Posted on 2 October 2017 with categories: 18if, Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario

Allow me to skip over the last episode coverage for this full review of 18if, since I was too underwhelmed by the finale to have anything concrete except pointing out how messy the ending was. The first thing you need to know about 18if is that it’s a multimedia project (along with a mobile game and VR game), which can probably signal you about the overall quality of the anime version. The concept that each episode our main character Haruto will need to save a Witch of the week – make her confronting with her dark and learn more about herself – in a dream world could lead to interesting places. Here’s the main catch for 18if: each episode is handled by different directors with different animation styles AKA the directors’ own take to the world of 18if. This format results in 18if as an inconsistent show by design. The quality of each episode is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you gonna get. That unpredictability in plot, the surreal nature of dream world and the diversity in animation styles are what I was personally looking for coming to 18if. For the most part, 18if stays true to itself, albeit below-average. The ending, however, tries hard to connect the dots and runs out of its steam fast with confusing tone, weak writing and nonsensical message.

For one thing that 18if does quite consistency despite its format, it’s that the show explores the real-world issues of multiple teenage girls in a dreamy surreal fashion. These girls have a nervous breakdown and struggle to find happiness in the real world, thus succumb to the dream world in the form of Sleeping Beauty Disease where they can do whatever they like, most of the time destructively. Those issues range from the pressure of being idol, bullying or even witnessing their family members murdered. They don’t often succeed on bringing the girls’ negative emotions to light, but their personal issues work as an emotional core for each passing episode. In addition, Haruto’s job is to confront those witches and only casually does he have some chemistry with the girls. In some episodes he only serves as a witness to watch the story unfolds.

Its episodic nature, where different directors handle different episode, is what 18if’s most unique factor. You can see the styles change in the character designs of Haruto. Most notably, in episode 7 the show hits the mark in full force with its European-influence aesthetic and tells a beautiful children story about the broken friendship that would be right at home with the classic works like The Little Prince. The genres and the tones change randomly as well as in one of the episode, 18if went full horror, other time it became an arthouse animation-showcase and at times it’s just flat out goofy. The quality of each episode also ranges from plain bad, “WTF did I just watch” to really great. As of now, I’d only recommend a handful of episodes instead of suggesting a whole package. Although possess a wide range of animation style, judging the show as a whole, the episode doesn’t add up much to the grand picture. There are no set rules (like in episode 4 the girl’s still fully awake despite the rules imply that all of them having Sleeping Beauty syndrome), there’s no deeper implication to takeaway after each episode (like episode 2 shows us that the dream world can affect the real world, which ends up being wasted). Each episode hardly connects to each other except for the main cast and the trouble climax. Since nothing adds up at all, most of them fall flat on their faces.

The main leads – consist of Haruto, his mysterious sister Lily and his mentor the anthropomorphic cat – don’t develop at all despite appearing in all episodes. Haruto, in particular, changes his personality from each passing episode in accordance with the Witch and frankly that makes it hard to get invested in him. There are some attempts, however, to give Haruto a backstory but the end result is so absurd it can’t be taken seriously (Adam and Eve nonsense). I’m personally all in for having a proper closure and it’s always welcomed to see those girls back for action but18if further loses its sparks when it tries to close up the arc with a very patch-up jobs of writing: unnecessary new characters (the new doctor, the Cult Leader), Eve the main antagonist that has no personality whatsoever and the tone is messy and disjoined. It hurts as well that the closing arc is one of the weakest in term of productions. The budget for the show wasn’t that much and it shows; you can argue the lack of consistent character designs and even the frame rates are all artistic choice, but more often than not the show looks poorly done and uninspiring. The dream world doesn’t receive a good treatment either, since it functions like a setting for Haruto saving the girls, with the only consistent rule is “Anything can happen in the dream world” – which is why it’s messy and all over the place.

