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. Read the full post »


Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 4

Violet Evergarden (Ep. 3)

     I can’t remember the last time I saw an anime where a protagonist in class wouldn’t sit in the last seat near the window. Anyway, the story as a whole was quite likable. For the most part Violet still was a she has been – amazing in technical aspects of Doll-business but absolutely clueless about the emotional part. About this Luculia girl… Well, I have to say I’d watch another episode about her. And another. As much as there would be, though it seems like her story already ended, far too early. It would be amazing to catch a glimpse later on of how she and her brother are handling things though i doubt that will happen. I’d be happy if the show also addressed the post-war depression again in some later episode. It’s clear that some broken bridges seen in the first episode aren’t the only relics of war, but we have seen very little of anything else. Violet so far has no interest in the outside world, so naturally we don’t see much either, but it would be so fascinating to delve deeper into lives of ordinary people in this world. The biggest problem I got with this episode is that Violet was granted the graduation brooch. It is supposed to be a very strict school so I wouldn’t expect the teacher to give compliments for such tiny achievements. It was definitely an enormous step forwards for Violet, but do you really want to let someone like her loose because she was able to write three words after so many tries? And the school is said to have dignity because they produce the very best dolls. I think it would have been a better idea for Violet to gather her thoughts about how is she different from normal graduates and what does she need to do in order to improve. Well, in the first place I find it rather unlikely that Luculia stuck to Violet despite her robot-ness. Also I think a great opportunity was missed when Luculia wrote a letter as Violet dictated. Violet absolutely needed to read how her robotic thoughts were written by a girl who can actually feel. On the brighter side, the art remains gorgeous and there are countless tiny cinematographic tidbits that add quite a lot. Take for example the scene where Luculia’s hat flow away, just as her and her brother’s happy days were to end.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ep. 3)

     Well, I just like the show. Say what you will about the age gap, but I can’t help loving the dynamic between Akira and Kondou, and that is only one great point among others. For example, the soundtrack is everything you should and could expect from a character drama based anime. I’m again impressed by the way the show emphasizes Akira’s wish to run, inability to do so and her emotions because of that. Even if she must stay away from her friends, it’s even harder for Akira to be near them, see them enjoying themselves and improving while all she can do is sit and do nothing. It’s nothing strange then that Akira chooses to pursue the one other great thing in her life (as she views it) – a relationship with Kondou. That is all well and good, but what really makes Akira a special lead is her determination to push her point as much as she needs. A usual romcom probably would’ve played an incident of confession for laughs and everything would go on as if nothing had happened, but Koi wa Ameagari no You ni goes beyond that and does it without hesitation. I also appreciate Kondou’s position – he clearly is interested, but he also has all this knowledge of a middle-aged boy – he knows that a serious relationship would be awkward and most likely socially disapproved, his kid also comes into the equation. At this point Kondou is just confused without a clear answer to his questions, and, even worse, left with essentially no space to make other decision apart from accepting or refusing Akira’s intentions, and at this point he’s unwilling to do either. There are also great scenes like Kondou staring to his windshield and understanding that he can’t avoid Akira’s emotions just as wipers can’t wipe all the rain. Later on it just feels genuine when Kondou tries to come up with ways that would absolve him from having to deal with Akira’s feelings, and at the same time he looks disappointed thinking that it might have been just a prank. Right before the show started, I said that I’m not really into the character designs. Once the girls of the track and field team got into one place, I noticed that the designs come as almost CLAMP-esque, with especially long and thin limbs. Well, necks are also not unlike ones in Ballroom e youkoso or Haikyuu. Bet when the story is so strong, do I really need to complain about anything?

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 4)

     Finally something that can really be called creepy. It think the first story came the closest so far to being Ito-ish. Body horror is something Ito can do really effectively (remember Uzumaki for example), and mysterious holes in human body are a perfect example of that. To be frank, such holes aren’t uncommon in manga – Shintaro Kago (you can check him out, though his ero-guro stuff is usually NSFW) used them, as did some other mangakas. Add some insects that may crawl in the holes and you have a perfectly disgusting horror story. As much as liked it, I can’t help thinking that much more could’ve been done. Everything still looks like moving manga panels and there’s barely any animation. The staff just didn’t go beyond of what’s serviceable and didn’t bother to accentuate the horror elements. For example why an eye may be seen through the wholes but not the brain? Why can’t any light be transmitted through a hand covered with holes? The insect part also felt like an afterthought and not a necessary element. And a random friend randomly decided to check out a random bookshelf and randomly found a random diary that contained the exact specific information he needed.  Really? Turning now to the second part, once again we returned to stories that are more laughable than scary. I appreciate the idea of puppets controlling humans but that’s pretty much the only positive thing I can say about the segment. Speaking about the character designs, I like these thick lines, though sometimes they make the whole picture seem a bit amateurish. And Ito, although easily accusable of his drawings suffering from  the same face syndrome, certainly can create attractive characters. I guess if they would look like everything else is in this show, I’d have dropped this anime already.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 16)

