Posted on 4 January 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Sound! Euphonium 2

I must admit that out of all the series I was blogging last year, Sound Eupho 2 was the one I’m saddest to see it ends; not because it was my absolute favorite anime last year, but because the sheer amount of their attention to details and their ridiculously quest for perfection are something that out of this world, in this day and age, which I will get to that later in my review. This is a sequel to Sound Eupho last year but I will keep the comparison to the first season to minimum in terms of quality because this season is great enough to be judged by its own.

The story is a direct continuation from the end of last season, as the Kitauji high school concert band just qualified from the qualifying round, now heading to Kansai region competition and later on, the National competition. Unlike the first season where the main dramatic events like Aio pulled out from the music club to focus on her study; the audition to choose the best players for the competition or the challenge to pick the lead trumpet arise and resolved around the development of the band club itself, the second season concentrates more on the band members’ personal issues. This change of focus is more apparent in the second half, when the show completely drops the band practice, even to the point of not showing the national performance at all. I understand this bold choice can cause disappointment to many fans who want to see the band in action, and moreover focus on individual character drama can cause the lack of cohesive theme; this shift of attention, on the other hand, also brings out some of the best character developments and intimate moments the show has ever achieved.

I will get to the negative part first. When the show concentrates more on character’s heightened drama, those dramas can be uneven and doesn’t add up much to the big picture. Two of this season’s acts for example: Yoroizuka and Reina act don’t play well for me because they have the exact opposite problems. Yoroizuka (the only character that I used by surname here, as this is how Kumiko refers her) is a secondary character who was suddenly given the spotlight and while her final confrontation with Yuuko and Nozomi was effective, the drama was resolved too quickly, Yoroizuka changed so fast that I personally don’t see her grow as natural at all. Reina’s affection to Taki-sensei grow to another level this season, but I’m not alone to say that this was the show’s weakest act because almost everyone can see the outcomes. That drama isn’t much to speak of to begin with; it’s a shame because Reina was my favorite character the first season and I’d like to see other kind of developments for Reina, any other development but this.

Moreover, sometimes it does feel like Sound Eupho stumbles around those dramas in order to “create the situation”; as a result sometimes the show loses its focus because it has to cover too many grounds (like in episode 6), other times some of the conflicts feel forced and calculated (of all time, Mamiko choose she decided to tell her parents to quit college on that stormy night, and “she quited because it has to be now”. Why?). While the Mamiko act actually turns out pretty great, those issues speak to the lack of single unified theme that made the first season so tightly constructed. The last issue, which was also the show’s biggest flaw, lied in the fact that when they focus too much on one set of characters for the drama, other cast members unfortunately don’t have much roles so all they do is hanging around and making the best out of little screen time they had. Reina, before reaching her act, serves as a shadow behind Kumiko; Shuichi becomes the unluckiest guy in the world and worst of all, Hazuki and Sapphire don’t have any development anymore, given that they are still billed as the lead characters.

In contrast, if anything, this season will be remembered as the season of Kumiko and Asuka. They are the heart and the soul of this season, and it’s a blessing to see how far both of them have matured in the end. Asuka has been one of the most complex character in Sound Eupho’s universe and the show did a damn fine job to underline her struggles with both her parental figures, as well as gradually peeling off the mask to reveal her true feeling inside. The most brilliant part of it was that she never lose her strong side at all, never in many moments we are allowed to see her vulnerable side, because it’s more that she becomes honest to herself, embrace herself to what she loves most and comes out even stronger than before. In additions, most of Asuka and Kumiko moments develop into the highlights of the season. When Asuka played that Sound Euphonium piece to Kumiko in episode 9, it was one of the best moments of the whole show, period. When Kumiko poured her heart out to convince Asuka to come back to the band, it was one of the most effective drama the show could ever committed. As the two getting closer and more honest to each other, it makes a whole lot sense that we have that final confrontation between them that warmly tied up this whole season together. This show indeed ends on a high note.

Kumiko also deserved to be one of the year’s best character here as she has changed a lot from timid and passive with no real passion into the one who is really honest to what she feels. Aside from her interaction with Asuka, her moments with her sister, while soft and never overly dramatic like other acts, feel all too real ans intimate on how siblings care about each other. The last few episodes when we follow her through her quiet tears on the train, her outbursts, her confessions were a joy to watch and each step she made feel like a natural progression. I have to give extra gratitude Tomoyo Kurosawa, the saiyuu of Kumiko, for delivering such a deadpan, plain but strangely distinctive voice of our main girl.

But what make Sound Eupho stand head above the rest of the crop lies in its production values. That 10-minute performance in episode 5 simply outperformed everything else I watched in recent years. KyoAni’s always known for their gorgeous designs and their attentive to make every little detail right, but this is just another level of insanity the more you get to know what they achieved. Almost every performance you heard in the show was correctly timed to their single notes (meaning that if you hear the character hits the notes onscreen, they were the right notes), the position of their fingers, their postures, even down to the preparation of the members before hitting the notes, were all accurate. Now imagine all of these in animation with a band of thirty something characters for the whole two seasons. I can’t even think how on earth one could achieve animating all that, let alone making it all flawlessly. They even go as far as making the echo of the announcement on the firework scene in the first episode, because they wanted it to be real (the city Uji is surrounded by mountains). No, something as insane as this don’t happen often, especially on TV-anime level, so to see it finally at the end of its road suddenly make me feel a little sad.

This second season is indeed a worthy follow up to the Sound Eupho the series. Just a bit of note that the score I’m giving above is for this second season alone, if I have to give a score for the whole series it would be 93/100. Sound Eupho is an install classic and for me is up there as one of KyoAni’s best works to date. As of this writing right now, there is one more novel about our Kitauji school that is more of a collection of short stories (like the real reason Aoi quit the band, or the story of Shuichi finally confesses to Kumiko) so I think OVAs will be the most possible outcomes. Otherwise we have the spin-off novels that focus on Azusa (Kumiko’s childhood friend) and her Rikka high school marching band and for now I think there’s a high chance that in the future KyoAni will return back to that universe by adapting this spin-off. Well, they better adapt it, or on that note, why not adapting Haruhi season 3?

Posted on 29 December 2016 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 23 December 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

This could very well be Sound Eupho confessional episode. We get all the confessions of sort, for better or for worse. This is an episode that gives satisfied conclusions to many ongoing plots. While it also means that the show pushes forward Reina’s feeling for Taki-sensei for literally everyone to hear- which as of now we can pretty much take it or leave it. I will leave it at that- other pay-offs, particular Kumiko’s and Asuka’s, are intimate and heartfelt. Kumiko’s longing for her sister on the performance day is easily one of my favorite Sound Eupho moments. Sometimes you just need to say what hold you back out loud to the one you love. The fact that her sister played music, and to this extend, came all the way to see her play matters to her. The whole sequence was animated quite brilliantly as well, followed Kumiko as she rushing to catch up with her sister. I haven’t really sold on Kumiko’s sudden development for the last few episodes, but this moment comes just so natural and ties very well with her growth that it rings so true to me; not because it reminds me of my own story but because this is what I truly know Kumiko would behave. This is the kind of character moments that I’ve been looking for in the show.

The national performance is decidedly low-key. Very low-key indeed. We have been spoiled too much on Sound Eupho that we would expect another full-blown performance from the band, but this anti-climax approach is actually very fitting with the second half of this season: as the show progressed, they shift the focus on the musical performance to character’s arcs drama, that of course brings a fair share of both good and bad points. On the positive notes, this approach makes the show feel fresh with their attention is squarely on other issues. Do we really need to watch another 10-minutes performance again? Why don’t the show, instead of repeating the same approach, focus to something else entirely? And that’s precisely what happened: instead of that big performance that everyone been waiting for, their very next cuts show the members of the band sitting and interacting with each other after the performance (I love Reina’s just sitting quietly and reflecting here- “Sometimes I sit and think. Sometimes I just sit”-type of situation). I know I’m in minority but I actually enjoy all those small moments here, every member that we all know and care for all have their moments to shine through (but, where are Yuuko and Natsuki??).