In the end, 18if is an intriguing mess. It attempts to do something different by trying out variety of genres and styles. This concept sounds good on paper but only a handful of episodes succeed at bringing something new on the table (I’d recommend you sample episode 7, 10, 2, 3 in that order), the rest is below the line. After 13 episodes, 18if still struggles to find a right tone for itself, result in tonal wreck that never quite sure if it wants to take itself seriously. Ultimately, when you consider if 18if can leave any lasting impact, the answer is a resounding “No” – it lacks the punchline, lacks the sparks to become something special.

“Fun quiz: Can you spot out the missing Witch?”

Posted on 25 September 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

Let me just say, I’m all in favor for 18if having a proper closure, but I’m wholly disappointed with what happening right now. This episode is just all over the place. For instance, I’m just as glad as the next person to see all the Witches gathering back in real life to help Haruto, but even I, who covering this show week to week, have a hard time to tell apart all the Witches (why don’t they number them just to make things easier? Just a thought). Like, who is the girl in the computer? And if you count them all, there are 11 Witches, that inconsistency makes things more awesome. At that, some of the Witches have significant bigger roles than the others, which is a shame. I remember one of the group doesn’t have any speaking lines or contribute to the plot at all. Mind you, my heart isn’t made of stone so when Witch 3 pops up (The Witch of First Love), I was in great joy. The way she popped up though – through a text message and all – feels creepy and the way other Witches think that it’s funny is way creepier. 18if always has that tonal inconsistency but in this episode that tonal issues are way too lame and goofy for its own good.

And then the plot progresses too randomly. Turn out my guess about the true nature of Professor’s sister Yurina is off the mark. She’s neither Haruto nor Eve. She’s the virgin witch who guard the door for Eve (now that I think about that probably all other Witches might as well are virgins. Why? No clue. Might be like in Madoka virgins hold the most powerful energy). Yurina is revealed to be a former idol who goes to big sleep because of the pressure she received (sound familiar?). As a result, in order to overcome her challenge, Haruto and the team use Witch 9 – an idol Witch. An idol for an idol, one who command CG shooting tanks and the other uses whips, and then Haruto finishes the new Witch off by impuring her in the manner of kissing her (how that logic apply is beyond my graps). The way this episode feels all over the place is mainly because there is no set “rules” in the dream world. The only rule is “anything can happen in the dream” which is frankly the reason why nothing hold up at all. Add that with goofy characters who do stupid things and we have a clear winner for “Something so Gross 2017 edition”.

And the plot progresses too conveniently. Remember how they found Haruto in real life? By one of the Witch who “happens” to skip the searching to pay respect for her doctor who “happens” to be the mysterious guy last week who “happens” to treat a Sleeping Beauty Boy named Haruto. Yuck. This doctor even has the time to inform the condition of said patient to some strangers too. Then isn’t it a bit convenient that when one of the Witch goes back to sleep, they will enter Haruto’s world to fight off the villain? If so, why don’t all of them go? It doesn’t help at all that the animation is at its most uninspiring this episode, with the CG models feel out of place and the characters and the fight don’t look decent. One thing we should pay attention is how Haruto realizes that Eve’s door is the same door that Lily always use, so that makes Lily some part of Eve? Does Haruto need to kill her in order to kill Eve? Is she a friend or foe? This episode of 18if is loud with too much explosions, but beside its noise it doesn’t leave much impact or have any neat idea to tell. Too bad that 18if would end on this unsatisfied note.

Posted on 17 September 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

Hum, never know that Eve is a ginger and has wings like an angel and wears that cool dress. I’ve always thought she’s always naked. hmmm

Finally, 18if provides an overarching double length plot to wrap everything up. We have an episode that splits half of the time as a recap of what previously happened in their first ten episodes (which run a bit too long for my taste) and another half serves as the Matrix-inspired progression where they attempt to twist everything by saying that the dream world is real and the real world is all Eve’s dream (I hear someone whispers “a lie about a lie. It turns inside-out on itself” *snap*) and we do learn a bit more about Haruto’s role in all this. As a whole, I’m in favor with this new direction for a conclusive ending since the previous Witch of the Week format had been too inconsistent for its own good and only occasionally added up to the big picture. However, I am somewhat mixed at the actual presentation. I can get behind the admittedly pretentious theory from the cult leader. It’s silly but it doesn’t feel out of place with what 18if established so far. Introducing new characters this late of a game, in contrast, doesn’t sit right with me; especially the guy who is voiced by my favorite voice actor Hiroshi Kamiya where I don’t see any real role for him.

