Posted on 30 December 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kyousogiga


Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love getting worked up a bit about what if the show did get everything right. That’s why there is no one “best series” out there.

A show that I really didn’t have anything to say against, that really seemed to cater exactly to someone with my tastes, is Kyousogiga. Seriously, to me, that show was perfect and it hit every right note.

This series is really well made: the animation is consistently good, with very few moments of weaknesses. The series looks really good, but that can be said for a lot of series this season. What the animators also did however, was that they made the faces of the characters incredibly expressive, more than any other show that aired alongside it. The variety is great, and the camera always knows how to capture them in the most genuine ways. The way in which they’re able to keep this up for more than 10 episodes shows that this was a series made with a lot of passion.

This is a series that’s deeply rooted in Buddhist themes: not only are there many monks in the series, but also many characters from Buddhist folklore make cameos, the whole world this is based on has many winks here and there to the religion (although Shinto also has its noticeable roots here), combined with plenty of ideas of its own. This all combined leads to a very detailed and imaginative setting that is perfect for a short and whimsical series that can be enjoyed by all ages.

One complaint I’ve hear a lot is that the big conflict of the series isn’t really that big, but that’s something I actually liked a lot. To be vague for the sake of spoilers, Kyousogiga is about the inner turmoil of a family of characters with world-changing powers. The latter may seem serious, but the end resolution is much less dramatic than what you might expect. And I loved that! It’s got plenty of conflict, but for once it isn’t all gloomy. There is really no villain whatsoever, nor anyone who even remotely looks like the stereotypical evil villain who is out there to destroy the world for some superficial reason, even though this might appear to be the case at times. The entire series however is focused on the characters: them coming to terms with their identities and the ones around them. It’s one of the few series that in the end, manages to be epic while keeping the focus on the characters and their issues, without taking any cheap writing-tricks to simplify things near the end. It’s got plenty of touching moment, its just not as grand as what it was made out to be.

I was a long-time fan of this series, so obviously I’m biased. The creators actually managed to incorporate the OVAs into the series and integrated them seamlessly, so you do not need to watch anything before starting the TV-series, aside from episode 05 of the second OVA, and even that isn’t really necessary. This series makes use of vague storytelling: not everything is told or stated explicitly, but you’re also expected to think a bit for yourself and piece things together, and it does that in an intelligent way, rather than what you usually see where the creators obviously ran out of time (this series is also perfectly paced, not too slow nor too fast).

If you want to know whether this series is for you or not, ask yourself the question of what you want to watch. If the answer comes close to a series which excels at bringing animation, music, story, characters, setting, and all together flawlessly, then by all means give this a chance. If you’re looking for complexity or grandeur, or something mundane though, then there are better choices.
One-Sentence Review: Lots of love and passion
Suggestions:
Mahou Shoujotai
Strange Dawn
Ooedo Rocket

Posted on 28 December 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

Holy crap, they actually did it. They actually finished this off perfectly! I was really afraid of this episode: I have seen so many wonderful series skimp out on the ending. And yet, with this episode, the creators managed to avoid every single pitfall that hits so many different series, leaving behind a wonderful ending.

– Focusing too much on flashy action? Nope, there was enough substance.
– Leaving behind an ending that’s too open? Nope, everything was answered adequately unless you really start nit-picking.
– Pulling silly Deus ex Machina to get out of the corners the writers got themselves into? Nope, everything just makes sense in the deliberately vague rules that this show created for itself.
– Just closing off with a straightforward and boring ending? Oh hell no, this episode pulled many surprises.
– Forgetting to push forward the characters even more? That too was averted, because so many characters got even more depth than what they already had.
– Running out of budget? This episode looked just gorgeous. After ten episodes I still could not see any cut corners.
– Being too fast? Nope, everything fit perfectly and it was still able to do everything, and things didn’t feel crammed.
– Being formulaic and predictable? Absolutely not. This really was the ending to Kyousogiga, not copied from another series or story.

I mean, this ending really was amazing. They did everything right here. I know I have been very quiet. Part of the problem is a change in my personal life, but another part is that I have felt really disappointed with the past Fall Season. It looked so promising, and yet nearly every series turned so generic or rushed, and nearly always it had to do with lazy writing. The one exception was Kyousogiga. Everything else this season just paled in comparison. Thank you Toei, for greenlighting this and making this possible.

Posted on 18 December 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

The big strength of Kyousogiga has always been its characterization, and with a lot of series that have that, they make the mistake to just not focus on that for their finale. I mean, finales need to escalate. Most shows do that by turning on the epic-button. Kyousogiga did that as well, but it still kept its focus at the characters. Mostly thanks to how all of the characters with powers to actually destroy dimensions are intertwined together.

