They’re the best Anime that 2015 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Plastic Memories, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road, and more!
10: Plastic Memories
English: Plastic Memories
Japanese: プラスティック メモリーズ
MAL Score: 7.92
Eighteen-year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki has failed his college entrance exams, but after pulling some strings, he manages to land a job at the Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation. SAI Corp is responsible for the creation of “Giftias”—highly advanced androids which are almost indiscernible from normal humans. However, unlike humans, Giftias have a maximum lifespan of 81,920 hours, or around nine years and four months. Terminal Service One, the station Tsukasa was assigned to, is responsible for collecting Giftias that have met their expiration date, before they lose their memories and become hostile.
Promptly after joining Terminal Service One, Tsukasa is partnered with a beautiful Giftia named Isla. She is a Terminal Service veteran and considered the best in Giftia retrievals, contrary to her petite figure and placid nature. Time is fleeting though, and Tsukasa must come to terms with his feelings for Isla before her time is up. No matter how much someone desires it, nothing lasts forever.
As it turned out however, Plastic Memories instead ended up being one of the most misleading anime I’ve seen in quite some time. Unlike what the opening seemed to imply, in reality the show is mostly a cute and light-hearted slice of life comedy with quite a lot of romance in it. Now this doesn’t mean the anime turned out poorly in the end, quite the opposite in fact, but it never reached the level that I thought it would have reached in the beginning.
The story takes place in a future world where humanoid androids are a common part of human society. The androids, named “Giftias”, are fully equipped with human emotions, and help their respective human owners however possible. But the Giftias have very limited lifespans, and thus they need to be taken out of commission before too long. Enter Tsukasa, an 18-year-old boy whom is offered a position at the SAI Corporation; a group responsible for retrieving Giftias who are approaching the ends of their lifespans, and eventually scrap them. Right next to him, we have his fellow co-worker: the incredibly cute and loveable Isla, who is actually a Giftia herself despite her position. The two of them form a team by order of their boss, and they consequently start working together, socializing together, and of course fall in love with each other.
This is how Plastic Memories suddenly becomes something totally different from what it originally promised to be. Despite the premise, the anime is in fact not about the retrieval of various Giftias, nor is it about the SAI Corporation itself or any of the other people working there. Plastic Memories is about Tsukasa, and it is about Isla. That is all. And honestly, that’s totally fine in and of itself because they make up one of the cutest couples I’ve seen in ages, and watching their awkward romance is surprisingly enjoyable no matter how much you see of it. But for a lot of people, this was nothing more than wasted potential because the cool and interesting premise of the story itself is heavily neglected in the process. For everyone who wanted to see a melancholic story about the tragedy of having to say goodbye to your loved ones and how they deal with it… you’re probably going to be left disappointed, because Plastic Memories doesn’t actually focus very much on that at all other than right at the very beginning. The only character the show ever really emphasizes this point for is Isla herself as her lifespan is of course also very limited due to being a Giftia, but for everyone else… not very much.
However if you can get past the fact that the show is more or less in disguise and try to see it for what it actually is (in other words a romantic slice of life story), then suddenly Plastic Memories is a very enjoyable anime again. Why? Because it actually has *proper romantic development*. Quite a lot of it in fact. This is not the kind of show which ends with a confession in the final episode and nothing more; no, there are actually things happening from very early on in a romantic sense, which is something that is unfortunately very rare in today’s anime. Especially seeing Plastic Memories airing in the same season as Nisekoi was pretty amusing to me; they’re like night and day in comparison as far romantic progression goes.
Overall, Plastic Memories is an anime which you will probably be given a very different impression of depending on your expectations on it. Is it a good anime? Yes, but it’s a completely different anime from what you’re most likely anticipating when you start watching it. That doesn’t make it a bad show per se, but it feels a bit like false marketing. It’s up to each and every viewer to do their best at adapting to what the anime has to offer.
If you’re looking for a deeply touching and emotional melodrama like Clannad: After Story or Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, then sorry to say but you’re looking in the wrong place. But for a cute yet beautiful story about young love, it’s hard to find a better example than Plastic Memories.
Can such a nebulous idea of “true love” be found with a man-made being? Where do we draw the line between augmented reality and primal attraction? Many different forms of media have tried to tackle this intriguing concept; from movies like 2013’s “Her” and 2015’s “Ex Machina,” to novels like Jonathan Lethem’s “As She Climbed Across the Table.” There are even a few anime titles that tackled this subject as well, such as Eve No Jikan, Armitage III, Chobits and many others. When this topic is done right, it can be a highly rewarding experience, leaving the viewer with something to wrap their heads around.
So when I sat down to watch Plastic Memories, a show that had the right ingredients to make something truly thought provoking, just flush this potential down the toilet, for what essentially was forced melodrama… let’s just say I wasn’t a happy camper when everything was said and done. Under normal circumstances, I would categorize shows with Plastic Memories’s setup as a bait-and-switch, but from the way it was presented, it never seemed to care about, or even acknowledge the ideas it could have implemented. What we have here instead was a cookie cutter rom-com that was oblivious to its own potential.
So no, I didn’t get what I wanted, but does that render the rom-com that took its place bad?… Unfortunately yes, it does. It’s a show that forces a catch-22 on the audience with an inevitable conclusion spurred on by contrived logistics. It suffered from heavy-handed manipulation at the cost of proper buildup and engagement, which was made all the more noticeable when you take into consideration the setting the show presents everything in.
In the future, sentient androids known as “Giftias” has become incorporated into everyday society. However, like everything else that has a beginning, so too does the Giftias have a limited lifespan as well, with about a decade or so of functionality before they are decommissioned, resulting in their memories being erased (which is the android’s equivalency of death). This, of course, becomes the core focus of the show, as we’re introduced to our protagonist Tsukasa, a human, who finds himself involved with one of these Giftias named Isla. And from there onward, the show chronicles their daily interaction and growing relationship. And as you would guess, it becomes a tale of a fleeting would-be romance with only one possible outcome.
When trying to present a romance, there must be proper interaction between the main love interests in order to sell their position as lovers. We as viewers need to see this bond slowly form, see the chemistry that they share, and the mannerisms that they portray when expressing themselves to each other. To get down to brass tacks, we as viewers need to be convinced of their validity as a couple for it to feel organic. If this isn’t handled properly, it can cause the relationship and development to feel forced or manipulated. This is Plastic Memories 1st noticeable blunder. It tries to build this chemistry on a premise that just screams victimizing; with a character predestined to be terminated from an expiration date, a protagonist that makes no visible effort in repealing the outcome, and a romance bound to go nowhere because of it. It isn’t bittersweet nor is it heart-wrenching since the reason these androids expire is contrived and contradictory to the world setting presented. How may you ask? Well, let’s explore the ill-defined logic the show tries to spoon feed us.
We’re made to believe that this show takes place in a future where the creation and distribution of androids are a fairly commonplace occurrence. In other words, it’s an advance society that’s leagues ahead of us in terms of technological breakthrough and scientific advancement. But at the same time, the show wants us to believe that they have no methods of storing or switching memory from one device to another. And I shouldn’t have to spell it out but do you see how this nonsensical explanation doesn’t work? A society advance enough to have androids with empathy, but not advance enough to store memory or transfer it? So if you own a USB flash drive, then congrats, you’ve officially surpassed this society’s current intellect. And that is just the tip of the iceberg when talking about this show’s implausible setting. Later on, we find out that after an android passes its expiration date and isn’t decommissioned, they take on a savage state, becoming dangerously violent against humans, escalating to the point of murder (in other words, they go ape-shit). Which begs the question, why in the hell would anyone endorse a machine that can go “Terminator” on citizens when they lose their memory? It’s unfathomable to think any governing body with a modicum of common sense would allow such a hazardous time bomb to be integrated into society. There was even an episode dedicated to showing how such a terrible downside could reek havoc, or even worse, be exploited as a weapon, but like the setting it’s a part of, it was never explored beyond that. It was simply brought up and never mentioned again by the next episode just so they could allow for more rom-com moments to continue undisturbed. Just look out for the ‘Psycho-Pass’ episode, you’ll know it when you see it.
Tsukasa and Isla both work at the same job, and it’s also the place they 1st make contact with each other. From what you can easily read in the synopsis, they both work for the Terminal Service Department: a subdivision of the larger company responsible for the distribution and recall of androids. They’re tasked with retrieving androids that are approaching their expected expiration date from their owners. This, of course, brings up yet another question; why is the task of retrieving androids so primitive and counterproductive? Like I’ve stated, these androids are like ticking time bombs with the added bonus of being empathetic. You would think something as important as this would be tasked to a more organized unit, but what we’re introduced to instead is a motley crew of quirky characters that only share one personality trait and act so outlandish that entrusting them with such a task is almost ludicrous. It’s like handing police duty over to the circus. It’s like the creators were dead-set on an end goal and didn’t care how little sense it made getting there. On a whole, the sci-fi elements of this show were never explored or utilized. It was simply used for flavoring, and it quickly became apparent that they didn’t care about common sense when they duct-taped the narrative and setting together.
The relationship was also diminished by the fact that 3/4ths of the show’s run-time were dedicated to slapstick comedy and silly misunderstandings. Half of it was wasted away where it could have been used to develop the relationship between the characters, which was made even worse given the short episode count the show was already working with. While I’m not the biggest fan of shows like Clannad or Toradora, I at least acknowledge that it did this aspect correctly. It utilized its run-time by building the relationship between the characters, either by their direct contact with each other or the indirect result of their influence on each other. It allowed us as an audience to grow attached to their interaction and relationship.
Most of the characters, like I’ve already stated, are just a range of archetypes. From your tsunderes to your beta-male, they all follow one-note traits and won’t be remembered for anything else. This also applies to our two main characters. Tsukasa is as generic as a protagonist can get, ripped right out of the pages of cliché-land. You’ve seen his type many times before, and to be quite frank about it, he’s indistinguishable from the lot of them. Isla is yet another Rei Ayanami clone, completely packaged with the silver hair, red eyes, and the signature porcelain complexion. Dull, monotone and devoid of personality, the only good thing I can say about her is that she truly acts like an android. Outside of the main cast, we’re occasionally introduced to androids and their masters that the team has to retrieve. But they’re introduction is done more so for forced “feels” than for actual world building. Just toss in a sappy backstory and an unavoidable conclusion and it really becomes more annoying than anything.
And really, that’s the main problem with this show in a nutshell: it’s constantly trying to get the audience to care but doesn’t seem to have any idea how to do so without coming across as fake. It’s a show that forcefully tugs at your heart strings while thinking that people will easily be duped into falling for it. It thinks that simply playing melancholic music and animating tear ducts is more than enough to fool viewers, while forgetting that genuine character investment is what allows the audience to sympathize with hardships. And who knows, maybe this falsehood would fool some into buying the creator’s snake oil. There are certainly viewers out there willing to suspend their disbelief, regardless of the amount of mental gymnastics required to do so. But for those well-versed enough to see past the smoke and mirrors, it’s a detracting quality that causes the show and its conflict to implode on itself.
The art and animation for Plastic Memories were above average and made the whole experience better than it would have been without it. It was bright, vivid and used a broad range of color palettes to convey whatever mood or tone they were going for. While it felt overdone at times, there were moments where it truly shined and help to sell the scene at hand; most notably the show’s finale episodes and epilog. While the art and animation served their purpose, the character designs were a hit or miss. On one hand, a few had distinct features about them, but a lot were also cookie-cutter in a bad way as well. It helps to better personify their characteristics, but when they lack dimension and personality, it made them feel like carbon copies of other characters in the same vein as them. There was also moments where the show paid direct homage to Evangelion with certain scenes and shot compositions, which, while being a fun little tribute, didn’t serve any purpose whatsoever. At best, they were Easter eggs for those that caught on to them.
The soundtrack was a mixture of pop and electronica flavoring. It was “fluffy” during the comedic bits and took on a more somber tone during the show’s more “emotional” moments. While there weren’t any noteworthy tracks, it was fine and served its purpose. Average but effective. The opening and ending themes were both fine and easy listens. Nothing that might stick with you but catchy and worked in unison with the show.
Like most titles of this nature, my problem doesn’t stem from what it’s trying to do, my problem comes from how poorly it goes about attempting it. If a show is aiming to get me as a viewer, emotionally invested, I expect it to do so in a manner that doesn’t distract from its target intent. If I’m duped and fall for it, despite my better knowledge of its intent, I will credit it for its efforts. However, if I’m viewing the show and have to signal the “bullshit” flag every other minute, then as far as I’m concerned, that anime failed at its job.
My enjoyment of Plastic Memories was intermittent at best, but for the most part, the show was a face-palming experience. Because of the sloppy portrayal of its themes and forced melodrama, there was no engagement to speak of. The ending was decent, but the journey to said ending was buffoonish at best and can’t be overlooked.
Plastic Memories was an uninspired and underwhelming experience. It had the opportunity to craft a decent romance, or even better, a good sci-fi tale, but it did neither and ended up falling short of the mark. While some might find it touching, I simply couldn’t buy into the dilemma for the reasons I’ve stated. If you decide to watch this show, do so with low expectations, for whatever it tried to do, have been done to a much higher and better degree somewhere else.
While Plastic Memories had the potential to be a unique and intelligent show, it instead managed to encompass all of the things that ruin dramas and cause them to fail every time. Forced plot devices that make no sense? Check. Inopportune comedy that ruins the show’s tone? Check. Shallow characters defined entirely by their archetypes or tragic backstories? Check. While this anime showed flashes of good ideas and has its moments, its poor execution dooms it to be lost among the sea of poorly written, mediocre emotion porn.
Synopsis: In the near future, technology has allowed for the invention humanoid-like robots known as “giftias”, who look, talk, feel, and emote exactly like actual humans do. The catch is that they can only operate for a little over a decade before they must be shut down, resulting in the loss of all their memories. The story follows Tsukasa, a human, and his relationship with Isla, a giftia.
The biggest and most obvious problems with this anime stem from its forced and melodramatic plot devices that range from just plain stupid to cringeworthy. For example, when Tsukasa and Isla first become partners at work, we are suddenly told that this means they have no choice but to live together! Because that makes total sense and is definitely not a lazy plot device to provide a setup for bonding and slice of life shenanigans! The other one that sticks out is the big “reveal” they make about what happens to giftias if they aren’t properly retrieved, which defies all notions of common sense and even basic science. That’s especially bad given that this show has a science-fiction setting for some reason. In fact… was there ANY reason for there to be robots in the first place? Literally the only difference between a human and a giftia is that giftias lose their memories after a certain period of time, so now that I think about it, that makes the entire sci-fi setting and concept of giftias in general completely pointless and nothing more than yet another contrived plot device for drama’s sake. They certainly didn’t explore any sort of difference between the two life forms; it’s very much an accepted fact that giftias are equal to humans, so why was everyone not just regular people to begin with? Was there no other scenario they could come with that incorporated death-like elements, like, y’know, DEATH? It’s this kind of thing that makes the show very difficult to take seriously.
There are other major issues with the show’s plot, namely how laughably predictable it is. You can LITERALLY guess every major plot point of the entire show by the end of the first episode, and I’m not exaggerating, because I literally did. I just kept waiting and waiting for something that I didn’t see coming a mile away to happen, and with the exception of a single contrived plot device which I already mentioned (a plot device that doesn’t even lead to anything…), it simply never does. Now, one thing that I will give the show credit for is that is has some genuinely sweet moments. The final stretch of the show made me feel something, at least. However, then it just sort of… ends. And it ends, like, EXACTLY how you would expect it to. I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that it left me with a feeling of “So what?” I mean, you told one of the most obvious and straightforward stories I’ve ever seen, so much so that I could have stopped watching after a single episode and gotten the gist of it, so what did you put into your show that justified the time it took to watch another 12 episodes? Were there any meaningful themes? No. Did the characters learn anything or change in any meaningful way? No. So why would anyone EVER want to watch the entirety of this show? *Sigh, I don’t know if this is making sense. Let’s just move on:
The last aspect of the plot that really bothered me was the random comedy that completely ruined the show’s tone by being interspersed throughout parts that are supposed to be serious. To give an example, the first episode of this show really hooked me. At the very end of the episode, there was a well-executed and genuinely emotional scene that was actually getting to me. I’m the kind of person who almost never gets legitimately emotional when watching a TV show, but this one scene was just hitting all the right notes for me. By the time it was over, I thought we had an extremely promising show on our hands. Now, guess what this beautiful, emotional scenario was immediately followed by: …A BATHROOM JOKE. That’s right. No relevance, no context. They just decided to throw in a random bathroom joke and ended the episode on a ridiculous note instead of a serious and powerful one. That, to me, is a decent microcosm of the entire show. Every time you might be about to get invested in a serious scene, WHAM! Random, generic, slice-of-life comedy comes out of nowhere and blindsides the plot. It’s just a disastrous display of a lack of tonal understanding and, ergo, bad writing.
I think the real thing that would have saved Plastic Memories for me was if the characters were given any form of depth whatsoever. Tsukasa, our protagonist, is a cardboard cutout straight from the generic, beta, male protagonists factory. My god, there was, nothing, NOTHING unique about him. I don’t think I’m alone in the sediment that I don’t care about other people’s relationships if I don’t know them, and I certainly didn’t feel like I knew Tsukasa, so how am I supposed to give a damn about him and Isla’s relationship? Speaking of Isla, talk about yet another shallow character. I put her squarely in the mary-sue category, given that she is an idealization of a pure, innocent, kawaii waifu with no real flaws whatsoever. Can she be funny at times? Sure. Does that mean I at all cared about her? No. As for the side characters? Boring. Bland. Generic. They are all basic stereotypes with nothing to distinguish them. I know they attempt to give a few of the side characters a backstory, but the backstories don’t actually accomplish anything other than just being sad. They do absolutely nothing to add a dimension to the character they are attached to and none of them are given any form of a story arc. I’ve seen casts like this a million times. The characters, to me, might be the biggest reason the show failed. I might have been able to overlook all the previously mentioned problems with the plot if this show actually gave me a reason to care about the couple of Tsukasa and Isla, but they simply don’t.
Pretty much the only thing I can definitively say I liked about Plastic Memories was the animation. It’s pretty fluid, but what really got me was the cinematography and shot composition. Besides the number of Evangelion references they threw in, there were a lot of well thought out and extremely well directed scenes that actually succeeded in conveying information and emotion without words. That’s VERY difficult for a show to do, so kudos for that. The settings were always detailed and full of bright colors as well. The world looked really cool, which is part of the reason I wanted them to actually tell me something about it. Like, literally anything would have been nice. Instead, the writing is so barebones that it could have taken place pretty much anywhere else, and that brings us full circle, doesn’t it?
I wanted to like Plastic Memories. Really, I did. It didn’t have to be some complex, philosophical inquiry into the definition of humanity and how it differs from artificial intelligence (which is the kind of show that many expected it to be); I would have been totally content with it just being a drama if they actually gave me a reason to care about its characters. If they didn’t ruin every moment they ever created with inopportune comedy. If they didn’t make the plot so damn predictable. If their plot devices weren’t so incredibly contrived. There were simply too many major problems to overlook, and that forces me to make the sad conclusion that Plastic Memories is a massive missed opportunity for what could have been a really enjoyable original anime. It lacked direction and coherent writing on all fronts, and I cannot recommend it to anybody.
9: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
English: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム 鉄血のオルフェンズ
MAL Score: 8.03
Over three hundred years have passed since the Calamity War, the great conflict between Earth and its outer space colonies. Now Earth is ruled over by four economic blocs, and the military organization Gjallarhorn is responsible for keeping the peace. Mars, on the other hand, depends heavily on Earth’s economy.
