Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 8

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden I’m sold.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  A typhoon of emotions.
Ito Junji: Collection – Here we go again with n FPS (n approaches 0).
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Is that a Monogatari reference?
Fate/Extra Last Encore – Once again nothing really new.
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Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 7

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden Comets and stuff.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  Rebuilding the friendship.
Ito Junji: Collection – Whut?
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Do you really need so many new characters?
Fate/Extra Last Encore – New floor, same stuff.
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Scattered Thoughts – Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and Rashomon

     For any anime lover Koi wa Ameagari no You ni should be a known thing this season regardless of how you perceive a possibility of a romance between people with such a huge age gap. Even if you aren’t cool with the premise, I think the way the story evolves is far more enjoyable than an average anime and I probably don’t even need to mention the quality of visual storytelling – at least for me the show is always a joy to watch. Rashomon on the other hand may have escaped your radar, because it’s a short story written in 1915 by the acclaimed Japanese writer Ryuunosuke Akutagawa. You may ask what that has to do with this anime, and I can answer that actually quite a lot. So much that I wouldn’t be surprised if Koi wa Ameagari no You ni itself had been named Rashomon. Bear with me for a little while and let’s find out why.

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Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 6

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden Disney!
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  Hamsters are awesome!
Ito Junji: Collection – It’s supposed to be animated, right?
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Run from the beast!
Fate/Extra Last Encore – And I thought Fate was interesting…
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Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 5

Violet Evergarden (Ep. 4)

     I’m afraid this episode felt the weakest so far. As far as I remember, both Iris and Erica are anime original characters so that would make this episode yet another anime original in a quite long row. As Erica had only little screen time previously, it isn’t unlikely that she will also get a solo episode, so there’s even a possibility that the content from the original light novels might become a minority overall, and that’s quite funny. I don’t know pretty much anything about the novels, but I’d say episodes for Claudia, Cattleya and Benedict (and the Major) are also a possibility. I’m not complaining, just this episode about Iris felt like it didn’t live up to the expectations. It wasn’t bad, just too normal. Unrequited love and parents still wanting to control their children when they shouldn’t are good themes to explore, but for me it didn’t feel as touching as Luculia’s story. Ok, we did get some insights into Iris’s past and her relationship with her family, but these are just specific details that will hardly matter once Iris returns to her workplace and starts dealing with people that have no connections to her. Also I don’t think Violet grew that much this episode. Sure, she makes small steps forward and starts understanding that PEOPLE HAVE EMOTIONS, and that FEELINGS ARE COMPLICATED. She still needs a good kick in her kokoro to become a normal person, and by the tempo we are going now, it’s unlikely she’ll make much progress until the end of the series. I guess it was sort of an achievement that Violet wrote a good letter (and longer than three sentences) to Iris’s parents, but Iris simply dictated every word of it, so does this really count as a development? I might have already adapted to the beauty of the visuals because I didn’t found them as amazing as before. Certainly there are some good parts, like Violet bowing like a true lady or occasional Iris’s character animation. The scene in the train once again repeated how much Violet is different from ordinary people – Iris was sitting comfortably just as she wanted while Violet retained her straight military pose no matter what. By the way, please gave the person who designed Iris’s birthday dress (and generally clothes for the show) a medal. Or two. Other than that, it’s mostly normal or at least not outstanding – both visuals and the story.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ep. 4)

     I don’t like where the story is going but I like how it’s going. This cook became an important character too quickly for me. It almost seems strange that a show that visually is very strong didn’t think of any way to foreshadow this turn of events. There might have been something, but my head in that case was too thick to pick it up. I simply would’ve liked one or too simple shots of the cook looking at Akira before this episode, because now it felt really uncalled for. Akira reading the same book with doodles during her lunchtime suggested a very predictable turn of events, so that’s another negative. Now onto some positives, as the show again delivers. When Akira gets some news from Kondou, she behaves just like characters from Tsuki ga Kirei. It’s nice to see her more childish side compared to her always dignified exterior. Akira’s thoughts about both of  the men were especially clear because of her clothing. As the show likes to emphasize feet, the differences were also extremely visible through the footwear of Akira’s choice – casual slippers worth a couple of dollars versus impressive high heels, and, of course, nail polish. It was definitely funny to see that both dates technically were identical (during the film scene there was one dude who also saw the film by himself for a second time. Apparently he loves horror movies), but in the second one it was Akira who took the reins. The ending made clear that Akira is still full of insecurities and, as pushy as she is, not really able to go all the way, like the cook did. Who knows if it was for the best? There was that scene when Akira angrily brushed her cheek with a paper tissue, and then threw it away, but missed the bin. Pretty much the same happened a few episode earlier when she was also unable to throw away trash from a distance. It seems that she still isn’t sure about what she is doing and what to do next. As much as I didn’t enjoy this abrupt complication of things, there’s still an incredible amount of things to love.

