Musings and Reflections – Spring 2017 Week 4

Re:Creators (Ep. 3)

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      I’m getting an idea that the antagonist girl just might be created by the main guy. Or at least someone that he will draw later on will make an appearance. Otherwise the main guy remains utterly pointless. On itself the episode was rather low-key, though there were some interesting ideas here and there. Another café exposition scene is a bit tiring. Another one, examining the possibilities of changing Selesia’s character specifications felt far more dynamic, though too much talking (especially endless explanations of Meteora) was apparent. The failure to make a change was logical since no one knows exactly how world remodeling should work and being successful form the start would be more than lucky. And that’s the main good thing about the show (well, apart from offering an excellent waifu material) – blundering in the dark with no idea what is happening, how and why, trying to get some answers, but it’s not given that the characters will succeed immediately. Little details like Selesia complaining about the lack of smells in her world because the author didn’t think of using the sense that much are always welcome. I guess next time Meteora will meet her creator who looks to be some plump man from the ED. Some screentime for the horse lady would be useful. Or just for anything that would remove some fog from everything that’s happening.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 16)

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      During the episode I was inclined to think everything was very beautiful but the anticlimactic ending undermined much of its actual significance in terms of the grand story. The change of the setting was a good idea since the school grounds naturally have already been explored much. I can’t say Lotte’s place and its surroundings were fleshed out at least a bit but just the fact of getting away from the school is refreshing. Patience and ability to retain a cool head truly is something that Akko lacks very much so a development in this direction could’ve been expected. Akko had to accomplish many tiring stuff but to be frank it didn’t seem that much more than anything else Akko had to do in order to pay for her rashness in the school. Patience during all this long day was only mentioned and even if applied, then only to be played down as a joke, so even if Akko actually learned something, it wasn’t emphasized as much as it should have been and the acquisition of the word looked more than easy compared to all others. This time Akko just had to move her legs and sadly thinking or mental strain just wasn’t necessary. The comedy on the other hand was more a hit than a miss, so overall that’s certainly not the worst episode of LWA.

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Ep. 3)

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      It’s always good to see characters of previous stories return, even if I can’t say I remember much about Shibata, to be frank. I might be mistaken, but it looks like Shibata doesn’t really have close enough friends for whom he could be able to tell about his own youkai business. If that’s true, it works as another affirmation that Natsume has grown a lot and even surpassed another youkai-seeing person who on the surface looks very outgoing but actually lacks a special person who would be able to listen to his  more intimate experiences. Thinking further Natsume is really an amazing character – despite being looked down for so long he has overcome it without becoming sullen, closed in and angry about everything. He managed to make some more than decent friends, and find a way to speak to pretty much every youkai or at least to deal with them. I guess even Natori (who looks to come back next time) and all the Matobas lack that. Shibata was able to form a relationship with a youkai, but ultimately it didn’t end that well, so the guy was probably left a bit more cautious about his own dealings with youkai and speaking his feelings to others, while Natsume was lucky to find Nyanko-sensei. It also speaks of the charm of Natsume since even that selfish cat wasn’t able to withstand the attractiveness of the pure, honest and caring kid.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 4)

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      I wonder if every little Japanese town has a dude who constructs exoskeletons. And some kids who decide that combining that with traditional wood carvings might be something cool. Well, when you get invested into something and really believe what you‘re doing, it‘s not easy to look at everything from the perspective of someone totally unrelated and see that some ideas might not be really great. Anyway, out of all the shows this season Sakura Quest speaks to me the most. The manju selling part wasn’t very easy by itself, but it feels very realistic that when the ideas are also needed the hard part starts, and then not everything may be accomplished only by enthusiasm. As with everything else in the town people want their beloved art to remain traditional and unchanged, and no possible change seems to be satisfying. It’s just the same idea that only sticking to the past may look good for now but in the long run you have to change something in order to survive no matter how painful that may be. Ending the episode on a sad note again emphasized that coming up with good ideas isn’t the most easy job in the world. Sanae looks to be upset realizing that not everything goes as smoothly as it should and just moving to the country doesn’t necessarily solve all of her problems. Enough emotional material, some relatable ideas, over the top new guy and remaining question what the girls will do – what else could I wish from as enjoyable show as Sakura Quest is?

Tsuki ga Kirei (Ep. 4)

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    The adventure of textbook romance continues just like expected. And what is a textbook romance without some misunderstandings (with even a hint of envy) that actually were integrated pretty well? Just it feels very weird that Japanese students aren’t allowed to bring their cell phones during school trips. Or does it count only for the train ride and during the night? Well, I’d say that during such trips cell phones might become more useful than ever if for example someone gets lost. Maybe the Japanese know better. Crowd scenes with too apparent CG people could’ve been done worse, and the fact that Akane’s friends are actually considerate without being too pushy is another plus as is the lack of heavy melodrama. Sure, the misunderstandings were blown up but it’s good to see that people who are able to text each other quite realistically also don’t start a ruckus with crying and shouting before sorting everything out. Still there’s a long way to go, and the visuals clearly tell that – even if the transient rain stopped as the couple reconciled, there’s still a tree behind them that parts their worlds. But the two lovable idiots are as close to the tree as possible, so the barrier might not last that long.

Scattered Thoughts – laughing at Kite Liberator

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     Western audiences seem to enjoy an OVA from 1998 called Kite. Technically, it’s a hentai, but there exists a shorter version (approximately 45 min long compared to 60 min) that has all that risky stuff cut out. The shorter version somehow ended up being on Crunchyroll, and there’s where I watched it, so don’t expect me to talk anything about hentai stuff. Just for the record, as far as I know from little research, plotwise (not “plot”-wise) the shorter version is as good, and might even be better without mostly unnecessary 15 additional minutes. Well, it depends on your view towards hentai, but that’s not the aspect I want to discuss now.

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     It’s plain to see why Kite managed to earn some fan-following. There’s a certain charm that 80s and 90s OVAs have – that of dark settings, lots of violence, and, in this case, girls with guns. The animation itself with its roughness gives a nostalgic feeling, something distinct form that lighter computer-enhanced art nowadays. And Kite in all these respects feels very much a child of its time, especially knowing that certainly not all old OVAs were good. The idea of having an assassin girl stuck with some pretty bad people might have been developed into something meaningful, but Kite rather spends time for the content that got deleted in the shorter version. Certainly the OVA doesn’t just state the fact “the protagonist Sawa is a killer” and illustrate it with buckets of blood – there’s some stuff to make you think, but in the very end I don’t find it that satisfactory. Why a girl that can shred her opponents to pieces would do nothing and keep getting used in all sorts of ways for some years only to rebel at a random moment? It might have been an interesting character study, but Kite doesn’t bother to offer the slightest idea what really happens in Sawa’s head.

