Category Archives: Drama
Based on my own research into philosophy and my experiences on the subject, it’s clear that morality cannot be categorized into good or bad, black and white. It’s ever-shifting and depends entirely on the circumstances a society or even an individual finds him or herself in. The culture clash at the heart of Suisei no Gargantia illustrates one of the times in which humanity might be forced to put aside its notions of protecting the weak and that’s the emptiness of deep space.
The thought of euthanasia and weeding out those people deemed incapable of contributing sticks in most people’s throats, but I think the key thing to remember is that Ledo comes from a very different society than we’re used to—one based solely on the quantity of resources. In space, limited supplies and proper allocation would be paramount to survival and it shows that when backed up against a wall, we’re capable of making tough decisions that are necessary for the benefit of all. Food, water, electricity and even oxygen are as precious as life itself (literally the essentials of life). Read more of this post
Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Love, Election and Chocolate)
When the food research club finds out that it’s going to be shut down amid sweeping reforms and budget cuts, they resolve to protect it at any cost.
Out of the many, many high school romance comedies I’ve watched, the student council is a frequently recurring plot element. Usually they just sit on the sidelines to be used when necessary, but occasionally they happen to be the primary antagonist or sometimes the entire story is centered around the activities of the student council.
However, I’ve never seen an anime where the entire central premise was about the student council election and that’s the primary way in which KoiChoco distinguishes itself. All the drama and underhanded dealings that are associated with real elections get played up in one unexpected development after another and protagonist Oojima constantly faces the dilemma of getting himself dirty, caving to the advice of his campaign advisor or sticking to his morals and hoping his good-natured intentions don’t backfire.
It does well, but there’s more than a few instances where KoiChoco feels like it’s trying way too hard. Chisato in particular is wearing a pretty big “childhood friend character,” sign and all five potential love interests of this anime based on a dating sim have some overly gnarly wounds in their backstories. But for the most part the story knows when to be lighthearted and when to be serious to create the right amount of tension and even enough misdirection to keep things unpredictably interesting—even going as far as to occasionally poke fun at its own genre.
With a good cast of voice actors, a fitting soundtrack, a couple of fresh ideas and a nice balance of playfulness and sincerity, KoiChoco is one of the better representatives of romantic comedies. And of course, any series that makes a reference to Madoka is cool by me.
Winter 2013 (12 episodes) (more info) (title literal translation – Sasami at Not Doing My Best)
Going into Sasami-san, I expected that I would enjoy it a lot more than I did. It’s a nice-looking Shaft anime with a trippy premise and the cast includes Chiwa Saito and Kana Hanazawa, two of my favorite voice actresses. So finding myself in the position of not liking it has me somewhat perplexed. The only reason for this I can think of is that this anime wants to be a psychological comedy in the vein of Bakemonogatari, but unfortunately is being let down by the problem of not having a plot. I can’t find any motivating force behind the actions of these weird characters and that wouldn’t be an issue if Sasami-san had the same quality of dialogue that graces Nishio Ishin’s works. Wandering aimlessly isn’t the best setup for this kind of anime unless there’s an overarching theme that ties it all together and because there’s so many other anime right now that are put together much more cohesively, I’m going to have to let this one go.
Winter 2013 (10 episodes) (more info) (title literal translation – The Troublemakers Are Coming From Another World, Right?)
When someone is stuck between a rock and a hard place, it’s good anime logic to call for heroes from other dimensions. Mondaiji-tachi is still in the early stages, but is showing plenty of the traits associated with a good action / adventure with a worthy cause. The cast is full of colorful characters with superpowers of suspect origin, but they have enough flexibility to be put to some creative uses. My biggest complaint about the series so far is the fanservicey design behind the orchestrator of this setup, the Black Rabbit who happens to be a literal bunny girl. She feels very much like an unnecessary cry for attention from a series that is actually interesting enough in its own right. Like many series before it, I wish writers would have more confidence in their work to not devalue it with characters like this. But as she’s the only issue I’m having with this series thus far, I can overlook her and enjoy the battles that may not be keeping me on the edge of my seat, but still have excellent flow.
Winter 2013 (12 episodes) (more info) (alternate title – Good Job Club)
Along with Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Yuru Yuri, Ebiten, Seitokai no Ichizon and many other recent series, GJ-bu is a story of some high schoolers who have formed a club for the purpose of not doing very much besides messing around. The formula bends in the direction of a harem anime that puts male protagonist Kyouya in the center of attention for the four girls, but manages to keep a level of class for the lead guy because he’s often just the girls’ plaything. While it’s not exactly an enviable position to be in, at least he’s not a stereotypical, lecherous womanizer or a spineless, immature, overreacting caricature. Beyond that, the show is the usual plot that comes with this kind of setup—thinking about funny concepts or just getting into ridiculous situations. GJ-bu is just another title this winter season that I can’t fault, but I also can’t lavish with praise.
Winter 2013 (13 episodes) (more info)
Inevitably, Love Live is going to get compared to both K-ON and The iDOLM@STER, so I’m going to just get that out of the way. Combining the concept of a school music club with young ladies pursuing careers as idol singers in theory shouldn’t be too preposterous a setup. However, in execution it’s a real flop. At the core of this overlap is music, and the bread and butter of any music anime is that the music needs to be good. The two series it’s borrowing ideas from have that area covered, but Love Live is definitely not up to par.
