[Thoughts] Angel Beats!

A White Dwarf

Much like the galactical mega-stars that occupy the distant worlds far from us, Angel Beats! was seen as one of the brightest anime shows this season, with enough spiritual intrigue and mystery to pique everyone’s interest and bay the critics’ initial impressions. Then episode 6 came along and ruined everything. The series started out as a quest for identity, transformed into a rescue mission, and then ended as a mawkish, drippy, and cheesy yearning for ascension and belonging. But I will admit, I am a sucker for drippy melodrama, given that the context surrounding it is merited; Clannad does this well.

On the other hand, Angel Beats! tried to do the impossible—cram an emotionally meaningful, soul-searching, love story into 13 episodes and staple on action, comedy, and over 10 characters. Unless the story author is as talented as Ryohgo Narita (Baccano!, Durarara!!) and the animation director is Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 Centimeters per Second), then there’s no way you’d be able to pull that off—not in 13 episodes, at least.

Gear Hop

But what exactly went wrong? The series was the bellwether of promise for the early summer anime; nothing else posed as a serious threat to the popularity of the show, save Durarara!!, Maid-sama!, K-On!!…OK, never mind. Here’s the point: when Angel Beats! premiered in April, everyone panned it as a crisp and refreshing change from everything else, but what we got was a maudlin semi-love-story, semi-quest-for-identity where neither of the two make it past the larval stage. For a series that’s been in production since 2007, it’s a real shame to see such a tenuous product.

Does that mean that Angel Beats! had the wrong idea about its plot? No, not necessarily. In fact, I really liked the direction the series was going in. I just wish that the animation studio opted for a second season so that they could flesh out all of the different modules of the plot. You can’t possibly expect to cram so many different avenues of the story into a short 13-episode mini-series. The authors asked for so much and the animators gave so little. There was no way this series could’ve explored all the different aspects of the characters and their struggles using so little airtime.

What made Clannad and Kanon so great was the ability for gradual character growth, not door-slamming character heel face turns, whiny, half-baked deliveries, or abrupt character derailments. Angel Beats! tried to accelerate the development of the cast by changing the circumstances around them drastically and often, hoping that the audience would simply accept that everyone in this world just lives in the fast-lane. Most of the fanbase is complacent with this series, but I wasn’t sold on the piece. I felt that the series could’ve been orders of magnitude better if the studio would just opt to do a 24 episode series instead of a 13 episode one.

One might argue that it doesn’t take 24 episodes to make a great story— or 13 as a matter of fact. The art of cinematography has to deal with the most limited amount of resources when it comes to storytelling. In, at most, three hours, a film has to portray the characters, depict the setting, advance the plot, and, optionally, make meaningful statements about the real world. That’s quite a bit of stuff to do in a mere three hours, whereas a mini-series has six and a half hours to do the same—approximately four and a half hours if you deduct the commercials, the OP, and the ED. But on the other hand, a show has to cope with the changing dynamics of executive meddling, occasionally recap previous events, progress the story in such a way that allows segmentation to occur between major plot events, and hook the audience at the end of each episode. That’s a lot to ask for.

It’s not reasonable to compare the two different mediums because they both deal with different challenges in order to meet the same goal: tell a good story—and make some money.

Unfortunately, Angel Beats! couldn’t completely convince me to suspend my disbelief. I really would’ve liked to see and feel the tenderness that was between Otonashi and Angel at the very end. I really would’ve liked to truly understand the neglect and pain that Naoi felt when he was forced to take on his brother’s identity. I really would’ve liked to truly understand Yui’s joy when Hinata proposed to her. None of these wishes were fulfilled. Never, not once, did I ever feel as emotionally connected with this series as I did with Clannad, Kanon, 5 Centimeter’s per Second, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Toradora, True Tears, Valkyria Chronicles, Voices of a Distant Star, or Evangelion.

