Entry #27: Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! (SoM/A 2018)

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Back at the time, I opened my “review” of Umi Monogatari by highlighting how underrated it is, listing notable anime titles with higher average ratings I found it superior to. While this receives nowhere near the kind of shit ratings Ume Monogatari gets, it’s still confusingly low in my mind. Its average rating on MAL is a measly 7.4, putting it within the 2000’s in terms of overall average in the database. (more…)

Embracing the Rain with Koi wa Ameagari no You ni

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Those who have already read my Early Impressions post for this anime know that I have some history with this production. Prior to it even being announced as an anime, I was some twenty chapters into its manga source. Enjoying the anime before the anime even came about, I had some expectations for this piece that, should it follow closely to the manga, I was sure would be able to concoct an insightful and memorable experience. (more…)

Quick Thoughts on Kamichu! Specials

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I tossed and turned all night deciding whether or not to make this a full-length post or not, but in the end, I figured it would be rather redundant seeing as there’s very little difference between these specials and the parent series. Also, I lied, I didn’t think about it at all until I wrote the title of this post. I’m very sorry.

For a more in-depth write-up on the topic of this anime, I’ll link my thoughts on the original series. As I said, this special is little different, and in order to understand the nuances within, it’s a better post to look at.

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However, there are some differences, specifically in the amount of “filler” present that invaded a good portion of the parent series. There is very little filler, creating the calming atmosphere with likable characters that the final few episodes of Kamichu! managed to spit out before its end. There is also much less attention associated with Yurie’s (the main character) godliness. These specials are somewhat of an homage to the more human aspects of the slice-of-life genre, as while spirits and such are present and regarded, not a lot of fantastical things occur outside of opportunities for emotional flamboyancy.

The specials present a more down-to-Earth style of characterizing the cast in a way the parent series did sparingly in an effort to indulge in the more spiritual escapades. Some subtle moral messaging is also present with the events that transpire, as well as conflict within characters that are pretty trivial, yet charming in their execution. Allowing one’s child to express themselves, worrying about a loved one’s impression of you, and similar circumstances with spiritual beings within the realm of humanity as if it were normal. It does a lot of what the good parts of Kamichu! employ without having to rely on wacky adventures a la saving aliens from corrupt politicians and the like. Still, it leaves a little bit on the table that could leave those wanting some exuberant “oomph” wanting more.

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Animation in Kamichu! was fairly good, with a lot of focus on small movements and otherwise inconsequential facial movements. Those little quirks allowed the world and characters to feel more alive and refreshing in their “not-sexualized-to-high-heaven” production. The Kamichu! Specials are a lot of the same, though I believe the animation is a tad better seeing as they had time to chip out all the details without an allotted week-to-week timeslot. It instills the same kind of atmosphere that makes things complacently entertaining, without the necessity of making everything so wacky and over-the-top.

I was somewhat surprised to see that these specials were rated higher than the original series. Now indulging in them myself, I can see why. There’s a lot less filler bullshit accompanying and lets itself work with what it knows will work within the context of its setting. While I don’t think it’s a vast improvement, it shows exactly what the series is about and how well it can perform within its genre. And while a six out of ten may seem low, my appreciation of the series is something that shouldn’t be questioned.

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

Day Nine: Whiplash (MotM 2017)

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Yet again, I’ve decided to try something a little more off-the-wall. Instead of focusing solely on the film for today, Whiplash, I’ve decided to compare it to another film also directed by Damien Chazelle: La La Land. Before that, some context.

Roughly a month ago, I was discussing La La Land with a friend of mine who had just seen it for the first time. She enjoyed it for the most part, but added that some scenes felt a little too “ordinary.” In a twisted form of foreshadowing, that statement would continuously play within my mind as I often thought back to my own thoughts of La La Land and how I almost wanted to agree with her, but never had a solid reason to do so. That is, until today, when I finished Whiplash, and my first thought became, “This is better than La La Land.” What makes this more interesting is that I’ve decided to rate this lower than I did La La Land, yet I still stand by my statement. So, what does this mean?

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There’s an noticeable distinction between these two films, La La Land and Whiplash. Both have a variety of similarities involving plot focuses, development of character, and use of camera. However, what’s different about these two films is the direction it takes to show a similar theme—one of following your dreams and the work it takes to make it a reality. This is the core of what I feel makes Whiplash better overall as a film, with La La Land becoming a bit of a hasty overrating.

Whiplash’s biggest strength is the passion of its characters. That fierceness and resolve that makes them almost superhuman in their desire for perfection. Everything that they embody is within their work and the sacrifices they’re willing to make to grow. It’s at times horrifying, suspenseful, riveting, and a combination of all and more, with a sense of insanity tinged in for extra kick. The level of competition one has with themselves to do everything they possibly can, even at the extent of their lives, both figuratively and literally, makes the film hard to tear one’s eyes away from. Like a machine, it runs fast and never slows down, efficiently making pace for an inevitable meltdown at the finish line. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons (especially) make this movie an absolutely joy to watch and Simmons absolutely, absolutely deserves the award he received for the film.

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La La Land takes the approach of following your dreams to a more “family-friendly” level. While not earnestly appealing to kids, it feels a little more interested in showing itself in a more light and fluffy manner. The homages to popular movies of old, the random flashy musical numbers, the emphasis on love and romance; it’s a more mainstream approach compared to Whiplash’s hard-nosed, gritty persona. It plays with the theme with dream sequences and songs with a personal touch. Characters, while not necessarily ending happily ever after, find success through the hardships. Almost every fiber of La La Land is humorous, charming, and uplifting, lounging upon the good vibes to carry the viewer into the world of Hollywood(‘s good side). It’s hard not to see it as, for lack of a better term, “soft” when compared side-by-side with Whiplash.

The debate from here becomes befuddled in subjective expectations: does one prefer the lighthearted, giddy naivety of La La Land? Or does Whiplash’s drill sergeant style of bombardment craft gold with its tight friction? At the time, I believed La La Land’s message and tone was carried almost perfectly, dividing the line between dream and reality for the sake of entertainment and symbolism. Although, Whiplash has a streamlined ferocity that tickles my fancy, as well. There’s a more tangible showing of the dream that I feel makes it a more gripping experience. Characters feel more like they own their identity as opposed to being keys to relating to the audience. In the end, Whiplash feels more credible as a character study and more believable with its showing of the sacrifices of achieving greatness.

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Even with the admission of my (likely) overrating of La La Land, both films are still very good and highly recommendable. Damien Chazelle is an up and coming director with a lot of potential for many great films within his lifetime, and with two hits already, one can count me as a new fan. He has a knack for finding the balance between reality and entertainment that makes the emotions involved in his films all the more gratifying. Whiplash is the better film in my eyes, with its focus on character and unabashed determination steamrolling La La Land’s dainty charm, but only for these things. It didn’t have the same impact on me as La La Land did upon completion, and that may be its one true flaw. It’s like a quick dose of heroin, one feels amazing while it lasts, then feels more normal than they did before. It absolutely achieves what it wants to do and nothing more.

Final Score: 8.5/10

The rating for all other films can be found on my IMDb account.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!