Scattered Thoughts – How Boogiepop adaptation failed its first arc

     Show, don’t tell. That’s probably the most important rule of any film or TV show. Instances like Bakemonogatari are very scarce, and even there the visuals are not the least important element of the story. It seems like the easier route is to stick to the rule and avoid exposition dumps as much as possible, and then it should be ok. It’s true that the new adaptation of Boogiepop light novel series doesn’t tell. Only the problem is that neither does it show.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Miyashita Touka

     It’s a very unforgiving job to try to adapt Boogiepop. If you watched any of Junji Ito’s anime adaptations, you should know how that sort of thing may play out. It’s just that another medium isn’t always capable of retelling the same story without some important pieces being lost. A non-conventional retelling might do the source justice, but so far Boogiepop wa Warawanai has received nothing but conventional adaptation, and it doesn’t really work. Why?



Scattered Thoughts – Archetypal side of Hisone to Masotan

     You probably have heard about Hisone to Maso-tan (otherwise I wonder what brought you there). The other part of the title might seem too mysterious, because I’m not talking about the so called character tropes (you know, tsunderes and stuff). We’ll get to that. Lately I’ve been reading some Carl Jung and similar stuff for fun and that actually has been quite educational, thought provoking and, well, fun to some extent. For those of you who don’t know, Jung was one of the minds behind contemporary psychoanalysis (you know, Freud and stuff). One moment it suddenly dawned to me that there’s a deeper layer that can be extracted from HisoMaso. It’s not just a tale about the confrontation (particularly woman’s) between love and work.  Well, I still know next to nothing about psychology and similar matters but I tried to dig deeper and my thoughts and interpretations seem to sort of make sense, so I guess good for me.

Hisone to Maso-tan poster


Scattered Thoughts – Dissecting Tomie

     Yep, the title is a pun. A bad one. You’ll get it. Let’s move on.

     I’ve already written about Junji Ito and anime adaptations of his manga. Gyo was a failure through and through (Ufotable, what have you done?) and quite recent Junji Ito: Collection, while it had several stronger stories, was equally forgettable at best. It turns out that Collection also has 2 special half-length episodes that I recently watched, episodes that feature probably the most famous character Junji Ito ever created – Tomie. Knowing what a catastrophe Collection was, I was inevitably cautious but at the same time I tried to remain as optimistic as possible. Tomie, one of the first published stories (in 1989) by Ito so far has inspired 8 live action films and a TV drama. You’d think that the source material should be strong and compelling enough so even the terrible production of Studio Deen shouldn’t be able to destroy that, right? Ito is far better at writing short stories, so Tomie truly looks like one of the best options out the huge catalog of Ito’s manga. Yet, after watching the specials I can do no better than to laugh at all the improbable events and question who on earth could’ve created such a ridiculous, silly, unbelievable and, well, bad story.

Tomie beautiful manga

The gorgeous star of the show


Scattered Thoughts – throat singing (and a bit of Shigurui)

     Did you know that a single person can sing 2 different melodies at the same time? Sounds a bit insane, doesn’t it? How on earth a single person could possess two throats or something? In fact you don’t need to visit Chernobyl (sorry for the bad joke) to be able to perform throat singing, otherwise known as overtone singing. I’ve known about this amusing technique for some time but what did surprise me, was to find it used in the soundtrack of Shigurui, anime I reviewed several weeks ago. As far as I know, no other anime soundtrack uses the technique so it is pretty obscure to say the least. Well, going into details about it doesn’t really concern neither anime, nor manga, nor Japanese culture (for the most part) but I think the more people will hear about some obscure trivia (that to me is quite interesting), the better. Don’t fear some basic physics stuff ahead, I hope I’ll make it comprehensible enough.


Scattered Thoughts – what do I listen to?

     There probably isn’t a person who would say with absolute confidence that music has no part in their life. Music naturally is also a part of anime community, although not many people try to analyse it apart from stating that for example “Kajiura, Kanno and Sawano are cool” (love them all by the way, in that order). Listening to anime OSTs isn’t what I’d consider my hobby but I try to pay as much attention to it as I can. If an artist proves to be entertaining, obviously I try to dig deeper. As working in anime industry isn’t always what musicians only do, over time one band or another comes under my radar, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today – 5 Japanese artists/bands (that not necessarily have strong ties with anime industry) that I came to love.


