Posted on 19 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru




Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru (henceforth abbreviated as Uragiri) is a series that doesn’t start out as anything special. Its first ten episodes don’t really stand out aside from a few well written action scenes and overly campy dialogues. Still, it managed to pull itself together as a solid character-study in the end.

Uragiri is restrained, but it knows what it’s doing in terms of characters. Their development throughout the second half is well worth the wait, especially because the creators know how to use it in its action and exposition scenes. This goes for both the main and side characters, who manage to grow together into a neatly packaged whole.

There really is hardly a boring moment in the second half because of this. The entire series has this slow atmosphere, but the series never drags on: it is always exploring its characters, showing new things about them and fully detailing their worries, motivations, and the bonds they have with each other.

The action scenes get surprisingly badass as time goes on thanks to their excellent scenario, the unique visuals for this series (this show is especially good at blending in CG effects with 2D animation in order to give the whole series a very gothy feeling) and a soundtrack that on top of being excellently used, also only continues to get better and better as the series goes on.

Now, this series is technically based on a shounen ai story. To the people who are scared of gays: don’t worry, this show is nowhere near yaoi, and the gay undertones never end up taking over the show. Having said that, though, this series does have an array of very campy characters, ranging from the very eccentric dress sense that the demons in this series have, how underdeveloped the villains are compared to the lead characters and there is matter that the lead character Yuki may be a tad too much of a heaven-descended flower-child at times. There is of course being nice, but there are points in which the creators play a bit too much on his good-natured character.

This series however still has an excellent sense of build up (except for the ending; don’t ask me why, but somehow this show ends with a Deus ex Machina without resolving anything while preparing for a second season that is never going to come) and it skillfully builds its characters throughout its 24-episode run. It’s a very nice example of those series that start off without much of a fuss, but actually get pretty damn awesome near the end (emphasis on near!).

Storytelling: 8/10 – Starts off unimpressive, but gets much better as time goes on. Well balanced, a solid script and knows how to build up save for the ending.
Characters: 8/10 – A solid cast: well analyzed and developed. The bonds between them are very important in this series, and quite a bit of meaning has been put into them.
Production-Values: 9/10 – The character animation may not be much special and the characters-designs may be a bit too bishiefied, but the background art and CG are utterly gorgeous, and the soundtrack is really excellent.
Setting: 8/10 – Does what it needs to do, there are interesting concepts behind the setting and it forms a solid base for the characters to work with.

Suggestions:
– Shingetsutan Tsukihime
Night Head Genesis
Kobato

Posted on with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



I often see people hoping that anime creators don’t pull an anime original ending and adapt their source material faithfully, but this would really have been a case in which the series would have been better off with an anime original closure: just have a battle between everyone, like what was set up in the previous episode, and have those battles resolve everything. I really would not have minded the few questions that would be left after that (like Reiga’s motivation, or how Luka and Yuki met).

Instead, Yuki starts glowing and forces everyone to retreat with some last minute slapped on powers in which he suddenly has the powers to completely eradicate the darkness and make people realize their mistakes. Um, where did that come from? On top of being a bit too close to a Deus ex Machina for comfort, this episode also introduced a rather large plothole in Reiga’s reasoning.

Because in this episode Reiga also claims that he kidnapped Yuki because he believes that Yuki’s light has the power to make his darkness stronger. A bit silly at first, but I guess that in terms of symbolism when you combine light and dark with yin and yang, it makes sense. If it weren’t for the fact that that theory completely backfired when Yuki turned on his god-mode. And survives with pretty much the same exhaustion as the other times in which his powers went out of control.

So no, I can’t call this ending good. It didn’t do what it was supposed to, it hardly resolved anything, and it failed to use the build-up that the previous episodes worked so hard for to set up. For an ending of a series that was hoping for a second season that’s never going to come, I’d call this one average, though: it didn’t ruin itself, it did neatly to prepare for the second season (that is never going to come), and the final fight before Yuki flipped out was excellent.

I can see the potential of a power that shows everyone their mistakes. A second season would have been able to do neat things with that. However, there is no way in hell that that second season will arrive. As a result, we’re stuck with a Deus ex Machina ending. Such a shame, considering how this series was doing so well. Unfortunately, this series couldn’t fully follow in Kobato’s footsteps.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 12 September 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



Ah, you know the cliches: a character is certain to die: there’s some kind of deadly projectile heading in his direction, and only a miracle can save him, which indeed happens as he is saved at the last moment by a friend of his. Or take the cliche in which the lead villain has lost most of his powers, only for suddenly another end boss to get introduced. This episode had both of these cliches, yet it did not, if that makes any sense.

