How was the spring season?
I thought it was pretty damn good. It’s the first time I have finished more than one show I started watching and I never felt like I was forcing myself to the end of the ones I watched all the way through. Red Data Girl, My Youth Rom-Com, Aku no Hana. Attack on Titan is on-going but I’m totally up to date. After about a few episodes of these I was caught by the appeal of intelligence and great animation and even nostalgia over my youth.
Red Data Girl was the last title I finished watching. It was gorgeous and the music was great but what concerned me was the writing.
It looked really obtuse at the start, so much so I figured it would have difficulty telling Izumiko’s story in one series and revealing all of the aspects of her world and bringing In lots of Japanese folklore. The writers probably thought the same thing when it came to adapting Noriko Ogiwara’s series of books so they didn’t bother going into any more detail than Izumiko and her school days over the short series. With its slow start and the pacing issues it could have been a disaster but it ended on a nice note and it was always beautiful to watch as the next picture reveals.
Izumiko blossoms as a character. She is a nice character and one you can follow with ease. The final episode featured far more supernatural action than the rest of the series combined as Izumiko’s supernatural abilities came to the fore. There was no way that she was going to turn into a kick-ass heroine who blasts people with magic but she matures enough so that she recognises she has some strengths and needn’t be as submissive and scared as she started out as. There’s still scope for her to grow but even if there’s no second season you can still imagine her growing up into a person comfortable with her powers and being able to step between the worlds of mortals and gods. And what about Miyuki? The romance really blossomed as well. Awww. A touching ending.
My Youth Rom-Com is very intelligent.
I keep saying I hate school-based comedy anime. They usually pander to the audience with otaku references, awful female characters who fall into clichéd archetypes like tsundere/meganekko or, even worse, moeblobs so the audience can drool over the one they chose to be their waifu being kawai desu ne and buy character-related body-pillow or whatever.
I grew up on dark and violent 80’s/90’s cyberpunk anime so I hate that stuff, RAWR.
My Youth Rom-Com caught my attention because the main protagonist Hikigaya Hachiman was a viciously cynical and sarcastic loner who was comfortable being the outsider. Now that’s not original in itself but it uses his views to create an insightful look at the way people act in society.
Avoiding the typical route of the genre of gathering a harem of girls who teach the protagonist to be someone who can fit into the mercilessly demanding social world of school by conforming to demands of others and changing himself, Hikigaya Hachiman stands DEFIANT. Through his deadpan narration, he sees through all of the positivity and friendship crap spewed out by other anime and manga and reveals the reality that relationships are not always equal and not everyone will fit in and find a place with others. Every episode had a situation where his views are explored.
This would be enough in itself but thanks to the girls in the series, who are all well-written and more than just cardboard cut-outs, there are other views on Hachiman’s arguments. Hachiman’s beliefs are analysed and instead of being debunked they are given a place amongst other beliefs and viewpoints. They are seen as both strengths and weaknesses but give more of an insightful look at human relationships than many other titles in the genre.
Visually, the anime was fine. The character designs were the highlight but it’s really the writing that wins through. Hikigaya is a great character to follow and the anime was lots of fun not least because I identified with his cynicism because I was like that in school and just wanted the world to shut up so I could watch films like Lady Snowblood.
Aku no Hana was a real deviant of a show.
I expected ecchi junk like High School of the DXD and got a show that defied cliché and anime stereotype to deliver the drama to be found in overblown feelings of teenage angst through the animation and smart direction, editing, cinematography and a script capable of depicting and balancing the overblown emotions found in an angst-ridden teenage world view with the bitterly mundane comedown of reality.
These teenagers were recognisable in their uncertainty, histrionics and selfishness but we never forgot that they were essentially kids exploring the world and trying to actualise something like a stable personality and affect their circumstances in the way they wanted to. It was full of pathos and bathos and enjoyable to watch.
More than that I took to watching Aku no Hana for the enigma that is Sawa Nakamura.
Every week I would watch the show and wonder how Kasuga was going to be tormented by Nakamura and enjoy seeing the little worm wriggle.
I loved seeing Nakamura tug at Kasuga’s emotional boundaries and leave him floundering. Her mere presence was enough to leave him quaking and it was understandable because next to the normal girls who he knows she is just insane. Aggressive to adults and other kids and threatening to flameout with her barely suppressed anger.
Nakamura initially seemed like some sort of twisted monster but by the end of the show she is somewhat humanised as being as equally immature as everyone else when we see her diary. My prediction that Nakamura really felt a connection to Kasuga was bang on target and while her behaviour is never really explained I’m okay with that because real life people aren’t so clean cut and motivations aren’t easily defined.
The final episode was a let-down. After all of the careful build-up and tension the final rushing flash-forward was poorly done. Did it represent Kasuga imagining a future together with Nakamura as chief-Deviant and he fulfilling the role of her sh*tty doll or a teaser for the second season for the show? If it’s the latter, why give all of the major plot points away? The best aspect of the show was waiting to see what Nakamura would do next. I’ve got her whole damn criminal record lodged in my memory now. Maybe it’s telling us to read the manga…
Anyway, second season or not, I thought this was a superior show. Totally different from all the moeblob/mecha crap I veer away from. A really bitter and funny take on adolescence and the way we feel everybody is a sh*thead without realising that we’re just as bad.
Attack on Titan is my anime of the season. It’s so damn exciting and while it hasn’t finished I’m going to give it a short look.
From episode 1 I was hooked. The atmosphere is fantastic. Great character designs and short, sharp, unique characterisation creates people we care about or at least can recognise before they get eaten by horrific titans. Eren misses a lot of the battles so the side characters and the tactics they deploy get developed and the tension just keeps rising. Fantastic animation and design which, even if the quality dips, always delights the eye and seeing the characters fly through the air will never get tired.
And that soundtrack. That glorious f*cking soundtrack full of choirs wailing, trumpets surging and electronic screeching. It was perfect. Just when you thought your emotions couldn’t soar any higher during an inspiring speech or seeing characters zip through the air, or plunge any lower at the terror of seeing some freakish looking Titan pluck a human from the ground and munch them, Hiroyuki Suwano’s soundtrack will take you on an epic emotional ride.
From the end of episode 4 to episode 13 we have had one long battle where people have thrown themselves into the fray knowing it could all end badly. There has been a lot of despair but by the end of the battle people have proven themselves and humanity has shown that it can fight back. The anime will now expand its world and I can only imagine it getting better.
Plus more Rivaille (눈‸눈)
I actually started watching Suisei no Gargantia and I have been pretty impressed with the first six episodes but I might not finish it. I found this awesome AMV so here it is: