Karigurashi no Arrietty (aka The Borrowers): Magic at the theater

If you pass your gaze over the tiny spaces where human eyes seldom look, perhaps you will catch a glimpse of the little people who ‘borrow’ from humans the things they need to live. But it might be best not to let them know that you are aware of them, should you want them to stay…

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「C」: Dream as though you will live forever, live as though you will die today

The noitaminA timeslot and its Fuji TV producer got a tonne of flak last year for some of the shows that showed up in the timeslot. Fractale is one. 「C」 – or, to use it’s subtitle as well, 「C」: the money of soul and possibility control – is another. I don’t really remember all the different things they lambasted 「C」 for, but some of the criticisms that stand out were that the female character designs were generally too ‘moe’, and the one-on-one bouts were a little too reminiscent of shounen fighting anime like Dragonball and Bleach.

Personally, I wonder if this preoccupation with how 「C」 represented a further step away from the noitaminA they wanted to see blinded these viewers from looking for value in the show itself. Frankly speaking, 「C」 is arguably the only anime – perhaps even the only TV show – of 2011 that has presented questions so relevant to life in the countries of the developed world.

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No. 6: if only it were that easy…

This short commentary will be built on some of the themes Asano Atsuko talked about in this interview, so do read that first.

The ideal city, No.6. A perfect city-state where everything is provided for, where everyone knows their place, swears their loyalty to their state, and questions nothing. A city where nothing that is imperfect is allowed to exist.

In this environment, Shion has been raised as one of the elite, having passed many stringent tests since the time he was a child. A successful and privileged future lies ahead of him, despite the strange uneasiness, the discomfort that lies in the pit of his stomach. On his 12th birthday, an encounter with Nezumi, a boy that lives outside that privileged system, sets the wheels of fate turning…

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Otome Youkai Zakuro – now THAT is romance!

Feels rather strange writing that description for an anime adapted from a seinen manga. It just blows my mind, especially considering that Zakuro’s mangaka, Hoshino Lily, is actually known for her BL works more than anything else… I haven’t actually read it, but if it’s anything like the anime, I really wonder just what kinds of stories seinen works are comprised of. Or perhaps it’s like shounen manga which is aimed at boys but also read by girls: seinen manga is aimed at more mature male audiences, but is also read by females…

/end tangent!

A beginning that's uncertain and tentative…

What I really like about Otome Youkai Zakuro is that it takes a few tropes about romance and actually gives them a deeper and more rounded application. For female audiences, the prince-like character who’s actually a wimp is quite an amusing cliche, but the back story that explains his fear of spirits, coupled with an almost contradictory mix of naivete and sensitivity, won me over. I should probably admit though, that the voice was yet another factor…

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Whiskey Tango Fractale…?

Unfortunately, the semi-hiatus here will probably continue as long as I am studying (i.e. at least another 15 months), but I just wanted to get this one out of the way.

Controversial Director Yamamoto Yutaka caused quite a stir when, before the broadcast began, he declared that he would retire from anime should his latest project fail. Said latest project was Fractale, which fans actually looked forward to due to the pretty character designs and the interesting premise based around the titular system.

“Let’s not mince words” is what I really want to say, but I’ll be diplomatic. Quite frankly, I was disappointed. The first few episodes proved interesting enough, especially when fans identified the region that the visuals were developed from. And the middle episodes ably showed the contrast between life with and without the system. But it just didn’t have impact: the people who were unable to live without the system really weren’t sympathetic enough (though I suppose it didn’t help that one of the worst culprits sounds like Uzaya…)…

Pretty visuals and Kamiyan in episode 7 still couldn't save the series for me…

Even worse, the main characters didn’t really interest me. Clain was…annoying – and I’ve really come to dislike young boys being voiced by women – and Phryne was just weird. Nessa was cute for perhaps four episodes. I kept watching because it’s noitaminA, which usually manages to capture my heart. But not this time. Especially not with that Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ending. I get the feeling that extra materials might help me understand it a bit better, but I’m simply not interested.

Sorry Yamakan. Hope you find something interesting to do whilst you take a (hopefully permanent) break from anime.

Ikebukuro: a town of cops, freaks, and DRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

(Say it like OnoD does on that Perfect Guide that was available on the website! (^_^))

Ikebukuro. Probably unknown to most casual anime fans until just over a year ago. Possibly debatable whether the more serious overseas fans of action, mecha and other varieties of spashy or intellectual titles knew of it – it’s Akihabara that they go to after all. Even I only found out how significant it was to a certain subset of otaku, the fujoshi, when a friend asked me about it after my second or third trip to the Animate there. But as of January of last year, it was probably added to the list of anime pilgrimages that fans will make when they hit Japan. All thanks to Durarara!!


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Katanagatari: Truth, Lies, and History

Repeat a lie often enough and it will be believed.

Often misattributed in various incarnations to Vladamir Lenin or Joseph Goebbels, there is no official source for this statement. It is, however, an interesting way of interpreting “official” history. Another way to put it would be

History is written by the victors.

There is a difference between the two both in reality and in Katanagatari. The latter is what Shikizaki Kiki sought to accomplish, but the former is the fate that ultimately befell Togame.

Needless to say, spoilers ahead.

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In memory of 2010 part 11: and the anime of the year is…

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

To be honest, this series almost slipped my mind. I got back into the manga around the time the new series started airing, so I was always ahead, which meant I was watching for silly things such as hearing Miyano Mamoru and Nakamura Yuuichi voice the ‘same’ character. Furthermore, because the first series already covered half of the manga, the first half of the second was rather rushed and somewhat unfulfilling. And of course, there’s the recency effect: Hagaren ended six months ago, and the manga just before it!

However, the flood of year end posts, especially the 12 moments of anime series that so many bloggers do for Christmas, brought back some of the memories of what made Hagaren so special. For me, it can all be summed up by looking at one character: Roy Mustang.

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Fullmetal Alchemist (but why “Brotherhood”?)

I’ve been wondering about that for a while, because the Japanese name for both series is simple “Hagane no Renkinjutsushi”, not even a “2” or “2nd series” attached. Was “Brotherhood” attached simply because the West is anal?

When a new Hagaren series was announced back in 2008, I originally thought it would be some kind of weird continuation of the first anime series/movie. But as news of the production wound its way through the grapevine, I was but one of many who were please to hear that they were completely redoing it. Changes in the cast were met with some skepticism, especially when I found myself hearing Lockon Stratos, but these little issues were slowly worked out. And to complete the package, Arakawa-sensei collaborated brilliantly with the anime producers to deliver a near simultaneous manga-anime ending.

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Kuroshitsuji II: a lesson learned anew

If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then this screenshot should be more than enough to convey everything I want to say about Kuroshitsuji II.

WARNING: ending spoilers ahead!

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