Reflections on Winter and Spring, and Pick that Voice!! Part 1

Durarara!!_00
You really are an idiot!
Yes, I suppose… Indeed, yes, I am…which is why I’m interrupting my regular content to bring you something of a stopgap post…

Last year, I finally stopped writing ‘review posts’ for each and every series I’ve seen. With the way I’ve engaged with the shows I’ve watched over the past few years—a heavy focus on one or two to the detriment of all the others—it just did not seem appropriate or fair. However, because I am quite selective about the shows I watch, I want to remember them more than simply as a rating in MAL. That’s why I gave myself a couple of posts about all the other stuff I saw last year, and was intending to do the same this year.

But then I also gave myself a little game to play for this year: Pick That Voice!!. I have since picked out more than twenty seiyuu, which made me realise that it’s probably more useful to post these results after each cour. So, from here on out, I’ll be writing these short summaries and the results of my little game at the end of each of the Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall blocks of Japanese programming. If I ever get myself down to just one or two series per cour, I expect that I’ll only be posting about the game…but in that case, then I hope some of you will share some of your own Pick that Voice!! results, too!

On special powers, fantastic creatures, sextuplets and zombies!

Since we’ve gone through more than half the year already, this entry will cover the shows I watched in Winter and Spring. K — Return of Kings (Fall, 2015) is also here because I’d initially thought I’d write a longer post about the show. But it’s been so long that I figured I probably won’t end up doing it anymore. I do still intend to write something about WORKING!!!, and that will happen before this year is out. For the meantime, though, here are four more shows I’ve seen over the last few months.

Return-Kings_01

I’m at a bit at a loss to explain why I’ve enjoyed following K project over the last few years. Given my personal focus when I watch anime, the voice cast may indeed have been enough to get me to watch through both the film and this second series, Return of Kings as well—and I do love hearing Sakurai Takahiro with a Kansai accent. But honestly, the visuals were pretty gorgeous too: I remember occasionally wondering if this project was more about showcasing some gorgeous pieces of animation, as opposed to having more substance in areas such as story and character. Certainly, a significant proportion of viewers probably dismissed its myriad of male characters and the relationships between them as fujoshi bait. However, I also like the main narrative of the show, which I would say was about the search for ‘family’, for a lifelong bond with others that will help you become the best person you can be. And in that sense, Return of Kings was necessary and able to finish the story that it was trying to tell, whilst still leaving a universe that creators and fans will continue to explore together.

Durarara!!_002

It feels somewhat strange that the second season of Durarara!! has ended up in this space. Back when when I first fell in love with the story, during my last year living in Japan, I seriously contemplated buying the entire series if they did continue it, simply because of those fabulous extras. It’s amazing how much can change in five years, though. I don’t regret buying most of those DVDs, and there is one aspect of the story that I still adore—it’s cemented a spot on my 12 Days list at the end of this year—but I have to admit that I even stopped caring about exactly what would happen to Izaya and Shizuo. As for the high school trio, their weird teenaged concerns weren’t that interesting to me right from the start. I can see the narratives in their character arcs—and Mikado’s actually has some interesting beats as well as the perfect denouement—but the additional distance between the current me and my own teenaged years makes them feel rather…superficial. I loved the first season back in 2010, but this second one feels like it came at least three years too late.

Osomatsu_01

Osomatsu-san was a phenomenon. I didn’t know at all what to expect when I sat down to watch the first episode, but thirty minutes later, I knew it was a keeper. And indeed, there were many hilarious segments throughout its 25-episode run—personally, I loved most of the material linked to them being siblings—as well as a few touching ones…although my immediate reaction after that final episode was: give me back my tears, dammit!! Of course, some of the jokes fell flat as well, whether because they just weren’t funny, or because the writers used them a few too many times. But humour is subjective, so I’m sure that each and every one of them found a fan somewhere—just as I am certain that some of my favourite parts wouldn’t have gotten the same reaction from all other viewers. In any case, I’d certainly be game to watch more of these sextuplets and their shenanigans, so here’s to us hopefully getting some more in the near future!

Kabaneri_01

Honestly, that first episode! Although there were a few jarring stills, it was incredibly tense—probably because of the combination of the images on the screen with the music, sound effects and the silences. It felt akin to the time I watched the original Japanese version of The Ring with friends—like, ‘jumping out of my skin’-scary… Sadly, this feeling wasn’t sustained, but the animation remained absolutely stunning in the key fight scenes, and the “Make-up” effects role produced some incredibly pretty shots as well. Kabaneri isn’t the first show to have given slight pink blushes to female/child characters (the first show I remember doing it was Sound! Euphonium, but you can also see a similar stylistic element in ERASED), but it certainly is the first to have applied it so strongly to the hair. The only problem I had with it was that this was applied only to key shots, so there was a marked contrast between those with and without it. Other than that…well, there is one death that hasn’t yet been dealt with properly in my mind. I expect it’ll be in an extra somewhere, but to be honest, leaving it out of the show cheapens the impact of the sacrifice that was made.

