Quick Thoughts on Koe no Katachi (Film)

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I decided to make this post quick because upon further consideration, there really isn’t much to say about it, despite how unlikely that seems with this film’s tremendous popularity.

To be blunt, this film is the perfect encapsulation of THE POWER OF EMOTIONS!!! The patience required to finally see this film subbed was one that I don’t normally experience with any specific anime film, but the super-high average rating for this piece on MAL had me very curious. To my non-surprise, it’s highly rated because it involves the most humanistic qualities of altruism I’ve seen outside of anime directed at children. It also deals with subject matter such as bullying, suicide, and putting on a brave front, so it’s probably dubbed “deep” and “relatable” along with its heavy reliance on viewer empathy. With myself isolated from the crowd, I found the film to be a good attempt at trying to tell the story of a boy’s redemption from his cruel past. And like most stories along this concept, its execution was horribly overdramatic and at times inconsistent.

One of my biggest qualms with this film without spoiling anything specific is how long it takes for things to actually begin to tear down for the inevitable, overdramatic climax. I was surprised to see that, after the time skip, the bully and the bullied were “comfortable” being around each other despite the past, and one even has some inborn fondness for the other. What kind of strange case of Stockholm Syndrome is this? It makes the middle portions of the film feel incredibly empty of any real content, seeing as its deliberately setting itself up for some dramatic explosion and that’s the only purpose it serves. This is doubled when a myriad of characters are introduced that serve their role and nothing more. One character serves to support, another to cause friction, and another to be an inside source of information for the male lead. Not many characters feel more than just keys to the major plot.

Even so, these grievances are the only things I found truly wrong with the film, as the rest are either tolerable absurdities or likable strengths. Nothing stands out, except perhaps design and animation, which was nice throughout. I found the relationship between the leads to be strong after the initial confusion with why they were so comfortable with one another before the inevitable climax pushes them apart. More than anything, I suppose, is that it evoked a lot of sympathy from me and pushed its frivolity of life onto my cold soul enough for me to enjoy it. One could say that on a storied structure, it teeters upon mediocrity, but makes up for it somewhat on the basis of pure entertainment. Kind of like, I don’t know, Kimi no Na wa.

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

Quick Thoughts on Oshiete! Galko-chan (OVA)

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(I know this is the same image I used with the parent series, but the OVA didn’t have any new cover to provide.)

Truth be told, I watched this some time ago; been nearly a month according to MyAnimeList. To some, a month wouldn’t necessarily be that great a span in order to retain all that they had seen from a one-off OVA episode. For me, I remember next to nothing from this special. Before you close the tab, let me assure you that that says a lot more about this OVA than it does about my memory. If I’m able to remember 80% of my elementary school classmates’ names, I’m more than capable of remembering an OVA for a series I actually had a soft fondness for.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the parent (short) series was the sort of blunt openness of teenage women’s issues and sexual curiosity. Not often do you see anime openly discussing tampons and periods and such, at least without some sort of humorous melancholy attached to it. Per this special, the series decided to shy away from the more “vulgar” topics in exchange for some light-hearted, everyday antics, which essentially takes away a lot of what made the series stand out. That’s not to say one can’t enjoy the series without the constant spouting of the size and color of a woman’s nipples, but the series didn’t give much of a chance to develop these characters in a way that would suit them for a slice-of-life perspective.

Throwing the characters out of their comfort zone is exactly what makes this OVA so forgettable. There’s little indication that I was watching something from the parent series if not for the characters themselves, who only act normally in normal situations, with small bits of “Oh, gee, haha” inconveniences spread around. Without the stipulation of highlighting the struggles of female youth and such, the special converges into an aimless path with little idea of where to go. It’s nearly thirty minutes long, but half of it feels like one’s staring at an incomplete storyboard.

I gave it a shot because I genuinely enjoyed the parent series—how it turned out left me disappointed, which can only mean these feelings of affection inside myself are real. That makes it much harder to say that the OVA is worthless, despite being the length of nearly four episodes of the parent series. It didn’t follow the course of what made the core series so refreshing, and with so much time dedicated to one OVA, it’s disheartening to see all that potential wasted.

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

Quick Updated Thoughts on Ano Natsu de Matteru

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A rather hard rewatch, this was for me. As a title that holds something of an emotional attachment to my younger self, I can’t help but think fondly of the time this anime almost made me cry. This, out of all anime I watched in late 2012, was the one that got me closest to actually shedding tears. Since then, only rewatching Katanagatari has gotten me to reach for a tissue. OCD in full effect, I figured I’d keep the rewatch train rolling and see if Ano Natsu de Matteru held up after nearly five years.

It didn’t.

One can almost feel how hard this anime tried to be its own AnoHana, from the interactions between characters to the love octagon that takes effect as time goes on. Both series also deal with an inevitable fact that the characters try to ignore, but are destined to face. The difference between the two is through execution, which Ano Natsu de Matteru does well only in very specific measures.

