. The older I get, the more I’m wearing off at high school comedy anime and high action anime, the more these titles speak to me on a personal level. I’m really glad anime still have platforms like this, the show that tripped out all the spectacular over the top visuals to instead telling the story it wants to tell. What we have in the end might seem nothing much plot-wise, but the sophistication behind the story and the love that the people behind it put into are something that I will remember fondly.

Posted on 30 December 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flip Flappers

I’ve said right in the beginning that Flip Flappers is a show about adolescent and the fear of growing up, but never in my wildest dream I dare to think the show would go even farther and touch the issues of womanhood and the fear of being a motherhood too. Mimi’s descend from a responsible mother to a totally control freak is a solid development and the more heartbreaking when the intention came from a genuinely good place: “to take a good care of Cocona”. But her overbearing control is plagued with dark and extreme actions that Mimi herself deforms into a beast, a cold-blooded creature. Mimi’s dark version was born during the time of Cocona’s pregnancy, and for me that extreme thoughts of keeping the child all for herself and protect the baby at all cost are the very thoughts that any woman during pregnancy had to undergo. A woman becomes a mother when she gets pregnant, a man becomes a father when he sees his baby. She’s getting frustrated that everyone she cared for: Cocona, Papika and then Salt opposing her for what she sees as the good cause. The last moment where she is defeated, sitting on the shallowness lake and embracing herself perfectly concluded her villainous act. Her role as an antagonist might come as a bit too sudden but it still packs a huge emotional punch and still pretty relevant to the theme of identity the show keeps addressing so far.

With only this episode left, it is the time that the main focus sways back to Cocona and Papika. In fact, they share many great moments together: from the surreal encounter when Papika reversed back to a child and lose her memory (from Papika’s perspective); to their completely honesty to each other about their eternal love (from both girls’ perspective. Another confession? What’s up with all the shows I’m covering this season??), to the teasing Pure Illusion world at the end (from Cocona’s perspective). Their chemistry has always been the show’s main emotional focus, so it is nice to see after many episodes of distrust and falling apart, they’re again together for new adventures. Speaking of the possibility of new season, while I’m normally against milking on the success of the first season on a story that already completed (think Yuri!!! on Ice), the adventures segments of Flip Flappers are so inventive and awe-inspiring that I personally think it’s a waste not to spend more time into those Pure Illusion worlds.

While this Mimi act and the show as a whole does end on a satisfying note, there is not without its problems, too. I still can’t figure out the reason Dr. Salt using ELPIS. He’s planning to put another layer to that world, appears in front of dark Mimi declaring he’ll oppose her, and waiting to get killed? Then the good Mimi descends from the sky to save the day, is it what he planned as well? Hell no, this is a weak writing for me, such a shame because Flip Flappers’ still unsure how to use his character to its full potential. On that same note, the twins and the third Amorphous girl Nyunyu don’t have much roles in this climax. Nyunyu (and Bu-chan, for that matter) is a shining example of character without any real purpose, so their main role is just hanging around, having fun and doing crazy stuffs, at the same time serve as a perverted lensed for the show. They are the worst kind of characters to be completely honest.

But judging Flip Flappers in term of how well it plays the rule is a wrong approach, me think, because simply the very existence of Flip Flappers is to break free with all the common sense throw out of a window. At the end of the day year, no other show makes me feel optimistic about the future of anime (or animation as a whole) like this one. The full review will come out next week but be prepared for a highly positive one.

Posted on 29 December 2016 with categories: Monthly Summaries

This December was… a challenge. Amidst the busy holiday month, my schedule got very busy and my backlog got larger and larger. However, in the end I did manage to keep up with five series (four of which which ended, and one which will continue onto the next season). These are the first series I have finished ever since the first season of Space Dandy, in Winter 2014. Two years, since my writer’s block started.

And really: all these five series are special. They have made this a very successful season, and even though I have my criticisms about them, when it comes down to it I consider them to be really good. These are what anime as a medium is capable of. They knew what they were good at, and they delivered, unhindered and without compromise. They’re all incredibly different from each other, all at least a bit weird, but I recommend them all for those with an open mind

As usual, these impressions are mine and mine alone. And beware of spoilers here and there.

#5: TO BE HERO (09-12)

Okaaaaay… that ending. I’m a bit speechless by what I saw there, but I think the creators actually did it: create a comedy without cheesing the ending. Or at least, that’s what it feels like right now. Even though some of the things they pull are like the things that immediately get you an F in writing 101.

Yet it all works because of how ridiculous the series is. On one hand the final episodes turn this show into an action series. And really good action by the way, the animation is surprisingly good, and while the series is a bit more serious, the jokes aren’t completely gone. The tone changes, but it stays very deliberately TO BE HERO. The main character’s love for his daughter keeps everything together, and even more after “the big reveal”. It’s just as trolly as you’d expect, and yet I admit that I felt sorry for the guy. He’s a horrible human being, and yet… it worked.