Scattered Thoughts – Fate/Cooking vs Fate/Umu

   Winter season was blessed (or cursed depending of your perspective) with two Fate shows, but hardly anyone talked about them. The first one, Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan isn’t precisely a normal show because it’s being released only once a month by ufotable. Moreover, it’s not even a normal Fate, but more about that later. In the other corner we have Fate/Extra Last Encore, a Shaft title, boasting of having the brain behind the whole franchise – Kinoko Nasu – on board. After Apocrypha people may have become too full of Fate or otherwise I don’t know how to explain lack of interest in these shows. On the other hand, Fate has become a nine-headed dragon and each of its new heads seemingly gets more and more unlike what people expect Fate to be. Tackling such a beast always demands more than starting yet another stand-alone show. The current situation of Fate isn’t necessarily a bad thing but sometimes it even looks like a certain show manages to keep afloat only because it’s attached to the franchise and not because it’s good by itself. Different as they are, stories of a single franchise should be comparable to a certain extent, shouldn’t they? So let’s try to look at what these two shows can offer.


Scattered Thoughts – Ito Junji: Collection and how to fail at horror

     It’s no secret that this season’s biggest horror anime isn’t that great. It’s really a shame because manga of Junji Ito usually is very entertaining. On the other hand, the outcome was to be expected to some extent – a previous attempt to adapt Ito’s manga also failed horribly. Then maybe Ito’s works aren’t suited to be animated? Looking even more broadly, are horror stories capable of evoking that specific emotion in an animated form? At least to this question I have an answer, and that is yes. So let’s look at what Collection did wrong, comparing it to some better representatives of the genre.

     ///EDIT: last night Super Eyepatch Wolf uploaded a video about Collection, and it’s not unexpectedly right to the point. I’m not sure I can add much to the discussion, but this piece is already written, so oh well. I guess I need to execute my ideas immediately…///


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.


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…)

Scattered Thoughts – CR Anime Awards (Part 2/2)

     Hello again, part one can be found here. Hope you’ll enjoy the continuation of my thoughts on Crunchyroll Anime Awards!

Villain of the Year

Stain (Boku no Hero Academia) / Tanya (Youjo Senki) / Bondrewd (Made in Abyss) / Cartaphilus (Mahoutsukai no Yome) / Hiro (Inuyashiki) / Usagi (Juuni Taisen)

     Another likely win for Boku no Hero – a beloved show about heroes should have some good villains, right? Even for someone only vaguely familiar with Youjo Senki it’s clear that Tanya should provide a good fight, though in her case she is more of an antihero than a villain. Bondrewd on the other hand has absolutely nothing to do with this list. He had a few minutes of presence on screen and doesn’t matter that he’s involved with some huge and apparently terrifying experiments that horribly affected Nanachi anad Mitty. He wasn’t prominent for the show’s present story and even if it’s very likely to change in the upcoming second season, I don’t see him being worthy to be nominated. Cartaphilus is better suited for the best villain role, and he actually participated in enough bad stuff to be remembered. The problem is that Mahoutsukai no Yome isn’t a show that really needs villains and therefore Cartaphilus isn’t the most frequent visitor on screen. From reading the manga I remember Hiro as being rather bland – he just suddenly became a villain for seemingly little reason and for the whole manga showed little progression from being just a bad guy for the sake of it. His actions in the end also came as not really believable considering his behavior earlier. Still, out of every nominee that I’m familiar with he seems to be the closest to the archetypal villain.

Best OP

ACCA / Mahoutsukai no Yome / Shingeki no Kyojin / Boku no Hero Academia S2 / Princess Principal / Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu S2

     Finally a category of items that I can say I’m fully familiar with. People call ACCA’s OP stylish not without a reason. The visuals, although fairly minimalistic, tell many things about the story, the coloring choices also look nothing but pleasant to the eye and the only thing that doesn’t sit well with me is the music, but that’s only a personal preference. The jazzy part accentuates the slice of life part of the show, but what does the hip-hop mean? Mahoutsukai no Yome gave us quite a unique performance – the song is easily recognizable, and visuals depict Chise’s journey from total darkness to a place where she resides now. I wouldn’t call it my favorite of all time (too long dark shots where nothing is happening and seemingly little narrative “meat”) but it is certainly memorable. Shingeki no Kyojin does what it usually does – pumping you up to fight Titans in the best possible way. Well, this OP shows its full strength only by the end while OP 1 of the first season was an incarnation of concentrated musical power. Anyway, this one is still a damn good OP. Boku no Hero OP is pretty similar – just characters preparing to do some stuff and doing some stuff, though on a far more subdued level. I’m not that impressed with Princess Principal either. Sure, it tells a little story, shows some character cards and has that clock wheel imagery, but I believe I’ve seen better. Rakugo, for example. Once again I think this show did the best. Music is perfectly synchronized with the visuals, the story is the most packed despite being rather simplistic. The music also perfectly echoes the general style of the OST so that’s another positive. In later episodes Sukeroku had his eyes painted red so this subtle change just adds to what I believe to be the best of this selection. Apart from these mentioned I think Kuzu no Honkai and KonoSuba deserve some honorable mentions.