There’s also the hard-to-swallow plot point about how our heroines have the harebrained idea that they’re going to attract new students to their school that’s suffering from declining enrollment in just a year or two by competing with established idol clubs at other local schools. There’s a level of cheesiness to it that makes me want to smack someone for even suggesting the idea. Combined with some really intrusive CGI-animated scenes when the girls start dancing, there’s nothing to praise about Love Live. I even think there’s room to speculate that this was the product of some money-grubbing committee who saw the success of the aforementioned titles and decided to frankenstein them together into something guaranteed to appeal to both audiences, but really shouldn’t appeal to anyone.
Winter 2013 (12 episodes) (more info) (title literal translation – I Don’t Have Many Friends NEXT)
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT is just a continuation of the first series. It picks up right where season one left off and continues the misadventures of the Neighbors Club as the group of misfits stumbles their way through trying to figure out how they should function to fit in with society. While a direct continuation isn’t a bad thing, when it doesn’t exactly have the best source material, just doing more of the same really doesn’t cut it. In short, I’ll watch NEXT if I have the time because it has its moments, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up dropping it.
Winter 2013 (12 episodes) (more info)
Based on its art style and a three-sentence description I’d expected Kotoura-san to be a two-dimensional moe anime. However, what I got was a rollercoaster ride of emotions that really caught me by surprise. The first half of this episode encapsulates Kotoura’s rough childhood and the troubles that come with her ability to read minds and her good-natured honesty. It’s a truly disheartening series of misfortunes that shows what becomes of people who can’t be honest with themselves, but are then confronted with their own inner truth. In this way, Kotoura is the knife that’s peeling away the mask that people wear to play the game otherwise known as, “being social.” I can understand her pain, but perhaps it reflects poorly on me that I wouldn’t have chosen to be so frank if I had the ability to read minds; using my ESP to live a more advantageous life.
The supposition that most people would be ashamed to have their inner thoughts broadcast to others appeals greatly to me because I can say with a fair amount of certainty that my thoughts are an honest reflection of my actions. I take great pride in the path I’ve chosen to live a life free of hypocrisy within my own character. I’m not ashamed of who I am and because of this, I identify strongly with Kotoura-san’s male protagonist, Manabe, who similarly takes his classmate’s mind-reading ability as a chance for self-improvement (when he’s not broadcasting his fantasies). This change of circumstances from Kotoura’s lonesomeness and off-putting attitude to finally meeting someone who can push her to open up is fantastically written and shows a lot of potential for future growth. If I was to give a criticism to this anime, I’d say its cute visual design devalues its very serious premise. But if that’s all I have to complain about when I’m already an admitted moe fan, then I’m going to give it a pass and remain on the edge of my seat, expectantly waiting to see what will become of this unexpectedly sophisticated anime.
Winter 2013 (12 episodes) (more info)
Immediately, the first instinct of anyone who lays eyes on Tamako Market is going to be, “this looks like K-ON,” which should be no surprise, because the art designer is Yukiko Horiguchi, the writer is Reiko Yoshida, the director is Naoko Yamada and the producer is Kyoto Animation—so basically, the entire team that made K-ON is back together to make Tamako Market. But if these ties to K-ON are turning you off, it should also be noted that at least some members of this team also made the recent hit, Hyouka and Kyoto Animation also has a long history of all-time great anime titles like Haruhi Suzumiya and Full Metal Panic. So don’t prejudge.
I think this series is going to resonate with me more than with the average anime fan because I’ve actually been to several shopping districts in many different Japanese towns and cities. These are wonderful places that resonate with the part of me that enjoys the atmosphere of the mom and pop, old downtown districts of America, which are still alive and well throughout Japan. And my feeling right away is that Tamako Market has done an amazing job of capturing that personality of friendly people who enjoy their work and have built a close community of small businesses who are always there for each other and their customers.
But the real strength of Tamako Market lies in the terrific double act that comprises the two main characters. Tamako’s polite, cheerful personality is such a contrast to Dera Mochimazzi, the rude and gluttonous cockatoo that forces himself into her home in which the downstairs is a mochi shop. They play each other’s foils so well and I can already tell this is going to be the driving force for some terrific dialogue. Along with her colorful friends which includes a kind of Romeo and Juliet family rivalry with the son of the mochi shop across the street and just general all-around silliness, this is shaping up to be a great moe anime.
Winter 2013 (12 episodes) (more info)
With a completely uncomplicated title, there’s no guesswork as to what this series is about. Our heroine has amnesia—so bad in fact that through the conclusion of the first episode we still don’t even know her name. While it appears to be 100% committed to its theme, Amnesia is suffering the problem that comes with the territory of a lot of first episodes, and that is its slow start. I can’t stress this enough…if I can’t tell what an anime is going to be about after the first twenty minutes, it’s going to have a hard time catching my attention.
That being said, the setting is showing promise as the heroine’s busy job in a maid café allows plenty of opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of the cast as we discover through her eyes the personalities of the butlers who are her coworkers. And for what appears superficially to be a pretty-boy anime, I’m not turned off by its character designs. I’m even willing to give a respectful nod to everyone’s multicolored irises that give the visual style an air of distinction. The premise may be an overly simple setup to make things mysterious, but I’m willing to allow Amnesia at least one more chance to impress me before I give up on it.