Flying Witch – the brilliance of Slice of Life

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Studio J.C.Staff
Genres Slice of Life, Supernatural
Source Manga
Episodes 12
Season Spring 2016
Director Katsushi Sakurabi
Music Yoshiaki Dewa

     An anime that belongs to slice of life genre is difficult to make. It sounds very easy – just tell what happens every day and that’s it, right? Nevertheless, not every show has that special something that makes seemingly boring or just not that inspiring things into a spectacle you want to watch and enjoy. Sad as it is, our usual lives tend not to be comprised of stuff that is worth telling as a story and something memorable happens only rarely. What to do then? Many great slice of life shows that don’t pursue any continuing narrative either build colorful characters or manage to include some particular quirks to their stories, something that make them stand above their counterparts. The real mastery then is to mix those quirks within mundane activities of the characters. This way we have ridiculous situations of Nichijou, multitude of wondrous youkai in Natsume Yuujinchou, parental learning moments in Usagi DropFlying Witch, though probably not able to boast the perfection of some of the greatest anime, stands near enough and wastes no time telling what its special quirk is.

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    As with most of slice of life anime, the set-up of Flying Witch isn’t anything complicated – Makoto with her cat Chito-san arrives to live with her cousins Kei and Chinatsu and their parents in the snowy Aomori prefecture. The unusual thing is that Makoto practices to become a witch but this part of the set-up isn’t remembered as often as you would think looking at the title of the show.  Not that I complain since there’s lots and lots of things to do in Aomori apart from witching. Makoto with Chito-san explore the surroundings and, as her relatives live pretty close to nature which means a bit of farming and stuff, she wholeheartedly takes up every opportunity to enjoy her staying and experience things she hadn’t before, even if they are such small and forgettable like tasting some random vegetable found by a roadside. Of course, cooked.

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     Things changed a bit when the Fire Nation attacked, I mean, Makoto’s sister Akane began visiting her. Akane being a professional witch (I guess it’s genetics after all with all the witches in the family) didn’t miss opportunities to teach her kouhai about some simple stuff. Of course, when she wasn’t sleeping. Or drinking. Anyway, witchcraft in the anime is only a secondary focus at best so don’t expect any ground breaking or time bending magic tricks. It’s well tuned with the atmosphere of the story – some walking paper cranes, ghosts working in a café and just all around pleasant and friendly stuff that makes you a bit amiably surprised and refreshed (if you ever were) from gardening, farming (talk about using the setting efficiently), cooking, exploring and just slice-of-life-ing. That’s one of the strengths of Flying Witch – the balance between occasional unexpected supernatural incidents and comfortable life at a beautiful place doing whatever the heart’s desire is. The only thing that a bit bothered me is that some of the characters or phenomena of the witch world didn’t receive as much attention as they (I think) would be able to withstand. I don’t say that the composition of the show was lacking – you can only put in so much content into a 12 episode show. Still, there are many things left that I would like to see more and to know more about. I guess this problem can be at least partly attributed to the fact that the anime is an adaptation. The mangaka probably plans her stories so that they would provide just the useful information at a time and wouldn’t leave her with less ideas that are being prepared for the future. To please the thirst for more there’s only two choices – embrace the manga or not that hopefully wait for any news of the possibility of a second season.

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     Usually in any anime you can’t rely only on the setting and the originality of the premise. That’s where the characters come in and even if I can’t claim that Flying Witch has a very memorable cast, the dynamics between the characters and some of their individual quirks make it a good watch. There’s nothing much to say about Makoto herself, only that she is a pretty normal girl, a bit absent minded sometimes (and because of that relying on her cat) but trying to do her best. Chito-san behaves like an ordinary cat with all the catlike mannerisms and that further gives some strength to the realistic part of the show which is balanced by frequent Makoto’s interactions with Chito-san as if she was just another human. Maybe our witch just knows her cat perfectly but that certainly adds some sense of magic to the atmosphere. Other secondary characters worth mentioning are Chinatsu – a kid that behaves like a kid. As weird as it sounds, it’s not that usual in anime with a few exceptions (that are getting more frequent with Amaama to Inazuma and others). You can’t not smile when Chinatsu reacts to something with all her childish soul or just idealistically and enthusiastically tries to pursue something. Makoto’s sister Akane is another character worth mentioning, being totally unlike her sibling – outgoing and energetic (when she’s not sleeping) world class witch full of weirdest ideas. The cast’s strength lies in the interactions between themselves, the strong sense of kinship and mutual reliance, just like you would want to have in an ideal family. Also, it’s remarkable that even if Flying Witch tells episodic stories, the characters, even less prominent ones, retain their memories of recent matters. There’re many instances of episodic shows whose order of episodes you can change without any impact, but this one not only adds just a little bit more to the realism using recurring characters and reminiscences of past events but also makes the grand story more cohesive.