This anime falls somewhere between Full Metal Panic! and Shakugan no Shana. Angel Beats! comes off half-finished and rushed, scrambling to find every excuse to compress as much plot advancement into every second of airtime. Despite its lack of story-flow, I feel that Angel Beats! was worth watching. It doesn’t compare to any of the great dramas in recent memory or any of the more mindless action shows that are still on television. But Angel Beats! does deliver a refreshing change of pace with its dark, slapstick humor, its Haruhi-like characters, and original concept.

[Thoughts] Baccano! | True Tears

Paper

As much as I wanted to do a datasheet for Baccano!, the loads of characters and the florid plot would make detailing every twist, turn, and corner an achievement in and of itself. There is so much plot infrastructure and character depth that I couldn’t possibly do justice to the series by merely summarizing all of their attributes in one sentence. Instead, I’m going to give you a brief post about my thoughts on the show and why I think it’s one of the most different, yet interesting anime series.

A Train Ride Ruckus

Back when I first watched Haruhi (S1), I quickly realized just how flummoxing an achronical plotline can be. There are two different ways to mix-up the monotontony of a linear plot: do it the wrong way and take a linear plot and tell it to the audience out of order or do it the right way and engineer the plot to be told out of order. To be fair though, the animators didn’t make the series out of order—they merely aired it out of order. I’m not sure if KyotoAnimation decided to do this or if their syndicators just wanted to fuck with us. A truly gifted author can really bring out unique story-telling elements if they are careful enough to plan a plot that can only be told in achronological order. I was a bit wary of Baccano! because of the potential confusion I might have had to endure, but those fears were quickly washed away after I started the series.

Baccano! is a refreshingly chic, short, and cleaver anime that combines the genius of a Pulp Fiction-style plot line and the intriguing pseudo-science of Fullmetal Alchemist. The plethora of characters and their near-equal amount of screen time demonstrate the wide-scope of the world that the characters live in. Furthermore, the constant shuffling between time-frames enhance the plot’s depth and do so in such a way that doesn’t interfere with the audience’s understanding of the timeline—although, you’ll have to go through and watch the series a second or third time in order to fully appreciate the genius behind everything.

As the narrators beginning side-characters lampshade, this story has no main characters despite the heroic qualities of some of the characters. The beginning side-characters also poke fun at the fact that this story doesn’t have a conclusive ending; the anime sticks the ending well, but the show is based off a light-novel series that has yet to conclude. Regardless, the anime studio, Brain’s Base, did a fantastic job focusing on the pivotal event of the light-novel series.

Fantasy Picture Book Love Triangle

I recently decided to pick up the series True Tears on a whim because Coal Girls decided to release the Bluray rip. After talking to Josh about it, I decided to go ahead and schedule it ahead of everything else I was watching. At first, I thought that I was going to be watching Clannad Lite, but quickly realized that I was actually watching something very different.

Unlike Clannad’s depth and thorough exploration of the characters, the animators of True Tears decided to reduce the amount of character development due to the tight episode window (13 episodes + a few comical specials). Many critics complained that the characters were too bland, consisting of nothing more than flat personalities inside pretty shells. The character dialog was muted and uninspiring—something unexpected from PA Works. The motivation behind several critical elements—such as the main character’s mother’s hate against the female heroine—were left unexplored and unexplained, which is unsatisfactory for a proper plot. The love-triangle between the main characters was perpetuated by the unknown and inhuman forces of irrational stupidity that dwelled within the male lead.

I don’t know if it’s because of the fact that I’ve grown past the high school love outlook, but I feel that some of the views held by the main characters were maudlin. I guess I’ve grown more insightful when it comes to romance, because I just can’t relate to the love-tension in this story.

Despite True Tears’ shortcomings, it still provides one of the most solid love-triangle high school drama stories I’ve seen so far. It does nothing more and nothing less than provide a plain, but surprisingly enjoyable romance story between the main character and two girls.

While True Tears is a good series, what keeps it from being great is its uninteresting character set and their weak grasp on human rationality.

