Analysis

“Encourgement of climb” – as a short compared to a normal length anime

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encouragement of climSo I was looking through crunchyroll looking for an anime I could really get my teeth into. Something deep, something with no filler, something with substance. So I came across this show “encouragement of climb”, I assumed that I was going to drop it after an episode but before I knew it, the episode over. I looked at the length of the show and it was only three minutes per episode. So I said “screw it” and watched the whole season, and to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed it. HOWEVER, in my opinion, this anime only worked in a short episode format. After trying out the second season, I found this verdict to be true. The episodes of the second season felt boring and dragged out.

After watching this show, I formed an opinion that at least 80% of slice of life shows should be a short. The other 20% of slice of life shows that are at least capable of being in a twenty-minute format are shows similar to Haruhi and Genshiken (to be fair, this could be a pretty enjoyable short), where the content is already dense and there is no wasted time. I feel that it is often the case that the exposition takes too long for a subsequently disappointing execution. 

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Short formatted slice of life episodes are dense and therefore allows the user to experience a range of emotions in a shorter time frame. There is never no wasted time, and I always immediately see what I want to see. With The Disastrous Life of Saiki K (one of my favourite shows of all time), every single episode was a unique experience, the jokes were always fresh, and even the jokes that were based on-going gags were built upon, instead of being repeated. Another reason why I think the short format is superior for most slice of life shows is because the artists behind the show can spend more time on how the show looks rather than being constrained by the time limits. I saw this in Encouragement of Climb, the first season was gorgeous but in the second season that flare was lost and it was now boring to look at and listen too.

Now I’m not saying that ALL slice of life need to be a short, I acknowledge that melodrama is often the main ingredient in these kind of shows. My argument is that sometimes replacing melodrama for dense humour, story telling and beautiful production will do more good for a show. 

Why do people compare New Game to Shirobako?

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Since the release of New Game, it has for some reason been compared to Shirobako. When in fact they were completely made for different audiences and for different purposes. Its something I’ve seen in blogs and YouTube videos, so I’d like to talk about why and how they both extremely different shows.

Shirobako is a story mainly centered around the life of ‘Aoi Miyamori’, a production assistant in a big anime production company. The anime follows her work life interacting with other people in the industry. Right off the bat, we can tell that the show is already going to be more in-depth and some-what more specialised since she is working as a production assistant, which is a role most people would glance over. Whereas, New Game centers around a young girl, fresh from high school entering the her work life in the character design team of a large game company. So these girls do have slight similarities, as they since work in otaku related media, but the shows themselves and the direction they head in are completely different.

 

Shirobako

One of Shirobako’s main aims is to educate the viewer about the industry, and it does this very well. For someone who might not know much about the process of anime production, and the roles people have when making anime, Shirobako is a good place to learn such information. They managed to make an interesting and funny slice of life anime that was extremely educational.

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Something else that was pretty fun about the show was catching the references they show through at you, and counting how many you could catch. Hideki Anno even made an appearance in an episode. This wouldn’t be a valid reason to rate the show higher, but it is something extra that the show gives the fan, it was also funny and made me question if this was how the staff members actually acted in real life. Is Masao Maruyama actually an avid cook? It must be true right? They can’t just make that up.

However, despite the show being a good starting point on becoming educated on anime production, the show wasn’t entirely factual. The show failed to point out how over worked the staff and animators can be… Yes, there may have been sometimes where they had some drama and had to work for a few hours extra but it didn’t exactly how over-worked and under-paid some of the staff were, it also failed to touch upon the wide pay gap between people in the studio. This is something I would have liked to see in the show, actually if the show included this I’m sure the show would have been better received and would have gained more attention, ultimately acting as some kind of protest to the current situation of the anime industry.