Horrified by the appalling living conditions that Mars’ inhabitants have to bear, Kudelia Aina Bernstein, a young aristocrat from the Chryse Autonomous Region, gets involved in the Red Planet’s independence movement. She hires the services of a local company, Chryse Guard Security (CGS), to escort her on the journey to Earth to negotiate economic conditions with the earthly bloc that controls the region. The Third Army Division—consisting of Mikazuki Augus, Orga Itsuka, and many other child soldiers—are chosen to protect her.
When Gjallarhorn attacks the CGS facilities to assassinate the young revolutionary threatening their interests, Orga and his comrades must not let the attackers accomplish their goal—in fact, Gjallarhorn’s actions might turn out to be the unintentional catalyst that leads the children to be the forgers of their own destiny.
For timeline purposes, the show takes place after the Calamity War, a war between Earth and Outer colonies. Actually, make that 300+ years. A major conflict involves Mars and its city Chryse. The people there seek independence from the government and make their own lives into something better. A young Martian woman named Kudelia Aina Bernstein hopes to secure independence. Her role in the story becomes more complicated as she gets involved with a group known as the Tekkadan, whom is entrusted to protect her life. So begins this story that leads politics, warfare, and a world of internal conflicts. As the show’s catch phrase, this is “the sustenance of life is on the battlefield.”
In context, the show is a war story but also deals with a variety of real life issues. From poverty to child soldiers and imperialism, the show really offers a lot of insightful concepts. There’s even themes of experimentation as certain characters are fit with the Alaya-Vijnana System (Whiskers) to enhance their fighting abilities. Still, the show constructs a story that expands beyond just fighting a war for independence but also takes a look at the interpersonal conflicts of people in its universe. At the heart of it, we have members of the Tekkadan. Led by Orga Itsuka, the show capitalizes on their role to protect Aina. Their ace pilot, Mikazuki Augus (also known as Mika) pilots the mysterious mobile suit known as Barbartos. Throughout the show, we see his piloting and combat skills including his role to fight off Gjallarhorn, an Earth Military organization set up to capture Aina. Tekkadan also consists of other members including Biscuit Griffin (a strategist), Eugene Stark (former leader of the third army’s division), Norba Shino, Akihiro Atland, Atra Mixta, among others. What’s interesting about this group is that although they all come from different backgrounds, they are all united with similar purposes and treats each other like family. The family theme extends to not just the group but also Aina as she gets to know more of its core members. With such a colorful cast of characters, the show really can be appreciated for its characterization.
A good part of the story involves the journey Aina and Tekkadan takes in order to reach their goals. Part of it feels like a cat-and-mouse story while other parts are calmer with even has a feel of slice of life. In addition, the show also introduces others factions, some who later become valuable ally of Tekkadan while others are against them. Now I have to admit though, the story itself may feel like it has some pacing problems. A few of the episodes are non-combat related and some lacks development with the overall presentation of the story. However, it also emphasizes on the characters because they really are something special. The director and producers are aiming high for with this TV show so everything constructed has a purpose. The main characters has an iron will with their goals so a few of the episodes examines at their personal lives. Throughout their on-screen roles and background storytelling, we learn more about them especially Mika. He is an orphan with poor social skills but learns throughout the show with help from Aina. There’s a change about his character through his acquaintance with her as he becomes more casual and more interested in his own future. Their relationship even has a taste of romance in it as time goes on and this doesn’t seem like a surprise. Aina’s a kind woman who cares about others’ well-being above her own. She is also a good role model for the children through her ways of teaching them how to write, in particular Mika. This opens up his interest to forging his own future someday. Similarly, Mika’s relationship with Orga is strong. Their friendship has already been established during their childhood and it’s evident that the two would risk their lives to protect each other and their goals. Now I don’t expect everyone to like Aina’s role in the story. Despite her aristocratic status and selfless nature, she is still a bit naïve at times. And furthermore, her insecurity to provide help during crucial moments of fighting can be a bit irritating. Because of the nature of the show, expect other characters to relive moments from the past that resurfaces in the present storyline. A prime example is Akihiro as he deals with a blast from the past. On the other hand, there are also lighthearted relationships such as Mika and Atra. Some may see her involvement with him to almost be part of a love triangle. However, don’t expect this show to be a love story. It’s still an iron-blooded war tale. In retrospect, the show really has an iron blood with its story and characters.
When looking at the themes of the show, it’s easy to notice how much it has relations with the past, present, and future. The poverty of the past influences people to try and find a better future for themselves. The present has an emphasis on neo-colonism as we see advanced civilizations expand through funding and technology. For the future, Aina’s ambition to seek independence is a hopeful vision for her people. This is a bit contrast with Gjallarhorn. In essence, they are a military organization who seeks peace but pursuits them with violence means. Some of its core members such as McGillis Fareed, Gaelio Bauduin, Ein Dalton, and among others has their own ideologies. But one thing they seem to all share is strengthening their nation’s own relations and wealth. On the other hand, there’s also Teiwaz, a business conglomerate. Their relationship with Tekkadan also a similarity about family as their representative member forges a pact with Orga. The amount of relationships in this show is really special and something to take by heart. Whether you agree with their goals or ambitions, it’s important to understand why they fight. And this show is pretty damn good at making its point about that.
Produced by Sunrise, the show’s visual quality is a unique piece of work. Michinori Chiba is in charge of the character designs but visually looks a bit different compared to some of Gundam’s previous predecessors. I guess it feels like a fusion of Gundam 00 and Gundam AGE as the characters looks both childish and mature the same time. This is especially true with characters like Mika and Biscuit. Orga on the other hand has the look of a mature commander. Aina has more of the look of an aristocrat but can also look like a simple lady when she needs to be. Character visuals aren’t the only thing interesting about the artwork though. The universe of the show has colonies that shows wealth with its rich technology and weapons of war As such, it brings legitimacy to their statuses. From the mysterious Barbados to Teiwaz’s Saisei, everything looks crisp and establishes the studio’s effort to craft them as technological innovations. This is further enhanced by the solid action with a great amount of effort during fight scenes. Be amazed. This is a show that can be will leave strong memories even with its action.
At first, I wasn’t much of a fan of the music or soundtrack. But after watching a good amount of the show, it’s definitely something to take in by heart. Masaru Yokoyama clearly invested a good amount of effort into producing the music for various scenarios in the show. From melancholic moments to intense combat oriented moments waged in space, it has everything that a mecha fan can wish for. The OP song “Raise Your Flag” is also a way that symbolizes the fight for independence especially with its catchy tone and choreography. And finally, voice mannerism is impressive. Characters such as Orga shows their commanding presence while Mika is known for his cold personality.
Iron-Blooded Orphans is definitely a show to invest time in. Whether you’re a veteran or a causal viewer, the experience after watching this show will be memorable for its story, characters, themes, world-building, and powerful action. Characters’ actions all have purpose and the show offers a balanced way to showcase their motivations. I don’t expect everyone to like all the characters as some may find them less likeable than others. Still, this show is not to be underestimated and is a triumphant one at that. Watch it with an open mind and you’ll see why.
I just finished season 1 of Iron Blooded Orphans and I can safely say that if this didn’t have the Gundam branding on it, it wouldn’t have a season 2, and would likely be rated somewhere on MAL within the 5-6 range.
This is a terrible mecha show, and it’s quite clear how this was an original anime with no manga, light novel, game or even previous anime to base this off – it never would have been published. To say that the story is, uhhhh, confusing, is putting it mildly.
I won’t be using the characters’ names unless I can remember them. This is my first review on MAL, and I’m writing this because, well, this show sucks. Star Driver is better, and hoo boy, that show ain’t great. This makes Code Geass look like FMAB – that’s how low the bar for writing is.
Dialogue – I honestly had a hard time telling whether main character’s lines were poorly translated or just written strangely, but you find out that he’s a mid level functioning autist with almost certainly missing brain tissue/it’s not connected in the same way. However, the show doesn’t tell you this until episode 20, where main character says to leader guy “Who do we kill? How many do we kill?”, when leader guy should’ve been getting laid by the blonde short haired advisor lady at the time, but was instead sulking.
In typical Gundam fashion, whenever there’s a flashback or an old man talking or a new character being introduced, you get about 2-5 minutes of clumsy exposition, except unlike in Gundam Seed or 00, you just get told about “corruption” or “influence” or “politics”, which I will call “white people bullshit” from here on out.
Forgettable at best, nobody gets laid, apparently the creator hates women so you spend most of the time watching women get beat up/killed in battle, preparing food, fretting over things, hating other women, used as prostitutes, or wearing tank tops. Also you’re going to see kids get beat to the point where blood comes out of their mouths. A lot. Happens to malnourished main character crushing girl (who gets written into literally being in the kitchen) during a pointless filler sideplot, main leader guy, main character guy, every slave kid, etc.
I like quiet tomboys, and so when short white haired girl gets killed in episode 25 by bullshit big bad mech literally 1 shot bonking her mech on the head (when everyone else gets at least 4 hits+a stab wound), apparently someone else on the writers room must’ve revolted because it turns out she only fake died, and she was resting on a pillow later that episode and gets flirted with offscreen during episode 24ish..
I literally do not know the names of any of the Earth related people, and it didn’t matter. I didn’t realize there was Gjjalarhonk Mars and Gagdererureirhonkhonk Earth until episode 4, because nobody tells you anything about there being a political difference, the uniforms are just different but EVERYONE’S uniforms are different, so clearly the character designers had _no_ idea what people should look like for the first 5 episodes.
To everyone else’s reviews mentioning character development, I don’t know what they’re smoking. Examples include, in no particular order:
1) Blonde earth dude that had an arc, and then disappears, comes back looking like the long haired ZAFT guy from Gundam Seed Destiny, and then once he kills some purple dude that turns out to be his half brother (episode 24ish, it’s clumsily exposited) because his red eye makeup half sister was killed (that had a crush on him or something – the stair exposition blushing scene around ep 23 is weird).
Note – crazy lady with red eye makeup and wing short hair should’ve died on the island after Biscuit dies, she doesn’t because the writers forgot to have the “Save me, [name]” thing make sense (he’s not there on the island because they forgot to put him there).
2) Blonde dude has a purple haired bodyguard(?), half brother(?, I forget) that main character straight up nearly chokes to death (and should’ve) in the Gundam “chance encounter between enemies” bingo card meme that Gundam Seed, Destiny and 00 all have. And then purple guy has a lackey that gets magically revived into a Gundam WH40k dreadnought thing and becomes the series ending big baddie, and main character essentially forces himself to have a LITERAL stroke to beat.
3) Blonde guy from #1 has a purple haired 9 year old fiance, and her age, along with her appearance as a small 9 year old girl, is brought up MULTIPLE times, complete with about 20 minutes total of screentime for her. There is a scene where she _literally_ says to him “the other women want to dance with you, and they have things that I don’t” – she’s referring to boobs and ass, and the anime literally shows you the bodies of the women that want to dance with him, in tight dresses. Why was this scene in there? I’m gonna guess the creator has some kind of pedophilia grooming fetish. It’s like 5 minutes of “content”. It’s disgusting.
4) Creators/character designers/somebody clearly noted that having a show full of dudes wasn’t ideal, so to pad out the female soldiers, there’s a dude with a literal harem of women that he’s effectively adopted, if he likes them enough or they find him. Note: all of the women on this guy’s ship are stereotypical anime pinup girls. No flat chests, no short girls, no fat girls, no glasses.
I mention the fat part because Biscuit is _clearly_ fat (his brother even calls him “big”), even though the show beats you over the head (like many of the children get visibly and repeatedly beaten in this show) that these orphans don’t have enough to eat. Apparently Biscuit’s magical power was large fat cells.
5) First and second episode feature a hamfisted attempt at exposition to explain that the main characters are slaves owned by a corporation. Around episode 3, there’s a rebellion that is caused to make the main characters have agency (which conveniently happens as the events of the show happen, and apparently have never happened before), and they end up killing only like 2 of the 20+ guys that beat the shit out of them for years as they get their freedom because otherwise it’d be 25 episodes of seeing children die in mobile suits and getting beaten when they’re not dying.
6) An asshole with a literal Hitler mustache is part of the opening slavery group (that runs away and leaves the kids to die in eps 1+2) that lives after the rebellion and becomes blonde guy’s “right hand man”. No, I’m not making that up. Main character literally has the 20 or so slave masters in a room, with a loaded gun, only kills two of them.
7) Show has a _nasty_ tendency of making characters do 180 degree changes in their personality. Examples include the blonde with the ridiculous ankle length hair (no, she never cuts it, silly viewer, helmets have a hair compartment),
her maid (who I swear was from Gundam 00 as that show’s princess’ attendant),
the blonde advisor lady grows a conscious about children fighting in wars (after 20+ years of seeing and LITERALLY being around them),
Biscuit after his brother dies (until the writers realized he was the smartest person, and the main characters are so stupid that they couldn’t deal with the island ambush around episode 23 without him),
Biscuit’s brother finally grows a spine and kills himself after he sees that Gadgerhernia kills people in the street through a smoke screen. When other reviewers are talking about “character development”, they’re either including this or forgetting completely about it.
Pink hair in front of his eyes leader guy gets somewhat developed (he feels loss over Biscuit), nobody else “develops”, they just change abruptly.
8) Show has another nasty tendency – there are at least three examples of people with Stockholm Syndrome/Uncle Tom tropes that hurt the main characters – Biscuit’s brother, the slave kids that panic during their freeing and shoot their liberators, and some random guy’s brother that was also a part of that gets smashed by a comically large hammer into an asteroid.
9) Considering the design of the slave boys and their abuser, who has probably the best designed suit in the show, with a Blastoise/underwater Gundam Seed mobile armor like design, the abuser blonde guy has piercings and all of the slave boys are malnourished, although there was NOT a scene where the blonde leader guy is raping the boys, but there are no women on board that ship, and the blonde guy’s boss has a literal pig face straight out of Spirited Away’s buffet scene.
I dunno who they hired as the art director, but he probably got work at Queen Bee after doing this, because this is probably right up there with Mobile Suit Gundam in terms of animation. When GoGoGargleHurk shoots people through the smoke screen on the colony during the uprising, there look to be at least 70 people in the crowd. After the shooting, maybe 15, and of course, main blonde character survives without a scratch.
Show has no CG. It should’ve had at least Gundam 00’s ship animations, and it certainly doesn’t have Unicorn’s fluidity or polish on the BD release.
Unlike Gundam Seed’s explanations of sand particle size and water combat and space, physics goes out the window. Thrusters have the same effect in space as they do in atmosphere, whether it’s Mars’ created air (never explained), or Earths’ normal air. When the people that are _literally_ born in space or on Mars go to Earth, they have no trouble walking on Earth’s higher gravity, and there’s no ill effects like imbalance, muscle distrophy or spinal collapse.
Main character literally uses another mech to do the Gundam dangerous reentry meme, except the other mech is fine.
Ahab generators make about as much sense as Mobile Suit Gundam’s magnitoskiski particles. Apparently they stop LCD screens from working, along with all radio signals, which is explained why big bad mech rampages through downtown Edmonton. No radiation, though. Somehow. Also the mobile armors and Gundams are unaffected and people can literally stand around and watch them fight with no ill effects. Somehow.
The gundam pilots have literally superhuman reaction speeds, but even for the show, and assuming that the show is done in real time, the main character is routinely reacting with maybe like 1-10 frames of delay. When big bad shows up, there’s literally no lag, so main character causes himself to have a seizure and slashes an arm off with a random samurai sword that was left on the island 3 episodes before. No, I’m not kidding. Note that main character was previously using basically a large bat/hammer thing on said island fight from three episodes previously. Where Biscuit dies and main character lets red eye makeup lady get away.
When main character is going against the blonde pierced slavedriver guy and his tough mech, he shoots a cannon straight at him, and then says “that armor is tough”. Note: we’ve seen these cannons shoot through ship hulls and cause explosions, this doesn’t even leave a scratch, and apparently the animators and sound designers didn’t animate it to be a glancing shot or even a ricochet. It’s a 300mm smoothbore gun, BTW, according to the wiki. That’s like a battleship cannon, twice the diameter as the standard 155mm field artillery used today.
Also blonde pierced slavedriver guy spins around with his comically large hammer and uses his thrusters, and somehow does a perfect ice skating spin, despite that _not_ being how physics works in space.
Why does Mars matter? Apparently because you can make money from farming. And exploiting labor. And half-metal. What labor? How many people are on Mars? What farming exports are there? You want answers? Like from episode 6 of Gundam Unicorn? Silly viewer, you can’t read, like most of the characters in this show, so you don’t get answers. Or something like that. But biofuel exists. That’s what the corn’s for. The martian corn. Also, apparently the writers had never heard of seaweed, anaerobic digestion, growing mushrooms or natural gas or wood engines.
Oh, and half-metal? Who knows what that stuff is.
Why don’t they use robots for stuff? Oh, because 300 years after the unexplained and unflashbacked “Calamity War”, robots or surgical implants were evil or something. Oh, and the Gundams work just fine after 300 years. And they have spare parts. A _lot_ of spare parts. And all of the Gundam parts from 300 years ago were interchangeable with each other.
Oh, but they have John Deere combines from 2010. And those don’t count as robots, apparently. Don’t look at me, I didn’t write this crap.
Surgery with putting in a nodule into the brain stem at the base of the neck and then 1-3 modules into the spine around the shoulder blades? Apparently that can be done by some illiterate people. With no knowledge of surgery, and no antiseptic mentioned.. And a needle, even though the spinal implants are like the size of a Bic lighter, each. And they’re implanted under the skin. Somehow.
The show ends with them moving an old man into Edmonton Canada from Anchorage Alaska (kinda wish the Cyclops system fried everyone), so that he can be voted on as prime minister. Apparently voting must be done in person, with all possible leaders in physical attendance in a particular room. To say that the plot point is white people bullshit is putting it mildly. Oh, and there’s a battle of the Volga river kinda thing going on literally 2 miles away, but they don’t cancel the vote. No, they’re in a normal judicial court building, not a bunker, in an active war zone, why do you ask?
3/10, the terrible writing, dialogue and characters reminds me of the later seasons of RWBY.
Story (7/10) Good
More Specifically (7.75/10) Good+
The story for Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans like majority of the gundam plots attempts to juggle two main plots at the same time. One being about the characters and their goals they want to achieve and the second being the political side of things and they intertwine with each other. One would say if you want to follow the Gundam story plot formula both of these story plots need to be present and as synced with each other as you can possibly get. Like majority of Gundam alternate universes this universe does indeed have a just a little bit more focused on the character side of things (which there’s nothing wrong with that). The political side of things (kind of like Gundam Wing’s and Gundam 00) can be a little be hard to follow if one is not paying full attention during the political scenes. I personally think it wasn’t too hard to follow but I can’t say I understand majority of what was going down during the political scenes and that’s kind of the thing that may turn off a lot of people because it did with previous Gundam series. Luckily in my personal opinion even with it’s political influence side of things Tekketsu no Orphans’ character is something that should keep most people a bay because the are good ones.
Art and Animation (8.75/10) Very Good
The art and animation in Tekketsu no Orphans was for the most part very good. I couldn’t give this second a 9 because there were obviously some art style derps here and there when it came to characters only slightly in the background and the actually mech fights some Mech designs looked a teensy bit whanky at times but the scenes they were focused on and polished out are what is keeping it at a high 8 for me. Another thing I appreciate is that it is hand drawn, not a lot of mech anime comes out these days and when they do most of the time it is all CG. And I don’t mind CG mechs trust I’m not one of those people to complain about CG mech (I love CG in Gundam Unicorn and The Origin). And I think CG on Mechs is the only thing that looks acceptable to an extent when it comes to putting anything CG in an anime. BUT I do appreciate to a well hand drawn mech anime because that’s how it all started and what I’m used to. And I’m sure all the scenes that I felt could have looked better WILL look better in the retail blu-ray release… one would assume and hope.