This choice, on the other hand, makes the stake of national competition surprisingly low, even much lower than the local competition. I’d rather prefer of instead of that Reina episode last week, they could focus more on the third years feeling towards their very last performance. As the result; even though the band only achieved bronze, we don’t really feel they’ve earned it. Furthermore, that Reina confession sure feels awkward, as she repeatedly banging her head against thick wall. Taki-sensei actually did his best to deal with her confession. He could just easily laugh it off, or right out scold her; but he acknowledges that he appreciates the thoughts but he won’t advance the matter anymore. Now if only that love story is the central theme of the show’s next season.

Shuichi finally has a real moment with Kumiko we’ve been waiting for. This poor guy was shut down from Kumiko just because she didn’t care too much about him. Forget about him being a romantic interest to Kumiko, Shuichi is actually one of those few people who really understands Kumiko, especially about her and her sister’s relationship. Many readers think of him as one of the most underdeveloped character out of the show, especially when it comes to his fruitless childhood crush towards Kumiko. While I partly agree with this, just keep in mind that in actuality many of our characters just hang in there because they don’t have enough material to grow. Reina had been in Kumiko’s shadow for a good number of episodes before reaching her arc, and most notably Sapphire and Hazuki appear so far and few between for main characters. Actually, I don’t even know why they’re still labeled as mains in the ED. I just read through one Ayano Takeda’s interview, the writer of the books that this show adapted (a really informative interview I would add), and in there she said that the main purpose of Sapphire was to elevate the material until Taki-sensei arrived, because otherwise people just lose their interest prior to the band deciding to practice for National competition. That explains a lot on how their roles are minimal this season.

In the end, this episode actually addresses many character arcs quite nicely, but at the same time I wouldn’t blame people who think this episode is a disappointment. I would just say that your feeling towards this episode entirely depends on how you feel about the second half of this season. Seems like we ending the third book by this episode and the next one will be the anime-original episode so who knows what will going to happen, but it’s the more reason that the final episode is a must-watch for every fan.

And let the final piece begin…

Posted on 16 December 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

At long last we have a whole episode focusing on Reina after being sidelined for the whole season. I had my fears going to this episode as developing her crush on Taki-sensei isn’t the direction I want the show to focus on. As it turns out, the episode’s execution is quite good as expected from KyoAni, and they did what they could to close this little Reina arc down nicely before the National competition, but I can’t help but think that this is their worst effort of this second season, especially in a narrative sense as it adds very little to the show’s main narrative.

So the main reason Reina was so cold last week is because she knows that Kumiko’s hiding about Taki-sensei’s wife. Poor Kumiko who got betrayed by none other than Hashimoto-sensei (remember he was the one who spilled the bean to Kumiko as well. Girls, if you want to find out any secret, ask this guy!). The sequence where they are up there in the mountain is played out slowly and steady and I love the direction of this sequence, remind us of course to that terrific episode 8 of last season. Reina is the kind of person who knows what she wants, but when the thing she wants isn’t what she thinks it is, she feels weak and vulnerable. It’s pretty understandable for a girl her age to feel insecure about that. But she also walks a thin line from being completely rude by asking her sensei about his late wife, in an expense of Kumiko no less. That’s Reina for you. Always head on to do things, regardless of how everyone else feels.

By giving Reina a flashback on her first-time meeting Taki-sensei, it actually justifies her actions a whole lot better. So apparently, Reina had an issue of getting along with other people ever since she was a kid because she was… eh… rich. She met Taki at that time and it’s him who encourage Reina to play better. In Reina’s eyes, Taki was like a prince riding horse out of some fairytale and she did attend this school because of him (she mentioned that before but now we know for sure). I guess the time that Taki gave her a music piece was the time that his wife just passed away. Hearing him talking about her with such sad and sweetness is quite touching, and seeing him now try to accomplish her dream is sad in its own way. The problem with that is after he achieving all this, what’s left for him? Hmm, I don’t really see the point of visiting grave from the person you don’t know, but that scene is still a nice closure for Reina to really accept it and mature a bit after this.

With that we get to an end of all those character arcs and with two episodes remaining we will now focus wholeheartedly to the National Competition. I haven’t really noticed but the last half of this season we didn’t get to much band practicing, even at all. In a way, this show is a nice contrast to Yuri on Ice in terms of their approach: while both shows concentrating on the competition aspect, Yuri on Ice spends its time entirely on the performances and the character’s personality and growth are showcased completely during the performances (which actually very fitting to figure skating sport), whereas Sound Eupho focuses strongly on the band’s music practices and personal dramas within the members of the band.

This little Reina act is the total opposite with Yoroizuka act, as in Yoroizuka act we have a heightened drama; where the character changed sharply after it ends; on a secondary character we don’t pretty much care about, this act is about our core character with very little resolve to work with. For those reasons, I would say Asuka act is a definitive act of this season. Then again, relying too much on character’s development acts might be this show’s weakest approach; as for me my favorite moments in this episode are when the show explores little moments between various characters: Yuuko with Reina (Yuuko is actually the best thing this season had developed right now) and Akusa with Natsuki. It’s those moments that remind me that every character in the show have their own lives and issues. They’re not some stage characters who just sit there and don’t do anything when they’re off the stage light.

As a very unrelated note, I got bored and searched for the Daikichi Mountain the girls went up to this episode and it was real.  In fact, that school Kitauji High School is real (down to the uniform), so are every other schools (the marching band school) and settings. That fact seriously blows my mind! With all the RPG fantasy anime, harem anime and limitless amounts of high school anime, I take it for granted that everything there is a work of fiction, of someone’s mindless wet-dream so I don’t prepare for the show that based everything on its real settings. I always know that this show is realistic but now it’s the whole other level of realness, don’t you think?

Posted on 9 December 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

This season surely gives us too much of Kumiko-cuteness versions. After the fluffy little Kumiko last few weeks, the bedridden sore throat Kumiko, the surprisingly “always listening – always understanding” (such a pretentious slogan) Kumiko last week, what shades pf Kumiko is in store for us this week? Of course it’s an emo teary-eyes Kumiko. As much as a blank emotion when we first met her, this episode in particular shows us that she can express her own emotions, and on top of it actively resolves conflicts because she really wants to. That’s quite a development for our girl Kumiko to be that emotionally honest and I’m sure she deserved all the praise she got this week.

As contrasted to the Kumiko – Asuka showdown later on, Kumiko and Mamiko’s conflict was pretty quiet, soft but full of honest moments. The sisters don’t really make conversations to each other for so long, and the last times they talked there were a huge influx of misunderstanding from both sides, but to resolve the matters like this show how much maturity they both have become. It’s like the first time that Mamiko treats her sister like a companion, frankly tells her sister her issues in exactly the way she feels. That scene is layered by Mamiko literally cleaning up her mess (way too subtle KyoAni!), while Kumiko just stands there, cooking and listening. This is the most appropriate way to end their conflict like this, because ultimately Mamiko doesn’t need her sister’s help, she just needs her to understand. Like Asuka’s last week insecurity about being Eupho-girl, Mamiko was a bit jealous of Kumiko because she could do what she wants; while we know that Kumiko was thinking the opposite. The play of perspective is there to show us how they’re struggling with their own images. Speaking of perspective, my favorite moments out of this little drama has to be just after Mamiko said she was about to move out and said she’d be a little sad (don’t know about you guys but I personally find it real hard to talk about emotions to my siblings, just like Mamiko and Kumiko here), she looks at this little corner and knows that the place where she spend her childhood as home will be no longer her home. That feeling rings so hollowly true here.