This show has fun playing with these cliches, strangely enough. I really thought that Takashiro at the end saved Yuki there. But nope, it’s a completely new character. This character however isn’t anything like Reiga’s boss: he’s just another one of his subordinates. His intervention makes perfect sense as someone who prefers to work in the background, realizing that Reiga is overpowered with his emotions. Speaking of which, I really thought that Reiga’s emotions would cause him to turn into one of the good guys. Instead, they end up trying to kill Yuki. I mean, this was just subversion after subversion after subversion.

At the start of this show, I tended to laugh at it. But really: this episode had two FREAKING DRAGONS duking it out. Now if that isn’t awesome, then I don’t know anymore. This finale is really progressing smoothly so far: it uses these semi-cliches, but it also shows how the characters have developed, it is well paced and takes its time without dabbling in endless quiet before the storms (this episode again took 5 minutes for everyone to catch their breath, only to move over to the real finale: the storming of Reiga’s castle). I mean, the second half of this series has been really skillfully written.

I only have two beefs with this episode. The first I’m a bit iffy about is introducing a character, right at the end of the SEMI-FINAL episode. I mean, I know Luka’s brother versus him is going to make for an awesome final episode that will very likely delve into Luka’s past in order to explain how he left his clan (to save that for the final episode… excellent idea), but couldn’t his introduction have happened a tiny bit sooner?

Also: Reiga’s motivation. Humans are evil, they pollute the planet. Copied and pasted directly from the Evil Handbook of Generic Villains. I expected better from you!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 September 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



For a moment, I thought that the creators here were building up to one of those “final final bad guys”-twists, in which the guy who had been built up as the final bad guy throughout the series actually turns out to be someone completely different, with the final bad guys someone either his subordinate or employer, hidden somewhere in the shadows throughout most of the series (which is a nice idea of course, if it weren’t for the fact that those new bad guys often have nowhere near the depth of the original bad guys). I’m glad I was wrong with that.

So yeah, Reiga remembers his time as Kanata. At first I found this rather cheesy, but after second thought this makes for a pretty interesting plot twist, because he actually consciously decided to live as Reiga, rather than Kanata, rather than this being a matter of mere brainwashing. This makes me even more interested in whatever the hell it was that Reiga hates so badly.

So here’s the thing: there are two episodes left, and we end this episode with Yuki in an actual position to talk to Reiga. Sure, he’s kidnapped and all, but I really like what the creators are doing here: on one side they’re building up to an interesting set-up for a final battle, in which the characters, especially Luka and Takashiro, promise to go all out. On top of that, a major theme of these final two episodes will also be an attempt of Yuki to get through to Reiga, while Reiga needs to explain whatever the hell he’s been trying to do, along with try and successfully carry out this plan. If well balanced, it will make for an excellent ending.

The biggest roadblock will be Reiga himself: the way he develops will be crucial whether the ending will be great or just dull. What the creators need to avoid at all costs is another one of those cases of “talking the monster to death”. I want to see some genuine tension between him and Yuki, without having him magically changes sides because of some cheesy speech that Yuki holds at the end.

Oh, and about this episode: I’m glad that the creators didn’t waste an entire episode as a calm before the storm here, but instead kept it to about half an episode, while immediately putting more pressure on the cast. It shows that those general classes aren’t just sitting on their chair waiting for nothing, but actually are willing to act on their own beliefs and agendas. Not because they’re simply whimsical like a cliched anime protagonist, but because they don’t trust Reiga.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 29 August 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



Holy crap, here is one series that suddenly became just better and better. Seriously, these past two episodes have far surpassed anything else this series had offered up to that point. And this episode ended with yet another cliffhanger, as if to say that it’s still nowhere near done yet. I keep wondering how many parts of the soundtrack the creators haven’t shown yet.

In a way though: I love these kinds of series: those who for their majority aren’t anything special aside from a few scenes here and there, and suddenly as they enter their final quarter flick the awesome switch and finish with one heck of a finale. Uragiri looks to be well on this path with only three episodes left, same with Kobato half a year ago. The disadvantage is of course that it’s impossible to pick these kinds of series out when they first start. I’m REALLY glad that I took the few hints of episode two and continued to blog this series, because I recall having laughed quite a bit at this series for how silly it looked at times.

One of the things I especially liked here was the way in which Reiga continues to set off hints to Yuki that Kanata was still out there, only to completely trash Yuki afterwards, telling him to get off his high horse. It’s a very interesting way of showing Yuki’s flaws, this naivety in which he keeps hoping for Kanata to magically return really adds to his character, and yet this doesn’t take his naivety over the top like what you see with most naive characters who too often degenerate into utter stupidity.