Sound (10/10) Masterpiece
The sound does not disappoint in any category and that’s usually the case when it comes to Gundam. Voice acting (JP), BGM, both openings and endings are all outstanding.
Characters (8/10) Very Good
The characters like I said in the story category are very good and what will keep newcomers to Gundam staying and watching. Although there are not a TON of characters that this applies to the ones that it does like our MC Mikazuki Augus is definitely a character that I’ve heard nothing but positive things from. He’s not like your typical whiny pilot that we’ve seen in the past. He’s more in the category of Heero Yuy and Setsuna F. Seiei but calling him a clone of either of the two is definitely not what I’m saying either. Because honestly I think from a character standpoint Mikazuki is a better and more interesting character than both Heero and Setsuna combine. Yes he has traits from both of them but he also has his own flair of insanity which comes out in the heat of battle. I haven’t seen a main gundam pilot with such a personality trait yet the closest I can think of is Haptism Allelujah but he’s not an MC. They are either on the whiny, calm or dull for the most part so to see this definitely sparks things up. Majority of the other characters are very good and like Gundam tradition we have character deaths we didn’t want but expect. I knew a hand full of people where going to die not because of the countless death flags we’ve been given throughout the anime but because it’s basically tradition at this point.
Enjoyment (8/10) Very Good
I’m a Gundam fan if you couldn’t tell I love majority of the series and I’m not your average anime fan that despises all mech anime expect Code Geass and Gurren Laggan. Some might say I give Gundam a little bit too much credit but that’s all opinions and a discussion for another time. Going into Tekketsu no Orphans sadly I was already ready to like it because like I said it’s Gundam. You have to really fuck up on some Reconguista type shit for me not to like you and it’s definitely no where near as bad as that trash. Tekketsu no Orphans brings us a nice 8th MS Team vibe to the series. And I doubt a lot of people realize this but there was absolutely no beam sabers or laser guns in the series (as far as season 1 is concerned). Impressive because a lot of Gundam anime and other mech anime kind of have that as the requirement in their anime and it cool to see a series were as of season 1 is concern does not exist, it was enjoyable to watch the mech fights, characterization with the combination of outstanding BGM this series brought to the table.
Overall (8/10) Very Good
More Specifically (8.50/10) Very Good+
Tekketsu no Orphans in my opinion delivered what it was suppose to which was a good spin off adaptation to the Gundam series and can be recommended proudly when the franchise Gundam is brought up in conversation. Tekketsu no Orphans had people worried not only because the series before it Reconguista was trash but because the Main Director Episode Director, and Storyboard creator Nagai Tatsuyuki had his hands on it and people were extremely worried that this was going to flop because of his past works. It even had me a bit worried when I heard that. But that wasn’t the case as Tekketsu no Orphans in my opinion is a successful and very good alternate universe to the Gundam franchise. And with the announcement of the english dub a couple of months ago I hope Toonami grabs it and airs it on there so that the western toonami viewers can possibly get into the Gundam series like what happened back int the good ole Gundam Wing days.
8: Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road
Japanese: 弱虫ペダル GRANDE ROAD
MAL Score: 8.09
Second season of the Yowamushi Pedal series.
This season of Yowamushi Pedal started off with a bang, finally quelling the much awaited cliffhanger in the season prior. The story is a fresh burst of excitement that further develops the characters and evidently concludes this exciting race.
Each episode begins with a quick recap of the episode that came before, helping the viewer understand where the bikers are in the race. The story encompasses the entire middle – second half of the Inter-High. It is no question that the first season of this anime needs to be seen beforehand, but it is definitely worth the watch. Though each episode was filled with exciting plot twists and moments that keep you on the edge of your seat, the show lagged in a few areas. Most episodes spent half of the time reflecting on events that had happened in previous episodes. The vast amount of flashbacks made the story drag and frustrated me because the race could have been finished much sooner. Thankfully, there was enough character development and intense scenes to keep the viewer thoroughly entertained. You would think that an anime about bicycle racing would grow boring after a few episodes; however, I can personally say that this show had me excited for a new episode every week.
The art style was relatively average, but stayed clean and consistent throughout both the first and second seasons of Yowamushi Pedal. The scenery presented in the show was well drawn, as were the fast-paced racing scenes. Nothing obscure was drawn and nothing seemed out of place, but nothing spectacular was shown either.
The music definitely was a perfect fit for this anime. It was an exciting blast that would get you excited to watch the show, even if you weren’t excited at the start. The opening was very suitable for a sports anime, since the aim is to get you pumped for the chase. The voice acting was also very satisfying. All of the voice actors adapted to their respective characters and there were thankfully no unnecessary exaggerations in tone. At times the characters would shout in excitement, power, or dismay, but it adds to the overall pathos of the show.
One thing that Yowamushi Pedal has excelled at the most is its character development. Of course there was a much broader look into the lives of the characters in the first season, but each new character that was introduced was never forgotten. The supporting cast on the sidelines as well as the opposing bicycle teams were thoroughly developed and well introduced. There was one set of character that was introduced that seemed to play more of a menacing filler role, however, the arc tied into the story very well and enhanced some of the main characters’ own personalities. The beautiful character development has you rooting for every single character that is competing in the Inter-High and has you resonating a connection with them all.
If I were only grading this anime on enjoyment, it would have a definite perfect score. I would definitely recommend this show to sports anime fans as well as standard anime lovers. It is no question that the first season needs to be watched first in order to comprehend the story, but it is worth the watch. I absolutely loved this anime and I can’t wait to read the manga.
Not only was there basicly no character development, no plot twists that seemed in any way interesting nor did the anime feature anything I would like to see in a story.
The Animation and Sound were almost the same as the first season so thats fine,
but this season felt like a Dragonball Z copy on bicycles.
Maybe 50% or even more of an episode are two or more characters screaming each others name, supported by cut ins of them pedaling or leaning over their bikes.
Any other interaction between the characters were surface level deep, meaning it had no impact on the story or the relationships.
Even worse is the aspect of expertise. When you look at the first Season you sometimes get some information about cycling and sports in general.
These information are sometimes even relevant to the story (see training camp in season one and other scenarios). But in this season there are almost no such infos.
All in all this anime was something i looked forward to but which dissapointed me in the end.
If I had to find one positive aspect about it the solid animation and sound design would come to mind.
My verdict: If you want uninteressting screaming and very simple entertainment without deep story or knowledge about cycling give it a go but don’t expect much from it.
Blindly going into a sports anime with no prior knowledge about the sport and coming out with a strong passion and excitement towards it is something that makes this genre of anime fascinating and valuable. Yowamushi Pedal has completely changed my perception towards road racing, as now I perceive it to be a very exhilarating and respectable sport. It is the portrayal of road racing and the blood, sweat, and tears that each rider experiences throughout their journey that captivated and immersed me in the story line. However, the sport alone is not the anime’s only selling point, but it is the determination and courage that the athletes relentlessly endure in order to accomplish their dreams, and to help their teammates accomplish the same, that motivates me to enthusiastically pursue my own dreams without looking back.
The story in season two begins in the middle of the final three day long road racing inter-high tournament and continues right where season one ended. The story is fairly simple, to win this major race in order to fulfill the dreams of each team member, which is to become stronger and become completely enthralled in what they love the most—road racing. But this simple premise really is something that I love about this anime. The straightforwardness of the overall story line allows the audience to focus on the race and the adversity that each character faces, not only for the athletes on the main team (Sohuku) but also for several rival teams. What each character maintains throughout the anime is their charisma as each individual is memorable and has unique traits, which is a common method used in action and sport orientated anime. The story is very thrilling, inclusive, inspiring and the balance between humour and seriousness allowed me to enjoy both the anime and the sport of road racing.
The characters are not particularly developed but this does not detract from the overall attraction towards these characters. The development of one character is not important in Yowamushi Pedal compared to the development of the team, as road racing is portrayed to be mainly a team sport, therefore the growth of certain characters only add to strengthening the team as a whole. The main character, Onoda, is a very inspiring individual as he is first introduced in season one as one of us, an anime loving high otaku, but becomes quickly fascinated by the road racing team at his high school. The fact that this athlete is a typical otaku who has no interest in sports prior to discovering road racing is quite shocking because most sports anime revolves around a strong and masculine protagonist. On the other side of the spectrum we have the main antagonist of the anime, Midousuji, who is literally portrayed to be a snake riding a road racer…I honestly don’t understand how the producers came up with such a vile character, but to be honest it was pretty hilarious watching him frustrate the other riders and probably the entire audience.
Who doesn’t love bright and bold animation to go along an inspirational and amusing sports anime! The bright colours used to individualize each character and team with the constant vivid scenery really brought the fresh and comforting feel of summer. The use of intense colour beautifully reflected the characters attributes and aura throughout the second half of the tournament and the style of animation was very straightforward and direct like the plot. It was obvious that some parts of the animation did not entirely allow the audience to completely enjoy certain scenes due to a lack of detail, however as the producers were limited with a strict budget I couldn’t ask for more. I was never once disappointed by the atheistic of this anime as it allowed me to feel the excitement and joy that Onoda felt while pushing forward towards his dream.
The soundtrack was very uplifting and exciting which complimented the intensity of the sport and the emotions of the characters. In addition, the main OST of the anime really was well constructed to build the sense of determination and hope in the emotions of the characters, and allows the audience to develop a strong connection to this particular soundtrack.
Yowamushi Pedal for the most part follows the typical story line of any sports anime, but what makes this anime promising is its ability to inspire any individual to keep looking forward and pedal harder, because a dream can become reality for anyone.
7: Death Parade
English: Death Parade
Japanese: デス パレード
MAL Score: 8.18
After death, there is no heaven or hell, only a bar that stands between reincarnation and oblivion. There the attendant will, one after another, challenge pairs of the recently deceased to a random game in which their fate of either ascending into reincarnation or falling into the void will be wagered. Whether it’s bowling, darts, air hockey, or anything in between, each person’s true nature will be revealed in a ghastly parade of death and memories, dancing to the whims of the bar’s master. Welcome to Quindecim, where Decim, arbiter of the afterlife, awaits!
Death Parade expands upon the original one-shot intended to train young animators. It follows yet more people receiving judgment—until a strange, black-haired guest causes Decim to begin questioning his own rulings.
The show is produced by Madhouse that runs for 1-cour. But more interestingly, the series is actually an expanded version of “Death Billiards”, a half hour short that was apparently successful enough to spawn this full television show. And to be honest, I am quite glad it did.
As the series is built on the very essence of death, there’s also an understanding the show brings in about it. Every episode revolves around something that our characters experienced in their past life that somehow led them there. For what’s worth, Death Parade unfolds as a series about lessons – to really let the characters know why they are there. The games (determined differently every episode) reveals the secrets of the participants and also decide their ultimate fate. It’s quite thought provoking since the series capitalizes on these ideas and really deliver its potentials. The games’ winner or loser isn’t really what’s important as it focuses down on the morality of the participants’ values. Decim, the bartender of Quindecim Bar, serves as an overseer of these games. With his trademark silver hair and a suit to match his style, each game literally becomes a thriller.
Because of the style of the show, the story is neither divided into arcs or a linear story. Rather, it builds on themes and expands them with the characters involved. Themes included in the show has a wide variety that includes revenge, jealousy, suicide, hatred, isolation, justice, and other mature content. Even murder becomes a topic that is focused in a very intense two-episode continuation. The fact that Death Parade operates with these themes shows how deadly the show can be. And when it does with those themes really brings out the best out of our main characters. As such, don’t expect many of the supporting characters (or rather players) to return in the show. Their fate are determined at the end of each game. Some will leave no doubtfully very strong impressions and perhaps even gives you a moment of “wow, that’s what I used to be like or want to be”. However, others may bring disgust by the actions they’ve committed during their time when they were breathing on Earth. The endgame here is that every player is different whether they are an ordinary businessman, a member of a popular band, a pair of stereotypical couples, or even an elderly woman.
Luckily enough, the show does have its own cast of prominent characters. I already mentioned Decim and he can be as humorous as he can be intimidating. The show makes a sort of statement that he is emotionless although his action sometimes contrasts this. Nonetheless, this individual will no doubt be a fascinating character for viewers to get to know better especially with the interactions he has with the players. Then, there’s Onna (she actually has a real name that is revealed later in the show), who serves as the assistant of Decim. Unlike some of the others, her personality seems normal. This is because she once used to be a normal girl before meeting her own fate. One specific episode actually concentrates on her including a revelation of Onna’s true name and backgrounds.
As a show that heavily focuses on characters, it’s unsurprising that she gets her own spotlight after being on the sidelines. The remainder of the cast also play roles although not as prominent as Decim. These include Nona (Decim’s superior), Ginti (another bartender), Clavis, Quin, Castra, and Oculus. All of these characters have certain roles with some getting less emphasis than others. I do express concern regarding some of their presence including Mayu who serves more as a comical relief if more than anything else. But that might also not be a bad thing. It creates a balance of the show. With such a dark and moody atmosphere almost every episode, she can bring in a lot of fun. Indeed, the show actually has its comedy to balance out the series. What’s good to know is that it never fully derides from the series’ premise. What I mean is that the show never really loses its weightless suspense even when comedy is added into some episodes. After all, a mixture of entertainment and engaging story is important. Thankfully, Death Parade accomplished just that. Furthermore, the show uses these characters to build on the mechanics of the series from behind the scenes. Ever wanted what those creepy dolls are for? Or how the judgement system really works? The lifestyles of the arbiters when they aren’t monitoring the games? The show takes breathers to accomplish that aspect too.
One other aspect of the show I find interesting is the relationships. I don’t just mean the main characters because there’s definitely chemistry between some of them. But rather, I’m referring to the players. The players’ chemistry during each game is phenomenal. Almost every one of them starts out as sort of normal. There’s a nerve wrecking mood as each game goes on that builds itself until its big climax. (with the whole organs and lives at stake) Sometimes, even Decim has to step in to stop situations that gets out of hand. This is because the games reveal the darkest secrets of the players as they open their eyes to the truth. And sometimes, that’s really heading into the mind-breaking territory. This is where Death Parade takes advantage of revelations to determine the fate of the players. It doesn’t always end perfect but it provides an enthralling experience for the audience. In essence, the show knows how to hook the audience into believing the story; regardless how ambiguous it may be at times. It’s something of a story that you have to watch and believe what you see to really get a tasteful experience out of it. Death Parade shares that experience with emotions, humor, and a thriller like a human drama.
Thank you Madhouse. I express gratitude for Death Parade’s artwork and visuals as it has a great way to convey the moody drama. Although bars are often used as a place of leisure, the series’ games are far from fun. Each game has a different style and although they mirror real life games (Twister, Darts, Pool, etc), the added twist of the organs and pain carves a terrifying experience. Now, not every game has the sort of intensity as you would expect but what’s important is how the art makes it feel so compelling as if it’s almost real. The players themselves knows this as they realize what they experience. The expressions they show is also well directed to show human emotions. It’s interesting really. Almost none of the other main characters are human (although they have some humanoid features when disregarding their supernatural eyes) at all but even they show these type of emotions. Decim, the emotionless guy, even has a fascinating sense of human-like behavior on some episodes. Nonetheless, the majority of the series takes place at Quindecim bar. It’s like another pocket dimension of sorts that looks ordinary but far from normal. It’s like one of those mythic purgatory things you see out of the book where you have to believe it to be there. The artwork clearly gives an impression of that thriller-like feeling.
Soundtrack is solid for the majority of the parts. The OST is thrilling to express the intensity of the games while solemn tones delivers the intention of its melancholic mood. But what’s most surprising is the OP song. When I first heard it, I thought to myself “is this really the opening song?” To my delight it is. It’s more like a false advertisement (compared to the previews anyways). Rather, the OP song brings a much lighthearted comedy aspect with the dancing, stylistic music, and cherry mood. Otherwise, we get the darkening and mood ED song to go along with each episode; although some has different footage depending on the players/games played. Finally, character voice mannerism matters a lot in this show. I give praise especially to Decim as someone who can make others believe he seems like an ordinary bartender but far from the Average Joe.
So why should you watch Death Parade? Well, it’s like a gift that delivers game scenarios in a different perspective. It gives back a feeling of emotional appeal, terror, and beauty all the same time with the style of the show. Whether you feel like the episodes are more like imaginations or real, they always sends a meaningful message with its revelations. Even the comedy that goes behind the scenes and on-screen is entertaining with the clever timings. One thing I do regret is that the show is a 1-cour with less emphasis on certain characters as compared to others. But still, Death Parade is a really a rare breed. It’s a humanly compelling blockbuster that lives up to hype.
If there was ever an undeniable truth it will be that death is inevitable. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that a great deal of shows, in one way or another, touch upon that subject. But very few anime titles take the route of having the entirety of their content centered around it. As few as those numbers may be it’s still been done before, but what Death Parade does differently is not the subject of the afterlife itself, but rather the judgement of the people that enter it. It’s a show where the victims’ morality is tested and pushed to extremes in order to achieve a verdict. With this final verdict being either reincarnation or being cast into the void (something like a permanent purgatory) . The setup itself is contradictory to the traditional sense of judging, since normally the one that gives the final verdict, in this case the arbitrator, remains impartial to the conflict. But with a setup that directly involves manipulating the emotional response of the afterlife victims, this is where the heart of the conflict takes rise.
Now as good as that sounds on paper, a good premise doesn’t equate to a good show. It all comes down to how it’s executed, explored and presented. Death Parade, a story about the human condition, morality… and sadly nothing at all. For everything Death Parade could have been, at the end of the day it was simply wasted potential.
Now let’s make this clear, this show is entertaining. Because we’re constantly seeing new people judged due to the semi episodic format, every episode becomes something of a spectacle. In any other show someone going off the rockers might be the climax but with DP it’s a constant occurrence. We are constantly left guessing as to who will receive eternal damnation and who would be gifted with rebirth. With the form of judgment being a different game scenario, each episode feels fresh and fun to watch. These often play out in very unique situations as we are slowly given glimpses into the victims’ past. This is an area in which it excels since each new person introduced is fleshed out and given believable enough characteristics before each 20 minute run time is up. But because heavy emphasis is placed on the games and judgement the recurring characters are placed on the back burner and this is where our 1st glaring problem arise.
I can go on for a lengthy period of time talking about the art, pristine animation , “DAT opening” and unique character designs but it’s Madhouse we’re dealing with here. It’s a no brainer that they brought their A game. It’s consistent, sonically well put together and all in all meets every standard on a production level. Instead I’ll address the issues.
The cast, which consist of the arbitrators and an assistant, remained greatly underdeveloped. Drawing back to the episodic setup, all time is placed on fleshing out the new stand alone individuals and playing out the games than actually used to explore the permanent characters. Of course they try to mend that within the last few episodes but by then it was too late. Any given stand alone character had more characteristics than the people we see from beginning to end, which creates a huge disconnect towards them and the viewer. They feel like puppets and turn out to be just that as we learn more about them. This isn’t a bad thing if they were delegated to a minor role but when you have a show that deals with the human condition, having characters that lack dimensions just takes away from the experience and impact. Again they try to explain this away when we discover what the arbiters are but even that is contradicted by the way it is presented. There is very little separating them from your typical 1 note archetypes. Chiyuki, the assistant, is the only character that was handled properly by being fleshed out and given a reason for being. And even then she was just fleshed out to basic standards and leaves no room for a character study since this all happened towards the final episodes.
Another inescapable issue was the subpar world building. The only setting that’s ever explored is the bar in which the judgement occurs, everything else that we occasionally see remains shrouded in ambiguity. The world mechanics are only talked about on a surface level and it feels very underwhelming because of it. Even after getting a general idea as to how everything works it still feels hollow. It’s still entertaining to look at but with nothing that feels plausible outside of the show’s own made up techno-babble it becomes frustrating if you take a minute to try to comprehend or even explain it. It was flimsily handled and with so many aspects left unexplained it became pitiful when analyzed.
