Quick Thoughts on Demi-chan wa Kataritai: Demi-chan no Natsuyasumi

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While most people adored titles such as Kobayashi-sanKonoSuba 2, and Little Witch Academia, the surprise hit of Winter 2017 for me was Demi-chan wa Kataritai. I liked it so much that upon finishing it, its source manga material hit my “Plan to Read” list. For the first time in a long while, an anime had left me absolutely starving for more content, exhibiting the kind of curious spirit that makes anime so inherently different from Western media. Soon after the series wrapped up, a sequel OVA was announced, though with my track record of OVA’s, I wasn’t horribly optimistic—after all, OVA’s tend to be extra fodder that don’t mean anything to the grand scope of a series. Of course, when it came time to watch said sequel OVA, as my adoration for the series is that strong, I sighed to myself at how typically it acknowledged my suspicions.

There truly is no reason for any fan of the series to watch this extra episode. Should one be fasting and need a quick bite to recover, then by all means dig in. More than anything, this Demi-chan OVA is nothing but a distraction, or one last farewell before the looming unknown as its anime continuation hangs in purgatory. What it provides is the same spirit of emotional energy through character interaction and exuberance as the parent series, but little of the intricate details that made it such a fascinating series. This particular piece plays out more like a standard harem romcom than it really needs to.

Still, it gave me such a release to be able to see characters I genuinely enjoyed back onscreen after so long. While Hikari and Satou took most of the spotlight this time around, they made enough of their spotlight to provide a base level of entertainment on a consistent level. Plenty of recurring characters also return as a reminder of their existence to the audience, the audience’s will to remember be damned! If this was a safe, uneventful OVA designed to garner more sales, then it’s within the upper echelon of safe, uneventful OVA designed to garner more sales. That is, it’s not recommendable to anyone other than those who truly enjoyed the series.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

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!

Entry #20: Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm (SoA 2017)

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(Recommended, once again, by D.)

I would write a thought-out post on this anime, but I forgot I even watched it about ten minutes after I finished.

Just kidding. Sort of.

A long time ago—back in late 2012—I watched a series called Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi. Even back in my early days of anime-perusing, it was especially notable for being horribly dull and uneventful. Tack on five years to present time, and I watched Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm. It’s especially notable for being horribly dull and uneventful.

One could almost copy/paste a lot of the strengths and weaknesses of Hoshizora and put them here under a different name. The two series share a number of similarities, such as both being adapted from visual novels and involve competitive sports (though Four Rhythm has a larger emphasis on it). Their biggest differences being Hoshizora involves lots of romance and Four Rhythm has sci-fi stuff. On a technical aspect, neither series has any particular flaw… other than being incredibly simplistic in its presentation.

It’s no secret I prefer subtlety over bluntness, however in the case of realistic(ish) settings, I’d prefer a boost of energy or enthusiasm, some way or another. Four Rhythm has a nice introduction, filling in the minor details and introducing the characters and hinting at their inner insecurities. At some point, they begin to develop a formula to go by, mostly involving the primarily female cast practicing and competing in the sport the anime makes up: Flying Circus. The details go like this: it involves people using anti-gravity boots to fly around and touch airborne buoys or slap each other’s backs to score points within a time limit. Sounds cool. It isn’t.

What makes Four Rhythm so dull is that its focal point, Flying Circus, isn’t entertaining. The rules are too simplistic and the strategies put into it are almost never complex. One could literally just zoom around and touch buoys or slam on their opponent’s back for the whole time and that’d be it. Admittedly, the “dogfights” are more entertaining than touching buoys. Rather, I think without the buoys, it could pass off as an intriguing form of aerial wrestling. Unfortunately, this is what we get and it’s pretty bland. Not only with the game, but how the game is shown. Cliché is a nice word to describe the drama attached to Four Rhythm. One could also use phrases such as “Lazy shounen ripoff” or “Typical sports stuff.”

I acknowledge that a lot of what I’m criticizing isn’t really bad on its own. It’s just that there’s really nothing new here, nothing that hasn’t been done before better by other series. And while applause is granted for Four Rhythm’s creativity with its shtick, it just has no… “oomph.” No spark. No pizzazz. Nothing out of the ordinary. Floating around in meaningless existence.

Oh, I guess the animation’s pretty okay. Yeah, I got nothing.

Personal Score: D

Critical Score: C-

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.