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Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Wrapping up the spring season with part 2 of my (shorter) reviews! In part 1, I covered Uchouten Kazoku 2, Anonymous Noise, and Tsuki ga Kirei, which were fantastic if unfocused, forgettable with some good moments, and surprisingly beautiful in turn. This time I’ll be looking at arguably the two biggest series of the season, one of which had started in the winter – Little Witch Academia and Attack on Titan 2.

These will be a little longer than last time as there’s more to talk about – especially in Attack on Titan 2’s case – but they still don’t come anywhere close to my 3000+ word review of the original Attack on Titan!

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I’m trying a new review format out! Instead of lengthy, analytical essays I’ve decided to go for something hopefully more concise and to the point. Honestly, the long ones were wearing down on me, becoming some massive obligation in my head that took too long and stressed me out – especially when I only really wanted to convey a couple of points or a few feelings about a series. So now I’m just getting to the point! I’m worrying less about justifying everything I write and instead just capturing the core of my perspective.

So let’s get started! In this first post for the spring 2017 season, I’m looking at Uchouten Kazoku 2, Anonymous Noise and Tsuki ga Kirei.

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Urara Meirochou

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I’ve mentioned before in other reviews, but for a cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime to stand out in this day and age it needs to do one of two things: be absolutely excellent, or have some kind of novel hook. Urara Meirochou goes surprisingly hard on the latter, giving up the cliché school setting for something far more fantastical and whimsical.

In the gigantic and confusing Labyrinth Town, fortune tellers drive the economy and culture. No matter what style of divination you seek, you will be able to find it and more. These fortune tellers – called urara, and all women – borrow the powers of the town’s gods to help their clients, but if they break their ultimate taboo and attempt to divine the nature of those same gods then they will lose their powers.

Four fifteen year old girls receive letters of invitation to start training as urara at the Natsume-ya teashop, one of whom – Chiya – sees in this an opportunity to finally find her mother.

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Flip Flappers

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A lot of hopes were pinned on Flip Flappers before it aired. Based on early art and trailers, it looked to have the same vibrant, intelligent and novel appeal of Kyousou Giga, a series that charmed the pants off many fans and is something of an under-appreciated gem. There simply aren’t enough shows out there that dare to be as daring, so anything even hinting in that direction is welcomed with open arms. This doesn’t always work out – Rolling Girls had a similar reception only reinforced by its earliest episodes, but ultimately disappointed in a major way. ‘Cautious optimism’ summarises most attitudes going into Flip Flappers; hopeful for its promise but aware of the potential for failure.

The first episode delivered in a big way. It was supremely energetic and sweet, fiercely imaginative and creative, and stunningly animated and presented – but so was Rolling Girls. Unlike Rolling Girls, Flip Flappers sustained this. It never ran out of ideas, never started dragging its heels, and never compromised on anything that made it stand out. Not content with that, it also displayed a great deal of depth and intelligence, and while that only emerged a few episodes in it quickly became apparent that it was hidden in plain sight from the beginning.

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Hibike! Euphonium 2

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Hibike! Euphonium 2 is more Hibike! Euphonium. And I mean this in the truest sense of the word – it is a direct continuation of the first season, and if you liked that I’m hard pressed to find reasons why you’ll dislike this.

Specifically, it’s more of the incredible second half of the first season – that is, loaded with intimacy, emotion and feeling. Much of the first season was devoted to Kumiko and Reina, with the two only connecting in the second half. This second season has the two as close friends throughout (as if they’re only friends…), so we get so many of those wonderful, quiet, close moments the two shared. And with that relationship thoroughly established, the show takes the opportunity to really dive into the supporting cast – Taki, Asuka and Reina are explored and fleshed out into much more depth, and with Kumiko being involved in everything we get a lot of growth and development out of her too. It’s a take on the Hibike! Euphonium cast only afforded by the familiarity already garnered, and the emotional payout we get from it is tremendous.

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Shirobako’s insider look at the animation industry, specifically the inner working of the animation studios, earned it widespread acclaim. It was a rare look at something most know little about, and combined with its delightful characters was an absolute joy to watch. Sure, it wasn’t shy about showing the difficulties you have to go through to complete a series, but it was still ultimately a love letter to the medium rooted in optimism and idealism.

In stomps Gi(a)rlish Number and laughs from the bottom of its cold, jaded, heart. It casts a cynical eye on the industry from the seiyuu’s perspective and does nothing to hide its sardonic attitude. Mockery of trashy, generic light novels, troubled production, garbage producers, the bullshit voice actresses are put through in the name of promotion, and more besides are commonplace and from no angle is the industry framed in a positive light.

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Occultic;Nine

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The Semi;Colon meta-franchise is back with Occultic;Nine, and this time it’s seemingly openly embracing the paranormal instead of going full-on science! The drama and conspiracies haven’t gone anywhere, mind you, and it’s far from a rejection of the pseudo-science that defines the meta-franchise.

256 corpses appear in a nearby lake; Yuuta Gamon, a high school student who runs a blog on the paranormal (with the aim of making a living off the ad revenue), sees it as a golden opportunity for his site. Unfortunately, he gets caught up in something far bigger and far more mysterious – along with 8 other individuals across all stripes.

In a first for the Semi;Colon ‘franchise’, Occultic;Nine started life as a light novel, not a visual novel. This, in tandem with a premise rooted in the supernatural and otherworldly, very clearly sets it apart from its predecessors. So how does it stack up?

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