Best ED

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond / Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon / Houseki no Kuni / Net-Juu no Susume / Just Because! / 3-gatsu no Lion

     EDs a far easier to judge due to mostly being fairly inconsequential. From this list Net-juu no Susume, 3-gatsu no Lion and especially Houseki no Kuni try to be more artistic than necessary with the latest probably being my favorite. Still, I think more visually impressive EDs like ones of ACCA, Little Witch Academia and Shoujo Shuumatsyu Ryokou are more than on par with this list. Yet, my absolute favorite has to be that of Kuzu no Honkai – Sayuri generally is a very enjoyable singer to listen to, and the trippy visuals perfectly demonstrate the complicated relationships of the characters of the show.

Best Boy

Shoto (Boku no Hero Academia) / Rei (3-gatsu no Lion) / Kazuma (KonoSuba) / Deku (Boku no Hero Academia) / Fafnir (Kobayashi san Chi no Maid Dragon) / Yakumo (Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu S2)

     Well, there should be something wrong if you nominate an old dude in a category for the best boy. Sure, I like Yakumo’s character as anybody but he doesn’t belong here in the slightest. Best oji-san? Sure. Out of others, it doesn’t seem right for Boku no Hero to have two nominees, but oh well, it’s a show about fighting boys so I guess that’s inevitable. I wouldn’t say I really like Rei or Kazuma but I get why they got there. To be frank, I don’t think any of last year’s boy characters left a lasting impression. There have been some fine ones but nothing exceptional. At least for me.

Best Girl

Akko (Little Witch Academia) / Ochako (Boku no Hero Academia) / Moriko (Net-juu no Susume) / Serval (Kemono Friends) / Tsuyu (Boku no Hero Academia) / Chise (Mahoutsukai no Yome)

     Again I think it’s not fair to have two characters from the same show. It’s not that we lacked memorable girls in 2017, right? Out of this list I think Chise is still too incomplete as a human being to be worthy of winning, and Akko may as well claim the title for all I know. She definitely had a presence and basically was the backbone of the whole show. If it would be possible to nominate a duo for this category, my vote would definitely go to Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, but neither Chi nor Yuu are that good taken alone. It’d be appropriate to have Hanabi from Kuzu no Honkai here though. I may be overvaluing the show but it did left a strong impression, so why not. And her character design is terrific.

Best Film

Koe no Katachi / Kimi no Na wa / Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni / Girls und Panzer / Kizumonogatari III / Fate/stay Night: Heaven’s Feel I

     A pretty great selection there, isn’t it? I bet everyone will vote for Kimi no Na wa which I still keep for some lazy afternoon. I’ve heard only great things about Kizumonogatari and Heaven’s Feel, so these two also look like a worthy competition. I probably don’t need to reiterate how much do I like Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni, and Koe no Katachi was also pretty amazing. I think any of these movies would be considered as likely candidates to win any time, so it’s very unfortunate that they have to compete. in the end it’s just a hopeless fight with the hype of Kimi no Na wa so I sadly don’t see any other film winning this one.

Best CGI

Houseki no Kuni / Seikaisuru Kado / Re:Creators / Shingeki no Kyojin S2 / Knight’s and Magic / Inuyashiki

     Let’s be frank, if Houseki no Kuni doesn’t win, there will probably be a rebellion or something like that. Having a decent anime with entirely CG characters seemed impossible a few years back, and now we have an instance of one that people genuinely like and adore. I guess it can only be rivaled by Berserk. Or Hand Shakers.

Best Score

Made in Abyss / Little Witch Academia / Houseki no Kuni / Mahoutsukai no Yome / ACCA / Re:Creators

     I miss Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou in the list. Still, the nominees look great. Apart from Houseki no Kuni which I haven’t seen I can assure that every show is listed there not without a reason. Thinking about how much a score adds to the show, balancing between being not noticeable (in good way) and surfacing up to shine is quite a difficult thing to do, and not everything depends on the score itself. Anyway, I think Made in Abyss should come out on top, as much as everybody (including me) loves Hiroyuki Sawano.

     So yeah, these are my thoughts about the nominees and their possible replacements. For the most part I guess my opinions (or at least guesses) aren’t that different from the public consensus. I only try to push some of my favorites (Rakugo or Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni) where it’s appropriate (or not). I guess everyone does similar things after all. It seems likely that as last time Yuri!!! on Ice gathered everything it could, Boku no Hero will do the same, only to a lesser extent. It’s a good think that the nominees seem far better balanced this time, though there still are some questionable aspects. Still, it looks to be improving, so that’s great.