Entries from the Dead: Amagami SS

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(Note: All images (excluding the first) taken from IMDb.)

December of 2012: I am, at this point, fresh to the expanding medium of anime and retain that glimmer of innocence that follow those who aren’t completely familiar with the tropes and industry standards surrounding said medium. With 52 completed anime (for comparison, I now have 411), I was still willing to give dozens of different genres a shot at becoming my next completed anime, ignorant to the red flags that come from just looking at a trailer screenshot or a synopsis. Also noteworthy about this version of myself is that I was more close-minded than I am now, with a definitive interpretation of what things can and can’t be when fit into a certain category. Then comes Amagami SS. (more…)

Visualist x100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode One

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The next season of Boku no Hero Academia (I will continue to refer to it this way whenever I am the one addressing it) has finally arrived and different people are already giving their input on it likely every hour. What’s to see, what’s to follow? Here are my and Karandi’s take, courtesy of the Visualist x100!! Collab™! (more…)

Early Impressions: Violet Evergarden

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Three episodes in, it sure is purdy.

What I find equally purdy (funny) is the amount of praise this series is getting in the anime world. On MyAnimeList, it’s currently within the top 100 based on average rating after three episodes. Does it deserve that hype? I’d say no, but also the potential for a yes later down the line. (more…)

Early Impressions: Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

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Three episodes in, I don’t think I’ll have a scenario where I watch zero anime this season.

To be frank, this was the only standalone (as in no sequels) anime this season that I thought had any sustainable (as in no gut feeling, a la URAHARA) chance of being good. Everything this season looked so… tryhard and exploitative of current trends and like obvious cash-grabs. And here I thought I had become less jaded throughout the year. Perhaps I’ll start Blend S

A world where humanity has died out, an empty world of ruins and silence. Two young girls travel around the world looking for something; perhaps a reason to stay alive. The only premise that made me think, “Oh. This definitely has potential to not be complete shit.” It hasn’t disappointed. With only the two characters (aside from episode three) being shown, they’re the only perspectives we get from the world, slowly filling in the details about their past and why the state of the world is what it is. Light-hearted in its development (and character design), it has the essence of being both sugary sweet and disguising serious emotional trauma/existentialism. Complexity in anime is always nice.

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At first, the design of the two girls somewhat threw me off. They’re actually moe-blobs, with huge, round eyes and heads like mochi. How, or why, did the author believe this to be an adequate choice to represent these characters? My mind cracked from its suddenly jaded state, assuming the worst money-grubbing motivations behind making characters cutesy for no reason. As the series continued, I began to assimilate myself to seeing them as they are, and what was initially cynical became more understanding; perhaps these characters are less about being cute and more about being soft catalysts into this dark and depressing world. It is the contrast that makes it so intriguing to think about, with girls one would typically see in something like Yuyushiki being placed in a setting devoid of anything. Isolation and fear of the unknown, and bits of surviving in a cruel world, through the symbols of assuring optimism.

That isn’t to say both of these girls are just happy-go-lucky planks of wood. Chi and Yuu are—because of course they are—complete opposites. Chi is more booksmart, level-headed, and the mother of the two girls. She attains the duties of survival and responsibility through her quiet determination and spirit. Yuu is more carefree, more open with her desires and motivations, such that it leads her into trouble. The daughter in the mother-daughter relationship the two girls share, but has a number of capabilities necessary to their survival (she’s handy with a gun). As paraphrased, Yuu is “the brawn” to Chi’s “brain.” Once again, this aspect of contrast plays in effect to these characters’ bond and interaction on an episodic basis. They wouldn’t seem like they’d be friends outside of this context, yet they understand each other’s needs and moods as though they’re perfect for one another. Time and isolation is implied as the reason for this, yet there is a tenderness between them that is charming from an outsider’s perspective. Yuu cannot read, so her idea of apologizing is drawing a picture of Chi with an aside saying, “I’m sokky.”

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Look at these big, fat paragraphs. Look at how much detail I’m allowed to spew about this anime, despite how it’s literally just two girls driving around desolated areas all day. The proof is in the (contextual) pudding. Reading between the lines, analyzing things from a more intimate detail, and the extraction of what we take for granted becoming part of what brings out true character. Yuu and Chi are so used to living alone that they now take for granted the reality that they may never see a true civilization again. This gives birth to curiosity; how long has the world been like this? Why are they the only two living (until episode three)? What happened to this world? What do these two girls hope to find? One of the best things about Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou is that it has no tolerance for bullshit. There are no distractions. The world is dead. All that is and can be shown are the two girls and their interaction with the non-moving environment. This level of intimacy is almost unheard of in anime. And I applaud it for it.

I’ll wrap it up here, as this is starting to become lengthier than it should be. Bottom line: a respectable idea with a slow, but effective build. I’m not ready to recommend it fully, as there’s much that can still be shown to ruin it for me, but for now, it’s ripe with potential. It may be the only anime I’m watching this season, but it feels like a journey in and of itself, building the bridge within my mind that leads to many different pathways as a multitude of series would give me.

Entry #25: Fate/stay night (Unlimited Blade Works) (SoA 2017)

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(Recommended, once again, by an unnamed lurker.)

First things first, allow me to apologize for the lack of posts/anime viewing recently. I took an unexpected three-day hiatus from the Summer to recover from a hefty plate of “irl overload.” Secondly, allow me to apologize again as this post will be short and sweet. My internet is being unkind to me at the moment and I want to keep the anime train rolling without a hitch.

Fate/stay night (UBW) is an overall okay series. Not great, probably not even good, but “okay.” It employs a lot of what one would expect from a fantasy battle shounen with a little extra in the art/animation and narrative departments. As such, the popularity and/or fanfare behind this anime is likely due to everything syncing up in exactly the right way to touch upon the general mass’s love of all things shiny, fantasy, and serious. Somewhat cynical, yes, but when many of the top-rated anime on such databases all employ these scenarios, they tend to blend together, especially to a veteran of the medium such as myself.

Fate/stay night (UBW) seems like something of a follow-up to Fate/Zero’s massive success, taking what they felt worked from the former series to recreate the sequel series originally made many years ago. In this sense, they do a mediocre job, as while the dialogue is still eloquently put and morally gray, they end up saying far too much to say one simple thing. “I am altruistic! Monologue with me as I tell you all about how altruistic I am!” “You are naive! Altruism is dumb! Monologue with me as I tell you why I feel altruism is dumb!” It doesn’t have the same impact that Urobutcher’s writing style allowed in the aforementioned Fate/Zero, but on its own, it still has more charm than many others of its kind.

What surprised me more than anything was how much I actually cared about the characters. Aside from Emiya, because “lead male protagonist” is all that’s needed to describe him, characters have a little depth to them that I wasn’t expecting. Rin particularly stole the show with her constantly changing attitude, cunning, and sprinkle of tsundere archetype. This certainly helped me to follow along with the more intimate details, and I was even more surprised that I started to remember aspects from Fate/Zero as the story continued along. A nice touch to sprinkle in some nods to the previous work. Though Gilgamesh isn’t as… “likable” as ten years prior.

A perfectly decent series worth recommending to people who like the battle shounen genre. It has enough insight to the characters and a typically constant tone that makes it engrossing almost throughout. There’s a little too much emphasis on THE POWER OF EMOTIONS!!! and overindulging in dialogue to make it a truly worthwhile experience, but still manages to keep itself afloat on an even basis. I’d recommend Fate/Zero over this, however.

Personal Score: C+

Critical Score: C+

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