This was an emotional roller-coaster. It’s faaaar away from the series you’d usually associate with that term, but it fits so much, only the emotions you feel are a bit different. At any moment in this series, you either feel schadenfreude, disgusted, or the struggles of a failed father who despite everything loves his daughter deeply. It’s comedy at its blackest, and yet I’m glad to have finished this series.

#4: Yuri on Ice (09-12)

And the series of 2016 with the most annoying fanbase is… yeah. I mean I do not belittle anyone for their passions and likes. Everybody is different and everyone’s taste is unique, and it would be horrible if this wasn’t the case. However, when one of the main reasons to like a series boils down to “porn”, things get a little… awkward. Both for male and female fanservice.

Thankfully there are plenty of other reasons to love this series. The final two episodes of Yuri on Ice breezed through the world championships of figure skating, and in two episodes we got 12 performances with together made for a riveting finale where in total style, a ton of things happened and a lot of characters got to show off. However, because it was the finale, its disadvantage was that it got a little predictable. I mean, the ending… think of the single most likely scenario for the final results. And yeah, that’s it.

It was beautifully made though. And props to the creators for using actual French in their series. I really like how international this series is. There are many nationalities represented here, and the creators did justice to them: characters were portrayed as actual characters, and the creators resisted going for the cheap racial stereotypes, and that resulted into a really wild and colourful cast of characters.

With this success there is bound to be a second season. I’m not sure whether that’s the best idea, since these 12 episodes are perfect for just a standalone show, however the ending really was a bit of a cop-out with a “will they won’t they continue”-tactic. Be bold: either close things off or immediately plan for two seasons right from the beginning. Being wishy-washy more often than not makes things awkward. Like you’re at the end of a party and say goodbye, only to end up awkwardly standing in the same room for fifteen minutes without anyone leaving.

#3: Natsume Yuujinchou Go (09-11)

My favourite episode of the fifth season? Episode 10. My heart just completely melted, it was just so adorable. Season 5 was really the season of the side characters (where Season 1 was the introduction, season 2 about the setting, season 3 about the character-development, season 4 about Natsume himself), and this season was at its best when focusing on this. Not that the other episodes were bad or anything, but we’ve seen better.

Like expected, the sixth season has already been announced, and I really beg the creators: make this the conclusion! Make this the end of the series, and end it with a bang. Compare it to eating chocolate for example. A bit is delicious and amazing, especially if you’ve got the really good quality kind. However try to wolf down ten bars of the stuff and after a while you’ll be so full that it just tastes horribly. It’s up to the series to find that right balance between leaving the viewers hungry and over-stuffing them, and season six feels like exactly that balance, especially considering how season 5 wasted one of its episode for that stupid Nyanko-sensei sidestory.

Because episode 5 I would not consider that the best season. That goes to season 4. I’d also consider season 1 and 3 better, and season 2 worse. It was very clearly a building-up season, so I’ll forgive it for that. But I keep stressing this: brevity! Like it’s a good thing that I watched Legend of Galactic Heroes when I still was a student with no life, because brilliant as it might be: if I had to watch it today I’d simply refuse. There is no way I have that much time just lying around.

#2: Classicaloid (09-12)

This was the halfway climax for Classicaloid, and it was awesome. It’s a fitting climax by finally making everything around Bach come together and finally made him step outside of his shadow and gave him a character; it did not disappoint. However, my favourite episodes still are the ones that revolve around Kanae. I LOVE her character, she is one of the best straight man (or straight women in this case) in a comedy I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t just offer order to the chaos of the other characters, she offers responsibility to their idiocy, she’s being forced to deal with whatever ridiculous ideas the other characters come up with, and is basically being forced to raise this group of man-children. Also check out all of the effort she puts into keeping the mansion tidy. This might seem like an tiny detail, but it’s actually incredibly important from a storytelling perspective. It not only adds character to the mansion itself, but it also makes the setting so much more believable. It adds a very natural sort of tension to the series to keep the mansion clean. It makes the viewer feel much more part of the whole setting, compared to if the characters just lived somewhere.

Amazing stories and characters can be found in any medium. But what makes anime stand out, and the reason why I originally became a fan, is the way in which it combines everything: animation, music, storytelling, characters, themes, setting. How they all work together in creating one experience to the point where the whole is better than the sum of its parts. Obviously not every anime gets this (most don’t), but Classicaloid adheres very much to this philosophy. It very blatantly sacrifices making sense for a feast for all the senses (heck Musik is pretty much a Deus ex Machina with which the creators can do whatever they want). And it’s not just the way in which all Musik scenes are incredibly fun, with all their remixes of famous classical works and full of crazy ideas like giant penguins and mecha helicopters, but also look at the themes: Classicaloid is a series about music. And between all the lines of goofing off, it really is trying to explore what music is, what drives great music, the struggles that the composers face when creating it. We’re halfway through the series and it’s already quite fascinating what’s going on here.