But the most brilliance thing is how her sister’s drama helps supporting Kumiko in her “Operation Bring Back Asuka-senpai”. The event last week, powerful as it was, isn’t enough to bring Asuka back to the band. After all, Asuka’s main intention to invite Kumiko last week was because she needed someone to hear her out, not to resolve her conflicts. In her minds, the best solution has always been cutting herself off from the band, that’s where out Kumiko steps in. Yes, Asuka isn’t wrong about all that, but sometimes, just follow what you’re most passionate about regardless of any other things might be the best course of action. It’s no points to continue what you ain’t love doing. Be honest to yourself. Be a KID!! The showdown is atmospheric, tense and I love how Asuka lays bare what she thoughts about Kumiko. On that showdown, we have many shots from multiple perspectives: most of the time from Kumiko’s point of view, sometimes they pull out from different angles, sometimes they don’t even show the girls’ faces at all. Those shots aim to show us how much Asuka was still in control of the situation until Kumiko’s breakout. Kumiko’s body expressions after that talk is priceless. I can see so much efforts were put to make her gestures as expressive as we see here.

To align with the tone of this second season, this episode also leaves Reina absent for most of the time to do god-know-what from He-must-not-be-named (AKA spying from her teacher) and it looks like the next episode will focus on her crush issues with Taki-sensei. To be honest that arc might be the one I least interested in, because we already know the outcomes of this crush. Despite that, it also means we will have more Reina’s time so I remain optimistic about that arc might turn out worthwhile. Maybe.

Posted on 2 December 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

Two-third of this Fall season have passed and usually this is the time for our shows to reach to their full potential. Sound Eupho, comfortably delivers one of its best episode of this second season. As you can probably tell by the self-titled nature of this episode, our Eupho players are given as the centerpiece and what better way to end this week than a euphonium solo piece? Yes, this is the kind of development I want to see from Sound Eupho. I don’t want heightened drama when things resolve too quickly and seem to be forgotten soon afterward. I want this. In the end of this episode, things don’t really change at all. Asuka is still miserable and we haven’t deal with Asuka’s mother yet and there is no emotional breakdown, no tears. Just smile. We saw Asuka smiles as a mask to hide her true feeling from the start of the show, and in the end of this episode again we see her smiles, but this time it has changed. We get out of this episode feeling that we learn a lot better from these characters. Now, I have a glimpse of Asuka’s real thoughts, of Kumiko’s growing right before my eyes and of the great chemistry they share and those are honestly all I could ask for.

Let get to know Asuka a bit more after this episode. There’s two things about this girl that makes one of the most layered characters out of this series and the first is she knows exactly what she wants. Unlike the bandmates who keep practicing for golds and competition, she pretty much has her own hidden agenda. Starting Euphonium from a gift from her estranged father, she wants to play the instrument and no amount of efforts from her Mom can keep her away from it. After finding out that her father will be a judge for the National Competition, she wants to get her father hear her play so she cuts all the unnecessary band drama bullshit and pushes hard to reach the National stage. It’s a very selfish way of doing things when everything she does is for her own benefits, even at a cost of sacrifice something else (her friend Nozomi) but in a way she’s one of the purist band players out there: She plays Eupho because she really wants to play. She wants to play because she has something to express, be it her reach for freedom or her cry out for recognition from her father.

But there is another thing that made her role so compelling. Despite her carefree, uplifting attitude and her seemingly ignorant of her surrounding, she actually notices and cares about people surrounding her. The scene when Kaori tie up her shoes really highlights that quality of her: on one hand, the dark visual close shot of Asuka (something come straight from horror) indicates very well that personally Asuka don’t take it very well when others meddling to her own affair, but on the other hand she also aware about Kaori’s sincere intention of helping her out, hence the out of nowhere comment: “Kaori is cute, isn’t she” (because in Asuka’s mind that’s what cute girls do: trying their best to help her friend out). Even with her own relationship with her Mom, Asuka disagrees with many of her Mom’s decisions but “Once a Mom, always a Mom” – she knows that her Mom raised her up so she respects her all the same. This week she notices something about Kumiko that she knows that she could talk honestly to Kumiko. After all, sharing is caring so it’s nice to see Asuka open up her issues to Kumiko (the best part here have to be how Kumiko declared that she loves to hear Asuka’ sound… well, that special thing about Kumiko)

Kumiko just getting better and better at carrying her own weight lately. Like I mentioned before we follow every action through her perspective, we see what she sees (that shot where she nervously peeks through her senpai in a locker room really demonstrates it), so far she appears as plain as possible (kudos to both her voice acting and her passive personality) to not distract us so much from the main storyline. But in this episode the show suddenly gives her a spotlight for her to shine. I said “suddenly” because it’s kind of abrupted if you ask me since out of the blue, there were 3 different people complement Kumiko’s quality this week. First we have Natsuki, then Reina (My favorite part really!) and finally Asuka. So everyone been saying that our main Kumiko has an ability to understand people, doesn’t seem to notice things but actually do and has the right words at the right time. REALLY? Because I fail to see any of her characteristics here and I feel the show’s really stretching this part too thin, repeatedly remind us how “special” Kumiko is (There’s something about… Kumiko – that’s an alternative episode title) but I have to say I enjoy all those parts so I’m happy to overlook this silly little details this time.

And the bond between our euphonist is excellent. I love that even a strong-minded skilled person like Asuka can actually be insecure sometimes, the way she feels that she isn’t good at euphonium and admires Kumiko as the true Eupho-girl, while at the same times we already know how Kumiko always look up to her with admiration. So Asuka is a human, after all, huh? The euphonium music that Asuka played at the end is anime-original piece written directly for the show and it was played almost perfectly in that scene. I’m completely speechless just to hear her playing: The sad music, the sceneries, Kumiko’s silently listening, all are flawless. It brings the masterclass in music performance (something we witnessed before when the band played their entire piece in Kansai region), while at the same time grounded by strong emotionally charge. This sequence will likely be remembered as one of the best moments in Sound’s Euphonium’s, period, and for good reasons.

Posted on 26 November 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

This week, the show delivers one of my favorite Eupho moments: as Kumiko and Reina quietly listen to the Euphonium CD, enjoying that little moments when the music is playing with drama or conflict yet to come. This little moment and the firework sequence back in the first episode are Sound Eupho at their best. They always excel at portraying characters’ little gestures and expressive reactions and those scenes allow our characters to sit back and breathe and let the atmosphere washes over them. While I don’t necessary disagree with their choice to focus on heighten drama and more in-depth characters this season, because we do need to know them a little deeper after 2 seasons, I do miss those little moments that the first season achieved so effortlessly.

So the big elephant in the room has finally addressed, as Mamiko told her parents that she wanted to quit college because she wants to be a beautician. She blames her parents for putting up pressure that eventually she had to study what she didn’t want to, moreover she was forced to quit the music band and now she just needs a break to all that. The way her strict father deals with the problems meaning that he won’t take no for an answer in everything he wants her to do; which is kind of suck. He does make a point when he said that it’s her who decided to take college so don’t put a blame game back to him, but that again is too harsh on his eldest daughter. But that family drama eventually points to the very relationship between Mamiko and Kumiko. If you notice carefully, this is the very first time that the passive Kumiko actually raises her voice to someone, because she freaking cares about her sister. Of course Kumiko doesn’t really understand her sister’s struggle, but it comes the other way as well: Mamiko doesn’t understand why her sister got so irritated at her decision like that. As this episode shows us many intimate moments when Kumiko were young, her sister was her inspiration to get into music in the first place and all Kumiko want is to play music with her sister. It’s only slightly hinted this week, but I can see that after her sister quitted the music band, it killed the joy to play music out of Kumiko (remember that in the beginning of season 1, Kumiko doesn’t want anything to do with music again) until she got swept up by the inspiration of Taki-sensei.

