Posted on 14 November 2013 with categories: Yozakura Quartet

You can really see that Yozakura Quartet is based on a manga that is quite old already: when people think of a high spot in the center of Tokyo, the thing that immediately comes to their mind is Tokyo Tower. Not the Tokyo Skytree. This also is a bit of an example of creators adhering a little too much to their source material. What difference would it have made to the story to update to the new highest building in Tokyo? And yet it would have added quite a bit to the immersion as a nice detail.

Also, you don’t need to foreshadow everything. If your character is like “Ha! I took your course of action into account and therefore I took the necessary precautions for it!”, then that’s awesome. When an old couple suddenly reveals that they’ve been holding onto this really incredible power for years that’s given to her just as she’s going to be beaten, then you really have to build that up well. You can’t just show a bunch of shots of that couple here and there. It indeed signifies that they were planning on something, but not that they were going to pull something so convenient for the plot out of their asses.

Now, this is nit-picking, so let me get to the point: I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a series great, and I’m pretty sure that the answer is balance: a harmony between every single part. And that’s not there for this series. On one hand you can see lots of attention spent on the animation, but not a lot on the script. The characters all have tragic backstories, but there’s not much variety in it. Everyone’s sortof vaguely bothered by “being a demon is annoying”, and lots of characters blend together because of weak characterization. The OVA was short, dynamic and to the point and therefore didn’t have that problem.

But I think a better comparison is with the second season of Birdy the Mighty Decode (not the first, because it didn’t have the incredible animation). Both series have a true master behind the action scenes, however Birdy uses this as a means, while Yozakura Quartet makes it an end. With Birdy the Mighty, you can mention a ton of other reasons to make it worth watching: the character-development, the incredibly dark turns, the way it brought its setting alive, the chemistry and much more. Yozakura quartet… eh… I mean the OVA is awesome due to the characters and the chemistry of the characters, but the TV-series doesn’t have that as much.

Sure, stuff happened in these two episodes, but I’m not really impressed to be honest. There was fighting… and more fighting, but I found the context of it to be rather weak. And it’s not like the conflict is too simple: Kill la Kill has that too. The difference, I think is that that series knows what it wants. It’s also deliberately paced, and knows where to add symbolism where it needs to. The episodes flow right and they know when to show action and when to show building up, instead of showing flashbacks right in the middle of a huge fight, or finding some weird excuse to have a pause in the middle of action (gee, it’s a good thing those monsters don’t attack us while we’re talking, being sentimental, and not keeping our eyes on them). I know, a lot of this is nitpicking, and alone these issues wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s the big picture I’m trying to sketch here.

Another interesting comparison with this series would be to White Album 2. Why? Because both series feature a director who previously was one of the best animation directors for TV-series out there. The big difference is that White Album specifically does not focus on its animation, but more on making the different parts work together. I haven’t completely caught up, but it seems to do a better job. Let me put it this way: if I had to pick one element of these two series that stands out the most, then it’s the animation of Yozakura Quartet. However in terms of the big picture, White Album has it beaten at this point.
Rating: 3,5/8 (Enjoyable)

Posted on 29 October 2013 with categories: Yozakura Quartet

Okay, I’m not going to defend this. This episode was just bad, and I really am not sure what happened here on the production-side, but with this episode this series suddenly lost all of its charm. There were too many signs that showed that the creators didn’t really put much thought into this episode.

Up till now the fanservice was tolerable, but the first half of this episode being nothing but a pointless pool skit? That really was nothing but an excuse to show the entire female cast in bikinis. It’s completely shameless and un-subtle. If you want to do fanservice: make it fit into the story. Don’t just randomly throw in a pool. I might care about the reasons that it was really hot, if only that those reasons were mentioned again, but mysteriously that extreme heat is never mentioned again.

The rest of the episode was just a mess. This kid who is running for major comes in, and thins just start happening for no reason whatsoever, and it’s all just so flimsy. There’s this random politician who yells a lot and the girl somehow gets assaulted by this mechanical thingy out of nowhere. And then Akina suddenly comes with this incredibly dry and soulless info-dump that apparently everyone already knew aside from Kotoha. It both baffles me that they couldn’t just mention this last episode (I mean, what was revealed was a pretty important detail there to just not mention…). Also, why was Kotoha not informed of this? Again, having demons flood into the city is pretty major. A mayor should have no reason NOT to know about this. The reasons the characters mention make no sense whatsoever.

Also, what happened to the background music? It was so well timed previously. And yet here we have this generic goofy music for the silly parts, along with generic broody music for the serious parts. Seriously, what happened?
Rating: 3/8 (Lacking)

Posted on 22 October 2013 with categories: Yozakura Quartet

Having superpowered characters who are really hard to kill does take away a bit of the tension, but it fits strangely wellin the light-hearted tone of these past episodes. This episode was about the background of some of the characters here, and the nature of the setting of this series. The villain only made an appareance like, once or something?

But yeah, this was solid build-up, because we now have a good grasp on who the main character is like, having bascially the responsibilit of sending demons to this unknown dimension that might not even exist, basically potentially killing them: that’s great conflict, and this episode cleverly showed us how he chose to deal with this by holding out on this until the last moment, and first showing all of the different sides to the issue.

Also, there was that scene with the car that came out of bloody nowhere. That really grabbed my attention for a bit due to how raw the action was. This show is really light, with these sudden dark spots inbetween, and it mixes really well. However, the creators do need to be building up for something: this light hearted stuff is fine and all, but only for build-up. Stuff needs to actually get darker after a while. If only because that will show more opportunities for the animators to work their magic.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 16 October 2013 with categories: Yozakura Quartet

For those of you who don’t know: Yozakura Quartet is being directed by Ryo-Chimo. His previous works include the chief animation direction of Birdy the Mighty, the animation of some of the best-looking parts of Noein. This guy is an awesome animator, and with Hoshi no Umi, he showed that he can translate this to direction really well as well. So yeah, I was delighted to see a full series being announced on it.

Episode two was the kind of episode that would not have been possible in the OVA: just too little happened in it and it was mostly meant to flesh out the characters, something they very badly needed midst all that action. And this episode did a very fine job of making the various slice of life interesting, by paying attention to the fine details. Things like a character eating ramen may not seem like much, but they bring said character alive. That’s what this entire episode did: there were so many characters involved, the entire town felt alive and bursting. I suspect that this is a trick that Ryo-Chimo picked up from working with Birdy the Mighty Decode, which also had that.

But yeah, I didn’t notice this in the first episode because of all the awesome action and all, but really: were the groping twins really necessary? The fanservice in episode 1 was fine because it just flowed perfectly with the action, but this episode was like “let’s throw a horny nun here who likes to grope people and let’s spend a ton of inbetweeners on those scenes!” – Really Yozakura, your animation is awesome. You can spend your inbetween animation on tons of better stuff than a bunch of boob shots.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

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