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Excerpts from the anime

    Let’s move to the visuals, where one big part of the greatness of the show lies. Talking about the character designs I just don’t know how to define what actually makes them look very pleasant, but it really does. It was probably the first few seconds of the PV of the show that I, still don’t knowing basically anything about Flying Witch, thought “Hey, I could watch this”. The designs somehow just add much to the soothing, relaxing, comfortable and warm atmosphere that is one of the strengths of the show. Another huge positive comes from the backgrounds. When you watch the anime you can’t not notice that the surroundings seem somehow different from usual cardboard cutout buildings and streets. The reason of this is the hard work of the staff – the town where everything happens actually exists, and that is Shimoyuguchi near the castle town of Hirosaki in Aomori prefecture. There was a series of articles on Crunchyroll (here, here and here) about that which you should definitely check. Of course anime makes every place look way flashier and brighter to accommodate to the general feeling of the show but many actually existing buildings and places enhance the sense of location many times and, even if it’s not the thing you notice very easily, make you far more attached to the show.

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    As with the character designs, I fell in love with the soundtrack from the first glance. I can’t remember how long ago it was that some first notes of the first track paired with the visuals would move me so much. The general mood of the soundtrack remains very light, simple and laid back, as expected of a piano, some strings and woodwinds for the most part. The beautiful main theme reappears at various moments in different arrangements but the lack of complexity isn’t a bad thing. Sure, many people probably won’t be compelled to listen to the soundtrack all the day but as an accompaniment for the story it works well. Still, for me especially the main theme and some other jazzy tempered tracks are some of the more beautiful musical pieces of the year.

Excerpt from the OST: 'Kowata Makoto' by Yoshiaki Dewa

     Flying Witch is an easy anime to miss if you prefer something that has action and high stakes. Still, I highly recommend to dive into the heartwarming greatness of iyashikei and enjoy small beautiful things that happen every day. In this perspective Makoto, who begins her explorations of tiniest joys of a more rural setting than she (and probably the viewers) is accustomed to and Chinatsu who still views the world as a place full of wonder and happiness are the best characters the show could have had. Some little and innocent magic tricks and the queerness of the world of witches renew the enjoyment when you begin to get comfortable with Makoto’s everyday cooking and farming, accompanied by the soundtrack that could compete for the best aspect of the show – it’s very pleasing that all those parts comprising the show really work together to reach one goal – the brilliant atmosphere.

     I believe, this anime is

 3
Good

     Of course it depends on your preferences but if you are not indifferent to the slice of life genre or just want to have a calm and soothing experience, look no further – Flying Witch is just for you.

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Musings and Reflections – Autumn 2016 Week 4

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 3)

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    Sometimes I think that 3-gatsu is made of two different, almost antagonistic shows – one of them is a cheesy slapstick comedy and the other is a good existential study. There’s probably no need to say which part I like more. Since this episode was more serious, thankfully cringeworthy moments were barely there but still the show is just terrible in moving between the moods. Where it is truly stunning is the backgrounds. Everywhere from warm city lights in the evening to the scorching hot afternoon (the depiction of the sun (which made me remember similar feeling that I got from the first episodes of Steins;Gate) is amazingly beautiful) 3-gatsu does a magnificent job in deepening the atmosphere. Another thing worth mentioning is the metaphor of the flying balloons. I might be wrong but it looked like they symbolized all the children that try to become shogi players and improve their skills. Everyone gave in except the two who for some time flew up together but ultimately Rei came out on top. I just wish every future episode would just try to develop such themes that are present (like if it’s alright to cease remembering your dead loved ones) and stop any attempts to provide comedy.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Ep. 4)

