Winter 2014 anime and drama picks January 16, 2014Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Drama.
Tags: Anime, Drama, Japanese drama
add a comment
I’ve a long overdue 2013 review post in the works, but in the meantime, I’ve been working my way through the fresh season of anime and drama offerings. I have to be honest, the Fall 2013 season was nice but a bit meh in terms of my viewing, with only the spectacularly good Ando Lloyd really doing it for me (will try and write a separate post on that sometime). But the Winter roster looks good. This is what I think I’ll be picking up.
Of the clutch of first episodes I watched, this is hands down the one that impressed me most. I was always going to watch this because SHAFT. But besides the studio’s pedigree for inventive, playful visuals, direction and scripts that don’t take themselves too seriously, it’s been a while since I’ve watched a romcom anime. This looks like it’ll fit nicely.
2. Gin no Saji season 2
Looks to have picked up with the same quality from where it left off. I miss Miwa’s OP though.
3. Chuunibyou demo Koi Shitai! Ren
Follow-up to one of my anime of 2012. There was no way I wasn’t going to watch this.
4. Kill la Kill (continuation)
Into its second cour and still a rollercoaster ride.
5. Nobunaga the Fool
Trust Shoji Kawamori to come up with a wacky sci-fi mecha anime ‘reimagining’ historical figures in an inventive ‘East meets West’ space opera. Visuals look good, characters seem interesting, story has intriguing possibilities (particularly with the historical figures histories setting up an element of dramatic irony). I’m up for this.
6. Space Dandy
Hyped up like hell and a little underwhelming so far. But it’s Shinichiro Watanabe so I’ll stick.
7. Wake Up, Girls!
Realistic(ish) anime about a dying talent agency making one last attempt to save themselves through an idol group pulling together against the odds? Sure, I’ll bite.
Wasn’t really sure what to expect from this, but the wacky concept, fun characters and good visuals should be enough to keep me casually watching.
That’s actually quite a lot. Realistically I’ll only have time to watch 5 or 6, so it may well be that the last two trail off into the land of the spare-time catch-up marathon.
In keeping with my ‘at least one drama a season for nihongo listening practice’ I have four I’m interested in, but realistically only time for one or two. I’m pretty sure one’s going to be Watashi no Kirai na Tantei because I love Goriki Ayame and Tamaki Hiroshi and this sounds pretty fun. Along similar lines, Senryoku Gai Sousakan also seems fun and has the Takei Emi factor. If I get time, Shitsuren Chocolatier and Yoru no Sensei may also be worth following (though I might just save up eps to watch on a rainy day sometime).
All in all, that’s a lot to get me through the cold, dark, poor winter months and post-Xmas, post-Japan blues. The question is: what are you watching?
Summer 2013 anime retrospective October 6, 2013Posted by ayasawada in Anime.
Tags: Anime, Attack on Titan, Gatchaman Crowds, Gin no Saki, Kaminomi zo Shiru Sekai, Shingeki no Kyojin, Silver Spoon, The World God Only Knows
add a comment
With the autumn season now underway, and in the spirit of every other anime blog, a few thoughts on what I’ve been watching anime-wise these past few months:
Shingeki no Kyojin
Ok, so this was the second cour of 2, but finishing over the summer Attack on Titan maintained its ridiculous consistency and went beyond. Hands down the best anime of the year unless something miraculous pops up. A rich fantasy world of the future full of ingenious storytelling, epic cliffhangers, interesting, morally-dubious characters, and epic debates over morality, humanity, survival, family, friendships, duty and honour. I spent every week with my heart in my mouth – that is if it weren’t agape at the show’s (or rather Hajime Isayama, the original manga-ka’s) ability to keep surprising us every week. Matched by an outstanding soundtrack and a dynamic use of CG for the manoeuvre gear scenes, this is anime at its best. Phenomenally popular, and rightly so, if only we didn’t have to wait for a season two.
Kaminomi zo Shiru Sekai – Megami-hen
Now this was a surprise. Having not got around to reading the manga, I still thought of this series as a light-hearted harem take on otaku gamer culture. I loved the first two shows but hadn’t expected this level of depth in character, intrigue and plot for something that’s essentially about pursuing a different girl every few episodes. Having read around on the subject, I now realise how loved this arc is – and with good cause. Kudos to manga author Tamiki Wakaki for taking what was surely envisaged as a throwaway concept and making it that much deeper. Revisiting seven of Katsuragi’s most famous conquests is a genius idea, and forcing him to deal with the consequences of love – as the one person who really cannot forget any conquests – on top of the life and death deadline situation, really keps me coming back week to week. Great music and balance of humour and drama/romance, this was perfect summer viewing.