Because of this the animators could really bring an action-packed finale, while at the same time the focus remained on Koto. Revealing that she was the whole reason everything started due to how incredibly weird her family is really helped with that. She still has her flaws, she’s not just blindly running around as well. Plus, the chemistry between the characters was still awesome. I especially loved that punch near the end of the episode.

Two episodes left, so let’s see whether the creators can keep this up until the ending. I’m especially curious for the actual finale, because there have been plenty of good series that somehow had uninspired ending. This series is the perfect opportunity to to do something differnt though. Lots of thought has already been put into these episodes, so I really hope that the creators also have something really inspired in store for the actual climax.

Posted on 1 December 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

Uh.. okay.

How on earth did this show manage to become even better than what it already was? Seriously, how?

Once in a while I run into an episode that really gets me incredibly emotional, that has me just bawling my eyes out. I can’t recally having done that for the past half year. Or at least not since the end of From the New World. While this episode may not have been as good, it comes close in its entire own way. Seriously, this episode was astonishing in how much emotion the creators managed to put into it.

Highlight was Koto, who really was portrayed as a child wonderfully. Every single side of her worked here: her active side, her playful side, her helpful side. Plus is was just so adorable when she got to see her mother and father again.

And the rest of this episode was amazing at providing backup for her: the animation was as expressive as ever, and the side-characters all managed to spice things up without taking on the foreground. I mean, everyone had been waiting for Lady Koto to come back again: everyone was delighted and everyone changed here.

And yeah, father. His shadow has been hanging over the entire series with the first two episodes focusing on him. He fits perfectly as the antagonist for the final episodes to get a really big climax out of it. And he’s also miles away from your typical villain. i mean, it’s still a mystery what kind of threat he actually is, but he did basically abandon his children without much thought for it.

I may post less often, but don’t get me wrong: I still love anime. Episodes and series like this are the reason why. 2013 has been a strange year: I’m not sure whether the amount of good series went down or whether I just got more picky, but at the very least I’m glad that every season so far has had its standout series.
Rating: 7/8 (Fantastic)

Posted on 24 November 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

Toei, I applaud you. This episode was once again amazing. Seriously, I’m really quite astounded: Kyousogiga is one of the very few series that gets just about everything right. Kill La Kill and Samurai Flamenco: I can both name issues I have with them. Kyousogiga: none whatsoever. You could say that some things make no sense, and here the first half of this episode comes and fills in some big gaps in the monk’s backstory so that it makes complete sense. With this, the plot has this amazing balance of explaining things, and leaving things up for interpretation.

The direction was also fantastic here. It even goes beyond Kill la Kill at this point, first with its use of facial expressions that get the most out of the non-verbal communication between the characters, and second because of how in the second half, it actually blended in the two fights that were going on masterfully, often showing them in the same screen but having one in the foreground, and another in the back. That’s something I have yet to see in anime.

Then, this episode did make use of repetition, but it did so in the good way: when you notice the repetition, things all make sense in terms of the monk’s backstory. The entire series has basically been doing that. The same goes for the music, I guess. There really aren’t that many tracks in Kyousogiga’s soundtrack. But they are all wonderful, and they are also used at the perfect times!

Last week was a recap, but I’d say for that: who cares? If that is this series’ solution for having only ten episodes, I’d say let it do that! It’s the first series in years that I’ve seen that actually tried to have a different number of episodes than 13/12, 25/26, the occasional Noitamina-length of 11 and 22 episodes or an infinite amount of episodes. It’s exactly as long as it needs to be, give or take 20 minutes or something.

I’m always keeping an eye out for new masterful directors to start showing themselves. And with Rie Matsumoto, Toei Animation has struck gold, but she’s also working with a wonderful team of animators. But yeah, so far anything she has touched became gold. Now we can only hope that she will keep this passion of hers, and keep landing jobs as a director. If she can, then she can make it really big. I mean, this show is the textbook example of what I look for in a great anime.
Rating: 7/8 (Fantastic)

Posted on 8 November 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

I scrapped the Storytelling, Characters, Production-Values and Setting-ratings from my reviews, but I still look upon anime, based on those four criteria. And really, Kyousogiga is one of the very few series that gets all of them right: it delivers everywhere, and this episode was a great example of that.

Storytelling: the second OVA is brilliantly used by changing the context of each episode and making the way all of the small bits fit into the series completely different. Everything now makes much more sense. With this the third sibling has also gotten his development, and the animation brings the characters alive wonderfully. The facial expressions say huge amounts of things about the characters, without putting them in actual words.