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    The waiting for the second part of the story wasn’t for nothing. Even if the mask youkai wasn’t that frightening visually, the idea of it is rather unsettling. Pushed by Matoba, Natsume gets to see a bit more of the world of the exorcists and its problems. Wanting or not, he looks to be drawn not only into the affairs of youkai but also to the business of various people which lead him (according to the preview) to question the method Taki (finally an episode with her) uses and probably the existence of the Book of Friends. It’s not clear how Natori is also connected to all the events and he so far remains an unpredictable variable. As much as I love episodic Natsume, some overarcing story that touches both various relationships among both humans and youkai seems very interesting. By the way, the overall development of all of the seasons seem to start with Natsume not being able to communicate and connect with anyone then slowly learning to befriend various youkai who behave like children or people consumed by some specific ideas or emotions and not being very complex when you start to understand them. Finally Natsume looks to be advanced enough in relationships with youkai to be able to readjust and meddle in the affairs between humans.

Yuri!!! on Ice (Ep. 4)

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     Probably the weakest episode so far for a number of reasons. The animation didn’t feel that fresh anymore most of times and in some scenes it was apparent that the studio did take some opportunities to take a shortcut or two and save the resources for some more impressive moments. The story also didn’t have all that momentum that the first episodes were filled with. Well, it’s expected because you can’t go through all the season only increasing the speed (unless you are Baccano). The amount of the explanations of the technical skating stuff was quite high but it’s probably better than to have it on a more serious episode with some stakes and concentration of the viewers needed. I think the most memorable things this time were the introduction of two new characters who don’t seem to be that important after all and the continuation of the yaoi theme. If one of the main pair would be a girl I would almost take a bet on anything that the show is a romance and the two of them will certainly end up together. Now I’m not sure and feel a bit confused – are these scenes still only a tease and fanservice (manservice) or are there any serious intentions? The name of the song I could hardly call perfect. Everything it reminded me of is a proverb of my country that translated sounds “cow on ice” and means “bull in a China shop”.

Fune wo Amu (Ep. 3)

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    I have a mixed feeling about the episode. To think that a grown man (as immature in some aspects as he is) would think he fell in love only after a minute or so of a conversation is a bit far-fetched. Not to mention that other people with decades of life experience also would want to play such a childish game and take Majime’s confusion as something real. That’s what I can expect and partly tolerate in a high-school drama series but come on, I think every character should be grown out of that phase already. Some random news about the future of the dictionary being threatened isn’t the most original way to move the plot forward. Now let’s move to the good stuff – the soundtrack was as amazing as always and the beginning of the episode was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve seen this season – the close up shot of the yawning cat was unexpected and inventive and Majime’s “conversation” with Kaguya as well as his walk, including bowing to the lamp post after slamming into it didn’t let me lose a smile on my face. There have been tons of shy anime characters but this one shines with sincerity and that as well as well-handled writing of the scene made up for a very entertaining moment.

The Versatile Blogger Award

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I’m  very delighted to be able to celebrate being nominated for the Versatile Blogger award. I feel very touched and humbled that the stuff I write is able to reach other people.

Huge thanks to Kyra who runs a very inviting and interesting blog KYRA DESU YO! and here mainly does an in-depth analysis of various names of anime characters. As someone who hardly knows any Japanese (besides some obligatory b-b-baka and nani?!!!!) I’ve been having a very fascinating experience being able to understand what the names of the characters mean, especially since the names are not usually given at random by the creators and knowing their meaning can give just another touch to the character of, well, the character. Thanks again, Kyra!

Well, personally I don’t consider myself a very versatile in blogging as now the Attic usually is filled with weekly thoughts about the episodes of currently airing anime and an occasional (yes, I would very much like to become much more consistent) review of a full show or film. Well, I’m quite happy to write everything I do but I hope to escape from these types of posts a few times in the future if all other stuff I have to do beside watching anime will be going well.

