“The Objectively Subjective Objective” — A Reassessment

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Four months ago, I spit out a somewhat heavy topic titled “The Objectively Subjective Objective.” With this piece, I tried to elaborate upon the system with which I judge anime and visual media in general. Claims such as denying that “theories and opinions cannot be objective” and that if everything were subjective there would be no point in critiquing anything fill the page with an almost condescending air of frustration and bullheadedness. That post was unplanned, and writing through it, a large portion of the arguments I made were on the spot, without the sanction of some measure of forethought. In recent weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about the ways in which certain products can be both good and bad, and have found a comfortable acceptance with how nothing is generally concrete—that the things that can be determined as good or bad in art is purely subjective.

It’s taken some number of years, but I’m ready to forgo the “objective” discipline. (more…)

Sometimes the Jump from Manga to Anime Isn’t Worth It

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The winter season of 2018 has provided me with not one, but two anime adapted from manga I had started reading long beforehand. I can’t even remember if that’s ever happened to me once. Hell, I didn’t realize Takagi-san was going to have an anime adaptation until a week before its premiere! I could look forward to two anime I was guaranteed to enjoy because I like the source material. Nothing could go wrong! (more…)

Sex Should Be More Prominent in Anime

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I know what you’re thinking. “But how could sex be any more prominent in anime?! There are ecchi shows being released every season, and sexual fan service/tension has been a staple of even the most innocent anime out there! Why would you want to add more?!” I can see why one might assume this based on the title of this post alone. Though, perhaps, one should take it in a more literal sense.

There should be more sex in anime; the actual act of two (or more, why not?) characters performing sexual intercourse. It will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever happen, but I think a more liberal mindset on the topic could benefit the medium (along with others stringent about it) in a multitude of ways, whether carnal or artistic. (more…)

I Don’t Watch Any Ani-tubers

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I like video games. That’s why many of my subscriptions on Youtube are to those who deal with video games. I like films. That’s why many some of my subscriptions on Youtube are to those who deal with films. I like anime. I don’t watch any ani-tubers. Wait, why is that?

Thinking about it earlier today, I found it somewhat odd that I never latched onto any particular person on Youtube who does anime-type reviews or videos. At least, I don’t now, seeing as none of my subscriptions deal with anime in any capacity other than references (or adaptations based on video games). So I thought about it a little more, while also browsing Youtube for a short while, and I’ve come to document my thoughts on why I think I’m not taken by any particular ani-tuber at large, and why I may never be. But first, a little history between me and ani-tubers. (more…)

Thoughts on Ame no Marginal (Rain Marginal)

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From the creator of the ultra-depressing Narcissu comes Ame no Marginal (Rain Marginal), a story that’s nearly as depressing but now with fantasy elements. Life-shortening diseases aren’t good enough? How about alternate dimensions where people never age? Ame no Marginal is an “ambitious” step in the right direction for someone passionate in the art of “feelsy” visual novel creation.

Notice the quotes around key words in the last paragraph. “Feelsy” is a term some may not be familiar with, but one that can be understood without much effort. Essentially, writing with the intention of making you cry. Feel pity. Think Clannad or AnoHana. Such is the niche in mind. “Ambitious” is a somewhat sarcastic choice of term, yet with the context of knowing the production values of Narcissu, it’s understandable. In Narcissu, there was barely anything; some pictures here and there, a few music tracks, and lots of textAme no Marginal takes the necessary steps for a (non)sequel game and provides more for the reader to absorb.

Such comes in the form of more pictures, more music, and (minimal) voice acting. Characters are actually given proper appearances and designs, as well as distinct voices, while background music is noticeably more varied. There still remains lots of text with unmoving images, yet the execution is a lot easier to digest with occasional spurts of variety to go with the walls of words. In a technical sense, Ame no Marginal is by no means marginally better than Narcissu; it’s head and shoulders above it.

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The name of the game of visual novels, however, is storytelling. Faring against thousands of different titles, even with the leniency of its limited capabilities, Ame no Marginal falls between “interestingly dull” and “painfully standard.” Perhaps it is the lack of a distinct focus, as the game has the player weave between two different stories in a single playthrough. Perhaps it is the fantasy aspect which, while its rules are well regarded, seeps into fulfilling the “feelsy” nature of the game just a tad too strongly. Whatever it may be, its narrative felt fairly unimpactful, and left less of an emotional “oomph” with me than its spiritual predecessor. Let me explain it this way: it feels more like reading a harrowing story out of a newspaper than feeding into a tragic novel… with a tragic novel’s level of detail.