This is why I like Classicaloid more than Natsume Yuujinchou: as much as I love Natsume, it could have been done in any other medium. I can see that work. Classicaloid can only work as an anime. Any other way to do it just won’t work, and it makes brilliant use of that.

#1: Fune wo Amu (08-11)

In its final month, Fune wo Amu has turned out to be incredibly motivational, much more than I expected. Just about everything that was thrown at the characters: they just ended up sucking it up and dealing it up, working diligently for fourteen years until finishing. And I love how well they did it: usually when a challenge is presented, the creators end up cheesing it with the solution: a convenient loophole is found, the problem doesn’t really matter that much in the end, a plothole shows up, or they just kind-of end up solving everything without really going into detail how. Fune wo Amu avoids all of this: the characters work hard and for every problem in their way, they come up with a solution to handle the incredible task of putting together a dictionary.

The time-skip was brilliant in this, and yet it didn’t gloss over how hard these characters worked in compiling every of the 240000 words to get there. There was only one commonly used trope: the death of the professor. But even that was handled very tastefully: very carefully built up for episodes, and it was swiftly presented as part of the path of life, rather than dragging it out for the sentimental value. I really shed a tear that final episode, it was that good.

And really, there is no contest that this was the best of the season. Of course I have not completed many series this year, but let me just say that there would be very surprised if there is a better series than this one in 2016. Fune wo Amu has been amazing, and exactly what I needed. As I struggled keeping up with the episodes, I found that I really WANTED to finish this series. That’s a first in years.

And if there is any series I’d like to be influential, it’s this one. And it’s not like I’m asking for more series about dictionaries, but it goes deeper than that: nearly every single series can learn something from Fune wo Amu. How to animate characters to breathe them to life without overdoing it. How to develop characters, how to adapt your source material by making everything fit within the time you’re given. You want romance? Treat it as this show does, rather than the annoying whining we normally get. Look at this series for a textbook example of how subtle acting should be done, how attention to detail should be done. I can name very few series where it’s all this obvious. The biggest flaw really is that building a dictionary limits audiences: it’s probably a bit too mundane for most audiences. But whoever manages to figure out how to apply the design principles and philosophies that lead to the creation of this series to a more mainstream title: you’re gonna hit pure gold!

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

This original episode achieves something so simple: a reminder that the true ending is the new beginning. Now I understand why KyoAni decided to skip the National performance last episode, because we’re having the last performance this week, with all the memories from the past flooding in as the underclassmen play the piece as a farewell to the senpais, and I honestly couldn’t wish for anything more. Now that the third year students had retired, the second year is going to take over the club and the music band basically has to start again from scratch. Not really from scratch to be exact because the remainders of the music band are already National-qualified players. Yuuko, for her great development this season, totally is deserved to be the band president next year. For Natsuki though, it’s a bit weird to nominate a member who was cutout from the audition to be a vice-president, but Yuuko and Natsuki make a perfect pair so I’m done complaining.

Sound Eupho keeps defining the very notion of romance, huh? I never would have thought we ain’t done with confession. I originally brush Kumiko’s confession off as just “friendship’s affection” but no matter how you look at it, it’s a romantic confession. Which of course crush Shuichi’s love down the toilet’s sink, and eventually give an answer to an always-teasing-and-baiting relationship of Kumiko and Reina as just friends. Best friends. Over my dead body! At the same time though, I can see where Kumiko’s affection for Asuka come from: Asuka’s the one that Kumiko expresses the most, she pours her heart out to confront Asuka so it’s very understandable that when that someone is gone, she feels empty inside and realizes that she misses her. Now I kind of understand as well why the show pushed Reina’s crush to Taki to such extend. I am honestly not sure what to think about this new development. Asuka’s leaving now meaning that if there ever be a third season, Kumiko and Reina’s relationship still take a central stage and we’d never through with this baiting, ever. But judging that Ayano Takeda hasn’t written the sequence, instead focus on Kumiko’s childhood friend Azusa in Rikka High School in her next spin-off novel, I think the show is ended for good. At least Kumiko has a chance to talk out what really matters to her. She has grown quite tremendously since the beginning of this season. I am glad.

The band playing farewell song- a song we’re now all familiar with- is a nice wrap up to many past moments the band (and us) have spent together. I love the moment when Reina started playing solo, we have a next quick shot of Kaori’s smile. There had been much drama about deciding who played the solo part, and Kaori’s reaction here is as best as she could: facing it with a smile. Those other moments keep reminding us what a ride all this had been and the band grow and act like members of a big family. Speaking of family now Kumiko and Mamiko exchanging mails to each other (how cool that is! Even they all have mobile phones).

