Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: Eri
Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – I Love Him, and It Doesn’t Matter If He’s My Brother, alternate title – OniAi) (more info)
Making the lustful character of your series female doesn’t suddenly make it a more acceptable trait. It may certainly be different from the stereotypical male character in a harem anime who is either terribly shy or uncontrollably lecherous after having been inserted into an all-female environment. But OniAi makes it worse since hero and heroine are brother and sister—not even stepbrother/stepsister or adopted or cousins. They’re full blood relatives born of the same parents, turning the degree of perversion up to an uncomfortable level. It doesn’t even have the stylistic restraint or pretext that Yosuga no Sora showed when that series dealt with this topic. It’s just in-your-face and says, “this is what this series is going to be about.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, halfway through the first episode is a time skip that’s about as logically placed if OniAi had ended and just started over from scratch. There’s no reason the student council couldn’t have been introduced in a logical manner and how they came to live together should have been woven into the story over at least another episode. I don’t know what went through the writers’ minds for them to think this was a good idea. Even if the girls’ arrivals are revealed via flashbacks that’s just dodging the issue of how out-of-order events are proceeding. So there. OniAi is a weird, twisted, badly written harem series and I’m washing my hands of it.
Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Dusk Maiden x Amnesia)
Teiichi Niiya heard the stories of the cursed ghost that haunts the old school building, but he never expected her to be so beautiful…or playful. After discovering her remains hidden beneath an old classroom, he and Yuuko decide to found the Paranormal Research Club. On the surface it’s nothing more than your standard occult-themed student organization, but its true motive is to find a way to help Yuuko recover her lost memories. Joined by the perky Okonogi and the only other person who can see Yuuko—her great niece Kirie—the four of them set to work solving the supernatural mysteries of their maze-like school.
As Dusk Maiden starts, it’s just oozing with creativity—whether it’s new ways to think about how an incorporeal spirit interacts with the world or how to adequately tell the story of said ghost without being pathetically blunt about what’s going on. The flow of events at the beginning is a little questionable at times with long flashbacks seemingly taking place out of proper order. But it never stops being entertaining with something fresh in every episode. It makes you think and smile all the while saying, “that was really smart. I’d never thought about it that way before.”
Probably the best thing about Tasogare Otome is its ending. It’s very emotionally moving but still manages to keep the generally lighthearted style that made the rest of the series so much fun. This delicate balance between heart wrenching and comedic elation could have been such a messy let down if it hadn’t been constructed in such a smartly arranged crescendo. Rarely do I find myself nodding at the end of a series while saying, “I couldn’t have imagined it finishing any other way.” With that kind of reaction, I’m going to call Dusk Maiden of Amnesia a resounding success.
Summer 2012 (?? episodes) (title literal translation from Italian – Champion) (more info)
Campione is the story of Godou Kusanagi, an ordinary boy who gets thrown into a crazy, supernatural situation because of some ancient artifact he’s obtained and is expected to perform his role as the destined hero. As is usually true of these sorts of anime, the first episode isn’t very easy to follow. It wavers between realistic logistical problems for the protagonist (such as a young Japanese man in Italy being unable to speak the language), followed by a mildly ecchi scene in which the heroine, Erica Blandelli, gets intoxicated and needs his assistance, to having him suddenly be able to control the power of the gods so that he can protect the land.
But despite how standard this kind setup is, Campione isn’t committing too many missteps. The art style fits nicely with the European setting and the writing and character design shows potential when Godou has some convincingly improvisational moments in which he must negotiate with beings not accustomed to lowering themselves to being a human’s bodyguard. I don’t expect Campione to be any kind of masterpiece, but this first episode has caught my interest because I can see the definite beginnings of something that looks like it’s going to go somewhere.
Final impression – not a second wasted (10/10)
Winter 2012 (8 episodes) (TV series)
It’s the first day of junior high school and Mato Kuroi decides she’s going to be friends with the gloomy girl who has a funny name, Yomi Takanashi. The two soon discover they have a shared love of a children’s storybook and it looks like they’re going to get along great. But when Yomi’s spoiled, childhood friend Kagari butts in to push them apart, Mato isn’t going to just give up accept this bleak turn of events. She makes it her mission to liberate Yomi from Kagari’s possessive personality. But doing so will have greater consequences than she knows. In another world, the girls’ voiceless souls are fighting their own, very real battle with life and death on the line. And when the results of their battles become reflected in the real world, it’s going to change the course of their lives in ways they cannot possibly anticipate.