Pleasant in-game, the soundtrack isn’t anything special outside of it. Explained dramatically, the pieces of Ame no Marginal’s armor are well-suited for the battle at hand, improving its chances at lasting. Outside of that specific battle, it is useless, only capable of fending off attacks from a specific source. Call it “Fire-resistant armor,” or in this case, “Negative-emotion-stimulating armor.” Harboring the necessities of (hopefully) influencing the tear duct, its choice in music can range from naive peppiness to lamenting life’s cruelty. Some parts catchy, some parts gloomy; while never truly invigorating. This is made up for somewhat by the art direction, which is pleasant for its production value. Cute little girls actually look cute this time around. Even more than that, the alternative dimension has such a wondrous isolation vibe that it makes it intriguing almost by default.

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Yes, the characters. Not only accentuated by text this time around. By its end, most characters were at least likable, though lacking in total development. The POV character, whose name escapes me (if he even had one), began as a very edgy depressed young man with little will to live (it literally starts with him contemplating jumping off a tall building). Afterwards, he’s teleported to a dimension where time stands still and meets a little girl, who explains his current situation. After that… he’s just kind of normal. He starts to care for the girl and feels sorry for her, but that’s pretty much it. I would think someone who starts the game contemplating suicide would be a little more somber throughout. As the player progresses, the little girl ends up becoming the star of the game, as she receives far more backstory into her character than the POV character. This, in turn, makes her the most developed character in the game, and the fact that another story is told along the way feels a little too unfocused to provide that proper “oomph.”

All in all, certainly worth the “Free” tag on Steam. A nice read for anyone who enjoys the “feelsy” nature of certain visual novels, and isn’t scared by a lot of text without any choices.

The ending is bullshit, though.

The rating for this title and more can be found on MyVideoGameList.

What I Learned from the 2017 Summer of Anime

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Now that it’s come and gone, I find myself pondering the process, the execution, and the things I could change about this year’s Summer of Anime. What better way to collect my thoughts than to share a post to the world about my overall impressions from the torture experiences I had to face since June 1st, as well as some tidbits that could prove interesting to onlookers and newcomers alike. I could very well title this post “Thoughts on …,” but for the sake of variety, I’ll make this particular entry a little more academic.

1. YOU ALL HAVE SHIT TASTE

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Just kidding.

Still, it’s astounding to see all the average to below-average series rated for this year’s batch of anime titles. Out of thirty completed anime, only nine have a “B-” or higher in either score category. That’s not even a third of the list. Initially, I thought this was incredibly alarming… until I looked back on previous years and discovered that I haven’t fared much better picking my own titles. While this year is technically a low point for anime, my Summer of Manga back in 2015 produced the same results: only nine of thirty manga received a “B-” or higher in either score category. Really, we all have pretty shit taste, don’t we?

2. Anime over Two-Cour Are a Death Sentence

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I did not do well with big chunks.

NANA and the ‘Aria’ series. Those are the only two series recommended to me that are longer than two-cour that did not have a negative impression left by either a tough, uphill battle or time constraints. Strangely enough, they’re also two of the better series I watched this year! The rest festered within the restraints that I placed upon them (and myself), with finishes ranging between decent (Code Geass) and horrid (Fate/kaleid), if they weren’t dropped outright.

Blood+ (50 episodes), Hikaru no Go (75 episodes), and Ghost in the Shell (52 episodes) were all dropped due to time constraints. Eureka Seven (50 episodes) started out alright, but eventually feel prey to its own undoing, making the last fifteen episodes or so a complete drag; dropping it would mean having to face another longer series, so I put up with it. Code Geass (50 episodes) and Fate/kaleid (42 episodes) were both fairly early on, so the rush for time wasn’t as prevalent, though their quality didn’t make them a breeze to go through, either.

If I ever do this again, two-cour will be the limit.

3. (Most) Anime Within the Top 100 Were Enjoyable

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Out of the thirty anime recommended, six (and a not-quite seventh) anime are ranked within the top 100 on MyAnimeList. Out of those six, five got a rating of “B-” or higher in the “Personal Score” category. The lone loser? Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. Everything else is recommendable (to whatever extent).