Sound Eupho has been a very solid drive and this episode perfectly closed everything up nicely. I left the series with a satisfied feeling of the warm sound of Sound! Euphonium piece. Judging this season alone, personally I think it’s not as strong as the first, just a slightly down because it focuses too much on band member’s drama, while at the same time kind of neglecting our mains, but it sure is a very welcoming follow-up to the first. Judging the show as a whole, it will be up there as one of KyoAni’s best works, both demonstrating their detailed superhuman production values that the studio is famous for, and at the same time this show feels like the studio’s most natural brainchild: a slice of life series that set on their very hometown, Kyoto. Full review will come probably next week, before the next season begins, so stay tuned until then. Overall I have a great time covering it, and frankly a bit sad to see it gone. But life moves on, so should we and here’s a toast for a job well done, Kyoto Animation.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario

As of this writing, Kimi no Na wa, or Your name. has enjoyed a phenomenal commercial and critical success. It becomes the highest grossing film of the year in Japan, and broke many records elsewhere in Thailand, China, America… you name it. Even in the local theatre where I went to, we got a full house screening and even the friend that I took that day who is unfamiliar with anime told me she enjoyed the movie. The film also plays in many festivals around the globe (which is rare for an anime movie let me tell you) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Your name. was nominated for the Academy Awards for best animation in a month time. To say all that means I understand full well the appeals of this movie. This movie took the world by storm and somewhat becomes “a pinnacle” on what anime can achieve, or even to some extend what anime would be like to those who know little about anime beside the works from Ghibli studio. “it’s a matter of time before Makoto Shinkai make a masterpiece and with this he achieved it” I heard you say. Well, Your name. might be the work that he’d be known for throughout his career (I have my doubts that his upcoming movies will be as successful as this), but it doesn’t mean that this is his best, his masterpiece. Allow me to elaborate it in my review below.

Your name. divides sharply into 3 sections with 3 different tones. The first part plays out like a Freaky-Friday style rom-com when our two protagonists, the country girl Mitsuha and high school Tokyo boy Taki, swapped bodies for a day. Those misfits’ situations allow room for many light-heart comedies detailing the two struggle with the body of opposite sex (leading to the hilarious-but-quickly-wear-out gags of Mitsuha grabbing her boobs), with the totally new life and new friends they’re encountering. After few times of behaving like losing their minds, they get on quickly with the switch, enjoy the new life and also write notes to each other to follow up what is happening. The second part is where the drama kicks in and for me this is the movie’s best part. Finally the closing part we return to Shinkai’s favorite territory: a quiet, romantic melodrama that keep building up to the moment where the emotions explode.

Speaking of Makoto Shinkai, there is two things that are signature of his works, namely his gorgeous and detailed scenery (AKA scenery-porn) and his overblown romantic drama. I’m always a fan of his first element, and in this movie it works really well and I could argue this is the most stunning backgrounds in any of his works. The little town of Itomori is vivid in its rural settings, with trees blowing in the wind, people having a quiet, relax life and there are still many traditions going around. Tokyo, on the other hand, is noisy and busy, with kids too busy with their cell phones and part-time job, parents have to rush to work. All those settings are so true-to-life that we can feel and taste the lifestyles in each setting. Even the mysterious landscape that divides the world and the underworld is breathtaking and surprisingly rich.

But his other tendency tends to give me a mixed feeling. For the record, the overblown climax in The Garden of Words for example is its weakest part. The main reason I don’t like those overstated drama is I always sense the movie dictates what I want to FEEL with a capital F, overdone music score and tissue-grabbing moments. In Your name. I have the same issues. Sometimes I just want to say to Shinkai: less is much more. Characters cry for the reason they themselves don’t know. More than once they shout about remembering the name of each other. Too many times they chase each other that while I’m totally fine when they do it once, repeating the heighten drama lose its impact after each time.

This is not the only issues though. I guess the other problem comes from “too much of a good thing”, which often the time original anime movies tend to confront (works from Makoto Shinkai and Mamoru Hosoda are the main suspects), and that problem is the way the try to put many plots going together that frankly it becomes a hot mess. Take the sequence where Mistsuha (the real Mistsuha) starting a new day in the beginning of the movie for example, you can see the movie planted many plot points ahead. When she comes to the table to have breakfast (rice for breakfast? Oh well! you need a healthy body for a full day after all), first obaa-chan reminded her that she’s acting normal today (indicates that Taki was in her position yesterday), then she hears the town announcement of the coming electoral (which links to her father and their tense relationship), then she switches on the TV and we have the comet news (which is essential to the plot point), and then she goes back to her room to tie the braided cords to her hairs (which is also essential to the plot point). As a detailed guy, little details like that should make me happy, but I only feel the movie tries to cram all the information up in order to connect all the dots later on. For once, I don’t really see the plot thread of her father’s a mayor affecting much to the story. Or Taki’s crush to his co-worker (especially not much later her role is changing to sidekick). Lessen those unnecessary plots down could make this movie more focus, and much tighter.