What is immediately apparent about halfway through the series is that the writing is very, very dumb. The entire purpose of a single character, Lemon, is to push the plot forward and manipulate the cast to her whim for the sake of fucking with them. And because she has a “more than she knows” background, she knows everything that’s going to happen and how to prepare for it. Don’t you love having a character that can destroy all the tension and seriousness of an otherwise tensile and serious plot by making everything feel a-ok through their Godly knowledge and dexterity? Even more so, she more often than not forces the characters to change, instead of the story giving them the opportunity to either do it themselves or slip into situations of genuine, awkward conflict. It’s a shame that she’s so hamfisted in, because the general character roster is… tolerable, with Mio, and to some extent Tetsurou, being the saving graces of the anime.

Without Lemon, the writing still deals with things that have already been done in plenty of other anime, to a lesser extent. Lots of angst, lots of surprised faces, lots of dramatic outbursts and emotional spurs. While not on the same level as a soap opera, some episodes give a little more heart than necessary. Some don’t even feel like normal characters, rather pieces set up to provide controversy.

Animation is pretty nice, which is one thing about this anime that’s fairly praiseworthy. Not always the most smooth of physical activity, but its bright and distinctive in its approach. I wish Ichika was more like an actual alien than a human being (a lot about her alien persona doesn’t make sense), though that’s more of a nitpick.

In the end, it’s not nearly the anime I used to see it as, with a lot of issues in its writing and how it incorporates its characters. Strange as it might seem, the final episode still left me with a good emotional impression, something that even surprised me considering how cynical I was of it up to that point. I really wish the audience was treated to more of Mio and her active and understandable change halfway through the series, something only a few characters get a snippet of. Lost potential and all that; Ano Natsu de Matteru leaves viewers waiting for the translation of AnoHana: Alien Edition.

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

Quick Thoughts on Onihei

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A fairly simplistic series in an age of simplistic series.

There’s not much to say about OniHei that can’t be explained within its synopsis. An episodic series with an overarching plot involving a crime fighting team of samurai in the Edo period. Each episode introduces a character as it delves into their personal struggles and how it relates to the recurring major characters. Typically these characters are subject to scrutiny through their actions, which is normally brought to light in a justifiable explanation. This formula is then repeated for thirteen episodes.

Of course, not every episode is exactly the same from A to Z. What differs from episode to episode is simply too little to make it seem as though one isn’t watching the same episode with different characters. Structure and narrative personality isn’t really what the series aims to embellish, instead relying on character motivation/interaction and a love for cool samurai battles. Only issue with the latter point is that the animation swerves between passable and mediocre.

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What strengths Onihei possesses include the central character, Heizo Hasegawa, the leader of the Arson Theft Control (aforementioned “crime fighting team of samurai”). While the perspectives change with every episode, his is one that stays important for most of them, as his role as leader, caretaker, and judge encompasses the whole of the series’s themes and time period. It’s one thing to have a role, but Heizo makes use of all of his roles in a likable and relatable light. Admittedly, he’s not so entertaining that he carries the show on his back, but he’s a consistently bright(ish) spot in a series that can become dull depending on the episode.

What kills this series is its inconsistency. Episodes tend to blend together in a dull mesh of good vs. evil and haphazard visuals. Some episodes are tolerable, with memorable (enough) characters and situations, while others were a handy sedative. This horrid quality flip from week to week made me somewhat hesitant to even continue with the coin toss between fine and not fine. Word usage is no hyperbole, either: the most these series accomplishes is being “fine.” Its use of storytelling and structure doesn’t allow for anything more than base enthusiasm for recurring characters, whose importance varies depending on the roulette-like story. There’s only so much one can pretend to care about before it becomes a deadly cycle.

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Onihei is only recommended as a passable watch for a rainy day. Some of the stories are genuinely entertaining from beginning to end, but collectively, the series suffers too much from its determination to make every episode something different, without making it different. It feels as though it’s a passion project inspired from something that did it better. Effort is there, just nothing in the sense of intrigue within most of its characters or flair of drama.

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

Day Thirty-One: Kara no Kyoukai 8 + 9 (MotM 2017)

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The March of the Movies will end with a purr, as my motivation to continue forth with essentially the same thing day after day has worn me out completely. My thoughts on these two films will be short (one much shorter than the other).

KnK 8: Shuushou

Everything I despised about the long, overcomplicated explanations in a few of the films prior is essentially all that’s here. Some warm moments interlaced doesn’t save it from being literally Shiki’s face with mouth movements for minutes straight talking some psychological nonsense about what is and what isn’t the make-up of a human being. I grew bored within minutes and still they went on for some twenty-five hours, or so it seemed. It didn’t serve much point to anything overall, so I more just felt I wasted a half hour sitting through it. Production values, once again, are what save it from being completely skippable. Also helped with serving some sort of closure, that is until the next movie beat it even in that category.

