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Archive for June, 2013

To say that this year’s spring season has been a disappointment would be putting it mildly. There has been so much mindless, idiotic, tedious or just plain bad anime; only two series that started in spring could, I feel, be called “good” without reservation, and even then one of them is beginning to slide downhill. Normally, the equinox seasons are the best in any given year, but that has really not been the case this time. So I’m glad for it to end, to be able to leave it behind.

By contrast, the summer season is looking hot (hurr hurr). There is a lot I’m really quite excited for, and many series that are looking quite imaginative and interesting. What the heck is going on? Did the schedulers accidentally switch the two seasons around? No summer should be looking this good!

List:

As always, red = nope, green = hell yeah, orange = sure, why not

As always, red = nope, green = hell yeah, orange = sure, why not. Also, you should be using AniChart.net

  • Tamayura: More Aggressive
  • Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu
  • Free!
  • Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku
  • Rozen Maiden (2013)
  • Love Lab
  • Danganronpa – The Animation
  • Senki Zesshou Symphogear G
  • Servant x Service
  • Genei wo Kakeru Taiyo
  • Kiniro Mosaic
  • Monogatari Series: Second Season
  • Uchouten Kazoku
  • Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi
  • Blood Lad
  • The World God Only Knows: Goddess Arc
  • Watamote!
  • Gin no Saji
  • Kimi no Iru Machi
  • Gatchaman Crowds
  • And a bunch of OVAs and some films

And my thoughts:

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Ah, Key. Purveyor of visual novels created with the singular goal of making you cry like a little child, their works – both the visual novels and anime adaptations of them – are generally highly received amongst anime fans (except in anime blogging circles, where they’re far more divisive). Well, at least the adaptations by KyoAni. Those are quite highly regarded, capturing the atmosphere and magic in the stories quite effectively (Air was a bit iffy, but that was very early in the studio’s lifetime), but the adaptations by other studios? Far more mixed.

Prior to 2012, the only Key works to be animated were Air, Kanon and Clannad, all handled by KyoAni (and some other studios doing separate adaptations). Missing was Little Busters!, one of the most highly regarded from their repertoire, and one fans had been wanting to see tackled for years. So naturally, when Key announced that it was being animated, there was much rejoicing. This immediately turned to speculation, and to concern. Everyone wanted KyoAni to adapt it. They had spent so much time establishing themselves as the de facto Key adaptation studio! But KyoAni already had a series ready for the season Little Busters! had been announced for, so it quickly became apparent that their treatment was unlikely. So who was going to be working on it? Most every studio was considered and evaluated, but the actual studio who were handling it… nobody was expecting it. Nobody wanted it. Very few studios could have elicited more groans of despair.

JC Staff were adapting Little Busters!.

OH. And Yamakawa, the director chosen? He previously directed Kill Me Baby.

Well, fuck.

 Jun Maeda feeds off the tears of his fans – although they’re crying about something quite different this time

Jun Maeda feeds off the tears of his fans – although they’re crying about something quite different this time

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Tamako Market

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I’m a bit of a Kyoto Animation – AKA KyoAni – fanboy. Y’know, if that wasn’t clear already. The animation, the presentation, the direction, the sheer charm they imbue their series with, I love it. But something they haven’t done before – well, not since Munto but that doesn’t count – is trying their hand at making an original series. Something spawned from the creative minds working there, not just an adaptation of an existing property. And so when Tamako Market was announced as an original series being headed by a bunch of the staff that had made K-On! a success, well, I got pretty hyped.

Tamako Market is the story about Tamako Kitashirakawa, the daughter of a mochi shop owner, and her friends after a strange, talking bird called Dera Mochmazzi enters their lives. It’s a slice-of-life with some minor magical realism elements added, and there are some cute girls and they do some cute things but it’s not all about that. Either way, it’s good fun.