Death Parade isn’t a bad show, just one that wasn’t properly utilized to its full potential. It had the setup to be something thought provoking and entertaining at the same time but due to the humdrum cast and unexplored setting it only passes as a nice popcorn timepasser. also the opening since no one seem to shut up about it. Despite my qualms I fully recommend it to anyone since its entertaining to the very least.
“Welcome to Quindecim”, an ominous and deep voice states as the hiss of hydraulics release pressure and allow the cold steel doors to open. Two people step out. “Please, come have a seat here.” The people have no memory of why or how they’ve come to be at the Quindecim. “One, I cannot explain where you are, or how you came to be here. Two, we will now have you play a game. Three, we will have you select a game by roulette. Four, you will stake your lives on this game. Five, until this game is over, you may not leave the bar.”
The alternative to playing is explained as “not something they want to experience.”
The tiles light up in sequence, backed by a crest. It flips and reveals what’s a seemingly mundane bar game. The participants, totally unaware of their circumstances, begin the most important game of their life: their judgement.
Artwork and Animation: 9
Dark, ominous shades permeate the show. A whirl of blacks, purple, reds, and blues set the foreboding tone, and the dynamic of bright lights and shadow interplay beautifully. Madhouse has created a product of passion with Death Parade, and it shows through their impeccable attention to detail and care in creating this show.
Character design consistency is strong, key frames are fluid. 3D CGI is used very subtly here, under the excellent disguise of cel-shade- to great effect. It never looked fake, it never stuck out: just smooth. Character’s anguish, regret, anger, and hope shine through on their faces. While animated, I really felt like the characters were experiencing real emotions. They ugly cry, they bleed, they contort in unbridled rage, and overall feel really human.
Smooth would be the best way to define the art here, everything is neat, crisp and fluid. Swirling lights, darks, and brilliant displays of energy color the typically dark palettes of the show. Much of it takes place in a darkened ballroom, and really allows the lighting and brightness of the conflict to be cast against the darkness and shadows.
Sound and Voice Acting: 10
Despite not being able to speak Japanese, I was able to empathize with the characters through the voice performance. The high quality voice acting was able to convey emotion, tone, and mood clearly, despite the language barrier, and be effective in that. Numerous times I was struck by tears from the pain and suffering, or from the inspiration and hope that were brought out by the voices.
The OP is a bit deceiving, as far as the content and tone of the show go. It’s a very catchy, upbeat, danceable tune: “Flyers” by BRADIO. The ED is a more melancholy, emotional performance in “Last Theater” by NoisyCell, which is a new favorite of mine. Both are excellent. As far as background music goes; there’s a lot of silence in Death Parade, which really allows the vocal performances to be more impactful and emotionally powerful. What BGM there is typically consisted of soft piano music, which played in wonderfully with the more subdued and introspective moments.
Upon entrance to the Quindecim, we’re treated to the sight of a white haired, steely, dispassionate man known as Decim, purveyor and arbiter of souls. He’s described as “all drinks and seriousness” by his boss, a seemingly young woman with cold eyes and demeanor to match, Nona. Decim’s purpose is to ensure that the entrants to the establishment agree to, and carry out their contract to play a random game of chance, enforce the rules, and execute the results. Though he seems hard-hearted and unsympathetic, Decim is shown to have a more… humanistic side. His statement, “I have respect for those who have lived fulfilled lives” is very telling of his true heart, and is the principle which guide his judgements.
Kurokami no Onna, or “The Black Haired Woman” (Onna for short)
is our first entrant to Quindecim. Utterly devoid of any memory, even that of her own name; Onna is conscripted to be an assistant to Decim, and to facilitate the judgement process. Throughout the course of Death Parade, Onna provides a strong presence of morality and reason to the cold, calculating judgement that typically took place before her arrival. She is an idealist and optimist, wanting to believe that there’s redemption to be had in even the darkest of souls. Through her input and occasional intervention, the outcomes of the judgement are not always what they at first appearance should have been.
Aside from her role in the assistance of Decim, she follows an arc of her own; one of discovery. As she learns about the process of judgement, she likewise learns what it meant to have truly lived. Like any other guest to the bar, she knows that there must be a time in which she too must be judged.
A minor complaint here would be that supporting characters such as Nona, Ginti (who each get an episode a piece to themselves) are underutilized, along with Clavis, Oculus, Quin, and Castra.
Death Parade takes a rather unique approach in how it unfolds the story and morality lessons within. It combines the best aspects of episodic, arc-based, and linear storytelling all into one, which sounds weird on paper, but works to great effect onscreen. Each episode typically contains two entrants to the bar, who then play a game designed to be maximally stressful, or to draw on their inner natures of suspicion, deceit, jealousy, anger, hatred, greed. The characters react in a variety of ways: their desire for revenge, enacting their sense of justice, playing off their own regrets, or their longing for redemption. They are then set to be judged based on their actions, as their memories alone (which are compiled and studied by the arbiters prior to the person’s arrival to Quindecim) would not suffice.
Death Parade is a very character driven story. Given the limited amount of locales (excluding flashbacks and memory recalls) we’re given a lot of screentime with the same characters, but it never felt rehashed or rushed. For a one cour show, the pacing is absolutely phenomenal. It would have been an easy setup for a completely episodic show with the one episode characters coming in to be judged, and being sent away at the end. Alternately, it would have been just as easy to use arcs, 2 or 3 episodes a piece for one judgement. Again, Death Parade takes these along with two subplots (with major implications) and assimilates them into one extremely cohesive, subtle story focusing on moral ambiguity and the nature of what it is to be human.
Memento mori: “Do not forget that you must surely die someday. As such, that is all the more reason to live now.”
In this story, memento mori, a Latin phrase meaning “remember that you must die” takes a front seat on the rollercoaster of feeling and emotion that Death Parade evokes. It’s been explained that the souls of the dead come to be judged at this mystical bar, however, what happens when a soul is never judged? This question is explored within the show, in two different formats and in two different ways. We slowly find that there’s much more to these arbiters throughout the run of the plot, that all is not as it seems in their role as judge of the souls between the void and reincarnation.
Subtlety. The first plot point to address is that of Onna, and her quest to discover her identity, and with it, her reason for being at Quindecim. Afterall, only those who die at the same time as another person are ‘invited’ to come, yet she’s alone. Every other episode or so, we’re shown a small clip of Onna in her room at the Quindecim, and each time, she discovers a new object that was previously not there. I didn’t catch this the first time I watched, but after going back, it was there. Each object that appears has bearing on her life before death, and serves as a mirror to the more episodic plot going on. As she slowly recovers her memories and identity, she must take part in observing and assisting the judgement of those who also recover their memory through triggered points in the games that they play. Towards the end, she receives an episode entirely of her own that brings with it many revelations of her time before, and how she looks to the future.
Balance. MADhouse really has a taste for the dramatic in this show, however, it’s not all doom and gloom. Just at the point when it starts to feel like Death Parade is getting formulaic, it’s turned on its head. Episodes 1 and 2 provide an interesting dynamic in that you’re given the same thing to watch, yet from two entirely different perspectives. Death Parade takes themes and brings them to the forefront of each episode and sets them opposite each other, to reflect and deepen the meanings and duality within. Episode 4 and 8-9 are standouts here.
In 4, we see a subversion of what it means to love. A celebrity mother with a tragic past who cares nothing for anyone but herself, yet ‘loves’ her children, and a misunderstood young man who hated himself and resented his new step-mom for selfish reasons that made a tragic mistake. Their positions in the story are two sides of a coin… one parent, one child, both with familial issues, but stemming from very different reasons.
In two later episodes, Death Parade takes a darker turn, dealing with murder, malice, and revenge. When two people commit unspeakable crimes in the name of justice and revenge, despite being for noble reasons, does that make them justified? Again, the moral ambiguity- one for protection of loved ones, one for a twisted sense of justice; both killers.
I enjoyed every minute of Death Parade. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, I was reviled. Death Parade explores a huge range of emotions, thoughts, moods and feelings. The emotional impact of this show is not to be understated. “Feels” gets tossed around a lot when describing this show, but it goes much deeper than that. Death Parade is a cross section and examination of human nature. On trial for your life, presented with some of the most stressful and painful memories and experiences you’ve had, is it your actions that define you, or the intent behind them, or some third thing that makes you only human? Whose place is it to decide if what you’ve done is damning or worthy of life again?
I’m loath to give out a perfect score other than categorically, but Death Parade gets so many things right in such a complete package of a show. Emotional depth, empathy, charisma, mystery, intrigue… It’s all here. Believable characters, and a sense of connection with the events going on while being spun a rather unique narrative on morality and examination of the human condition, Death Parade is a true gem. Refreshing in many ways, this show is one that should be considered a modern classic.
“Judgement must be performed hand in hand with both life and death. it is something that must be performed hand in hand with humans.”
+ Great characters
+ Mysterious, gut wrenching plot
+ Beautiful dark art
+/- Some supporting characters need a little more time
“Life is something which is always met with unfairness; there are those who live fulfilled lives, and there are lives that pass away in no time at all.”
6: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku
English: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!
MAL Score: 8.24
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku picks up immediately after the events of the first season, continuing the adventures of the Volunteer Service Club—the dispassionate Hachiman Hikigaya, the cheerful Yui Yuigahama, and the competitive Yukino Yukinoshita—as it dedicates itself to helping any student with issues that they may face.
With the rift among his own group widening, Hachiman begins to realize that his knack for quickly getting to the root of other people’s troubles is a double-edged sword: sometimes the best solution is not necessarily the most appropriate one.
I never said much. I remember a few of my classmates sometimes asking why I was so quiet all the time, why I only tried to just sit there and read. I never knew how to answer. That was just how I was, I guess – I didn’t like talking, and I wasn’t very comfortable around most people. Why? I’d tell you I was shy, but I wouldn’t be saying very much. And it’s not like I was bullied or anything – no one picked on me or hated me in particular. I might’ve preferred being by myself, sure, but I still had a few friends – it wasn’t like I hated being around people. I think someone called me mute once.
It’s been almost a year since I graduated and I’ve… moved on… since then, but I’d be lying if I said it’s all just in the past. When we graduated, that was that – some of us went to the same university, some didn’t. I ended up cutting ties with most of those who didn’t, and I still don’t find myself talking a whole lot with those who did. But, hey, at the very least I’ve come to realise how silly I used to be, trying to stay away from people like the plague – it’s all just a natural part of growing up, and only now did I get the chance to finally join the club.
OreGairu understands this. All of it. Everything. You see it in the slight furrow of Hikigaya’s brow as his head rests on his palm, eyes brooding over to the noisiest parts of the classroom. You see it in the droop of his shoulders, hands finding solace where his trouser pockets were, as his bag bounces in perfect rhythm to each of his slow, dreary steps. OreGairu knows what it’s like to sit in that corner of the classroom, by yourself, never talking, with you finding your mouth a little stale when it’s time to leave because it’s been closed for so long. It’s just that OreGairu… does not think these things are silly.
People are weird. We say one thing when we mean the opposite, we’re quick to find flaws but we’re not quick to trust. We’re nasty for the sake of nastiness, and we’re still all sorts of vicious to others even when we don’t know it. People are complex and hard to understand, incredibly strange and all sorts of unpredictable – no one plays by exactly the same rules, and we will never reach a perfect understanding of each other no matter how hard we try. I’m with Hikigaya on this one: why do we still keep trying to get caught up in this mess when we know it’ll just cause us all sorts of problems later?
…Or that’s what I’d be saying a year ago, at least. Because to someone like Hikigaya – someone like me, in the past – we can’t explain why people find themselves inevitably drawn to each other anyway.
Because to OreGairu, you don’t need to.
It’s how when you strip away all of his self-defeating cynicism and hateful snark, Hikigaya is actually a pretty ordinary teenage boy, with all the same desire, jealousy, and fear as any other. We see it when he’s with Komachi: he’s not with the outside world anymore, he’s with someone he knows. He’s calm, he’s open, and she listens while he lets out all of his deepest wounds, all of his most buried secrets. It’s no surprise, of course, when they’re family – they’ve been there for each other for fifteen years, and they’ll be there for another fifteen more. Hikigaya says he lives the way he does because he has no other choice, but that’s not true – he lives the way he does because he doesn’t trust the world enough to share himself with it, to share the Hikigaya that banters so naturally and playfully with his little sister.
But it’s a slow process. OreGairu only manages to give us a vague eventuality, a “one day he’ll change” kind of thing, because it takes actually spending time with your closest friends to realise how far you’ve managed to distance yourself from them in the first place. Hikigaya’s finally starting to open himself up to the world, even if just a little, and through OreGairu we see how that can have profound effects on other people. Even then, he still doesn’t get anything more from those who aren’t close to him than a “you’ve kinda changed”, with them finding him only slightly less boring to look at. Because… that’s how it is. Because it’s the small things like that that show how, someday, maybe when he’s dusting off one of his old yearbooks he found in his garage, he’ll be able to look back on this moment as just an embarrassing memory – when he could say he was more open, honest, and true to himself than ever before.
My birthday’s coming up in a few weeks. I’ve never been to many parties, but maybe I’ll invite a few people to a movie or something. I know I won’t change in a week, and I certainly won’t change tomorrow, but in a year, maybe two, I might not be saying the same. OreGairu gave me a chance, and I’m not letting it go. But I can thank it later. For now, it’s time to turn OreGairu off – I have some old friends to catch up on.
A sequel to any anime always presents a challenge to both the creators and viewers of the show simply because the creators have to produce something better then what it started with in order to satisfy the majority of people that wished for that second season and the viewers have to decide whether or not the sequel lives up to the expectations that they wished for (In this case 2 years ago).
Let me start by saying this… Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machiatteiru. Zoku is by far absolutely brilliant in what it brings to a “typical” high school anime combining elements of drama, comedy, and romance into show that screams to be watched by the masses.
Story: While most high school anime focus primarily on romance, drama, or comedy, Zoku balances the 3 elements and incorporate each to make a show that isn’t over saturated with love triangles or clueless airheads that can’t take a hint. What is also phenomenal about the show is the realism that it portrays as we take the perspective of Hikigaya and dive into his life as a ordinary high school student who just wishes to be alone. The story focuses primarily on the troubles and tribulations of high school life whether it be helping a friend with social anxieties or assisting the student council president in daily activities. It takes these everyday problems that students have to deal with and creates these situations where Hikigaya is forced to cooperate. What grasped my attention the most is how Hikigaya deals with these situations that he is presented with and what he does to resolve these problems through is own personal beliefs and the experience he has gained by observing society and the fake attitudes that people conceal behind a mask of popularity and social status. What drives the show and makes it worthwhile is to see how Hikigaya handles these situations along with his fellow club members and the sudden shifts, turns, and drops this emotional roller coaster of a show throws at you as you try to discover the “Real Things’ this show truly offer.
Characters: At the time you’re reading this I can safely assume that you watched the first season of the show and have a general understanding of how our 3 main characters act and behave so I can make this short and simple. Let’s start with our main protagonist Hikigaya Hachiman, If you haven’t seen the first season then I advise you to go to that now because Hikigaya can be described in one word and that is Pragmatic. Hikigaya always takes things at face value and honestly doesn’t care about what people think. He’s anti social in a way that he wishes to be alone because he knows this would not only benefit himself but the people around him. It creates this awkward tension that makes Hikigaya either loved or hated by some but personally I see Hikigaya as a character that should be respected because of how he analyzes the world around him which to some respect is cruel but 100% true. Then we have Yukino Yukinoshita, Yukino can be described as an “Ice Queen” and will literally never “let it go” if you ever cross her bad side. She’s smart and beautiful in way that is both cute and deadly at the same time. She has this “Royal” essence that makes her a force to be reckoned with and her snide remarks towards those she finds inferior make Yukino a beautiful nightmare you wish you can witness. Lastly we have Yui Yuigahama who is our cheerful little ball of sunshine that brightness up everyone’s day whenever they are feeling down. She is the type of girl that needs support and friends to keep her company and will do anything to keep that friendship lasting until the very end.
Art/Sound: The animation of this season compared to last is a enormous improvement beyond many levels of quality. They switched to Feel Productions and I applaud the overall animation quality knowing how hard it must of been to make Hikigaya’s eyes seem more dead then usual along with the cast being improved drastically in only a 2 year gap. The backdrops were stunning, The art style fit the theme well, and by far it was the best animation they could have possibly created. The opening was fantastic as I believe it was a better opening then it’s predecessor and the ending was also catchy as sung by the voice actresses themselves just as last season did. The OST’s of the anime were good as it fit the show nicely at just the right times and I have no complaints at all for it was simply put, better then last season.
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku did everything it was set out to do and more. It provided a story that made me want to watch over and over and left me depressed as I waited each weak for each episode to release. It brought back that sense of nostalgia 2 years ago when I was watching the first season and it reminded me how much I love Hikigaya. If you like an anime that revolves around a school setting where the premise of the story is everyday problems that have to be solved by someone who really doesn’t wish to be part of society then please watch this show. I can’t recommend this show enough and you won’t be disappointed. The novels are the main source material where this anime is adapted from and I wait for the day that maybe… and just maybe… a season 3 will be announced.
-People who have tons of friends and have never been hurt by them
-People who have been happy constantly and have never experience loneliness
-People are optimistic to the point of delusion
-Basically, people who have the head ten feet up their a**es
-Or people who only enjoy anime for battle shounen
Also by the way,
SOL-Slice of Life
*I’m going to be using those abbreviations A LOT!
One of the the many good points of this series. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is very contrary to its name. Instead of acting as most ordinary SOL RomCom (Harem galore, Idiot Protagonist, generic females, et cetera), it acts more like a deconstruction of the genre instead. It’s a story that while on paper is mundane, is told from an interesting point of view of a pessessmistic but kind loner. That is what makes the story good and better then the average RomCom. We recieve various monologue from the protagonist, Hachiman Hikigaya(8man) so while the story itself is somewhat mundane, the actions that Hachiman takes and the thoughts he thinks make the story compelling and intriguing to watch. The story continues from the first season, as Hachiman continues to solve problems that are brought to the Service Club. However unlike the first season the second is much less comedic and more heavily invested on the complex emotions of the multiple characters that the show presents. Despite being a “romance” anime, it isn’t the shows full focus. There are a lot of that, and many teasing of characters being liking each other, but it is a secondary concern below just simple friendship and character interaction.
The art from this season is a large step-up from the original one. The character designs being the biggest change. At first, I actively disliked it at first, but as I continue to watched the character designs began to not only grow on me, but grew to the point where I like it more the original. Their looks now allow for more emotions and are less stiff. Studio Feels also manage to create great animation that allow you to be able to understand character thoughts just through their movements. All and all, the art and animation for the second season was fantastic, and while not as flashy or pretty as some of the action series as of late, but it is quite stunning in its own right.
The opening was actually pretty average for the most part, and in to be quite honest I prefer the opening of the first one. However, the anime counters that by making the ending fantastic and much better than the one from the first season (again, in my opinion). But the background soundtrack and voice acting is where this anime truely shines. Its subtle and minimalist tracks helps build up suspense, and allow for emotions to come naturally. The music will never overtake what is happening and will never be the star of the show. But it never needed to be, it being a minimalist type soundtrack. It purpose is to enhanced the show and what is going on, it tracks help amplify suspense when need, it also builds sadness or joy when it is played. A lot of people I know and probably a large portion of music-lovers out there dislike minimalist music so this track probably isn’t something you can listen to over and over. That being said, a few out there will find this enjoyable to constantly listen to, and some of you might even find it among your favorite music tracks. Regardless, few can argue that the music got what needed to be done, and did it with flying colors. The voice acting make the already realistic characters seem more real, and makes for what they say actual conversations that could happen instead of just characters in a fictional setting, talking.