     When the title of the episode is “God’s mill runs slow but sure”, you know that you can expect the most basic stuff, only more of it. I get that the general purpose of the episode was to confirm that Chise really has friends now. A side goal was to set things up for the future – these two kids already seem important according to the preview, and I bet this not-that-friendly-looking centaur with a pregnant lady on him also weren’t put there without any reason. Ultimately it felt like a pretty much discardable holiday OVA, only aired at a very curious time. Sure, there’re shows that have their Christmas episodes in the middle of summer, but it still doesn’t look right. That pseudo-kissing scene also was weird. I guess the point of it was to be awkward (kissing with one of the partners having no lips?), with Elias being just curious and playful, but funny as it is, I find his relationship with Chise far more uncomfortable than the one in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni. Or maybe the age gap really means something – Kondou being almost 30 years older than Akira actually sounds more natural compared to Elias’s head start of probably several hundred years. This shopping trip with Alice seemed more meaningful – both apprentices getting on well may force some uncomfortable moments for their masters in the future. I’d really like for some scenario to play out in a way that Alice should side with Chise and go against both Renfred and Elias. Alice’s backstory was pretty standard tear-jerker so that also was less enjoyable than it could’ve been. I guess the important moments that could have consequences at least in the following episode could be compressed into 5 minutes or so. In the end despite this fairly cozy atmosphere, overall I’m afraid I expected something more.

Fate/Extra Last Encore (Ep. 1)

     I’ve no idea what happened. I was quite confident going in because despite having absolutely no knowledge about the original game, I do know something about Nasuverse, but that proved to be useless. An alternative setting is nothing new for the franchise, though I’m nothing but confused about this class about servants, casual burials, Shinji’s girlfriend, some stuff concerning the moon and that girl who seemingly was Red Saber’s Master before Hakuno. Kirei’s comment at the end about miracles happening certainly didn’t help as Fate’s lore is already far more complicated than necessary. Sure, I still have much faith in the series (Kinoko Nasu is on the writing team, so that’s a huge plus), but if I didn’t know anything about the franchise, I would’ve dismissed the show as yet another edgy battle royale that rarely achieves anything good. Now I guess I just need to wait and hope for the best. Speaking about the art, there’s lots of elements clearly of Shaft origin – fixation on the eyes, fairly empty 3D rooms seen from various angles, minimalistic architecture – you name it.  Though I’m not sure this all psychedelic ornamentation was necessary. And, finally, character designs are weird. Well, not per se, just very different from the canon as well as from Shaft’s standards. For example Rin may sound like her usual self but my brain still needs time to process the information that a girl that looks like Rin’s cosplayer is actually her and the real one isn’t hiding somewhere in the shadows. I guess the moral of this episode is that chess is a dangerous game. Don’t play it, kids.

Scrapped Princess – when light novels weren’t so mainstream

Alternative title Haiki Oujo
Studio Bones
Genres Action, Drama, Sci-fi, Slice of Life
Source Light novels
Episodes 24
Season Spring 2003
Director Souichi Masui
Music Masumi Itou

    What is your reaction when you hear that a particular anime is adapted from a light novel? Probably less enthusiastic than it would be if the source material was manga or, better still, it would be an original work. And today I chose to cover precisely an adaptation of a light novel series. But don’t shove it off as something generic – there’re three particular things I want you to remember – “Bones”, “2003” and “complete”. “Bones” is self-explanatory, as “2003” is since at that time light novels weren’t as common as they are now and naturally nowadays overused tropes were far less likely to appear. “Complete” should also sound good since this anime isn’t a usual ad for the source material – it follows the whole story, from start to the very end. So yeah, dear readers – Scrapped Princess.

    Before we get on with it, I think some clarification is necessary. Generally if you see some promotional art or a DVD cover with people clothed in supposedly fantasy anime attire, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the show will be Pure Illusion…sorry, I mean pure fantasy. Even if some dudes are wielding axes or swords. I say this because that’s precisely what happened to me with Scrapped Princess – I was mentally unprepared to encounter sci-fi in the show, but first things first.

     As the story starts, we find the titular princess Pacifica on a run together with her foster-siblings Shannon and Raquel. The reason behind all this is that it has been prophesied that once Pacifica turns 16, she’ll become “a poison that will destroy the world”. Naturally, nobody wants that, especially the church (yep, again an evil church trope). The church is pretty influential, and not least because it’s associated with some powerful and almost angelic beings named Peacemakers. Imagine then the situation of Pacifica, to whom it may seem that the only two in the whole world who don’t want to kill her are her siblings. Especially since it’s more than clear that Pacifica seems to be the least likely person to cause world destruction.

.     Where Scrapped Princess really excels is the characters, or, to be more precise, interactions between them. In the center of everything is of course our heroine Pacifica (as if you couldn’t guess from her colorful clothes). At first she seemed like a usual bratty and spoilt ojou-sama character who can’t stand traveling in a cart and doing anything by herself. It turns out (as expected) that Pacifica is able to grow a spine and act like a real princess (in a good sense). As the plot progressed, Pacifica didn’t get many opportunities to be relaxed and comfortable, and she grew accustomed to her situation quite quickly. Far more important than that is, as her name suggests, Pacifica’s desire to live in peace without causing trouble to anyone. That is made especially clear when Pacifica’s close friends and family are concerned – it’s even hard to believe that the same once whiny girl could offer her hand (literally, not figuratively) in order to find her siblings when they became separated at one point. Pacifica’s compassion for others makes it particularly hard for her to come into terms with the prophecy that she will likely be the end of all the people. Isn’t it quite a scary world when you just want to live and pretty much everybody else wants you dead? Still it’s not enough to break Pacifica – in every situation she eventually is able to find some inner strength and will to proceed, and that’s a trait that makes her worthy to be called a princess.