Behold, the face of mochi

Behold, the face of mochi

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RDG: Red Data Girl

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Traditional Shinto mysticism, tradition and spirituality is an unsurprisingly oft-plunged source and inspiration for fiction in Japan, and as a result is frequent in anime as well. It’s hard to find series set in Japan that doesn’t incorporate Shinto or Shinto-Buddhist elements in some fashion, but usually it’s only through shrine visits for luck or some sort of festival. When it gets more involved with the story, when fantastical plots based on the beliefs and myths of the religion are created, I have a tendency to enjoy them. It’s a form and style of fantasy quite foreign to someone who’s only ever lived in a western, predominantly Christian-based society, so there’s always a level of unfamiliarity, of originality to be found for me within them. With that said, it’s not too difficult to pick up on the recurring themes, elements and devices amongst such pieces, and a certain amount of predictability and familiarity does result; despite being far removed from the culture and the traditional stories, if a series bases itself on that without attempting anything new or interesting with it, it will most likely strike me as unoriginal and possibly uninspired.

RDG: Red Data Girl does something new and interesting with it! Well, at least the premise does. Suzuhara Izumiko is a 15 year old girl, raised in a shrine in the mountains. Not only is she a little socially awkward for being so sheltered, she also has the habit of accidentally destroying any electrical devices she touches. Cue her coping and learning to live in the modern world as her guardian, Sagara Yukimasa, encourages her to go to a high-school in Tokyo and forces his son Miyuki to serve her for life, as she discovers her duty and fate. Well, you’d think it’d be like that.

a

You’d be mistaken

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One of my favourite parts about watching airing anime is picking up a series that has a goofy, kinda dumb premise on the basis that it might be a laugh for a couple of episode, only to find out that it’s actually a genuinely great show. Girls und Panzer is very much an example of this.

Ah, but how does it accomplish such a rare and wonderful feat? You see, it all starts with the premise. Now, the whole ‘cute girls doing cute things’ thing is getting a little played out. It was never a genre that leant itself to radical ideas, usually opting instead to take the route of ‘cute girls doing cute things with X’ – music, art, school council, anything really – and there’s only so much you can accomplish with such a formula. So you have to start thinking outside the box, truly pushing the limits of ‘X’.

And thus we end up with ‘cute girls doing cute things – with tanks!

Panzer vor!

Panzer vor!

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I relate to stories of being a useless lazy piece of shit (notice how this review for a Winter season anime has been published in June) and I am also a fan of SHAFT’s output in general, so boy is Sasami-san@Ganbaranai the series for me! Well, at least in theory, anyway.

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai focuses on the life of the titular Sasami, who starts out as a hikkikimori pampered by her enigmatic, siscon older brother, as she observes and occasionally tries to prevent all the weird shit that goes on with the help of the three Yagami sisters. One of whom is a robot. Another is a God (sort of). And Sasami herself certainly isn’t a regular human.

Weirdness ensues.

I mean, weirder than usual for SHAFT.

What do you mean all social recluses aren't this pretty?

What do you mean all social recluses aren’t this pretty?

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While I’ve never been much of a fan of the horror genre in general, I’ve always found myself appreciating such works in anime. It’s probably due to my aversion towards guts n’ gore and jump scares, which seem to be common in most western horror films. By contrast, most horror anime is more concerned with building an atmosphere of tension and psychological dread, focusing less on the ‘monster’ itself and instead developing sympathetic feelings towards the characters involved; instead of being scared by what’s happening, your feelings reflect those of the characters.

This is all just my personal experience however, and I would hardly call myself an expert of the genre. I could be completely off-base. But when you consider, say, Shiki, Mononoke and even Another to an extent, there seems to be some validity to it.

In this regard, one could easily call Shinsekai yori (or From the New World) the latest horror anime, but doing so would be something of a disservice. ‘Horror’ doesn’t quite encapsulate its complete nature – it’s a psychological post-apocalyptic dystopian supernatural drama, and while its tone and delivery lend themselves to the horror genre, its narrative scope is too wide to fit simply into that genre.

But this is all just a load of pretentious meandering. To put it simply, Shinsekai yori is a tense, claustrophobic, dark, thoughtful and intelligent series, and is one of the best anime I’ve ever seen.

And so it all began

And so it all began…

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