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And then, 10 years later, there comes a sequel of sorts. Kite Liberator is another OVA, also about an hour-long, but its essence is completely different from its predecessor. Well, I might end up only reciting all the weird plot elements, but as there’s little to talk about characters or themes and I don’t recommend watching it in the first place, I guess it’ll be fine. The director Yasuomi Umetsu probably wanted to make the sequel more diverse to capture more audiences, and in the true 80s and 90s fashion he chose to add some space adventures as well as some cute girls because that’s what people like now. You won’t be the first to question whether space and assassin girls really complement each other that well, but apparently at the time nobody objected.

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     Going on a little tangent, the animation actually might be the best part of the OVA. Some CG space stuff was so incredibly animated that it can easily best many anime projects that use CG even now, almost 10 years later. Even a Hollywood production might get away using something of this caliber. 2D stuff also most of times worked well, action scenes were done at least competently, though for instance two guys shooting at each other dozens of bullets while being completely unshielded and not even grazing one another is a bit annoying. The character designs are clearly aimed at being as moe as possible and it was also more or less a success. On the other hand, there are some definitely weird cuts that feel like they came from a completely different decade compared to the incredible CG.

Excerpt from Kite Liberator; animation by Keita Matsumoto

     But most of times it’s not the animation that the sequel fails at. As a successor to Kite, the later OVA also features a killer girl, and one that looks somewhat similar to Sawa of the original. Sadly, Monaka of Kite Liberator doesn’t have even the implied depth of Sawa. Can an assassin that appears at the right second to save someone from getting killed be taken seriously knowing that other times she dons her dojikko personality and trips and stumbles and falls down a lot while playing a good student as well as a part-time employee at a maid café? Does killing people during spare time and getting embarrassed over being asked on a date by a policeman twice as old seem normal? There’s a scar shown on Monaka’s back while she changes (the only scene to feature the tiniest bit of nakedness), but that as well as the key question of why did Monaka became a killer in the first place never gets any explanation or even a slightest mention at all.

Excerpt from Kite Liberator

     All the maid stuff and playing clumsy has some charm, and some credit definitely should be given for that because in its own right the cuteness and some light comedy aren’t the worst. But does it mix with assassin stuff well? Definitely not, as neither the space stuff does. In its own right it feels a bit ridiculous, but that’s only the top of an iceberg. It’s known that zero gravity and just the general conditions in a space station affect human physiology, causing some bone and muscle atrophies among other things. So that’s no surprise that some special food forms are being developed to counter that. And then there’s the best part – some specially enhanced curry, paired with the effects of solar radiation have a pretty bad effect – some crew members transform into giant bony killing machines! It just happens that one of them is in fact Monaka’s father! And, of course, he ends up travelling back on Earth only to meet his daughter who has been instructed to kill that weird monster! She succeeds in the end, but wait, no, the dad regenerates, and… that’s the end. Oh boy…

Excerpt from Kite Liberator; animation by Nozomu Abe

     I don’t even have the words to explain how weird, nonsensical and laughable this mess of Kite Liberator really is. The ideas on their own can work, as the original Kite has more or less shown, but one can only guess what food poisoning made the creators make such a mishmash of a plot, mixing every possible idea that can be “cool”. Kite Liberator  for me doesn’t make the slightest sense no matter how I think about it. Also, why name such a project a sequel to the original Kite in the first place? The only thing that connects them is a gun both Sawa and Monaka use. It can be argued that a coworker of Monaka might actually be Sawa, and one policeman also might be a certain reappearing guy but that’s just a random theory from someone who believes that a project and its sequel should have some common points even if they have absolutely no effect on the story.

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     Kite Liberator is one of its kind, and thank goodness that it’s only one. I don’t deem its predecessor particularly good but this OVA is just ridiculous. Watch it only if you aren’t afraid to lose an hour of your life in exchange of the possibility to get some laughs at how incompetent a story can be.

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2017 Week 3

Re:Creators (Ep. 1)

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      According to the general opinion, it’s not the worst show, so I guess it’s worth starting watching it. And, well, it’s certainly cool. To be frank, Sawano’s soundtrack (even if it’s generic Sawano) could make peeling potatoes the most exciting work in the world. And the best part is that other elements also work rather fine. The main guy is a generic one beyond hope, but as Selesia steals the show instantly becoming waifu material, so the lack of male lead so far is not a big problem. The mechanics of anything that’s happening doesn’t make much sense, and technobabble doesn’t help either, but that can be seen as an illustration of the confusion of the main guy. Still, how Selesia can still fly is beyond me. Isn’t she now just a normal girl with a weird outfit (and good physical abilities, but that’s not the point)? Now there’s only hope that everything will be sorted out somehow. Anyway, the animation was on par with Sawano’s abilities, though knowing the studio it’s a bit of a worry whether the quality will be retained. Somehow I was really fascinated by the cut where the camera follows the train crossing barrier and the world turns around as well as another cut where the main guy’s glasses cover a part of the first-person view.

Re:Creators (Ep. 2)

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      Not as charming as the first one, obviously, but good enough. The flow of the story doesn’t seem smooth. There’s lots of just talking, not to mention an exposition scene in a café, but some obligatory action is also there. I don’t know why exactly every problem must be resolved through fighting, but maybe that’s just the mentality of Mamika. I can’t deny that seeing her realize that some worlds are harsher than others was a very pleasant moment. Some of the mahou shoujo and the like just have their problems solved too effortlessly. This idea of character ideals and ways of life clashing is an interesting one, and if elaborated, could become a really good character drama, but that looks extremely unlikely. 22 episodes seem like a lot of time, but even now I’m questioning whether having all this huge pile of characters in the OP is a wise thing. Sure, the possibilities are endless, but the road to satisfaction is narrow. Anyway, how is it possible not to be able to tidy a room with some magic, but casting huge shields, flying all other the place and exploding things in the manner of Megumin look like a natural thing? So yeah, there’s WcDonald’s, MgRonald’s, and now even YcDonald’s. What’s next?

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 15)

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      When a character gets so excited in a fight that there’s a need to change the hair color, it means business. It was nice to finally see Chariot as she’s now, and her confrontation with the statues was spectacular, but does really anybody not give a damn that there are teachers fighting in the school property and someone will have to pay for the damage? Jokes aside, the infodump didn’t really give anything that we haven’t already known, that is the need to rekindle the 7 words to restore the magic as it was of old. Such an exposition probably was inevitable, but it’s not the most informative one. When you think about it, it’s very interesting how many common points can be found between Akko, Diana, Chariot and Croix and that there’s almost inexhaustible amount of ways you can pair them two by two. For example, Both Diana and Croix were good at learning, Diana and Chariot had a natural talent, Akko and Chariot want entertainment, Croix and Chariot are condemned for their advances, Akko and  Croix are all for modern stuff as well as innovations and so on, and so on, and so on. By the way, Croix would make a good protagonist of a spin-off series. Or maybe Trigger really has a secret idea to make a prequel about Croix and Chariot? Would watch it.

