Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Tag Archives: winter

Anime of the Week (4/8 – 4/14)

Anime of the Week – Sankarea
This is definitely a thinking person’s anime. It gives rise to such thoughts as the purpose of love and the value of life. And it’s supported well by Chihiro and Rea’s excellent chemistry.
April 8 Fate/Zero Ep. 14 I’d always known Tokiomi was a dick, but I never imagined that the twisted depths of his disgusting logic ran so deep.
April 9 Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? of the Dead Ep. 1 Initial impression – more silliness http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kE
A-Channel +smile Ep. 1 Ah! It’s really refreshing to see some new content for this series. The girls’ friendship always makes me happy.
A-Channel +smile Ep. 2 I love how Tooru frames helping Yuuko get over her cold in terms of nursing the number one victim of her teasing.
April 10 Medaka Box Ep. 1 Initial impression – could go either way http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kJ
Mirai Nikki Ep. 25 Ok…now what? It seems Yukiteru has no avenue of escape and he’s well and truly lost. What will be the finale’s twist?
April 11 Natsuiro Kiseki Ep. 1 Initial impression – I don’t follow (3/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kM
April 12 Upotte!! Ep. 1 Initial impression – a difficult premise (3/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kP
April 13 Sankarea Ep. 1 Initial impression – surprisingly interesting and well-thought http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kS
April 14 Sankarea Ep. 2 I can really feel for Rea. Anyone might think death to be an alternative to the oppressive lifestyle imposed by her father.
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia Ep. 1 Initial impression – an aura of fun http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kV

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (4/1 – 4/7)

Anime of the Week – Accel World
What strikes me most about this series is its character design. I’ve never seen such a stark contrast between the hero and heroine.
April 2 Amagami+ Ep. 13 As fanservice goes, this was pretty tame. Beyond that, I don’t think there was anything novel about this series’ finisher.
Persona 4 Ep. 25 I’m curious about how the true ending will depict the events in the game, especially since this episode was so rushed.
April 3 Mirai Nikki Ep. 24 I hoped that Yukiteru would have become more decisive, but he’s still going about things with a wishy-washy attitude.
Accel World Ep. 1 Initial impression – the beginning of something really cool http://wp.me/p1Gaby-k9
April 4 Space Brothers Ep. 1 Initial impression – the wrong style (4/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kf
April 5 Zetman Ep. 1 Initial impression – too niche (4/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kk
To Heart 2 Dungeon Travelers Ep. 1 This series has always been hilarious and ridiculous, so adding an RPG twist really isn’t a big stretch.
April 7 Hiiro no Kakera Ep. 1 Initial impression – deliberately hazy (4/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kp

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (3/25 – 3/31)

Anime of the Week – Zero no Tsukaima F
I’ve always been enamored by the undeniable charm of this series. Though occasionally romantic, sometimes ecchi and often hokey doesn’t sound like the best formula, it’s a really fun story.
March 25 Zero F Ep. 12 It was a bumpy road for Saito and Louise, but the final season of the series got it right and gave them a great finale.
Shana III Ep. 24 It was a nice ending to a roller coaster of a series. But it also squished in a lot of story that really needed more time.
March 26 Rinne Ep. 12 I didn’t care for the flashback-style order of events in this episode, but it was a nice send off while we wait for season 2.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 23 There seems to be a lot of shadowy motives floating around in this series. But I’m glad Yukiteru now knows the truth.
March 27 Another Ep. 12 As much of an exaggerated slasher this series turned into, it continued to be smart about how it dealt with the curse of 3-3.
Ano Natsu Ep. 12 As smooth as this anime was, the ending was really hokey. It completely did not match the tone of the rest of the series.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Shakugan no Shana (review)

Final impression – a triumphant beginning (10/10)

Autumn 2005 to winter 2006 (24 episodes + 1 OVA) (title literal translation – Shana of Burning Eyes, English synonym – Shana the Fire-Eyed)

High school has started and Yuji Sakai is already making the most of his youth.  But on his way home one day he steps into a sealed zone that is separated from the normal flow of time.  In here, he is attacked by monsters intent on devouring this strange human who can move within their trap.  But at the last second he is saved by a beautiful girl with flaming red hair; easily overpowering his attackers.  But despite protecting him from the monsters, it turns out Yuji Sakai is already dead.  His existence was eaten by a denizen of the Crimson World some time ago and all that remains of him is a tiny spark that will soon burn out.  He decides to spend his last few days before he disappears in the company of his savior, aiding her in any way that he can before he is gone without a trace.  However, a fortunate turn of events may give him an unexpected reprieve from oblivion.