Anyway, as the rules of being nominated require, here are some random facts about me:

  1. My real name (that being not Aldael) in my native language is composed of two words meaning “hope” and “mind”.
  2. I usually tend to be quite pedantic – a double-check or a triple-check (and afterwards still worrying if everything is alright and done as precisely as possible or in need of some correction ) in many aspects of life is just how I am.
  3. I have absolutely no idea how to dance. Proper dancing is beyond me (maybe I have two left legs or something) and for now I have no intention to amend this. In casual parties I just end up doing something between copying others and moving with the mindset of “whatever”. Now that I wrote it I’m embarrassed.
  4. I found anime only about 2 years ago. Before that I managed to stay away from it (somehow I even didn’t find things like Dragon Ball that interesting) thinking that it was just something weird, Japanese and there was hardly anything of it that didn’t contain ecchi or hentai, even if I didn’t know the terms at that time. Another thing to be embarrassed of.
  5. I have finished a music school with a pretty random specialty of singing in a choir. I’m familiar with other stuff like music theory and playing the piano as well so it’s quite natural for me to be interested in the anime (and not only anime) OSTs even if I don’t think I can articulate well enough every idea I have. Because of that anime like Nodame Cantabile feel very special to me.
  6. Related to the fact above, my taste in music is rather versatile, encompassing various artists from different time periods – some classical composers (the influence of the music school), some contemporary ones like Phillip Glass or Susumu Hirasawa (Haiiiiyai Forces!!!) and a range of numerous groups – Asian Kung-Fu Generation (OP of Erased), Nightwish, Within Temptation, The Killers, Of Monsters and Men and others.
  7. Probably the biggest my hobby besides anime involves everything associated with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and other material concerning its universe – I’ve even forgotten how many times I’ve read the books or watched the films. As a side remark, I also immensely enjoyed reading A. Sapkowski’s The Witcher series (you know, that of which the games were based of) and to a slightly lesser extent G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (I guess every other person in the planet has read it or watched the show by now).

And finally and probably most importantly, some nominations. I’m afraid I don’t read enough blogs to be able to nominate 10 people but as I gave 7 facts and 7 is a lucky number,  I hope 7 should suffice. So, I nominate these great bloggers for the Versatile Blogger award:

  1. MOKA from monomania fantasia – (sadly) the blog’s currently on hiatus but you should definitely check it out for some impressions on not that mainstream anime or beautiful excerpts from the OSTs.
  2. kindle from Nichi Nichi-chan – a blog that has improved very rapidly as far as I remember to a level that I can only dream of  for now. It always impresses me with keen insights no matter what kind of post I end up reading.
  3. Lethargic Ramblings – a rather new blog that can already boast of mastered style, personality and diverse content – first impressions, lists, rants…
  4. Karandi from 100 Word Anime – I know she has been nominated before but who deserves it better than the most frequent commentator on the Aldael’s Attic whose really productive writings span from series and episode reviews to top 5s and beyond.
  5. Aria Cross (and the Team) from Fujinsei – I simply don’t know what kind of stuff you can’t find on the blog plus Fujinsei Blog Carnival is a great place to find about other anime bloggers.
  6. Ani-Dotes – not that active for some time now but with all hopes in the future it will produce more of the stylishly formatted, well-organized and entertaining content.
  7. Artemis form Otaku Lounge – the blog probably doesn’t need any more recognition but I can’t help it  – since refinement of style and a multitude to various otaku culture related themes covered instantly speak of years spent writing it.

Honorable Nominees, according to the Rules, please do:

  1. Display the award
  2. Thank the person who gave this award (and include a link to their blog)
  3. Share 7 things about yourself and
  4. Nominate (preferably) 10 bloggers

Now I feel guilty about nominating only 7 people. It would be nice if someone would name a blog or two that could use a reader like me. And please don’t be shy – self-advertising is something you can’t escape in this day and age.