Why is this important? For the sake of formulating theories.

Back in 2014, I intentionally ended that year’s Summer with five titles from MyAnimeList’s top 100. Sure enough, four out of five got a Personal Score of “B-” or higher, and the fifth got a “C+.” The message on display is that while a number of anime are overhyped, it’s really to what extent, as many anime I’ve seen ranked within the top 100 are, at the least, decent shows. It was no different this year, as five of the six anime qualified are anime I would recommend most from this Summer—most specifically NANASamurai Champloo, and the ‘Aria’ series.

So, when looking for a new series to watch, if you really want a bang for your buck, it’s probably better to go with a series with an overall rank of 200 than 2,000. Don’t take that to heart, though.

4. I’m Never Exceeding Twenty-Five Anime Again

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I’ll admit outright that I did not expect to receive so many recommendations for this year’s special condition (I brought this slightly on myself). Not wanting to let anyone down, I pushed the envelope further and further until everyone’s picks got equal chance to be included, to the point where I was pushing myself past my limits. At first, I was ready to take on the extra load. By Eureka Seven, I was looking quite a bit like Oreki up there.

This year was rough. By the end, I was crawling to the finish line, resorting to ashamedly sprinting through the path that took the least amount of effort (strategic drops). I certainly had enough motivation to do thirty series in the beginning, though with all garbage I had to wade through, my tolerance wore thin quickly. Of the last ten anime I watched, only two had a “B-” or higher in either score category. Six of them had a “C-” or lower.

For any future event similar to this, two things will be set in stone: only two recommendations per person and the total count is twenty-five. I’m not sure I could do this again without resorting to dirty tactics (which, admittedly, I did near the end of this year).

5. I Had Fun

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Yeah, sure, by the end I was praying for sweet death and cursing myself for being so hardheaded, but despite it all, it was a worthwhile Summer. For the first time, I was doing the Summer not just for myself, but for the people who continue to read and support my blog. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for taking part this year. This is both my most and least favorite year so far.

I’m glad I got such a diverse selection of titles to sink my teeth into, as well as opportunities to watch things I had been putting off for years. These fun concepts wouldn’t be possible without the help of you readers, so thank you, again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I only hope next time I won’t have to show my cynicism by smashing everyone’s choices.

Until next year!

Commencing ‘Summer of Anime 2017’

It’s that time of year.

First off, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in recommending me anime to watch! You all will aid my Summer in being as diverse and long as possible! This year will be a tad different, so I’ll go over a few things.

In case you weren’t aware, I raised the roof from 25 entries to 30 entries, while also increasing my drop count from 5 to 10. This was because so many people recommended me anime. I underestimated your potential, dear reader! Since this was the case, I threw in some extra loopholes to make the event more memorable.

First of all, the total anime count I received via recommendations was stopped at 39 anime titles. This was because I wanted to introduce a concept that will probably end up not being used. I call it the “Get Out of Jail Free” pick. Basically, with 39 of 40 possible entries, I decided my final anime within my 10 reserved drop list will end up being my own choice. My very last drop will be something I get to choose, as a last resort, as something to look forward to before knowing I can no longer drop any more titles. Again, it’s not likely it’ll get to this point, but who knows?

That being said, all 39 anime titles are accounted for, but only 30 of them will go onto the official Summer of Anime 2017 list. The last nine will go onto a reserve list, which will serve as my go-to list in the case I ever drop any anime from the main list. If I drop, say, Steins;Gate from my main list, I will have to watch the first anime in my reserve list. Once I finish that, I go back to what then proceeded Steins;Gate on the list. If I drop a reserve title, I go on to the next reserve title, and so on and so forth.

The deadline was left somewhat ambiguous in past years, but the deadline for this year (especially due to the giant increase in episode count) will be my birthday, August 20th. Scores will be based upon an A-F rating scale for both personal and critical attributes, and I will give a shout out at the beginning of each post to the person who recommended me the anime of the post.

I am also allowed to watch ongoing anime, as well as OVA’s, films, and specials, during the Summer. For titles that may take me a while to finish, I will prepare various, likely unrelated posts to ensure this blog doesn’t get lonely. For example, I will have a post on Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water tomorrow ready to go before the first entry on the SoA list. I will start first thing tomorrow morning, June 1st.

The full list will be available to see momentarily within my Summer of Anime Archive. With that said, here’s to a successful Summer!