[Concurrent] Durarara!! | FMA: Brotherhood

Durarara!!

I got fully caught up with both of these amazing TV shows a few days ago, and I am just blown away at the vision of the authors. They’re both incredibly talented story tellers—but the animation staff gets credit for presenting everything in such a dramatic way.

Durarara!! has skillfully set up the three main protagonists, Mikado, Anri, and Kida, to fight off against one another without either of them knowing that the other is their enemy—each one of them is, in secret, a leader of some large group in the city. They’re all actually very close friends at school and form a tightly knitted group. They all care for one another, but they haven’t told each other that they’re the leaders of the three strongest groups in the city.

First, Mikado is in charge of the Dollars gang. The Dollars gang is an online based and by-invitation-only gang that has garnered support from thousands of people in the city. In fact, I’m surprised that the entire city isn’t in the Dollars gang. They aren’t active in the sense that they’re going out and acquiring territory. They have no rules and no obligations. They’re more of like a Facebook fan-group, rather than a traditional gang.

After Anri is attacked by “the Slasher,” Mikado, driven to revenge out of his love for Anri, begins demanding information about the Slasher from members of the Dollars gang. He doesn’t actually know that the faces and names of his gang members, but he uses an online forum to communicate with them.

Then we have Kida who’s in charge of the “Yellow Scarves gang” —or the “Golden Bandannas gang” depending on your translation. Kida retired from the gang right before Mikado came to Ikebukuro. He also loves Anri, and rejoins the Yellow Scarves as their Shogun in a crusade against the Slasher. According to the rumors that are floating around the city, the Dollars are actually behind the Slasher incidents. Kida is now determined to find out who or what the Slasher is, with his first target being the Dollars.

And finally we have Anri who wants to wage a one-man war against Izaya, who is actually pulling the strings behind the scenes. Izaya is an informant who has been orchestrating all of the events that have lead up to this point. He is suspected of creating the rumors about the Dollars and setting events in motion that have lead to this calamity, all for the sake of going to Valhalla by using Celty’s head. To make matters worse, Anri is the Slasher! She has a sword, call “Saika,” which possesses its owners with a feeling of love. It manipulates its welder to slash other people, who in turn get possessed by the sword as well. Anri is able to control the people she slashes with her sword. Apparently, there have been thousands of Slasher incidents across the city, so she has thousands of obedient followers who can serve her. Not only that, if her followers slash someone, they also come under the influence of Anri. Anri’s gang is a viral infection that is arguably the most dangerous force in the city.

This eruption of drama might just be overkill. I can’t wait to see how this series ends, but it looks like the light novels are still in production, so I am hoping that a second season comes out.

FMA

FMA has orchestrated a huge plan to use an entire country as a sacrificial lamb towards some unknown goal. All I know is that there are 3 different groups waging war against “Father” and the previous government. Edward is leading a group of rebels underneath the city in order to get to Central’s headquarters. Colonel Mustang joined up with Edward and has sent a detachment to spread propaganda across the city. And then we have General Armstrong taking Central’s headquarters by force. But we’re about to see how things turn out when The Führer comes back from the dead and attempts to take the fortress by force—by himself!

And lastly, we have Father and Van Hohenheim facing off downstairs, beneath the whole mess that’s occurring upstairs.

The series is nearing its end with these last 7 episodes, which will coincide with the end of the manga. According to Anime News Network, the author is working closely with the animation staff to storyboard the ending of the anime so that it will be exactly the same as the ending of the manga, which is slated to end in June. I’m really glad that Studio Bones decided to follow the original story of FMA, because their first attempt at concluding the series just ended awfully, in my opinion. The series just went off into a different dimension—literally—and cobbled together some random conclusion that just didn’t make any fucking sense.

In any case, I’m excited to see where FMA: Brotherhood goes.

Baka to Test to Shoukanju

Introduction and Rating

Baka to Test to Shoukanju is a highschool semi-action rom-com centered on the events and actions of the students in class 2-F at Fumizuki Academy.