I think Asobi over at Random Curiosity pretty much nails it: this was an inspired mess. I LOVED it. Right from the get go with its colourful, atypical animation, funky electrobeat soundtrack and the tour de force that is Hajime, you just didn’t know what to expect (and even if you did, it certainly wasn’t Gatchaman as we knew it). Yet as the series went on that mess started to show thoughtful, inventive ideas on the nature of the modern world, politics, democracy, communication, social media, anonymity and community, as well as the nature of ‘heroes’ in a world where everyone is less thoughtful about their actions. Sure, it was all a bit rushed and nonsensical in the 12 short episodes we had, but it did enough to make you think – and keep us entertained. Even if it didn’t quite hang together (particularly the confusing final episode) it had tremendous moments of cool and GAR (exhibit A: the penultimate episode’s Gatcha-team-up). I’ll take one of this kind of show over a dozen generic anime in a season.
Gin no Saji
I can’t believe this was only 11 episodes. A wonderful bit of NoitaminA programming from the author of Full Metal Alchemist. This was a fantastic slice-of-life tale of an agricultural school in Sapporo, finding one’s dream and the reward of good hard work, while all the while teaching you about farming and where your food comes from. Valuable knowledge for the modern man, woman, boy and girl, served with oodles of humour, great characters and heartfelt moments, this was another perfect summertime show. Thankfully the manga is ongoing and a second season planned for next year. Pork bowl!
Overall, this was a way better summer season than usual. More often than not, summer is full of short throw-away entertainment shows that give you a warm feeling but don’t generally change your life. I think this season (at least from the four I watched) was the season of ideas and inspiration, mixed in with top-notch entertainment.
2012 anime retrospective December 30, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Drama, Film, Manga.
Tags: AKB0048, Anime, Ano Natsu de Matteru, Black Rock Shooter, Chu2Koi, Chunibyou demo koi ga shitai, Eureka Seven, Fate Zero, Gundam, Hyoka, Kokoro Connect, KyoAni, Kyoto Animation, Last Exile, Lupin III, Persona 4, Sakamichi no Apollon, Sword Art Online, Tsuritama
add a comment
Another year, another great batch of anime watching. Despite my ‘cutting down’ due to time constraints, I still ended up watching over 20 shows this year, not to mention the odd OAV, movie, drama, live-action adaptation etc. etc. As I rarely get a chance to blog on a series’ end, I thought it might be fun to follow many other blogs’ lead and gather my thoughts in retrospect. (more…)
Japanese film at #LFF 2012 October 21, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film.
Tags: Anime, Japanese movie, London Film Festival, Mamoru Hosoda, Takashi Miike
1 comment so far
The 2012 BFI London Film Festival is nearly over and as usual there were more interesting films than one could possibly see/afford. So as usual, I made an effort for the Asian ones. Because of scheduling and budget, I ended up picking 4 Japanese films, but was overall very pleased with my choices.
A thought-provoking and incredibly well acted, if deeply deeply disturbing (in a very Sono Sion way), take on the Japanese model industry and the lengths to which people go for fame and beauty. I hadn’t realised Helter Skelter was based on a manga, though that partly explains why it interested me. Overly stylish, though not as much as Director Mika Ninagawa’s earlier feature Sakuran, and suffering from Lord-of-the-Rings-style over-endings syndrome, but absorbing nonetheless. Erika Sawajiri gives an absolute knockout performance in the lead role.
Wolf Children (Okami Kodomo Ame to Yuki)
Mamoru Hosoda‘s latest effort and the sole anime offering in the LFF this year. I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed by Summer Wars and when I first heard the story of Okami Kodomo it sounded a bit meh. I was pleasantly proved wrong. From the stunningly animated opening this is captivating from start to finish. As with all Hosoda’s previous films, the fantasy element is almost totally irrelevant; the real focus is the very human drama – in this case the perils of growing up and single parenthood. As always, Hosoda, as writer and director, captures this, particularly the little life moments, so very very well. Yet what impressed me most is the character development – every character goes through a genuine arc of transformation leaving you with a lump in your throat as you follow them through hardship and relief along their life journey.
I have a feeling the ending isn’t going to stay with me as much as Toki wo Kakeru Shojo, but the film certainly will.
For Love’s Sake (Ai to Makoto)
Takashi Miike, you’ve done it again. Another (slightly baffling) cult classic with plenty of charm. This is the tale of two high school kids literally from opposite ends of the social spectrum, and what all of us will do ‘for love’s sake’. I love musicals, manga adaptations, Japanese music and weird Japanese humour (especially ones bookended by anime scenes), so I was guaranteed to love this, though I didn’t expect to be moved by it.