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Ep. 2)

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Compared to the last episode and generally everything we know Natsume is capable of, this one felt a bit bland. It wasn’t bad, but I just couldn’t keep my mind from wandering randomly everywhere around, for example pondering what would happen if Natsume and Azumanga Daioh would pair up. The story in the end proved to have that little nostalgic something that has been the heart of the show for so long, but there were other things not that expected. It’s correct that sometimes it’s better not to get involved with youkai, but Natsume seemed to be out of his usual character – a guy who always runs to help everyone around pushing others to do the work isn’t exactly what I would define Natsume as. The two comic relief youkai are standard at this point, but having Hinoe join them undermined her lady-like character, so that’s another nitpick. On the other hand, Nyanko-sensei is more active this season, and even if it’s mostly for comical reasons, the jokes play out pretty well, so getting more screen time for one of the principal characters of the show is always a good idea. The neon flowers were really beautiful.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 3)

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      Well, I think I’m positive that I like the show. The story remains episodic, but it’s nice to see that past events have an effect on the present, just like Yoshino saying it’s manju she loves about Manoyama. The whole notion that the rural communities are dying but every attempt to change something is seen as too radical reminds me of my own country’s problems. Truly the people in their hearts would like to change something, to rekindle the life further from the big cities, but majority of them end up thinking that it’s too bothersome and everything should be alright for the time being, and the future will take care of itself. Speaking about apparent fools, that painter/musician guy is being set up as a pretty mysterious and probably important character. Somehow I get the feeling that the mayor (or whatever is the position of this main old guy) will end up being with Riri’s grandma. Or that at least they have quite an interesting common history. Yoshino’s attempts to understand people and get working as well as her motivational speech added some nice and much needed details to her character, but still the best part about her is her facial expressions.

Tsuki ga Kirei (Ep. 3)

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    Ah, first world problems – knowing how to talk with your crush only digitally and getting absolutely flustered face to face… The episode felt extremely slow, but considering that there’s a confession already, it has moved to the point that some shows reach only after a 2 cour struggle. Maybe it’s implied that there were many more conversations between our couple, but still it looks a bit fast to ask out a girl you have noticed only recently and know very little about. Oh well, maybe it’s just teens and their way of doing things. Last time I said that the show certainly isn’t done by KyoAni and the like, and now some scenes further confirm that. Fingers while texting could’ve used a bit more FPS, people jumping during the track training session look like they have no mass, even the final conversation between Akane and Curly could’ve used some polishing (though more than usual character acting is always a good thing, and this time it was soloed by Ryo Araki). To return to the story, now’s the time for the show to reveal its true intentions, since up to this point everything has been pretty standard. With the confession spoken, and both Akane and Curly also being possible romantic targets from the perspective of others finally the time should come to see whether this show will manage to distinguish itself from any other romance anime.

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2017 Week 2

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 14)

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    That was terrific. The second cour has officially started, and everything’s as good as there ever has been. The OP was surprisingly low-key and just not that memorable, but the ED by Masanobu Hiraoka fully compensated for that by its minimalistic smoothness. The story also advanced rather far by the shows standards. It looks like the main theme of the previous cour – Akko trying to get recognized as a suitable witch – will leave the pedestal for the conflict between the old magic and the new. If it wasn’t clear from the OP, Croix herself showed that she’ll be the main antagonist, but it would’ve been way more interesting if her role wasn’t revealed in such an explicitly boring way. The show so far managed to go on with only slice of life stuff, but it’s great to finally have an antagonist, and one that is able to oppose both Chariot (on a personal level as well as in a fight for the affections of one clumsy witch) and Akko, whose being easily swayed proved to be quite funny and also good for the plot reasons. I guess it would make an interesting dynamic to pit Croix with Akko against Chariot and Diana. Anyway, it was already past time to introduce something new and exciting, and such wonderful world-building ideas like technological magic or a strike by the fairies probably could’ve been introduced much earlier. I guess it’s rather clear that Akko will revive the remaining words and traditions ultimately will win against new technologies, though knowing LWA a kind of symbiotic ending (though with the traditions still in a better position) wouldn’t be totally unexpected. Anyway, the gears finally are turning, and doing that in the right direction.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 2)

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    If everything will go on just as this week, I’ll be quite satisfied. Yet, probably not much more than that – the show is quite pleasant, but it doesn’t have that punch, that goal in the far horizon that everyone must reach. Sure, being a queen comes with problems, but some larger story and not just episodic running in a circle would be appreciated. On the other hand, the mood is very consistent, the jokes are more or less nailed, the girls start to develop chemistry. It was a good idea to set up characters with very contrasting personalities, but they still need to bond more in order to be able to play off of each other. The personalities of Shiori (cute, fluffy and motherly one), Maki (pessimistically realistic, cool and skillful one) and Riri (individualistic deadpan loli) are already defined and not likely to change. Yoshino still needs to develop into someone more than just “normal” and we’ve seen only glimpses of the IT girl’s true colors. Out of the story I find it a bit hard to believe how easy it was for Yoshino to postpone (indefinitely) her plans to return to Tokyo knowing how much she wanted that. Well, so far there isn’t much going on, but the table is set and the figures can start moving.

Tsuki ga Kirei (Ep. 2)

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    The show certainly won’t be the pinnacle of sakuga. Despite of that, what it is capable of doing, it does rather well. It’s actually quite surprising that something like a sports event that countless romcoms have done and exploited in every possible way in this show doesn’t feel that redundant. Sure, in itself it’s nothing ground breaking, but just following a normal route without twists and turns doesn’t occur that much nowadays. Curly’s obsession with Dazai reminded me of my recent Aku no Hana experience. It’s impossible that Tsuki ga Kirei will venture at least half as far, but it seems like teens fascinated by literature that probably is beyond their mental reach is a thing. If I needed to summarize the characters and their actions into one single word, it’d be “embarrassment”. It seems weird how people can get uncomfortable about slightest details and more or less meaningless situations. On the other hand, I can’t deny that I see a bit of my younger self in Curly and Akane, and it’s funny, embarrassing and even nostalgic. The short stories in the end on the other hand weren’t worth anything.