It’s a joy for me to be able to see Aoi back again this season, even with just a passing sequence like this one. Truth be told but I always found Aoi’s situation back in the first season the most resonant to me. I had briefly discussed this before but if I were Taki-sensei, I would think really carefully before pushing the music band to competition-focus. For me, it always seems too convenient for him to just let the band decided for themselves, then he just proceed to push the goal and cut all other craps. I know he wouldn’t mind if the band choose to just have fun playing music, but my main issues remain this: he should assist them to know all the consequences, all the pros and cons of these options are, because eventually if he pushes the band squarely into one direction, someone will eventually be pulled further away from that wheel. And that someone was Aoi because she can’t afford to have more commitment to music, but what get me the most was her comment later on to Kumiko that she never really regretted leaving the band. It all comes down to the decision we made and I know she made a right choice in her situation. But what is wrong with joining the band just for the sake of enjoying it as a spare time? Her role in the story, plus Azusa’s (the girl who plays in marching band in other school) gives Sound Eupho much more depth, because it adds another dimension to those who chase different pathways from our music band.

Although not actually appearing this week, Asuka’s mother air still lingers around this episode. Asuka has been kept things to herself so that her issue won’t be a bother to the band; but I’m still waiting, patiently, for herself to crack. She’s performing that happy persona so damn well that others don’t know if they should be happy or worry. She invites Kumiko over her house, which is a very abnormal sign, but that night might be the night that we understand her conflict in full extend. The show has been implied many times this week and it further confirms what I picked up last week: It seems like Asuka’s father is an Eupho professional named Masakazu Shindo (the girls even confirmed that it sounds like Asuka’s) and judging by Asuka’s attitude (the band comes first, cut the drama bullshit. But then again she seems happy just to play the instrument and doesn’t care much about the band drama), it seems that Asuka got inspired by her father. The reason I bought it up is because if that’s the case there is an equivalence between Asuka’s story and Kumiko’s own family drama: as both Asuka and Kumiko starting to play music as an admiration to someone, and then keep hanging on to the music even though that inspirations are gone. The strictness between the two families who pressure Asuka and Kumiko’s sister to quit the band to focus on what they think is better for their own child is another point of reference. Anyways, I’m pretty sure next week we will follow Kumiko to Asuka’s house to witness a rematch between Asuka and her mother and I hope this time we can really see what that girl is truly thinking about.

Posted on 19 November 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

After spending the first half of this season for second year drama and the regional Kansai competition, it’s only natural for Sound Eupho to turn their focus on the third-year students now. After all, National competition will be their last performance, so there’s a lot of meat to invest on. Now we know more about Asuka’s issues, her mother is an uptight parent who wants her to concentrate more on the entrance exam and forces her to quit the band. Apparently, her mother thinks the band is just a distraction towards whatever goals she wants Asuka to achieve because she “knows” what is best for Asuka. Well, I don’t need to point out the problem with this attitude, instead I’ll tell you a story that I know in RL. A friend of my friend (so I don’t personally know her) had her parents divorced when she was young and her mother forbid her to meet the father out of her own hatred. In high school, she decided to secretly meet her father by telling her mom she’d walk home that day and planned to meet him in front of school’s entrance. Unfortunately, her mother spied on them so as soon as the two met, she detested by jumping into the running car and of course that event scarred the girl for life (true story!). My point is this, when parents dictate their child into such extreme without considering the child’s own feeling (the same case here with Asuka), things bound to get more disturbing. There’s still something that only hinted very slightly in this episode about Asuka and her mom’s relationship. Her mom tells her that Asuka playing instrument is to get back at her, it might mean that Asuka’s father also played instruments before. We don’t know either what Asuka wanted to talk to Natsuki about, but really the way she acts like nothing wrong happened even though everyone knows how dire her situation has been actually signaled that she’s in deep trouble right now, and I know things will get worse later on.

Haruka and Kaori likewise have a good amount of development this week. Despite being a band president, it’s obvious that Asuka has more of an influence band members than Haruka and even she knows that she isn’t leader material. But that’s not to say that she isn’t a good leader and this episode really articulates well her characters and her personal struggles. First, the absence of Asuka leaves a bad mood to the band, so for once she stands up in front of the band and asks them to trust the senpais and keep moving on. It wasn’t a very good speech (but she’s never a good speaker to begin with), but it was the right timing to encourage the band to focus on their playing. Moreover, she was asked by Taki-sensei to performing solo, which of course made her nervous. She’s always good at staying behind the scene and supporting the band, so to become a center of attention isn’t really her thing. But she has grown too. She has grown to start embracing the leader role, be more comfortable with her own self-esteem, and that solo part really shows how far she has developed as a character throughout the series.

Now, to the time shift “one month has passed since Asuka stopped coming to the band”, it’s nice for Sound Eupho to focus on a specific narrative issue, but for me the show has always shined on making the band club as real and relatable as possible, and that included the messiness in narrative. In real life, issues and events come as random as the weather, some issues we already anticipated beforehand, some we don’t. That is why I really enjoyed the randomness and messiness of last weeks’ many dramas, because it feels like the very world we live in. Now, we just passed a month without any real moments, in expense of showing Asuka’s issues, and that take away the “real life” the show has built up to. I mean what’s about Kumiko’s relationship with her sister at that time? What about any other band member’s interactions? This is not their fault obviously as shows need to have focus drama and I frankly would do the same if I were in their position, but the point being I hope that they don’t push up the drama in the sacrifice of the naturalness of the show.

Everyone who watching this show know that the production values are overall top notch, even comparable to the quality of feature length movies; but here I want to press how attentive to details this show is. I’m not the man who judge the quality of the music played by the band, but by reading analysis from someone who used to play in an actual concert band (I’ll give you the links if you guys ask for it), most of the musical was played correctly, even down to the fingering, the notes they play, the position of the hands and bodies were all executed perfectly, and for me that’s just insane. KyoAni not simply done their research, but it feels like they animating the real concert band performing. The more I read about how correctly each segment played, the more I am blown away. Imagine they made it right for the whole 10-minutes performance by all the instruments played, now imagine they even got it right when the band practiced throughout this one and a half series-length. As it become a norm that the production quality would drop significantly towards the middle part in anime world, KyoAni’s consistency towards the quality, plus their willingness to get ever minor details right that frankly put other productions into shame. They set a high standard on how production quality should be and I don’t think there is many productions out there that could come close to it.

Posted on 11 November 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

After the performance in the Kansai competition, we get to a breather episode this week, meaning that there is no actual band training this week, instead we have school festival (geez, how many KyoAni’s school festivals have we witnessed already) and a stormy night where many things happened. Apparently, the show moves to the next arc of the season (we have a full color opening now. Love it), so it’s time for the show to focus on more characters’ development, and there are handful of character’s development to be found in this episode.

Now, let’s talk about Asuka first. Since the last few episodes we’re getting closer to the real Asuka, as there were many instances she dropped her mask and even said out loud what she really thinks. She might be one of the most complex characters in this series (the way she hides her real personality deep down inside), but that doesn’t mean she’s the most interesting characters out there. If the show fails to bring us into her perspective, we have nothing but the cheery, annoying fake Asuka. It’s about goddamn time now to get into her character arc. From the look of it, there seems to be a woman (presumably her mother) who might be the key to open Asuka’s inner mind. She has that strict look so I’m guessing without context for now that she doesn’t like Asuka to spend time playing in the band and that lead to Asuka having some responsibility issues, but I’m sure we will get the real answer soon enough. From what we did know about her characters though, she has a cynical outlook to everything and it’s always a question whether she really cares about the band and the performance at all. At the moment, it becomes clearer that she concerns about the performance and wanted to try her best for her last high school competition. Look like next episode will focus on her issues and I really hope the show will take proper time to heighten the drama, not to resolve it too quickly like that Yoroizuka arc. Speaking of which, am I the only one who found Yoroizuka’s affection to Nozomi very unhealthy? And after all that big talk from Yuuko about the problems of leaning too much to Nozomi, and that Yuuko treats her like real close friend (unlike Nozomi), she just basically devoted herself to Nozomi? (oh, and Nozomi seems to be back to the band without any more fuss. Good for her). Talking about creepy!!