 

New game

I definitely think that New Game works as a ‘cute girl doing cute things show’, and this opinion is backed up by the fact that there is always a New Game thread on the /a/ board of 4chan, so it must be true right? Anyway, the colours and art style is definitely something you would expect in this kind of show, the flourishes of pink, yellow and purple are very nice to look at, but it’s not really innovative. To be honest, nothing about this show is really innovative, compared to Shirobako but it I guess that really isn’t the point of this show, instead I only watched it when I was in a chilled out mood and wanted something chill to watch, so this was the easiest show I could marathon.

Despite how average the show is, one thing I did really appreciate is how fun the characters are. Every character, apart from aoba-chan (the main character) have really quirky personalities which is something the previous season lacked. So it was definitely something refreshing to watch, also ALL the characters are really cute, especially Aoba and Hifumi.

In fact, me describing the art and animation of the show rather than the content of the show itself shows the difference of the two shows. Instead of appreciating the events that take place in New Game, I am more appreciative of how the characters look like. However, when I describe Shirobako, I am more appreciative of the story, events and character development that takes place in the show, which is something that is lacking in New Game. However, this doesn’t mean that I will rate New Game a 4/10, it just means that I am aware that both shows are trying to do different things. In fact, I  think New Game is above average for what it is trying to be, but I’m aware that Shirobako is something that has never really been seen before.

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So, does New Game teach its audience about the Game Production industry?. absolutely not! Throughout the two seasons we have only seen three departments, the character design team, the motion team and the programming team. It’s true that those are arguably the most fundamental teams in-game developement, but since these workers are working in such a large company, we should have at least seen some financial execs or at least heard of their input. But again, this isn’t the main point of the show, the show is supposed to focus on the aoba’s life in the company,  which the show does a pretty good job at.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, I think people compare them due to the fact that both these shows are centered around women in an otaku, and generally male dominated (less so in anime production) field. However, these shows couldn’t be more different as one is aimed to educate the viewer about the anime production industry, and the other is relaxing show to watch during the weekend when you want to turn off and relax.

The hidden gem of Spring 2017 – Tsuki Ga Kirei

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I don’t understand how nobody has been speaking about this series. Jeez, I was scrolling through crunchyroll and saw the synopsis of the show and after watching the first episode I absolutely fell in love. I actually thought it was a hidden gem made back in the late 2000s, but after looking up ‘Tsuki ga Kirei‘ on Google, I saw that it aired this season, and I have heard absolutely no-one talk about it one bit. It is understandable with all the sequels from this season like ‘Attack on Titan S2’, ‘My Hero Academia S2’, ‘How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend S2’, and controversial shows like ‘Ero-Manga Sensei’ taking the spotlight, but watching this series just makes me think how many amazing other shows are being hidden by light-novel bullshit and sequels of old block-busters, and how much I’m going to scroll through anichart to find other gems.

 

 

*Hover over the picture to see their names

Anyway, Tsuki ga Kirei  is an adorable romance series set in a middle school in Japan. The romance is brought to life when two students, Akane and Azumi, make eye contact on the first day of school. Azumi is an aspiring novelist, whereas Akane is an ace in the track club. Throughout the series, not only do we see the relationship between Akane and Azumi grow from an awkward one into one where their love for one another is very apparent, but we also witness how the both of them grow into confident young adults. For instance, we see Azumi grow from someone who didn’t really have a voice to someone who stood up to his parents when deciding which highschool he wanted to go to. The anime shows the conflict young people can have with relationship and how it affects relationships but also personal devotions such as Akanes track club and her performance when she ran.

When I started watching the series, what struck my eye was the lack of character archetypes, so I finally found an anime with no twin-tail bi***es, no silver-haired lolis and no male protagonists with the emotional range of a teaspoon. So with the absence of generic archetypes, the actions of the characters in the show was sometimes very unpredictable, I found myself scratching my head wondering why a character acted in a certain way, and since I have never been in this kind of situation, most of these scenarios were new to me as I’ve never had similar personal experiences or seen anything like it in anime. For example, we found out that one of Akanes friends had a crush on Azumi. When I found this out, I was expecting her friend to try to confess to Azumi, but as I watched more episodes it just seemed like this girls was a back-stabbing traitor who wanted to break up the relationship. However, I must have taken it wrongly because the girls were still apparently best of friends as the episode ended. Nevertheless, this kind of anger wouldn’t have been riled up inside me if the show used generic character archetypes to prove the point. After several episodes of non-stop watching, I forgot that what I was watching was animation, everything just felt so real to me, from the awkwardness of Azumi’s movement to the soft voice of his father, it really felt like I was watching his life from a window.