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Ep. 1)

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     I think at this point Natsume could get away with almost anything, considering the almost inexhaustible supply of brownie points the show has amassed over its surprisingly long existence. And I’m not saying that because I disliked the episode, or anything. On the contrary, this time also increases the endless supply, providing Natsume at its best – showing how beautiful human connections can be. Tanuma, Taki and  little Natsume seem like they could be a family of their own, and I actually would offer much to be able to see a spin-off about that. Well, for me any second with Taki in is golden. Nyanko-sensei was responsible for an unusually high concentration of actually funny jokes, and, what’s more, he finally starts to get involved as a character and not only as a mascot, which was quite a problem last season. But yeah, the perfect iyashikei feeling has already returned after a holiday, the show is on its own refined, tested and approved track. I wasn’t even aware how much did I miss such simple but effective and heartwarming moments. Weirdly, now I feel both especially excited about the upcoming episodes and at the same time very sad because it means that now I already have one episode less to watch.

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2017 Week 1

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 13)

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     I wouldn’t call this episode anything spectacular among other things LWA has already shown. Even if the ideas this week mostly were iterations of the past, a certain charm of them can’t be denied. It feels a bit strange that Diana even after getting to know Akko fairly well still accuses her of running away. Akko can ruin many things, but only because of her clumsiness and inexperience but never because she lacks motivation. This character dynamic may be necessary to keep such mini conflicts coming, but status quo never has been very interesting. Diana as sort-of-a-villain (because there’s hardly anyone else suitable for that role) Does her job alright, but it’d be interesting to see her finally getting from her high horse and having fun with other girls. Sakuga moments were nice enough, but the story continues to rely on episodic adventures. Maybe at this point I should be content with that, but the wish to see something more profound that probably isn’t even possible to produce for a TV series leaves me wanting something more. Once again, who was the smartass to suggest using “Badcock” as a suitable surname?

Sakura Quest (Ep. 1)

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    As probably everybody else, I expected Shirobako 2.0. And what can I say, it’s not 2.0, but 1.5 could be a decent estimate. The episode didn’t pass in a blink of an eye, but the general slice-of-life-ish atmosphere was pleasant enough. The idea in general to bring a story to more rural parts of the country may play out well, as there should be many opportunities to introduce weird people and even weirder situations. Everyone has seen plenty of anime about life in Tokyo, but shows like Flying Witch bring something new and rather unseen. On the other hand I’ve no idea what exactly Yoshino will have to do, as the possibility of receiving some tourists seems to be close to zero, so it’s still too early to have a good grasp about a show. Occasional humor works fine, Yoshino’s facial expressions are varied and well-timed. It will be interesting to see Yoshino change and probably grow out of explicitly calling herself more than a normal person. Props for already making joke of that, Sakura Quest. On a side note, I realized that I don’t like pink hair. Probably because of that I’m far more interested in Shiori than Yoshino. Weird.

Tsuki ga Kirei (Ep. 1)

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     Everything went pretty much as expected. I can’t say this was the most incredible episode ever, but as a low-key entertainment it kinda works. To see going to the basics and avoiding any complications, enhancements or twists that are now always added to a romance series to make it more interesting feels a bit refreshing, even if the end result is clearly seen right from the start. The artstyle as well as the soundtrack promise a very slice-of-life-ish show, and I’m content with that. Of course the first episode of anything tries its hardest to grab the attention, but if the basic level of everything will be retained, it’ll be a nice and little feel-good anime. There are things to be desired – some students walking can’t deny their CG origin, during the first scene with the girls talking the cuts were extremely fast and confusing, the overall level of embarrassment experienced by the main pair might be a little too high, but I’d rather take the classical romance instead of any stuffed production that deliberately inserts overused tropes. This show on the other hand feels genuine, and even if I can’t say I’m going places because of it, it should prove entertaining enough.

Musings and Reflections – end of Winter 2017

     Probably a bit late because I was completely immersed into that huge triple post about Inio Asano, but anyway. Somehow I ended up watching way more series this season than usually mainly because there was so many second seasons. And more times than not everything went as expected – dull series remained dull, great ones continued to impress. Out of unwatched stuff Maidragon found a way into my watchlist rather quickly, Demi-chan also might be a mild slice of life fun. And I still can’t fathom how it’s possible that more people watched Hand Shakers than Rakugo

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017)

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     It’s not even over yet, but I guess I can at least partially wrap everything up since huge changes are very unlikely . I can call Zestiria one word – mediocre. The first season at least introduced the world and began the journey, but here the story at first didn’t even move and ultimately reached the final battle in a more or less bland way. Rose and Alisha kinda got their developments but in the grand scale of things it hasn’t been important. Who liked them from the start will still like them and vice versa. Sorey remains a protag-kun with an idea that you absolutely mustn’t kill regardless of the circumstances. I guess he’s just been lucky enough not to become burned because of his ideals. Yet. The world sometimes looks interesting and there are hints of mythology and other stuff but that just either is constructed not that firmly or (which is more likely) the show just doesn’t have the will and time to dig deeper and explore the themes that would certainly have enriched the story. Visuals are the part where I can ramble the least, but in the end I don’t think the super clean and almost sterile artstyle with lots and lots of CG (that actually improved over time) is my favorite. The “X” in the title didn’t have any meaning this season, but knowing what was done in the first one, it’s for the better. So yeah, pretty disappointing, though not unexpected.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) receives the award of the most impressive scenery of the season because 3-gatsu got it last time and LWA doesn’t have Studio Pablo on board.

Little Witch Academia

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     Well, for starters the charm of the original LWA, although still present in the very first episodes, didn’t need much time to pretty much dissipate. It’s not a bad show, but having such strong predecessor isn’t working well for the TV series. You can do only so much with limited resources, pressing timetables and other projects in mind. LWA delved too often for my liking into rather unimportant fairy tale material. Character development (of sorts) is there, there are countless shows with way worse animation, the story now also seems to be starting off, but sadly it’s just incomparable with the original OVA. After the first cour it still feels like we have got hardly anywhere from the very start. I don’t know, it’s a good thing we have something like this, but maybe creating something similar and not trying to recapture the same success would have been a better idea after all.

LWA receives the random award of The Best Thing That Happened Though Probably Shouldn’t Have.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

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     Ultimately I’m glad that I decided to stick around. Just as expected Acca provided an interesting character drama and even if in the end all those rumors, speeches and whisperings about the coup lead to nothing spectacular, the interactions between the characters and opportunities for the story to go one way or another proved to be enjoyable enough. Pretty much every character had his/hers own motives and ways of achieving something as well as interplay between so different personalities that weren’t the most predictable was fun to watch.  Only Jean, the titular character in the end still looked emotionless and too stoic to be likable enough. Yes, he’s not a bad dude, but you could as well have a cupboard as a main character. I guess the story not always went in the most logical and expected ways but that created opportunities to more entertaining character interactions and wonderings what will happen next, so in the end I can say I wasn’t astounded by Acca but left satisfied enough.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka receives the random award of But It Was Me, The Show About Bread!!

