Posted on 22 November 2011 with categories: Tamayura



Well, this was the episode that still needed to come: the episode about Shihomi and Hoboro. If this show really wanted to have an all-round cast, an episodes that focuses on them was inevitable. The creators handled it well in the way that they took Potte to a friend of theirs from high school. It’s a bit more subtle to get to know them than usual for this series.

What I liked about this episode the most is that they used someone else to flesh out these two characters. That worked quite well, and it’s not as formulaic as you’d expect. Still, the formula remains there. Ideally you’d want to weave all things like this right through each other. This episode did do that with that other Kou fangirl whose name I forgot. Before the real material of this episode started we saw her also picking up photography, and even though this wasn’t her episode, she has been getting more and more bearable with every episode.

Eight episodes in, and closing off the second third of this series, the animation still is quite good here. The best animated series was probably episode 2, but even then there is a ton of movement in this series with hardly any still frames outside of pictures. What’s more though: the characters here have a lot of freedom in their movements. On one hand the animation is smooth, so it looks like the characters are really moving, and on the other hand they do move enough to really come alive.

This show has no action scenes, nor any climaxes that it needs to save its money shots for (in fact, the money shots of this show are very often still backgrounds), so it can just spend an equal amount to all of its scenes. But I think that this is an interesting comparison to series with action, who often don’t spend a lot of attention on their quiet scenes. Even though scenes like that can also bring the characters in question to life if they’re well animated. This series is a really good example of how to do that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 November 2011 with categories: Tamayura



Now this was pretty much my favorite episode of Tamayura so far. It was just one huge chunk of atmosphere, and it had an absolutely wonderful balance between doing nothing, and heart-warming moments. That’s really my favorite type of slice of life series: the ones who can achieve as much as possible, while remaining as down to earth as possible.

Most festival episodes, whether they are town festival, school festival or sports festival episodes, have this nasty tendency of appearing everywhere. Most of them unfortunately have devolved into randomly picking a bunch of events from a list of things you normally do at those events, and lumping them together as if it’s some sort of obligation. This episode created a festival with character. At its core it’s nothing new: remembering the dead is something as old as mankind itself. But this festival felt part of Takehara. It’s something that everyone really wanted to share with Potte, and the impending rain was used really well, while at the same time this episode showed some good restraint in not making the drama around it too heavy.

This episode just did a wonderful job of bringing the cast together. We even saw some characters of the OVA again, but even beyond that, this festival’s purpose beyond remembering the dead is bonding people together.

This just shows that this series is made by a team that’s really well versed in how a slice of life series works. Comparing it to Aria, I’d at the moment rate it around Aria the Natural’s level: it feels much tighter put together unlike The Animation, but the character-development is nowhere near The Origination. Compared to The Natural meanwhile, it’s a bit less impressive in terms of originality of both its overall setting and scenarios, but makes up for it by being much easier to sit through (oh lord, trying to watch that entire series took some effort…).
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 8 November 2011 with categories: Tamayura



Now this was just adorable.

Okay, it was an entire episode dedicated to the whistling, but it also showed a lot about who Maon was in the past, and how she got to know the rest of the main cast. At first I thought that we’d first get some more episodes dedicated to the rest of the characters, but things didn’t turn out to be that formulaic.

This really was a past episode: the present made no appearance in it whatsoever, contrary to episode 01. It first shows a moment in which all of the members of the cast just happened to bump into each other, and then jumps to the part when she makes friends with… Norie of all people. It’s a very good way to flesh out not just Maon, but the entire cast. And as annoying as the whistling may be at times: it’s no longer a random gimmick with this.

Now, there are seven DVDs scheduled for this series, which are pointing towards 13 episodes in the end. That means that next week will pass the halfway point of this series. I’ve been hammering on this, but right now this series is very charming. The second half needs to use this to grow even more. It’s the perfect set-up for this kind of series. I realize that I’m gambling here, but with the nature of this series it can in theory do great things.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 November 2011 with categories: Tamayura



It’s not like Tamayura is the perfect slice of life series. there are the characters who sometimes are a bit annoying, and I also really dislike how it draws its cats. I think that this is a trend that started with Azumanga Daioh, but I really wish that anime would draw cats like… actual cats, rather than just blobs. The other extreme of this is of course Kimi to Boku, which does have normal looking cats, only they serve no purpose whatsoever in the series.

However, when I think that only half a year, I tried to give shows like A-Channel and Yuruyuri a chance, I really have to praise this show for avoiding their pitfalls and instead of immediately losing all inspiration and turning into a slew of unfunny repeated lesbian and boob jokes, this one stays true to itself and continues to develop its characters. The same goes for Kimi to Boku, by the way.

This episode it was the turn for Fu’s mother and childhood friend. It is a very nice touch for her mother to be a former biker, and I’m glad that the creators took their time to show a bit of her as well. In any case, this probably means that we’ll have two or three more character-focused episodes (Kou, Kaoru, and possibly Sayomi). After that, it’s the point where this show can really set itself apart… hopefully.