    Pacifica’s siblings Shannon and Raquel often just seem to be here and we rarely get a glimpse of their actual thoughts and opinions. They are primarily important to Pacifica as her guardians, almost parental figures, who look after her, give her strength and provide comfort. Of course I would’ve liked to see more of them, but even without any plot changes both Shannon and Raquel are integral to the story. Of all the other characters the biggest impression was made by Leo. Aspiring to become a knight but often struggling (for comedic purposes), he becomes enchanted with Pacifica and because of that sticks with the group. When he learns who Pacifica actually is, Leo is posed with a dilemma – on one hand he should behave as a good citizen and chop Pacifica’s head off, but he simply can’t do that after seeing what kind of innocent girl Pacifica is. I wouldn’t say this theme of an impossible choice (with one’s possible future career at stake) and the meaning of justice gets enough development but it’s a great way of making the world more morally grey.

     Fun fact – for some reason many characters are named after specific guns. You may not even notice that at first, but after some time weird naming choices of gods Mauser and Browning as well as characters like Winia Chester among others become more apparent. I’ve no idea why the names were chosen like that. It almost makes as little sense as everyone named after eggs and egg-dishes in Mardock Scramble. Yep, “scramble” also counts.

     After the initial succession of great episodes Scrapped Princess seemed to have run out of gas, but at that point everything became more complicated when some sci-fi elements were introduced. It wasn’t totally unexpected – some skyscraper ruins were already seen quite early. Also, these elements never become the focus of the story – you can never forget that everything that happens, does so in a primarily medieval setting. Inevitably coexistence of swords and lasers called for some explanation, and naturally we got that, only in a form of several exposition-heavy and rather boring episodes.

     Then another change (for the better) occurred when Pacifica, her siblings, Leo and a few other important characters (scattered after their initial introduction) inadvertently and independently came to the capital city. The characters are the main force behind the likability of the show so more interactions between beloved dudes were nothing more I could’ve asked. The only questionable aspect of this mini-arc was that an amnesia plotline was introduced. I wouldn’t say it was absolutely uncalled for, and it did provide some great moments but in the grand scheme of things the amnesia disappeared as suddenly as it came, and with a puzzling side effect of erasing memories formed during the amnesia period. I’ve no idea why the story played out that way – I can only see a great opportunity for further development lost without any reason.

     Many of my previous criticisms may be dismissed simply as preferences, but there’re some bigger issues. Until the story starts moving at full speed near the final third, temporary villains weren’t particularly impressive – they either lacked believable (or just known) motivations or were defeated way too quickly to have any lasting impact. Later on, sometimes I found it hard to believe that the villains really wanted to achieve their goals since communication problems or simply avoidance of seemingly logical actions happened quite often. Another problem became apparent when the sci-fi became more prominent – it was told that people who chose to help Pacifica were at least strongly encouraged to do so by some specific genes they possessed. That a bit undermined their resolve to swim against the stream and help Pacifica as they were kind of preprogrammed to do so and behaved not entirely due to their free will. Yet the finale posed the biggest head-scratching moment – some characters were confirmed to be dead and then magically revived without any explanation apparently for none other reason  than that they just deserved a happy ending.

Pacifica's cooking is excellent, right?

    Talking about the visuals, the most obvious attribute making the show look way older than it deserves is the aspect ratio 4:3. Yeah, Bones didn’t think that out enough. Still, it’s Bones, and even if actual fighting scenes aren’t a frequent sight, everything is done adequately, especially considering the time period it aired. More impressive than action scenes are some (sadly rare) moments of character animation that usually perfectly conveyd the precise emotion that was needed. Some tiny scene of Pacifica rolling her eyes or a brief cut of a hand gesture could make me replay it half a dozen times to fully appreciate the craft. Character animation was especially well used for comedic purposes, and, frankly, pretty much all the comedy in Scrapped Princess was to my liking, and that is a rare case. Returning to the visuals, character designs need to be mentioned. You can argue that they are very generic and usual for their time period but I can’t completely agree with that. Especially Pacifica looks unique with her one-of-the-kind hairstyle and colorful clothes that instantly make her the center of attention. Sure, women’s physique may seem a bit odd at times, but oh well.

 Excerpt from the OST: Suin Nazo no Syoujo by Masumi Itou


     The OST does its job ok. Its composer Masumi Itou you should probably know for her vocal works. Her usual style is quite recognizable – apart from singing the ED of this show, she also did the same for Azumanga Daioh, and more recently heavily contributed to the ED of Flip Flappers (I still can’t get that tune out of my head). The soundtrack of Scrapped Princess however is a bit different. I always appreciate some orchestral music, and it generally suits these high fantasy/sci-fi tales. I can’t deny that the soundtrack is able to enhance calm moments and battle scenes, but to me it wasn’t very impressive on its own. As if it lacks more pronounced themes and some cohesion between the instruments. Speaking about the themes, there’s one that sounds exactly like a rip-off from Howard Shore’s Isengard theme from The Lord of the Rings. As much as the soundtrack is able to do its job well, I’m afraid I’d rather listen to anything by, say, Youko Kanno anytime.

Excerpt from the OST: Coulisse to Shannon no Tatakai by Kenji Kondou

     You might look at Scrapped Princess and see many various tropes like some characters looking like they rather belong to a JRPG, or the fact that Winia is simply an Ayanami-clone, looks included. You might also laugh at some weird narrative choices (a convenient window between separate cells in a dungeon? Why on earth would you do that?). Still, in the end it’s the characters that matter, and there the show has me fully satisfied – even the villains receive some moments of humanization, and that’s only the bottom line. Instances when Pacifica is put in a hard situation were particularly strong. That heartfelt momentary despair and ultimately resolve to set things straight even if there is no obvious and easy solution will probably remain in my memories for a long time as the best thing I can recall about Scrapped Princess, and that’s not even taking into account the main theme – a conflict between what a person is perceived as and what he really is – being executed very well.