Basically, what the cult leader and Lily explain is the same story told by two contrasted perspectives. What they have the same in their story is the awaken of Eve (yes, our Adam and Eve). She is the Mother Goodness of Sleeping Beauty, fall hopelessly into sleep after eating the Fruit of Knowledge. She dreams of this world, the world we live in now, as a place where human receive punishment for their sins, blah blah all the things that basically written in the Bible. Those 10 Witches served as maidens/linchpins (again, depend on whose perspective) to guard the Sleeping Eve and now all of them have awaken by a certain someone. On one hand, the Thorn Cross Association believes that the Sleeping Beauties are the ones who “waking up” from this dream world, so it’s extremely worrisome for them now that all the Witches have been returned to this cursed world. They found Haruto guilty and thus, try to kill him and wake up Eve. Lily, on the other hand, reveals to Haruto that she’s the one responsible for not waking him up, so that now he would go on to kill Eve to save the world from destruction. (Of course, all roads lead to Rome. Every plot points in Anime has to lead to the “saving the world from destruction” scenario so we know they’re SERIOUS.)

We have a first glimpse at Yurina’s appearance (The Professor’s sister) and at this point I can assume she’s either Haruto or Eve. It makes more sense if she’s Haruto since I discussed in detail last week (and she has the same hair color as Haruto). It’s nice to see all the former Witches again, even only with the slideshow (although I swear I can’t take those flashbacks seriously with Haruto having a boner) and in the end they appear to form group in order to save Haruto. It’s a shame only 9 of them are able to make it back to the real world (the Witch of First Love in episode 3 passed away) but I am very excited to see all the girls in real life interacting with each other and I do wonder how 18if manages to put all of those different character designs altogether in one setting. I have to note that towards the end, 18if uses new scores – the first one is very impressive with its moody classical tone, the second one though… sounds exactly like Hand Shakers score for some reasons which leave a sour taste to the mouth. With only one episode left, and with the Final Boss finally in sight, I wholly expect a massive fight between Eve and all the former Witches + our team (the title is named “The Witch Wars” after all). Let’s hope 18if can pull off a satisfying ending.

Posted on 10 September 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

I can understand a lot of viewers will get turn off by this episode, but allow me to say that the low frame rates and the off-model characters are all intentional and I can argue that despite its low-budget looking and jerky movements, this episode has very strong production values and inventive visual aesthetic. The person who direct this lovely episode, not surprisingly was Koji Morimoto; who directed episode 2 of 18if as well. I don’t think you can tell the two episodes were handled by the same person, since the visuals and the overall tones are vastly different, but one thing these two episodes shared lies in its total creative control. In fact, leering to the differences in styles between episode 2 and episode 10 make me more appreciate the broad range skills Koij Morimoto has. This is one of the best episode, along with episode 7, in terms how18if can use its dream premise to produce something audio-visually compelling.

Now, I want to dissect about this episode’s infamous artistic choices. You can see the character movements animate at the pace of the snail, and sometimes even the lines coming from the characters’ mouth seems off. The character designs, likewise, especially with Haruto and the Professor, are totally off – the ugliest designs we have encountered so far. Worst, the story doesn’t make much sense because everything is vague just like you experience a bad dream. But despite all of that, all those choices have its purposes. Low frame-per-second rate and off-model designs allow the movements, and the characters’ expressions, respectively, to be much more expressive than stricter, more traditional style. It’s important because this episode goes for expressionist style, most notably with its gorgeous background arts that stand impressively on its own (normally a bad sign but it’s precisely what expressionist art is about. If you look closely, those backgrounds arts are Hanako’s pictures hang in her room) and the top-notch musical score that not only strengthen the moody, dreamy atmosphere but also the way it handles the different types of music: a classical musical performance, tap-along-the-dancefloor beat and the rock guitar riff solo – all of them are magnificent. The background arts are seriously visually stunning, look at one of the screenshots above for the visual symmetry and I admit that I took like 40 screenshots for this episode alone. I will take a deeper look on those background arts later time to see if I can draw anything related to Hanako’s psychology or not.