It’s also a great example of one of the reasons why I stopped splitting up my ratings: ideally all of these work together with each other, enhancing each other. Isolating one part is just silly, because the standout series like this one stand out because of the sum of their parts. It’s because of how many different ways the creators manage to think of to portray their characters, using meta-fiction like the one with the dog (symbolism!) to illustrate parts of the story from a different perspective, that enhances the characters and allows them to shine. In the meantime the characters develop by growing and thereby they change the story themselves. Plus, how do you rate it when a series has so much heart put into it as this series? These complex rating systems are completely pointless because you can never take everything into account. Therefore these simple ratings based on one scale are the best. What matters is the overall experience, and overall Kyousogiga is pretty damn awesome.

Another example: in this episode I realized how incredible the music here is. Alone it may have just been organ music. But it brought out so much emotions in the characters. I probably would get bored of it pretty quickly without this series.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 6 November 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

This episode, it’s Yase’s turn to get some fleshing out. Also with some material from the second OVA, but again it succeeds to add so many things. Whereas the second OVA was very cryptic, this episode really puts things into perspective, and really explains why Yase acts the way she does.

I’d also like to highlight something else here: a common pitfall for anime is to just take one episode to develop and give backstory, only for the creators to really not know what to to with the character in particular afterwards. That is not the case here. Even the side-characters feel dynamic: we see different sides of them and they all still feel alive, rather than just cardboard cut-outs after they’ve lost their place in the spotlights. That’s another sign of great storytelling.

Oh, and this capital is an awesome place, in which stuff can’t be destroyed other than letting it float away into oblivion. This episode was also about this concept, and how people who value stuff versus the people who don’t value stuff deal with things. This again ties in with the parents disappearing to form one big hole, even though this series at first seems completely random.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 24 October 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

I remember how a few years ago, the Munto OVAs also got a full fledged TV-series in order to flesh out their setting. Well that turned out to be the cheapest way out: they just recapped the OVas 1 on 1 and slapped some flimsy conclusion at the end with some sequel bait, which was removed at the movie of the thing… Kyousogiga however is the complete opposite: with this series, newcomers to the franchise aren’t left out at all, and know right away that they need to go for the TV-series that has everything in it, and they managed to stuff everything in really well.

Also, unlike the previous episodes, this episode tells three stories at once: one third of the episode is about monk guy, one third about the scientist girl (also including episode 2 of the OVA) and the third part is about the present, which also ties the abovementioned two together perfectly so that this episode becomes more than just three mini-episodes packed together.

My favourite part was about the monk, though. I did not expect a character like him, who always was in the background, to gain so much depth. It’s quite astounding to see how much the creators did in so little time with this guy, but I love how this series is really trying to give depth to its entire cast. It really makes the setting also come alive.

Also, here’s another thing: am I the only one who noticed that most anime are quite lazy when it comes to aging characters? I mean, make characters a bit bigger, their hair a bit longer or shorter, and voila. Here, it took me a while to link the two monks to their younger versions: they really grew up and changed significantly, but parts of their childhood remained. A small but very clever detail.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 18 October 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

This show. It does so many things right here. Here, in the beginning, it actually devotes its first real new episodes to the past of its cast, something that most other series just put in as an afterthought.

Here is the thing, comparing this to the other episodes and series that have aired in this season so far: There are a ton of series that are packed with style, and great animation and direction, however there are two series where you really need to pay attention in order to catch all of the tiny details that the creators managed to put in it: Kyousogiga and Galilei Donna; Even Yozakura Quartet can be enjoyed while laid-back. Galilei Donna meanwhile has some pacing issues and strange plot twists carried around. And that’s why this show is my favourite of the season: every frame is deliberate, creative and has a ton of heart behind it.

In this series you’ll never know when a mythological reference will pop up, or heck: even a reference to the other episodes. It may look vague, but everything is really deliberate and the more you puzzle, the more things start to fit together. I especially loved the quiet part in this episode where the bunny returned. The whole part about crying also was masterfully done. This show has found a way to be charming whilst completely avoiding cheese.

You can really see that this is a passion project of Toei, otherwise they can’t keep this kind of consistency. I mean, after two OVAs and two episodes, I sstill haven’t seen any sign of weakness. It has continued to be varied, creative and inspired, while still true to its own style. Usually there would be signs of outsourcing, uninspired parts, cut corners, or some sort of thing that could have been done better. With this, I have no criticism: everything worked. Sure there were a lot of slice of life scenes that could technically have been omitted if you care about story and all, but they together serve to paint the picture of the female lead, and flesh her out. I feel that any part of this episode removed would have taken away from her. On top of that, I can’t see anything that the creators could have added here to improve on her backstory without making things unnecessarily complicated.