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 5)

     I remembered those lovely times when I watched all those terrible horror shorts just for a good laugh. Sadly, the first story also fits into that category. Random melting people, one of whom seems to be the Michelin dude, mad scientist whose main goal is to create a mythical potion to increase height, and a magical moment when the said potion indeed turns out to be able to increase height quite literally – isn’t it some top notch comedy material? There’re also some “what?” moments – girls randomly showing interest in boys only because of narrative purposes and boys not leaving their haunted houses for no reason. Come on dude, you advised the girl yourself not to come by all means. Why should you stay then if it’s so dangerous? Although I must give some credit for the idea of overlapping parallel worlds and especially the last seconds when yet another Oshikiri appeared. The second part? Oh no. It’s Souichi again. Oh no. The teacher is weird. Oh no. Butt humor. Oh. No. Butt humor overload. OH NO! I’m sorry but that’s terrible. There might be people who found everything funny and I’m happy for them. It’s absolutely not for me though. That was just the kind of cringy humor I despise.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 17)

     Did I miss something or did Elias actually open all the presents meant for Chise before she did? The episode tried to delve into some scenarios of classic mythology and also reiterate the idea of the importance of family, only taken from another angle. Yet there were lots of stuff that just didn’t work for me. As far as I remember, the magic of words may transfer the right to a person only then if another person who denounces the right, had that right in the first place. Usually it’s mothers and their children or something like that. In the case of the show, I find it hard to believe that Stella’s words could’ve been that powerful because what about their parents? Does that mean that it’s Stella alone who can decide her brother’s fate and parents have no say in that? Another questionable moment came when Elias chose to reveal his true form to Stella, because I have no idea why did he do that. We already saw in the beginning of the show that he can make look himself like a normal person so why would he risk scaring Stella by showing his skull? And what was the point in revealing himself in the first place? It’s not that he couldn’t help by staying unseen, and I’d think that the less people know about a random guy with a skull for a head walking here and there, the better. And isn’t Elias supposed to be kind of powerful? Can he just be randomly caged without even considering to resist? Later on it was very hard for me to believe that the fox fur we already saw before could also transform Chise into a bear. Isn’t it supposed to work only for one species? The end of search came too soon and without any climax. Chise just went home, took the fur and instantly found what she was looking for – end of story. I can’t say I really cared for Stella and her brother, either. Overall I’m happy that this episode featured some great concepts like the power of words, Chise found out that she really does give something back and not always just takes away everything. Fraternal love was also a good theme but it didn’t tie that well with what we know about Chise, because everything we know is that she did have a brother, and that’s all, so it’s hard to know how this encounter made her feel. I think splitting this story into two episodes could’ve been a better choice. Or just going deeper while exploring the themes because now it felt kind of superficial.

Fate/Extra Last Encore (Ep. 2)

     I’m less confused about the plot now but instead a bit baffled because the episode made me remember all sorts of things. For example Shaft head tilts and other camera angles that only Shaft uses made me question if I’m really not in the middle of rewatching Bakemonogatari. At the same time my ears told me that the exposition dialogue couldn’t be more Fate, as if it was copied and pasted from Stay Night. Later on this first level (is this Sword Art Online?) looked precisely like an excerpt from Ghost in the Shell Innocence. In the end only the last scene with Shinji mattered, so the efficiency of the episode was pretty low. Well, I guess we finally got some action, and that’s a positive. Not that it was very memorable. Maybe next episode will improve that because  the fight isn’t ended yet so far nothing felt like anything outstanding Shaft could pull off. Meanwhile Saber seems to be a weird mix of Senjougahara’s pushiness and cuteness of a generic dojikko. She might prove to be interesting but so far I can’t say I have any attachment to the characters. Well, apart from my already existing knowledge of returning cast such as Shinji or Rin. Hakuno again barely said a word, though he might have an excuse because he should be pondering quite hard how on earth he didn’t die second episode in a row. I understand that he’s a visual novel protagonist, but it’s not a visual novel anymore, it’s an anime. Do something about it! I guess the most prominent thing is that so far I don’t feel any chemistry between Hakuno and Saber. How can you have a dynamic duo if one of them talks to herself a lot and the other’s responsiveness perfectly imitates a wall?

 

Scattered Thoughts – Saya no Uta and morbid curiosity

     Fuminori was sitting in a place that should’ve been a café. Yet it clearly wasn’t. Everything seemed a perfect nightmare material – every single object there looked like it was made from living flesh, various internal organs, and gore; walls, the floor and the ceiling included. Even worse, next to Fuminori sat the creatures. Apparitions so hideous that the shortest of glimpses at them could haunt you the rest of your life. Their stench reeked of everything a normal person would keep a distance of a mile or so, and their distorted gurgling voices squealed barely understandable words. That wasn’t all – Fuminori knew that these monsters once were his dear friends, now completely unrecognizable and so disgusting he could barely retain his calm. Fuminori was the only normal being in this warped place, and it wasn’t a nightmare, it was his reality, and he was alone in it.

Nice world, isn't it?

     So cheerfully begins Saya no Uta, a visual novel created way back in 2003 but still retaining its uniqueness in the medium. There’s probably no reason beating around the bush so I may as well use the trump card that should get you interested – Saya no Uta was one of the first creations of Gen Urobuchi and the team at Nitroplus. Nitroplus is best known for releasing the acclaimed Steins;Gate visual novel and also for being involved with Fate/Zero novels, that also incidentally were written by Urobuchi. In Saya no Uta the man clearly didn’t hold back and pumped the visual novel full of depressing and sometimes disgusting content that would never be tolerable in, say, an anime. Usually art is consumed in order to be entertained, but Saya no Uta isn’t anything I’d call a pleasantly enjoyable experience. The dark side of it is interestingly captivating though. If you aren’t against some morbid curiosity, that is. Bear with me for a while to find out more, but only if you’re brave enough. I can’t stress enough that Saya no Uta is aimed to mature people, and only those with high tolerance levels. (more…)