  • Art: 9.25
  • Animation: 9.5
  • Music: 9.0
  • Characters: 9.5
  • Plot: 7.0
  • Average: 8.8
  • My Rating: 9.0

Comments: Himeji is scary when she’s angry… but I think her cooking is worse.

“If it wasn’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.” -Lewis Black

Story

At Fumizuki Academy, rankings and standardized scores are everything. Students are divided into classes A to F according to the grades they receive on an initial standardized test—the best students being sent to class A and the worst to class F, as implied by the letters. The better the grade, the better the facilities and teachers. However, this school allows a peculiar opportunity for students to “trade up” by beating their fellow students in a battle of avatars. Who would be better to fight against the injustice of being labeled an idiot than the idiots themselves?!

Plot Summary

The only weakness this show has is that it suffers from unplanned second season syndrome. The original goal of the story was for the idiots of class F to show their worth by beating all of the other classes in ESB’s. ESB’s are battles in which the objective is for each class to take out the opposing class-representative’s avatar—which are summoned beasts. The winner of the ESB is allowed to do whatever they please with the loosing class’s assets. However, this plot point is quickly lost after the first two episodes and only reintroduced during the last few episodes. What happens in between is simply a series of comedic episodes introducing side plot elements related to the characters and their relationships with each other. Since a second season has already been planned, you can pretty much guess what happens. Assuming the second season is as good as the first and actually ties things up, and since the character side of the story was hilarious, I think I’ll let the sketchy ending slide in this instance—at least to the point where I won’t destroy the ratings completely.

Main Characters

  1. Akahisa Yoshii – What fun is a rom-com without a love triangle focused on the main protagonist? In Baka to Test, Yoshii is that focal point and completely oblivious to the fact as well. He is also Fumizuki Academy’s #1 idiot. He even has a special punishment avatar because of this, which recoils on him and causes him the equivalent amount of pain that would be felt by him if he were in his avatar’s position. Nevertheless, his extreme stupidity makes him…useful
  2. Mizuki Himegi – Another must in a love triangle is, of course, an innocent, busty pink hared genius, who is a complete ditz in home-economics. Himeji is completely infatuated with Yoshii but far too bashful to tell him directly. Furthermore, all of her indirect attempts to tell him fail miserably in a somewhat predictable, if not comedic, fashion—it’s the situational irony that makes it funny. Whether or not she will be able to confess is still to be seen
  3. Minami Shimada – She’s flat. she’s dishonest. She’s a…pro-wrestler? Minami is the tsundere counterpart of the love triangle. She is also too embarrassed to admit her feelings to Yoshii directly, and often takes out her frustration on him when he is too dense to interpret her hints and subtle advances on him
  4. Yuuji Sakamoto – Class representative, instigator of rebellion, and Yoshii’s best friend. Yuuji is actually quite smart, but feels that labeling people based on something as fickle as their grades is ridiculous. His plan is to improve his conditions—and subsequently the conditions of his friends in class F—by winning ESB’s through strategy
  5. Shouka Kirishima – Childhood friend of Yuuji and the class representative of class A. Shouko has liked Yuuji since they were children, although her feelings are openly rejected by him. She frequently kidnaps him—conscious or not—in order to spend time with him and take him on dates. Despite this fact, Yuuji’s actions still seem to indicate that he may have feelings for her
  6. Konta Tsuchiya – A voyeur armed with a camera. Konta uses his physical prowess, quick reflexes, and sharp eye to take snapshots of girls in their most embarrassing moments and at the most revealing angles possible. He especially likes to try to sneak a peek up Minami’s skirt when she has Yoshii locked in a finisher
  7. Hideyoshi Kinoshita – It’s a boy. It’s a girl. It’s…no really, what is it? Hideyoshi is an effeminate male twin whom all the other male characters have an odd attraction to. His sister is in class A and occasionally makes an appearance to tell him not to embarrass her.