    I believe, this anime is



     Anyone who is tired of all this isekai stuff but still enjoys adventure shows should at least try this one. As well as anyone who loves well-crafted characters but isn’t afraid of some tropes or for the most part rather unimpressive animation.

     Have you seen Scrapped Princess? If yes, what are your thoughts about it? Have you encountered any other anime whose characters carried the show whereas other aspects weren’t that impressive?

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.


Scattered Thoughts – CR Anime Awards (Part 1/2)

     First and foremost – Crunchyroll Anime Awards is a stupid thing. Second and not less important – it’s still fun. Many people have already said it countless times – popular vote no matter how you look at it remains a popularity vote. Certainly not everyone can boast of having watched all the nominated shows but even now I don’t think there’s a single person completely happy with the nominees as they are. Sure, all these professional judges and stuff seem to make the Awards look like a legit thing. And of course, you can’t deny that there’s also some truth in the public opinion. There’s probably a reason why one show is more popular than another. Well, in the end shows’ evaluation is a superposition of their popularity and their real value (definitely skewed towards the popularity though). Why then such a shady thing is fun? Firstly, it seems a very human thing to make countless lists and rank things. Sometimes when your opinion coincides with others’, it’s very gratifying. When you don’t agree with something, it’s a good chance to rethink your stance towards one show or another and try to understand whether you points are valid and what did other people find good or bad about them. And inevitably if there are different opinions (and people are civilized enough) a discussion is bound to happen, and that’s one of the cornerstones of any community. I guess the most important thing is to understand that in the end our opinions remain our own and no awards show and no other person can have a superior opinion. Then, taking everything with a grain of salt, we should have a pretty good time discussing anime. Well, it’s the next great thing after watching anime, right?

     So yeah, I decided this year to say a few things (even if some of them might be pretty shallow) about each of the categories and the nominees. I’m certainly not qualified to do that since during last year I watched about 20 airing anime and that’s a tiniest bit of the huge amount of shows that should be considered to make a decent judgement. Well, there’s also Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni, Koe no Katachi and Kimi no Na wa that weirdly are prescribed to 2017 even though they all aired in 2016. Anyway, even if there are categories that I have absolutely no idea what to make of them, it’s still a nice opportunity to once again see what can be said about 2017 in the anime world and how my opinions fit in the general picture of the community. Let’s start!

Anime of the year

3-gatsu no Lion S2 / Made in Abyss / Boku no Hero Academia S2 / Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu S2 / Little Witch Academia / Houseki no Kuni

     Personally I’d like for either Made in Abyss or, better still, Rakugo to win. Made in Abyss still is unfinished and while the journey up until now has been an amazing experience, I feel connected to Rakugo more. Well, I guess it’s natural to feel more attached to drama in a realistic setting than to two kids descending a giant hole, as brilliant as it was. Made in Abyss already received lots of love from the fans and I feel Rakugo should be appreciated more. At least by larger audiences. Who’s likely to win? Boku no Hero, simply because everyone seems to watch it. I wouldn’t mind Houseki no Kuni winning though. Just for the sake of finally giving us another CG anime rather than Berserk to talk about, and for completely opposite reasons. I’ve seen the first season of 3-gatsu, and it didn’t impress me – the instantaneous 180 degree mood swings felt out of place, but I get why it has some fans passionately following it. Pretty much the same can be said about Little Witch Academia – while it was decent, having previous OVAs as a comparison didn’t help to think about this one as truly amazing. From anime that escaped being nominated I’d definitely add Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni.

Manga of the Year

Golden Kamuy 1 / Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuzoku ni Ikimashita Report / Otouto no Otto 1 / Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni / Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu / Dungeon Meshi 1

     Firstly, I don’t think it’s fair to compare already finished manga with some first volumes. A mangaka may start an interesting story but have no idea how to wrap it up, and in my mind that’s a huge factor. Apparently only in my mind. Well, I haven’t got much to say about this category as I mostly tend to read already finished manga. Watching anime weekly already may cause problems of simply forgetting what happened previously and reading manga on monthly basis or so is far more demanding. Still, out of the nominees I know quite well Rakugo and Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni, and Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuzoku ni Ikimashita Report intrigued me enough to actually read it. In terms of the story, I’d be happy if either Rakugo or Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni won. How actual votes will be distributed remains a complete mystery to me – to see witch anime is popular is far easier than to analyze manga reading statistics.

Best Action

Boku no Hero Academia S2 / Houseki no Kuni / Kekkai Sensen & Beyond / Mobile Suit Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans S2 / Shingeki no Kyojin S2 / Fate/Apocrypha

     Well, I haven’t seen any of them. Weird, isn’t it? I guess pure action doesn’t have that appeal to me, especially if it has a more shounen side to it. I’d bet my money on Boku no Hero, just because it’s popular. Again, it would be nice to see Houseki no Kuni win, if only to get more appreciation of good CG. Re:Creators seems like it would be a nice addition to the nominees.

Best Drama

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu S2 / 3-gatsu no Lion S2 / Made in Abyss / Mahoutsukai no Yome / Kuzu no Honkai / ACCA

     Contrary to best Action category, I’ve a fairly good grasp at this one. I’ve watched everything of it, except the second season of 3-gatsu, but as I’ve seen the first one, it should probably count as well. I think Made in Abyss caused the most resonance in the community, with Mahoutsukai no Yome coming close. The latter is a good show, but it wasn’t as unexpected and didn’t have such an effect of making moeblobs suffer. ACCA was more of a slice of life show with the drama part concealed quite deeply. Kuzu no Honkai was especially enjoyable, but my preference once again is Rakugo. I just can’t have enough of it. Koe no Katachi and Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni had plenty of drama in them so an extended list should have these two entries as well.

