Anime Lookout | Spring 2018 Part 2

Sigh… I wasn’t planning to have a post this sparse on anime titles, but unfortunately it seems like spring anime seasons just never work well with my schedule. Due to a combination of school finals, apathy, and general stress, I only ended up finishing two shows in the spring season. Obviously that outcome also partially comes down to personal preferences, since even many of the spring shows with good premieres lost me a few episodes in. Ultimately, I just didn’t find a lot of compelling material in the long run, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other people had a much better time over the past three months of seasonal material. Still, what we have now is an interesting set of anime that vary wildly in quality, each with some interesting high and low points. It may have been a rocky ride getting here, but hey, at least I’m writing something rather than nothing. Let’s get on with the show! Continue reading

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Shelf Review | Final Fantasy X HD Remaster

It feels wrong for me to say that Final Fantasy X gives me nostalgia. For a majority of my life, I’ve never considered myself someone who played a lot video games. When I was young, besides Mario Kart and a few other party games, I was never a big fan of the medium and often avoided it due to my lack of skill. But in my teenage years, I discovered JRPGs and games have since become a permanent part of my personal interests. Still, even though it’s been over a half a decade since then, it feels wrong for Final Fantasy X to be a game that takes me back to my adolescence. Playing this remastered version was, in many ways, an exercise in relaxation. Over the course of the past few weeks in between classes and completing assignments, I’ve found just about any excuse to sit down a play an hour or two, de-stressing as I re-experienced a familiar and comforting tale.

This may sound strange to some, considering Final Fantasy X’s story isn’t calming by any means. In fact, what struck me the most on this second playthrough was how intense this game actually is in comparison to my memories of it. During its 35-40 hour runtime, the game dives into some heavy subject matter: corrupt state religion, the idea of sacrificial tradition, abusive fathers, etc. Really, the game’s bright and colorful oceanside setting is quite deceiving. There is nothing vacation-like about the journey these characters take toward saving the world. Continue reading

Anime Monthly | Tamako Love Story

Beauty in the Mundane

Tamako Market is a series I feel conflicted on. On one hand, it’s a beautifully animated, gorgeously designed feast for the eyes, which contains bountiful amounts of subtle character animation and cartoon fun courtesy of the foppish bird Dera. On the other side of things however, the show has some undeniable tonal issues, with many of the series’ strengths clashing against its more comedic elements. Naoko Yamada may be one of my favorite directors, but there’s no denying her strengths lie more in calm slice of life than in slapstick comedy.

Dera in many ways drags the whole series down. In an attempt to provide the show a sense of forward momentum, he ends up destroying the series’ slow and lackadaisical mood, leading to several joke-centered episodes that just do not work. Tamako Market is at its best when it fully embraces its artsier elements, such as when a scene within the Usagiyama vinyl coffee shop transitions seamlessly with the music to Midori running under a cloudy sky, emphasizing her hidden feelings. It’s at its worst when it feels obligated to focus on the main plot, such as when the show dedicated an entire episode to Dera’s fruitless attempts at weight loss.

And nowhere is this made clearer than in the series’ excellent sequel movie: Tamako Love Story. Continue reading

Shelf Review | Flowers & Bees Vol. 1-7

CW: Flowers & Bees is a mature manga with a ton of sex and some rather uncomfortable scenes. Reader discretion is advised.

For a while now I’ve been searching for ways to get into Moyoco Anno’s work. Throughout the years, I’ve seen many people praise her manga as daring and feminist, and I couldn’t help but be intrigued by her marriage to the idiosyncratic Hideaki Anno. So after being prodded by a recommendation on my Twitter timeline, I decided to take the plunge and read one of her longer running series. This resulted in a brief and confusing encounter with Happy Mania, one of the first mature rated josei series published by Tokyopop in the early 2000’s, and also Moyoco Anno’s longest running manga. I say confusing, because in many ways I found Happy Mania to be a difficult read. Continue reading

Anime Lookout | Winter 2018 Part 2

Well, it’s that time again folks! After three months where I actually managed to write and publish one post every few weeks, we’re back to the typical loop of Anime Lookout content! This time we’ll be covering the shows I picked up in January, as well as a few two cour shows from fall 2016. To my surprise, I actually managed to keep my full slate this season. Excluding Devilman: Crybaby, which I finished but decided not to write about, every single cour and continuing show listed at the end of Part 1 is accounted for! I don’t know if that’s because I was in a particular savvy anime mood, or if my ability to schedule my free time has become more competent, but either way I have quite a few anime to talk about this time around. As usual, I won’t be covering two cour shows that started last season, which means you’ll have to wait until July for any finalized opinions about Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card and Darling in the FranXX. With those disclaimers out of the way though, let’s get on with the show! Continue reading

Anime Lookout | Spring 2018

Ah yes, spring time! The season when the flowers bloom and the sky is blue… Or if you live where I do, it’s the season of rainy days and lukewarm weather. Well, either way the main thing of importance is that we’ve entered yet another round of new anime releases!

Now I’m going to be honest, I tried to keep my slate a little smaller this season. Not because I’m tired of writing these posts, but because I’m trying to focus more on my back catalog rather than add even more shows to my week to week schedule. As such I decided to narrow down this list to titles I only had the utmost interest in. That still means I watched ten premieres, but hey, at least I tried. Anyways, I hope this post is helpful in your own search for new seasonal pickups. Let’s get on with the show! Continue reading

Anime Monthly | Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Or How I Learned to Appreciate Hiroyuki Imaishi

CW: Sexual content brought up in the discussion of the show’s humor and visuals.

I have a complicated relationship with Hiroyuki Imaishi. Over the four plus years I’ve spent writing about anime, my thoughts about his work have shifted from good to bad to mediocre along with the confusing evolution of my own taste in anime. Early on I would have said I liked him in spite of his flaws, but if you had talked to me just a year and a half ago I probably would have outright bashed him as a uninteresting style over substance director. However, when looking back on it, I find both of those statements to be highly suspect.

I started writing about anime critically in high school, and as such I can’t help but look back at my old writing and see it as the messy work of someone heavily influenced by the ideas of other critics. While writing in this format from such a young age has been a benefit in terms of readability and general quality, in other ways it’s helped me realize the importance of maturity in critical reviews. My own taste just wasn’t fully developed when I started out. I didn’t know if what I wanted to watch were prestigious adult dramas or high spectacle action comedies, all I knew is that there were critics I enjoyed reading and others I didn’t. As such, a lot of my early writing runs through styles inspired by people like Bobduh, Jacob Chapman, and even a few anitubers. As such, I’ve come to discover that my feelings on Hiroyuki Imaishi have been, well, filtered. Not necessarily untruthful, but certainly not without influence and change.

And no experience made that clearer than watching the second of his major television projects: Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Continue reading