Hey everyone, Stuart here, and welcome to my new post series which, as you can already see, is called Anime Monthly! Here on Anime Monthly I briefly talk about anime I finished in my backlog over the course of the previous month. Why did I decide to do this? Well I like to say it’s because it will help me remember these shows in the future, but the true reason is that I just want to get through my backlog quicker, and having a blog series about it will hopefully give me the incentive to try tackling more of these shows at once! Of course whether or not this will help me do that is questionable, but hey, it gives me something to write about in my free time; so why not?
Anyways, if you want to see my backlog list in detail, you can check out the Plan to Watch and On-Hold sections of MyAnimeList, or Hummingbird accounts. They have most of my backlog material, and if you’re curious, you can go check it out and see which shows on the list interest you! Also for a last minute note, these post will be split up into two sections, the normal section, where I just talked about the majority of the anime I watched, and the awards section, where I take about most notable anime of the bunch. Links to each anime’s MAL page will also be included. So with that all said let’s get this show on the road!
– The Normals –
Technically speaking this wasn’t actually a true title on my backlog. I watched the first season during Winter Break last year, and the only reason this second season has made it onto the list is because I only now got around to finishing season two of this thing. Also because I wanted to briefly spout my opinions about the Selector WIXOSS series as a whole, because its an interesting creation in my opinion.
Okay, so I’m going to be brutally honest here, WIXOSS is a Madoka Magica rip off. And I know a lot of shows get labled that these days for often arbitrary reasons, but WIXOSS is a Madoka rip-off on the level of Daybreak Illusion, albeit slightly more refined. Everything about it, from the main character being a relatively normal girl who becomes sucked into the world of magical girls, I mean WIXOSS card game players called Selectors, to the emotionless villain who controls the whole WIXOSS operation while granting these girl’s wishes, though not in the way they want them to be. There are obviously some switch ups, and in general its one of the smarter rip offs I’ve seen, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it is one. However, just because it is one doesn’t mean I shouldn’t judge it on it’s own merits; which I have readily.
Even when judged on it’s own merits though, WIXOSS is just okay. Nothing special, but nothing painful either. The melodrama is over the top fun, and the ending is appropriately heartfelt , though it is overly confusing; and in general WIXOSS is competently made with a few moments of greatness sprinkled throughout. Do I recommend it though? No I don’t, because Madoka exists, and even though that show has its flaws, it’s still better overall. WIXOSS, your a perfectly fine show, but there are other anime like you that have done so much more. But hey, at least you have that over the top melodrama, right?
I don’t usually like, or even consider watching SHAFT shows. This is because all my experiences outside of the Madoka TV series and the Monogatari Franchise have ranged from enjoyably shallow, broken yet fascinating, and just downright lame. However I decided to try this one out after hearing some positive things about it, and I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Oh don’t get me wrong, this is nothing groundbreaking! The basic plot is just your usual country boy moves to the big city where he develops a wacky group of friends, and hijinx ensues slice of life show bullshit.
The main thing that really sets this show apart from the crowd of other moe slice of life shows though is in just how heartfelt it is. Yes, the characters are all cute moe blobs, but at their core each one of them is dealing with a relatable problem they want to run away from. Erio is basically the representation of all the good and bad aspects of the series, she’s way too moe and the camera leers over her a little too often (As you should expect from director Akiyuki Shinbo), but her struggle with accepting her amnesia and trying to hide herself from the world is understandable and empathetic. Even some of the worst characters, like main character Makoto’s Aunt Meme, got their moments to shine and have relatable development. It’s not perfect, but it made for supremely great light entertainment, which firmly makes it get a recommendation from me. Sometimes shows don’t have to be groundbreaking to tug at your heartstrings.
– The Awards –
– The Biggest Surprise –
I don’t usually give show’s second chances. Once I’ve dropped something, I’ve dropped it. I’m not picking it back up ever again. However, the reason I decided to give Knights of Sidonia that second chance is because when I initially watched the first episode, I judged it on a very superficial element: Its CGI animation.
Admittedly speaking I still found that aspect hard to get over that on a rewatching the first episode, but beyond its ugly aesthetics there’s actually a lot to love about Knights of Sidonia. The world of Sidonia is fascinating, the action scenes are tense and heart pounding, and the Gauna are an extremely dangerous and interesting enemy. Sure the harem that main character Nagate Tanikaze develops throughout the show is a little bit annoying, and the high school drama aspect is way weaker in comparison to the world building throughout the show; but either way Knights of Sidonia was just fun. Constantly building tension, constantly developing its crazy sci-fi world, and just consistently fun to watch. There was never a dull moment throughout the series, and while the first episode is a little rough around the edges, trust me when I say it only gets better from there on out.