With three episodes left (according to ANN at least, don’t take my word on that because they still seem to believe that this show is only 13 episodes long), I do hope that the creators still have enough time to put girl Yuki’s background in it. Right now, that’s my biggest question mark along with the reason why Reiga protected Yuki in this episode. If the creators can pull that off, while making these three episodes as good as the past two, then I’ll be entirely happy.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 22 August 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



Holy crap! I’m impressed here. This could pretty much be the best episode of Uragiri so far. It’s really amazing how this episode stood out when it mostly involved characters we only really got to know one episode ago.

When Yuki ran off for Luka I expected another silly conflict. But instead this episode just kept building up its tension more and more. Every time at which I thought that the episode hit its climax, it just went even further. The build-up here was absolutely terrific, there was no minute wasted. The episode started out really quiet with actually some really effective piano music. After that point, there was hardly any break to allow the viewer to catch a bit of breath.

Looking back, the point at which Kuroto told Senshiro to quit was really powerful. After four years of hardships. This choice between protecting someone or protecting yourself from getting involved is nothing new in anime, but because it’s such a major theme in this series it’s really working here. I mean, half the cast in this series is struggling with that exact question, but all under different circumstances.

Also, during the second half, I really like how the creators subverted the “sudden save”-cliche. I’ve seen so many of those scenes in which characters are driven to the brink of defeat, only for someone who was looking for them to arrive at the exact right time. The second half of this episode had three or four of those moments, and yet Luka arrived too late to do anything here. Every time, the save was made by either Yuki, Kuroto, Senshiro or Reiga; all of which were fairly believable. Reiga’s appearance at the end. He may have just been sitting in the shadows. Really: what were his intentions back then? Doesn’t he want Yuki to die or something?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 16 August 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



Whoa, this was a really good episode. I mean, suddenly out of nowhere Kuroto comes and starts talking about his back-story. Of course this adds even more depth to the cast than it already had, but the episode itself also was really well executed, despite how filled it was with death and destruction.

This episode was mostly about Kuroto, but it also fleshed out the people around him, like his grandfather, Senshiro and Yuki’s aunt. He actually received quite a bit of character-development throughout this episode: it’s not like he was the same kid throughout his entire youth, and instead the way that he grew to trust Senshiro and his family progressed bit by bit.

I’m also beginning to think that Luka isn’t exactly being kept away from the main house because of how it would be disrespectful. It’s not like Takashiro hates him or anything, and this episode shows that Kuroto trusts him a great deal. Who would then be left? I can hardly imagine the butler or Yuki’s aunt to hate him with passion. It’s probably some sort of precaution of a power that hasn’t been explained yet, or something similar.

In the past, I used to compare this show with Night Head Genesis. Yeah, so that turned out to be completely wrong. While both series are gothic and have great soundtracks (especially NHG had one of the best soundtracks I’ve listened to), Night Head Genesis was all about its story, while Uragiri is all about its characters. The two series get their depth at completely different points. Of course, I’m still hoping for more series to come along that have plots as tight and interesting as Night Head Genesis, but that has absolutely nothing to do with Uragiri. The plot of this one is simple, but the characters more than make up for it.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 8 August 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



Whoa, Luka. This was quite an episode for him, and it had a really good atmosphere here. This episode shed a big light on what actually happened to this guy, and the relationship between him and his kin. The exact reason for this is still left for the flashback that’s going to show the past between him and Yuki, but this episode really showed his loyalty towards his decision to betray his own kind.

Interestingly this episode also explains why Luka kicks so much ass with his powers, and it turns out that in-breeding Duras only leads to stronger species, with him being the best example of this, safe for perhaps Reiga. I really suspect that he hated this kind of upbringing.

At a certain point the villainess also pulled the “I can create illusions and therefore transform into your loved one and you completely fall for it”-card. This was one of those few cases in which it actually worked. Usually you’d see completely through such a trick with enough common sense, but Luka did have his nostalgia to blame for falling for it. I mean, how many hears has he been waiting to see the girl Yuki back?

Also, I really want to praise the background artists of this episode. The use of colours and CG really made for some beautiful artworks. Elegy herself didn’t have the best character-designs, but heck, that could be just the creator’s intentions. All of the Duras have looked rather silly in this series, so it might just be that the demons in this series have a strange taste in fashion.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 August 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



Now that the background of Takashiro finally is told, it’s great to see that this series is so good at revealing its mysteries. After all of the build-up, the flashback itself was surprisingly short and to the point (it only took up half an episode), and at the same time it did more than answer questions. In fact, this episode created even more questions than it answered.