Another aspect I appreciated of this show was the aesthetic, in terms of its art style, animation and music. Everything just blended perfectly to match the kind of story the anime wanted to tell. I wouldn’t say that this style is unique as I’ve seen similar styles before, especially in the works of Makoto Shinkai, but I appreciate that the characters thin lines and their realistic washed out skin tones of the characters is something new to look at where a majority of the current seasons have only contained simplistic designs and a basic use of colours like in ‘My Hero Academia season 2’ and AOT2.

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Digibro’s scums wish video explains hows that show was a disappointment, partially because of the lack of realism and how the main characters in the show had no other motives to pursue rather than being in a twisted pointless relationship with one another. However, in Tsuki ga Kirei the main characters of the show both have something they are aspiring to do, which makes us more interested in them as characters and allows us to invest more emotion into these characters, which then makes us feel actual empathy when something negative happens to these characters like when their aspirations aren’t working out. It’s also incredibly realistic because it is in Japanese culture to have children that are really invested in particular interests, unlike Scums Wish where they are being incredibly melodramatic about nothing in particular or nothing that the audience actually cares about. Since it is an original show, it feels like the writers and studio heavily researched romance anime from the last 7 years, and were able to take out all the shitty parts of the show and implemented the better parts making one of the best romance anime to come out in a long time.

Another thing that this show did that I also really enjoyed was subtly emphasise on the children’s innocence, and child-like way of thinking. An example of when they did this was when the characters thought that they would never break up. When Azumi said he was prepared to take 3 busses to Koumei highschool just so they could be together made me start shouting at the screen, exclaiming that their way of thinking was wrong and that they would soon break up. However, this was soon pointed out when Akane’s sister asked what they would do when they broke up, and this scene made it very clear that Akane didn’t even think about the possibility of breaking up with Azumi. I think that this scene was supposed to emphasis Akane’s innocence and frame of mind in contrast with her older sisters pessimistic thought, which I think was also a main theme throughout the show.

This show was definitely a surprise to me, after months of only watching mediocre anime this one caught me by surprise. I actually thought this year was a shit year for anime, but I’m going to have to look more thoroughly through the anime charts more closely next time around because I’m probably missing out on some great stuff. Also, recommend me some hidden gems that aired this year guys!!

Why the second season of Attack on Titan greatly trumps the first

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*Before you read this it is important to note that there may be some spoilers.

After finishing my exams, I suddenly had a lot of time free, and with all the positive reviews that I’ve heard about this season I thought I’d watch the second season of attack on titan. To be honest, with the long wait, I thought that the hype for the second season would have died down. However I saw loads of positive reviews from the blogging community and even people from my school who don’t usually watch anime. And it is safe to assume that after a whole night of binge watching the show, it did not disappoint.

This season of Attack on Titan opened with the survey corps finding out that there was a titan inside the wall and ultimatley deducing that “Titans were protecting humans from Titans”. Also, the soldiers at the other side of the wall found out that the Titans were inside wall Rose. This conflict spanned for most of the second season, and it led to the development of the story as we found out that other characters could turn into Titans, but we also learnt a lot more about the characters in series.

In my opinion, this season was much more well done than the first season. It was much more exciting and felt more of a thriller than the first season. This may have been the be case because this season was only limited to 12 episodes, which made it feel like there was much more happening in this season, it also make it feel like the pace of the show never slowed down. Whereas, in the first season, because it was 25 episodes, it felt more dragged out as the characters would often sit around talking, which could take up to 35% of the show sometimes, and when they went it expeditions it took more longer than it needed to be. However, the second season was much more snappy and would quickly cut to the chase without wasting any time.