Remarks

Op/Ed

The opening for Baka to Test is great. The music is synthesized and upbeat and the animation synchs up with it perfectly. Even the credits appear and disappear with the music. Each of the main characters’ avatars appears on-screen quickly and then either run or bounce/fall off the screen. Each of the main characters gives a quick cameo on-beat to the song and then pose as if they are about to take a picture, while colorful boxes, matching their hair and eye color, spin in front of a blank and white background. White is the predominate color throughout the entire opening. Apparently the animators wanted to make 100% sure that all of the attention goes to whatever the focus of the screen is. Using the white background also allowed them to splash on various bright colors and graphics and make the whole intro bubbly and bright. What is meant by “Perfect Area Complete” I’m still not sure, but I have to admit, the opening is very catchy.

In complete contrast to the opening, the predominate color in the ending is black. Even the English words displayed in the background are mostly black on color print. The bubbly music from the opening is also replaced by a rebellious rock song. It may be a moot point to mention that the ending features only the boys, as if to play on the fact that males at high school age are rebellious. Altogether, the entire thing works. In fact, it’s one of the few endings that I’ve found myself listening to repetitively.

As a side note: the opening singer is a female, the ending singer is a male. Seriously, I think they were just trying to make the intro and ending as different as possible.

Art

The art in Baka to Test is very well done—to the point where it’s hard to find even a single line out of place. This may be due to the fact that most of the art is CG. This allows the animators a great amount of leeway. As opposed to a single standard, the art in Baka to Test often flips between the overly dramatic black and white shaded art, to a bubbly pink comic book look, to whatever else the current situation calls for. The animators especially liked to use conspicuous CG in order to focus attention on certain aspects of a character—especially the females—or of a scene. I wasn’t a big fan of this at the beginning, since I was originally of the belief that the best CG is seamless, but over time I’ve come to appreciate this innovative and unfamiliar style.

Music

Similar to the art, the music in Baka to Test is highly variable. From a mellow Hawaiian tone to a hectic or battle tone, the music is always appropriate to set the tone for the given situation. This is one of the few soundtracks I find myself wanting to download…speaking of which. That aside, the music isn’t the only thing you’ll find yourself hearing. Many of the scenes call for sound effects or a narrator, both of which really give the anime a unique feel.

Overview

Baka to Test is one of the most unique rom-coms that I have ever seen. The combinations of appropriate sound effects, music, and eye-catching CG, along with the solid art help to create a great and hilarious anime. It is one of the few where I have laughed so hard that I was forced to pause it in order not to miss anything. I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the mood for a good comedy.

P.S. I only found the two guys hugging in Angel Beats! awkward because it was the main character who was hugging the current big bad, and this happened immediately after the main character witnessed the aftermath of his friends’ massacre at the hands of that very person. Not that I disagree with Andrew’s point, but I don’t want anyone thinking I hate gay people or anything stupid like that. Anyway, I was seriously disappointed that Angel didn’t get to have at least one round with him before we were forced to listen to his pathetic sob story. Blah blah blah sad childhood…Seriously? And this excuses him for all the shit he pulled? Whatever…I’ll let it slide—mainly because the episode preceding this one was amazing—but they better not pull something like that again…

[Reflection] Angel Beats! Episode 6

Introduction

OK, so what the hell is this new “Reflection” category? Well, as I watch anime, sometimes I come across an episode or a whole series that is so blatantly flawed in some fundamental way that I have to write about it. So, these reflective posts aren’t suppose to be written after every episode I see, rather they’re meant to point out the issues I have with some show as I come across them.