Bungou_02

At present, I’m not sure whether I should include split-cour series in these posts, as they’re technically not a complete narrative yet. However, this comment flowed pretty easily when I finished the show, so I’ll see how it goes. The premise of Bungou Stray Dogs is pretty cool—a show about gifted people whose powers come from the works of their literary namesakes. I also loved the ending theme, and for some reason, the humour in the first three or four episodes really tickled my funny bone. Or maybe I should say: Dazai ♡! I haven’t liked a Miyano Mamoru character this much in a really long time, and I can’t wait to find out more about his past with the Port Mafia. Admittedly, I think the way that he’s treated Akutagawa is awful—but morally ambiguous characters are always interesting, and I hope more light will be shed on that too. Finally, this being a BONES production, I was actually hoping for some great animation, having recently started paying a bit more attention to this aspect of the medium. But whilst there were a couple of nice scenes, it was nothing compared to previous greats such as Fullmetal Alchemist… Pity… But the seiyuu fan that I am found more than enough reasons to keep watching—e.g. “OMG, Yashiro-sensei…!” and “OMG, Sakku!”—so I’ll definitely be catching the second half of this one come September.

Pick that Voice!!

And now we come to the fun part! As I noted in my first regular post at the start of this year, for this game, I count only the seiyuu I hadn’t previously known were in the respective cast lists—in the shows I’ve seen so far. Let’s begin with the Winter season.

Winter 2016
Macross Delta premiere: Uchiyama Kouki
Rakugo Shinju: Ishida Akira, Yusa Koji (I knew SekiTomo was in it)
Rakugo Shinju 5: Kimura Ryouhei
Gundam IBO 14: Hirakawa Daisuke
Sekkou Boys 1: Sakurai Takahiro
She and her Cat: Hanazawa Kana

Misses:
Ohkawa Tohru, in BokuMachi 5
Inoue Kikuko, in Gundam: IBO 18

I also recognised Kamiya Hiroshi in the Psycho-Pass movie when I finally got around to watching it. As for the ‘extras’—i.e. the uncredited side roles that various cast members voice—the only series I had any luck with was Osomatsu-san, where episode 13 saw the main cast take on roles in another ‘universe’:

Hiramatsu — Fukuyama Jun
Tokumatsu — Sakurai Takahiro
Sanematsu — Ono Daisuke
Kikumatsu — Kamiya Hiroshi
Sutematsu — Nakamura Yuuichi
Kadomatsu — Irino Miyu
Kaoruko — Endo Aya

I was a bit disappointed with how few I picked in Winter, I must admit. But I had a bit more luck in Spring, largely courtesy of Joker Game:

Spring 2016
Joker Game PV: Seki Tomokazu, Fukuyama Jun, Sakurai Takahiro, Kimura Ryouhei, Kaji Yuuki, Hosoya Yoshimasa
Bungo Stray Dogs PV : Miyano Mamoru, Hosoya Yoshimasa
Kiznaiver: Kaji Yuuki
Bungo Stray Dogs 1: Kamiya Hiroshi
Kabaneri 1: Kaji Yuuki
Twin Star Exorcists: Fukuyama Jun, Murata Taishi
Bungo Stray Dogs 3: Ono Kensho
Joker Game 4: Fujiwara Keiji, Ohkawa Tohru
Bungo Stray Dogs 7: Hosoya Yoshimasa as the Azure King
Bungou Stray Dogs 10: Sakurai Takahiro (Fitzgerald)

Misses:
Kimura Ryouhei, in Macross Delta (Keith)
Endo Aya, in Kabaneri

Extras:
Kamiya Hiroshi voiced one of the gang members in Bungou Stray Dogs 10 (the one with the chain)

In case anyone’s wondering, I put Hosoyan’s Azure King role in the main block because he was credited with it. Only roles that are uncredited count as “extras” for me.

So that’s my list so far—I’m proud to say that it’s already within reach of the number of seiyuu I recognised last year (16 vs. 20). In fact, I’ve already surpassed it, though I’ll post this season’s results at the end of September or thereabouts. How have the rest of you fared?

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist in training. I also love musicals, photography, travel and believe it or not, the game of cricket. よろしく!

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