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This season also had a noticeable amount of flashbacks, where we learned more about the different characters in the show, the information we learned from the flashbacks then gave us more incentive to care about the characters especially when they were put in life threatening situations. For example, when potato girl (I forgot her name) came in close contact with a titan, I cared for her much more than I would have done if this event had taken place in the first season. However, the thing about having too many flashbacks is that it may take too much screen time, but I think it was done for the right amount of time and therefore struck the correct amount of emotion in the audience.

Another way in which this season was superior is that this season focused more on the other characters rather than just Eren, who is arguably one of the less interesting chracters. For example, with the less time we spent on Eren there was much more time spent on world building and character development, which the first season didn’t have as much of. This may have been the reason why lots of critics originally didn’t like the show, I know this is the main reason why Digibro didn’t watch the show. His opinion can be heard via this link.

After a successful second season, I hope that the third season will also be above par. One thing I hope for the series is that it will return to a 25 episode season, but with the same amount of pacing and character development that was present in the second season.

 

Little Witch Academia: A Harry Potter for the Japanese

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When watching the first episode of the series, there were too many scenes that reminded me of Harry Potter. Then whilst watching the second episode and getting to know more about the environment I just thought that this series could be the Japanese carbon copy of Harry Potter. And I thought this for a number of reason:

  • The main character has to be a cute girl
  • There has to be a goofy girl and a weird, incredible girl in her crew
  • I don’t think I saw a person who looked over the age of 16
  • The headmaster is a female version of Dumbeldore
  • We even have a copy of Snape

Image result for Finnelan little witch academia

Anyway, what I mainly wanted to talk about was the scenes that I saw in the first episode that made me think of Harry Potter.

The mudblood?

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This is the scene that made me look closely at every other scene to notice if there were any other Harry Potter references. In this scene, some girls were back-chatting about out MC claiming that she wasn’t ‘of witch blood’. This obviously made me think of when Malfoy was calling Hermione a mudblood because she didn’t have magic parents. This might be a long shot because segregation about blood lines are usually a common theme in witch\wizard culture, but I think it might be a slight reference to the Harry Potter series because of the word was used in a sort of demeaning kind of way, which is also the same kind of way Malfoy called Hermione a mublood.

The Mandrake.

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In the first episode of Little Witch Academia, a mandrake plant was introduced. In Harry Potter, the mandrake was a plant that used to scream so loud that it would knock out a person. I think the mandrake plant is commonly used in witch stories but even if that is the case, why did it have to be the mandrake? However, the mandrake was a completely different kind of plant in both worlds. The mandrake was like 15ft in Little Witch Academia but in the Harry Potter it was absolutely tiny. So I might be wrong with this one….Maybe.

Come on, its too obvious now

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Come on. The forbidden forest. This one doesn’t even need an explanation. The forbidden forest is a very important location in the Harry Potter world, and a forbidden forest is hardly used in any other stories so this show must have taken the idea straight from Harry Potter.

Its Hogwarts… Kind off

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The school kinda looks like Hogwarts, the front is like the court where Umbridge nearly kicked out Trelawney and to the right of the image is that long bridge that seperates Hogwarts from Hogsmeade. This is probably my furthest stretch, but I think the school is meant to look a bit like Hogwarts.

Its……

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THE SWORD OF GRYFFINDOR. Well it kind of is. I mean, its a special magical resource that only appeared to one person. I could possibly say that its similar to the elder wand but I don’t think that it ticks enough boxes.

Petrified??????

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The petrification of students was a series of large events that happened in chamber of secrets (my worst harry potter film). The makers of the show putting this in just confirms that they have had Harry Potter in their minds whilst creating Little Witch Academia. I mean, using mandrakes and petrification and including the forbidden forest just confirms it.