I really expected this episode to, like, serve all of the answers on a silver platter. Instead, it turns out that Takashiro himself doesn’t even know why Reiga set fire to his village and killed half of its residents, along with Takashiro’s fiancee (I guess). This episode made a few things clear, especially Takashiro’s motivation, but in terms of Reiga we still don’t know a lot. Could it be that he pulled the same thing that he pulled with Yuki? That he was just another reincarnation who went berserk the minute he awakened? Or is there more.

What’s also interesting here is Yuki’s parents, especially how this episode hinted that they’re still alive (the golden rule of anime: characters aren’t dead unless confirmed so). Now, there’s a good chance that this father is Takashiro, although that wouldn’t fit in everywhere, as people don’t seem to treat Yuki as an important heir, so my money is on another character who has already been introduced. Oh, and Yuki actually finally got to meet genuine family of his with his aunts. That was quite a touching scene.

Now, the manga is still on going, right? That’s going to be the major challenge for the creators of the anime right now. So far they did a great job to adapt the source material, but let’s face it: this show ain’t going to get a second season. It’s nowhere as popular to warrant one. The creators are therefore going to have to come up with their own ending that really makes use of the build-up of the past few episodes, or in some other way create a decent closure for this series. I don’t expect a fully wrapped up plot, but I do want to see a conclusion that makes use of this build-up.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 25 July 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



So, here we finally get to the background episode. Or to be more specific: the start of the background arc. The creators really wanted to give this its time to unfold, and so this episode merely deals with the introduction: we get to know what’s up with Takashiro, we get to know exactly what everyone is, and what has been causing the reincarnations. The actual past is left for the next episode.

But seriously though, this did exactly what I hoped, and it solidified the characters even more. The depth of these characters really prevented this episode from turning into a dull exposition episode, and instead it filled in the blanks in the storylines really well. I also now understand why this series is named the way it is: before this series started, I thought that that somehow was some sort of spoiler to the relationship between Luka and Yuki, but instead it refers to the nature of Takashiro: in which he’s forced to reincarnate everyone in order to stand a chance at taking down Reiga.

I guess that the whole reason for Takashiro to be infused with a Dumas, it is probably to make him able to actually kill Reiga, without reincarnating him, but that will probably be answered in the next episode. We already know that Reiga did something really bad, and Takashiro was probably the cause of that. The question now remains where Yuki ties into this: was she just “there”, or she also have an important part in that tragedy? Beyond that, we also have Luka, who seems like the only character who doesn’t seem to fit here so far. I doubt that he was there when Takashiro got his scar, and my guess is that he met Yuki at a later stage.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 06:55 PM)
    @Gedata: God they didn’t even research it correctly.
    In regards to clannad theres an example of one which I retrospectively am more critical of and find the drama remarkably silly in parts.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 06:38 PM)
    @gedata: For my own sanity after a while I began skimming episodes and following flawfinders posts here and there.
    @Vincent: Must rewatch that one and flags of our fathers sometime, need to get round to soldier of orange also.
  • Vincent
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 10:01 AM)
    Watched Letters from Iwo Jima again. Ken Watanabe is a great actor.
  • gedata
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 09:32 AM)
    Note that it’s not just regular AIDS, which is definitely treatable if caught early, it’s some dtug resistant SUPERAIDS that the character in question got from a blood transfusion soon after being born
  • gedata
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 09:29 AM)
    It’s not that the disease being AIDS is really all that important. You could even replace with anything, even Sudden Moe Death Syndrome from Clannad and the emotional impact would still be as blunt and forced.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 07:02 AM)
    Oh for fucks sake sword art? You put HIV drama into your show?
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 06:57 AM)
    Pretty much looking forward to the next two episodes and hope it gets more seasons too.
    I also liked how bleak it was.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 06:55 AM)
    *how twisty
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 06:54 AM)
    . I was told to stay away from story six. Story seven was the most developed and ambitious of the selection but I feel mixed on it and didn’t really get into it until midway or so.
    Still I do love weird tales anthology stuff and this all fit the bill for me.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 06:54 AM)
    The first story even I have to admit was genuinely horrifying, uncomfortable and got under my skin and of the selection it still stands out as having the greatest impact. The second one was good social commentary but doesn’t really give me much I didn’t already know. Stories three and were the most emotionally investing for me. I thoroughly enjoyed who twisty, twisted, truly nasty and cruel story five was and it is my second favourite of the lot.

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