Critical Thinking

OK, so in the sixth episode of Angel Beats!, Otonashi and Angel have been locked up in prison. Yuri contacts Otonashi through a radio that she gave him earlier. Apparently, the guards at this prison don’t frisk down the inmates before locking them up, but whatever—not the biggest deal. She contacts him through the radio and says the following:

“I think Angel’s been imprisoned somewhere.
We went to the reflection room to find her, but she wasn’t there.
I think they put her in a different place, one not so easy to release her from.
And so I thought, maybe you’re with her right now?
Otonashi…
Get Angel out”

OK, we’re not given any more information than that. And here’s where my willing-suspension of disbelief completely falls apart.

How can Yuri possibly come to the idea that Otonashi is with Angel? How is that within the set of possibilities? First off, she has absolutely no data to indicate that Otonashi is with Angel. In fact, she has no information as to the whereabouts of Otonashi at all. She was never informed that Otonashi was with Angel prior to their capture and she also did not know that Otonashi disappeared at the same time as Angel. Even if she had that information, there is no direct line of logic that could possibly place Otonashi with Angel.

It would be like deducing that:

  • Two criminals were caught robbing a bank
  • Therefore, they must be in the same prison cell

It’s naive, uninformed, and illogical. There is no information to suggest that conclusion.

Yuri’s situation can be generalized to the following:

  1. I am looking for Person A
  2. I look in Location B
  3. I did not find Person A at Location B
  4. It just so happens that Person C went missing as well. I do not know when, where, or why they went missing. I was not given any information about Person C
  5. What can I conclude about Person A and Person C?

So, what’s the answer to the question above? I’ll spoil it for you: NOTHING!!

Josh and I got into a debate over this issue, but I believe he’s much more forgiving of this inconsistency because he’s more concerned with the two guys hugging at the end—not sure how plot holes are less of an issue than two guys hugging, but OK.

Other than that, the episode did have some mawkish and drippy man-love, which I was not a fan of. By far the worst episode this season. Let’s hope that this week’s episode will make up for it.

-Ja-ne

[Concurrent] Second Impression of Durarara!!

Better than I Expected

So, I must be crazy about this tv show if I’m willing to stay up until 3:00AM and write about it. Yes, Durarara!! is that good! Even though the beginning of the series was slow on the uptake, I finally realize why the animators decided to lay so much groundwork. To be honest, there are over a dozen characters who are featured very often in this series, something that is uncommon in most anime—and a refreshing change. Most anime usually focus on a small group of characters and concentrate most of the attention on the main character, so I’m really glad that the show uses a pseudo-ensemble cast. What’s even more interesting is that the main character of Durarara!! is actually Celty, not Mikado. What makes this show so great is that the entire series really brings the characters to life, giving the illusion that everyone truly is doing their own thing. The plot is a crazy rollercoaster of intertwining threads, complete with enough twists and turns to keep the audience interested. It’s a really surreal feeling—I’m not sure how to describe it.

Even with all of its twists and turns, Durarara!! doesn’t make it seem abrupt. The style of Durarara!! is a bit slower and more subtle than Code Geass. Instead of having large hams and outrageous plans, Durarara!! focuses on building up the ominous feeling surrounding everyone and everything. Albeit, there are plenty of Xantos’ gambits going around, but at least this series is being subtle about it—not that Code Geass was any less enjoyable.

I’m really happy with this anime. I love the characters, the plot, and its direction—definitely one of the better shows this season.

Baccano!

I went ahead and looked up what else the author of Durarara!! wrote. Apparently, he wrote the story behind Baccano!, so I decided to give that quick preview. All I can say is “wow!” It looks like a cross between Snatch and SNL. I can’t wait to fire up that series after I finish some of the others I’ve scheduled, despite it being on the “Currently Watching” list.

[Thoughts] Toradora!!

Wham Show!

OK, so when I first heard about Toradora, I wasn’t sure what to think about it. The name, itself, doesn’t really tell you much about the series. I don’t even know what “Toradora” means. But let me say this, I was very surprised, pleasantly surprised, that this anime turned out be one of the most addictive and refreshing shows I’ve had the pleasure of watching. I actually watched all 25 episodes in one week, while studying for my statistics midterm and CS 330 quiz—that’s actually my personal best. I can see why it caused so much internet backdraft. Now, I know that my previous statement doesn’t really make that much sense at first glance. I mean, how can a show be good if everyone is raging over it? Well, my friend once made the following statement:

When you see people arguing about a topic (flaming), it’s a sign that that topic actually matters. The worst thing anyone can do is forget about it.