Taki-sensei also get a good amount of development this week, as we realize how much he still loved his wife and where his determination come from. It’s good to see that Hashimoto-sensei and Niiyama-sensei back to help the club band as I mentioned before that they can still support Taki and through them we can know more about the past of Taki, but their immediate return made the whole farewell sequence last week feel rather pointless. The teacher himself sure doesn’t feel at all comfortable to talk about his wife or his past, and his conversations with Kumiko later in the car; while awkward, still deepen his narrative. There are only hints throughout this episode but it seems like this is Taki and his wife’s anniversary day, so even with the typhoon on its way, he still puts on his wedding ring and goes out the storm to buy her flowers. Even later when Sapphire conveniently points out the meaning of those flowers, the message is still beautiful. He, more than anyone else, really wants to take the National golds for his late wife and now understand that we can root for him. But still chasing the ghost is kind of problematic itself, right? Talking about problematic, yeah they really go for Reina’s affection to Taki. While admiration is certainly more of the case here, she’s actually capable of pushing things too far and I don’t really like that direction at all. Feel like she’s smashing her head against thick wall in this case.

And finally, this episode gives some more conflicts to our main heroine as well. I’m really glad that Shuichi is back (well, he never actually gone) after a rather muted last arc. The relationship between Kumiko and Shuichi still in its awkward phase, which is fairly normal for kids with opposite sex that age. Kumiko might be insensitive towards Shuichi, but she actually needs some interactions with boys (especially at friends level) once in a while. Focus too much on training and girls will do you no good Kumiko. I love their brief time together so I hope we will get to see more of them. Secondly, her home drama seems to take its turn now as her sister declared that she’s quitting college for reason yet to explain (well she doesn’t need to explain to be honest). As I had been through uni I know that the drop rate is always high and many of my friends eventually dropped out so this gives me no surprise. But it will affect Kumiko as she always looks up to her sister and now with this happen they get themselves into high-tension mode. It’s good to shake things up a bit for our Kumiko so I don’t mind some little drama and romantic plot revolving around her.

Sounds like I have complained a lot in this episode but truthfully I enjoyed the hell out of it. As a breather episode, there is not a lot happening but I love how all the little dramas are set up. Sure, they feel unfocused at times but that is precisely why it feels like the world we live in (now the more I think of it the more I don’t like that Yoroizuka’s arc): randomness but ultimately true to life.

Posted on 4 November 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sound! Euphonium 2

What a bravura piece of performance! Usually if a show wants to showcase how good a music performance is, they’d go for cheap tactics like fast cuts, over-the-top sparkling effects, key still frames, and drawing reactions from audiences. Not with KyoAni. They’re confident enough, and of course talented enough, to play out the entire piece and let that speaks for themselves about the quality. This is easily the highlights of this season so far and will be the one that fans will keep coming back to.

But the first half by no mean is no duds either. By following Kumiko and the band go through a day leading up to the Kansai Competition, the show again excels in showing many subtle moments and development that blink and you might miss it entirely. First, Taki announces to the band that his friends’ duty has ended, which for me was quite sudden because I still don’t know what their real roles are in the whole picture. I think the reason they are presented is to support and shed more lights to Taki’s character, but they actually didn’t do much except being either an info-dumper, or an obvious setup for Reina to get fired-up nonsensically. I hope they’ll be back soon as I still don’t see the show used them to their full potential. While on the train, Hazuki (who sadly was under-developed this season) gives a really light but on-point touch on what she is thinking the upcoming tournament. Being one of a few who isn’t qualified enough, it’s understandable that she sometimes feels like she was left behind by her friends. But being Hazuki, obviously she’s sad, but she isn’t the one who’d disheartened by that. Instead, she vows to work hard to get her place for next year, and encouraging her friends to make it to the Nationals so that would inspire her is a really nice characterization by the show. Aiming to the Nationals not only mean a whole lot for the competitive members, but for the rest of the team as well.

When Kumiko got back home that afternoon, she receives a phone call from her middle school friend, Azusa (who briefly appeared in the first season). Her school Rikka High School will compete in the morning, moreover she asked Kumiko to not to speak with her that day. That again is a nice touch from Sound Eupho because the show keeps adding more perspectives from other cast, making more layers to the story. I totally agree with Azusa here, they might be ‘best friends forever’ but on that one day they’re competitors (I love how Kumiko keeps picking up her toes), and like Kumiko later said the amount of time and efforts all of them put in to practice for that one day affects pretty much everyone in the band, so “no one can think straight now” isn’t an overstatement at all.

I have to give it up for Yuuko for again being shine in her brief moments. She basically acts like herself this episode but the moment feels truly earned. Although qualifying to the Nationals is their goals, the team (especially the third-year students) knows that it’s a hard goal to reach. In addition, for the third-year students, this might be their last performance so they sometimes feel like they’re at the end of the road. This sentiment is echoed by Kaori this week as she tells Yuuko to keep looking after then band or Asuka last season when she said that the fun of practicing is about to conclude when the competition ends. But Yuuko points out correctly that their journey isn’t going to be done yet, let’s try and reach the Nationals together. In other notes, while Sound Eupho never really a show that is strong in terms of comedy, this episode has its absurd moments. Upon hearing Yoroizuka saying that the she will play a solo piece for Nozomi (which still doesn’t sound right for me either), Reina asks Kumiko if she can play the solo part for her. I know Reina isn’t the one who is easily affected by other people so this is really more like the show poking fun on the very notion of playing the piece for someone else. In fact, the very last moments of the episode when Yoroizuka expresses that she’s happy with the competition sadly is the weakest part in otherwise flawless episode for me, as I see for much of her struggle, she comes out as too clean a cut, the drama of her last episode pretty much resolved everything that I don’t feel her grow is natural at all.

But this first half’s best moments come directly from the speech of Asuka. As this show has many times addressed this issues, while Asuka isn’t the president of the club, she has a leader traits and clearly everyone sees her as more influential figure than Haruka the president. This time, she speaks up for the whole band and for once, she lets herself loose and being direct in front of everyone. She wants to try to reach to the Nationals. I noticed the brief exchanges between her and Kumiko during the performance and at this moments I’m not really sure what those exchanges supposed to be. The very nature of concert band is teamwork as everyone contribute their parts to form a collective whole, but for those from the same sections sometimes it means they have to fight each other for the roles. This will put our main Kumiko in an interesting position as Asuka and she both playing Euphonium. I reckon Asuka and Kumiko relationship is going to be the main focus for the latter half of this season, which I will totally be on board.

And now to that wonderful second half performance, it’s just simply mesmerizing. KyoAni always has been very consistent when it comes to the production values, but even with their standard the performance is still a standout. I noticed they used some footages from the previous performance last seasons, but overall the whole performance flows magnificently. Some might say it’s not fair to just focus on the band’s performance so we don’t know how good other bands are, but that’s essentially the point here. When the announcement starts, we’re rooting for them not because how incredible their performance was, but because we have witnessed how hard they tried to produce that piece of music so the results are satisfying because we know they deserved it. And you deserved it too, KyoAni.