Anyway, thanks for everyone who has come to see the Award Ceremony and especially for those who from time to time find a desire to ascend Aldael’s Attic  – this is yours award as much as it is the blog’s – no written thing can have a purpose without someone reading it. So yeah. See you all next time!

Musings and Reflections – Autumn 2016 Week 3

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 2)

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     3-gatsu no Lion disappointed me most of all the second episodes I watched this season. First, the little detail about the lips of the characters remaining off-putting as hell looks to persist throughout the whole show and I’ve no idea how to unsee them. The bigger problem is the inconsistency between the moods of the first two episodes. The first one introduces Rei as a totally, almost suicidally unhappy shut-in without any friends and only playing shogi with some old dudes. Then the sisters as the rescuers appeared and even that felt a bit too contrasting with the first half. Now we see that apparently Rei has all kinds of people who consider themselves as his friends and act like all kinds of comedy relief characters. Rei is demoted from a hikikomori to a slightly unsocial guy (with ugly lips). Maybe it’s my own fault to expect from the series something deeper than just marginally important remarks of Rei’s parents’ death and lots of gags. At least I hope that 3-gatsu no Lion will manage to create some balance between the serious parts and comedic material.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Ep. 3)

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    It‘s hard to say anything about the episode because it was just a set-up for the next part coming the following week. Probably the best part was just getting to see Natori again, a little glimpse of Taki (very brief, but it’s something) and that Matoba guy. In this way everything that was interesting was so purely for the nostalgic reasons. Well, I hope the next episode will pay off for both of them as no further introductions are needed and the hunt for the corrupt exorcist may begin from the first second. As with the previous weeks, even if the whole feel of the show remains very relaxing and, well, iyashikei-like, sometimes I just can do nothing but to be pulled out of it by the desire to see just a bit clearer and sharper lines from animation standpoint and more Nyanko-sensei. So far he has been just a furry running spherical object with only one instance of having to save Natsume (and that happened over a very brief time period). Some funny facial expressions from him are always a welcome treat but it would be nice to see him treated more like a character rather that a mascot of the show.

Yuri!!! on Ice (Ep. 3)

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    If this isn’t an introduction into the yaoi section of anime I honestly don’t know what is. I don’t say that this is something that I’m too bothered with but it just would be satisfying to have not only an anime about an obscure (in anime terms) sport but also to have it without the overarching too obvious objective to please the fujoshis. The sequences of Yurio’s memories and Yuri’s fantasies looked very good – both were exceptional and surreal enough as both of them were mind products. Also it’s interesting that ever-so-stylish-and-colorful Yurio’s memories were monochromatic while quite shy Yuri showed many colors and imaginative figures. The skating part may not have been as polished as in the first episode but it was impressive enough – again the physique of the bodies and character animation is as well conceived as in any show. If Yurio is really leaving for the time being it feels a bit too soon – the chemistry and dynamics between the two skaters as not-quite-friends but not-really-bitter-competitors were very enjoyable.

Fune wo Amu (Ep. 2)

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    Last but not least comes the second episode of Fune wo Amu that was on par with the first one, if not better. I can’t say for sure what it exactly is but I find myself enjoying this show more than any other this season. The animation isn’t something exceptional but probably every other aspect is more or less worth talking about. The soundtrack again is everything I could wish for, the entrance of the new girl was met by my fanboying moment over Maaya Sakamoto’s voice (I think that scene also featured a great overall sound design)… Sure, the theme being making of some dictionary can be thought of as either being too weird or just a bit unusual in order to invoke character interactions in less conventional circumstances. Still, there’s something heartwarming and elevating about people passionately talking about the purpose and works of their lives, even if you start thinking about cracking a smile here and there about quite unusual metaphors between dictionaries and, well, everything else.

