Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 2

Violet Evergarden (Ep. 1)

     Well, I don’t know where to start. Let’s say, the art. Which is amazing. Obviously. KyoAni always excelled at character animation and this production feels like a genuinely good film rather than a TV anime. I don’t know how much it was shown in the original light novel but such details like Violet remembering (or not) to salute everyone as if she’s still in military, that spilled cup of tea, flowing hair and various other things not even mentioning facial expressions were expertly done to say the least. Using complementary colors isn’t the most common way to apply shading, but that works. Especially since all the objects (bodies, fabrics etc.) behave like they are complex structures of sophisticated geometry rather than stylized blobs. The lighting also does a great job showing the contrast between the present (when even the broken bridges don’t seem threatening) and the past (when arms quite gruesomely fall off). The opening scene with flying letter was maybe too much in the vein of “hey, we could do it so we did” but other than that the production is truly stunning. Yeah, there’re those controversial filters, but somehow they don’t bother me too much. Speaking about the story, so far it doesn’t seem that original. I guess if the show was made by some other studio, it would look like pretty much another normal show. There are enough mysteries to be solved like all the past being unknown and, more importantly, what happened to that Gilbert dude (he’s probably not dead but I still don’t really get all this secrecy), but it looks like the general approach will be just centered on Violet’s growth. And there’s lots of room for that. On the other hand, it almost bothers me how such a girl could have been grown to be so emotionless and robot-like, as if she was raised in a cage or something. Her obsession with Gilbert at this point also looks unhealthy to say the least – she shows no interest in anything but him. But yeah, the lower you start, the higher you can get so this character drama of learning to become a human (hey, Violet should form a team with Elias for Mahoutsukai no Yome) and adapting to the civilian life should make a great experience. At least in theory.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ep. 1)

     Shoujo sparkles! Shoujo sparkles everywhere! That part was a bit overdone (come on, it’s not manga anymore), but apart from that it was a quality start. Akira’s world must have been almost completely shattered after her trauma (props for not forcefully shoving the fact in the face of the viewers). She looks to have fenced herself from others and while her closest friends still remain by her side, it’s not as if nothing had happened.  I don’t know how much into running Akira was, but seems like she was good enough so not being able to do that anymore creates a terrifying whole in her life. It looks like Akira had an eye for Kondou for some time already, but now having nothing else better to do, she naturally shifts the majority of her attention there. Kondou himself looks quite likable, a guy who despite his clumsiness should be able to be a decent parent for his kid. It looks like he’s just trying to be the best manager he can regardless of his ability to do so. Love is a thing that knows little boundaries, and so far I have absolutely no problem with both main leads being not indifferent to each other. There’s a long way to go yet, especially considering the possible resistance of the society and cluelessness of the manager. Well, I can’t fault him – Akira’s attention may really look unsettling. Well, the bottom line is that the first episode was enjoyable and if the show is able to retain the quality in all departments, it will definitely be worth anyone’s time.

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 2)

     Well, I got to say I’m impressed. It still certainly isn’t a masterpiece but a huge improvement over last time nonetheless. The first story opened with some genuinely funny jokes but proceeded quite predictably. It wasn’t that scary, but “unsettling” is a word it deserves. The second story even made me sympathetic a bit with the dreamer man, and considering the shortness of the story it’s a bit of an achievement. On the other hand, the ending wasn’t the most satisfying as the story just was cut off. Well, once again Ito proves not being able to wrap up everything, though his ideas are pretty great. As the material improved a lot, the presentation remained the same, or in some cases even went downhill. It’s really worrying that it’s only a second episode and even now there are problems with synchronization between the animation and VAs. Especially in the first story you can literally see which shots were adapted from the big and impactful panels, though pretty much everything feels like minimally moving manga and nothing more – a textbook example of being uninspired. I can confirm that colors detract a lot of suspense and much is lost compared to the original manga. I guess Ito is really unadaptable.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 14)

     …And that fox story ended unticlimactically to say the least. All the tension brought by that spirit (I guess?) dissipated in a second. It’s just like the show suddenly changed its mind to view him no longer as menacing but as someone who just provides another possible route if you’re willing to take it. Of course Chise didn’t leave Elias because it’d mean the end of the show, but she could’ve struggled a bit, at least. What’s the point in a conflict that gets from the setup to the conclusion within a few minutes and has hardly any lasting impact? The other problem is that the first part had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the episode. But yeah, the rest of it was quite good indeed. Once the old dude and this vampire-lady were introduced, their episode felt a bit out of place for me at the time, but this sequel seems like a great improvement. Since we already know about the relationship, the pair is far easier to care about, especially since the show has already spent much time contemplating about death. Chise had enough death around her already, some apparently horrendous instances (her mother) and some awe-inspiring (that dragon Nevin). She probably knows better than many all the feelings that may be evoked and, as she values her friends quite a lot, Chise tries to give the most beautiful memories she can as a present while it’s not too late. I wouldn’t think this odd pair experienced anything as enchanting as Chise did with Nevin, but it still was something. I guess the only major problem for me was that still the vampire-lady was clad not that appropriately for this kind of story, and even if it wasn’t a huge distraction, it still dissonated with the atmosphere. As magic in Chise’s world comes with a price (especially if you do something you’re not supposed to) that’s a great idea to follow for a time being, so the following episode should be quite interesting. It’s great to know that magic isn’t omnipotent. It has already been said that Chise mustn’t overexert herself, but some serious (and bloody) consequences are a far better illustration of that compared to, say, falling asleep for a day or two.

 

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2 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed Violet Evergarden, and can’t wait to see where the story will go to. I love the fact that we actually know very little so far, and have a lot of things to figure out. And of course the animation is stunning.
    As for Ito Junji Collection: unsettling is definitely the correct word for it. While I would not yet classify it is a true horror it has that Twilight Zone feeling to it, as I said over on Karandi’s blog earlier today. Also a great series so far 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Yeah, Violet Evergarden somehow manages to pose a mystery about its world without actually being a mystery. Well, that sounds kinda funny.

      Saw your comment there. I’m not sure if Collection will be able to live up to the expectations in the long run but at least the source material offers probably the best horror a manga can provide.

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