“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…)

Hope! Happiness! Headaches! Ore Monogatari!!

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Look at this guy, groovin’ around on the cover of his manga story. Look at his lips, his physique, his eyebrows. He is the most likable shoujo lead I’ve ever come across. Though it’d be hard to find yourself hating what is essentially the perfect character.

I’m not trying to be condescending; Takeo, the glamorous man you see above, is by all accounts a perfect character, or perhaps more suitably, a perfect person. His gentleness exceeds that of the typical shoujo female lead, his earnestness is almost puppy-like, and he places others above himself on a level that rivals Goku from Dragon Ball Z. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and everyone—and I mean everyone—loves him for being so transparent. No other word describes him better than “Goofball,” with as tender a stigma as the word possesses when spoken from someone who genuinely and wholeheartedly cares. Takeo carries the entire story on his gargantuan shoulders, and he is what keeps the readers coming back.

He is the beacon, too, for the flaws that make this an ultimately unfulfilling and eventually irritating read. (more…)

Mahoujin Guruguru (2017) and Retro Vibes and You

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In an era of entertainment where nostalgia is among the most powerful stimuli, Mahoujin Guruguru’s presence seems pretty appropriate. This particular series is technically a reboot/remake, with a series under the same name being developed over twenty years ago, specifically in 1994. That interpretation of the 1992 manga series (again, under the same name) was more geared towards a family-friendly and optimistic nature. The year is now 2017, and audiences have been desensitized to a vast array of topics due to the rise of the internet and all it displays. That could be why this version of the now-famous manga series is rated for audiences a little older than its original demographic.

Now I haven’t seen the original Mahoujin Guruguru, so I can’t say for sure how extensively its potty humor or graphic themes were displayed, only going off of the “Rated G for Everyone” tag found on MyAnimeList. With Guruguru (2017), however, there are various instances of things I certainly wouldn’t expect to see in a rated-G flick. Half-naked women (and men) and mostly sexual innuendos, though there’s also a large display of disregard for the fellow man… so that might count? Whatever the case, there’s a bit of an edge to this representation, which could signify the changing of the times and what audiences wish to expect from an already known commodity. Despite this, I couldn’t help but feel like I was living in the late nineties once again. (more…)

Thoughts on Little Witch Academia (TV)

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Oh, yeah. I was watching this at one point, huh?

For those who need a little refresher (I did, too), my Early Impressions post will be linked to fill in some context as to what made me put this on-hold for so long in the first place. Well, it’s not entirely the reason, but it casts a shadow much larger than what many would expect.

Its so-called “blandness” is a vast generalization of what the series entails. Its chaotic animation and the subsequent style it presents makes it a bouncy title well worth its fantasy premise. This is not, however, something of a Kill la Kill presentation, where characters are literally breaking the laws of physics and common sense. A “controlled chaos” sort of presentation, carefully picking its moments of whimsical rambunctiousness. More than the common series, it’s underwhelming for a Trigger-animated show. Not that I necessarily hold that against it, but it’s a thought. (more…)

A Halloween Horror: Mayoiga… Isn’t Terrible?

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An average rating of 5.7 out of 10 on MyAnimeList—ranked 7,657th on the site as of writing this. Numerous “Worst of the Season” awards from fellow anibloggers. Each top review on MAL is a 4 or below (not counting the 8/10, as the entire point of that review is to portray it as an intentionally abstract comedy). A friend of mine recommended that I marathon this series as a Halloween joke of sorts, and with all of these expectations placed on it as a surefire unintentional comedy the likes anime has never seen before, I’ve finished the series and am left scratching my head. Why did I enjoy this series more than Yuri!!! on Ice?

Now that is a scary statement, right? (more…)

Thoughts on the Kizumonogatari Trilogy

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I thought of doing this post with each part individually, but I kind of liked the idea of wrapping it all into one story, seeing as that’s what it is in the end. Doing each part would’ve been too much like episodic thoughts, something I don’t care to add to the overinflated amount of anibloggers already doing so. Of course, splitting them into parts could’ve had me post these thoughts a long time ago, but patience is a virtue and I’ll uphold the standards I would expect from anyone else and more.