Episode 10 also takes full advantage of its dream world, in terms of it follows its own brand of logic; doing whatever they feel like: swimming like a shark, flying like a bird, taking photoshoot in cute weird animal costume, having a sword fight, smoking and dancing. All these activities that Hanako wanted to try in real life but couldn’t. This week is one of the long time since the main cast is back as the main focus, which I’m glad to see; and I enjoy the interactions between them, especially now that the Professor can be able to see and talk to Lily, for some reasons yet explained. I also enjoy the company of the Witch this week – Hanako (or Jane Doe in English name – the most common name significant everyday man theme). Apparently, she still making blogs in the real world (and eat yummy strawberry while blogging), which further indicates that the dream world can have some connections and can have an influence on the real world (something that addressed explicitly in episode 2). Finally, it’s now more or less confirmed that Haruto experiencing Sleeping Beauty as well (hah!), and my guess is that the Professor needs all the previous Witches power to bring him back to life, and might as well to his sleeping sister. Wait, isn’t it make more sense that Haruto IS the Professor’s younger sleeping sister in real life? That would explain why the Professor give that much attention to Haruto and only him is the real-life connection to Haruto as of now. Only 2 episodes left, I believe it’s time we get to the gist of who or what Haruto really is.

Posted on 3 September 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

We have an episode that serves as a commentary on the idol industry and as a cumming of dick jokes where dick can literally transform into a green genie. I can kind of appreciate the former but the latter is just as bad as it sounds, making it one of the trashiest episode in 18if. Depending on the source, this episode is directed by Kugatsu (based on the episode), or by Yoshikawa Shigarazu (based on its official website). Yeah, I don’t get that either, but whoever this fella is, I couldn’t find any useful information about him. It might speak to the overall quality of this episode, as this is one of the most awkward pacing with the least meaningful story 18if has done so far. Girls with big boobs; girls who wear school uniforms, gym clothes and… what the heck does the Witch wear anyways; girls who have dude’s face… and I don’t even get to the horrendous torture part. This is the first time we see the new side of Haruto, and that side… something we’re better of not knowing. Awwww

I’ll be frank that I consider Misaki, the witch of this week, my least favorite witch so far out of 18if. She does have a compelling backstory though. Before fall into a coma, which we eventually learn as a result of her crazy fan stabbed her multiple times (something that sound eerily familiar to the real life stabbing of Mayu Tomita just few months ago); she was a rising star of her pop idol band. The pressure from the jealousy of her peers (something 18if has consistently addressed), the pressure of pleasing the fan and the producers make her snapped. In her dream, she calls up all the people that gave her a hard time and give them a hard time herself by training them into idols. Again, I appreciate the show for telling us the dark side of becoming a popular star, although I can name about dozen other shows can do a better job of addressing it. The way I dislike this Misaki’s character lies in the fact her act feels very abrupted and inconsistent. One time she punishes the “girls” by burning their vaginas; other time she’s enjoying this idol training thing (where we know for sure that she hated all the hard works and these girls just train for the sake of it); and then out of nowhere she becomes emotional and drops her character completely. Also, remind me again how she can perform in the end considering she was stabbed multiple times before? This story is just ridiculous it’s hard to even take it seriously.

And then things get worse. The multiple “little Haruto” jokes are more align with hentai-quality level than say, Panty and Stocking’s sex humors – although I can certainly see Panty and Stocking can pull this off. We have that torture scene where they push those uncomfortable jokes to its limit and we end the story up with the Witch passes her ribbon to cover little Haruto; because she, I strongly believe, is fed up of his dick and all this shite just like the rest of us. I found too little to love in this episode, and worse this episode leaves a bad mark on me that will haunt me whenever I think about 18if.