CHANGE USERNAME
Lenlo
Ground*. I hate it when I fat finger something.
Lenlo
Thats always the worst, when a story starts off promising and then someone runs it into the grouhnd
AidanAK47
@Mario, so it's still at it. To me it's like someone was given an interesting story and made it his mission to ruin it as much as possible.
SuperMario
@Aidan: it's still the same crap. I have a feeling that Sagrada Reset gives a middle finger to us viewers. The plot with development and characters that we have no way to figure out ourselves. The characters who change motive and even personality after each timeline. The main lead girl who act like a robot. I gave this show too many chance so I won't bother to spend more time watching it.
Anonymous1052767
Eromanga sensei
AidanAK47
@Mario, Oh ho, what was the dealbreaker? Just that it didn't change or did something really stupid happen?
SuperMario
Sagrada Reset (long sigh) (scratching my head) (eyes rolling). Dropped
AidanAK47
Hey you.
Konstantinos
Yeah, at this point, this season looks good.
SuperMario
Quite happy with ID-0 and Zero in particular. Zero charms me to no end that I'm still debating whether I should blog it. The trio Re:Creators, Kado, Atom still doing pretty well and the sequels MHA and Bahamut are enjoyable as expected. We have a wide range of anime offerings this season.
SuperMario
Sagrada Reset & SukaSuka I will give it another episode, at least until this current arcs over. They both have potential but Sagrada Reset tries so hard to sound smart, and SukaSuka still falls into its LN tropes which bugged the show down.
SuperMario
*no real urge
SuperMario
I've finally catch up with all other series I wanna follow this season. Alice & Zorouku will be off my list for now, Zorouko is a great character but everything else falls flat so far. I have real urge to continue Attack on Titan and Berserk so I'll wait until they're finished.
Vonter
I watched some episodes of KonoSuba yesterday, reminds me of Those Who Hunt Elves. And I suppose it might be an easy recommendation because it mainly comes down to; do you find it funny? or fun? If not, skip.
Kaiser-Eoghan
While yes its true of watching those slice of life shows week by week is better, I felt that when reading the manga for Aria it was easier to marathon by reading it rather than watching.
SuperMario
Flying witch have the same atmosphere, but it's a purely slice of life anime. I love Aria too and I agree that watching it 1 episode a time is the best way to enjoy it. Can't think of other serious anime that have those calming elements for now
Anonymous1042537
Yeah, I noticed they all have pretty different structures from one another (ACCA's political, Mushishi's naturalistic, Monster is a thriller, Rakugo's about a specific art form, 3-gatsu is ostensibly about Shogi, etc.) but I found that I found some similar calming elements in them (to different degrees of course).
Anonymous1042537
Thanks, I'll definitely check Aria out!
AidanAK47
One of the hardest shows to marathon besides Bakemonogatari. Though Bakomono gave me a headache after a few episodes whereas Aria just had me so mellow that I could drift into sleep at any second.
AidanAK47
Don't know if you could call it a sub genre as the examples you listed are all really different from each other.
Though in the vein of calming shows I think you can add the Aria series to the list. That show is so relaxing that you find yourself nodding off to it. Not out of boredom but it just has that effect on you.
Anonymous1042537
Do you guys know if there's a specific subgenre like this, or am I making it up? And are there other anime with that kind of feel. Not exactly slice of life, but in the general vicinity of it.
Anonymous1042537
The Great Passage was another great example. It delved into the seemingly boring subject matter of dictionary-making, but it was a surprisingly charming show. 3-Gatsu no Lion also looks promising, I enjoyed a lot of the first season (but wasn't a fan of the forced comedy sometimes).
Anonymous1042537
Like the episode where Tenma first meets Grimmer on the train to Prague and they have a picnic on the mountain was so dang good. I really need to rewatch that.
Anonymous1042537
There are some elements of that style in other shows too, but to a lesser extent. Like some parts of Rakguo (mainly season 1) was very soothing. Naoki Urasawa's Monster had some fantastic, almost melancholic episodes like this.
Anonymous1042537
It seems that most anime w/ that kind of style usually also have another genre mixed in. Mushishi was also very naturalistic, ACCA had a political underpinning.
Anonymous1042537
It's sort of in the vein of a "Mushishi" style show. I suspect it's an emerging subgenre of slice of life that's meant to be very calming, relaxing, atmospheric which I really am digging.
Anonymous1042537
I really hope there are more shows like it; not that it was perfect, but it was certainly unique and hit a lot more than it missed. I really like those cool, quiet shows you can enjoy with a nice cup of tea before you go to sleep.
Anonymous1042537
Ironically though, I would say that the first half of ACCA (up until the big flashback) is better enjoyed week by week, or at least that's what I found.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: It felt good marathoning a show again rather than waiting week by week and next weekend I'll probably marathon house of five leaves.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Forgot to mention...there were certainly a share of moments in Acca that feel fanservish to the female audience =P
SuperMario
@Aidan: haven't noticed that. Will fix it soon.
AidanAK47
@Mario, Only problem I can see is that the posts have no spaces in between paragraphs.
SuperMario
... to be near my laptop for an entire week. First time that I had to blog entirely through my phone. Seemed to work out fine but I had to borrow screenshots from other source (I thank you that other source) ^^
SuperMario
*unless* rather than *as long as*. This has been a crazy week for me as I didn't have a chance
SuperMario
@anon1039488: I find the idea of limiting excess to exclusively stream an aime is a dumb idea; because as long as people have a chance to expose to the anime they won't really care to check it out. So I detest owning the legal streaming account, but I always pay back by buying DVDs/Blurays that I liked
SuperMario
I watched House of Five Leaves by the same mangaka and I really enjoyed it. Nataume Ono is a pretty excelent storyteller (a bit mixed on her art-style thou)
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I agree that the first dew episodes of ACCA were not that engaging but the endingg neatly tied up all loose ends. I still feel Grossular's act is kind of messy (why was he under such control from Lilium? He's not that kind to be in such passive role to be honest) but other than those I don't have any real complaints.
Anonymous1039488
Competition is good, but it makes it cost so much to legally watch everything. That's why a lot of people pirate I feel.
Anonymous1039488
You have Crunchryoll and Funi, fine. Then there's Daisuki which is kinda random. Then Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu all have some random anime, though it seems that mainly Amazon has current series
Anonymous1039488
I don't have Amazon Strike, which is like their new venture into anime I guess. There's too many streaming services to keep up with tbh
Kaiser-Eoghan
To be honest I'm pretty crap when it comes to supporting things, I don't pay for almost all the things I watch/read/play, I don't have a crunchy or amazon account, I still pirate legal streams.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Is it a case that your country is blocked? Maybe go for a vpn? If you absolutely have to you could pirate the show...
Anonymous1039488
I wanna watch Re:Creators but don't have Amazon... :( alas
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel like I need to wait and see approach with sekaisuru Kado...this prologue phase is...long...
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wish it had been 24 episodes long though to better organize itself.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Favourite characters were Jean, Groslur and Nino.
Can’t say I cared for the goofy interactions between Jean’s workfriends though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yet for whatever I could say about the pacing, when the twists happen they creep up on you and the show mostly lands every one of them, even if I’m not exactly pleased that sometimes the series does the “I pulled it out of the hat/ass” approach.
I’m relatively indifferent on the art/animation.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I did feel it picks up, improves by the mid-mark and to an extent the wait is worth it and things do come together even if I wasn’t always totally confidant with how it was getting there.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Having the protagonist go from district to district to flesh out the settings a decent enough idea and the main characters a fairly chill, cool guy.
Though the dialogue does create suspicion, intrigue, it does also plod/pad in equal measure at times.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Finally decided to sit down and watch Acca.
This show had its lovers/haters I’m sure, having watched it my feelings are mixed.
