12 Days of Anime #8 – I’m Here for The Spectacle (Fight Scene of the Year)

Sometimes, you just find yourself staring at the screen, mouth agape, as the shiny pictures flash in front of your eyes, and they’re just so pretty. I know it seems weird coming from someone who writes (well) over a thousand words on so many shows, but sometimes I just look at my monitor, realize I have no idea what’s going on or how to approach it, and just let the shows wash over me.

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya anime Archer Illya versus Saber

Stills do this no justice, check the YouTube video down-post

Originally, this post was going to be about Bakemonogatari (and Nisemonogatari) and Mawaru Penguindrum, which I’ve watched this year, and are so incredibly rich in imagery, and actively assault your senses through multi-layered visual vectors that you just don’t know what to look at, and what is real within the show’s world. But then, I remembered that there’s actually been a single moment which made an entire show worth it, and was just spectacularly well done, and that moment had been the huge fight in Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya – Episodes 5-6.

Well, imagine a fight that spans two episodes, but it’s actually dynamic and constantly evolving, rather than people pulling the same stunts over and over, or merely talking. Imagine a fight that is animated at the highest standards of an anime movie, rather than an anime series, well above the level displayed in the endless shounen shows. A fight that is fluid, a fight that is epic, a fight that is beautiful. I remember being absolutely amazed and dazzled when I reached this part of the show, it’s the best anime fight I’ve seen in a long while, and the best animated sequence in general as well. The direction that managed to avoid things being stale is also to be lauded.

I can keep talking and talking, but still shots and gifs just can’t convey how great this fight was. Here’s the youtube video of the fight, and it obviously contains spoilers. This fight had been as great to watch as it’s been to hear the original “I am the bone of my sword” in Fate/Stay Night – and unlike people today, I’ve watched F/SN in ~2006, and it’s been widely liked.

And yes, Fate/Kaleid has more than its share of fan-service, but episodes 5-6 make it all so very worth it.

So, dear readers, any moment this year where you have found yourself just staring at the pretty pictures, who had been just so pretty?

And now, here are thoughts shared by others, related either to the above shows, or just watching a show in awe:


Fucking Bakemonogatari. Fucking Shaft. This time last year, I’d heard of the name, I’d heard its rep, and I had it sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to take the plunge. This year? I am a bloody fanboy, seeking out and watching shows and reading books just because Shinbo or Nisioisin directed/wrote them.

Bakemonogatari marks my transition – if “transition” is the right word for something more akin to the snapping of a neck – from casual to lifestyle anime watcher. It’s my Haruhi Suzumiya, or K-On, or Attack on Titan; my gateway anime, my one show that reveals to me the strange and wonderful and beautiful and delicious possibilities of the medium.

Bakemonogatari anime by shaft

Bakemonogatari, so much to digest, so very stylized.

And it was nuts.

My notes from that time are basically empty; I can only imagine because all it would have been is increasingly frantic variations of “what.” When they aren’t empty, they’re gushing, over Senjougahara and about crazy reasons to reject the “style over substance” criticism. (I’ll still gush over Senjougahara, if you give me half a chance :P)

And… more than the craziness, more than the exceptional unreality of the show, more than its characters-who-are-people-but-also-metaphors, more than its self-aware construction and underlying thematic pins – what really got me with Bakemonogatari was one moment. Yea, that moment. It’s become a cliché to talk about Bakemono in the same breath as ep12, as if they represent each other or somesuch — but to me the real draw of the episode was how incredibly beautifully out of place it was. How it constructed this situation and these implicit character relationships that we hadn’t seen over the past ten, such that we could imagine it and that it did feel continuous. How it gave us a brilliant little love story in essentially one and a half episodes, wringing the most possible value out of every single aspect of its production, to give the viewer the best possible experience for these thirty minutes of his or her life.

And yes, I said. I want more of this.

And I got it!