It’s true; apathy is the worst response to any work of literature. That isn’t to say that the second season of Melancholy is fantastic because of Endless Eight, but it means that people actually care about the series—in one way or another.

Anyways, Toradora really turned out to be one of the most surprising anime about high school love, because of its relentless assault on the status quo. The series isn’t as drippy as the your normal high school drama. In fact, the whole anime just refuses to give the audience anything normal; all of the characters are seriously fucked up in very deep and fundamental ways:

  • Taiga’s father is a heartless bastard who doesn’t even love her. He continuously comes and goes into her life and repeatedly breaks her heart. As you can imagine, this results in a very broken daughter.
  • Ryuuji’s father ran away after Ryuuji’s mother became pregnant. Ryuuji is also really OCD about cleaning everything.
  • Yuusaku has a shit-ton of issues that aren’t even understandable. For instance, he freaks out after learning that the girl he loves is moving to America, bleaches his hair, and yells out a confession of love during a speech in front of the school—which fails spectacularly. What the hell is this guy’s issue?
  • Minori is a genki girl, which serves as a facade to hide her pain. She secretly loves Ryuuji, but doesn’t want to hurt Taiga, so she bottles it all up. As you can imagine, this fails spectacularly.
  • Ami is a model and a transfer student who also falls in love with Ryuuji. At the beginning of the series, she acts like a bitch in sheep’s clothing because she’s desperate for everyone’s approval. She mellows out later, but starts acting violent towards Minori because Ami recognizes that Minori isn’t being honest with Ryuuji—or anyone for that matter. This all escalates to a fist fight in the snow. How fucked up is that?

I believe the whole point of making such a fucked up cast was to, ultimately, show just how jacked up you’d have to be to follow through on the whole “I want my beloved to be happy” trope. The authors really took that idea and just smashed it to pieces. The whole carousel of “I won’t confess because I don’t want to ruin my friend’s chances of being happy with him” really began spinning halfway through the series. By the end, it was going so fast that the whole internet was flying off their handlebars.

Even though many people found that aspect of the show absolutely grating, I actually really enjoyed it. The reason why is because in real life it’s hard to confess your love to someone—hell, it’s hard to even love anyone. And just how crazy do things get when you add friends into the mix? Honestly, we see this type of struggle in real life—it’s almost impossible to tell someone,

“I love you”

despite the fact that our society has reduced those three words to a hackneyed expression; it’s still one of the hardest ones to utter—even to family. I honestly can’t remember the last time I actually used that expression. This anime really shows just how difficult it is to pursue love and relationships. Nothing in real life is easy and nothing easy is worth having. Romance doesn’t just get handed to us on a silver plate. Life isn’t a fairy tale.

I highly recommend this series to anyone, even if you aren’t a big fan of high school soaps. I feel like this one deserves your attention. Now, I will say that it isn’t nearly as good as Clannad or Kanon as far as dramas go, but, to be honest, I don’t know if any anime will ever be as good as Clannad when it comes to high school love dramas.

[Topside] Less Meta | More Stuff

Excuses

Hey there! As you can see, I’ve been posting less frequently for the past few weeks due to midterms and finals. But, I wanted to also stop writing “Topside” posts and start writing more “Review” posts. This blog is about anime, not reasons why not to write about anime. Therefore, I’m going to start posting more “Reviews,” “Thoughts,” and “Data Sheets” and less “Topside” posts. I checked out the percentage of posts that are actually about anime, and they compose less than one half of all the posts I’ve written.