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2

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     Nothing new compared to the first season. Well, nothing new that’s worth much. As a positive point character animation may have been even more of the rails than last year, but apart from that nothing really stood out. As I wasn’t particularly impressed by the first season, and this one also leaves the same impression. The incompetence of the characters feels more annoying than funny, there’s no story to speak about, fanservice again is overstretched too long. Basically the show tried to repeat itself, and it doesn’t even feel novel (maybe except the first few episodes). Even the ending song is almost exactly the same as the last time. Yes, it’s nice, but not as nice as its predecessor.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 receives the random award of Being Both The Best And The Worst Comedy Of The Season Because It’s The Only Comedy I Watched.

Kuzu no Honkai

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    I knew from the start what I was getting into because of the manga, so I can’t say there were many unexpected turns. During the later episodes the story might have gone a bit differently, as it felt a bit exhausted because compared to its unconventional start. Moca after all wasn’t as important as she could’ve been, so maybe a little less convoluted emotional dodecahedrons would’ve been a little more elegant. On the other hand, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending, so the overall experience was definitely satisfying. Not to mention that the tackled themes are rather scarce among other shows, so bringing some food for thought to the mainstream audience is an admirable thing. The choice of VA’s and the artstyle was also a big plus – despite lacking heavily animated scenes the show managed to have it’s own identity, and a pleasant one.

Kuzu no Honkai receives the award of the favorite OST of the season. LWA and 3-gatsu also had their moments but both of these didn’t do anything new that they haven’t done before, and Kuzu no Honkai managed to offer a decent score to accompany the misdeeds of its characters. Also the show gets the award of the most memorable character, that being Akane. She’s probably the worst person not only in the show but also in the season but despite of that her manipulations and general character were somehow very enjoyable to watch.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

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    Oh, Rakugo, dramatical life at its best. Just watch it and there’ll be no need for any words to describe the greatness of it. The first season had its ending revealed right from the start, but now there was no way to guess what will happen. The characters that already last year were very dear and exceptionally humane, upon the reappearance could develop further, and they certainly did. Seeing relationship grow between Konatsu and Yotaro (among other ones) provided an endless supply of joy, Yakumo looked like he was really loosing his way of living, and, well, pretty much everything was outstanding. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the after-death episode, but even with that I guess Rakugo rightfully deserves a place among the best of anime. And not only of this season.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen without a doubt receives the award of the favorite show of the season.

3-gatsu no Lion

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     It ended, but not quite. The second season will probably bring joy to many people, but I feel mainly indifferent. Yes, Rei’s journey was well portrayed, but it wouldn’t be worse without countless meanderings aside and mood-breaking jokes. I can agree that the second cour handles everything way better than the first one (for example the hideous lips), but the show remains the same. I can value the experience of having watched it, but I can’t say I particularly well connected with the characters or enjoyed every last bit of that weird shogi-cat dance. Many things were left hanging, and even if it’s understandable with another season announced, but the closure wasn’t that satisfying, especially given so much stuff that could’ve been removed. I guess I’m just on a different wavelength compared to the show. On a side note, what does the title exactly mean?

3-gatsu no Lion receives the random award of The Most Improved Continuing Show Of The Season.

     …And there’s Hand Shakers. Yes, I endured it and was awarded with some good laughs, but apart from that I can only name the show as having won the award of Being Worst At Pretty Much Everything.

     Favourite OP of the season after some thought should be that of KonoSuba. The song is not that memorable, but it matches the little story that the characters embark on well enough. It’s more cohesive and all out in terms of the animation, and that proved to be enough to best Kuzu no Honkai (despite its song) and Rakugo (despite its symbols). I guess LWA and Zestiria also deserve a sub-honorable mention, but they are just enjoyable, but apparently not enough.

     Favourite ED was more difficult to choose, but Acca came out on top. Izumi Murakami  (who also had some part in that beautiful skating scene in Death Parade) did an amazing job soloing the animation, and the song itself matched the collected mood of the show. Probably not the most memorable of EDs, but it somehow won over the psychedelic ornamentation of Kuzu no Honkai, and everything else was rather forgettable.

Scattered Thoughts – Nijigahara Holograph, Haruki Murakami, and the appeal of Inio Asano (3/3)

     This is the final part of the write-up and it concerns primarily Nijigahara Holograph. The first part about realism in Inio Asano’s works is here and the second about Asano’s dark world might be found here.

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     After all these thoughts Nijigahara Holograph, a manga of only one volume, seems as Asano-ish as possible, but also having its own charm. The manga doesn’t have as much optimism as Solanin, and in that respect it’s more like a similar iteration of Oyasumi Punpun’s world. The limited length doesn’t allow to delve deep into the characters’ inner worlds, but it isn’t that needed since Asano manages to get the message across by using old as ages method of “show, don’t tell”. For example, bruises on an arm of a child in just one panel reflect the relationship with his parents, and as in that case it’s the parents that are the center of that sub-story, the conclusions about them can be made very quickly without any elaboration that needs lots of words. It’s probably for the best since then the readers can come to their own conclusions without being swayed by the subjective thought trains of the characters themselves.

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     The reader must be prepared to think also because Nijigahara Holograph is somewhat further from other Asano stories since it contains some unnatural phenomenon – time loops, to some extent repeating events and the mystic atmosphere to create an unsettling mood. Characters live their lives as all normal people do, but you feel that everything is a bit more complicated. As everyday routine in all Asano’s stories is portrayed to be suffocating, Nijigahara Holograph goes further – many entangled lives are meshed into an endless repeating cycle of suffering. Some characters are slightly aware of it, and it’s only more painful. The mysticism is also expressed  visually, as many panels are invaded by butterflies that look like something straight from Junji Ito’s works – being something unknown, incomprehensible, awe-inspiring.

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     Broken characters are inevitably here. What made them that way? Well, just one wrong decision, one wrong step can lead to haunting memories for a long time. It may be thought of as karma at its cruelest – if one gives in to his desires, there will always be a dark shadow hanging over. Even the most normal looking person inside may prove to be not that harmless as there’s a monster in every character of the manga, only some are hidden better than others, but one way or another in the end they come out. It all comes out as an idea that you can’t escape your past – it follows you whenever you go, influencing your future decisions. Another neat idea Asano uses here as well as in Subarashii Sekai is that there are countless unexpected connections between the characters. Take for example a girl working in a cafe owned by the brother of her former classmate. Then one day the cafe is visited by the girl’s former teacher, who also has connections with the owner. The characters themselves might not be fully aware of their intertwining fates, but the connections exist, and in this way past events may have even bigger influence over the future. Also it’s interesting that some events may repeat themselves – not exactly, but enough to be recognized because of some specific prop, character circumstances and so on.

