All posts by Jack Scheibelein

Former Opinion Editor of the HVA Hawkeye. Current Writer at SakugaCity.com. I write about Anime and Politics, along with publishing a ton of poetry and short stories. Hoping to be a successful person, at some point.

The Observation Deck: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

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Wow, I really forgot just how much fun it can be to watch things with other people. As an introvert, I generally prefer to watch things alone and absorb them in a space free from any immediate distraction. However, sometimes it is nice to take a break from that and just hang out with other people. Not like my last group watch was that far removed, but watching Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou with others was an incredibly relaxing experience.

For those who are unaware of this critically acclaimed manga turned two-time OVA series, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is set at the end of the world…kind of. An unnamed disaster has left humans a dwindling artifact of planet earth. Meanwhile, androids like Alpha are fairly common. Alpha is told to manage her owner’s coffee shop after he is called away on business indefinitely. With nothing else to do aside from managing a mostly empty store, Alpha decides to spend her days exploring the landscapes and people around her.

98′ vs 02′

Despite the critical acclaim of the original manga, the series only managed to amass a series of OVAs, or rather two series of OVAs. The first aired in 1998 and the second four years later in 2002. Interestingly enough, this period also roughly coincides with the transition period during which many studios underwent a major transition from traditional cell animation to digital.

The change in animation style is definitely noticeable. While the studio that adapted the series stayed the same between both OVAs, the watercolor backgrounds of the original are noticeably absent in the later series. Both styles are certainly unique, and the digital animation has a charm that is unique to itself. However, it would have been nice to see the series continued in that original style.

Outside of that minute difference, there honestly is not a lot to say about the series’ animation other than that it is well done. Character movement is fairly limited, but the movement that does happen is expressive and displays a ton of personality, like the way Ojisan is always delighted to see Alpha when she walks/drives by.

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Who is Alpha?

YKK is as episodic as it is relaxing. Each episode is fairly self-contained, and though there is an overarching story, it is ultimately built around the main character Alpha. Each episode is focused on either her internal thought process in running the shop or the external struggles of having to deal with a broken body or house.

While the appeal of the show, and of other Iyashikei stories at large, is that they are inviting and peaceful, there is a lot about our main heroine that is left undetermined, at least in the story for anime. Questions about the identity of Alpha’s owner and the nature of his “business trip” still hang around, giving the series an almost melancholic vibe.

I do mean almost though, as none of this really ruins the mood of the series. The vast majority of Alpha’s narrative conflict is centered around nature in some way, whether that be its beauty or its capacity for destruction, or sometimes even both at the same time. The ending scene of episode two of the first season manages to find beauty in a sunken seaside town, and if you don’t take anything else away from this series honestly just watch this scene:

The World is Over, I Guess…

Another massive Elephant that seemingly is never addressed, I suppose for fear of killing the mood, is the setting, because, in the universe of YKK, everyone is living through the apocalypse.

Ok, that is a little inaccurate. Technically, the Apocolypse that wiped out a large chunk of humanity is a couple hundred years removed from the events of the series. Still, it feels like when it is addressed at all, it is done in a way that feels incredibly calm and detached.

Part of this is probably due to the previously mentioned time separation, but a large chunk of it also seems to stem from the fact that Alpha is a robot. While she certainly acts the part of a young woman running a coffee shop, her perception of time seems to be significantly different than that of a normal person.

Again, this stems from multiple reasons, but rather than feeling weird and out of place, this lack of a consistent temporal grounding serves to aid YKK in creating its more relaxed atmosphere. More focus on what caused the end of the world or how it has affected other places would likely take away from the feeling that it has so meticulously crafted.

Conclusion

Weirdly enough, there is not much more to be said about the series. In fact, its brevity may arguably be one of its strengths. It is by no means a series that is going to appeal to everyone (people who primarily enjoy shounen are not likely to find much value in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou). However, those who tend to enjoy a more monotonal, slice-of-life atmosphere will definitely get a kick out of it.

80/100


Have you all seen Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for being an amazing Patron.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Attack on Titan Final Season: Episodes 60-63

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The time, my friends, has come. It has been a long and perilous journey, with many hardships, including having to swap ps4 controllers while watching. Hours and hours of catching up on all of the previous seasons, along with the surprisingly impressive OADs, have brought me to this point. It is with great pleasure that I announce the weekly Attack on Titan final season coverage.