Even with the main theme of Kimi no Na wa, we have too many metaphors and symbols that in some ways they are overlapping the others and again, simplifying into one central symbol will make the movie much stronger. We already have the title about the name, which throughout the movie the main characters struggle to remember the name of each other. That meant to be the fate that their lives already intervened, that even you don’t know about the name or identity of “the one”, they can still feel the presence of that person inside their heart. We also have the symbols of thread cords, which she gave it to him few years ago. Threads also meant the connection the leads have together, and that connection will never be cut down even if they don’t recognize each other in real life. And then we have the notion of “Musubi”, which meant to be the things people consumed and then offering to the Gods to become a connection between the god and the people, between the afterlife and the current life, In order words, between the long lost-Mitsuha and the current Taki. You see, “connection” are the themes and those symbols have their well-meaning but when you put all of them together, it’s confusing and lose its focus. Also the different in tones between the 3 parts makes the movie as a whole inharmonious but for that records they did extremely well on establishing the moods in those separate parts.

Also, while I said earlier that the second part is easily their best part, when you witness the real weight of the drama and an attempt to save the one you loved is nothing but affecting; dealing with time-warp is always a very tricky part. Because when you really question the functionality of the timeline, logic starts to fall apart. You might simply brush it off that the main characters thought the whole experience as their dreams, but can’t they tell the different in timeline when they have to go to school everyday? Or even with 3-year gap Taki still looks the same, wearing the same uniform and doesn’t really have any memory about that girl, but keep on wearing the braided cords instead? Or the very convenient plot point when he tried to show his friends about the memos that the two shared, it vanishes right before his eyes? Those are small details of course but it does bug me and keep me away from enjoying the movie to the fullest.

Sound like I have too much negativity about the movie in this review but the truth is I really enjoyed it. When Your name. is at its best, it can bring out the satisfying emotions like few anime I saw this year. The part where they eventually meet in a twilight landscape is emotionally-affecting and well-earned, and their chemistry with each other is surprisingly strong, consider they don’t actually meet each other that much. The two mains are refreshing and very likeable and I don’t mind spending more time with the two to be honest. The animation is top notch and the music, while overbearing at times, still does its jobs quite fittingly. Other everyday-life parts in the beginning are mundane and lifelike and full of personality as well, if I have to pick my favorite it’d be the sequence where Mitsuha doing the traditional dance with her little sister. Oh and the part that Taki drink the sake down the cave, Shinkai actually experienced with other animation-style and the brief montages towards Mitsuha’s past live (yes! Simple but affective) are simply the movie’s best moments and I really hope Shinkai can begin to experiment more with his own styles.

So back to that main question, is this Shinkai’s best work? No, I don’t think so but I would certainly say it’s his most accessible work and will likely to be the one that he will be famous for the rest of his career. For me with someone as talented as Shinkai, “accessible” isn’t an adjective I’m looking for, since if your work is for everyone, then it is for no one really in particular.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Occultic:Nine, Reviews by AidanAK47

I am certain this may seem like an extreme rating for some but the number scale always has been something I only carried over as part of psgels format. But this rating exemplifies my feelings about this show in its entirety. This show is awful, terrible, rage inducing, illogical, nonsensical garbage. Watching this show was one of my most unpleasant experiences watching anything. When I started this show I at least thought it couldn’t be as bad as Robotics;Notes, for that show was truly something else when it came to bad writing. But I was flabbergasted to see that this show was so much worse. To the point where I may swear off watching any colon series from this point forward.

The plot of this show is a complete mess and looking at it in it’s entirely it not only makes no sense but the only points where the story goes anywhere is at the every beginning and the very end. The middle portion of this story is nothing but a giant waste of time as the characters only work to try to figure out a mystery that would eventually be explained to them and side plots which are introduced but have not plot relevance whatsoever. The main middle part of this story involves a murderer who not only has little or nothing to do with the main mystery but is dropped and never mentioned again once his little arc is through. The characters are all either unlikable or stereotypical and it’s important to note that they do mostly nothing besides motormouth exposition. Design wise they are not very interesting and need I mention the girl with a chest so astronomically huge that it is incredibly distracting? I do not mean that this is attractive, I mean that this girl’s anatomy is so utterly ridiculous that it’s like having a giant elephant in the room that no one seems to address. I will say as well that his character does nothing but try to figure out every motion she can make to move her breasts as much as possible and make me question how her back hasn’t snapped into splinters. She plays a stereotypical dumb blond joke until the last two episodes. Where she is pretty much lobotomized and replaced with a completely different character.