Kizumonogatari is the “origin” story surrounding the now vampiric loli, Shinobu, from the parent Monogatari series. It details Araragi’s first encounter with her and Hanekawa, the one who only knows what she knows, in a sort of dual-threat of busty female counterparts. Shinobu has had her limbs stolen from her by vampire hunters, and with the help of Araragi, she wishes to retrieve them to obtain her full power as a vampire. At the same time, Araragi tries to cope with Hanekawa being absurdly considerate of him, seeing as he’s branded himself a friendless loser.

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For fans of the parent Monogatari series: Kizumonogatari is commonplace to the world that author Nisio Isin has already created in past works. The only real strange distinction is that Hanekawa acts far more free-spirited and aloof than she does in other stories. She doesn’t even seem like her own character, really. Aside from so, the story and presentation are the mainstay that make the series fresh and inviting. Beautifully intricate in its detail and creepy imagery, Kizumonogatari is a definitive must-watch for the fans, despite how inconsequential this entire side project sounds in hindsight. In reality, it delves into the character of Shinobu and treats her more like a human being, especially in the third part, as ironic as that sounds. That alone should be enough for a glance.

For non-fans of the parent Monogatari series: there is a little hesitation to recommend this piece if one either hasn’t watched the parent series or didn’t care for it. Lots of dialogue still remains, if one didn’t care for that. Sexually-suggestive situations still arise (and part three has a very aggressive sexual situation present). And while I don’t always agree with the notion, a lot of the fun of these side movies is getting better detail behind the characters than presented in the more broadened counterparts. Within this film, Shinobu gets a lot more attention towards her character than shown in a lot of the Monogatari series, which makes me not want to recommend this first. However, Hanekawa doesn’t even act like her actual character here, which is… also confusing enough to have me not want to recommend it. What I can recommend it for is its kooky nature and semi-serious take on the world of the supernatural, in all of its gory glory.

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What’s more impressive (and noticeably different from the parent series) is the emphasis on the technical aspects of the anime. Animation and sound are very poignant in this three-part piece, more so than I ever remember it being otherwise. Araragi has never belted out screams with his entire god damn body as he does here, which helps to create a tragic(ally whimsical) tone that really suits the series and establishes Araragi’s character. And with animation, well, let’s just say dismemberment during battle sequences have never been more amusing.

But it is also the style of presentation that is somewhat different. Gone are the constant blips of random novel excerpts and scene numbers and transitions. Kizumonogatari is more streamlined in its presentation, not really interrupting the flow of conversation or the visual meat of a scene. The dialogue present is still absurd in its monotonous viewpoint of the supernatural and others’ reactions to it (and other uncomfortable topics), though the presentation of such things are more dedicated to simply that: dialogue. In many cases, the parent story will try to shoehorn in random visuals in an effort to distinguish a scene with… something. Here, it’s rather straightforward, with the more cryptic sequences happening in their own spare time, not in the middle of other scenes. Some may miss that traditional habit, but I really didn’t mind either way.

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Without a doubt the most enjoyable part of this series is that there are very rarely dull moments. What I found to be the least encouraging aspects were the fights Araragi had with the members of the Shinobu-limb-stealing squad—two out of the three being blatantly uninteresting, one-dimensional characters. The fights themselves were somewhat blissful due to their weird comedic aura and animated whimsy, but the context behind the fights made them rather dull. By the end, there really isn’t much to be said about the three antagonists other than that they were in the way. Outside of this, the dialogue between characters, expressive art direction, and symbolic curmudgeon made the experience far more invigorating.

It took me nearly a month to even watch the third part, but the time spent away didn’t dull my excitement even a little. Nisio Isin has a way of making anything sound strangely captivating, even if the events onscreen don’t really match the “epic” atmosphere shuffling in the background. Kizumonogatari is an OVA-style project done in the best way it possibly can: distinguish itself as more than fan fodder and do as much as possible to add appreciation and insight into the characters/story shown in a more major work. I can’t say I know many others that can effectively reciprocate these “guidelines,” but this is a prime example of making the inconsequential seem not so important to a work’s quality.

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

Thoughts on Tsurezure Children

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To those with good eyes, there is a distinction with how this series’s name is pronounced. It can either be Tsurezure Children or Tsuredure Children. I’m gonna stick with “z” because that’s what it’s more commonly known by.

