Category Archives: Anime

2014 Best of Anime Awards…Yet To Come

Usually at this time of the year I spend a few hours typing up a long review of the best anime of the year.  Unfortunately, this year has been taxing both on my time and on a personal level.  As such, I haven’t had the chance to watch nearly as many anime as I feel would warrant an end of the year review.

But don’t worry, I’m catching up!  I expect a wrap-up in mid to early January after I finish my shortlist.  I’m currently watching Your Lie in April – which is a fantastic series and highly recommended from me.

Even though I haven’t had the chance to watch as much anime as I usually would, I do want to end the year with something.  So instead of my usual, I’ve done a little research and put together what I believe to be the best anime openings this year.  Criteria is based on the song itself, the animation that goes along with it, and the cohesiveness of the opening.

Enjoy the songs! (some may be slightly off-key because Youtube)

15. Goya wa Machiawase – Hello Sleepwalkers (Noragami OP)

I really, really like the way this opening is colored and how well the animation goes along with the song.  Just wish the show wasn’t as mediocre (or so I’ve heard – I didn’t get through the first episode).

14. Kimi ja Nakya Dame Mitai – Masayoshi Ooishi (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun OP)

This is an incredibly fun song – I love how they’ve done the manga illustrations.  When it picks up with the tanuki explosions…well it’s just great.

13. Enigmatic Feeling – Ling Tosite Sigure (Psycho-Pass 2 OP)

I feel like this song really captures the cerebral nature of Psycho-Pass.  I’ve heard the second series is even darker than the first and it’s way up on my list for shows to watch since I enjoyed the first season.

12. Rashisa – SUPER BEAVER (Barakamon OP)

This is my first entry in the “beautiful” category (this will be a large category).  Once again, tying in the calligraphy here is great.  Another series that I definitely want to watch.

11. This Game – Konomi Suzuki (No Game, No Life OP)

So, yeah – this song is pretty much generic J-Pop.  I’m not denying that.  But its animation really goes well with it…also No Game, No Life’s animation is just great anyway.  Looking forward to the next season.

10. FLAT – livetune ft. Yuuki Ozaki (Hamatora OP)

Gawd, I love Galileo Galilei (Yuuki Ozaki is the singer in the band).  I’ve always really liked the crazy colors in this opening and would like to think that I -might- like Hamatora if I got around to watching it.

9. Unravel – TK from Ling Toshite Sigure (Tokyo Ghoul OP)

I think this is the first song that really invokes some big feels.  I didn’t get around to watching this series, but this opening is…haunting.  Also, the part where it picks up is phenomenal.

8. Trigger – Yuuki Ozaki (Zankyou no Terror OP)

Ahhhh, more Yuuki Ozaki.  This opening really captures Zankyou no Terror’s feeling so well.  I watched 3 episodes but don’t have a Funimation subscription so I keep putting it down.  I WILL be finishing this series.

7. EXiSTENCE – SiM (Shingeki no Bahamut : Genesis OP)

Don’t know how I feel about the weird CG dragon thing, but otherwise this song rocks and makes me want to watch this series.  I like the controlled chaos of its animation and when the song gets cleaner it’s just great.

6. Shiver – Lucy Rose (Mushishi Zoku Shou OP)

This kind of song is a great spiritual successor to Sore Feet Song.  The minimalism is perfect for Mushishi.

5. STAND PROUD – Jin Hashimoto (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders OP)

Not as good as Bloody Stream by Coda, but super anthemic.

4. ambiguous – GARDiNELiA (Kill la Kill OP 2)

If the blood-spray from Satsuki and Ryuko painting Kill la Kill doesn’t get you pumped, you’re wrong.

3. Let Me Hear – Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas (Parasyte OP)

I’m a little biased because Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorite bands, but this opening really is done well.  The clean vocal parts correspond well to the animation as do the screamed vocals.

2. Daze – Jin ft. MARiA aka GARDiNELiA (Mekakucity Actors OP)

This song is just great.  I will admit that until about halfway the animation is a bit lacking.  But it’s good where it’s good.  I really need to watch the Bluray version of the show where they’ve done all the changes.

1. Hikarunara – Goose House (Your Lie in April OP)

This song feels nostalgic, and it’s new, so you know you’re in instant classic territory. The show is great and this opening – the song, the animation, the way it is so cohesive – really just captures a tiny fragment of the greatness.

Moe, Bro, Moe or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Watch the Show

Moe-bro shit.

I’ve said those words time and time again to dismiss a series prior to watching it because it seems to fall into the moe “genre”.  I’ve written at great length about moe and its invasion into anime norms.  And, definitively, moe has entrenched itself into anime.