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     I know that everything I said is very vague, but just have faith that if you want to experience Asano’s stories but don’t have much time, Nijigahara Holograph may as well be a good start. This manga encompasses many of recurring themes and ideas, also having its own identity and overall working as a good example of what Asano is capable of. It’s rather easy to just skim through the pages getting only a sensation of something half-baked and weird, but I think on a closer inspection there’s lots of interesting stuff to ponder about.

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     I wish there was even wider knowledge and appreciation of Asano’s works. of course there was that Solanin live action film, but probably it would be naïve to expect an anime adaptation of pretty much anything Asano has written. Well, to think positively, there is a precedent of Aku no Hana getting an anime, and that’s encouraging, since Shuzo Oshimi is another mangaka whose exceptionally beautiful art is able to accompany mature and complicated stories. There is also one interesting connection between Haruki Murakami and anime – Yoshitoshi ABe was heavily influenced by Murakami’s imagery in his Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World when creating the world of Haibane Renmei. The Wall, the Clock Tower, the Library and other things appear in both works and evoke similar feelings, even if the circumstances are completely different. These facts are not much, but stories that invite thinking and reassessing your relationship with the world are slowly getting more appreciation and acceptance through different mediums. Well, you don’t even need to go far, last season’s Kuzu no Honkai provided some interesting food for thought. And what’s more interesting, there exists one photo of Kengo Hanazawa, the author of I am a Hero and a good friend of Asano in Asano’s office. And guess what manga lies on a table behind? No wonder since thematically Umibe no Onnanoko and Kuzu no Honkai have many common points.

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     So yeah, I guess you have grasped a bit of what kind of person Inio Asano is and what his stories are like. At this point it’s useful to remember Haruki Murakami for a second. Both of the creators wander along existential themes and their characters to some extent are very similar. Why does that appeal so much to me?  I guess because I (as probably everyone) have come to question my place in the world, what am I really supposed to do with my life and whether am I not wasting it and if yes then if it’s really wrong; is it ok to dream knowing that you can’t achieve something you wish for? If not, when is the right time to stop? Should I be content with everything I have or should I try more? And then what would be the point of achieving anything? The answers the readers find may be completely different, but that’s beside the point.

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     It’s interesting and a bit disheartening that Asano’s manga is, as he himself put, a blend of things that have meaning and things that have absolutely none. It’s like a gamble trying to guess what the author intended and what he didn’t. Either way even if intended to be meaningless (for Asano), some symbols still can be interpreted. Also, some at the first sight meaningless things might have some symbolism, but knowing Asano, sometimes you just have no chance to guess the right answer. Some ideas are deeply integrated into the narrative, others are there just because Asano wanted to do that for apparently no reason. It’s a bit of a mess, but I’d call it  one of Asano’s strengths – you can achieve many different interpretations, and some of them can be completely opposite to what the author intended, but they nonetheless can be seen as valid in their own right. There are many possible meanings, and you can chose what you like.  An author who makes his audience think about the meaning of the art is automatically a very good one. Every piece of art that encourages you to question anything is a step towards being a wiser person, being able to avoid some of the mistakes of the unlucky characters, and Asano can certainly provide that.

     Have you read any of Asano’s works? What do you think of them?

Scattered Thoughts – Nijigahara Holograph, Haruki Murakami, and the appeal of Inio Asano (2/3)

     The first part where I talk about the realism in Inio Asano’s works and from where does it originate may be found here. Now it’s time to think about how Asano transforms the world to suit his stories and finally to bring some thoughts about Nijigahara Holograph in the third part.

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     It’s not hard to agree that generally manga industry tries to promote positive, inspiring and uplifting stories (pretty much typical shounen stuff), so inevitably there appears a niche for some deeper studies of darker characters that may come close to being antiheroes. Though the world in Asano’s manga is shining with realism, it also is created to be very dark, a place where no one would rather live. For example school life in Asano’s works definitely isn’t the pinnacle of human existence as many anime seem to propose. Children are often left to their own devices as adults have their own problems and that ensures survival of the fittest with bullying at its best. Asano portrays school experience as a journey to a wider and always expanding world, but it has little parental guidance or visible influence by the teachers – kids try things on their own, discover ways to deal with various problems on their own, and just try to survive an environment that’s certainly not the most sympathetic.

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     It’s not only school – anytime and anywhere tragedies sometimes just happen, sometimes you invite them yourself, but nobody is safe. There’s no such thing like “oh no, my friend was eaten by zombies, but after two chapters I’m absolutely alright like nothing happened”. Unpleasant things ensure that the characters are affected to the core as it provides means to dig deeper into human nature. Characters may not show how their experiences influence their decisions, but at critical moments you see that even the most secretive emotion may find a way through all the barriers. Widely appreciated Oyasumi Punpun begins like a somehow weird but ultimately harmless tale of a little boy trying to find a place under the sun and his journey through years, but the influence of the unfriendly world increases as the time goes on and by the end you end up being almost terrified what became of that sweet little kid, and the saddest part is that many of his not the best decisions weren’t his fault. Also, the viewer is left to ponder whether at the start Punpun’s life was any different from that of a random statistically averaged person and if truly everything that occurred could happen to anyone – is it true that either you’re just lucky or you aren’t? The effect is enhanced by the fact that Punpun himself is made to look like a bird-like doodle – naturally his emotions are visualized in a limited way so the reader may imagine himself in Punpun’s boots a lot easier. Punpun isn’t a character meant to be clear cut and having a rigidly defined personality – you may construct your own Punpun from a doodle to an actual person like any other.

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     Punpun starts as a fairly normal person, but as the characters are just the products of their own universe, probably there was no right way for him from the start.  Asano’s rather pessimistic world just isn’t forgiving for any little mistake that may come to haunt you later, seemingly harmless choices may lead to sad outcomes. Then it’s no wonder that pretty much all of Asano’s characters are broken people in one way or another. Each of them comes into the society naïve and hopeful but then the life just bashes their hopes, dreams and entire worldviews and in return thrusts a question “What will you do now?” The answer obviously is “I don’t know” and at this point characters begin to differ by trying to answer the question properly to the best of their abilities.

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     As Asano’s world is unrelenting, it’s filled with various individuals some of whom may appear to have gone absolutely nuts. To some extent that’s again a confirmation how hard is to live there. Some characters use this kind of behavior only as a way of dealing with their problems but everyone has his own internal logic and what’s perfectly fine with them. On the surface that may seem abnormal but that’s how Asano’s characters are. To think metatextually, some of these weird moments provide a little bit of comedy relief that brings a tiny ray of humor in seeing how ridiculous the world actually is apart from all the gloomy stuff. The humor often comes from totally unexpected and at the first glance illogical actions of the characters, almost on the same level as in Nichijou. Anyway, ultimately Asano’s existential questions lead to the conclusion that virtually no one knows exactly how to live. Everything just happens and in a blink of an eye you can end up in a horrible mess that no one warned you about. The harsh environment has broken many, shattering dreams and wishes, but as lonely creatures as they are, Asano’s characters strive to form connections and somehow live on.

