Posted on 26 September 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Uta Koi



Anime is a commercial medium. It has to be catered in a way in order to attact sales, so concessions have to be made with the premises that get adapted. With that in mind, there sometimes just appear series that make me really glad that they got made, while avoiding all this. Uta Koi is one of these. It’s based on a manga that wasn’t even officially published at the beginning. It’s about freaking poets in the 10th century. No marketeer in their right mind would usually pick this up immediately, and yet the anime of Uta Koi has been made, showing that yes: we can still get things that aren’t catered in any way.

And really, Uta Koi is such a fascinating series. Very rarely we see series that also end up strengthening other completely unrelated series. This show attempts to show the mindset of famous poets as they wrote the various works that were used to compile the famous collection of 100 poems. Yes, the same poems that were used in Chihayafuru. This series gives such a wonderful background to all of the poems that appear in that series, adding even more depth to them. One episode in this series is also dedicated to the author of Genji Monogatari. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to see something about the people behind the stories for once, making this show without a doubt the most unique series of the entire year.

Now, as for the actual execution, there is also something interesting going on, plus a number of things that take a bit of time getting used to. Most notably the animation is quite bare-bones: the character-designs here are very intricate and detailed, but the downside of this is that they’re very hard to animate, and the budget for this series is not big at all. This leads to great drawings that move around really akwkwardly, and that sometimes don’t move at all. On the flipside, this series is wonderful in the audio department. Voice acting is top notch and the huge cast of characters are all very well delivered. The music also is really good and fits the romantic setting perfectly.

Now, Uta Koi is a collection of stories: every episode tells a different one, sometimes even two, so this show does not have much time to dedicate to each of its characters. Some of the characters end up forgettable this way, and it does have a tendency to get a bit cheesy in its worst stories, but there are also more than enough characters that make an impact. It’s not a series that thrives on hard-hitting storytelling, because the animation simply is not good enough for that, and a lot of the stories are strangely focused on forbidden relationships. It’s biggest strength is definitely how well it provides background.

But it’s nevertheless an excellent view to how life was in the upper classes in those days. Being a woman basically sucked, and this series has many stories dedicated to that, but also focuses on how these women found their inner strengths. Court politics also are very much present in here, not to mention that one episode in which it deliberately takes the piss out of everything it stands for. If you’re looking for something with historical depth and don’t mind a lot of awkwardness, then this is a fine choice.

Storytelling: 8.5/10 – Episodic, but very well laid out, moving though time across various poets.
Characters: 8/10 – Huge cast, so there are a number of forgettable characters, but also a bunch of great ones.
Production-Values: 8/10 – The animation is having a lot of trouble and looks awkward. The music and voice acting are brilliant though.
Setting: 9/10 – An utterly wonderful look at poetics of 1000 years ago and the people behind famous poems and stories.

Suggestions:
Chihayafuru
Genji Monogatari Sennenki
Aoi Bungaku

Posted on with categories: Uta Koi

Ah, of course. With the series going through time like that, the only logical story to end with would be the one about Fujiwara no Teika, the guy who composed everything. A very fitting end, both in its themes, and execution.

Also, with this the creators found a nice explanation of why al lot of the poems are about forbidden relationships: Fujiwara no Teika was in one himself. It’s of course debatable how true to history this was, but for the series Uta Koi it fits perfectly. It’s great to finally see that annoying guy who kept making the most bizarre cameos in each episode to have a bit of depth, and to show an interpretation of what his life was about.

What’s also interesting is that the animators actually tried to have some good animation, at the point where Teika and his first love have their big moment. It’s interesting to see in an animation that was otherwise filled with jerky animation and still frames to really create a dynamically moving scene like that. Okay so it again had budget issues, but it’s the intent that definitely was appreciated.