What the mystery becomes in it’s final episode is something you could swear was parody but the show itself is clear that it wants you to take it completely seriously. It tries to tug at your heartstrings when the characters are talking at a speed of bullet trains. Out of the nine characters mentioned in the title, only two are actually relevant. The rest are just throwaway side characters whose absence wouldn’t hurt the show, if anything it would shorten the runtime and make it more focused. It becomes impossible to take even an iota of this story seriously when it pulls out deus ex machina like those angel wings you happen to see in the screenshots up there. Isn’t that utterly ridiculous for a story that want wants to be an intelligent mystery series? Well if you find that hard to swallow I assure you that it’s the tip of the iceberg. This story has twists and turns that just make you wish to yell at the top of your lungs “WHAT?!”

The direction is a nightmare. Want to know how bad? You need not take my word for it, just watch the first thirty seconds of the very first episode. I assure you that by the time you get back to this review you will be very confused. I have no idea what the director of this show was thinking as screenshots have no logical cohesion with what is being represented. A large number of times our protagonists will suddenly start talking rapid fire like a bakemonogatari series before reverting back into normal speech. There is an episode filled with so many dutch angles you will feel physically ill just from watching it. There is a scene where the camera spins 360 degrees in place for three straight minutes. There are camera shots flipped upside down or 90 degrees for no apparent reason. Sometimes spacial awareness is just thrown out the window and you have a giant girl speaking to a small boy in a close up shot when they are supposed to be on opposite sides of the room. I must ask if they director went to film school because it was almost as if he wanted to make this show as painful to watch as possible. For that I truly pity the animators who do a stand out job despite what they have to work with.

There are some who say that at least this tried something different but I say no. Magical Girl Raising Project tried something different and while it didn’t succeed, at least the end result doesn’t make me want to claw my eyes out. You can say that someone tried something different by making a coffee mug out of monkey feces but it’s still shit no one wants. This writer has passed the point of being applauded for experimentation so it’s an insult to give him kudos for fan fiction level writing. So without surprise I am sure, I recommend you avoid this anime at all cost. Pay no heed to those claiming it’s good, they are clearly blind. Save your brain cells, don’t even watch it as a joke because I assure you that this series will go out of it’s way to make sure you can’t get any fun out of it. I declare Occultic;Nine to be the worst anime I have ever seen and if you are wise you would heed my words. Don’t waste your life on this flaming trashcan of a show. I have wasted far too much of my time on it already.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Occultic:Nine

Well, it’s over. It’s finally over. You know, when I finish an anime series it can make me feel a variety of things. Sometimes I feel a gaping hole in my heart after tuning in and looking forward to a episode every week only to know that won’t happen anymore. Sometimes I feel satisfied with how it tied everything up and I want to start from the beginning to experience it all again. Sometimes I feel ambivalent as I thought a series was serviceable and at least wasn’t a waste of time. Sometimes I lament what a anime could have been had they just made different choices. Occultic;Nine made me feel none of these things as the credits rolled one last time. No, as Ryo-tas confirmed with her last words that I had indeed wasted four or five hours on this series I only had one word on my mind. Why?

Why was this anime made? To advertise a game, but even if you give this a full HBO series you couldn’t salvage this trainwreck of a plot. Why did underpaid animators have to work on this? Why is it that someone looked at this script and thought it acceptable? Why does this get an anime adaption when much greater works like Utsuro no hako to Zero no Maria, Lucifer and biscuit hammer, Sharin no Kuni, Rakuin no Monshou and the remainder of the Spice and Wolf novels remain unanimated? Why did the director want to make people throw up with his presentation and think that fast forwarding exposition was appropriate? Why was someone paid to write this? Why does Ryo-Tas have basketballs for a chest? Why? Why? Just why? I guess the only emotion I could call this is despair. Despair that I had indeed finished watching the worst anime I have ever seen.

I would not be surprised if you dismiss that above statement as hyperbolic but I assure you that it is not. There are certainly anime which are objectively worse than Occultic;Nine. Worse animated, presentation, acted and even written. But even something bad can be enjoyed and made fun of. This show can’t, it’s primarily exposition and while the plot is absurd it leaves little room to get any real enjoyment out of it. For me, I genuinely dreaded watching this excuse that dared call itself anime. Any time I finished it I felt drained or annoyed or sick or hateful or all of the above. You name any bad anime you can think of and I would gladly watch that over watching Occultic;Nine again. There are 387.44 million miles of printed circuits in wafer thin layers that fill my complex. If the word ‘hate’ was engraved on each nanoangstrom of those hundreds of miles it would not equal one one-billionth of the hate I feel for this show at this micro-instant. For it. Hate. Hate.