Posted on 27 August 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

It’s nice to see an anime episode that tackle on the everyday life’s problems of people who experience hearing loss: ya know, having trouble with boss, can’t hear what the waiter says, don’t realize the train’s delay announcement, relying on flashlights for delivery, sleeping through the whole freaking Alien invasion… She said she has been stuck under rubble for a week now, but doesn’t Katsumi the scientist just met her performing back then?? Any attempt to make sense with the plot will prove to be difficult because there’s no such thing as coherent plot or backstory in this tale of the deaf singer. Instead 18if this week uses this story as a foundation to teach us about the importance of hearing, and to its large extend the importance of communication and then sheds some developments to our main Haruto. This episode of 18if was handled by Takaaki Ishiyama, the director of the new religious movement Happy Science-produced The Rebirth of Buddha; Chaos;Head and Tomoe ga Yuku, all of them were… terrible, but he’s on form with 18if this week. Overall, this week is a disjoined episode with dialogues that sometimes too “important” for its own good, but I quite enjoy its messiness and its original visual style.

The director has total control on the visual front of this episode and it fits well with the theme of the story. At first, in one of the Witch’s version Haruto and the Witch are in striking black and white world, but when he switches to another version of the girl the background is soft and naturalistic. The bar where Katsumi heads in remind me a lot of Paprika’s bar so it goes without saying that the interior design of the bar is my favorite part out of this week. As we reach to the end, the color becomes more prominent with strong, but in-control color palette (you can see all of them in the screenshots above). They nail the sound effects right as well. As this week is all about deafness and an ability to communicate with other through sounds, many decisions towards the sound effects are spot on: from the purposeful captions of every lines, the blurred dialogues that Haruto, like us, can’t hear properly to the soundless, only background music of the montage of our deaf girl in real life (significant what she can’t hear). The audiovisual in this episode 8, to sum up, is very effective that further elevate the story.

As the deaf singer points out clearly when she talks to Haruto, it’s a desire to communicate, to able to express and hear what others speak that made her wants do to deaf singing, and only Haruto can hear what she says. Somehow, the conversations progress into the need for communication, as she presses that people only like to hear what they want to hear (a bit stretching here, but… okay) and thus Haruto can’t hear what her other version says is because he doesn’t want to hear praise and good words (what? What?). I get the overall message but somehow those speaking lines just twist around like a twisted knife that I can’t really get into their train of logic. It’s important though that properly converse to each other make the most of communication’s effectiveness (only 7% into the actual meaning behind those words, the remains are facial expressions and the way the words are said – including tones, vocal pitch…) so yep, I kinda understand the underlying message of 18if this week, even if I feel it was heavy-handed at times.

We have a brief flashback of Haruto regarding his past life, or to be more exact, how other people perceive at him; from the kids who deny playing with him, to the parents who flat out tell him that he was a drag to the teachers (I assume) tell him that they were disappointed in him. Truthfully, I think those are just purely his perspective, the way he feels others’ impression towards him due to his lack of communication; but the sequence is so vague in context we hardly know anything concrete. I don’t even think that it’s his “real” life to speak of and I think it’s about time we need to learn who Haruto really is, don’t you think?

Posted on 19 August 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

This episode is one of the reason why I am glad that I’m still putting my faith on 18if, an episode that displays a complete different range of visual style, and a satisfying children’s story about friendship as a cherry on top. There’s a lot to love here, from the beautiful aesthetic that heavily influenced by the European stop-motion-like (it’s still hand-drawn though) animation, to the tale that inspired by children fairytale with more mature, political undertones and the song “And there were none” at the end nearly take my breath away. This freedom of creating wide range of visual-storytelling based on each directors’ own visions is 18if’s most appealing factor, and episode 7 is when that freedom works totally for the show’s benefits. This comes as no surprise that the director handling 18if this week is veteran Kouichi Chigita, a director who responsible for Last Exile; Brave Story and Full Metal Panic. Apart from a bit of obvious, shaky CG opening, the rest of the episode moves with ease with the stunning visual that pays homage to many other Western animations, but nonetheless is original enough to stand on its own.