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     Even a person without goals or aspirations still needs to live somehow. An idea being explored in practically all of Asano’s work is the necessity to choose your future. Probably the two most important decisions in human life are the choice of a partner and a choice of profession, and Asano’s characters struggle with both of them as there is no right way do one or another and everyone just has to find his own path which usually isn’t that filled with joy. It’s practically impossible to find a perfect partner, especially since at first we are prone to overestimate the good points of a person we want to like. Entangled in imperfect relationships, Asano’s characters sometimes try to go their separate ways only to begin a new cycle of imperfectness. Sometimes they try to work things out and stick together even if there seems to be no logic behind it. Speaking about relationships, Asano doesn’t shy from sexuality. He tries to portray it as a very casual thing, just like eating lunch or something similar and that makes his works exceptional among many stuff nowadays where there’s tons of teasing and fanservice, but everything ends with only that. Well, I myself am not a person who particularly looks for such scenes in manga and anime, but the idea of treating it as a normal thing once again brings the realism, or rather a world without thinking about sexuality as a stigma. A perfect example of that is another Asano manga – in Umibe no Onnanoko characters (that are just in the beginning of their independent lives) experiment, err, try again, and just continue living on as best they can.

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     The other big question isn’t any easier. No one during their school years wants to become an average person, that is to work long hours of a salary man or, even worse, to be able only to achieve a position of a part time shop assistant. Continuing education in a college in this regard is a no better solution since a person at that point usually still doesn’t have a slightest idea what he wants to do with his life. Or rather, what he could do with his life because as children the characters have many huge dreams but virtually all of them are shattered sooner or later. Despite of that, usually there are opportunities to break out of all these cycles of misfortune. Not every character is able to make the right step, but among all the unhappiness there are moments of joy and salvation, moments when someone just finds the right answer to one of the multitude of questions that the life continues to ask.

     Please continue reading the final part about Nijigahara Holograph here. The first part examining Asano’s realism may be found here.

Scattered Thoughts – Nijigahara Holograph, Haruki Murakami, and the appeal of Inio Asano (1/3)

     A week ago this blog celebrated its one year birthday. Well, celebrated might not be the best word since I think it’s a pretty arbitrary amount of time, but anyway I’m generally very pleased that this project keeps going. To be frank I didn’t expect to manage not to stop some time soon in the beginning, but finding people who read your stuff and, more importantly, people who themselves write some interesting things has been an amazing experience. Thank you everyone for encouraging me to continue, I hope this won’t be the last time I can write something like this. What is better in this case than some musings over my favorite mangaka among other things?

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     The post ended up being a lot longer than I thought so this is the first part (concerning realism in Asano’s manga), the second (about the darkness in the Asano’s world) is here, and third (finally about Nijigahara Holograph) is here.

     To start from pretty far, let’s talk for a bit about Haruki Murakami. Yes, he’s not some obscure animator or mangaka, he’s the guy who almost won Nobel Prize in Literature. I’m not particularly well-versed in his works, but they have definitely left an impression on me. As far as I know, there always has been an easily observable theme uniting many of Murakami’s stories. That is, his protagonists most of times may just be the same person, experiencing different lives in parallel universes, but ultimately his character remains more or less constant.  Murakami’s protagonist is usually going with the flow, being not especially happy about his place in the world, but in the end being rather content, or just not courageous enough to make effort and change. Reading the surreal stories (A Wild Sheep Chase for example – you can’t get more mystical than that) brings a melancholic feeling, not unrelated to the intellectual side of the protagonist and particularly his interest in music. There also appears some secret wish to experience a different world, to escape from the ordinary life, to be able to do something different and avoid being just a quite unsuccessful and lonely dude with some regrets, a person whose absence wouldn’t be mourned. Precisely this feeling and the ability to create stories to be as realistic as possible is the connection that arises between Murakami and the person I really want to talk about.

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     If you have ventured at least a little into the world of manga, the chance is pretty high that you have heard of Inio Asano. His best known work Oyasumi Punpun (or Goodnight Punpun as it’s named by the current release by Viz) stands in a very high 5th place on MAL – not that it’s a very meaningful fact, but still. Asano definitely has much to say and his stories inevitably invite discussions, though not every comment about them may be a positive one. Still, I deem Asano to be one of the top creators in the seinen demographic range, being an expert in not shying away from topics and ideas that are usually marginalized or completely omitted from many mainstream manga. Yet, despite all the weird or sometimes even creepy elements Asano’s works are very deeply rooted in the reality and suspension of disbelief that is needed in any, say, “stuck in an RPG world” kind of anime here isn’t as needed. To think about it, pretty much every manga Asano has written could (in theory) be fairly easy adapted into a live action movie (Solanin already has been). Also, as the mangaka himself said, he’s trying to create stories that are not solely based on experiences of a single character, but rather an ensemble of several, and that makes sense – everyone is the main character of his own life and can be perceived as a temporary co-protagonist of some huge story going on. Another virtue is that Asano consciously doesn’t try to fit into a single genre – life doesn’t attempt that either. In the real life about anything could happen at any moment, from comedy to horror and beyond.

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     All these things sound good in theory but it would arguably have far less impact on the reader if everything had been only made up. There are some interviews on the Internet where you can get to know Asano better than just an empty name on the title page. It’s fascinating to get some glimpses of his own life and mindset in order to get a better understanding of his manga. The fact is that Asano (as probably any other creator) pulls inspirations from his own experiences, and that makes his manga feel more genuine, if not more personal. Take for example such little and pretty unconventional detail like a character (a boy, just for the record) having a complex because his chest is a little caved in and because of that he shies from the pool activities at school. It feels a little weird, but you can’t deny a specific flavor that grounded real life experiences like this one brings to a fictional story. Murakami-ish feeling of nihilism and existentialism that’s so inherent to Asano’s stories to some extent may be traced from the mangaka’s perspective on life. Asano clearly isn’t the most untroubled person in the world, and not only because of the difficult dilemma how to find balance between drawing what he really wants and what actually sells. Sometimes drawing manga for him is a way to experience some kind of an auto-psychological help. It’s probably impossible to tell which experiences and story elements had been real and what is only thought up, but the base is clearly heart-felt and it shows.