Oh boy, the character is where this truely surpassed my expectations. Being a RomCom, I went into this show expecting s***. As mention above RomComs usually follow a very generic formula. One of the ingriedients would be generic as hell characters, Idiotic and nice protagonist along with girls to fit every fetish and tropes to fall in love with said protagonist. This show does almost a complete reverse, with a highly realistic(pessimisstic) and intelligent protagonist with only two fully fleshed out and developed female protagonist. Let’s talked about Hachiman(8man) first, as well as talking about how much I love it when a show implements catharticism correctly. This could range from when Hachiman puts down other people with his superior rationality, or when he solves problems by commiting social suicide only to realized later on that it was a TSPP(tempory solution permanent problem). His way of thinking and morales in life resonates with me on a personal level. Which is a large reason why Hachiman is a character that is not for everyone. If you could relate to him through life experiences or you’re able to understand and realize his viewpoints on life then he may very well be one of your favorite main character in any series, SOL RomCom or otherwise as he was for me. If you’re one of the people mention on the list of people who would hate this anime, Hachiman is probably the biggest reason why. He is negative, and cynical, which is great as now their is a main protagonist that is similar to me and millions of other people out their who aren’t optimistic as soceity tells us we should be. Now on to the female leads, which we have two of. Yukino being the first one we are introduced to, and like Hachiman, is a loner and has been bullied in her younger years. Unlike Hachiman however, she is far more successful and thus, sometimes have a superiority complex. She faces many of the same problem that faces Hachiman, but many of the times these problems require different solutions and are caused by different causes for the two characters. So it makes the two characters, while similar, also distinctively different. This causes many opportunities for the the. Final, but definitely not last of the main characters, is Yui. She is the bubbly, happy, social type. And she is absolutely and one hundred percent necessary for the show to work. She acts as a foil to the two other main characters, but in some odd way is still as completely relatable as the other two. Her interaction and chemistry with the other two is at times comedic, and at other time emotional brings along a whole entire other sets of problems. Her character brings to light an entire different view point and to put it simply, without Yui, the entire show would be completely different and more than likely, no where near as good. The most important thing about the supporting cast is each supporting member is that each one is a fully fleshed out character and anyone who is named would likely show up more then once. They are each filled with their owned personalities that are not just generic tropes, each often having problems that can watchers can relate to. Each are realistic, such as Hayama who despite at first seems like a Gary Stu, later turn out to be just as troubled and filled with problems as everyone else in the show, or Komachi who (for the first time in forever not a love interest), actually act as a simply would to the main character. Having fights with him, giving advice, understanding, apologizing for mistake, et cetera. All this combined with the emotionally broken and trouble main characters each being rejected by society in some way make this show have the most diverse set of characters and one of the most realistic and relatable group I have ever seen from not only anime, but from a story in general.
Like all my other reviews, the enjoyment is not factored into the final review, so this long section is completely skippable. What else is there needed to be said, everything that praises and critics (to which there are few) have already been said in the moderately long review. So lets talk about why this anime means so much for me (which again, if it is boring then is completely skippable), and while it rank at number two in my list of favorite animes. The reason is simple, I have never in my entire life relate to an anime as much as this one, and even more than that I have never relate to a character as much as Hachiman. Like him I have tried to reach out to make friend in the past, only to be left in severe disappointment. It didn’t take long after that to just simply stop caring, and since then I have always been more pessimistic than an optimistic. And with every telling me that is an terrible way of living and that would lead to wrong to thing negative thoughts, only enhanced my pessimism, as using optimism to “help” a pessimist really doesn’t work. I could fully imagine what it would be like to be in his shoes and often could see the world through his eyes. From him getting rejected without much thought by a crush. From being despised from a trait that was gained at birth, and from spending hours simply doing nothing looking at others doing things that required more then a single person. I could also imagine myself in his shoes, when he was trying to do the right thing, but not being able find a method that would not involve hurting and most likely more then likely others. As a result even now, I only have a small group of friend and even a smaller group in which I can freely talked and express my problems. My advice for anyone who meets a Hachiman in their life and want to become friends with them would be to never talk about celebrities with them, but more importantly be patient. Just be patient and stick around and never try to “fix” them. My advice for people like me or Hachiman (which can be taken with a grain of salt) would be to stop thinking that your way of living is wrong, it just different. Don’t try to make friends for the sake of making friends, but make friends who you would help you when ask, and you would help if they ask. That got a little heavy and I also didn’t imagine it would go on a mini therapy (though I don’t think I made a great therapist) session. Well that is the reason why this show recieve a perfect ten in the enjoyment catagory, that and because even though the show isn’t gear towards everyone, I felt like one of the people that is was gear towards. From it storytelling, to its art, to it beautifully constructed minimalist soundtrack that I could listen to over and over again, and it splendid and beautifully constructed cast of main characters. Since this is skippable, let’s talk about the romance to which I can quickly sumarized up with imagery. You see there are two gigantic battleship which have said and are fighting each other. There is also a ship for a cute underclassmate, but that one is more like a wooden conoe. Anyway, I currently being told to walked the plank on both ships multiple times because of how much I like the characters. What I’m trying to say is I have literally no idea what side I am on, and would be happy and sadden by any choice the author picks for the main character. Which is kind of a lose-lose and win-win senario. Confused. So am I about how I feel.
Like all show, it has its flaws such as the title. And as all shows, it is not for everybody. But if you have ever been outcasted of soceity either it only have been a while or for your entire dang life, I would urge you greatly to watch the show. It shows that your way of living, no matter what, is not right nor is it wrong. It shows the pros and cons to living like Hachiman, and living like someone like Hayama. I have already rambled enough out the shows good and bad points in the review sections, and have already said how much I like the show in my enjoyment section. There really isn’t much else to say besides me saying that if you don’t consider yourself to be part of these people…
-People who have tons of friends and have never been hurt by them
-People who have been happy constantly and have never experience loneliness
-People are optimistic to the point of delusion
-Basically, people who have the head ten feet up their a**es
-Or people who only enjoy anime for battle shounen
Then go watch the f***ing show. I’ll end it here, just so you can so watch it, heck, I’ll even include a link to the show on Crunchyroll.
Yeah, I like it that much, and writing this review kind of made me appreciate it more. Not sure if it will have the same effect on you, but hey, there’s only one way to find out.
MAL Score: 8.32
It all started in Kaminoyama High School, when five best friends—Aoi Miyamori, Ema Yasuhara, Midori Imai, Shizuka Sakaki, and Misa Toudou—discovered their collective love for all things anime and formed the animation club. After making their first amateur anime together and showcasing it at the culture festival, the group vow to pursue careers in the industry, aiming to one day work together and create their own mainstream show.
Two and a half years later, Aoi and Ema have managed to land jobs at the illustrious Musashino Animation production company. The others, however, are finding it difficult to get their dream jobs. Shizuka is feeling the weight of not being recognized as a capable voice actor, Misa has a secure yet unsatisfying career designing 3D models for a car company, and Midori is a university student intent on pursuing her dream as a story writer. These five girls will learn that the path to success is one with many diversions, but dreams can still be achieved through perseverance and a touch of eccentric creativity.
The art in Shirobako is lovely. Although vibrant and dynamic, it is never flashy nor exaggerating. It is clean-cut and simple but more than enough to bring the story into fruition and to distinguish one character from the other. The sound is also kept simple, evoking the right feeling at the right moment. Shirobako couldn’t ask for anything more fitting. The theme songs fit perfectly with the story too: inspiring yet also fun and relevant. All in all, Shirobako exercised its liberty pretty well regarding its production.
The giant cast of characters actually does not pose a problem for character development and, in general, for the series. During their respective screen times (no matter how little they had), they are well flesh out. The realism they portray is an exceptionally rare feat. They are not archetypal and overblown. All of the characters, especially the five girls, possessed and displayed certain realistic qualities that break free from the confines of typical slice of life anime. The series was careful to not be intimidated by the size of the cast and to handle it with finesse.
We follow the lives of five girls as they struggle to live their dreams in the anime industry and an unlikely animation studio fighting against all odds to produce quality anime. It is a tale of of the creative process, professionalism, teamwork, and finding one’s motivation. It is amazing to point out that Shirobako‘s core story is incredibly simple yet satisfying. The side stories are also quite enjoyable.
But what makes Shirobako stand out is how it is able to masterfully and effortlessly incorporate the core story, multiple side stories, and a brief but informative look into what goes down in the anime industry into one seamless and fluid narrative without ever losing focus. It is never overblown with the unnecessary. All these elements are treated with careful balance – something not all anime series have – that underlies the show’s ingenuity.
Shirobako is an anime that is “just right”. It breaks one’s expectations without betraying them. You just have to enjoy it as it is as you learn countless things about life, careers, and, of course, anime. The series is a force to be reckoned with and I could easily recommend it to anyone, especially to those in need of a surprise.
Shirobako is also a genuinely well-written and entertaining story in its own right. It’s a highly informative and interesting look at what the process of creating anime is all about, but it is more than that, too. And it is also courageous for being an original series and for telling a story about adult characters rather than the typical high school fare that anime is seemingly incapable of escaping from.
If you are expecting tons of drama or deep, philosophical themes (in which case I’d argue you’re in the wrong medium), Shirobako is not going to be for you. It is a story about the mundane, the everyday struggles of the workplace. Rushing to meet deadlines is often the most the characters have to deal with in any given episode. And there’s something inherently appealing about that, I think. The closer something is to reality– the more mundane it is, the more you can relate to and empathise with what’s going on. Being able to empathise is perhaps the most important part of any story.
Shirobako does attempt to break away from otaku fantasy-land by making its world more resemble ours. There are obese characters, old characters, married characters and all sorts of other types that populate our world and yet are seemingly extinct in the vast majority of anime. There’s definitely still a large ‘moe’ appeal for most of the female characters, but there is never a point where it becomes overbearing. Shirobako doesn’t resort to panty-shots and beach episodes and other sorts of contrived nonsense in order to make the girls appealing. Their cuteness is more natural; it stems from their personality and their flaws rather than their body, even if Yano’s stockings and Diesel-chan’s side ponytail are perhaps the greatest things my eyes have ever witnessed.
I do have to wonder why anime are so afraid of including female characters outside the high school age range, as if they are somehow incapable of being interesting or likeable once the clock strikes 18. The girls of Shirobako are in their 20’s and yet they are far more appealing (and yes, more cute) than the vast majority of teenage characters. Maybe that could be my own oldness speaking, but I’d like to see more variety and more 20-somethings like there are in Shirobako. There’s far more that can be done with adult characters. Shirobako understands that life exists outside of high school, and it isn’t afraid of showing that life.
But only talking about the appeal of the characters would be a disservice, as there is far more that makes Shirobako an outstanding anime. Most people who watch the show are going to have their attention on its portrayal of the anime industry and the animator’s lifestyle, which are shown with extensive detail in each and every episode. Even if you have no knowledge of how the anime industry works, by the time you finish Shirobako, you’ll have a pretty OK idea of how it does. It does not just focus on the animators alone, but also the lower roles (such as the delivery dude/lady), all the way up to the very top management who decide the voice actors and how the anime should end. It does lend to a deeper appreciation for anime as a whole, as you’ll realise that even the complete stinkers may have sucked because of a minor managerial mistake rather than incompetence.
I cannot speak to how accurate these things are since I’m not an animator myself, but what I can tell is that the show is obviously idealised to some extent. It is, after all, meant to be a piece of entertainment rather than a documentary, so occasionally the characters will do things such as working at superhuman speeds or engage in the usual manzai routine for comedic effect. The story actually goes completely bonkers in the last couple episodes (with one of the characters actually deflecting bullets with the lard in their belly – YES REALLY), so it wouldn’t be a good idea to expect Shirobako to be a perfectly accurate representation of reality. And then there’s those talking stuffed animals that are never really explained. Magic, or something?
The fact that Shirobako is an anime-original series and not an adaptation of some other manga or light novel makes it an inherently positive presence in anime, I think. P.A. Works not only made a great anime, but something that is strictly ‘anime’ and not a property of some other medium. Personally, I am getting pretty bored of anime’s role as the ‘adaptation medium’. The industry would benefit from more titles like Shirobako, even if that means studios taking a bit of a financial risk.
Shirobako can be a bit misleading, though. The first episode creates the impression that the entire story is going to be about the five high school friends working together in the anime industry, but that isn’t really how things pan out. It is a story about the events of Musashino Animation. Only two of the five girls work there as regular employees for the majority of the series, with my goddess Diesel joining in the latter half and the remaining two pitching in at the very last moment. Some people may find this a bit disappointing, but I thought it was the proper route for the story. Adult life rarely ever works out exactly as planned, and Shirobako is very much an anime about adult life.
It would be pretty ironic if an anime about animation had poor animation, so it’s fortunate that Shirobako looks and sounds as nice as it does. There is none of the usual ‘sameface’ phenomenon that plagues most anime with a moe art style (which Shirobako most definitely has), and the backgrounds are often filled with detail (like an anime figure sitting on a desk to the side) which makes having a wandering eye recommended. It’s a bright and visually pleasant show, while the music, even if it’s not particularly notable, creates an appropriate atmosphere. There are no melodramatic ‘PLEASE CRY NOW’ piano pieces, and for that I am thankful.
Regardless of preferences and standards, I think Shirobako is more than capable of being one of the most enjoyable experiences anyone has with anime for a very long time– especially so if you have any sort of passion for the anime industry. It’s well-written and free of any noteworthy flaws, sure, but it’s also informative and unique for a medium that has been plagued by sameness for decades. Why there haven’t been anime like Shirobako until this day remains a mystery to me, but it has made me regain some hope for the anime industry– it’s still capable of creating great things, it seems.
Hey… did you know?, in the Animation Industry an anime episode which is distributed to the production staff members prior to its official release is called “shirobako”, litteraly “white box”, that’s because at time VHS tapes containing the episode were enclosed in white boxes and distributed, despite the fact that white enclosures are no longer used, the term still remains in use in the actual anime industry, thus the anime’s title comes from that little particular, SHIROBAKO.
Simple but at the same time meaningful, a word which I was totally unaware of its background story, to tell the truth actually even if I’ve been watching anime for years, I’m completely ignorant when it comes to it’s realization and process which follow a simple draw sketch, hand made, into becoming incredible pieces of animation rich of music, effects and sounds. This is the first time I came across with an anime that handles a theme with such professionalism and realism imitating with, almost, absolute perfection the production of an animated series in the real world, exaggerating and overreacting a bit with the details, with the final purpose of avoiding to bore the audience, and such effect results in an ironic comedy sticked that enough to the realism in order to don’t lose it’s seriousness, SHIROBAKO totally succeeded in recreating a working field with extreme quality.
To summarize this series with just “an anime about making anime” doesn’t describe it at all, actually I think it’s a devaluation because in that way we’re leaving behind the most important theme touched in it, and which is in my opinion, the reason it made shine this show: ‘keep working to realize your dreams’. Unfortunately sometimes there are times that working hard doesn’t guarantee the results we expect, and thus it feels like the sky fell upon us, like getting hit by a bullet train, extremely painful, sometimes it damages us more than any physical injuries might harm, there it is… the disappointment after failing.
“Not everyone who works hard is rewarded, however all those who succeed have worked hard!”
I need to say that the hard work is really shown through the show, our protagonists aren’t passive girls, they’ve a dream and in order to achieve it they struggle and confront themselves with real life in their respective field of interest, trying to overcome doubts and obstacles, normal things for someone who is initially starting to find a place to fit in this society, after all, the approach to real life feels so genuine that we can easily relate to. Specially the ones who hasn’t find a place in this world but keep working hard to find it, we’ll be touched directly by the themes developed through this anime.
After the realization of an amateur animated short back in High School, Miyamori Aoi, Yasuhara Ema, Imai Midori, Todo Misa and Sakaki Shizuka, the Animation Club’s members, promised all together to realize a professional animation work one day. As the years pass, in the present day, Miyamori is a ‘Production Assistant’ for Musashino Animation, Ema works as ‘Key Animator’ in the same studio, Misa decided to go for the computer graphics, Midori is still studying in the University but her goal is to write scripts and Shizuka works part-time meanwhile she tries to emerge as a voice actress. SHIROBAKO is the story about these five young women and the Musashino Animation, behind the scenes, ‘what we don’t see’, of the Animation Industry.
Through the show’s development the viewers experience almost each of the productions phases that make up the realization of a TV series, starting from the basic things such as obtaining the rights from the author, to later pass to the productive phases: Script, Storyboard, Character Design, Art Direction, Coloration, Computer Graphics, Sound Direction, Voice Acting selection, Editing and Assembly, and finally the end product delivery to the TV station. Everything obviously presented under the POW of the various characters that make part of this cycle of work, which going through the difficulties they might across, allow us to gain a vision, really close to the reality, of what means to realize a task in this working field, the meeting point, between all the different phases, is represented by Miyamori, our protagonist, which serving as ‘Production Assistant’ is in charge of coordinating all the works as well as being the bridge for each production’s department.
The particular attention on details in this anime is really noteworthy, to allow a better comprehension of each production aspect, Musashino Animation was in charge to realize two anime series (an anime inside an anime!). The script was discussed, what message and which emotions should reach the viewers, redefine the characters in case the result isn’t the wanted one, War fell upon the studios when it was confronted a 2D animation sequence to a 3D one and was asked which one was better, meanwhile in another department, voice actors selection was being held, another battleground…
However SHIROBAKO isn’t only a documental-anime, since great quality was shown in the characterization of each character presented, casting away any kind of stereotype, going directly through the realism route, a result which ended giving the show a really pleasant atmosphere. The cast was really huge, even so, each one of them had an opportunity to shine in their respective working field, each character had their own identity and goal in life, which through the series, lead them to a route of personal grow and professional development, with a special regard for, obviously, our protagonists.
The complete absence of Fanservice, and the typical cliche scenarios that could expose the girls sex appeal as well as the fanservice yuri undertones, characteristic features for anime with a female-only cast, was something that allowed the anime to have a certain level of professionalism, specially considering the interactions between the characters, it was something I really appreciated.
Animation & Designs were labeled by P.A. Works, it’s almost like a seal of guarantee, this studio has the fame of creating one of the best visuals available in the current market, and again, it delivered, characters’ range of expressivity was superb, between the bests I’ve seen. The Sound wasn’t completely appreciated, in part because of the anime’s frenetic pace, an another because of the heavy dialogues and explanations, in few words the attention was driven off from them, something that I couldn’t say it’s a bad thing since the OST suited perfectly the scenes, it’s just, they didn’t were outstanding besides being a bit forgettable.
SHIROBAKO represents an act of Love towards the Anime Industry itself, paying a tribute to all the people who works in this difficult field, and in the same time, showing a side completely unknown to most of us, presenting an original format of entertainment whose protagonists are the people who made all this possible.
Oye… ¿lo sabías?, en la Industria de la Animación cuando un episodio de anime es distribuido al equipo de producción, antes de su efectiva emisión, se le llama “shirobako”, literalmente “caja blanca”. En la época de oro, las video casetas que llevaban el episodio eran distribuidas adentro de cajas blancas, aunque si ya no se suelen usar más, este término se sigue utilizando actualmente en la industria, así que el título de este anime deriva da esa pequeña particularidad, SHIROBAKO.
De simple origen, pero llena de significado, se trata de una palabra que desconocía completamente. Siendo sincero, aunque si mi experiencia con el anime está llegando a la década, soy completamente ignorante cuando se trata de la realización y procesos que permiten a un simple dibujo, hecho a mano, convertirse en piezas increíbles de animación, llenas de música, efectos y sonidos. Esta es la primera vez que me cruzo con un anime que trata de manera profesional y realista el verdadero trabajo que hay detrás de las series animadas, su producción y creación, paso a paso, exagerando un poco de las situaciones de cada día en modo de crear una comicidad irónica, aunque siempre apegada a la realidad, aquel tanto que basta para no dejar de ser tomada en serio. ¿El resultado? SHIROBAKO logra recrear un sector de trabajo de manera fresca y divertida de ver, después de todo, ¡tampoco es que cada profesión sea apta para divertir a un público!.