Quality in writing is often not about a story’s content, but about how well that story is told. Sometimes the best plot is the simplest and Black Rock Shooter tells a fabulously creative adventure about the subtleties of relationships and how the most well-meaning intentions can have unexpected, unintended consequences. It’s a wonderful metaphor about allowing ourselves to be close enough to our friends that we can fight with them honestly and without inhibitions. We must accept that we occasionally hurt people and that we are hurt by others; how we deal with that pain shapes our character and the ultimate fate of our relationships. Balancing this emotional drama between real people and their actions mirrored by their duplicate selves locked in gallant combat is a poetic dichotomy flooded deeply with incredible metaphors. Kana Hanazawa is perfect in her role as Mato Kuroi, depicting her exceptional personality and growth from naivety to strong, determined young woman. But what’s most amazing about Black Rock Shooter is that it probably would never have existed if it wasn’t for the Vocaloid song by the same name, popularized by casual anime fans who wanted to know the story behind the music. For something so spectacular to come out of simple fandom and not from a novel, manga or video game is truly remarkable.
Final impression – satisfyingly philosophical (8/10)
Winter 2012 (11 episodes) (title literal translation – Impostor’s Story)
A short time after the events of Bakemonogatari, Koyomi Araragi’s life is beginning to return to normalcy. He’s studying hard for college entrance exams, playing games with friends in his free time, trying to impress his overbearing girlfriend and being a generally annoying, but loving brother for his two younger sisters, Karen (火憐) and Tsukihi (月火). But things are not going so smoothly at the junior high where his sisters go to school. Calling themselves the Fire Sisters because their names both contain the kanji for fire (火) they’ve made it their personal vendetta to find out who has been spreading curses and rumors among their classmates. But ultimately, it’s going to be Koyomi who will have to make sure their mission of justice isn’t something that is beyond their capabilities.
First off, don’t watch Nisemonogatari without first watching Bakemonogatari. The masterpiece’s sequel includes little refresh time to get new viewers up to speed and there’s a few points where you’re going to be lost if you just jump right in. Second, while it follows the gorgeous, intellectual writing style of its parent series, the pacing is not as good as the original. Where Bakemonogatari was focused and Koyomi was always on a mission to help someone, Nisemonogatari is more of a fluid, slice of life story. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a very different tone. But one of the less understandable attributes of the sequel is the degree to which it was touted as the adventures of Karen and Tsukihi and how little emphasis is given to them. All in all, it feels more like an epilogue than a sequel because there’s never a big climax to accentuate the plot and in some ways that’s a very refreshing way to compose a follow-up series. So while Nisemonogatari may not be quite as powerful as its source material, it’s a nice follow-up companion that will satisfy fans of the original series.
Final impression – spectacularly human (9/10)
Autumn 2011 (12 episodes) (alternate titles – C^3 - C³ – C Cubed)
When Haruaki received a mysterious package from his father, he should have guessed it might turn into a girl. Fear-in-Cube is a cursed torture device that has accumulated centuries of hate and death, allowing her to manifest as an intelligent being in her own right. She was sent to live with Haruaki so that she might escape the cruel destiny that has compounded into the misery of her existence. But that’s not going to be easy when the slightest trigger of violence can send her into a blood frenzy of flying guillotines. On top that, she’s the target of underground organizations of all colors. Some see her as an abomination to be destroyed while other seek out the power she possesses to use for their own misdeeds. Either way, she’s going to have to depend on wise-beyond-his-years Haruaki to make sure she stays true on her path to rehabilitation.
When I started to brainstorm for my review for C3, my first instinct was to start with something defensive that made an effort to excuse some kind of shortcoming. But then I realized that the brilliant composition of this anime needs no excuses to protect it from simple-minded twits who only want to focus on perceived shallowness when all they’re really seeing is the reflection of their own bias on the surface of a vast, deep ocean. And C3 is splendidly deep. It is a story about the human qualities of our tools—the extensions of ourselves we create in order to enhance ourselves to either our benefit or our detriment. When we use a tool long enough we often start to apply human characteristics and personality to it as it becomes an augment of our bodies; even taking on a share of our own souls. Thus are our tools extensions of our own creative or destructive tendencies.
The theme of C3 is societal responsibility—we must clean up our own messes as well as the messes that happen to cross our paths rather than pass the blame or hope someone else picks up the slack. It’s an uplifting triumph of chivalry and of people who genuinely wish to make the world a better place. Additionally, Haruaki is one of my favorite male characters in recent anime because he’s not perverted, introverted, spineless or shy around women. The overused trope of the weak male lead finally gets tossed out and that makes me incredibly happy. Given this anime’s style, I could very easily have seen it devolve into some ecchi harem show like Mayo Chiki or Boku wa Tomodachi. But C3 decidedly stays away from that territory and keeps things classy, even avoiding an obligatory swimsuit or onsen episode that populate so many anime that seem to lose their creative sparks halfway through.