Mawaru Penguindrum anime

In Mawaru Penguindrum you can’t tell where the metaphor ends and reality begins. Not a Shaft Studio anime.

Falconhaxx: Watching and Rewatching Bakemonogatari

Watching Bakemonogatari and then, a few months later, rewatching Bakemonogatari and then just rewatching Episode 1 over and over again. Bakemonogatari is special to me. It’s not perfect, and it does have some boring moments, but it’s just so enjoyable to me. I love everything about it. The visuals, the music, the characters, the voice actors, everything. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari: Kuro and Second Season almost equally to Bakemonogatari, but it was the first season that introduced me to the series(which is naturally understandable), and thus it means a lot to me.

xenefenex: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya

I’m a big fan of the Fate Series, so it’s no surprise that I was really looking forward to Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, especially when I realized the Miyu was voiced by Kaori Nazuka who voiced my favourite female lead Ayatsuji Tsukasa from Amagami or that ChouCho was singing the opening. And I watch the first episode and I still remember that feeling I get when I watch Shirou with his family and how nice it is to have the mindless lighthearted stuff instead of the more tragic element that the other fate series have. The entire series wasn’t too great in terms of story and all, but as a fate fan, I just enjoy seeing the recurring characters in a new setting. Especially after Carnival Phantasm.

4 comments on “12 Days of Anime #8 – I’m Here for The Spectacle (Fight Scene of the Year)

  1. One of the things about that explosive segment in the Saber Alter fight that gives it a lot of rewatch value is how, even though no overt exposition is given on the fight, much of it follows reasonable, unspoken tactics. Archer’s weakness is simply that she cannot win without constant evasion and/or throwing up a wall of flak; her barrage isn’t just badass and graceful, it also feels fragile and expedient.
    That’s missing from a lot of action shows nowadays, even (surprisingly) Kill la Kill. Prisma Ilya stumbled on a gem with that fight scene, and goddamn was it shiny.

    • Guy says:

      I actually didn’t think of it that much, especially since in the end she just unleashed a massive area-of-attack attack to defeat Saber. But sure, one had to weave and evade while the other could stand still as a juggernaut, yet in the end Illya had to keep darting in, so I think in the end? Illya was just too strong, in all forms, and the fight was to illustrate the sheer awesomeness of the fusion.

      But I don’t begrudge it that, sometimes a shiny spectacle is more than good enough :)

  2. Funny how you mention “snapping of a neck” in the description of Bakemonogatari ^^; I’ve yet to finish Kaleid Liner. I will eventually, but for now I’ll talk about Bakemono. It was an anime I delayed in watching until someone recommended it to me. I’m not sure if I fell in love with it in the first two episodes, or was it the third episode where I realized it was Poyoyon Rock who did the character design. Either way it became one of my favourite series ever! It’s usually something trivial at first then it becomes deeper later on and that’s why I’m hooked to Monogatari. Of course the fan service doesn’t hurt either :P

    Anyhoo… Speaking of spectacles in Bakemono… The short Black Hanekawa vs Shinobu was one of the coolest fights, mainly just because of the crazy animation of Shinobu appearing from the shadows. I’ve forgotten about this scene because of the strange way they broadcast the first season. It helped after when I picked up the Blu-Ray. See if you can get it because the commentary in it is just the best!

    • Guy says:

      Th _gatari shows is full of spectacles, it’s one of a few shows I don’t really know how to break apart and analyze, but am also fine with “just watching it”. I have plenty of thoughts on it, but I leave analyzing its themes more in-depth to other people. There’s so much there, and much of it contradictory, or you can’t tell where the themes begin and the visual spectacles end… so I just watch, nod, and give it 7-8/10 for the most part, though the latest season seems much more overt about making its themes known :)

      And yeah, I watch this show in BDs only, due to just how much Shaft changes/upgrades between the TV airing and the BDs. I dunno about the documentaries, I don’t enjoy such for the most part, seeing a scene and hearing the director talking “over” that.

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