Definir esta serie sólo como “un anime acerca de hacer anime” no la describe en su totalidad, de hecho la devalúa, porque deja de lado el aspecto más importante, y que en mi opinión, es lo que hace verdaderamente brillar esta serie: trabajar para alcanzar tus sueños. Desafortunadamente hay veces que el trabajo duro no es suficiente y no asegura el resultado que se espera. Es ahí que se siente como si el cielo se nos cayera encima, el mismo efecto que sería ser atropellado por un tren, con la diferencia que es indoloro, pero aún así nos procura un dolor mucho mayor que cualquier daño físico, ahí esta… la decepción después de fallar.
“Trabajar duro no asegura el éxito, pero puedo asegurarte que todas las personas exitosas han trabajado duro”
El esfuerzo y la pasión por alcanzar tus sueños están a la base de este anime, nuestras protagonistas no son para nada pasivas, tienen un sueño y hacen de todo para alcanzarlo, confrontandose con la vida real en sus respectivos campos de interés, y en sus caminos se encontrarán con obstáculos y dudas, cosas normales para alguien que apenas esta comenzando a encontrar su puesto al interno de esta sociedad, después de todo, el aproche con la vida real se siente tan genuino que es muy fácil poder relacionarse. Sobre todo nosotros los más jóvenes, los que todavía no hemos encontrado nuestro lugar en el mundo pero estamos trabajando duramente para ello, nos sentiremos tocados directamente y especialmente por las temáticas afrontadas a lo largo de la serie.
Después de haber realizado un pequeño corto amatorial de animación para proyectar en la escuela, Miyamori Aoi, Yasuhara Ema, Imai Midori, Todo Misa y Sakaki Shizuka, los cinco miembros que formaban el Club de Animación al tiempo del liceo, se prometen un día hacer un verdadero trabajo de animación profesional todas juntas. Los años pasan, Miyamori se encuentra actualmente trabajando como ‘Asistente de Producción’ para la Musashino Animation, Ema trabaja como ‘Diseñador’ en el mismo estudio, Misa se fue por el ramo de la animación a computadora y trabaja para una empresa, Midori estudia en la Universidad pero su ambición es llegar a escribir guiones y Shizuka trabaja part-time mientras trata de entrar en el difícil mundo del Doblaje. SHIROBAKO es la historia de estas cinco chicas y de todos los miembros de Musashino Animation, detrás de las cortinas, lo que no se ve, en el mundo de la animación.
A lo largo de la serie la audiencia está presente en casi todas las fases de producción que componen la realización de una serie televisiva, partiendo de lo más básico como obtener los derechos del autor para después pasar a las fases productivas las cuales son: Guión, Storyboard, Diseño de los Personajes, distribución de los keyframe entre los diseñadores, Dirección Artística, paisajes y fondos, Coloración, Computer Graphics, Dirección Musical, creación de sonidos, selección de dobladores, montaje conclusivo hasta llegar finalmente a la entrega del producto final a las estaciones televisivas. Todo obviamente presentado bajo el punto de vista de los varios personajes que hacen parte del ciclo de trabajo, que pasando por las dificultades que se pueden presentar, nos permiten obtener una visión completamente apegada a la realidad de lo que es realizar un determinado trabajo al interno de este ambiente, el punto de conexión, entre todas las diferentes fases es representado da Miyamori Aoi, nuestra protagonista, la cual sirviendo de Asistente de Producción, esta encargada de coordinar todos los aspectos además de hacer de puente entre los repartos de producción.
La particular atención puesta en los detalles es este anime es para premiar, para permitir la plena compresión de todos los aspectos productivos, durante la serie se realizaron la composición de dos series animadas (¡un anime dentro del anime!). Se discutió el guión, que mensaje tenia llegar al espectador y cuales emociones deberían transmitirse, redefinir los personajes cuando no se obtiene el efecto deseado, se confrontó una misma escena hecha en animación tradicional con una en CGI, dando vida a una pelea interna sobre cual es mejor, mientras que en otro reparto se escogían los dobladores, otro campo de batalla…
Pero SHIROBAKO no es sólo un anime-documental, en cuanto grande calidad se demostró en la caracterización de cada personaje presentado, dejando de lado cualquier estereotipo típico, puntando directamente al realísimo, un resultado que sinceramente se aprecia mucho más. El Cast se compone de un gran número de personajes, aún así, cada uno de ellos tuvo la oportunidad de brillar en su respectivo campo de trabajo, cada personaje tiene su propia identidad y objetivo en la vida, que a lo largo de la serie lo conducirá en una vía de maduración y desarrollo profesional, con un enfoque especial, obviamente, hacia nuestras 5 chicas.
La completa ausencia de cualquier forma de fanservice y de las típicas situaciones cliché que enfocan el sex appeal de los personajes, al igual que los típicos tonos fanservice ‘yuriescos’ que caracterizan la mayor parte de las series que presentan un cast prevalentemente femenino, fue algo que permitió a la serie ser tomada más en serio, presentando un cierto grado de profesionalidad en las interacciones entre los personajes, algo que aprecie bastante.
La Animación & Diseños fueron firmadas por P.A. Works, y de verdad se notó, este estudio tiene la reputación de hacer una de la mejores visuales que hay actualmente en el mercado, y otra vez, cumplió perfectamente, la expresividad que llegan a tener los personajes es de verdad notable, de las mejores que he visto. El Sonido no se pudo apreciar completamente, en parte debido al ritmo frenético que se llegaba a tener en algunos momentos, y en otras debido al diálogo pesado, en práctica la atención fue completamente desviada, algo que no es necesariamente malo, las OST acompañan perfectamente las escenas, sólo que, no se hicieron notar mucho además de ser, un poco, olvidables.
SHIROBAKO representa un acto de Amor hacia la industria del anime en sí misma, homenajeando a las personas que hacen parte de ella, y al mismo tiempo mostrando un lado que era completamente desconocido a la mayoría, presentando un formato original y dando protagonismo finalmente ad aquellas personas que hacen que todo esto sea posible.
4: Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
English: Parasyte -the maxim-
Japanese: 寄生獣 セイの格率
MAL Score: 8.37
All of a sudden, they arrived: parasitic aliens that descended upon Earth and quickly infiltrated humanity by burrowing into the brains of vulnerable targets. These insatiable beings acquire full control of their host and are able to morph into a variety of forms in order to feed on unsuspecting prey.
Sixteen-year-old high school student Shinichi Izumi falls victim to one of these parasites, but it fails to take over his brain, ending up in his right hand instead. Unable to relocate, the parasite, now named Migi, has no choice but to rely on Shinichi in order to stay alive. Thus, the pair is forced into an uneasy coexistence and must defend themselves from hostile parasites that hope to eradicate this new threat to their species.
The truth is… this show is overrated. Overrated does not mean bad, it simply means overrated. “Oh you’re just not intelligent enough to grasp all the deep concepts hidden within the philosophical plot!” No. It’s just not as deep as you might want to believe it is. The series definitely doesn’t stay true to the “meant-to-be” dark-premise of the manga, especially towards the end.
The story starts off with what everyone believed was going to be a philosophical story between the meaning of life and death, and humanity vs reality with the introduction of a species higher up in the food pyramid than humans, called Parasytes. Sure everyone wants to believe that what they’re watching is deep, but truth be told it’s really not. The story can’t seem to decide what direction they want to go. Parasytes basically infect human beings, usually take over their brains and control them. And as you can guess, Parasytes eat humans making them the one species above human beings in the food chain. Shinichi, the protagonist only gets infected in his right hand, therefore he still has conscious control over his body (except for his right hand obviously). Where does it go from there? A psychological show? An action show? A horror? A romance? All of the above, while almost failing to reach it’s potential in every aspect. The plot doesn’t go in linear way, it cuts corners and adds in random interferences whilst not being able to intertwine and contain them all. One moment there’s a fight then there’s awkward school life-romance, then there’s running away and talking pretentiously, then there’s another fight randomly. A lot of things were taken too slowly, then rushed in the latter creating an unbalanced flow in the plot. It’s almost like although the show wanted to be philosophical, it was just about one boy running away from a herd of parasytes trying to kill him for no rational reason other than him being the main character. Furthermore, in order to promote themes, the show portrayed a lot of things incorrectly, especially human beings (The police). Human beings are evil and corrupt. Okay… Now you have to contrast that in order to create a theme or idea, but the show doesn’t succeed in showing two sides of a concept, although they try. The writers did everything in their power to somehow elevate Shinichi to a god-level in one moment then degrade him to a useless hippo the next moment in order to fit whatever they were farting out of their butts. The beginning was potential-filled, middle didn’t live up to it’s expectations although was decent, and the ending just made no sense what-so-ever. If you’re going to be philosophical, you need to back it up with your story. Kiseijuu failed to do just that and instead just had a lot of childish bloodshed. Yes, the fighting was childish because honestly, it wasn’t justified. Now with all that negative things said, the story really was pretty enjoyable to watch-listen to so don’t think that the show sucks. On the positive side of the show, there were moments that though they may be pretentious, some comments reached deep into my heart and my mind. Tamura Reiko’s “For what purpose was I born in this world?”. People think about that all the time. Why are we actually born? Do we have a certain purpose to fulfill that’s destined by fate? Then there was the mayor’s entire speech on human evolution. I found those to be really intriguing topics to think about and half the fun in watching an anime is for it to make you think and grasp upon a new conception/philosophy. But overall, yeah story was disappointing.
The character develop was really underwhelming in the show as well. I’ll start with popular main characters, Migi and Shinichi. What the story started off doing was uniting two characters into one to intertwine the nature of humanity and other creatures. The show tries to connect the audience to the humanity side and the “monster” side and show the differing perspectives. Shinichi seemed to turning more into a monster while Migi was becoming more human. But the starting potential was all there was to that development. There are too many unresolved questions and everything that Migi does for Shinichi is beyond unrealistic. I mean I understand Parasytes existing is unrealistic in itself, but they’re supposed to be a opposing metaphor for the concept of humanity, but there are some bullcrap moments that the writers seem to fart out of their butts to save Shinichi. Towards the last two episodes, Shinichi is beyond useless without Migi and he keeps saying more pretentious crap about his emotions, when there’s nothing more to say but “The writers wrote me so that I’m a human being that’s marching straight towards the strongest parasyte in the midst of night because I feel like something good will happen”. And… of course something good does happen. Oh man how genius and clever of the writers right?! The other characters had their appearances, then two episodes later their exits. Development of any sort? I don’t think so. Shinichi really could have developed more. His losses in life changes him to embrace his half-parasyte side, while his love for human life clings to his humanity. Okay, that’s a great base start but where does it all go from there? Shinichi sure had a lot of emotions tied into his characters to the point where it was like, who is this person? Shinichi is this person one moment, then another the next. The only character that developed at all is Tamura Reiko and yes she is like the only character I actually liked. Her development into trying to understand human emotions, laboring her human child, trying to unite both humanity and parasytes together. The writers succeeded in creating her character as a symbol of hope and despair. The hope that humans and other creatures will one day understand each other. The despair that there will be bloodshed and corruption within the social hierarchy of species. Her one quote of “arigato” was probably the most powerful one word in the anime that pierced through my heavens. A bright light in in the anime for sure. As for the two girls, Murano and Kana… they happen to be in love with Shinichi but there’s abolutely no chemistry between the characters. All Murano does for 90% of the story is “Are you really Shinichi?” and Kana just constantly throws herself at Shinichi whilst being aware of the dangers around her just because… the writers made her. I mean even in a fictional story there should be some human-emotion-realism right? Kana could have been a character like Tamura Reiko, a way of hope and despair in connection of the two species, but no. She became a nobody without really ever being a somebody. Also so many small characters that seemingly were going to play a role in the story just had one event then disappeared from the show entirely: Uda, Makiko, and his father? Like, what even happened to them by the end?
The very ending of Parasyte makes no sense, there is almost no connection to the rest of the story. It’s almost as if the series just cut off everything that the story built up to, to just end the show. Yet because Migi has a pretentious exchange with Shinichi, people who don’t even grasp what they’re even saying believe it to be a genius ending. All Migi basically says is Shinichi should wake up from his dreams (which is his reality) and forget everything that’s happened to him and live a normal human life. Then Shinichi realizes that humanity is corrupt and that in human nature there is natural evil. But despite all the negative sides of human nature, human beings are beautiful creatures and they include the love of Earth into the whole pretentious mix. Migi then just disappears without anything being explained. I mean Migi just randomly leaves within his dreams which then translates to Migi disappearing from the show entirely. What the hell? Did he leave himself to Shinichi (for him to have an arm) and then kill his life-force so that he doesn’t actually exist? in the end when Shinichi saves Murano, it’s implied that Migi saves her. So, what the hell actually happened to Migi? Makes no sense to me, maybe someone else can make sense of the whole ending for me. This last episode sort of reminded me of Evangelion’s ending where it doesn’t connect all that well to the rest of the plot and doesn’t explain a lot of things while including randomness to sound smart.
As for the art in Parasyte, I’d say it was decent? I mean, the portrayal of the Parasytes was mediocre to me in comparison to the kagune of Ghouls in Tokyo Ghoul. The characters all looked like they had unusually long faces (though I don’t bash them for that, just something I noticed). The actions scenes were mediocre as well, as all they portrayed were a bunch of arms moving around at a speed so fast the audience just sees lines dashing across the screen. I suppose the portrayal of weather (such as the snow when Tamura Reiko …) was beautifully done. the music in Parasyte was good but there wasn’t all that much variety in music. It was basically, opening-one other random Ost-Next to you-Ending every episode. “Next to you” is a really good piece though, I loved listening to it every time it played. Solid in the music category overall. Okay actually, listening to it’s full soundtrack, Parasyte had some really nice music.
At the very end of the show the only thing left is my head is: What was the point of the show? Was it to show that humanity is corrupt and that we’re the reason other species can’t move forward? That humanity should embrace other species and try harder to understand? Or that reality is a cruel place? What do other people see in this show that makes them think it’s so genius? And of course, if you enjoyed the show then I respect that as well because despite my criticism I too enjoyed the show … to an extent.
With all that said, Parasyte is a show that’s worth watching if you like psychological shows.
When speaking with others online about Parasyte, the most common piece of criticism I hear that strays away those who don’t want to watch is that it’s “not my genre,” it’s “overrated” or “it makes my stomach turn while watching some scenes.” Although I agree with most of these statements, it’s because of these points that people should try watching – simply because it’s a genre/ story that’s not seen often in this generation.
Putting that aside, the anime begins with a mini snake-like organism emerging from it’s shell that fails to attempt to target a high schooler by the name of Izumi Shinichi, unable to attack Shinichi’s brain to completely take over his body. However the organism develops it’s own intellect in Shinichi’s right arm and is named Migi (which is Japanese for right). The story is about magnitudes of these snake-like organisms taking over humans in Japan. If the brain has been successfully taken over, a parasyte is then born which then has the ability to morph body parts into blades and lengthen the human anatomy. To survive, these parastyes thrive on devouring the anterior portion of humans, killing with no second judgement. The main character Shinichi learns about this through his counter-part Migi and goes on a mission to kill any parasyte that poses a threat to society.
After watching this and reflecting on it, it’s clear that the anime was trying to illustrate the question of: “can someone who does not display human-like qualities, be humanized?” The answer to this question is, yes and it’s heavily drawn out through the characters. We see that as the story progresses it’s clear that parasytes are depicted as blood thirty creatures. However some of the parasytes like Tamiya Ryouko, who seemingly is out to kill, becomes more human as her storyline progresses. We also see this with Migi, Migi starts off as having no empathy for humans, Shinichi included, but gradually gains affection towards them as the episodes unfold. However when looking at Shinichi, the reverse occurs to him as he loses his some emotions and becomes less humanized.
The art and animation is quite solid, and the sound stands out as one of my favourites. Although this anime is an adaptation from a manga in the 90s, I enjoyed that the art is drawn in a way that’s up-to-date with the anime that’s out now but yet still has that air from the art during the 90s as well. The animation is fluid but not that fluid in some regards as I hoped. For example, when we see the one-to-one combat between parastyes; the lightning speed combat with using lengthened limbs and blades are not that fluid. The OST is a stand out, one of the better ones out there against the others during the time this aired; which actually made me download the entire album. I presume everyone’s favourite is probably “next to you.” If you haven’t heard it, youtube it, download it, listen, and enjoy.
Overall Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu was a great anime to watch. If you’re looking for something that’s out of your comfort zone or just looking for something new to watch, I would recommend this. I promise you that after the first episode, the cliffhangers will reel you in and possibly cause you to watch episode after episode until your done. If you made it this far reading my review.. thanks ! Feel free to shoot me a message if you have any comments about my review or want to discuss anything anime.
With such an engaging premise, Kiseijuu really sets the par high not just by its first episodes but also by some other technical aspects from behind the scenes. First we have the powerhouse studio Madhouse who are well renowned for their reputation. Then, there’s the source material. This adaptation is based on the manga that came out over two decades ago but has earned praise. With just the forefront of these elements, the series has high expectations. Thankfully, it lives up to its hype.
The show doesn’t take a break even from the start by showing the grim reality of the show’s horror. If you don’t believe me, then the first few seconds may convince you. Needless to say, a series like this is not easy to the stomach. But given that fact, it makes itself look real by showing us the brutality of the parasites. The first few episodes establishes the fact that most parasites are heartless monsters who care only about themselves and their prey. The parasite that failed to take over Shinichi’s body display similar traits by threatening to kill him and others if their secret is revealed. Migi (the name that Shinichi gives to it) often thinks strategically to survive while discarding all morality. For instance, he tries to kill any witnesses who see the symbiotic relationship between him and Shinchi. Then, there’s the actual combat where Migi fights indiscriminately at times in order to survive. Outside of combat, the show becomes a bit of personal drama. This is because Shinchi has to constantly deal with keeping this secret and not revealing it to others for the fear that they may be killed. It’s more than just responsibility but also creates the sensation of fear. For the both of them, it’s about survival in a world run by atrocity.
What makes this series’ story stand out quite a bit is the ability to convey human nature and focus on more than just outlandish battles for survival. It shows the best and worst of what humans can do while also balancing out how parasites can behave. Sometimes, there’s almost a similarity while others stands in sharp contrast. For Shinchi, he undergoes big changes as the story progresses with certain events that create tragic scars in his life. These changes are reflected both physically and mentally. Even his classmates like Murano notices this and is constantly worrying about his well-being. In the beginning, we can see him as a normal guy who just wants to be normal. Until he accepts the reality later on, Shinchi is just someone who wants friends, get an education, and perhaps even fall in love. The certain events of the parasites changes all of that as he can never go back to his normal life. His relationships with Murano often has shifting drifts because of the dangers he realizes she may be in if she gets too close to him. Then, there’s the relationship between him and his parents. In particular, his mother represents as someone who sets by example of what a good parent should be. And case taken, the series doesn’t neglect to show other relationships even among the parasites. Motherhood plays a role as well as one particular parasite becomes a guardian for her child. And although she shows little feelings towards it, there’s a drastic change to her behavior later on as she begins to develop human traits. On the other hand, we can also see the worst of human nature. For instance, there’s a serial criminal in the series whose behavior isn’t far different from the parasites themselves.