Musings and Reflections – Autumn 2016 Week 2

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 1)

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    Just as expected from Shaft, it was a fairly entertaining episode that definitely hooked me. Sure, there have been better starts but the artstyle alone carries a lot of weight, making Sangatsu probably the best looking show I’ve seen this season. However, not all the looks deserve a praise – character designs, to be more specific, their lips, especially when characters are not smiling, look very weird, grumpy and a bit off-putting.  I guess it kind of works with Rei who may deliberately look and behave more elderly than the actual Grandpa in the show because of his internal struggles but I doubt the girls should have the same characteristic. Anyway, that’s probably a little quirk of the show that will just have to be overlooked. The set up may not be the most exciting one but so far it piqued my interest with not that common theme of playing shogi. The relationship between Rei and the girls will probably remain on a level of slice of life with some drama added (and not omitting some comedy that worked surprisingly well). Overall it just looks to be a decent and pretty entertaining anime. Good.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Ep. 2)

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    That was a typical good episode of the show. Even if the quality of the visuals isn’t a thing to talk about, the story just had that special something that manages to tug at one’s heartstrings. It wasn’t something extraordinary but you just can’t not feel some compassion towards the little youkai, especially when the encounter between the man and the youkai proved to mean so much to her and so little to him. This in the context of the show reassures once again how different humans and youkai are, but looking deeper, youkai are people, too or, to put the idea in different words, many youkai of the series can be thought of as humans that are slightly different from the society. Thinking about the episode, it tries to say that you never know how much impact a single gesture or word can have on anyone and it’s those precious moments when two persons tune up together that should be cherished. By the way, in the manuals how to hit on girls a new technique named “Natsume: inquire about the health of her grandpa” should be included.

Yuri!!! on Ice (Ep. 2)

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    It’s probably not unexpected but the show still feels very fresh. I think the mood of the story onwards will resemble this episode a lot more than the first one – this right balance of various character quirks, some humor (even as with the first episode some of it wasn’t the funniest thing ever) and generally slice of life atmosphere can carry the show for a long time and keep everything fairly exciting. The pacing also must be mentioned among the positives – everything just keeps happening in a way that doesn’t let you be bored but at the same time persistently pushes the story forward. Character animation remains one of the strongest points since that adds a lot to the realism (bodies moving with enough inertia for example is just a joy to watch) and thus balances the comedy scenes. Having two characters that are basically the opposites in every possible aspect and getting them to compete for the same goal is a very wise way of ensuring character growth and just the movement of the story. Well, everything probably sounds more positive than it should but on the other hand, Yuri!!! on Ice deserves it justly.

Fune wo Amu (Ep. 1)

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    You probably couldn’t get more niche in anime than thinking up a story about making a dictionary. Nonetheless, the episode was surprisingly enjoyable. Yes, the animation wasn’t always the best I’ve seen and certainly could have used more FPS but otherwise at first glance such a boring theme did get me interested. One of the best aspects of the show looks to be the soundtrack. Yoshihiro Ike who has worked on Karas and Ergo Proxy just knows how enhance the atmosphere, how to accompany certain scenes and what to do when the music becomes the main focus. Also I was simply amazed how many brilliant Vas the show managed to get – listening to Maaya Sakamoto (Shiki from Kara no Kyoukai), Hiroshi Kamiya (Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou) and Takahiro Sakurai (Griffith in Berserk) is just a feast for ears. Clearly, that’s just a lot of potential and the visuals may be the limiting factor for the realization of all the possibilities but so far Fune wo Amu certainly and deservedly piqued my interest.

Musings and Reflections – Autumn 2016 Week 1

Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Ep. 1)

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     Ah, that brings so many memories! Looks like this season will explore the past of Reiko and her relationship with Natsume’s grandfather. I can only approve of that and second that it is probably one of the more interesting aspects of the story that still hasn’t received enough attention. Recalling production quality of 91 Days I can sadly confirm that animation will not be the main selling point of this show but hopefully the stories will compensate for that more than enough. Getting Aimer to sing the ED also looks like a big deal. Shame that ED’s visuals are lacking. Overall it looks like for people already engrossed in the story of Natsume it will be at least a decent experience. Visuals may not be the strongest part of the show but well, they never have been. This particular story wasn’t the most interesting compared to others from the past but it solidly reintroduced the characters and set up the road for the future. As it’s the only anime this season that I picked without any thoughts I certainly hope it will do well. At least, it has every mean to do that. Yes, nostalgia may boost the value of the series higher than it truly deserves but 4 seasons of constantly good delivery speak for itself.