On a sidenote: another actually good ED. Nice!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 10 October 2013 with categories: Kyousogiga

Finally. After a virtually empty Winter Season, the worst spring season in more than 10 years, and a merely average summer season, we’ve actually got ourselves a really awesome season here in 2013. Lots of series made a really positive and really strong first impression, so let’s hope that they can keep all of that up. One series that didn’t was Kyoukai no Kanata for me. As good as the animation may have been, it was just bland, the characters were annoying, and it lacked anything to keep me engaged.

Out of all these wonderful and creative series though, the best first episode belongs to Kyousogiga, if you ignore episode 00, which was pretty much just the OVA (even though that one was really good too). It may not have the most frames of animation, but out of all the new series this season, it has the most heart put into it. This episode really shined in every single way.

I’ve seen people note how I don’t talk about what Kyousogiga is… but the thing is: I find it really hard to describe that in just a few sentences. I guess it’s about this bunch of people with supernatural powers living in this strange city where stuff happens and things, but that would do it a huge disservice. It’s Toei’s experimental depart just toying around and unleashing their creativity onto this short little series, but even that would be doing the characters a huge disservice. Even after this episode, I still can’t accurately describe ‘what’ this series is.

But considering the OVAs, this pretty much was the perfect episode they could have followed up with: it’s the episode that explains the background of the series: where did all of the characters come from? What is the world the characters live in? This episode shed lights to that, and I love some of the ideas they threw in. The key being this monk who can breathe life to whatever he draws (how’s that for an awesome idea!), creating a family along the years. The series also seems to be based on all these kinds of different worlds that coexist next to each other, with a central world being the main hub, it seems. I first thought that the lead female (who we only see in one minute in this episode by the way) was also the daughter of that rabbit-woman, but it turns out that she came from this central world in order to search for someone.

But how heart-warming was this episode: the whole monk’s family was so endearing, especially since we know how different the three kids ended up growing up. The characters all had wonderful chemistry together. But here is also one thing: the amount of details that the creators managed to stuff into just this episode is astounding. The budget may not have been as big as with the OVA, but every single shot here is creative. The direction is also fantastic: the animators really have this knack of saying a ton fo stuff with just a few images. And they just keep throwing these at the screen over and over, even in a slower pacing.

And the soundtrack. Definitely the best soundtrack of the season!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 07:11 AM)
    @Emma: well it’s called the king of festival, and for a good reason. Out-of-this-world art installations, some of the biggest talents in music industry performing with state of the art lightshows, no-money bartering economy, strange theatres of surreàl imagery, 100s of thousands of the craziest and most artistic people from around the globe in attendance, DJ booths in coed bubblebaths, anthropomorphic cars, LED Ufos and whatever else you can imagine makes it THE destination.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 06:09 AM)
    I believe an American friend of mine mentioned the burning man event to me and said it’d be my scene apparently.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 05:51 AM)
    Ah that announcement I had been waiting for, Yahari season 2 has been confirmed now for spring season of 2015.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 01:13 AM)
    @Ninja: yeah spending a week at Black Rock City with 100k people with all the madness that transpires is pretty exhausting. The thing about Burning Man is that given the open atmosphere of acceptance makes it much easier to socialoze since you can keep the ego bullshit to a minimal.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 12:58 AM)
    @Bam I just mean I don’t have the energy for that type of event any more. It just wears me out. That amount of constant socialization.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 09:15 PM)
    @Ninja: yeah pyro contraptions are a big hit there, but that’s a lofty project indeed.
    And I’m pretty sure you’re not that old, there’s a lot of 50-60 year olds there and they’re having a good time. If you’re not a camping person then yeah … it’s not gonna be easy for you, but given the atmosphere, the music, and the art I firmly believe it’s worth checking out at least once.
  • ninjarealist
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:18 PM)
    @Bam Ahhhh Burning Man. I had some friends from Indiana who were trying to get me to help them build an organ that shoots fire with each key-press for Burning Man. It sounded fun but I already feel too old for something like Burning Man.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:32 AM)
    @Ninja: no I met most of them at Burning Man.
  • ninjarealist
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:23 AM)
    @Bam I see I just figured that if you had a lot of friends in KY you must have lived in the region.
    @Friend Yeah or involved desserts like Palmiers or Croissants. I actually am pretty decent at making croissants from scratch but it’s a pain in the ass.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:21 AM)
    And that’s … The More You Know ;)

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