In order to fully immerse myself in Attack on Titan over the next couple of months, I will be covering three or four episodes until I finish what has been released. Then, once the last of the final season begins airing, I’ll be doing a final post wrapping up the series along with another post of some kind to finish my coverage.

Rediscovering Attack on Titan this year has been some of the most fun I have had with anime in a while. Not to say that I have been particularly bored with anime, far from it in fact. However, AOT in particular has been one of my main points of enjoyment. With that being said, let’s talk about the final season.

The opening episodes place us sometime in the future, where Reiner has successfully returned home and is helping the Marleyians fight against a nearby middle-eastern nation. In order to accomplish this feat, the country continues to rely on the power of the titans held by the Eldians and their descendants. He has started looking after the next candidates to host the armored titan, of which a young girl named Gabi seems to be the most promising.

However, these opening episodes are, for the most part, viewed from the perspective of Falco, another of the armored titan candidates and the younger brother of Colt, the successor to the beast titan legacy. Falco, in a lot of ways, seems to be a mirror to Eren Jeager: a young upstart who wants to help his family, blood-related or not, by putting himself through immense self-sacrifice. In his case, his most immediate motivation seems to be protecting Gabi, who he has a crush on.

Zeke has also resurfaced as a relevant character. His standing within the Marleyian army has given him enough power to engage on a mission to secure the founding titan. His reasoning for this, which the other top brass seem to agree with, is that the rest of the world has caught up to Marley in terms of military strength and that the founding titan will be needed in order to reassert dominance.

What I like about this series so far is not necessarily the characters, however, although they certainly are good. Rather, what makes this season so intriguing is how the scale of its politics has jumped from the island outside of Marley to basically the entire world. The perspective has shifted from those trapped inside the wall to the ones who banished them, to begin with.

The parallel between the two groups of Eldians still exists, though. One group is trapped behind the wall due to the titans, and the other is trapped behind the walls of internment. Both are suffering at the hands of Marley, just in different ways.

The change in animation styles has definitely thrown me for a loop. Character designs among the Eldians look pretty similar to the point it was hard to tell characters apart at times during the first two episodes or so. Still, despite being lukewarm on the change initially, I have come to appreciate it. In the context of the story being told, the change in style certainly makes some sense. Although, I do maintain that the series would have looked fine even in its previous look.

Overall, the direction Attack on Titan has taken is an exciting one. So many questions are yet to be answered, and it is clear that many unnamed forces are still at play, driving the series’ world in ways that maybe do not make any immediate sense. Will the oppression of the Eldians finally come to an end? probably not yet at least since we are not even a quarter of the way through, but whatever happens is sure to be a good time.


Have you started the final season of Attack on Titan yet? Are you still behind? Let me know in the comments, but please leave out any spoilers.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thanks to our patron Jenn for the support.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Secondary Findings: Redveil, Stranger Things, Blue Box, etc.

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Welcome back to another edition of “talking about random things I like cause it makes me feel good.” For those joining this series for the first time, Basically, anything that either I do not feel like covering in full or does not fit within the usual scope of the blog. I try to keep these a few months spread apart so that people do not get bored and I actually have stuff to talk about. With that being said, I hope you Enjoy

learn 2 swim by redveil

Something that most probably do not know about me is that I am a pretty big RAP and Hip-Hop. In 2022? I know, very surprising, but it is true. However, since I do not talk about music that much on this site, I figured this would be a great place to talk about said music.

First on that list is an album that seemed to take a lot of critics by surprise, learn 2 swim. Redveil is an artist that I honestly knew nothing about before this project, but he certainly has my attention after its release. A lot of the instrumentals seem to be sampling or inspired by jazz and soul, with most of the tracks having a flare reminiscent of a downtown street performance. My only gripe with it musically is that some of the tracks can sound a little samey, but given its overall narrative arc that makes sense.

Speaking of, the lyrical capability on this album is absolutely insane. Lines like “growth ain’t one direction it’s a tour” gave me pause and honestly sent me into a bit of self-reflection. The over-arching narrative is one of self-growth, looking back on the past as a way of informing the present. All of this is made even more impressive by the fact that redveil himself is only 18 and produced the majority of the album by himself.

At the end of the day, learn 2 swim is an incredible album. It has basically everything one could want out of a hip-hop record, so if you’re looking for something a little more low-key and experimental I would highly recommend it.