So, what I’m going to do is this:

  • I’m still going to write Topside posts, but I’ll be writing them less frequently and only if something changes about this site
  • I’m going to be writing more Reviews, Thoughts, and Data-sheets, all of which will be counted as “anime topics.” Basically, I want to stop favoring structured reviews over every other post type and mix it up with free-flowing thought posts and laconic data-sheet posts. On my Anime Lineup page, I’m going to start hyperlinking to one of these types of posts, instead of just exclusively linking to reviews. If an anime has one or more of these posts related to it, then I’ll be using the following ranking:
    1. Review
    2. Data-Sheet
    3. Thoughts

Basically, I want to make it reasonably easy for me to post about anime and reasonably worthwhile for you to read about it. That’s why I’ve decided to stop giving preference to reviews. The reason I churn out so many Topside posts is because I don’t have enough time to write a review about every single anime I watch. Another reason why I’ve decided to stop favoring reviews is because they’re long, tedious, and require tremendous amounts of thought and consideration. It’s difficult to lay out a whole essay for the world to read about an anime show they don’t know about.

One thing I’m not going to change is the frequency of the ISML posts. I want those posts to be flowing freely, because I feel that the ISML Tournament is something worth your time. Plus, the ISML encourages people to seek out other anime. Plus, this is the closest thing to a crossover as we’re going to get, so I’m going to keep following it.

[Thoughts] Kara no Kyoukai

Idealism vs Cynicism

So, I just finished the whole movie series Kara no Kyoukai and I was a bit flummoxed over how I feel about it. One one hand, the movie series portrays Mikiya Kokuto, one of the main characters, as a wide-eyed idealist. On the other hand, the movie also portrays Shiki Ryougi, the other main character, as the “not-so idealistic” half of this battle-couple. I say that Shiki Ryougi is “not-so idealistic” because she follows many idealistic values throughout the anime, but crosses the line of cynicism several times. But, it’s clear that the author of the series is giving this anime an idealistic tilt to it. Luckily, he isn’t giving it to us for free, like some other shonen.

The earlier movies are actually somewhere in between the two extremes, but, as you get closer towards the end of the series, it turns into a more idealistic anime so that the audience can have their happy ending. The idealism of the main character, Mikiya Kokuto, comes off as gratingly impractical, petulant, and unrealistic, rather than winsome and knightly.

Regardless of its ideal tilt, I actually enjoyed the series. The action is downplayed in favor of suspense, character development, and plot-fleshing; although, the fifth movie will take a couple of reruns to understand. It does a great job portraying the complicated relationship between Mikiya and Shiki, without succumbing to temptation of strangling the couple with red string.

The animation is fluid and detailed; the artists paid particular to the way that the characters walk, of all things. The depictions of the settings are gritty, ominous, and moody. Unlike other anime, that use canned or manufactured settings, everything you see actually belongs.

Unfortunately, I don’t plan on reviewing this series at all. As much as I liked the movies, I feel like the authors took too much liberty in emphasizing the themes; there was a lot of unwanted projection. What they should’ve done is focus on the characters’ and their back-stories.

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone looking for a dark and gritty supernatural thriller. But be warned, there are a lot of non-nonsensical ideals and themes that are thrown at you that I feel are worn-out, pretentious, and wanton—they aren’t pithy aphorisms. If you can manage to look past the author’s attempt to bemuse you, then this series will come off as a refreshing addition to your collection.

Random

Context Sucks

So today I was going back through and re-watching episodes of Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica Crimson S and ran into something that I had COMPLETELY misunderstood the first time.  I hope you will join me in the confusion.  Enjoy!

Context Sucks

To clarify, she is actually asking whether her hair looks better up or down.

Update

I’ve started a review for Baka to Test to Shoukanju, but I have finals coming up next week and a project that’s only half way done, so I’m not sure when I’ll get it posted.  After that I’m gonna move directly into a review for this anime, followed by Kobato.  Anyway I hope you enjoyed this post as short as it was, and as always, look forward to my next review!