Yuri!!! on Ice (Ep. 1)

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     I wonder how many people similarly to myself at first misunderstood the title. Say what you will but it much more resembles a possible yaoi and not yuri. Anyway, it was truly memorable first episode and not only because ice skating is not such a usual sport. The director previously has made an episode (Ep. 28) in Nihon Animator Mihonichi and it also featured ice skating. Then as well as now the quality of the animation is quite stunning. I’m not sure if the story will turn out to be as good, not all of the humor works well on me nor do I qualify for the apparent target audience but the sheer beauty of the visuals as well as my country’s flag appearing among others in the background during Victor’s performance is more than enough to make me stick along. It looks like in general Yuri!!! on Ice will be more or less a typical sports anime with competitions, rivalry and possible friendship between the main three ice skaters near the end.

Musings and Reflections – end of Summer 2016

The season overall proved to be an ok one. Some shows I liked more, some less, but there wasn’t any that would have made me regret time spent watching. On the other hand, the season didn’t provide any masterpieces. ReLife and Mob Psycho 100 will probably receive my attention some time later as well as Berserk but this one will have to wait a lot more since I’m still catching up with the manga before I’m ready to complete the old series and then move to the new. Now, turning to the watched shows…

Orange

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    I still remember with joy how energetically the show opened my summer season – a very catchy (will come back to this later on) OP, some mystery motives, quite distinctive usage of colors (occasionally washed out scenery (like in Steins;Gate and that’s no wonder since both of the shows share the same director) and extensive green tones everywhere)… Many of the positives remained for the whole show, also Orange managed to create a sense of a very realistic group of friends whose actions between themselves just speak of warmth, trust and just joy of being together. Sadly the studio that made Orange wasn’t that prepared to tackle all the problems – many times production flaws were very visible, lack of more frequent sakuga or pretty easily noticeable CG elements didn’t help either. The story as far as it concerned the relationships between the characters was very enjoyable but the mystery aspect that depended on some sci-fi premises felt very out of place. Where Orange tried, it did well but other times the show could look surprisingly bad. By the way, as far as I understand, the title of the show doesn’t have pretty much any connection with the show itself. Weird.

Tales of Zestiria the X 

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    Oh, Ufotable. Probably much of the budged of the show was spent to put some salt called ‘CG dragons’ in the wound of studio Deen. As it’s the custom of the studio, there’s little that can be criticized about the production. Still, 3D backgrounds didn’t feel that connected with the 2D characters, especially during some early episodes. Yes, everything was beautiful and technically stunning but it’s hard to immerse completely when flat and not flat objects try to convince you that they can belong to the same space. That aside, the story felt not the most impressive and many times reminded me of a standard RPG with characters fighting, walking, talking, doing some other stuff and then repeating everything all over again. I’m not sure that the writers chose the most appropriate way of adapting the original game. Many things got only a small touch of light and you just feel the need of playing the game to know something for sure – the world is vast but getting only hints doesn’t always bring satisfaction. Also, the insertion of a part that was basically the new Berseria game advertisement certainly didn’t help the pacing, overall story or anything else.

Tales of Zestiria the X  receives the award of most impressive scenery of the season. How else.

Amaama to Inazuma 

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    To summarize everything into two words, the show was just a recipe book. It sounds very unfair to demand some action from a slice of life show but Amaama to Inazuma just didn’t dare to stray from its comfort zone. Exploration of the relationship between a father and a daughter sounds good, some life wisdom sprinkled here and there each episode also makes the show more appealing, introducing the viewers to the Japanese cuisine and showing how to prepare the meals again is a positive but when you do only the same stuff for the whole season, want it or not, it becomes painfully repetitive and boring. Even if it’s a slice of life show I’d like some uncertainty about  the next episode, some unexpected events or just the change of the setting. When everything happens over and over again without anything substantial changing, I have to point out that even a slice of real life doesn’t always act according to all your plans and expectations.

