It’d be easy to say that this is the top moment of the year because this was a relatively weak year for anime, or that I haven’t watched much anime over the past three months. It could also be said that I just like myself a bit too much, but since these moments are all about our personal moments, and that this particular “moment” took up hundreds of hours of my time over half a year, I don’t really see how anything else could’ve taken the #1 spot.
Nothing like some self-deprecating humor to start us off.
I’ve spent many times on various internet communities since roughly 1997. Every community I come into, I become very involved with, and relatively well-known in short order. I’ve started using reddit’s /r/anime’s subreddit more heavily when I revived this blog, back in April 2013, and completely immersed myself in it when Fall 2013’s season began, back in July. And as part of the community, I’d post pointers to people, correct mistakes, call out when people broke the rules, ask for rule clarifications, etc.
As such, it wasn’t all that surprising, as a high profile and very active poster that I’ve been offered a position of moderating the subreddit back in February, which I accepted. Continue reading →
Tomorrow I’m going to post the anime moment that had left the deepest impression upon me this past year. I’ve already written of 10 moments, but here are nine more moments that I thought merited a paragraph each, of an exciting, impactful or “other” moment in my anime-related life from the past year. Why nine? Because tomorrow is the tenth, the big one (Order of following moments is arbitrary).
Moments will be included for: Nobunagun, Mushishi, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, Chihayafuru, Princess Tutu, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (and Stardust Crusaders), Log Horizon, Hunter x Hunter (2011), and Madoka Magica: Rebellion.
1. Princess Tutu is a Magical Show: Princess Tutu is hands down the best show I’ve watched this year, which makes me not finishing it even worse. I’ve listened to a lot of classic music and ballets as a child, and Princess Tutu using them all was splendid. The story is basically timeless, speaks to my love of narratives and meta-narratives (similar to The Witches’ sub-series in Terry Pratchett’s The Discworld series), and the more thought you put into the show, the more you get into it. Would be a great show to watch with one’s children, for the older readers of my blog.
When the anime year of 2014 began, I made a comment that I sure hope Sword Art Online II would be my top anime for the year, with Mushishi’s second season being #2. I added a wink at the end of said comment, and partially the reason was that I knew it’d annoy the rest of the Aniblogosphere/Anitwitter crowd, but there was more than a bit of truth to it. 2013 had been an amazing strong year for anime, and had Sword Art Online’s first season ended during 2013, it’d have still made it to the top 3 of my personal list.
I could’ve probably used some more action in my shounen.
It’s not that Sword Art Online II was bad or disappointing in its own right, it had actual character development, it had quite a few moments where you could see a strong control of the medium by the director. I agreed with most of the decisions made by the adaptation, such as when they cut out most explanations that speak to the nerd within us all, but just take up time (a lesson Mahouka could’ve used). But while everything was fine on paper, it just didn’t click with me as strongly as the first season did.
Mahou Sensou (Magical Warfare), Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High School), Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Fairy Tail 2014, Gokukoku no Brynhildr (Brynhildr in the Darkness). This year had a lot of shounen shows which made me realize some things about how I watch these shows, and what I think of them. I still like these shows, or I wouldn’t watch them, I always have high hopes, and sometimes they are met, such as with Hunter x Hunter, or even Tokyo Ravens, but more often, I realize I’m not enjoying these shows as much as I wish to, and as much as I once had. It didn’t help most of the shows mentioned earlier were either outright bad, lacking, or just lacking in a certain way.
Darn straight, you tell them, /sister/! – Mahouka
This realization actually started more towards the tail-end of 2013, with shows such as Unbreakable Machine Doll and Strike the Blood, but back then I ascribed it to the bad art and over-reliance on fan-service, in part. But it’s more than that, it’s also more than just me being too old and tired of these shows (my love for I spoke of before, more than once) – it’s the difference in how I watch them. Shounonsense (the female version would be “Shoujunk”, thank you AniTwitter) often just don’t have enough happen every episode, and you need to watch several episodes in one go to get anything out of them, and hopefully think slightly less on the episodes as you go, which my note-taking interferes with.
But no, some of the aforementioned shows are definitely not up to snuff. Continue reading →
Tokyo Ghoul started out strong. It had gore, it had violence, it had some of that “I’m going to show you sexy stuff”, all that makes one think a show is trying to pass itself off as “mature”, but is anything but, right? But if you read my notes for the first episode (the only ones I published), you’ll see I actually saw something there, it reminded me of werewolf and vampire stories, and how often they’re used as allegories for sexual awakening, or of growing up. I saw something similar in Tokyo Ghoul’s premier.