If Trigger contacts me asking to remove this post because I know their secret, you guys will be the first to know lol.

Why Shogo Makishima is one of the best villains in anime

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Psycho-Pass is one of my favourite anime for acertain amount of reasons; one being the logical and detailed approach the series takes, which makes the series feel better paced and more planned out, which is expected from Gen Urobuchi. Another reason is how time and setting of the Psycho-Pass world correlates well with the art style and animation, which created an atmosphere and story that seemed to already know where it was going. However, the biggest reason why I loved the series was due to the character designs and the development of the characters, especially with Kogami and Makishima. Both have clean character designs and both characters also have a solid back story, which makes for both a decent protagonist and antagonist. This analysis is going to be committed to the design of Makishima, his motivations, aspirations and the reason behind his dedication.

 

Firstly, I’d like to say that Makishima’s design was just brilliant. There are so many little factors that made him almost a perfect antagonist. His eyes were thin and serpentine suggesting one of a dangerous and evil entity; while his hair was long and silver, which illustrated Makishima as a pristine, experienced, and a somewhat dangerous individual. His body was thin and feline, whilst his voice was deep and soothing, this made Makishima a character that the audience is meant to fear but also be bewitched by. All these factors combined, created a perfect villain as well as a perfect being: which may be what the Sybil system was looking for. This idea then creates a sense of irony as the perfect being in the world ruled by the Sybil system, is also trying to take it down by any means possible.

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From our first encounter with Makishima, we knew that he was an incredibly intelligent being. This thought may have been implanted in our brains because of his references to novels as well as his brief analogies of famous narrative works. Also his slow, soothing voice was one that would usually belong to a lecturer; this may have been done deliberately as each time I listened to Makishima I was always learning something new, whether it is something philosophical or psychological. Throughout the series, Makishima usually wore a clean white shirt. Makishima’s choice of fashion, his design and voice against his morals my have been created to contrast each other, and create the same kind of mystifying effect that we also see in himself.

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Makishima’s motivation also plays a huge part in what made him such a great villain. As a member of the audience, I was aware that the Sybil system was a system that promoted oppression averted liberty. So, I’m meant to be rooting for the only person trying to take it down, right? WRONG! Makishima was a person that would use anyone at his disposal to reach his goal. This guy was willing to pour the blood of an innocent woman in front of her best friend only to prove a point. So in the end, another dilemma arose: should we support the merciless psychopath or kill the last hope of freedom. So why was Makishima so motivated on the destroying the system? As a child we already know that Makishima was asymptomatic, and was constantly singled out as a boy, as a result he was left friendless and all this was because of the fear people has for the Sybil system. Due to this, he obviously grew to hate the system that left him in such an emotional state. Therefore, Makishima wanted to prove to the world that there was nothing to fear from living without the system, and then concocted a plan to destroy the system.

Shogo killing Yuki

Throughout the series, Makishima gained a number of accomplices who were also killers. He did this without the awareness of the Sybil system, this act alones shows us the extent of his intellect as well as his seductive prowess. I think that throughout Makishima’s life, he became able to bring out the worst in people; almost as if he was intensifying the darkness of peoples hearts and souls. From doing this Makishima may have learned, that deep down, people truly hated the system; therefore it wouldn’t be difficult for him to exploit and use them.

So… From this, what would my overall opinion be on Makishima? Well, I would say that he is an almost perfect villain. He was so loyal to his objective, and continued to pursue it even though he knew that he was being chased by death. His design told the audience that he was a slick character with style. If it wasn’t for his cruel methods, many people would have described his pursuit as valiant and honourable. In fact, the character really made me question my moral judgement as each time he made a speech; I would always find my self agreeing with his opinions. However, when the conflict between him and Kogami began to unravel, and his death toll increased, it became clear that Makishima was a character that the audience would become obliged to dislike. Despite all of this, it is very apparent that Makishima may be one of the best villains of the decade in the anime medium.