So what happened this episode? Well we had five Deus ex machina’s, that’s what. Maybe even six. Besides the mountain of sped up exposition we have a moment where Aveline says she’s going to sacrifice herself to make the key by God knows how and everyone’s getting all choked up about it because they knew her for like a day. But this is made into a complete waste of time as Gamotans just goddamn teleports the bloody key into his hand straight out of nowhere. Oh and the evil organisation detected the key teleportation because when you build a giant lightning pole designed for ghosts you make sure it can detect teleportation as well. Just right on the standard procedure specifications just right below the Santa Claus tracker. Then we have everyone saying another heartfelt goodbye as Gamotan is the one to sacrifice himself now. Oh how they claim that Gamotan changed their life when I say, what did he even do? All this stuff is just handed to him because he’s the “chosen one”. He has literally done nothing. In fact what did any of you do? Both glasses characters character arcs are a straight goddamn line. You have no arc to conclude! All you guys did was figure out the mystery that Aveline was going to tell you anyway! Glasses here even figured out that they can travel back in time but again the detective kid was coming to tell them that anyway. And yes, they actually went with it, they negated the deaths of most of the cast. Still left the other 251 people to die though. Our heroes everyone.

We soon find out that doujin girl sees the future by out of body experiences and she suddenly disappears proving that Occultic;Nine has yet another completely pointless character. Wow, nine main cast members and only two are actually goddamn relevant. Isn’t that swell. Oh I don’t care, not as if the show cares, so why should I care…Why should..You know what. Sure. Oh evil organisation only sends their leader to go deal with a problem? Sure, why not. Oh Gamotan got revived after a fatal blow because Ryo-Tas kissed him? Sure, why not. Oh he grows angel wings out of goddamn nowhere? Sure, why not. Oh Gamotans dead dad comes back to fix Gamotan arriving too late? Sure, why not. Guess he didn’t give a crap about his mother. And now Gamotan is a ghost blogger and everyone cheers that he blew up Odd Eye by screaming at it. Oh what a happy ending this must be for our heroes right before I assume the evil organisation comes to slaughter them all for ruining their plans. So do they actually still think people are going to buy the blu-rays of this?

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Magical Girl Raising Project, Reviews by AidanAK47

In the success of Madoka there have been plenty who have tried to capitalize on turning the Magical girl genre dark. Few have actually succeeded and while Magical Girl Raising Project doesn’t quite succeed, it is still a much more competent attempt than many others. The story is about a phone app which promises to turn people into magical girls. However when the number of magical girls in a city goes too high, an elimination contest is held to cut their numbers in half. The end result is akin to a magical girl battle royale.

This show does play with some interesting ideas and throws some nice curve balls within it’s run. It can certainly get the viewer brainstorming on what is coming next and has nice little twists to the magical girl concept though not often explored to the degree which it could be. It’s at it’s best when the body count rises and sparks fly between the cast of sixteen magical girls. While not all shine there are a few within the cast which are highly likeable and the story does have an excellent antagonist in the form of the cold calculating Swim Swim as well as some standout moments from unexpected characters. When you can’t see what’s coming this show can grip you and have you wondering just who is going to fall next as well as how.

However the problem with Magical Girl Raising Project is that it’s large cast of characters remain undeveloped until the point where they are about to be killed off. The development is primarily through flashbacks but does shed interesting light on the characters. However as the flashbacks often appear right before the character’s demise it often telegraphs that character’s death. Ultimately killing the unpredictability of a battle royale and making the death of a character not all that shocking. Though the show does have a few surprises, more often than not you will see the death coming. The animation as well seems to never quite convey the intensity of the battles making they feel rather plain. While there is a high diversity of character designs and abilities, the fights in this show rarely feel all that exhilarating which could be attributed to the lacking character development or simply the fight animation just being average.

In summary Magical Girl Raising Project is a show with good concepts not executed well. I do see potential in this writer and if a second season does come to be then whn not restricted to the battle royale format he may have a chance to really shine. However as the series is currently it is a serviceable and enjoyable watch. If you have an interest in a dark take of the magical girl genre and have checked out the notables like Madoka or Princess Tutu then Magical Girl Raising Project isn’t a bad recommendation. Even fans of Danganronpa could get a kick out of it as it does take some inspiration from it. A show that sadly didn’t live up to it’s potential but remains a decent watch regardless.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Magical Girl Raising Project

The day is saved thanks to Ripple and, well just Ripple. Snow White did help near the end by bringing the rabbit’s foot but other than that she pretty much won the battle royale by doing absolutely nothing. The final battle was somewhat anticlimactic and I do think that maybe with a higher animation budget and better fight animation this could have been a real great battle. However as is the battle is serviceable but I do admire Swim Swim’s ingenuity in choosing a battlefield suited to her abilities. She planned well all things considered and was only caught off guard by a sudden thunderstorm and Ripples flash grenades taken from Calamity Mary. Fav wasn’t foolish for thinking that Swim Swim would win, by all accounts she really should have.