Shakugan no Shana is a spectacular story.  It starts with the initial, horrifying concept of the enemies of humanity consuming people’s very existence as energy, leaving nothing behind to remember them by.  It’s a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that is dramatically mitigated by Yuji’s ability to keep a positive attitude about the whole situation.  He never despairs and is always thinking about how he can best make use of his limited potential.  It’s a testament to the tremendous strength of character people can exhibit when cornered by the most trying circumstances.  The series expands on its intellectual, action-filled beginning and moves into a more romantic theme as the steely Shana realizes that she’s not an emotionless killing machine and her feelings for Yuji go beyond mere camaraderie.  Even the final battle is more than it superficially appears to be because the plot never misses a chance to include a thought-provoking discussion about the characters’ inner motives.  And then to top of the amazing writing is the gorgeous art style of Ito Noizi and excellent music courtesy of Mami Kawada, KOTOKO and several other bands and singers who knew just the right style to set the mood for this epic series.  In short, the first season of Shakugan no Shana struck a perfect balance between fighting, philosophy, artistic tone and romance to create an amazingly profound first season.

Another (review)

Final impression – slightly inconsistent horror (7/10)

Winter 2012 (12 episodes)

After his father goes on a long business trip to India, Kouichi Sakakibara suffers a collapsed lung and moves to the countryside village of Yomiyama to live with his Aunt and grandparents.  While recovering in the hospital, he encounters a mysterious girl wearing an eye patch who is walking to the morgue to deliver a doll.  He’s unsure what to make of this strange occurrence until he meets the girl again in his class at junior high school and inexplicably, he seems to be the only person who acknowledges her existence.  As it turns out, her name is Mei Misaki and she has an important role in preventing a horrifically deadly curse from befalling the class.

Another could have been a much better horror / mystery anime if it had managed to keep a more consistent tone.  Instead it allows itself to stumble into the pitfalls of appealing to the viewers in completely unacceptable ways.  Most notable is the very misplaced swimsuit episode that makes it impossible to take the series seriously afterwards.  But for all it does wrong, Another is a very good horror anime.  You’re always kept on your toes with its consistent pacing and it gives just enough information to answer the questions of the previous episode while providing enough new content to keep you invested in the next episode.  It may be a simple formula, but its tried and true effectiveness is not to be undersold.  The character of Mei Misaki was perfect for providing a suitable amount of misdirection to keep you guessing about her role in the story and Kouichi’s levelheadedness in the face of all the darkness around him is a beacon of hope and sanity in the frenzied chaos.  And while the series is far from perfect, the ending gives a satisfying conclusion when you realize the hints were there all along.

Guilty Crown (review)

Final impression – pretty but unpolished (6/10)

Autumn 2011 to winter 2012 (22 episodes)

In 2029 an outbreak of a mysterious disease known as the Apocalypse Virus hit Tokyo causing cancerous crystals to emerge from people’s bodies, reducing them to dust that blew away in the wind.  Now it’s 2039 and much of Japan’s policies are under the control of the GHQ—an organization devoted to researching and preventing another pandemic.  However, under the guise of public safety, the GHQ restricts the freedom of the Japanese people, which naturally makes them rather unpopular.  To counter this stifling new branch of government that sometimes descends into spontaneous martial law, the terrorist group Undertaker seeks to liberate Japan using covert, guerrilla tactics.  Shu Ouma is just an average high school student living in Tokyo who laments the current state of affairs and feels there’s nothing he can do to change things.  But he gets thrust into the heart of the conflict when his path crosses with the indie singer, Inori Yuzuriha.  On the run from the GHQ, she entrusts him with delivering a stolen package to Undertaker.  But an accident along the way imbues him with the power to change the course of fate.

Guilty Crown is very beautiful both in its crisp drawing style and harmonious music, which create a terrific setting with awesome potential.  This optimism further gets bolstered by the growth of Shu’s character as he goes through a transition of ordinary to mighty, then misguided and finally culminating in noble selflessness.  The flow of his personality follows an organic development that is as natural as it is elegant.  But looking past the artfulness and the excellent character development of Guilty Crown, the writing of this anime is thick and muddy.  As much as it wants to be epic and tell an amazing story of realizing your own weakness and overcoming your preconceived limits, it fails to accomplish this goal eloquently.  Whether it’s relying on misplaced tropes like a swimsuit episode, contrived plot points such as reviving a character who was supposed to be dead or some overused quasi-romantic sort of martyrdom, there’s plenty of wasted potential.  To its credit, Guilty Crown never goes so far as to allow its clumsier episodes to break up the flow of the plot.  But some of the characters’ motives are so unreasonable that it feels like they’re puppets of the writer rather than real people with free will and personalities.  So while Guilty Crown is easy on the eyes and ears, its story is frustratingly forced and rushes to finish in its shorter-than-average run.