91 Days

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     So, the final show of the season but certainly not the least enjoyable. Generally 91 Days is The Godfather: The Animation come into being with some flavor of J.R.R.Martin’s “everyone dies” mindset. Even if it’s possible to define the anime using very little words, watching it proved to be a very rewarding experience. Studio Shuka might not be the one you think about when asked about highest production values (and it certainly showed), the characters tended to be immersed into themselves and rarely showed their true thoughts and intentions but part from that I hardly have anything to complain about. The feeling of a real life when you don’t know for sure which characters are going to survive a single episode felt refreshing, various mind games, even if sometimes lacking a more personal approach usually looked enjoyable enough, the soundtrack gave just the right atmosphere of jazzy prohibition era. The show probably wasn’t the most visually stunning but its setting and stories proved to be more novel and entertaining than many other anime.

91 Days receives the award of the most memorable character of the season, that being Mr. Fango – the spiritual brother of Ladd Russo is very distinct from the entire cast of the show as well as the whole season. You just can’t be any more extravagant and quirky, especially when it comes to food being offered to your guests. If that’s not enough, 91 Days receives the awards of favorite OST  and favorite anime of the season. I guess if you kinda like something, you like it whole.

     Favorite OP not without competition was that of Orange. Contrary to the show actually providing some animation as well as giving energetic, youthful and joyful impression proved to be enough for me to eagerly await it every episode and hum along. OP of Tales of Zestiria the X also had a very catchy song but I take some minimalism rather than a bunch of random action stuff, as cool as it was.


     91 Days would get a favorite ED award but after thinking a bit I decided to trash that away – the shows OP is much more memorable, setting the mood well and giving some insight into the mischievous dealings of the mafia world and unexpectedly changing allegiances. If I didn’t try to like Orange as much as I did, 91 days could have had a total musical victory over the other shows.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2016 Week 13

Orange (Ep. 13)

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   No surprises this time – the stakes were as high as ever, Kakeru’s life depended on a single moment but it turned out that a long labor and persistence can change even the worst future – everything that have been building up since the start of the show, all the relationships, all the chemistry between the group proved to be crucial for the end result and the story ended in a predictable but nonetheless satisfying way. It’s probably for the best – not the most impressive but well executed ending is far better than half-baked experimental one.  At least as far as the new timeline goes. All the stuff with the letters remained the weakest part but leaving that plot device aside it was a rewarding show. Naho’s (and everyone else’s) courage and care for Kakeru during the last crucial moments were so much more endearing recalling all the growth during all the season. Orange wasn’t the best anime ever, but nonetheless for me it was certainly enjoyable.

Tales of Zestiria the X (Ep. 12)

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    Once again the episode felt like it had too much story to tell and too little time to do that properly. We got a fight, everything was wrapped up, new goals (for the second season) were set but was it an impressive episode? Not really. Sure, Alisha’s scene when she finally saw the Seraphim was a good one, knowing how much she has craved for the coexistence, the animation was as good as always but overall it was just another episode of a decent but not that outstanding show. Somehow I kept remembering Fate series – the boss looked like Berserker and Alisha with Sorey formed a contract not that dissimilar from that of the Type-Moon blockbuster. Well, I still have no idea what that contract will change. Also, I’m not too happy in general since the magic powers don’t seem to be defined in any way so without any limitations it’s hard to tell when the stakes are really high. I guess every single complaint points into the necessity of having played the game.

91 Days (Ep. 12)

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     Probably it was a very fitting ending to the series. The conclusion that even after almost fully executed revenge you don’t really get anything but rather lose some dear people, future prospects and goals was natural and Angelo’s death (I think he died though there possibly can be other interpretations) proved that and showed the meaninglessness of the existence with all the ties cut and precious people wiped out. The soundtrack (except the insertion of the ED that felt a bit out of place) once again enriched the atmosphere and the last track paired with the animation of waves felt like a very satisfying ending, maintaining the mood of the last minutes of the show while also giving you enough space to ponder about everything that happened. Somehow after finishing everything I feel rather melancholic about the show rather than feeling some pity or sorrow – many characters invited their tragic fate themselves and, as sad as it is, karma works.