Overall: great show. Please make more series like this. And now it’s just a season’s wait for Chihayafuru 2.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 23 September 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

They may have been one of the best episodes of Uta Koi yet. In any case the emotional impact it had on me was one of the highest. It’s one of the more whimsical stories of the season (yet again of a love unfulfilled), and it also has this energy that was very addictive, and emotions kept changing from one to the other.

Also, what I really liked is how this episode basically told the same story twice: once from the perspective of the guy, and then from the perspective of the girl. The guy’s story was focused on how he met her, and his struggles to restore his family name that eventually failed, while the girl’s story was that of a young empress falling in love and being unable to do anything to get together due to society. Once again with Uta Koi establishing that there was no such thing as freedom back then.

On a side-note: this episode had a few cameos from Sei Shonagon. Slowly, we’re moving further down history, and that’s the red thread connecting all of the episodes together here. Apart from episode six perhaps.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 12 September 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

Uta Koi already was a great series to provide background for Chihayafuru while we wait for the second season (Winter 2013, hell yeah!), but this episode showed a little detour. A detour into Genji Monogatari, to be exact. This episode was entirely dedicated to its writer: Murasaki Shikibu, offering its own interpretation of what her mindset would have been like while writing it.

Once again, this episode fits itself into the “being a woman in history SUCKS”-themes. Murasaki managed to avoid this fate, but a close friend of her according to this episode’s interpretation did not, and ended up being a captive in a marriage. With that in mind, I can see how that would result in the creation of such a romantic drama as with the Tale of Genji, although it remains a bit strange for her to at the end simply say that she wants to tell a story about female strength. Sure, it’s one of the themes of the Tale of Genji, but there was much more going on in Genji Monogatari, especially considering all that the girls and women went through. A few of them died quickly after giving birth after all.

What’s also daring is that they turned her of all people into a lesbian. I mean, I paid close attention to the OP and noticed one female couple amongst the different people who passed the screen, but I never imagined that this would be the author of Genji Monogatari. It’s an interesting idea, especially considering the contents of what she wrote about. This kind of meta-fiction is what makes Uta Koi so good and special: showing the mindsets and thoughts that were put into works of fiction and poetry. I have no idea how this happened, but nevertheless I’m really glad they made this.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 5 September 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

Dressing up like towers… I get that kind of symbolism. The silly fifth episode had a great point to make. But why, dear god WHY, did you stuff Fujiwari no Teika in a tutu and make him perform bad ballet? Just… what was the meaning of that?

After that the episode started, and I actually found it among the better episodes of Uta Koi. It still is about Sei Shonagon (probably the last at this point). Whereas two weeks ago we saw stories from her past, and last week we saw her own romance, this episode shows some stories from after that, and how she dealt with the death of the important people around her. I like how this was all told from the perspective of yet another poet.

Especially the second half of the episode had some very good chemistry between Sei Shonagon and this poet, which can be attributed to both very good dialogue, and a very good delivery from the voice-actors, combined with some of the best tracks of the series. It’s here where the storytelling brings all of those together. If only the show had a bigger budget then it would be even better.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 28 August 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

Sei Shonagon again, this time with the focus on her actual romance. This definitely was an episode for dialogue, because the two of them loved making quibs to each other and there were a lot of tongues in cheeks this week, along with nice historical details like how hats played such an important role in those days.

A difference between this episode was that it wasn’t necessarily about the constraining environment in which people lived back then, but instead it showed a different side of how things went on for the nobles and poets of those days. Sei Shonagon is a woman who has enough influence over people to make a difference.

Overall, Uta Koi has painted this nice picture of who the authors of the 100 poems were. It doesn’t stray too long on one of them, but it also picks a few of them to give a bit more attention than the others. Whether it’s the most exciting show though… that is unfortunately not the case. The fact remains that the acting still is quite wooden (although this episode wasn’t the worst example of that).
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 21 August 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

One thing that this series has made clear by now: living in history sucks. Especially for women. The women featured in this series were great poets… and yet most they do is sit in a room and wait for their loved ones who are often gone for years. This episode was all about that. To the point where relationships just fell apart because of that.