Despite the main fan consensus of her being hated because of her tendency of killing off the more likeable characters, I at least will miss Swim Swim. I do think that she was a great villain that sadly didn’t get the development or opportunity to really shine. I have heard that the author makes a character like her later in the story whom might prove to fulfill the potential Swim Swim had. Sadly the show skimmed over what would be the big shock moment where Ripple would find out she killed a little girl by having her vision be obscured during the act and her reaction just briefly flashed on. I really thought that would be a much bigger deal that it turned out being and quite frankly the author missed a good opportunity there to make the final part of the fight a real punch to the gut.

It was somewhat satisfying to see Fav undone by the very things he gave the magical girls in the first place but his ending is rather anticlimactic. I don’t really get his reasoning for bringing Snow White to his side as revealing that the battle royale was essentially his and Cranberry’s idea only serves to get her all the more reason to not be his master. For the most part I think Fav didn’t actually think Cranberry would die and his efforts after were just his attempts at weaseling himself out of a bad situation. Like how he was doing when he realized that Ripple got hold of a weapon that could actually destroy him. Fav like more or less every other character in this series, only really started to get interesting just right before he’s going to get killed off. Seeing Fav panic really showed that he’s not quite as cool and in control as he pretends to be and Snow White could see right through him. In fact Snow and Ripple also only really started to get interesting just right before the show ended. Still there are talks of a Magical Girl Raise Project sequel and while this series isn’t perfect i do think there is potential for the writer to turn it into something great. Even the idea of continuing Snow White’s transformation from stereotypical magical girl to magical girl superhero could make for an interesting second season.

Posted on 27 December 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, OVAs and Movies:, Zaregoto Series

The bomb has finally dropped as the murder everyone waiting for eventually come, but we still aren’t clear who the victim is. If there is one cliché about murders involving beheading, it’s that you can never be sure about the identity of the headless victim. The one you think is dead will return to the story near the end somehow, not only with his head intact, but with his evil grin as well. It appears for now that the body is Kanami’s, a genius painter, since the body is in her room and worn the exact outfit; in addition, based on the info I read somewhere her name is a wordplay that if you read her name in reverse it means: no head now. But it could be one of the maids. As of this moment we don’t get to know any of the maid so the main focus is still squarely on those geniuses.

One of the most important clue that we gained right now is how the table set up like a clock, with the host is at 12.00 o’clock and Tomoe is right opposite her at 6.00. We simply don’t have any clue to work with at this moment but I figure that in the future development this clue is going to be relevant. Another strange occurrent that happen on the night of the murder is the earthquake which resulted in the messy room we see at the end, or was it not? How the earthquake relevant to the murder is unclear, but for now I suspect that because the earthquake happened so randomly that the true culprit didn’t plan on this and thus left some evidences behind. Lastly, there were a mystery on this island that occurred before that caught Tomoe’s curiosity but for now we know nothing about it.

We got introduced to the last genius in this island: Yayoi the genius chief. Although she claimed that she has no natural talent, she can actually smell and sense a huge lot different tastes. Apart from having that absolute taste and absolute pitch, she appears to be the most normal out of all geniuses. Just really wonder why there is no one who commend about the foods that they eat, after all it’s Yayoi who cook all of them, right? Oh we also get to see the host Akagami, but apart from being a fulltime event manager and bragging about the new character to come, she’s just plain like a rice cake.

Not much actually happen beside all the chitchatting of course, but this episode sheds a new angle about Il chan relationship towards Tomoe. Maki (A genius fortune teller who know the past, the future, people and the world) really likes to scrub Il-chan the wrong way, but she seems to see through this guy. And because she understands his character she despites the way he’s doing things. She also digs a little too deep about his and Tomoe’s strange “friendship”. She’s something that he wishes he could’ve been and seeing her- despite all that- unhappy make him feel good. Those scenes in which he’s inside a TV-like box that Maki can see through him perfectly elevate the sense of discomfort of Il-chan towards Maki’s words. There’s still much more oil that needed to pump from their relationship of course, like what she thinks about MC and why she needs him to come to this isolated island in the first place.

Even with this once-a-month format Shaft still manages to stays behind schedule and and pushes back the next episode until January next year. As of now, things are moving so slowly and there is simply not much material to work with, but starting the next episode the plot might get a little more entertaining with the investigation now that the murder kicked in. In the mean time I might try to eat by using two pairs of chopsticks Tomoe-style, by the time the next episode begins I might have mastered that skill already.

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