But I’ve been wrong.  For one, moe is not a genre – it’s more a method of depicting characters –  and, as such, does not dictate plot, subject matter or character development.  That means that even though a show might look like mindless drivel…

chuunibyou-demo-koi-ga-shitai-1-takanashi-rikka-finger-twirl1…it might be something with much more substance.

A little over a year ago I challenged my readers to start forming constructive opinions about anime.  Today I can finally say that I’ve dissolved my own opinions about moe in anime and believe I have substantive evidence that it’s not that I have hated moe-bro shit this entire time – I’ve just hated shit, in general.

It began with Chuunibyou.  I’ve recently been interested in broadening my perspective on anime – watching mostly cerebral series can be tiring – so I picked up Chuunibyou as what I thought would be a light, guilty pleasure.  Suffice it to say, Chuunibyou was not that kind of show.  Sure, it didn’t have the intricate plot I usually look for in anime, but it did have something I’ve been missing:  a depth of character interaction that I rarely had experienced in anime, romance.  The series was covered with moe, but didn’t allow it to color its development.  I developed an attachment to the characters that I found nowhere else in anime.

And that’s what moe can do when used correctly.  Though moe has no strict definition, most would agree that it has roots in describing the affinity one has for a specific character.  Speaking from experience, it definitely can create that kind of character attachment.  Used solely for a financial grab, the utilization of moe in anime typically churns out plotless atrocities like K-On.  But what if it could be used for a more innocent purpose?

That thought in mind, I still mostly dismissed Chuunibyou as a rarity and resumed my normal watching habits.  However, a show piqued my interest:  Nisekoi.  It was produced by my favorite studio, SHAFT, and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Nisekoi-The-Best-Romantic-Comedy-Series-EverImmediately, elements of moe – but the show was presented in a way that kept me watching (and smiling constantly).  Despite the anti-climax of an ending (of which I hear we are getting another season), the show was legitimately good with an interesting plot – though Raku needs to fix his memory.  I liked the characters in the show so much that I really can’t and don’t want to decide who Raku should end up with – and I can only admit that this is probably because the show used moe aspects to make the characters seem more appealing.

All of this is to say that I made my final, probably irrevocable, step into moe and finished Toradora today – solidifying my new-found opinion that has been developing over the last several months.

Toradora!.full.651090

Toradora tackled so many distinct and often complex emotions and situations that I must admit that moe is no longer a problem for me.  On the one hand, the comedy in the series (otherwise known as anything Minori says) is top notch and fun to watch.  However, Toradora also explores the isolation of being separated from two divorced parents who are both physically and emotionally absent, the responsibilities associated with taking care of both a childish train-wreck of a single mother and oneself, unrequited love, the use of facades to mask ones true emotions, and so many more complex scenarios.  It made me laugh at times and then cry 10 seconds later when I realized that the comedy wasn’t always for fun, but it was sometimes to cover deep emotions that can’t always be expressed in front of others.

And all of this in spite (or probably as a result) of the moe.  The thing I claimed to hate ultimately added to the endearment of the characters in a way that I’m convinced is not possible otherwise.  All of the characters (besides Kitamura, he was relatively boring) were just so complex, so incredibly well-developed and so…moe…you just couldn’t help but love them.

Now that I’ve changed my mind about moe when used as an enhancement, not as a sole attraction, what shows have you seen that I may like?

Screw Guilty Crown

Seriously.

At this point (episode 16) I am absolutely pissed about what has been done to what could have been a spectacular story.

Last year, Guilty Crown was in my top 5 of the year.  The producers have killed the series, and I can’t help but think it’s just them testing the waters at this point because of how poorly the show did for its budget (in most crowds).  After the climatic closing point last year – which was spectacular – the show has degraded into, first, mindless school shenanigans and now, a completely off-the-deep-end plot.

Shu started out as an obnoxious wimp who didn’t want to be involved in any kind of organized revolution, and, because some girl that got minimal amounts of airtime died, rapidly (watch out if you blink) became an obnoxious villain who doesn’t want to rule over a bunch of school kids as a tyrant, but does anyway because he is a weak moron who is easily persuaded to assume other’s opinions.  There’s really no change in Shu.  He’s still obnoxious, he’s still emo, and he’s still ultimately a wimp.  Now he’s just more unlikable.

What would be great is if the directors of this show say “to hell with it” and kill off Shu in a timely manner.  Kill Inori, who apparently is a crazy yandere bitch.  Kill Yahiro.  Eliminate what is bringing down this show – and resurrect Funeral Parlor.  I’m so tired of Shu’s problem with trying to act like Gai who was trying to act like him.  Too many characters in this show do not know how to live for themselves and it is absolutely disgusting.

I’m too far into this show to quit now.  I’m just to the point where the more crap that’s ass-pulled the harder it will be for me to even start to enjoy this series again.

Don’t bring back Gai.  All meaning this series ever had is on the precipice of obscurity.