Best Comedy

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon / Osomatsu-san S2 / Little Witch Academia / KonoSuba S2/GAMERS! / Tsuredure Children

     The standard phrase is “Comedy is subjective” and in this case I completely agree. Most of times I found KonoSuba’s humor to be flat, though I can’t deny the greatness of the visual style. It’s extremely likely to win though. Little Witch Academia in my book doesn’t count as comedy at all. Well, it has comedy, but the show’s focus lies definitely not there. I have a feeling that Kobayashi should probably best cater my sense of humor, but that remains to be seen. Hopefully sooner than later.

Best Slice of Life

Net-Juu no Susume / Tsuki ga Kirei / Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou / Kemono Friends / Sakura Quest / Demi-chan wa Kataritai

     I guess the vote will be decided by the question whether people still remember the Kemono Friends meme, which is pretty likely. My favorite is Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, and it also seems to have a good chance. It is far darker and the slice of life side of it is just a means of examining deeper stuff, so it might be more appropriate to nominate the show for Drama Category or something like that. Anime That Make You Think could also be a good one. Sakura Quest is a good anime but I’m afraid it just pales in comparison with others. Natsume Yuujinchou Roku or Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni could be worthy additions to the category. To go on a tangent, it’s quite funny that next year’s slice of life category could be almost completely filled with shows from this Winter season. Weird how many shows of that kind we get. Not that I complain.

Best Continuing Series

3-gatsu no Lion / Mobile Suit Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans / Dragon Ball Super / Detective Conan / All Out!! / Naruto Shippuden

     Um… how could it be that Rakugo got nominated several times already but it isn’t there? The list already seems like it’s scraping the barrel, so missing this one seems weird. Another of my long time favorites Natsume Yuujinchou Roku seems like it could be there, even if it would have little chance of achieving anything. It’s also baffling that so highly regarded show like KonoSuba didn’t make the list either. And, well, Monogatari? Anyone? I usually prefer shorter anime so I’m not anyone worthy of deciding anyway.

Best Animation

Houseki no Kuni / Boku no Hero Academia S2 / Little Witch Academia / 3-gatsu no Lion / Koe no Katachi /  Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon

     Who thought that putting a feature film among TV shows (unless it’s Violet Evergarden) is a fair game? Let me ask who’s the suitable candidate to win. Well, Houseki no Kuni again gets brownie points for being a CG masterpiece but it still isn’t a rival for Koe no Katachi, is it? About others, if the production of 3-gatsu is the same as it was during the first season, I’ve no idea what is the show doing here. Sure, Shaft can animate but it isn’t a studio to provide constant sakuga and refrain from cutting corners whenever possible. Little Witch Academia also had some incredible moments, especially during first few episodes but I wouldn’t call it an outstanding production overall.

Hero of the Year

Deku (Boku no hero Academia) / Gin (Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusha de Aru) / Akko (Little Witch Academia) / Kukuri (Mahoujin Guru Guru) / Chise (Mahoutsukai no Yome) / Nanachi (Made in Abyss)

     A difficult one for me. On paper any character from a show whose title has words “hero” and “academia” should be a winner by default (and that’s likely to happen for real), but as I haven’t seen it, I’ve no idea. The same goes for Yuuki Yuna and the deciding matter then comes down to your preference to traditional heroes or magical girls. I think Akko comes very close to being a traditional hero – an underdog who struggles doing her best in order to prove her true value to herself as well as others. It’s a very shounen story after all. At the state that Chise is right now, I wouldn’t say she has escaped a damsel in distress stage and fully converted to being a hero. She isn’t particularly concerned about usual hero stuff like saving the world, she just tries to survive and to help her friends when an opportunity presents itself. Nanachi is very similar. Her differences lie in the fact that she had fairly limited screen time to leave an impression of being a hero. Also, she started to get involved into Riko and Reg’s stuff mainly due to her curiosity and not because she had a heroic heart. These girls certainly have what it takes to be a hero but they seem to be preoccupied with other stuff too much to be ideal heroes.

     This already is a rather lengthy post, so I thought it’s better to split it into two parts and continue after some time here. Hope you have a great time and will continue reading when the second part comes! For now – what do you think about the nominees and the Awards themselves?


Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 3

Violet Evergarden (Ep. 2)

     The production remains wondrous and outstanding (as expected) but the story seems to have lost its momentum a bit. The first episode primarily followed Violet as she first saw this entirely new to her post-war world. Everything felt like it spanned precisely the amount of time it needed, and I don’t get this feeling this time. It’s natural to add more characters to juxtapose normal people with Violet but then the focus is lost in order to familiarize with other employees and create the general atmosphere of the company. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but staying too long in one place was especially felt when Violet continuously screwed with her duties. I get the point, need you repeat it time after time? I think everyone more than gets what kind of character Violet is at this point and it’s really treading the line of being too much exaggerated. Come on, is it even possible to make a human being so inhuman? I doubt that even this training, no matter how strict, may change Violet to make her a suitable letter-writer. She probably needs to have a huge emotional blow (such as learning something bad about that Gilbert guy) to change, though I can hardly think of anything that could break that steel heart of hers. She’s just like a diode (speaking electrotechnically) – her words can hurt anyone but other eople’s emotions seem to have barely any effect on her. On the other hand, Violet seemed moved when Erica told that she’s incapable of becoming what she wants. Well, Violet and Erica may be seen as polar opposites as Erica writes in a too safe and polite way that the initial meaning of words may even be lost. Erica also seems to have found sort of a relief because even if she makes mistakes, Violet is far worse. If Violet became more open, there could be some fine moments of these two interacting.  Anyway, it’s quite funny that a service whose employees are called “dolls” is far too complicated for a real doll-like character. I begin to wonder how anyone could have thought that Violet should do well without a complete change of her personality. To Cattleya Violet really seems more like a toy, a doll that can amuse by being incompetent in a cute (sort of) kind of way.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ep. 2)