Final Score: 3/10

KnK 9: Mirai Fukuin

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Emotionally-charged with good balance of character interaction/charm and psychoanalytical jargon? Say it ain’t so! The films prior either did one (way more often) or the other (basically never). It serves almost like a reboot of the series, but with the foundations and development of the characters already established, one can simply enjoy the characters for who they are and how they interact with new characters. Said new characters are pretty standard, but do enough to make the movie a tad more easy-going.

One huge contrast with this film is the general lack of tragic, hostile topics and developments. They still exist to some extent, but not nearly the level of darkness that would, say, open with a rape scene, or end with cannibalism. I, as someone who tolerated the darkness to the point where I almost found it overly edgy, welcome this with open arms. Finally, some variety to the film that helps it stand out, though admittedly makes it a sort of black sheep. It doesn’t have that same “feeling” to it as the others, prioritizing more with the characters than the story, along with harboring the closure that many fans are likely clamoring to see. It’s split up into two parts: one part that shows the events roughly two years after Movie 7, which takes up most of the runtime, and a second part that transports the characters far into the future and is essentially there for closure. People who have clicked the “Spoiler” tab on MAL’s synopsis for the film know what I mean by this.

Initially, I had forgotten that the film was split into two parts, which was why the end of the first part surprised me when it ended earlier than the total runtime. I was wondering what they could possibly show for another half hour, but then I remembered the half hour I wasted to get to that point. Turns out, it’s rather sweet, and almost nothing like anything the series would’ve published under its name. These two parts vary in importance and feature a large difference in cast members, but both serve to compliment one another to some capacity, whether through recurring characters or, as I’ve said again and again, closure.

In a way, this film is basically filler, something to wrap up the series in a way that a majority of people would appreciate. I feel they go overboard ever so slightly, but I’m also picky and overly cynical. The piece is an enjoyable one based on its key differences from what the film series established for its identity beforehand. It’s rather standard in terms of plot, its execution, and character quirks, but it does more with it, instead of letting things fester in nothingness for half the film before getting things done. However, this film has probably the easiest main antagonist Shiki has ever faced. Not a lot of tension, only good vibes and pseudo-drama.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s good because it finally changed itself and did everything else adequately enough to hold itself up. And the end was cute.

Final Score: 6.5/10

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

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

Thank you all for sticking with me this month. I’m going to take a well deserved rest for a little bit, then I’ll be back as if I never left. Until then!

Day Twenty-Nine: Kara no Kyoukai 6: Boukyaku Rokuon (MotM 2017)

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This won’t be long.

Everything I’ve criticized the first film of doing is multiplied here in Part 6, except without the veil of ignorance set upon the audience. Here, they manage to make the plot and the characters even more simplistic than they already were in movies past. Better yet, Part 6 stars the male lead’s younger “sister,” who is in love with him. Because anime. But she’s adopted, so it doesn’t matter. Because anime. Her characterization includes being in love with her brother, and getting embarrassed when someone blurts out that they know that she’s in love with her brother. Aside from this, she exudes a sort of naivety that suits her age well. She is also in love with her brother. Getting tired of me saying that? Film wouldn’t shut the fuck up about it, either.

Plot structure is the exact same as Parts 1 and 3; introduce characters, introduce conflict, let it fester as they try to figure shit out, and final, flashy fight to end with either a sappy resolution or bleak foreshadowing. What makes it even better is the antagonist of this film is so… uninteresting and unimportant that she may as well not even exist. And the reasoning behind her antagonizing is… well, just as uninteresting and unimportant. The entirety of this film felt like a cast-off OVA, as nothing truly felt important to the bigger spectrum and characters only occupied the screen for the sake of doing so. Barely any development (of characters one would care about), hardly any stakes, and missing a lot of that intrigue that, even if the film was somewhat off-kilter, managed to reside in the backdrop to some extent.

The only saving point for the film is animation and sound implementation. It still looks great, with a lot of imaginative spectacles that make the magic feel as though it means anything. It boosts entertainment as well as a keen eye for aestheticism, something that the series in a whole knows how to manipulate. Still, it doesn’t hold a candle to Part 5. I also enjoyed listening to the film, as the choice of music helped make the mood of pseudo-seriousness feel splendid to pay attention to. The fight scene between the male lead’s sister and the antagonist is a high point, being the best part of the film, both from a dedication to spirited choreography and animation and because it has little competition.

It’s the worst of the films thus far, though that doesn’t surprise me based on user ratings on MAL. I didn’t think it would be that bad, and to some extent, it isn’t. However, when adding into account that the film is almost a carbon copy of two other movies prior to it with less likable characters (or more likable characters taking a backseat) and a less serious plot, it’s almost a spit in the face. Production value saves it from being a nearly worthless endeavor—thank God it had at least that.