In any case, The atmosphere still works: it’s this light-hearted kind of mood that doesn’t get broken even with Norie ranting at her fullest. That is what I believe holds this series above Kimi to Boku. Both shows are very solid slice of life, but Kimi to Boku just tends to break its mood whenever the yellow-haired guy opens his mouth. Kimi to Boku on the other hand has a more creative flow with its drama. It’s ironic, but the more these shows go on, the more similarities I find…
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 28 October 2011 with categories: Tamayura



Ah, screw it. Guilty Crown is hereby dropped from blogging. I’m still going to watch it, but I don’t want to blog about it anymore. Here’s the thing with it: it’s perhaps not as bad as say Majikoi or Maken-Ki, but it’s Noitamina. Not only that, but it has been given the rare privilege of 22 episodes. It should be more ambitious with that. My standards for this timeslot are very high, and I unfortunately have to say: these past three episodes were the most generic opening episodes of any Noitamina series I have seen.

As for a replacement: I’m not going to do Bakuman because of how it’s shounen jump, and I have some rather bad experiences with Jump adaptations after Gintama, Sket Dance, Toriko and Nurarihyon no Mago… and in any case there is the rare slice of life series that’s not based on any kind of manga or original material, and has Sato Junichi behind it. It’s also a good opportunity for me to find out why I have such a bipolar taste when it comes to the “group of girls living their daily lives”-genre. Seriously, I like shows as Tamayura, Aria and Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru a lot, but shows as A-Channel, Nichijou and Working never caught my attention.

In any case, what really helps is how much time this show focuses on fleshing out its characters. It doesn’t just have its cast do random stuff, but always tries to put meaning to what they do, fleshing them out in the process. The animation on top of that is really good, bringing the characters surprisingly to life. This episode was the same, and it was dedicated to Mao. She got a lot of depth here, which is great to see.

What I really hope to see in the second half of this series is that this series will make use of its format of being anime original, to really play with some of the conventions of its genre. It has the staff to do it; Sato Junichi will be able to pull it off, so I really hope that the creators will try this. It’s already doing a great job here to bring its characters alive.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 3 October 2011 with categories: Phi Brain, Some Quick First Impressions, Tamayura

Kimi to Boku

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is an average high school boy.
Agh! Why does this air on the exact. same. date as Tamayura?! I mean, it has its qualities on its own, but when it airs right after what in the end is a superior slice of life series it is in real danger of just being overshadowed. Still, despite that Kimi to Boku has this strange kind of catchiness. It suffered from trying to be too ironic, its characters still stick a bit too much to their stereotypes (which especially sticks out with such a small cast of only four characters), but the dialogue between them in the end was quite enjoyable. These guys are down to earth, and in any case it’s good to see another slice of life series that is in no danger of being overrun by boob jokes. There’s a scene of their past together, which is also a good sign and this episode was also good at portraying things going on in the background. This will probably be a very uneventful series that fleshes its characters out through its dialogue, and based on that, this episode did well and has the potential to last through 26 episodes.
OP: Another boring ballad. The use of photographs again does not help after seeing Tamayura do this so much better…
ED: A bunch of (admittedly good) drawings, with another dull song.
Potential: 75%

Tamayura ~ Hitotose

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is just a regular teenager.
Yes! Yes! Yes! The creators actually did it! Instead of just continuing with showing just a bunch of random sketches around the main cast, this entire episode was dedicated to the past of the main female character. Not only do we get to see her in the days when she was away from the rest of the main cast, but they also made clever use of that she’s a photographer. Throughout the episode we got to see a bunch of slide-shows, which did a wonderful job of painting a picture of her childhood. The writing in this episode also was great, combining slice of life and realistic dialogue with subtle morals and life lessons. Sato Junichi really is on fire this season, and it’s almost unfair competition to Kimi to Boku with how good this was. This really is what I want from a slice of life series: realistic characters, visible growth, and plenty of scenes to relate to. Knowing the creators we’re not going to get a slew of boob jokes or other bad comedy, nor was the drama in this episode forced or cheesy. Really, ideally every episode needs to be like this.
OP: Fits the series perfectly, is well sung, and again makes great use of photography.
ED: The singer is a bit weak, but the use of photographs once again is great.
Potential: 85%

Phi Brain

Short Synopsis: Our lead character solves puzzles.
Yeah. This was pretty much the best opening episode of the new season to me. I mean, this is a series with a strange premise: the main character is really tempted by just puzzles. But that’s the thing: it’s creative, and it showed in this episode. While the main characters solves sudoku puzzles like its nothing (yes, there is sudoku in this show), the larger puzzles are these huge imaginative contraptions that are well made and have interesting solutions. Waht really sold me on this series however, is how expressive it is. It’s got the best OP of the season, the best ED, the best character-designs (even including the series that still have to air), and most importantly: the animation and voice acting brought the characters to life. The female lead is actually a damsel in distress who is useful: on one hand she’s there to increase tension, but she’s also more athletic and more observant than the male lead, who in his turn also isn’t your average shounen hero. He thankfully is miles away from the usual whiny and hot blooded main character. The music is excellent, the pacing rocks. You can really see Sato Junichi at work here.
OP: Best of the season so far. Solid song and great visuals.
ED: Nice use of a puzzle-like slide show.
Potential: 90%

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