     Despite liking Violet Evergarden way more before the airing, I think I feel far more strongly towards this one as of second episode. There’s just something very likable about all this, age gap or no age gap. The episode and especially Akira’s running scene (beautiful, wasn’t it?) reminded me strongly of Tsuki ga Kirei – the girl also was a runner, though a far happier one. And Akira also wants to run. It’s nothing strange that even after officially quitting track and field team she misses that sorely, and any pretext to go running is just what she craves for. Naturally, the outcome was as expected. The anime to a great effect employs visuals to show Akira’s self-consciousness while being near Kondou. And Kondou is as clueless as ever. Well, he’s a male lead in romance series, so that’s not unexpected. There’s still a far road for Akira to break the ice and even to make Kondou believe that they can be thought of as a potential couple. Now he’s treating Akira pretty much as a porcelain statue that could as well be his daughter. I wonder how he did get married in the first place. It’s just as if Kondou was a high-schooler and Akira was a mature lady. Kondou so far being the primary source of comedy also works rather well most of times. As this new guy came to work in the restaurant, the comedic role could be transferred to him so Kondou could be free to be more sincere. Shoujo sparkles weren’t as prevalent this time. Cool. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni pretty much is a sleeper hit, and at least for me – a huge one.

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 3)

      I guess the first story was of that kind when Junji Ito just randomly tried some random idea without much thought about it. Generally it’s just a waste of time. For example, who would think a crossroad fortune-telling would be a good idea? Come on, you can’t even talk about luck being involved in that – a passerby can actively say what he thinks, and a vicious person can roam the streets and actively destroy people’s dreams. Well, it’s true that there’s some chance involved as you can’t be sure what you’ll encounter but even a coin-toss would seem to be more appropriate thing. And to believe every bit of nonsense a random passerby can spit to the point of committing a suicide? Even without this terrible set up there’s nothing else – that mysterious walking bishounen does nothing but walks, and I guess the main point was that the MC told enough good fortunes and therefore was able to reunite with his sort-of-girlfriend? Really? The second story felt way more like Ito’s usual stuff, though it still was way too predictable and more funny than scary. Snails in Uzumaki were far more interesting and effective. I’m sorry, guys at Deen, I’m afraid you’re not doing any justice to the source material and I don’t see anything likely to improve. I’m afraid you wasted your time, as well as mine and other viewers’.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 15)

     Interesting. I expected Chise to have a whole course of recover procedures and that it would span more time. And by time I mean not time in the story but the actual time required to show everything. Still, I can’t complain. The fairy country was gorgeous to say the least. There can be many opinions about the show itself but I think that pretty much everyone can agree that the backgrounds are created masterfully. Last episode we saw that even if love may be possible between humans and magical beings, a happy ending isn’t given. Now in a form of this doctor and her husband we see that everything is possible actually. Well, right from the start both the human and the fairy were shoved in directions that brought them together. The human seems to be too fairy-ish and the fairy too human-like, but it pretty mush forms an yin and yang connection when both partners are polar opposites but at the same time share many traits that they shouldn’t have. Yet, in order to become like that, the human must have shed his humanity, and Elias isn’t letting Chise do that regardless of her opinion. Elias so feverishly pursues humanity that it looks like he would never consider letting anyone lose it. I wonder if it’s actually possible for Chise and Elias to become as inseparable and connected like the punk-doctor and her husband – Elias severely lacks human side and therefore must stay in human world while Chise only learns about magic, and that should be far easier in the fairy world. Paradoxically it seems like in order to grow closer they should live in different worlds. Of course, the story as a whole looks like one with a happy ending so I would expect some hard work should make anything possible regardless of our couple’s choices. Moving on to the second part, at first I was curious why did Silky’s backstory ended up precisely in this place. In the end I think everything makes some sense. It’s applaudable how much information the show conveyed without much words. Silky’s main wish has always been to have a home, a place where she could have a little space of her own and just to be around people that matter to her. It’ hard to close an old door and open a new, but Silky just as Chise a bit earlier is shown to have found a place to call home from the bottom of her heart. This long departure of Elias and Chise worked well to emphasize that. Silky’s presence usually is minimal but it’s finally shown that she deeply cares about everyone – even such a seemingly cold person can be moved enough to smile or to lose her composure and run in order to hug someone. Well, I would’ve liked to see more of Silky’s tender side because she seems severely underused but with time already spent by practicing brutal revival methods on Chise (is it a usual technique to gamble with a life of a patient?) left only hope for some time in the future.


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.


Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 1

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 1)

     I got to say my fears were founded. Apart from all these voodoo things (that obviously weren’t explained) there’s just nothing that interesting. Souichi is that immensely annoying kind of guy who acts like a mad scientist but once caught, gets all wimpy. The problem is that I don’t enjoy such a protagonist. Hell, I’d disown such a troublemaker. It’s clear that sometimes he’s expected to be seen as a laughable and funny guy (and sometimes he is due to his incompetence), but most of times it’s unintentional. Yuuji Mitsuya does a great job as a VA but that flow of endless explanations and comments by monologuing? No, thank you. No more of you, Annoying Jerk, please. Speaking about the art, I don’t think red coloring in the OP is the right choice – as far as I remember, blood isn’t that often used by Ito as a means of horror. The ED on the other hand felt rather cute (as cute as random jerks and dolls (and a monster) hiding behind the trees can be). Still, the overall visuals seem pretty stale. There just weren’t any scenes that would be enhanced because of the animation. All that was animated was people walking and mouth-flapping. In the end it’s just (barely) moving manga panels with some colors painted on (probably for the worse). On the other hand, the final segment (somehow incredibly short, almost a preview) felt more like an animated Ito story – you just sit with “Whut? Whaat? Whaaaaa? Oh dear…” That’s Ito that works.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 13)

     It certainly is episode 13 of season 1 and not episode 1 of season 2. There’s (again) just nothing that impressive. The part before the OP basically was the same PV that was played during the credits of the last episode. The OP itself used only scenes from the show itself and while the scenes chosen definitely were good ones, you usually expect the OP to be of somewhat better quality than the rest of the show. Or at least to tell a mini-story that would tie into the themes of the show, not just be something like “previously on Mahoutsukai no Yome…”. The dip in quality was also apparent during some motions of the characters and I probably don’t need to address the ED that is a single boring pan without any creativity. On the other hand, this episode nicely showed a place where the OVAs should be placed. Only someone who hasn’t seen them might be a bit confused about what exactly did happen there. Going back to the main story, Elias continuously puzzles me. Well, as does Chise by being so head over heels for him, but that I already said countless times. So yeah, Elias. He sends so ambivalent messages that I don’t know what to think anymore. One time he may get over-romantic with all these “it was so cold when you weren’t there”, carrying Chise around, calling her his bride and stuff. But then also comes a moment when he doesn’t shy from cheering about his “bought” item, casually almost forgetting to tell that these flying sheep may freeze you to death. Not to cautiously hiding his own backstory. Come on, dude, after all these years you should know that you form a relationship by sharing something, and that includes information – if Chise can talk about her family, why do you get on your high horse and assume that it’s your decision to remove some of Chise’s memories? Also, a thing about Chise’s dad. It’s understandable that he separated from her mother but is it possible that he was also able to stop caring about Chise because of that? It highly contrasts with the happy family picture Chise remembers – what kind of dad would forget his beloved daughter even after she was left alone in the world as the only person close to her at the time died?


Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 0

     Even before going through the list of all upcoming anime, I have only one thought about the Winter season. Violet Evergarden!!! Everything else seems hardly to matter. Sure, I may be too hyped up and therefore more prone to be disappointed, but overall it looks to be an exciting season, even if we would disregard Violet Evergarden. Everyone will probably enjoy some sequels – Overlord, Nanatsu no Taizai and Dagashi Kashi are all coming, I’m also happy for yuri fans as well as those who thoroughly enjoy endless isekai light novel adaptations. Sure, if any of these will prove to be great, I’m all for it, but as of now I have something else on my mind.

Violet Evergarden

     If there’s a show worth watching this new season, it’s hands down this one. There’s very little negative I could think about – probably only the source material might theoretically be a problem, though in any case an adaptation usually can improve some things if need be. And I have utmost faith in KyoAni (well, I had it also when Musaigen no Phantom World came, but let’s forget it). The PVs look absolutely stunning, as if the anime was a film and not a TV series. The first episode was already finished half a year ago, so even considering the insane amount of work the studio has decided to do, there shouldn’t be much problems with the schedule. To be frank, after seeing the first PV I had a rare feeling similar to one I had before starting Flying Witch and Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni – as if it’s  an anime made specifically for me and I have to watch it no matter what. These two turned out to be my favorites so I have no pretext to think Violet Evergarden won’t be.

Mahoutsukai no Yome

    Continuing from the last season, it doesn’t look to offer anything that unexpected. Chise still has a long road to go in order to overcome all of her emotional issues, and her backstory, particularly everything concerning her parents, is still virtually unknown. Also, all these sorcerers/magi rivalries and stuff could be brought back to the picture any time soon, so there’s definitely huge possibilities for the story. Even Elias is still so mysterious that apart from Lindel’s recollections we barely know anything about him. The PV promised quite an action-heavy turn of events, and while I adored the more peaceful moments, some action, if well made, won’t go to waste. So yeah, the bottom line is that the show can simply continue what it has been doing so far and everything will definitely be fine and enjoyable.

Ito Junji: Collection

     It’s pretty weird but my guilty pleasure watching anime turned out to be particularly bad horror shows. You know these shorts that you can laugh at pretty much any time at because of their incompetence. As much as I love stuff that Junji Ito comes up with, I don’t think this anime will be any good. Firstly, even if Ito’s mind can create very powerful  and horrific scenarios, the man just can’t finish his stories properly. As this anime seems to cover his short stories, the problem becomes far less important, but still relevant enough. Another thing is that I’m not sure Ito’s stories are suitable to be animated. Well, just look at Gyo. There might be a reason why such a prolific mangaka hasn’t had his stuff adapted into anime. I think one of the reasons are that static images sometimes may be better at evoking horror. Black and white also works well with that and I have some reservations about adapting everything in color. The final point might seem not the fairest one but I’m afraid I don’t trust Studio Deen enough to make this a good adaptation.