And once again, this series actually links all of the poems together. This episode was about the poet who was the servant of one of the characters from last week, and it first shows a failed relationship she witnessed, and then a relationship she was in herself. Next episdoe seems to continue with her even more. Seriously, watching Chihayafuru’s second season is also going to be a treat now that the background of the characters has been fleshed out so well.

Something I did notice during the past weeks however was that the music isn’t as striking as what it used to be. Especially in this episode it was rather in the background, and most of the standout tunes that caught my ear in the first episodes are gone now. I do hope that the creators saved something for the final episodes, because a correct use of music is also a skill that can make an anime much better when used correctly.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 14 August 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

After compiling the preview for the next Fall Season, I just realized how special this current season is. Sure, it may not shine in the quantity department, but what really makes it stand apart is the imagination in its premises, compared to next season in which everything sounds surprisingly similar. And among those series, Uta Koi once again showed that it stands among the most imaginative and different shows of the season.

This episode contains two romance stories in one again, just like in the first episode, and they’re about the members of the Fujiwara clan (which appeared to be quite big). One story revolved around a guy who died early, the other about a guy who had a full life. The first story was about living life to the fullest, and the second was about long-term relationships and fear of faithfulness. I can understand why the two of them were compiled together, because they contrast very nicely with each other.

Still, this series remains kindof silly. I mean, I’m not sure who found it a good idea that the way to flesh them out would be a random test of courage, which turned out to be a silly joke by an old man. I mean, I get the historical significance of the romance and the stories around that, but the thoughts behind that test of courage seem a bit lost on me. Out of all of the things to highlight the difference between the two main characters of this episode… why that?
Rating: 4,5/8 (Good)

Posted on 8 August 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

Okay, which monkey was the one who introduced crack to the writing staff of this series? What on earth did I just watch for the past 20 minutes?!

Seriously though, this was just amazing. Uta Koi already was the single most original series of the season, but this episode was just one giant middle finger to just about every anime storytelling convention. This was just outright bizarre from start to finish, it was completely silly in every single way, and it was glorious. People need to make more filler episodes with the mindset of this episode.

I think every single one of us made some sort of Yugioh joke when we first learned of Chihayafuru. I mean, from the outside a series about a card game does seem awfully similar if you’re unaware of any sort of context. I however never could have expected that a year later,this series would come along and actually transformed the 100 poems into flippin BATTLE CARDS, complete with its own set of rules and powers, leading to bizarre situations in which someone was able to summon himself on the battlefield to do massive damage.

I love how this episode made a complete fool of itself (the grand prix had me in stitches as well), but at the same time it didn’t skip on the historical references. This episode also introduced a ton of new characters and famous figures. Did any of those make an appearance in the OP though? How many more of those guys will this series introcuce?
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 31 July 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

When I first saw the OP of this series, I thought that every episode or half-episode would focus on a different romance story, based on the 100 poems. I did not expect so many recurring characters. This episode in particular introduced no new ones. Beyond that, this was a really unique episode, in that it clearly stepped away from conventions.

Rather than being about romance again, this episode actually felt like a lecture: it had three of the great poets just talk together, after which it explained why they were seen as the great poets. Right now, poetry is ancient, but 1000 years ago, it was still struggling to gain popularity, and it’s these six apparently who managed to increase its influence, solidified by that Tokyo Tower and Sky Tree. This episode took on quite a philosophical direction when it showed some of them at a point when they were unaware of the influence they’d have, and shows them talk about their inspiration.