Anime of the Week (3/18 – 3/24)

Anime of the Week – Black★Rock Shooter
Ever since it debuted halfway through the winter 2012 season, this series has been far and beyond the best in so many ways.
March 18 Nisemonogatari Ep. 11 This series always performs well when it focuses on its strong point. Its intellectual dialogue is always awesome.
Zero F Ep. 11 If your loved one sent you away to protect you, would you honor their protective wishes or do everything you could to return?
March 19 Mirai Nikki Ep. 22 This was a brutal episode. But all these cliffhangers and mysteries are starting to annoy me. Are they really necessary?
Rinne Ep. 11 Sure enough, Madoka went berserk in Vox Aura. But I’m confused. When a pilot loses control don’t bad things usually happen?
March 20 Another Ep. 11 It seems we’ve reached the breaking point of sanity. How will this curse be brought to an end and what will be the cost?
Shana III Ep. 23 In some ways the battle is over and in other ways this is just a minor change in the status quo, but it was most elegant.
Ano Natsu Ep. 11 Seriously!! Just who is Remon? Things are getting a little ridiculous, but it’s still a lot of fun so I’m not too annoyed.
March 23 Guilty Crown Ep. 22 Talk about crunch time. A pretty series with an interesting concept falls flat with a rushed and empty ending. =(
March 24 BRS Ep. 8 The winding path this series takes belies its actual simplicity. Telling such a straightforward story so beautifully is amazing.
Persona 4 Ep. 24 Ah… all the secrets are getting revealed. I really love this part since all the subtle clues were there all along.
Amagami+ Ep. 12 It seems the Morishima family is full of bad girls. After jumping through all those hoops I’m glad he got the good ending.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Ookami Kakushi (review)

Final impression – good atmosphere around a passable story (6/10)

Winter 2010 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Wolfed Away)

Hiroshi’s father, an author of folklore and occult novels, has decided to move the family to the remote, countryside village of Jogamachi. His friendly attitude and city-boy personality allow Hiroshi to quickly make friends with his classmates.  But the one thing he never really becomes accustomed to the unusual traditions of this backwater town.  It becomes increasingly suspicious for Hiroshi when the dreary Nemuru, his classroom representative (daughter of the town’s oldest, traditional family) tells him to stay away from the old side of town across the river. But the apprehension really kicks in when people suddenly start leaving Jogamachi and the flimsy explanations for their quick departures just don’t make sense.

Ookami Kakushi’s most distinctive feature is its original drawing style that feels suave and matches perfectly with the fog of mystery that surrounds the story.  The writing is pretty good, too—pacing out just the right amount of information to feed your appetite, while managing to keep you hungry for more.  Unfortunately, the story doesn’t leave much of an impact when it’s over.  Without spoiling too much, it’s a fairly standard “spirited away,” scenario that gets much less intriguing when the big surprise is that the circumstances are only superficially supernatural.  All in all, it’s a good show that gets you to feel for the characters and manages its allotments of suspense with skillful timing.  Certainly not for people who don’t care for slow, moody anime, Ookami Kakushi is a fine example of well-composed atmospheric pacing.

Nisemonogatari (review)

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.

Bakemonogatari (review)

Final impression – a magnificent, philosophical escapade (10/10)

Summer 2009 to spring 2010 (15 episodes) (title literal translation – Monster Story, English synonym – Ghostory)

During spring break of his final year of high school, Koyomi Araragi had an encounter with a vampire. Fortunately, he was able to mostly restore his humanity through the aid of the supernatural specialist Meme Oshino, who was able to intervene before things got worse.  As part of a way of thanking the man who saved him from becoming a vampire himself, Koyomi has begun helping people he encounters rid themselves of their unnatural afflictions.  And it’s a good thing he retains some of his vampiric traits, because most curses are not willing to go down quietly.

Bakemonogatari is an amazing masterpiece of wordplay.  I’ll come right out and say that if you don’t like dialogue-heavy anime you’re not going to enjoy this series because its strongest attribute is the way it twists language and and plays with our perceptions of humanity.  But if you revel in the intellectual—the sociological—then you’re going to have a hard time finding anything better than this.  And the awesomeness doesn’t stop with its writing.  It has a great cast of voice actors including Kana Hanazawa and Yui Horie who are masters of their craft and depict their characters’ personalities perfectly down to every nuance.  Then, if you thought my praise was over, the music is absolutely spectacular with a fresh opening theme for each of the female protagonists, sung beautifully by their skilled voice actresses.  Dealing with such topics as love, hopelessness, responsibility, desire and lust, Bakemonogatari is passionate and insightful.  If you let yourself get caught up in its pace, your blood will start to boil with the brilliant energy radiated by this incredible anime.

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