– Most Prolonged Completion –
Thank god I’ve finally finished Hunter x Hunter! After almost a full year of procrastination, I have watched all 148 episodes of this bonified epic. I’ll admit that around the halfway point, I lost motivation. Like most long running shows, or at least shows beyond the 50 episode mark, it seemed a little daunting to watch the whole thing, and back when I started in March of 2014 the show didn’t even have an end date! This made my watching experience of Hunter x Hunter a little strenuous, and I’ll admit there were parts where I wasn’t very hooked, but now that I’ve finished it, I can safely say that it was brilliant.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever maintained the kind of quality Hunter x Hunter has throughout it’s 148 episode runtime. From beginning to end, it’s consistently entertaining, animated, and written. However, the best part about is that near the end, it gets even better! While the first four arcs are enjoyable in their own fun shonen way, the series true crowning achievement in the Chimera Ant arc, which is probably the most mature, and downright heartbreaking traditional shonen arc I’ll ever see. Some may say that it’s a little annoying to wade through those first four arcs to get to the truly amazing part of the series, but honestly when the series was so good already, the jump in quality is more of a surprise than anything else. Hunter x Hunter is now my favorite long running shonen series, and I highly recommend to anyone who’s looking for an amazing journey. And if you’re a fan of long running shonen who somehow hasn’t seen this… Well then what are you doing? Watch it right now!
– Favorite Anime this Month –
When I first started watching Serial Experiments Lain, I thought I would love it, but while the first few episodes captured my attention, the following three seemed to wane my interest, as I lazily drifted into confusion. However, my opinions definitely skyrocketed with the latter half of the show, to the point where I can safely say that Lain is indeed one of my favorite anime out there. And really there are multiple reason for that, but the major one is Serial Experiment Lain’s mastery of theme and atmosphere. Throughout the whole entire experience, everything feels dreamlike and surreal. The characters stare blankly and walk around dark blurry shadows, while the sound design emits eerie mechanical noises, giving off the feeling of machinery and technology. Despite this alienating presentation though, everything comes together to showcase themes of self identity, and some admittedly very outdated ideas about the internet.
Even with that outdated aspect though, I found a lot to pull out of the show subtextually speaking. The obsessions that characters like Lain and Eiri had with the Wired really reminded me of the way people embed their media and online lives into their own personality. An insult to their interests is like a wound to their pride, and the way the Wired God looked at himself, despite the fact he was little more than a guy who left his body behind, was really relatable in a way. Sure some things are a little too obtuse, but moments like the confrontation with the Wired God in Episode 12 really cement this as a cult classic. From the scream of static, to the tapping of the keyboard, Serial Experiments Lain impressed and intrigued me throughout, which makes it more than worthy of being my favorite anime I saw this month.
– Special Award: Most Murdered Anime Girls-
Initially speaking I was going to give Higurashi the most prolonged completion award considering I started watching it during Halloween last year (I know, good timing right?), but then I remembered I was finishing Hunter x Hunter this month, and slowly, I began to understand how much of a pathetic anime watcher I am… Anyways the special awards are extra little achievements handed to shows I liked a lot, but didn’t really have a specific award for. And so this time that special award goes to Higurashi’s first season for having the largest amount of cute anime girls I’ve seen slaughtered to date; which is really not an understatement! Dismemberment, suicide, bludgeoning, every cast member, not just the main girls, are either psychologically broken or murdered multiple times throughout the series’ run. Despite all of this death though, that isn’t really what makes Higurashi the best constructed horror anime I’ve ever seen. No, what really makes Higurashi so terrifying is its sense of atmosphere.
From the cold whispers of Kenji Kawai’s music, to the eerie sound of the cicadas on a hot summers day, Higurashi knows how to create a feeling of dread in every episode. While admittedly speaking this thing looks like it was animated on a rather low budget, it makes use of its stuttering framerate and off model character moments to truly heighten the ugly and truly horrific moments of violence. As most art critics and psychologists say, true horror comes from the unknown, and the way Higurashi manages its presentation and direction excels at perpetuating that feeling of uneasiness. The writing is also equally great, because while the arc structure does drag the show out for longer than it should, it makes it so every new plot twist and death feels fresh and more intriguing the last. It kept me hooked the whole way through, and while I probably won’t watch the second season for a while, it’s hard not to say Higurashi was an amazingly haunting ride that I recommend to anyone who’s looking for a series that truly knows horror.