Moments of 2015 postscript: looking backwards, and dreaming forwards

Osomatsu
SHEEEEHH!!

That wraps up 2015 in anime for me. Honestly speaking, I’d have to go against the tide and rate this as one of the stronger years in recent times. Besides the headache that the AOTY label was giving me, and putting aside sequels that I was already committed to purchasing, this is the first time since 2010 I was really tempted to buy more than one of the shows that I watched. In terms of this year ender, my enjoyment of 2015 in anime made it quite difficult picking a single moment for Aldnoah.Zero, Your Lie in April and Osomatsu-san in particular. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic to have encountered two series that will remain close to my heart: Aldnoah.Zero for putting the biggest questions in my field of (slowly growing) expertise on the screen, and Sound! Euphonium for capturing the frustration and opportunity that arise from Japan’s societal norms in its treatise on youth and music. A disappointment they may have been for some (many in the case of the former), but there are few series that I have enjoyed more.

I was also sorely tempted to write about what I found to be the most annoying and detrimental part of my viewing experience over the last year. The translations for many of the series I saw—including around half of the series that made it onto my year ender—were so badly done that I found myself cringing several times during each episode of the shows in question. I’m seriously considering watching anime without subs again, as I’d generally done a couple of years back—that’s how much they sapped the enjoyment out of my viewing experience. The one bright spot was the translation of the Osomatsu-san commentary, as I’d been thinking of translating it, a task for which I simply do not have the time to spare.

But let my ranting end there, for bad translations cannot prevent me from appreciating the inspiration and hard work that went into all the series I loved in 2015. I only wish that I had enough time to translate interviews and snippets from gigs such as radio shows and events, so as to contribute to a better understanding within the fandom of what goes on behind-the-scenes of their favourite series! I did manage to get a few of these out, and my post on Urobuchi Gen’s involvement in Aldnoah.Zero was easily the most popular offering on this blog this past year. But the other piece that stays with me was the brief summary I did on “Remembering Matsuki Miyu.” I would like to fully translate that final episode of the Cherry Bell radio show one day…even though it will leave me in tears.

Finally, thank you to everyone who’s dropped by, especially those who’ve taken the time to comment and share your own thoughts with me. I’ve gained more insight and inspiration from many of the discussions here and elsewhere, so I hope it’s been the same for you. I do apologise to all the Chihayafuru fans who are waiting for me to start covering the manga again—it’s on my “to do” list, but I’m going to have to rejig the format and frequency of the posts so that it’ll fit better with my own blogging goals. At present, I’ve got two broad projects in mind, one that involves a lot of translation, and one to do with a genre that has been one of the long-time staples of anime, so there will be a slight shift in the content I plan to put up. Whilst the latter will take place here, the former also involves another blog that I’ll formally launch when I am ready to begin. In any case, if you’ve found the commentary, discussion and translations here informative and fun, I hope to see you all again this coming year!

As usual, if anyone’s interested, the full list of what I watched and read in 2015 is under the cut. Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: The Tale of an Anime Fan with a Broken Foot

AZ-broken

As those who’ve followed my blog this last year will know, I had a number of fun ACG ‘firsts’. Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: The Sounds of Youth, Dreams and Expectations

Hibike_13
As if it weren’t already obvious from the post title, right?

Truth be told, this was probably the most difficult choice I’ve had to make for this list. Going by what I’ve blogged about over the last twelve months, I’m sure that some of you will be surprised that my AOTY isn’t Aldnoah.Zero. I considered it, but only briefly, for even I have issues with the show that I simply cannot overlook. The other contenders have featured far less in my writings this past year, but only because I have been unable to muse about them until now. WORKING!!!, after all, only just ended, and SHIROBAKO has unfortunately taken a backseat because I simply did not have the time to read through all the interviews and 2ch threads that I want to tackle. If any of these three series had been completed in 2014, it would definitely have taken last year’s AOTY crown with ease. In particular, I was very close to choosing SHIROBAKO, which was a delightful—if slightly exaggerated—representation of what it takes to get an anime made.