I’m not attempting to discuss about the actual plot of this beautiful episode (ala what all this means in the real life), as I believe the dreamy story we witnessed makes sense enough that trying to dig deeper into the plot kinda do its story a huge disservice. Instead, I will delve into the literacy inspirations this episode makes references from. The most obvious comparison would be The Little Prince, both because of those similar styles, but also they share the same kind of fairytale story and the same mature feeling those two manage to pull. Well, the main character, Pol, is a prince if there’s any more doubt. The character designs are decidedly simple that are reminiscent of stop-motion puppets and a fair bit remind me of Pixar’s characters of all things. The art designs are another highlight as 18if produces an enormous amount of standout backgrounds, from the peaceful forest, to the doomed city life to the creative kingdom designs. At one time the show reminds me greatly of Samurai Jack as you can see in one of the screenshots, and at other time the character designs, especially those who manipulated Pol, take a nod towards those villains in the Triplets of Belleville and our mains this week are another nod to the characters from the Wizard of Oz. Like I said, while this episode has huge inspirations, never at once I feel it as a rip-off, because those influences are in service of deepening its narrative and manage to bring the emotions across.

Then, the characters of Pol and Pot are heavily implied as a reference to Polpot, the infamous Khmer dictator and the Khmer Rouge and the even more infamous The Killing Fields. The way Pol eventually abandons his friendship, becomes heartless in the process and rules the Kingdom of massacre of innocent people, people died from hunger, totalitarian rules and the way he was just a puppet figure head all have very dark political undertones pointed towards that dark period of Cambodia. It’s also implied that Pot, his best friend, is executed for the crime of “treason”, the same crimes that the Khmer Rouge would use to kill intellectual people (more commonly known as “people with glasses”).

But all the metaphors and references are just a mere service to tell a story about a friendship between Pol (the Prince), his best friend Pot and the girl Nene, whom later become a Witch. And I would recommend you not to look so much into the deeper metaphors because the story is beautiful as it is, while at the same time tell us just enough about the Witch’s issues. It’s a rather tough trick to pull considering that the whole episode is from Pol’s (not the Witch’s) perspective; but we can really understand what make Nene drifting apart and come to hate the friendship that she used to love. The story literally goes all the phases of emotional progressions (the Five Passions: joy; pleasure, grief, anger, hate), while paralleling all the phases of their friendship from how the friendship is formed, how it comes to a genuine love and how everything just broken apart afterwards; how Pol comes to term with accepting the fault he made and how eventually Nene comes to forgive him about his misdeeds. It’s a story about growing up, all told in a form of dreamy fairytale that might not appear to make sense on the surface, but make total sense narratively.

Well, I’m intrigued to see what 18if will go from here. This episode alone receives a perfect 5/5 score from me and I’m not pressing to say that this episode is my favorite standalone episode of this season. As in the nature of 18if, this episode is a standalone story so everyone can watch it and see the stunning, simple yet elegant little story for yourself. Sometimes it’s nice to see something like this in an anime-landscape, which remind me again of the possibilities and the globalization anime medium is capable of.

Posted on 13 August 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

This episode… certainly is random as hell. While the first half is a decent treatment of a bullied girl case who escapes the world by becoming the anime character that she loves – a priest; the second half… suddenly they’re in a mecha robot to save the world from aliens. Wild imagination there. Feel like the producers just demanded that “We want mecha robot. Make it happen” and here is what they came up with. At least 18if is being weird, that in itself is rewarding enough. The director of this episode was Yukio Takahashi, whom mostly done episode directing, most notably in Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam, Seirei no Moribito, Shangri-La and B gata H kei. Not that impressive resume but the episode is nicely done as she handles the various tones: the drama, the various action scenes, and the goofy Scooby Doo’s actions quite alright. It’s the writing this time that takes the fall.