In contrast, there’s also Shinchi who develops quite a bit throughout this show. Remember, a big part of this series relies is crafted by the way things change and how they work. Shinchi’s experience of fighting alongside Migi turns him into a warrior beyond someone who just wishes to protect others. This is in particular true because of the tragic events in his life. His change is reflected physically and also at an interpersonal level as Shinchi becomes less and less human himself. From an ordinary kid with a timid personality in the beginning, Shinchi becomes a changed man who is serious, humorless, and pessimistic. It’s also shown in the case where Shinchi begins to develop fighting skills of his own when he can’t always rely on Migi. And furthermore, the show takes advantage of the choices he makes to further develop his character. It doesn’t take a genius to see how much the show can focus on its premise and understanding it. The show takes its turns with each episode to present thrillerish scenarios and events that connects with the characters. Its narrative also remains a strong aspect of the show by focusing on Shinchi’s role and what his decisions are no matter how risky they may seem to be.
Also, be aware that the show has tragedy. More than just death, Shinchi’s losses in life expands beyond just losing important people around him. It shows that he can’t save everyone and when that happens, Shinchi feels regret because of his own lack of confidence. It’s interesting at the same time to see how much Migi changes. From the irrational display of inhumanity he shows in the beginning, we can see some of his softer sides. It seems as the story goes on, there’s attachment he feels about the human race and their behavior. While most of this is obstructed in the beginning, the development of his character reaches a point where Migi behaves like a human. On a lighter side, the show also adds some elements of comedy involving Migi and Shinchi’s relationship. Migi’s particular curiosity leads him to “research” on human sexuality which creates hilariously memorable moments. Kana’s repetitive “White Knight wet dreams” are also something of a very peculiar comedy that adds more into the show. Similarly, we can also see different sides of other parasites ranging Reiko’s care for her child to the political ways that some parasites tries to initiate into society. By presenting such events, it also shows that not all parasites are simply absent-minded for their lust to consume and kill. We even have a character that Shinchi can relate because of their own personal life circumstances. But for all its worth, the show can become a bit predictable at times. The death flags are inevitable not to mention the spoilerish opening song. While the transition of each episodes remain mainly strong, there are some minor changes between the manga and this adaptation. Furthermore, both the manga and anime has plot holes that are seemingly never answered. None of them really destroys the content of the story but some of it seems a bit odd such as the technology and Shinchi’s original appearance prior to become Mr. Badass.
As a fan of the manga, I have to say that my initial impressions of the artwork wasn’t very great. The artwork has a more generic style rather than the mature atmosphere the manga delivered. After taking more careful glances though, there’s also a feel of attachment anyone can make from the art. Starting with gruesome, the designs of the parasites are both horrific and fascinating. All of them show monstrous traits with their murderous-like intent. The eyes, blades, and disfigured faces are what makes them fearful. Certain parasites also develops more powerful traits that really makes them stand out above others physically by their body structure. In this case, the designs got the job done. Migi in particular has a very fascinating appearance with his unique case of being stuck in Shinchi’s hand. For the human characters though, most of them are categorized by character design to fit with their personalities. From Shinchi’s normal parents to the various delinquents, each of them gives off an impression of humanity. But the most fascinating part about the show is Shinchi’s physical change. His tragic experiences transforms him into a more daring man and this is even reflected by his image. The sharp-edge hair, removal of his glasses, and firm body structure are just a few examples of this. And finally, the show is infamous for its graphic violence. Expect pouring blood, severed limbs, and gore that really entitles this show as horror. The action scenes are also, fast, crisp, and decorated with high production values thanks to Madhouse. Oh and that absence of censorship is a great please to the fans like myself.
Soundtrack and music plays a rather interesting role. In particular, the dubstep becomes a controversial addition added to the series. Sometimes, the usage feels right while other times really feel out of place. The first episode wastes no time with the usage of dubstep so viewers will have to get used to it. It took me a couple of episodes to adapt with the OST and in retrospect, it does work out once you feel attached to it. In other respects, the characters’ voices show a good deal of focus especially with Shinichi and his change. This is reflected in his more calm and confident voice later on in the story in contrast to his quiet and timid personality in the beginning. Kana Hanazawa also plays the role of Shinchi’s love interest with a sense of innocence in her voice. But most interestingly, we have the voices of the parasites. All of them has a disturbing and distorted voice compared to their former human hosts when transformed. I give credit for this sci-fi style of portrayal to bring out the realism of their presence. But when in human form, there’s some a lack of empathy in the voice mannerisms of the parasites. Other times, there are parasitic characters who shows more of a human tone such as with Reiko and Uda. Then, there’s also the character Migi. Voice actress Aya Hirano effectively brings this character into life with her voice. Finally, there’s also the OP and ED songs. Unlike most 2 cour series, there are no changes the whole time with the hardcore OP song or the gentler atmosphere of the ED.
If you’re a fan of sci-fi horror, then this series should no doubt be something of a must-see. This remarkable work is reflected not just in the story but by the characterization of its cast – both human and parasitic. The show’s focus on its various themes crafts great amounts of moments that are memorable for its nature. Shinchi’s development over the course of the series along with Migi are like experimental journeys that really makes their point. And with all this going on, we can also see how far the show can make for itself when it can make you feel attached to its premise. There will be some predictable plot elements in regards to the romance sub-plots or tragedy. However, this shouldn’t be a set-back especially when its main story is thought provoking. Hell, even the action scenes tells a story each episode. Kiseijuu is a wonder that is sometimes fun, sometimes horrific, sometimes mysterious but always entertaining.
3: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders 2nd Season
English: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Battle in Egypt
Japanese: ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 スターダストクルセイダース
MAL Score: 8.43
Joutarou Kuujou and his allies have finally made it to Egypt, where the immortal Dio awaits. Upon their arrival, the group gains a new comrade: Iggy, a mutt who wields the Stand “The Fool.” It’s not all good news however, as standing in their path is a new group of Stand users who serve Dio, each with a Stand representative of an ancient Egyptian god. As their final battle approaches, it is a race against time to break Joutarou’s mother free from her curse and end Dio’s reign of terror over the Joestar family once and for all.
The story became very repetitive at this point. Most of the episodes were: Go from current point to next point, encounter enemy Stand user, defeat stand user, repeat until we reach Dio. It became a monster-of-the-week series and it just felt really bland. The fights varied somewhat but in the end I was expecting a little more than what was essentially an RPG grind until you hit max level and go do an end game boss.
The art style definitely made everything feel more dramatic and dark, while the backgrounds gave a really good view of what Egypt looks like (at least from someone who hasn’t been there). The characters themselves are very detailed with proper shadings of clothing which makes them look ‘realistic’.
The op of the first season was really good and it got you pumped up and it made you feel manlier just by listening to it. But this second season’s op just reminded me of Rozen Maiden, it doesn’t fit. The voice acting is the same as the first season so if you liked it there, you’ll like it here, especially hearing Jonathan yell “AWEEE MAIII GAWDDDDD” or “SHIIIIITTTT”.
The villains felt very cliched in that they’re always over the top sadistic with no redeeming qualities. Each one was basically just ‘bad guy with certain bad trait’ repeated over and over every episode until we got to Dio.
Dio – Dio maintains his arrogance and threatening nature which definitely made him feel like an end raid boss and reinforces his antagonistic role.
Joutarou – If you can call standing around, posing ‘cool’ and saying “Yare Yare Daze” as being a character… well… he’s a character for you then. Initially, this was kind of cool, the nonchalant, tough without overtness attitude, but after two seasons of this composure, it starts to become dull and repetitive. Any encounters that involve Joutarou is basically resolved before it even begins and all you’re left doing is thinking how far his legs are going to be apart this time and how angled is his body going to face.
Jonathan – Not as cool as when he was younger with all his predictions but still a staple character that is hilarious when he swears/yells in Engrish.
Polnareff – Basically the comic relief of the show but his character really shines during his emotional moments with his comrades, especially Iggy.
Iggy – I initially didn’t like him as his existence felt out of place most of the time as he didn’t do very much, but in later episodes his character really develops and I liked him near the end.
Avdol – A firm, stable character that really cares for his friends and even sacrifices himself. Things actually happen to him which makes him feel mortal and human.
Kakyouin – Really stayed the same from the first season though his bonds with his comrades grows stronger.
Definitely wasn’t as enjoyable as the first season as the encounters with the other Stand users felt very repetitive and monster-of-the-week.
At this point, it just became repetitive until we came to the final showdown between Dio and JoJo.
As a direct continuation of the first season, it’s imperative to watch it before venturing into the Egypt Arc. Otherwise, you’ll be wondering around like a goat in a desert. Propelled by the series’ vision to craft a dynamic adventure, we are introduced to new allies and enemies. Of course, the main cast returns as well including Jotaro, Joseph, Avdol, Kakyoin, and Polnareff. Joining them is a new ally in the form a dog named Iggy. Bringing in non-human characters into a series always presents a challenge but Iggy isn’t just an ordinary house common animal. He has a Stand and there’s even an episode that really brings out his abilities for the audience to see.
Because the first season has exhausted Dio’s resources and servants, we are introduced to new and more dangerous enemies for the crusaders. Adapting well with its Egyptian theme, these new enemies presents a challenge like never before. We have Big Bads that do all sort of otherworldly things that people can’t even begin to imagine. It really brings a focus to Jotaro and his friends as they struggle to survive. A good measure of the fights not just test them on a physical level either but mentally as well. The D’arby siblings are a good example of this as they rely on trickery and deception to get what they want by pitting their enemies in twisted mind games. Then, there’s also the creativity coming from the brainchild of the series, Hirohiko Araki. The characters he makes not just possess a diverse range of personalities but also has Stands that bring out their sheer tenderness. As daring as some of his ideas are, they work well when it comes to bringing a mixture of thrilling excitement, mystery, and humor.
Indeed, the comedy for the series is like no other. From the artistic style of Boingo’s Tohth to Sethan’s power of age manipulation, there’s almost something in it for everyone to witness. Furthermore, the gimmicks of the show return in full with our main characters’ personalities. They may all have different personalities but their goal in hand is the same – to save Holly from death. As such, expect the mood of the story to get more and tenser as the journey takes them closer and closer into Dio’s palace. However, there will still be times when the story feels like a ‘monster of the week’ style. Certain characters also makes reappearances that gives them another chance to shine. For what’ worth, this second season behaves in a similar way with the first half in conjunction with their journey. Then, the latter half really picks up the pace as we get to the grand stage. Patience is a key to understand and enjoy the show as David Productions is willing to adapt the most important element of the story. To capture that style of Jojo is never easy but adapting with a steady pacing with weekly doses of adventure is something to take granted for. As such, I recommend watching this show in a weekly style rather than a whole marathon. It will leave you wanting for more as each episode brings something new to the table. And when the battle against Dio draws to its climax, you’ll realize that the patience was well worth waiting for.
The artwork of the second season along with its soundtrack remains generally the same but still retains the sense of exhilarating fun. Taking place in Egypt, we get more of the classic Egyptian-like atmosphere with more desert themes involved. As such, expect the soundtrack to reflect a bit of that culture. Opening theme songs are also clear with its choice by orchestrating the classic Jojo style that we should all be familiar with by this point. Surprisingly though, the ED theme songs has a more vibrant and melancholic tune. While seemingly off balance in some sense, I find it to be captivating as it creates a sense of serenity. Finally, there’s also the character voices that each reflect dynamically at how the characters behave. The villains’ textural motives also has a good amount of credible voice mannerisms to make the audience feel what their roles are. Then, there’s the artwork that continuously dedicates itself to capture what this journey been – crude, dangerous, and insane. However, that’s all in a good way. (minus some editing of the censors) David Productions’ visual standards impresses with their work by delivering stellar landscapes, well-made architectures, and a wealth of character designs to make the audiences awe. Similarly, expect the action to blow you out of the seats with its extensive prowess.
In a nutshell, the second season is what you will expect and get. And that would be thrilling action packed adventure of non-stop pandemonium. It’s a show that unites all sorts of strange gimmicks to deliver what the audience wants. Assuming that you like stunts, unpredictable characters, mind games, or dynamic comedy, then this season will be quite a looker. Now, this might not be a show for anyone though. There are at times problems when people feel like pacing becomes sour and certain parts from the original source omitted. Or there may be certain characters that get lesser screen time than others. However, the adventure never stop at its mark and packs its bag. Instead, it shows why the series is called Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. And that is freaking awesome.
JoJo was one of these trending things, and I tried real hard to ignore it, because getting myself in the JoJo world would only fatten up my backlog. However, then back in 2012, I heard JoJo manga (which is quite old) is getting animated, and thought this was a good chance for me to get myself into the series.
May be I was crazy or something, but I thought at that time, it would be better for me to finish the manga before I watch the anime. This doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing and read the entire manga before watching the show! I mean, I loved the manga, but it’s really your choice, because the anime has done an excellent job faithfully adapting the source material.
The entire JoJo show is 26+48 episodes. I know it is a daunting task to watch all that, but the show is a fun-ride that is fast and satisfying.
My point it that JoJo is quite an old franchise, which is still very popular in modern times, so if you want to stop wondering what all the JoJo hype is all about, this fun show is an excellent starting point. I recommend you start watching this now if you are interested, because sequels might come flying in soon in the future (meaning your backlog will only get greater….yuck)
So, if you are looking for:
Meticulously animated fun, swift, merciless, cathartic actions
Silly, over-the-top but clever thrills
Character interactions grotesquely fun
Ridiculously Faithful adaptation of the source material
Shows without silly unnecessary soap opera-esque romances and fillers
Manly Men full of manliness
and/or if you are just curious what all this JoJo is about…
This show is for you.
(so if you decide to watch this, be sure to start from Parts 1 and 2 from 2012~)
2: Haikyuu!! Second Season
English: Haikyu!! 2nd Season
Japanese: ハイキュー!! セカンドシーズン
MAL Score: 8.67
Following their participation at the Inter-High, the Karasuno High School volleyball team attempts to refocus their efforts, aiming to conquer the Spring tournament instead.
When they receive an invitation from long-standing rival Nekoma High, Karasuno agrees to take part in a large training camp alongside many notable volleyball teams in Tokyo and even some national level players. By playing with some of the toughest teams in Japan, they hope not only to sharpen their skills, but also come up with new attacks that would strengthen them. Moreover, Hinata and Kageyama attempt to devise a more powerful weapon, one that could possibly break the sturdiest of blocks.
Facing what may be their last chance at victory before the senior players graduate, the members of Karasuno’s volleyball team must learn to settle their differences and train harder than ever if they hope to overcome formidable opponents old and new—including their archrival Aoba Jousai and its world-class setter Tooru Oikawa.
Story: The story is the best one you can get from a sports anime. Of course there’s nothing complex, such as a great mystery or an awesome plot full of twists and something like that. Nevertheless, it’s still awesome and original. We actually get some background on almost every character, even the less important ones. Our main characters are a yin-yang duo: they are opposites of each other, and yet, they become a single destructive weapon for their team. We also have Hinata’s ambition on the Little Giant and the rivalry between Tobio and Oikawa. But overall we have a typical shounen plot: a lot of action given by a group of friends trying to become the strongest.
Art: I don’t have much to say about this because I don’t understand too much about drawing and art style, but Haikyuu!!’s one of the best i’ve ever seen on a shounen anime. The style is unique and very well made, you can see the mark of the mangaka on each character despite the fact that they are all very different.
Sound: The soundtrack is very good. Every scene has a song which fits perfectly. Each track is able to get us in the mood for the specific moment, being it sad, funny or exciting.
Character: Here’s the best part of the show. Haikyuu!! has incredible characters on every team. This is not that kind of show where we care only about the protagonists. We actually love all of the players and the teams. It’s hard to decide which one we want to cheer for. The character development is something amazing. We see how Karasuno’s pinch server who used to be a shy and weak boy become something essential for his team, while growing his confidence and pride. The relationships between team members is also very well executed, like the one of Hinata and Kageyama or even with opponents, like Hinata and Kenma.
Enjoyment: Extremely exciting to watch. I get goosebumps on every game and I almost cry with the flashbacks. The animation studio is godlike and each movement flows like magic on the screen. Haikyuu!! is also funny and is full of “chill out” moments that make us smile. The background stories, the side characters talking on the bench, everything is just amazing to watch. One of the best shows ever, it never gets boring.
I think for some people, this show is able to connect with them on some deeper, meaningful level. The way that this show engages with its audience is truly something else. The way Karasuno interacts, the way they crack jokes, and their never-ending drive to succeed – it makes you feel excited. It’s as if you are there physically with them, cheering the underdogs on as they take on the world around them.
For me, I appreciate how some individuals who were disregarded in the first season are now given much more depth. Consider Tsukishima, for instance. After losing to their ever-so-favorite rivals, the Karasuno team is rebuilding as a team and honing their skills by attending training camps. It is during this when Tsukishima’s time to shine came. In a single episode, we learned why Tsukishima is so deeply affected by his brother’s betrayal and why Tsukishima is such a lone wolf. Thanks to a push by his close friend Yamaguchi, Tsukishima finally learns the true meaning of teamwork, and, from this, he begins to participate in team-building activities (i.e. playing mini-games against with other schools in the training camp). In the first season, you know he would never ever do something like this. It is very fortunate that Tsukishima decided to change; if he didn’t, he would never have been able to hone his skillset, which becomes especially important during the spring qualifiers. Another example: Ennoshita. He becomes a key motivator for the team. He has some big shoes to fill, and he would never have been in this position if it weren’t for Daichi.
Another thing that I really liked about what Haikyuu is how the antagonists (i.e. Karasuno’s rivals) are also characterized. How many shows out there have you watched where you have had one-dimensional villains (or antagonists or bad guys or whatever you want to call them) that you couldn’t relate to? Too many, right? Fortunately, Haikyuu breaks away from this by giving a lot of the antagonists some serious backstory. Most of the time we are able to learn what volleyball means to the rival, what kind of a team player they are, and why the match means so much to them.
But there’s only one major downside that I can think of: there’s an obvious imbalance regarding the characters. Haikyuu has a tendency to characterize just one individual at a time. People who were given a decent amount of screen time during the first season (e.g. Nishinoya) are suddenly ignored this season; others (e.g. Hinata and Kageyama) decrease in significance. On the other hand, some of the second year benchwarmers still get no screen time. It’s a shame, really. If the show were able to balance out its characters better, we would have been able to understand better how the team operates as a whole and see much more team synergy as a result.
Now moving onto the plot – the plot is more of a mixed bag, to be honest. Yes, it’s exciting to some degree, but the pacing of the plot is not Haikyuu’s strongest point. It’s rather sluggish, and it’s usually due to the following factors:
– The characters talk a lot. Like a lot. Imagine you and your best friend talking. Multiply that by 10.
– They all think a lot too. They are trying to anticipate their opponents.
– The characters are given a backstory.
– Characters are trying new flashy moves. Groovy.
– Sensei is playing the “I’m new to volleyball please explain everything to me” or the “listen to my wise words” role for you.
– The team that Karasuno is playing against is surging ahead in number of points, and the characters are trying to think of a way to fight back.
– Or they’re literally just hitting the ball back and forth endlessly. Who’s going to get the point?
This constant pattern causes each major match drags out over 2-3 episodes. I’m not entirely sure if this is necessary – although they are all technically well-incorporated, there is a point when you become impatient and want to know what the results of the match are. As for non-matches, there is sometimes extraneous information that really serve no purpose in the context of the show. I wouldn’t say 10 minutes of eating BBQ after a nice, long training camp and male volleyball players commenting on the superficial looks of the high schools’ assistant managers was necessary.
And then there’s plot armoring. I really hate to say it, but for shows like these, plot armoring is inevitable (would you want to keep watching a team that keeps losing? Unless you’re a diehard fan, I didn’t think so), so it really is a question of how well-balanced it is. It is easy to say, “You know, they deserve it, they’ve been working hard as a team” and allow the underdogs to keep winning consecutive matches. Fortunately, for Haikyuu, plot armoring is heavily restricted to what is absolutely necessary. For instance, Karasuno doesn’t have to win every practice match (as an audience member, however, I know you’re secretly praying for them to win. Don’t worry, I did that too) and good thing they don’t – otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to learn from their mistakes.