Final Score: 3.5/10

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

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

Day Twenty-Seven: Kara no Kyoukai 3 + 4 (MotM 2017)

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(I know the pictures are inconsistent.)

KnK 3: Tsuukaku Zanryuu

The film teleports back to “present time,” where the premise is very similar to that of the first film. The only true difference between the two is that, after the second film, the viewer now has further insight on the relationship between (some) of the characters and their situations. Also, this film is a lot grittier than the first, as along with murder, we also have rape. Indeed, the film opens with a rape scene. You have been warned.

Does this darker tone mean anything to the grander scheme of things? Yes and no. It helps cement the issues that revolve around this film’s main target, a girl who cannot feel, while also being there just for the sake of making the girl pitiable. I enjoyed the way that they incorporated the darker actions through the perspective of both the detached victim and the attacker. A flavor is added to the secondary characters through simple conversations, looking back on their actions and how they describe it to the major characters. This is probably what the film does best, as intrigue is really all this series has to its name thus far.

Apart from this, I could almost copy/paste exactly what I said about the first film here, because they’re incredibly similar. Opens with the introduction of conflict, featuring characters important to the film. Has the major characters converse with one another about random things in their little hideout. Bad things happen due to the aforementioned characters important to the specific film. Major characters catch wind of it and investigate. More is revealed about the important character’s past and lifestyle, cluing in on what could be wrong with them. End it with a flashy action scene, then end it with some foreshadowing of more to come or some sappy resolution. Barely a difference, barely more that I can say that hasn’t already been said.

Enjoyment was a tad higher with this one as I found the antagonist girl interesting, though she’s hardly enough to carry the film. It still feels as though the film has better things to show later on, frustratingly stuck within the introductory phases that disallow it to reveal too much early on. If, per chance, the film did a better job of making the major characters feel more like they controlled the (horribly slow and rather dull) story, instead of the other way around, I’d be more inclined to care about what was going on. Truth be told, it’s somewhat hard to watch these films seeing as they tend to blend in with one another to some extent.

Final Score: 5.5/10

KnK 4: Garan no Dou

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Here, the audience is given a continuation of Part 2, as odd numbers seem to be present time, while even numbers are reserved for flashbacks. It details the events that transpire semi-directly after the events of Part 2, with some leeway in time dedicated to one character being in a coma. The third member of the group of major characters (shown above) is introduced as the scenes show what she means to the male and female lead outside of… an employer, I suppose.

To make matters direct, Part 4 isn’t as well-paced or as dramatically emotional as Part 2, but has a lot more going for it than either Parts 1 or 3. Conversations within this film are a combination of Part 2 and Parts 1 and 3, with some focusing on the situation at hand and a dizzyingly depressing mood all throughout, along with some further character development for Shiki. Male lead is fairly absent this time around, though still shows himself as someone for Shiki to rely on (Again, the unreal determination of this guy). The third character doesn’t reveal much more about herself as much as her expertise, which while gratifying, doesn’t hold the same weight to making her feel at all relatable or likably charismatic.

A lot of the time spent in Part 4 has Shiki sitting in a bed realizing her newfound power and trying to cope with it. Essentially it comes down to her facing a horrifying new reality on her own accord, providing core strength to her character and will. She’s said to have developed this herself, but I’d like to think it’s the commitment of the two other major characters that kept her spirit and resolve to live alive. There’s a lot of talking, not necessarily new for the series, but a stark increase here as there is very little distraction from reality and humanity. Some pretty scenes of symbolic nature appear, but they’re pretty standard. Again, this film ends with some flashy action scenes, which are almost a requirement for these films to have at this point. I’m starting to lose the will to live myself.

Animation and art take a step in the right direction, as the attention to detail make it a tad more intriguing to pay attention to. Characters have a little more bravado to their forms, as Shiki’s new ability sees to it that they don’t remain normal through her perception. Her new ability also gives leeway to making more intrinsically sadistic imagery present, which better enhances the dark atmosphere’s inescapable coating. It does more for the special features to these characters that the audience gets to experience them firsthand with the characters, something the odd-numbered films lack in hindsight.

Word around the community is that I’m in for a treat tomorrow, as Part 5 is typically referred to as the best of the film franchise’s bunch. I’m looking forward to it, as aside from Part 2, nothing from this series shows me that it deserves the praise and popularity it’s garnered over the years. Part 4, after Part 2, was a bit of a disappointment, but not anything that I would actively dissuade people from watching. It’s a decent film on its own and one of the better films thus far. Still, if only I could escape this unrelenting urge to dig my way out of a blackened prison cell.

Final Score: 6/10

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

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