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     Another case of Asano’s life seeping in his works might be well illustrated by Solanin – a manga about young adults who try to counter their bland lives by playing in a band. Asano himself isn’t any stranger to music, during his time at a university having played in a band. Sometimes he still returns to music for his own personal indulgence. In Solanin you can feel a mindset of a person who wants to continue doing what he enjoys, but also understanding that to be able to earn a living from that is not that realistic since you have to be particularly talented and lucky to be able to climb up in the entertainment business. Not everyone is meant to become a professional musician and this notion stands heavy above everyone. At this point I can do nothing but introduce some thoughts about Asian Kung-Fu Generation, a band (that I adore very much) that probably reminds the majority of people only of Naruto openings. Yet, it’s not unrelated to Asano. I’ve mentioned that Solanin has been adapted to a live action film and the ending song (lyrics by Asano himself) that is the climax of the story was created by AKG, whose garage-rock existence began just as any other music club experiment. AKG is the dream that Asano’s characters want to achieve and because of that AKG’s music for me feels very compatible with Asano’s stories. It’ s nothing strange after all, as both the mangaka and the band are the faces of the same generation with pretty much the same worries, same influences and same worldview.

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     Visually anything Asano draws is an eye candy. The character designs might not be realistic per se, but they are definitely beautiful, and when you’re immersed in the story, the difference from the real faces is negligible. Every emotion is conveyed well so you can do nothing but admire every single page. The backgrounds also deserve a mention. According to the artist himself, “if you googled “Inio Asano” back when my first volume came out, you’d only get six results, and one of them described me as being “just awful at backgrounds”, which I really hated, so I started trying all sorts of different methods”. That included tracing the backgrounds from photos. That’s a lot of work, to the point of becoming a pain in the ass, but the results are just incredible. There are opinions that such extremely detailed backgrounds may distract from the real action or undermine the emotional value of some key panels, but I believe it just deserves lots of respect, making every panel a true work of art.

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     It can be argued that every manga has these features – the author getting inspirations from his own life and trying to adapt his art to the stories he wants to tell. Yet in Asano’s case I think these features are pushed far beyond average – sometimes it looks like you are reading a diary of a person who chose to be represented by his characters. That feels exceptionally real, and the photorealistic artstyle enhances it many times. Still, as realistic as it is, Asano’s world doesn’t offer a rosy-colored life to the point of becoming a truly dark place. And more about that in the second part. The third part covers Nijigahara Holograph.

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2017 Week 0

     Before the last season I was rather unpleasantly surprised how many second seasons or just mere continuations of shows there were compared to the infinitesimally small number of original anime. This season sadly looks very similar. Still, for me there’s one huge difference – it’s quite ridiculous, but as the Winter was crowded with shows that I cared about or just wanted to see how the things would play out, for me Spring has very little to offer. Shingeki no Kyojin? In the backlog indefinitely. Boku no Hero Academia? Still don’t feel an urge for some typical shounen. Uchouten Kazoku? I haven’t even heard of it before. And so on and so on and so on. Doubtless there are many shows worth investing in, but that also means the need to have watched first seasons. As always light novel adaptations and usual fantasy setting based anime as plentiful but not that intriguing. Thankfully there still are some little gems (and, ironically both of them are continuations) that I wholeheartedly await.

Little Witch Academia

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    The story finally showed some interesting and promising future directions, and LWA hopefully will try to recapture some action spirit of the original OVA. All the little slice of life stuff is good, but that’s not why the show gained such fan following. From the PV there looks to be some new characters (inevitably), more Chariot (also inevitably) and just the continuation of the girls’ life at the Academia. Trigger, please just continue to develop the grand story as well as everybody knows you are capable of and everything will be ok. I’m probably not as excited as I was before the start of the show, but the seen cour didn’t manage to discourage me from expecting something entertaining.

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku

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     Well, it’s just Natsume. Though it’s not the worst show to jump in now (if anyone would care to do so), everyone would probably recommend to start the relaxing journey from the start at your own pace.  I’m very happy that the sixth (oh dear, it felt so short) season comes after only a little waiting, but it’s also time that I’m concerned with. The story will be alright, as it has ever been, but the animation quality since the show was transferred to Shuka hasn’t been really on par with everything we had seen before. It’s not bad, but it’s still worrisome that some recap or an old special (again) might interrupt the run, but let’s have faith. Natsume has endured so well and received so many seasons that it’s a very unique phenomenon and it fully deserves it. Apart from the possible production hiccups it’s going to be an amazing experience.

     And… That’s all. So far. This season my personal timetable will probably be a bit more hectic and confused, but there are still some slots to be filled with. There are some possible candidates, but I’m not going to go blind and end up watching as many shows as I did last season. I guess I’ll just wait for the first impressions of people I trust and then we’ll see what will be worthy to follow.

  • Sakurada Reset looks to be a slow burning mystery with slice of life elements, as the director Shinya Kawatsura has worked on Non Non Byori among other stuff. As far as I’ve heard the story is quite interesting, but I decided to be a little bit cautious before digging into what looks to be quite promising.
  • Re:Creators sounds as silly as its synopsis, if not even more ridiculous. The only reason it might prove to be decent is Rei Hiroe, who’s also the creator of Black Lagoon. Ok, two reasons – there’s also Ei Aoki of Fate/Zero (and, well, Aldnoah.Zero). Three. Three reasons. Hiroe, Aoki and Sawano. looks like dumb over the top fun, and the level of dumbness will be the deciding factor.
  • Alice to Zouroku looks least interesting of them all, but Katsushi Sakurabi of Flying Witch (and anime that doesn’t exist) may leave his mark as a specialist of great slice of life atmosphere. Or not. the PV didn’t look too amazing, but you can never know for sure.
  • Sakura Quest is Shirobako 2.0, right? Technically it’s wrong to judge a show only by the studio and the premise, also comparing it to something completely unrelated, but everyone knows what’s expected, right? The pressure will be huge and it’s going to be hard to create a story that can’t really rely on it’s premise like in Shirobako where apart from the characters the whole animation production setting was especially interesting. I’m almost sure I’ll watch it, but a little waiting won’t hurt anyone.
  • Tsuki ga Kirei is the least talked about, as it’s only can be described as a classical romance. Well, doing basics right isn’t a bad thing, and visually it looks quite appealing reminding me of Doga Kobo for some reason. The only twist is it’s director Seiji Kishi who, let’s put it that way, – isn’t the most appreciated guy by the viewers. There might be some unexpected turns, but time will tell whether any worries are grounded.

     That’s more or less all I’ve thought about the possible lineup though you can never know  – there might be some unexpected gems around. And yes, I’ll definitely catch up with some shows that deserve their second seasons, but that’s just not today. Anyway, did I miss anything prominent? What will you watch this season?