It really makes me wonder though: I tried to count. There are still around 23 characters who appear in the OP and who haven’t appeared in the series. I assume that this series will be just 12 episodes, so what on earth do the creators plan to do with them?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Emma
    (Thursday, May 28. 2015 05:33 PM)
    @Wyatt: My head I reckon goes into an automatic defense thing sometimes I think.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, May 28. 2015 05:32 PM)
    @Wyatt: I wouldn’t personally get off on it particularly either but if I was to be completely honest while I could tell you I thought/knew it was wrong/messed/etc etc it wouldn’t change either way that my response on an emotional level amounts to little more than feeling indifferent/un-affected/unphased.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, May 28. 2015 05:21 PM)
    Finally got round to rewatching Yuasa’s Kemonozume series. This was something I dropped nearly halfway through when I was a teenager because I think I was at a stage where I couldn’t appreciate it, but on a rewatch I think very very highly of it and am genuine impressed with/by it, has pretty much all I’d want in an anime series.
  • WyattX
    (Thursday, May 28. 2015 08:18 AM)
    F’ing hell, now this is a form of hentai I am not okay with. I love gore, & I don’t mind loli, but put those two together and I have an issue. http://pururin.com/gallery/17789/0210564801.html
    As messed up as I am, at least I don’t get off to this, lol.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 02:17 AM)
    I’m going crazy waiting on that new ghost in the shell movie and those two new ovas…
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:43 AM)
    https://www.livechart.me/fall-2015/all
    Heres a look at the fall season ^
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:42 AM)
    Better start writing it up. As well as catching up with Arslan though I am not sure if there is a point to that anymore
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:42 AM)
    Cool, new devilman’s a movie, less worry about censorship then, awesome.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ah crap I am gonna have to do a new preview post soon.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:38 AM)
    That Aria follow up might be anime original content, having enjoyed the manga years ago, I’m up for more.
    I don’t really know if I care about Ks second season or not I probably won’t watch it.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Khights of Sidonia S2 – 7

Moral of the story, if you build a death star planet destroying ray then you better make sure that it’s not sentient. Though it seems that the dangers of using such weaponry are lost on Kobayashi as even one wiping out the testing facility and a hefty number of people isn’t enough of a red […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 20

This episode wasn’t quite what I expected. It is true that I didn’t get the big fight I was looking for, though there were clashes going on. However this still was a very good episode. So on the matters of Kirei, Rin, Lancer and Shinji it was all done perfectly. Well there was this weird […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 3-6

So far the focus has been pretty heavily on Tsumugi, the chimera. Who is strangely moefied. Its really odd to see what is essentially a giant  tentacled monster display the characteristics of a innocent cutsy little girl. Still she is to me one of the better characters of the show. Untainted by the negative aspects […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 19

Oh my god, I can’t believe that Archer is the future Shirou Emiya!….said no one who watched this episode. But yes the cat is out of the bag. Archer is Shirou turned cynical and jaded after playing executioner for a couple of decades. There was a small bit showing how he contracted with the world […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 18

Well here it is. The name drop. The very thing the route is called after. And its….its…kinda bad. Of all the places to make the first visual blunder, why did it have to be here? Well Archers reality marble/noble phantasm Unlimited Blade Works was unleashed and Ufotable thought the best treatment would be to render […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 1-2

Even after a long break its nice to see that Sidonia hasn’t lost its edge. The story is still engaging and CG robot battles dynamic. However…was the CG this bad before? I remember it took some time to get used to the CG animation of the last season but this seems especially stiff. The easy […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 16

So at the start of this episode featured the big moment of Gilgamesh ripping out Illya’s heart and it was surprisingly underwhelming. It is true that in context this makes more sense and fits his character better. But it is a little disappointing. Strangely this wasn’t how it was in the visual novel and this […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 15

The word that encompasses this episode in a nutshell would be brutal. Whether you love her or hate her, I say few would believe that Illya deserved this fate. The tragedy is ever more pungent if you know the full details of her past. Anime only viewers may not get the most out of this […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 14

As a reader of the Fate/stay night visual novel I can confirm that the majority of this episode was anime original content. However instead of being about castors history like I thought, it’s of his backstory with her first master. In all honestly making the episode be about her history with Jason would have been […]

Latest Reviews

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

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 […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]