The question at the heart of any story about growing up, and also many horror stories.
Now, aside from horror at what the protagonist has become, horror at the world he’s found himself from, which seems to be the tension and hallmark of most psychological horror, this show did indeed have quite a bit of a “shounen battler” feel, which wasn’t the greatest. At least they spent most of their thematic time on the topic of recreating horror, of people replicating what has been done to them, and that the true horror is how people treat one another, how they “Other” each group they don’t belong to, and allow themselves to replicate the atrocities that had been done to them, an endless vicious cycle.
Well, rather than talk without end, let’s start with showing you today’s topic:
Okay, you’re back? So what did we have here? A transformation sequence that lasted 72 seconds, which has a lot of glitter, but no real impact. There’s no visual impact, it’s not actually impressive. More important, within the show, you don’t at all care for the transformation. This came in the finale of the first half of the (split-cour) show, and I couldn’t help but laugh when this played on my screen, and kept on playing (you can read the episodic notes for the finale here).
With all the talk about bad shows, and great shows that surprise us, where’s talk of actual workmanship? Of a show that tells a story without surprising you, actually taking it through all of the motions, from start to conclusion, and has you along? In my post about spoilers I touched on this point, but surprise isn’t the big thing in emotional resonance, which is what I look for in my media consumption. If surprise were everything, then rewatching a series wouldn’t work, and my post on Durarara for day #12 is an example of me revisiting material repeatedly.
So what am I looking for? A show that is well made, a show that is well constructed. The characters make sense, the relationships make sense, and for a character-centric show (which not all are), that means events arise from characters acting true to their nature. I just need people who make sense, explore being people by being people. And Ping Pong was such a show, and it was great.
It’s hard to remember that it’s been this year, as it was a Fall 2013 carry-over, and it ended without a big bang, but Kill la Kill aired this year, and it actually had a couple of episodes that spoke to a very specific part of me, a part that might not be seen all too often, but my episodic write-ups are the best place to see it. That part is the part that likes semi-obscure symbolism, reads occult and religious literature, and cares more than a wee bit for exciting infodumps, and then dislikes how shows use them.
Infodumps! Glorious Infodumps!
I often call this sort of thing “The Neon Genesis Evangelion Effect”, though it’s older, you can see it in most 2-course or longer series, such as in Code Geass, Eureka 7, Wolf’s Rain, and even in Visions of Escaflowne, where there’s a mystery, there’s a “real truth going on behind the scenes”, and often it’s semi-mystical in nature. Almost makes one think of Planet of the Apes. Well, Kill la Kill certainly had it, and though I’m not entirely fond of this phenomenon itself, I’m always intrigued in how it manifests.
I like fighting games. I’m sort of a masher who learns some tricks further and uses them. For much of my life, I’d lose myself for an hour or two in front of a fighting game and feel much refreshed afterwards. Soul Calibur 2 had been my favourite fighting game for many years, and my 2nd most-favourite game is Arc System Works’ BlazBlue, the latest iteration of, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, is my favourite.
For those who don’t know the game and might wonder what it’s doing here, it’s part of a sub-genre called “Anime Fighting Games”, where characters have much more mobility than in games such as Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat, and things progress much more rapidly. Back in July, the biggest fighting games gathering in the west took place, Evo 2014, and I’ve watched most of the BBCP streams, and from the top 16 onward, a legend was born. A legend named Tiku.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, localized as “Chuunibyou, Love & Other Delusions” in the west, or known simply as Chu2Koi, was a show I watched in November 2013, and quite enjoyed. I’ve enjoyed it enough to give it an 8/10 score, when most RomComs hover around 7 if they’re good, and 6 if they’re not. It had some delicious drama, it had good acting (Fukuyama Jun is my favourite), it was beautiful, it was heartfelt, and it felt genuine, exactly because it dealt with the fantastical, in a manner not too dissimilar to The Fisher King.
Oh, it shouldn’t have been, but that’s “drama” for you.
(Sorry about the lack of post yesterday, got engrossed in a book and stayed up all night to finish it. Today will have two posts, enjoy!)
So when season 2 was announced for January 2014, I was quite excited, my main problem with most romantic stories, which is even more prevalent in anime, is that once the couple “gets together” and overcomes the “real difficulty” of admitting to each other and to themselves how they feel, and get over whatever outside interference there is, the piece just stops, and we don’t get to see an actual couple having an actual relationship. Chuunibyou Ren (the title of the second season) seemed to promise it’d give us exactly that. But it didn’t. Oh boy, did it not.