Now briefly for one more positive thing about the plot: there’s humor and it’s well-incorporated throughout the show. Haikyuu would have been utterly flat without it. The way the characters interact and make fun of each other came off as very natural. It kept the ball rolling, especially when things got extremely sluggish.
Art and sound were all excellent. Animation was done very well by Production I.G (see Ao Haru Ride, Kuroko No Basket, and Kimi ni Todoke), although nothing was truly that remarkable. For sound, the OP was very moving and embodied the whole competitive spirit. Voice acting was decent too for the context of this show.
So is it the best sports anime ever? Eh, debatable. It has a lot to offer in terms of characters and will keep you on your toes, but the show is terribly paced. Given this, if you thoroughly enjoyed the first season, don’t worry; you will like the second season too due to its similar execution.
Now that that’s all out of the way, it was a fun ride when it lasted. I can’t wait to see what the third season has in store for us.
Author’s Disclaimer: Please remember, this is my own personal opinion. I critique anime primarily on how the story is executed and how well-rounded the characters are. This review is not meant to target any other review but was intended to provide a more holistic analysis.
It should also be noted that this is a full-fledged review of the entire season.
Now how does Haikyuu, a simple series mean that you miss out a lot?
Well, a lot of sports genre is usually thought the same way as battle shounen where “friendship is magic” since many times in sports anime, as well as in Haikyuu also, shounen genre plays a great role. Even tough there are some moments that give you the shivs, make your hair stand up or get you super thrilled by a game, that’s just one part of what makes Haikyuu so amazing. The real awesome parts are the most memorable characters, their individual in-depth development and the great comedy.
The story isn’t anything new. A team sport: our main characters are obsessed with winning and want to make it to the nationals with their team. This is the basis for many team sport or solo sport game. It’s just executed so well that you forget that it is kinda generic. While Haikyuu’s storyline revolves around their team progressing towards the nationals, the ultimate goal, it is not the focus point of the story. In other sports animes, like KnB (Kuroko no Basket) or DnA (Diamond no Ace) where the team aspect is important they focus more on the skill aspect rather than, like in Haikyuu, the team synergy/team synchronization.
As the story progressess the team evolves. Sure their individual skills grow as well but that’s beyond the point. One of the main characters, Hinata Shoyo, is a great example of that. The only time when we have focused on his individual development and skill growth a lot was in one or two episodes. Before that, we were given a quick flashback in the beginning of the first season of how he became what he is now. The first seasons’ story as well as the seconds’ focus on the combination plays of the team more than Hinata’s solo growth.
there are two main art styles here. The shounen artstyle, very riveting and intimidating which makes your heart throb. The other one is the more comedic artstyle, which is actually used quite a bit. One great plus of the show is how they use these two styles together. Because of the nature of the main characters, the comedic artstyles can be used everywhere. Because one of our MC’s is so hyper and energetic it creates many great opportunities to use both artstyles. And when it comes to the former one, the shounen style, it makes everything extra exciting because we normally see our main character used in the more comedic artstyle.
The other main character that our story focuses on, is Tobio Kageyama. As he is seen as Hinata’s partner throughout the series, he is characterized on the contrast side to Hinata. Where Hinata is energetic and easy-go-happy, Kageyama is more silent, serious and intimidating most of the time. Because he is the counterpart to Hinata and is the complete opposite of him, you can almost guess it, when he is normally used more in the shounen style, and suddenly used in the comedic style.. it is super hilarious. These two create one hell of a combination which benefit from each other in every aspect.
While other shows usually use quite flashy colors *looking at you KnB*, Haikyuu actually is one of those series where the color differentiation is not that flashy. Sure you can make the argument that Hinata has different colored hair than anyone else and one member of the core team, Nishinoya, has one part of his hair way different than the other but that’s about it. It isn’t used as generically as in KnB (it is the easiest one to compare this show to xD).
The general artstyle of the show, how the characters are drawn and what kind of backgrounds there are is very simple but still unique. I just love the way Haikyuu looks like.
I guess there is not much to say about characters anymore. The one and only being that Haikyuu really explores one or two players of the opposing team always. To some of the antagonistic characters we are given a full detailed backstory and Haikyuu really does that well. In the long running series it’s always great to have a full in-depth backstory to every main- and side character (well at least to the bigger side characters).
What really is the advantage of this show is the fact that you can’t hate anyone (at least I couldn’t). Every single character is made so lovable, so interesting in their own way or relatable that they just seem to stick in your head. It is rare for team sport games to have memorable side characters since they usually are shown only for a little while and are not given much of a perspective. This is what separates haikyuu from every other sports anime. The second season of this show is the prime example of this.
The shounen aspect of this anime really brings out the greatness of the voice actors/actressess. Be it Hinata’s screaming “give me the ball!” Or the whole team giving the simultanious “bring it on” it is always a great moment that really highlights the characters themselves as well the team aspect and Haikyuu’s own athmosphere. During the intense matches there are always playing these ‘shounen type’ songs which really lift the athmostphere to to max.
It isn’t only during the games that the sounds are great. When giving a flashback, or Hinata and Kageyama are riling themselves up for the upcoming match, there can be heard awesome music playing in the background. So the soundtracks and voice actor/actress performances are alwyas top notch but what really highlights the most Haikyuu’s sounds are the openings. The opening songs are probably one of the most intense, mood lifting and hyping song you could’ve hoped for.
You are most likely familiar with One Punch Man or Fullmetal Alchemist. Their openings are really the ones that get you riled up. They set the mood and get you ready for the epicness that is going to be unfold. Haikyuu rivals if not for some, exceeds these two. Haikyuu’s openings, be it from season 1 or 2, are the best to get you ready for the show when it comes to the sports genre.
ENJOYMENT & OVERALL
Most of you who are reading this probably are a fan of sports genre. Then you should know that sports genres’ anime are really enjoyable, especially when there are lovable characters and epic moments to share. These are what Haikyuu offers to you. Great characters, awesome shounen moments, intensive games featuring aspects from comedy to drama.
I thoroughly enjoyed this series and can proudly say that this is one of my all time favorites. As far as a single season by itself, it did pretty frickin’ well. You can easily see that from MAL’s score. Throughout the season it was always in the Top 20 highest rated of all time. When the season ended, no surprise, a sudden increase came, and now it is almost rivaling a place in the Top 10. That’s how good it is.
Should you watch this series?
Fan of sports genre or not, yes. Absolutely yes. This is a great show to start the sports genre with or if you’re familiar with it, why haven’t you already seen this? Sure KnB was probably more popular but this is what sports anime should be like.
1: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
English: Your Lie in April
MAL Score: 8.69
Music accompanies the path of the human metronome, the prodigious pianist Kousei Arima. But after the passing of his mother, Saki Arima, Kousei falls into a downward spiral, rendering him unable to hear the sound of his own piano.
Two years later, Kousei still avoids the piano, leaving behind his admirers and rivals, and lives a colorless life alongside his friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryouta Watari. However, everything changes when he meets a beautiful violinist, Kaori Miyazono, who stirs up his world and sets him on a journey to face music again.
Based on the manga series of the same name, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso approaches the story of Kousei’s recovery as he discovers that music is more than playing each note perfectly, and a single melody can bring in the fresh spring air of April.
Your Lie in April is a deceitfully masterful series that initially appears light-hearted and colorful, its palette boasting pastels that lend to the idea of it being another romantic comedy. Yet the moment we step past the disillusionment that it casts upon us by its false prefaces, we quickly realize that what we have immersed ourselves in is actually a tragedy in the making.
Tragic not because of a single element but because of all of its parts, and yet at the end of everything, this isn’t a series about tragedy. It is a series about learning to heal, learning to move on, and learning to accept the parts of ourselves that we’d rather pretend aren’t there. Part of that is accepting that sometimes we need a helping hand to take that first step. Part of it is learning to say goodbye when the time comes.
What is so compelling about the storyline is that it’s not merely an adventure into first love, it delves into the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder, childhood abuse, and chronic illness. It doesn’t paint any of these as artistic or tragically beautiful—they are horrible, they twist people, they ruin the best moments, and they have a long-lasting impact.
No one is completely black-and-white; everyone has their short-comings, fleshed out in full before our eyes. They have their hang-ups, their strengths, their struggles—and it’s in these characters that this series really takes off in full stride. It would be enough for them to be multifaceted with equal amounts of depth, but they take it a step further in painting the reality of youth.
Older anime fans may critically analyze the series as an unrealistic approach to young teenagers, but that pessimism overlooks the reality of what it was like for us to be that age. We were all that point when we found our first love, when we thought it was forever, when we poured our passion into something that ultimately would not come to fruition or last. That’s what being young is about—and that’s what Your Lie in April gives us.
Granted that it may veer a bit over-dramatic at times in its representation of youth; there are moments of symbolism or hyperbole so overt that the cheesiness makes you shift a little uncomfortably in your seat (but I promise it’s not enough to gag you). Given that this is, however, a rather common trope that runs in series with heavier themes, it’s not necessarily a huge setback for an otherwise solid series. In the end, it is intended to be a fictional representation that conveys more than just what can be summarized in a few sentences or less.
The sound is completely on point, and the soundtrack artfully matches the emotions intended to be represented in each scene. From the actual classical music to the opening and ending, everything fits in like a jigsaw puzzle to give a full, satisfying final piece. When the characters analyze someone’s playing as harsh, rigid, and stilted, we can hear this—whether we are knowledgeable about music or not. Your Lie in April conveys emotion to us not just visually but aurally as well.
The animation is wonderful with bright, vibrant colors that bring the characters fully to life. There is an amazing, visually perceivable transition for the characters as time passes, particularly in regards to Kaori as the series moves on. It occasionally has some stilted moments but nothing outrageously noticeable to detract from the overall quality.
Ultimately, Your Lie in April is a story that starts out of the gates moving a bit slowly, but the pace matches the tone of the series. Structurally, it is a solid story of youth that dramatizes some aspects but never distracts from the intended message. On top of its other strong points, it’s aurally and visually a joy to the senses – and to anyone appreciative of a series willing to realistically approach the conflict of childhood abuse and the resulting trauma in a positive way. It’s not without a few setbacks, but in the end, Your Lie in April fashions itself to be a stand-out romance series that reminds us that while some relationships may be transient and brief, some people will come into our lives at just the right time for just long enough to touch us in a way we never thought possible.
Story – 3/10
Kousei Arima was a prodigy at playing the piano. He dominated every competition on a regular basis by playing the music perfectly as it was intended by the composer. He was so dominant to the point where he became famous among child and adult musicians alike. However, after the death of his mother (who was also his instructor), he was unable to cope with it and eventually lost the ability to hear the piano. He then quit shortly after. For the next couple of years, the world around him became dull and lifeless aside from a couple of his friends, until he met this extremely cheerful violinist, Kaori Miyazono. She revealed to him a side and style of music he never knew existed, and eventually convinced him to give the piano another shot.
The premise doesn’t sound too bad. In fact, the way it handles the romance plot is pretty neat. It isn’t just simply your typical boy meets girl and then they eventually confess, blah blah; there’s a lot more to it than that. It focuses more on Kousei’s development as a result of Kaori’s carefree happy-go-lucky personality. The story is told primarily in Kousei’s point of view, and likewise the plot revolves somewhat around him. Other characters do get screen time as well, though, and occasionally we do hear their take on things too.
A big thing that really makes the story stand out (in the first half, particularly) is how it portrays the music. Why do we play music? Who are you playing for? What message are you trying to convey? Music isn’t just there to pleasure your ears, it’s used as a tool to speak from the heart. Who you are as a person, what you’ve gone through, and what you strive for are all expressed in how you play music. The notes may be the same, but the feel of the song can vastly vary with the way people play it. In other words, you take the music and make it your own. The way this narrative and message are pushed is rather distinct and effective in my eyes, and it was one of the few things that kept me captivated throughout the series.
Despite how well this all is presented, there were still quite a lot of flaws, particularly in its execution of several storyline elements.
Melodrama. It’s alright to have it in moderation (it’s a show about teenagers after all- there’s bound to be at least some), but it was taken to a whole other level in this show. Almost every episode contains at least one overreaction to an event, almost to the point where it became hard to really feel the proper emotion you were supposed to in the particular scene. There were some instances where this was properly used and was actually beneficial to what was going on, but more often than not, I found myself cringing and unable to relate to the character(s) at all.
Pacing. The pacing of this show was all over the place, but generally speaking, it was so slow to the point where it felt like it was beating a dead horse. Literally, I could look up the word “monologuing” in the dictionary and find the cover art of YLIA. Episode after episode, there was an absurd amount of redundant soliloquy to the point where it became hard to watch. Again, as the saying goes: “everything in moderation”. Internal monologue isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it starts to parody itself when it gets overused. Thanks to stuff like this, it takes longer than it needs to for things to get going and actually progress.
Lastly, there’s the comedy. Quality of comedy in general is unquestionably subjective (personally I didn’t find a whole lot of it funny, but that’s just me), but that’s not where the issue lies. My gripe with it is that it was terribly misplaced. You’re in the middle of this deep, sad scene, and then all of a sudden you’re slapped in the face with comedic relief that doesn’t fit the scene at all. To put it bluntly, it kills the mood.
The story had a LOT of potential. I, like many others, was hooked at the beginning, but found it harder to watch as the show goes on. It really makes me wish that this was a 12 episode anime instead so that things didn’t overstay their welcome.
Art/Animation – 7/10
The art in this show fits the feel of it really well. The characters designs are rather unique; they each all have full lips rather than a simple line like you see in almost every anime nowadays, and it’s little subtleties like this that adds a sense of realism to the show. The brightness of the setting also appropriately fits each situation. The color palette often fits the mood of the scene very well; it’s colorful and bright when things are more lively, dark and dull when things are more depressing, so on and so forth. The actual art itself isn’t bad either. Animation was pretty solid and up to par with today’s standards, but occasionally it was less than stellar.
Sound – 8/10
Now, I’m not a fan of classical music at all. I don’t necessarily hate it, it’s just not my bread and butter, but I’ve started to open up to it a lot more than I originally was. The OST is nice and really adds to the emotions that the specific scene is trying to convey. The solo performances are especially good for reasons I’ve already touched upon. I’m also a personal fan of the OPs and EDs, both of which suit the show well. Not much else to say here, really. It’s just solid all around, which is important for a show like this.
Character – 4/10
As a romance and drama, the characters really are the backbone of the entire show. With the slower pacing, the characters get added depth, which is critical for a show like this to do. I must say, it did a fine job in that aspect. Many characters had their own backstory (although there are a few issues with this that I’ll get to), and there aren’t many one-dimensional characters that get major screen time. Most importantly, they all have likable qualities about them that make them endearing to the audience, creating an emotional bond between us and them.
Something that I felt was handled rather well was the development of Kousei. Being the main character, it’s pretty important for him to be fully fleshed out, and thankfully he is. He starts out as a mopey, depressing, and generally dull kid, but gradually develops into something much more. After losing his mother, he really had no reason to play music. All he ever knew was to play it perfectly as the composer intended, and for the purpose of pleasing his mom. Enter Kaori. Her unique style of playing opened up Kousei’s eyes in a big way, and inspired him to take up music again. His journey together with Kaori and friends has been helping him break out of his shell, and his progression bit by bit was superb.
While I’m singing a lot of praise here, you’ll notice the score I gave is again rather mediocre. Hear me out.
Many of the side characters were pointless; their development overall pretty much either served no purpose and/or wasn’t done well. Often times, instead of adding to the story, their screen time swayed away from the main plotline which is not how it’s supposed to work. Yes, I understand that people might think it’s nice and cute to see someone else’s story every now and then, but again, the issues I have are 1) it sways the show away from the main narrative without connecting to it at all, and 2) the way these characters are handled just feels half-assed when compared to how well Kousei is developed. If this were a longer show where separate characters could have their own little mini-arcs, I feel like this would have been handled much better, but obviously that wouldn’t be possible for a shorter seasonal anime.
Another thing — Kaori. This is kind of tied into the pacing, which I also touched upon earlier. She never really received significant development until the very end of the show. Up until that point, she’s nothing but a mere plot device used to stir up drama. For the duration of 21 episodes, she was just a cute girl that’s meant to be likable and appeal to the audience, but with no depth whatsoever. It would have helped substantially to show her insight on the status quo as the show went on.
Enjoyment – 4/10
Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy this anime a whole lot. There are redeeming qualities that I’m not going to overlook out of blind hate, but overall, this just wasn’t for me.
Overall – 4/10
In my opinion, this anime doesn’t deserve to be rated as high as it is. Again, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen; there’s several redeeming qualities, and I can completely understand why someone else would enjoy it. However, to be honest, it seems pretty undeserving to be holding the #13 spot overall at the time this review was written.
I’ll try to sum it up as simply as I can: for more “intellectual” (for lack of a better word) viewers who care more about logic and technicalities, stay clear. As a show catered for a younger audience, it’s very clear more effort was put on style rather than substance, and that can make it frustrating to watch. For more casual viewers just looking to bathe in their feels, this is definitely worth a look. There are some quirky characters here that you might enjoy, and the relationship between Kousei and Kaori is definitely one that might leave a lasting impact on you.
I nearly skipped this gem just because of the music tag. Not really big into music anime but somehow the art dragged me into watching the first few episodes. First episode was an average episode with few interesting plot lines. But the second episode was the hook. Irony. The tag that made me nearly skip this anime was the one that kept me in it. The music, the music… THE MUSIC.. what can I say? It was just right down my taste. Never in my life did I thought of “oh hey let’s listen to some classical music” but this anime opened a new taste in music in me. And I’m grateful for that.
The first half and second half have clear differences with a very smooth pacing and objectives in mind. Some may say the pacing was slow and sometimes it felt that a point is being dragged out for long. As much as I understand where they are coming from, I feel that this series took the right amount of time to build up for the many impact full moments that is present. The inner monologues that the series loves to do felt right to display the conflicts that our characters are fighting with. Also, the conflicts dealt with are very realistic and people can very much relate to them. I happen to be one of them being able to relate to our main male protagonist.
The cast of characters in this show is pretty high. As a 22 episode anime, I think it did an excellent job portraying those characters. As most animes, not all the characters were fully fleshed out, and I didn’t expect it to do so. The ones that mattered most were developed beautifully. Besides, nearly everyone’s thought process were clear, motivations/purpose in tact and passion which shone through.
Sound is something that I will not even talk about since it is subjective. The main reason, however, that I will not dive deeper is because for me, it was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Animation wise. Throughout the whole series, it was standard stuff from A-1 Pictures. It did have some drop from time to time, especially during the comedy segments, which I didn’t find distracting but it wasn’t great to say the least. Animation stood out where it counts. Those performances. I would have been really been disappointed if the animation was average in those moments, because of how beautiful the soundtracks are. But A-1 delivered, and they both complimented each other outstandingly.
By the end of the series, I was just left in awe, and honestly a bit (extremely) emotional. To compare, the ‘feels’ in this series (my opinion) surpasses the highly praised Clannad: After Story for one simple reason. I was just slightly more attached to the relationship our main characters shared than I was with Clannad. But the story is not about tragedy. It’s about inspiration, passion, moving forward, family, friendship, helping each other (many more). It is about life and how hard it can be to carry on, but you still gotta do it. You still gotta live your life to your fullest.
“If you can’t move with your hands then play with your feet! If you don’t have enough fingers, then use your nose as well! Whether you’re sad, you’re a mess, or you’ve hit rock bottom, you still have to play! That’s how people like us survive.” – Kaori Miyazono.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
2. Haikyuu!! Second Season
3. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders 2nd Season
4. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
6. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku
7. Death Parade
8. Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road
9. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
10. Plastic Memories