The witch this time, Natsuki has a relatable – if a bit too obvious – circumstances. Bully in school happens more frequent than you think and in her case, receiving constant bully and being completely isolated from the class is a serious matter. For a show that each episode is handled by different director, 18if is surprisingly very consistent in how they emphasize each witch’s circumstance as a victim in her own society. A feeling of sympathy perhaps, and as a result, a disapproval, somewhat angry attitude towards those who cause the misfortune. In episode 2, Haruto assisted the Witch to kill one of the killer, FOR REAL; episode 6 also has the same message: Curses Return Upon the Casters. They reap what they sow.

Natsuki is also has a nerdy side of her, as she’s a secret fan of On-Bara, an anime about a priest who protect the town by killing dark spirits. Thus, when Natsuki commits suicide, she tranfers to that world and becomes the said priest. She has fun fight off dark spirits; until she realizes that there are just so many of them so she… curses her friends instead. This is the point where the show just lost its rhythm and do its own Freeform. First, Haruto just speaks like, 3 lines and he already convinces Natsuki to change her mind. Wow,just wow. And then, the alien invasion is just on a whole new level of goofiness that it’s rather refreshing to see. Ya know, just throw all the build up we have so far through the window and let’s play some robot. Save the world. Keep bullying the bullies. Then returns back to life because life is precious (or rather, because living a shounen life is too taxing and cursing alone is lonely).

I have nothing much to say unfortunately; since this is an episode where you have to see it to know for yourself. Personally, I have a good time watching 18if this week. The sum of its part is terrible, the transition from a touching, serious subject to full campy B-movies is too jarring and too much to take in, yes but the first sequence and last sequence are so vastly contradict each other that seeing how they move from A to B is rather entertaining to watch. Next week in 18if we have an Agatha Christine’s inspired title” “And Now There Are None” so I expect great dark mystery in the vein of episode 2. Let’s wait and see.

Posted on 6 August 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

The fun of watching 18if: It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’re gonna get. After the disastrous episode last week, episode 5 turns out to be sweet, sad and overall solid. Although the conclusion of the dream sequence is a bit of head-scratching, there’s a lot to admire here. This episode was handled by Minoru Oohara, who had Glass no Kantai as a director in his resume and was an episode director of EVA. Not to say I know much about him but he’s certainly a veteran and he approached 18if this week with such confidence. The pacing, in particular; is a step above from everything we’ve seen so far in the series and the witch this week ends up as the most well-written character 18if has to offer (a bit whimsical consider that she doesn’t technically turn into a witch this week). The visual is on the great side too; carrying out the theme very effectively, while never stand out much for its own sake. I am very satisfied.

Mirei, the witch of this week, has a much more relatable personal issue, although you still need to get pass the unsettling (and somewhat absurdist) sequence of her locking herself up and nearly… chop up her injured leg, with an AXE. I’ll come out and say this, apart from that scene, Mirei has a very grounded personalities and issues, probably even more grounded than all the lead characters combined. She’s a superstar figure skating that more or less the golden girl of Japan, busy both in and out of her professional life. But because of all the time dedicated for practices and commercials, she barely has time for herself. Eventually Mirei yearns for a normal highschool life, a life where she can really have fun and you know… have real relationships. Things take turn for the worst as she injures herself in one of her routine and thus losing everything she has. With so much stress, she falls into deep sleep and as a result, becomes a sleeping beauty.

As I mentioned above, her case isn’t exactly original, but it’s well-grounded. The dream world that she eventually escapes to, is just a typical mundane school where she’s just a plain, ordinary girl who enjoying this university life. It also helps that Haruto this week has more personality than previous week, and here I can feel the chemistry between them. All is fine and dandy until the final conflict. 18if (strongly) argues that Mirei eventually can’t escape the “destiny” that she is bornt to be the skate figure, so she must face it and release herself. I wholly understand that escaping isn’t the way to solve the problem, eventually she will have to embrace figure skating aspect because it has always been part of her life. But dear, no way “shines the brightest when she does figure skating” a valid argument to convince her that everything she has done wasn’t right; that happy moments that she had are all lies. From what I see, she was much happier in her dream than her real life so why the need to show her that figure skating is her destiny? It sounds forced no matter how I look at it, but I can let it pass since the great visual direction more than makes up for its shaky conclusion.