It’s not perfect by any stretch, mind. It’s based on a slightly off the cuff manga so the characters are pretty one-dimensional (though in a comedy, and one with so many characters, this works in its favour). Moreover, you can’t shake the impression that the film has cut the story a little short from the original manga. It’s a shame characters like Gumko never get fully realised, but there’s surely more to Makoto’s story than just ‘he wanted to save his Mum’. His father isn’t mentioned much and we never really know why his family fell into such disarray – I can only conclude that ‘the person he wants revenge on’ is actually his father, and he would have done so had he not [SPOILER]… you know. There’s also the puzzling role of the teacher, who only has a couple of scenes prior to his [SPOILER] surprising appearance at the end – why would he do that?? The opening also talks about the 70s, the start of the bubble economy and how not everyone felt the riches even when the country had its rise – hints of a larger theme probably explored in the manga but not one ably touched on in a musical movie adaptation.
Nevertheless, Ai to Makoto = great fun and with an ending that gives it poignance. More than the throwaway entertainment I was ready to brand it as.
Key of Life
Unexpectedly, the highlight of my LFF films (and that’s saying something considering how much I enjoyed the others). Key of Life (Kagi Dorobo no Method) is an outrageously good tale of swapped lives and the search for love and purpose in life. It’s a classic example of the off-kilter, slice-of-life comedy featuring an unbelievable, yet believable plot and weird but loveable characters that Japan does so well. Slickly plotted, brilliantly acted (particularly the ever-reliable Teriyuki Kagawa and Ryoko Hirosue, who I’ve had a soft spot for since Yasuko to Kenji) and so full of heart you’ll be smiling your face off, it was a wonderful way to finish off my LFF run. I defy you not to love the doki-doki car alarm bit at the end.
Confessions of an AKB48 fan July 29, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film, Music, Rave.
Tags: AKB0048, AKB48, Jpop
I love AKB48. This might not seem surprising for a self-confessed otaku and firm pop fan, but for the longest time I was dismissive of huge synthetic supergroups.
In my years of fandom, I was surprisingly unenamoured with the likes of Morning Musume, an odd mix of loli idols with constantly rotating members — the extremity of what many dislike about the Japanese pop industry. When AKB48 came along, I thought, “Jeez, a group with 48 members — that really takes the biscuit”, then got on with my life.
What changed? (more…)
A Japanophile in New York July 23, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Books, Food, Games, Manga, Personal, Travel.
Tags: New York, shopping
It’s a common habit of mine that no matter where I go on holiday, I always end up drawn to the Japanese stuff. New York, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, was no different.
As one of the most famous and most cultured cities in the world it’s no surprise NYC caters well for the Japanophile. So where should you visit if you find yourself in the Big Apple in need of a Japanese fix? (more…)
Tags: Anime, Anime movie, BFI, Ghibli, Makoto Shinkai, Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli
add a comment
I finally saw Makoto Shinkai’s latest at the BFI’s biennial anime season. It’s breathtaking enough to make me thankful to have caught it on the big screen, yet in its quest to deal with weighty issues it just misses perfection, and perhaps even some of the director’s usual heart. (more…)
Nendoroid Madoka June 9, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Loot.
Tags: Anime, Figure, Good Smile Company, Kaname Madoka, Madoka Kaname, Nendoroid, Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Nendoroid Madoka, a set on Flickr.
I’m a sucker for the SD Nendoroids and a big fan of Good Smile Company’s attention to detail (particularly with accessories and expressions, enabling humorous poses in keeping with the parody nature of SD). Having been impressed by my Nendoroid Kirino, I’m usually drawn to whatever character Good Smile add to the series next, and they’re normally a good range of otaku favourites. (more…)
Terracotta Film Festival 2012 April 22, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film.
Tags: Film, Goro Miyazaki, Japanese movie, Korean movie, Miyazaki Goro, Sono Sion, Studio Ghibli, Terracotta Film Festival
add a comment
Another year, another excellent Terracotta Film Festival. This year’s line-up had a nice blend of relatively unknown gems, while still featuring the popular blockbusters and well-known filmmakers. I only saw four of the films, but what I saw, I liked. (more…)
Hyper Japan 2012 February 26, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Culture, Film, Japan.
Tags: Aso Natsuko, Fuse Eri, Hyper Japan, Natsuko Aso, Satoshi Miki
add a comment
keatl’s photostream on Flickr.
I spent my Saturday at the Hyper Japan event, which came a little early this year.
Slightly bigger, but still with the distinct smell of slight disorganisation, it was a lot of fun. Not so many bargains (though I did end up spending more than last year, mostly on DVDs >_<), and missing some folks from previous Hyper Japan’s like Good Smile Company, Hobby Japan, Square-Enix and the maid cafe, but nevertheless there were a good range of stalls and some excellent shows. (more…)