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Archive for December, 2013

Kyousou Giga

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In the December of 2011, the Kyousou Giga ONA was released. By all accounts it was 25 minutes of colourful, interesting and imaginative confusion and borderline nonsense. I wouldn’t know though; I didn’t watch it. Why not? It was only ever made available in low-definition streaming quality, and as a result looked like ass. For what seemed like a one-off, it didn’t seem worth the trouble for me. But some people were quite intrigued by it, because while it was incomprehensible, it seemed like there was definitely some sort of story there waiting to be told, if only it had more time to do so. And come the following year, a series of shorter ONAs were released showing more of the world from the original ONA as well as some wacky shenanigans and whatnot. It was clearly not the proper story, and it was also only released in eyecancer quality so I skipped over them as well. Still, this little project was generating a lot of buzz, so I was very curious to see what could come out of it.

Flash forward to this year, and Kyousou Giga finally gets a proper TV series! With full-length episodes in real visual quality and everything! Naturally, I took this opportunity to jump into it, and was greeted by a strange, inspired and original story about family, love and rebirth.

Still a little confusing though.

Once upon a time, there existed many realms, and the line between man and god was ill-defined.

Once upon a time, there existed many realms, and the line between man and god was ill-defined.

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Non Non Biyori

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‘Iyashikei’ is one of my favourite subgenres of anime. If you’re unaware, it’s a type of slice-of-life that’s typically more slow-paced, more contemplative, quieter, more peaceful and rife with scenery porn. It’s also often referred to as “healing anime”, which is a fairly accurate description – the point of such shows is to relax the viewer and make them feel more positive and put them into a more optimistic and peaceful state of mind. It can be a bit of a divisive subgenre, as some find the slow pace boring or that the purposeful lack of meaningful conflict renders it pointless, but I myself love it. Non Non Biyori is the latest iyashikei anime to air, and it’s suitably pleasant.

Hotaru is a fifth grade elementary school girl (but looks a fair bit older thanks to her height) who has to move to the countryside due to her father’s work, transferring into the ‘local’ school. Turns out said school literally has a single class, comprising five students – Hotaru herself, the first through third year middle school student siblings Natsumi, Komari and Suguru, and finally the first grade elementary school girl (and sister of the teacher) Renge, otherwise known as Ren-chon. Together (well, mostly without Suguru) they hang out, have fun, and generally enjoy the little things that the countryside has to offer.

Welcome to the middle of nowhere, population: joy

Welcome to the middle of nowhere, population: joy

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I’m a big fan of Hidamari Sketch. I love the positive, relaxed atmosphere. I love the gentle, kind-hearted humour. I love the closeness and warmth between the characters. It’s just a delightful series to watch, a perfect pick-me-up and a great way to raise your mood. As is always the case with these cute-girls-doing-cute-things series the inseparableness of the core characters, the way they are just such good friends, is one of the best parts about it, and a relative constant. Even more so considering they live away from home, together in the same apartment complex; with Hidamari Sketch, there’s definitely this feeling that they’ll always be with each other.

But the fate of any cute-girls-doing-cute-things series that lasts long enough is everyone graduating. It’s always a bittersweet time to see them have to leave their school and the comfortable familiarity and reliability of their friendship there, but there’s also a nice sense of them facing their future together, as they all graduate at once.

Suffice to say, the Sae and Hiro graduation OVA was something I was equally dreading and looking forward to since it was announced early in the year.

But I don’t want these two to leave ;_;

But I don’t want these two to leave ;_;

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Samurai Flamenco was quite the pleasant surprise when it started airing. The story of a young model that had nothing going for him aside for his looks, and yet aspired to be a superhero like in the tokusatsu series he was obsessed with. Well, he also had his incredibly strong sense of justice and amazing perseverance in the face of, uh, being beat up by middle-schoolers. It was an interesting take on the superhero genre, having someone who is just an ordinary man wanting to do some good in the world through anonymous vigilantism, because it examined the expectations and limitations of his capabilities, and the way the public would actually likely react to such an individual.

The inclusion of the 20-something policeman Gotou added a lot in this regard, as being (at least at first) the only person who knew that Masayoshi was doing the whole Samurai Flamenco thing. The two of them bonded over a shared enjoyment of old tokusatsu series, and the contrast between the two – how they both believed in justice and wanted to fight for it, but just took different approaches – made for an interesting dynamic. It also allowed us to see how the police would react to a vigilante, at first condemning but eventually embracing him for PR reasons once it turned out that the public had grown fond of him. And for a little PR stunt, they invited Samurai Flamenco along to a drug sting, obviously only allowing him in once it was safe inside.

Let’s just say it didn’t quite go as planned…

If you haven't watched this series yet, I HIGHLY recommend watching the first 7 episodes before reading ahead

If you haven’t watched this series yet, I HIGHLY recommend watching the first 7 episodes before reading ahead

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As with last year, I took part in Reverse Thieves’ Anime Secret Santa project this Christmas! If you don’t already know, it’s when a bunch of anibloggers secretly gift each other three anime recommendations (obviously with the ‘Santa’ kept secret), with the stipulation that recipients have to watch at least one of them and post up a review.

Last year worked out pretty well for me, as I ended up enjoying two out of the three gifted to me a great deal. This year I received Michiko to Hatchin, Gankutsuou and HeatGuy J. I actually already had Gankutsuou downloaded with plans to watch at some point, and had heard of Michiko to Hatchin already (having passed it up for some reason or another when I was indirectly recommended it a couple of years back), but HeatGuy J was a complete mystery to me. A pretty good spread of familiarity if you ask me, and ideal considering I was going to be watching all three of them, much like last year.

Unfortunately, real life had other plans, and I straight up did not have the time to watch more than one of them. Now that I’m in my final year the uni work got quite heavy, and I was also rocking a pretty bad Dark Souls addiction. Still, I was able to watch one of them, at least fulfilling my obligations! So I’d like to offer an apology to my Santa – I wanted to watch all three of them, I really did! And I’ll get round to them at some point – I have all three downloaded. But maybe giving me three 2-cours series was not a great idea?

In the end I decided to go with Michiko to Hatchin, partially because it wasn’t already on my backlog, partially because the premise sounded pretty cool, partially because it was only 22 episodes, and partially because it was the only available in 720p.

¡Feliz Navidad!

¡Feliz Navidad!

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How do you take a cute-girls-doing-cute-things series that, while possessing a bit of an original setup, is rather unremarkable, and make it utterly unforgettable.

You do what Kiniro Mosaic did.

You make the finale – the entire last third of the episode – into something fucking awesome.

I HIGHLY recommend watching this series for yourself, because half the fun of this sequence is how unexpected it is

I HIGHLY recommend watching this series for yourself, because half the fun of this sequence is how unexpected it is

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Phi Brain S3 has a dubstep eyecatch.

Dubstep. Eyecatch.

WOOOB WOBWOBWOBWOB WOB WOB

WOOOB WOBWOBWOBWOB WOB WOB

I burst out laughing as soon as I saw it in the first episode. I fucking love this show so goddamn much, and this shows just how absurd and amazing it all is and is somehow amazingly perfectly representative of the Phi Brain experience.

The only reason I chose this instead of the hilariously cheesy ED sung awfully by the cast is because this came sooner.

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