This technical anime short has been garnering a lot of praise around the ani-community for its straightforward portrayal of young romance. By golly, two kids almost have sex with one another! Isn’t that just gross? A far cry from the typical behavior surrounding love where characters blush at the thought of even looking each other in the eyes. Tsurezure Children is an experimental production dedicated to true, unfiltered romantic shenanigans between kids who have no idea what to do with it, while at the same time organizing it in a sort of slice-of-life/comedy structure. With context like that, this series seems right up my alley!

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Initially, the series showed a lot of promise, with keen focus on the trials of understanding how to make a relationship work and how absolutely awkward teenagers are despite their bravado. Despite how many characters it showed, I found each couple (or potential couple) to be charming and relatable to some degree, if not for the random bits of comedy that carried into each scenario. The pacing was fairly good and it displayed each couple fairly evenly as the episodes progressed, with some variety to the situations they faced in their everyday lives. Somewhat unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of crossover between these characters until much further on, which would’ve tied the whole school together instead of isolating all of these incidents and characters as though they controlled the universe they inhabited. The charm of the progression these characters have into becoming committed to one another mostly made up for it.

And once the series pairs (almost) everyone up, it decides to slow the pace down to near unbearable levels. For the love of God, one couple was close to having sex in episode four, and then the rest of the series they don’t even kiss (seriously) no matter how hard they try? What kind of logic is that?! It seems that once the couples have been established, it’s smooth sailing to the finish line. Like skinning a potato like lightning, only to flop it right on the pan to heat over a low flame. At least these couples are established, sure. At least these couples progress further than hand-holding (usually), sure. But if that’s the cutoff where writers think that’s all people want, that’s naive.

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You know what would’ve been a really interesting plot to follow? Imagine the couple in episode four really did have sex. What would happen with them afterward? Would they carry on like normal? Would they try to create an image of superiority to hide how awkward it probably was? Or working with another angle, what if one of them (likely the male) really liked it, and they continue to have sex quite a bit, and then the one not enjoying it so much feels as though that’s all the relationship is to their partner. Doesn’t that sound relatable? Like your partner is just in it for the physical benefits? I praise Tsurezure Children for taking a step forward with its progressive take on young romance, but I’m also criticizing it for not continuing their path to trendsetter status. It doesn’t work if you have cold feet halfway through, which is notable with the second half of the series.

I enjoyed most couples, such as Ayaka and Takeru, though a few travel the line of “Waiting for the inevitable” a tad too uniform for my taste. A girl who doesn’t know much about love. A boy who loves her. She’s completely oblivious to his advances. As the series progresses, she begins to understand love, and now the boy who’s too scared to take the initiative (because of course he is) is inhabiting her mind more and more, and she can’t figure out why! I wonder how that’s gonna end… Situations such as this appear sporadically throughout episodes, though are more prevalent in the second half. Even without the clichés of romantic development, many of the couples have their own niché when it comes to their development. One misunderstands the other until they actually make their intentions clear. And… Well… Actually… Yeah, that’s about it. One person misunderstands the other until they make themselves clear, and then they love them more. Okay.

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While I admire the look and presentation of the anime, its animation is actually rather mediocre. Almost every episode has a noticeable frame jump that defies reality, and movement isn’t nearly as smooth as one would see in, say, Shingeki no Kyojin. Some of the more “intimate” details of characters’ bodies are only ever emphasized if they’re focused on, while from far away don’t always match how they look up close. What is praiseworthy is that most characters look actually different, with different styles of eyes, hair, and facial structure to differentiate person to person. It adds more to that whole “universe” of characters that inhabit the school (that I really wish they’d take more advantage of!); revealing differences in physical appearance, yet similarities in morals and values.

Something I would absolutely recommend if only for the eleven-to-twelve-minute runtime per episode, resulting in a much more convenient marathoning experience. The quality of the series, despite the general amount of praise, is mixed for me, as the later portions of the show tend to overinflate the filler instead of actual development of characters or their relationships. I enjoyed it enough, but it starts and finishes in a way that leaves the viewer feeling unfulfilled. Should the series continue with a sequel season, this may not be so much of an issue. Regardless, it’s cute and cuddly, as well as an encouraging foray into the relatable world of romance that most anime series never dwell on.

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