Fate/Extra Last Encore

     Well, this is a difficult one. After skipping Apocrypha I thought that I actually might be in a mood for some Fate and its endless spawn of content. The problem of course is that I know practically nothing about this side story and its suitability to be adapted. Quite a significant fact is that this iteration will be done by Shaft. Yet, after watching the PVs it’s clear that the anime looks nothing like the usual Shaft fare (for better or worse). Sure, the anime will even feature Shinji, Sakura and Rin (with their original VAs), but these three look very different from their canon character designs, almost if this was some doujinshi. Well, there seems to be a possibility for the anime to feature lovely Arcueid from Tsukihime visual novel (because Tsukihime anime doesn’t exist) and my absolute favorite girl Shiki Ryougi from Kara no Kyoukai. If that will prove to be true, I don’t no, I’ll go bananas. But other than that, it’s better to remain cautious.

      Other than these 4 most likely ones, there are several others that look to be interesting (like that Atsuko Ishizuka and Madhouse thing about Antarctica), but not interesting enough to get hyped without first getting to know them better:

  • Koi wa Ameagari no You ni – Wit studio will had to divide its forces between this one and Mahoutsukai no Yome. Still there should be enough manpower left as usually the studio provides quite good visuals. I’m not a fan of character designs, but a story might be not the most usual one.
  • Kokkoku – most definitely can develop to be the Edge-lord of the season, but despite quite appalling CG it can probably have some surprises, though it’s doubtful.
  • Yuru Camp△ – probably standard moe-blob slice of life, reminding me of Yama no Susume. Well, doesn’t look ambitious but if a need for speed relaxation arises, this one might do the job.

  • Darling in the FranXX – nothing to say apart from the fact that it’s Trigger. The story seems fishy but going to the roots of mecha and just providing usual Trigger-level of animation should make at least an adequate anime.

     So yeah, I may be a bit overexcited, but this season really looks likely to leave an impression. What about you? What would you watch? Did I miss anything interesting?

Musings and Reflections – end of 2017

      Well well well, ain’t it an obligatory year-end post, eh? How was the last year? Well, quite normal to be frank. Personally I think I feel just like usual with neither big announcements nor any news. How was it for the anime world? Quite good, I guess. Last year  I found that in MAL Top 100 anime list there were 16 titles made in 2016. This year in that respect seems to be similar – it’s 15. Yeah, people really don’t hype up new shows. Out of these 15 titles only 3 have no connection with earlier entries, that is they are not related to any previously aired show. It’s quite natural that sequels are overrated as they are watched mainly by people who already know they would like it. And you ask what these 3 great shows are? Well, one of them is Violet Evergarden, so technically it’s not even started yet, but it seems like regardless of it’s airing date it will definitely be considered one of the better stuff made by KyoAni. Or at least I hope so. That leaves only 2 anime and they are Made in Abyss and Mahoutsukai no Yome. I’m not so sure about the latter one being one of the greatest anime ever(though it definitely has charm), but Made in Abyss certainly looks so.

Out of everything I’ve watched this year, apart from Made in Abyss the second season of Rakugo, Scum’s Wish and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou felt like ones deserving the biggest praise. To a lesser degree Natsume and Mahoutsukai no Yome also did many things right. Then there’s Hand Shakers (if you want to have a good laugh), but beware of dizziness watching all these CG chains. So yeah, everything’s looking quite positively as there undoubtedly are many great shows being made right now. It’s very likely that the trend will continue (with Violet Evergarden in the front I hope), so I guess it’s a great time being an anime fan. Yet, you have to be extremely cautious as there’re many times as much bad stuff as there’s good, but in the end if the industry will be able to survive its own terrific pace, us anime viewers won’t be bored any time soon.

     Speaking of non-seasonal anime, last year I wrote that I was (and still am) quite a newby who still hadn’t seen Clannad, Madoka Magica, Monogatari series or Death Note. I guess I haven’t been totally idle since that’s no longer the case for Madoka and Bakemonogatari. As expected, these two shows were something. Also I’m very happy I had a chance to finally savor Monster, Shirokuma Cafe, Koe no Katachi, Flip Flappers and exceptionally beautiful Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni. It might be not as fun community-wise, but certainly far safer to immerse into already tried and tested older anime. So, dear reader, don’t miss out on some great stories that are already waiting for you – seasonal anime won’t escape anywhere. Might as well say the same thing about manga – great stories are waiting. For example try out some Nijigahara Holograph or Pluto that proved to be my favorites this year.

      New Year’s Resolutions? Well, I don’t practice such stuff much, but sometimes it’s good to have a written goal in front of you. A dream would be to find one or two anime worth 10/10. Well, if I’ll be successful reaching at least 350 entries on MAL (right now I’ve got over 250. Not many, not many…), it seems like a more or less doable task. Possible candidates? It’d be cool to finally get to Kimi no na Wa, Anohana and more Monogatari. Some Spice and Wolf light novels are comfortably sitting on my shelf, so there’s another potential direction to take. Also, I’d like to be more consistent with other write-ups beside my episodic Musings and Reflections. It’s quite easy to scribble a short paragraph after an episode of an anime, but definitely not as satisfying as writing something bigger. So yeah, the following year looks to be interesting enough.

     Dear reader, thanks for stopping by this time as well as others. I’m very happy to be a part of this wonderful community of truly talented writers and thinkers (that includes You), and I’m looking forward to the future that looks quite interesting. Happy New Year, everyone! Cheers!