While watching the episode, I also entirely expected that there’s going to be a twist at the end. Indeed, the twist surfaces and it does deepen the narrative, just imagine Mirei spend  her entire youth locking away in her own fantasy really make my heart swell. Although like any twist you needn’t question it too much (because when you do, it opens many more questions – for example, if she has been sleeping beautifully for that long – like 30,40 years, how can she aware of the concept of cellphone? Nevermind – I say). This episode also pretty much confirms us about Haruto’s true existence. He has never appeared in the real world and now he questions himself that he feels stuck for some reasons – stuck in the dream world that must be. Lily also goes far this episode, as this is the first time she actively involves in a case, but more with a purpose to signal Haruto than to help the Witches out. When we see it that way I can see why she insists on calling Haruto “brother”. They’re both the products of this dream world and in a sense, she only has him as a companion. I believe 18if reaches the new height with this episode, and to be frank with this “a director handling 1 episode” approach AKA inconsistent quality, this episode is all I could hope for. Be different, 18if. That’s what we all here for.

ps: They indeed pronounce 18if as… eighteen-if. I’ll be damned. Might try buying a lotto ticket now. Now that I mention it I have no idea what the title even means. Someone here has any idea?

Posted on 30 July 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

Well, it was a very shaky 18if episode this week. After episode 2 when the show went for much darker territory, and episode 3 when 18if filled my heart with its bittersweet moments, episode 4 goes back to the style of premiere episode and even when putting these two episodes together, this one gets pale in comparison. The director of this episode is Hiroko Kazui, who mostly known as the storyboarder of later Monogataries series, and key animation of Tokyo Godfathers. As you can guess from the title “The Witch of Gluttory”, this episode is all about eating, food-porn about curry rice and donuts. Here come one of the main issues of 18if, and it isn’t about the different directors handling each episode; the 18if’s cases lack urgency. Only episode 2 produced some sense of urgency because the cast tried to save the bad guys in real life. Other episodes though, no one in the risk of danger, even the Witch that it’s hard to see any importance of saving the case throughout the episode. One thing worth mentioned is that the girls don’t necessary have a Sleeping Beauty Syndrome or in a coma to become a witch; as Airi still keeps her normal daily routines at day and become a chibi witch at night.

The episode follows a girl who has eating disorder known as bulimia because she wants to maintain a skinny body. Thus, she consumes a large amount of donuts and cakes at night, then immediately purges them out. I know18if is very inconsistent in its art and quality, but what they’re really consistent so far, is how jerk they portrait the male characters who break the Witches’ hearts. This one simply breaks up with Airi because he finds someone else who skinnier than her. Jerk. She ends up feeling insecure about her weight, which lead to her eating disorder and her distaste to her favorite curry food. Well, she isn’t really distaste the curry meal, because she still cooks them tastefully, and in truth I still can’t connect it with her problems. Look, this episode is way too vague about her issues. I bet most of us after watching this episode don’t even know whether she gains weight by eating a lot or loses weight by throwing those foods. Can anyone even guess who was the other little girl in her dream? You can’t? I guess so – why include her then? Consider that this aspect was already the episode’s strongest, you would know how misfired this episode find itself in.

Because when you start mentioning other aspects then it falls apart rather quickly. The dream sequence is string of cartoonist wacky adventure (with overloaded cakes) and experience a severed tonal issue that it’s hard to take any of this seriously. Not only Haruto, our recurring cast fares so much worse and overall are inconsistent with their character so far. The scientist has a “curry kick” and singing and exaggerating with no purpose whatsoever; Lily suddenly has an urge for donut that makes her more superficial and goofy than engaging; and Haruto has zero chemistry with the Witch that I don’t feel any emotional investment in any of this. The story and its pacing all have its problems and worse they can’t even maintain a consistent tone. 18if is fascinating project, that’s for sure, but they need to do better than this to really engage us. This episode is a big “meh”, not bad enough to be a disaster, but unmemorable and uninspiring.

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