Anime Monthly | The Anthem of the Heart

A Perfectly Imperfect Film

When I sat down to test out my recently bought blu-ray set of The Anthem of the Heart, I wasn’t expecting to rewatch the whole movie. Before I knew it though, I found myself enraptured, drawn in slowly by the film’s opening moments and then being struck by the raw emotions of the flash forward from protagonist Jun Naruse’s traumatic childhood to her fraught life as a second year in high school. Next thing I knew, two hours had passed, I had almost cried a second time during the climactic scene, and the film was over, leaving me with that strange euphoric emotion that only a favorite movie can. My chest was tight, but my mind was anything but depressed; thinking of the experience that had just passed with a fondness and desire to watch it again another day. Continue reading


Anime Monthly | Fireworks

A Middling Defense of a Mess of a Movie

Right out the gate, I would like to preempt this post by apologizing for missing last month’s Anime Monthly. While this is ultimately a casual blog, I do want to make things slightly more consistent on this site. As such, I decided to force myself to write something this month, and I figured that the best way to do that would be to examine one of the two films I saw in US theaters recently. When deciding between Maquia, a movie I really liked, and Fireworks, a film that I would call mediocre at best, you’d think I would chose the former over the latter. After all, Maquia is a dense project from one of the most interesting writers/creators in the anime industry, whereas Fireworks is a generally disliked box office disappointment.

And yet, in spite of this, Fireworks ended up being the more interesting of the two movie experiences. Maquia was a great watch for sure, but Fireworks rollercoaster of quality and intentions had me somewhat enamored with it by the end. It’s a work that lingers, picking at your brain with its strange, often clunky artistic choices in a way only a truly compelling bad film can. Plus I tweeted about it a lot, and I figured it would be a good idea to put those thoughts into more coherent words. With that said, let me try to suss out what makes Fireworks such a weird little film. 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

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

Anime Monthly | The Garden of Sinners 1: Overlooking View

A Layered Introduction

CW: Mentions of Plot Related Suicide

If you’ve been following this blog for a long time (and I mean a long, long time), you may remember a little series called Anime Monthly. The central idea of the endeavor was to keep me posting stuff on a regular basis by writing short Anime Lookout style blurbs about whatever shows I had finished in the given month. However, due to a combination of my haphazard series completion rate and a general sense of dissatisfaction, I eventually decided to scrap the series. That being said, even with those years far behind me, I still often find myself disappointed in my large anime backlog and the lack of consistent content on this site. Sure, I keep up with Anime Lookout, but considering the amount of free time I have it’s pretty shameful I don’t manage to at least finish one post per month.

As such, I’ve decided to go back to this dead series and retool it a bit. Instead of writing short blurbs about every backlog show I’ve completed each month, I’ll instead be writing longer posts focused on a specific anime I’ve been watching. This can extend to any type of show, but in particular I’ll be focusing on rewatches and backlog titles, since at the end of the day I already write quite a lot about the seasonal stuff I watch. Who knows though? Maybe you’ll get a post about the latest Precure. Continue reading

Anime Monthly: March – June 2015

Hey everyone, sorry for the delay, but I didn’t end up watching many anime in March, April, and May. This is mostly due to it being the end of the year in terms of school work, causing me to end up being in a bit of time crunch for most of the semester. Also to make things even worse, my computer broke down and I had to replace it. Yeah I just couldn’t reasonably produce a full length post for you guys, but luckily with the passing of a few months I have plenty to talk about. I promise this will be the last major delay for a long long time.

Also if you want to see my Hummingbird and Animelist stuff, well just click on the blue text! Enjoy the show. Continue reading

Anime Monthly: February 2015

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! Continue reading