It is a slight breath of fresh air I’ll give it that and makes me want to maybe re-assess of adaptations of the author’s work.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The only assayas film I've encountered so far that I disliked was Irma Vep, even though the lead actress was great, the surrounding performances, especially by Jean-Pierre-Lenaud were awful. Sils Maria I was initially evasive of because I'd heard that the relationship between Binoche and Stewarts characters was under-unexplored.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: Weersathakul's films are something else entirely...Otherworldly yet still cinematic. I feel a bit underwhelmed after watching the Unknown girl. The identity of the culprit, for example, feel forced for me that take me out our their naturalistic style. I'mmin between Clouds of sils maria too, know it's a good movie but it feels pretentous at times, like the movie Youth
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I also got round to watching Unknown girl by Dardenne, it carries enough moments of their brilliance but I felt they didn’t have as much mastery over their usual pacing style this time round, for the first time it felt like a thriller that played out like a drama, rather than a drama that has a pseudo thriller feel to it.
Going to watch Clouds of sils Maria next.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The entire second half, which I’d have watched an entire film about is very atmospheric and dreamy/esoteric nearing just exactly the kind of thing I like.
The way he uses/shoots Thailands geography along with his cinematography is impressive, particularly in that second half.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: He shoots something simple like a chopping scene in a strangely engaging way, the scene with the old woman going into the cave is also very impressively shot and that one driving scenes with that pop song in the background has an airy feel to it.
In some ways I agree that there’s a bit of sensuality to it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: It’s the kind of film that feeling tired/relaxed when watching it isn’t a condemnation of it(although a share of moments in the first half could be patience testing), it’s the sort of film where you aren’t really aware of anything outside of watching the film when you watch it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I finally looked into a Weersathakul film, Tropical Malady. I don’t even know how to give a star rating for this film.
SuperMario
I'm still on the fence with Alice & Zouroku. Like the title suggests, the warm chemistry between those two are its strongest point, but those moments are far and few in between as the story progresses and I don't care one bit about the Red Queen storyline. I might drop this one if the story doesn't improve
SuperMario
@Lenlo: 3 episodes anf Berserk still hasn't grabbed me as much. Yep facial expressions are really off-putting
Lenlo
Man... the facial expression in Berserk for the 3D models are, ever so slowly, killing me.
AidanAK47
Alright. Tommarrow I will get out all those posts I am late on seeing as the impressions are all finished.
AidanAK47
SukaSuka still has me mixed. On one hand there really are some great ideas and some well executed moments. But some of the dialogue is a bit typical of a light novel and the fanservice is really shameless. The massage at the end of the episode was something the show could really do without.
Konstantinos Travlos
I am in love with RE:Creators. I have no idea if they will keep it as good, but these two first episodes did all the right things.
AidanAK47
Alright, Easter made me lazy so it's time to play catch up.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Puran: Or even Georgiou Nikolaidis while I'm at it, morning patrol is a great mood piece. Not familiar with the other guy.
Puran
@Kaiser: No Grammatikos recommendation? :)
SuperMario
I still enjoy Zero pretty much. I like the contrast between the beastfallen and Zero. The hilarious lines sound more like accidental to me, not the best product but I enjoy the ride so far
SuperMario
@Kaiser: agree with everything you said. Apparently Haneke put Flashmob on hold because the main actress was conflicting in her schedule, so he decided to do Happy End instead
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Does the old man represent gritty anime of old? I don't know honestly I'm just throwing it out there.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: In case you hadn't heard, Haneke dropped the Flashmob movie and is now doing one about the refugee crisis.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: To whoever will be playing Godard in that biopic, I'd wonder if they could capture how incredibly douchey he sounds irl lol
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: There is such a big divide between 50s/60s Bresson and 70s/80s Bresson.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Lathimos and Avaranas remind me in an odd way of Tarr in that they're the only Greek filmakers people seem to talk about , Check out Koundorous and Theodorous Angelopolous' works if you can.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Meh, I don't like that sort of overly on the nose social commentary some American films and tv shows do in recent years.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Godards extremely hit or miss with me. Hazanavicius did the artist I think, but I'd sooner recommend Biancnieves as a stronger example of a modern take on silent cinema or maybe a Guy Maddin film.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Lotznitza directed a gentle creature not Zvyagintsev, though the latter is a fantastic director, Leviathan's ending hit me very very hard, its gut punching and I appreciated that the return never went into too much detail regarding the father.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: off topic, I didn't realize Get Out having such buzz reception. It's coming here next week so I will get to watch it
SuperMario
@Kaiser: Michel Hazanavicius makes a biopic about Jean-Luc Godard and Anne Wiazemsky (the actress in Au Hasard Balthazard), which I think will be interesting. I considered The Lobster one of the best film out of that year so I anticipate his next movie a hell lot. Yep, I watched few movies from Andrey Zvyagintsev and he certainly is in my radar. Bleak, social commentary, technical impressive
AidanAK47
Oh, it's confirmed that was what was actually said in Japanese. Well...that's rather cringe worthy.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Can't say I am too fond of it myself. Though that arrow to the knee reference definitely sounds like something the translator added in.
Anonymous1026829
Holy shit Zero is hilarious. "I used to be a mercenary like you once. But then I took an arrow to the knee." "My magic is super weak so I need a powerful offering. Can you loan me your head please?" The comedy is so pointed and understated.
Vonter
I do like how contrasting Zelda is to Nier in the sense that. Zelda cares more about how the game plays and making the player have fun constantly but doesn't care about telling something. Nier Automata doesn't care what it throws to the player but cares a lot about it tells the things that happen to player.
Vonter
I think this is a hard game to score. Mainly because IMO the combat has wear out a bit do to the repetition and the sidequests have been a mixed bag with some being relevant to the plot or themes and some being just fodder to level up. On the other hand the game has a lot of implications, subtext and symbolism that so far has been enriching to reflect upon.
AidanAK47
@Vonter, Actually wrote up 4/5s of a review on Nier Automata but with the new season I haven't had time to finish writing the review. Though my thoughts on it are similar to yours.
Vonter
Nier Automata has a 10+ hour prologue. So far the game feels like it's more interested in delivering strong emotions than a compelling narrative, not that script is poor but seems disjointed in a way, circling around the themes of existentialism, purpose and truth without overexpositing about these things. It also some moments remind me of Fragile Dreams. Like the despair.
AidanAK47
The old man is the one I can't pin down. Been thinking he might represent the kind of anime that's critically lauded but sadly unpopular. Makes sense as he's one of the few on the opening that doesn't stand near ads for his anime. Or else he's a live action drama representative.
AidanAK47
Been wondering about the Re:Creators characters. We got the obvious representatives from Magical girl, Mecha, Light novel and video game. The knight girl looks like clear homage to Saber from Fate so a Visual novel representive? The psycho girl looks to be a chunni anime representative. And the guy who appeared at the end of ep 2 is clearly Shounen.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The Ramsay one sticks out as the most interesting to me as does the lathimos one. I'm curious about that Russian one about the woman looking for her imprisoned husband as I'd like to watch more contempory Russian films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: If you can get passed the accents Ramsay did a strong piece of social realism in the 90s called Ratcatcher.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I think the only Baumbach film I've seen is Frances Ha and I liked the new wavey feel it had. With The lobster and re-watching dogtooth I was able to get into Lathimos' pitch black humour alot more. I've never actually seen a hong-sang so film.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, I still really enjoy it but I do get what you mean. Looking at the series overall so far it does feel like there was lost potential.
Amagi
I honestly still don't know what to think of LWA. I wasn't a fan of the formularic first half but the second half doesn't really catch me either. I loved the first OVA though.
AidanAK47