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These two materials books together weigh about 5 kilos…
I haven’t even had time to flip through either of them…

But in the end, after contemplating what I got from my favourite series over the past year, I kept coming back to Sound! Euphonium. The main reason for this Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: Seiyuu Madness

This past year, I got back into seiyuu once again. It all started with Aldnoah.Zero, for which I picked up the radio show towards the end of 2014, and which was later replaced by the raji for Sound! Euphonium and The Legend of Arslan. I also started two little games early in the year: one where I would try to pick out as many voices as I could, and another which involved figuring out which of the main seiyuu is doing a particular bit part (“kaneyaku”). That was originally going to be my seiyuu post, but then, I found several other things that amused me.

The first of those were a couple of seiyuu cameos. It started with Sakurai Takahiro’s unexpected appearance in the penultimate episode of SHIROBAKO. Those were some crazy episodes, but if there’s any one quote I’ll always remember from the show, it’ll be this one:

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「変な話ではない!!」 (IT’S NOT A FUNNY STORY!!)

Just a few months later, however, an even more amusing cameo popped up, in the form of Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, who voiced the editor working with Takanashi Izumi. If you tried and dropped WORKING!! (or Wagnaria!!, as it’s known in the West) in its first season, it’d probably be a little difficult for you to make it to the fifth episode of the third season, but if you’re a seiyuu fan, it’s probably worth it.

WORKING!!!
“Geez, then what are you going to do?!
What do I have to do to get you to write?!”

But in the end, the best seiyuu treat for me this year came from an unexpected quartet of girls. I’ve never really liked listening to female seiyuu on radio shows or episode commentaries, partially because I tire of hearing them fawn over particular male characters. However, the Eupho girls were great even when they did that, if only because the character they fawn over is a little unexpected. From the 4th episode’s cast commentary, behold the madness…

The best part is that they’re incredibly creative about it, coming up with different things to say or speculate about in the radio shows, the commentaries and even the events. For example, in one long, animated discussion at a Eupho event in Uji, they comment on how sad Chikao looked when Shuuichi jumped on the train with nary a “see ya” in episode 7! “Wasn’t that just horrible of Shuuichi?!” It’s very silly, really, but it never gets old! (at least, not to this viewer…)

p.s. the cast commentary for Osomatsu-san‘s 12th episode very nearly gives them a run for their money, though! But I’ll probably say more about that next year!

Moments of 2015: A Perfect Ending

Since a significant proportion of anime series are little more than an advertisement for some manga or (light) novel, fans often find themselves lamenting the final episode of an adaptation that they’ve seen. The two most commonly encountered patterns are abrupt ends, or poorly adapted ones, such that the link with the original work is lost, leaving little possibility for a sequel.

WORKING!!!_01

Thankfully, one of my all-time favourites has done well enough right from its first animated incarnation in 2010 that there was never any doubt that it would be finished. And even though the official streaming sub left a lot to be desired, and despite the horrendous three month wait, the finale of WORKING!!! did everything it needed to do. Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: One Step Closer to Our Dream

If there’s any show that finished this past year way ahead of expectations, it would have to be SHIROBAKO. As an original without any of the big names that Western viewers usually pay attention to, perhaps it was not surprising that few paid it much notice at the beginning of its run, especially since the character design gave off vibes of the “moe” aesthetic that many have began to tire off.

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The show’s momentum, however, began to build towards the end of the first cour, as viewers really started getting invested in seeing Musani and its (mostly) earnest staff and contractors bring their hard work to fruition. And it culminated Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: Where the heck did THAT come from?

Osomatsu-san_01
Hey…it’s been 27 years.

Osomatsu-san, a tribute to mangaka Akatsuka Fujio in the form of an ‘updated’ sequel to his famous manga of a set of six septuplet boys, has probably been the most surprising gem of this fall season. I’ve actually been enjoying it right from the start, even though some of the gags are a bit hit and miss, as comedies tend to be. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to live up to arguably the best premiere of the season, but at the very least, that episode reserved this show a place on my list because of its sheer audacity.

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But as I said, Osomatsu-san is full of surprises. Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: The Confrontation

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As usual, the Monogatari moment for me came very late in Owarimonogatari, and of course, it also left me with a choice between two conversations I loved. Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: The Day I Started Hating Sinbad

September 21, 2015.

** WARNING ** MAJOR MAGI SPOILERS AHEAD **

That’s the day that I came across spoilers for chapter Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: Goodbye…Father

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There are many little vignettes in Aldnoah.Zero that I like returning to, little scenes that illuminate my favourite relationships in the show. But in terms of overall impact, I can only return now to the scene that gave the first indications of where Slaine was headed. Read more of this post