Well I will be damned. That G Koh commenter managed to predict the inclusion of Yggdrasil in Little Witch Academia. Nicely done.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: sadly i won't make it this year. I wanna try the Toronto International Film Fest next time whenever I have a chance
SuperMario
@Kaiser:you heard about this year's Cannes selection?Overall it's solid, not many that scream "masterpiece" for me.Overall I'm exciting for Hong Sang Soo's new movies (he has 2 movies screening at Cannes and 1 already aired at Berlin.What the hell),and The Killing of the Scared Deer(Yorgos Lnthimos), You were never really here (Lynne Ramsay),Okja(Bong Joon Ho) and Meyerowitz Stories(Noah Baubach)
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hmmm...just found out That Blame! 2017 is being done by a the Ajin director, not sure how I felt about that.
AidanAK47
Think this is the best time to end the series too as the difficultly was getting to be a bit too cheap.
AidanAK47
Lore wise it's pretty disappointing. Ending the game with an enemy that doesn't really have that much relevance. But Gameplay wise it was excellent. The final area was just beautiful.
Lenlo
Ringed City was a great piece of DLC and a good way to end the series imo.
AidanAK47
Dark souls sure can give you workout. Finally got around to finishing the ringed city DLC. Funny thing is that people were raving about how hard Midir was when I didn't have that much trouble with him. Gaol gave me some trouble but I managed it. Hardest was the demon prince and god I hate multi stage boss fights. Such a goddamn pain.
SuperMario
Atom still waiting for suitable subs. I swear to God, for a completist like myself the wait is unbearable, especially it should've been available already
HelghastKillzone
Yes it is.
Anonymous1020539
I mean...
Anonymous1020539
Re:producers is really great
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I can see myself chancing more of it, I kind of caught into its rhythm a bit.
AidanAK47
Novels are actually really short. About 90 pages long per volume. They really could cover this in a single cour.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, SukaSuka? From what I could tell it covered the first two chapters of the light novel. Each novel has 5 chapters. Though the first and last chapter are more of a prologue and epilogue respectively.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually if shuumatsu's first episode is going faster than the novel, roughly how much so? Its still obviously a slow burn in animated format but how much was covered in episode 1?
AidanAK47
Could have done without the huge infodump but otherwise still loving Re:Creators. Seeing a magical girl shocked over her own level of destructive power was great.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Eh, I liked the use of music early on in shuumatsu and theres a good mood set up early on along with a good opening scene but the later parts of the episode except maybe for the after credits bit get a shrug from me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Kado has made its hook, now it needs not to keep holding its cards and get going.
SuperMario
hmmm, don't know what to think about Kado ep2. Still good but I expected more
SuperMario
But really my mentality is that this site comes first. Getting more traffic and improve the site are my top priorities, then "what I wanna do for myself" comes later
SuperMario
@Travlos: guess you won't have to read me this season :). Haven't checked out the last episode of Kado yet but based from the first 2 episodes I think you'd enjoy that show.
Don’t worry. It’s something Aidan and me both agree on. We pretty much write for ourselves, otherwise we couldn’t have stayed this long. I get a chance to go off track once in a while to write something I wanna write.
Konstantinos Travlos
@SuperMario. I am definitely watching Shingeki no Koyjin 2, Shingeki no Bahamut 2, Re:Creators, Little Witch Academia, and probably Kado and Zero Kara. I may also do Zipang this season.
On the reaction reaction. What you say is ok. But remember, a hobby is something you do for yourself. There is a limit to how much you should care about the views of others. :)
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Or if I can use a quote from Chang from Black lagoon : "A fragranced shit will forever still retain the smell of shit"
Lenlo
As most likely the biggest Berserk fan in this chatbox, its better but that doesnt make it good. Spraying fabreeze on crap doesnt make it any more appealing. Yet I will watch it anyways.
Anonymous1018231
You don't even know
Anonymous1018231
Lies Aidan it is soooo much better
Anonymous1017807
Tbh I'm enjoying Alice to Zouroku so much simply because I identify with the old guy's no-nonsense attitude. It's fun to see the annoying loli get put in her place. X.D
AidanAK47
Anyway Bam is supposed to be covering it. Seeing as he covered the first season.
AidanAK47
@Anon, I watched the first episode of the second season. Better? Yes, but only slightly.. It has all the same problems as the first season.
Anonymous1017501
and nobody's covering it lol
Anonymous1017501
Like dramatically
Anonymous1017501
It really is much better
Anonymous1017501
You know guys its not too late to start watching Berserk Season 2...
AidanAK47
I just get annoyed when interaction is like "HUMAN, YOUR EMOTION RESPONSE IS DIFFERENT. I THEORIZE THIS IS THE REASON YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSE IS DIFFERENT."
Their is a definite layer of pretentiousness in how it's written, seeing how nobody gets annoyed when every character tries to psychological profile them.
AidanAK47
@Mario, I have heard word that these two episodes were a prologue story and the real story is going to kick into gear next episode. But if the characters keep talking like this then it's not going to matter what happens. It will just be terrible.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Jojo part 5 died for this. That makes it all the sadder. Plus it's two cour so this show is gonna be on for half a year.
SuperMario
Being said all that I will follow it for 1 more episode
SuperMario
And then that girl who passed away because of the reset. I feel my emotions drying up at that point. Tasteless. Heartless
SuperMario
Wanna say the same thing regarding Sagrada Reset as well. I have the feeling the show tries to sound smart that ultimately if I hear someone talks like this in real life, I would go punch his face. Manipulating the social worker by slitting your own wrist? WHAT? Asking a girl about her rules, then whenever she answers you give your own warped opinions on it to sound like you know it all? WHAT
Anonymous1016169
@Aidan: Lol, Sagrada reminds me of how I used to write. Pretentious, overly complex dialogue that nobody would use in real life unless they were trying too hard. It grits on my ears so much that I don't think I can keep watching it, especially because this is probably how it's going to be for the whole series.
Anonymous1016169
@Amagi: I feel your pain. I used to enjoy those types of shows, but I've found more and more since getting out of high school that they just make me want to take a nap. It doesn't help that they're everywhere. X.D
AidanAK47
God Sagrada Reset is frustrating. So many good ideas, all absolutely ruined by the dialogue and characters. If you just changed the dialogue a bit and made the characters emote more then this would be so very interesting. But they manage to drain the life out of the story.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, in most cases you can easily write off the ones not worth your time based on the summery. Occasional those kinds of show can turn out to be worth watching but it just doesn't happen often enough.
Amagi
Nothing against those types of anime in general, but it's just not aimed at me I guess. - I also should specify: school (semi)harem, not school alone. I enjoy Tsuki ga Kirei.
Amagi
I really love this season but I should stop testing the school- and shoujo stuff. It's almost never worth the time and it always bores me so much that I have to stop watching anime for a few hours.
Anonymous1016169
@Travlos: Why does a hobbyist artist care when someone critiques their art or a fanfic writer care about reader feedback? When you do something you enjoy, it's normal to want to improve and other people's opinions are important for that.
SuperMario
@Travlos: because 1) We still need to listen to what readers say to improve and 2) we're debating more about rating system, which I also feel the need of upgrading. btw, any shows that catch your interests so far this season?
Konstantinos Travlos
Why do you guys care about what someone thinks about your reviews? You are doing a good enough thing as is, and t is a hobby. Do your thing and do not lose time on this.
Anonymous1015915
I think I'm just gonna follow sukasuka and re:creators this season. Seem to of shown the most potential universally.
Anonymous1015442
Soy and almond milk are also available as alternatives for the lactose intolerant.
Anonymous1015442
From the manga it seems like it would translate well into an anime with the right production values so I think I'm going to try it. I was mostly concerned that they'd push the melodrama even more through the roof, haha. I did see some of the reviews on it here and they made me hopeful that it was fairly well-executed.And of course the milk can be chocolate. Just not vanilla, vanilla milk is yuck i
Lenlo
Its certainly making me happy I waited until the end of the season to binge it.
SuperMario
I'd have the milk as well... Need more milk to my life.
SuperMario
Hope Scum's Wish entertains you, Lenlo. ^^
Lenlo
I will say the sound design has been great for Scums Wish though I have not read the manga to see how it matches up
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