Things with Wings by ericdoa

On the note of experimental, I talked previously about my love hyperpop and its adjacent sounds. ericdoa’s previous solely record COA is considered largely a success in that regard, with a variety of hyperpop/EDM-focused sounds, leaning on a good amount of vocal modulation to boot.

Things with Wings is taken a bit of a departure while still retaining a bit of what gave COA its hyperpop identity. It is decidedly more pop, with songs like “phases” leaning into more funk sounds and “victim” feeling more like traditionally dance-pop.

Surprisingly, there are no features of which to speak, which is a bit of a shame since some of the songs could have used the additional length as many feel a tad too short. Most of the songs have a verse and maybe a small breakdown. Still, eric is a capable vocalist and manages to carry the majority of the songs pretty well.

The album definitely has its shortcomings, but it is still a lot of fun. So, anyone who is interested in that sort of sound should give it a chance as well.

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Stranger Things

Well, I was supposed to finish part one of season four with my siblings and my mom…but, that did not really work out. Everyone kept having something going on, and so I just said screw it and finished it by myself.

I do actually feel a bit bad though, cause wow, that was an amazing way to start the final season. The hype may have died down a bit from the series being delayed by COVID and Netflix’s general incompetence but it still felt well worth the wait.

Stranger Things has always felt at its best when disconnected storylines build and then eventually meet, and thus far the series has done an excellent job of that. I will leave this section spoiler-free since, by the time this comes out, the series will still be relatively new. What I will say, though, is that the horror in this season has been turned up to eleven (all puns intended). That 30 million per episode budget may feel ridiculous, but it seems to have accomplished something at least.

If I were to pick a favorite character, however, it would probably be Dustin. In the past, Dustin has come off as mainly just the comic relief of the group, for better or for worse. In season four, it feels as though he is finally coming into his own, almost becoming the “mad scientist” of the group. Overall, it was a fantastic start and I am genuinely excited to see how part 2 wraps ups the series.

Trash Taste Podcast

Putting this here almost feels stupid since the number of views they get on one episode seems to suggest that just about everyone watches them at this point. However, I recently got back into watching the Trash Taste Podcast, so I figured I would talk about it.

Despite having the least history watching him as a creator, it was actually CDawgVA that got me back into it. His second channel just happened to show up in my recommendations, after which I started watching his videos which eventually lead me back to Trash Taste.

I am not gonna sit here and pretend like I have always been the biggest fan of their work. (The whole Flying Colors Foundation thing from years back still makes me seriously question their trustworthiness). However, I have been missing something to put on in the background while I fall asleep, and so it fills a nice role that way.

For what it is worth, though, I do think they are genuinely pretty entertaining. The way they go off on stupid tangents at basically every point of a given episode makes it a lot more engaging and fun to listen to. It is a tad disappointing that do not talk about anime more, considering that is kind of what it was originally advertised as, but still a great podcast overall.

Blue Box

I am putting this here only because I honestly do not know if I will end up covering it for the blog or not. However, I did manage to read the first few chapters of Blue Box, a sports/romance manga that is currently being serialized in Shonen Jump. I found out about it after watching Super Eyepatch Wolf’s recent breakdown of Shonen Jump, and I have to say, I am impressed so far.

The introductory chapters are about what one would expect from the above description. However, there is an earnestness in the characters’ feelings which does resonate quite a bit. Also, despite how obvious it was, I would be lying if I said the reveal at the end of chapter two did not catch me off guard.

The art, while not particularly detailed, is nice enough to look at, and the character designs are distinct enough that I do not have to do a double-take while reading, which is more than I can say for some other series. The whole thing honestly reminds me more of a shoujo aesthetic than it does a sports manga, which makes sense considering the romance seems to be the main focus. I am excited to eventually catch up and see where exactly the series will go.


What have you all been enjoying recently? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thank you to our Patron Jenn for being absolutely fantastic!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Initial Results: Wolf’s Rain

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There are a lot of shows that sit in the back of my mind, every so often popping into my immediate consciousness after a brief interaction via a mention on social media or a peer talking about the series in passing. This time, however, it was a little bit more forward than even that, as a friend of mine lent me the series since it is one of their favorites. After sitting on it for a month, I decided to finally start Wolf’s Rain and see for myself why this 2003 Bones original is remembered fondly by so many.

The story of Wolf’s Rain details a world much different from our own, where legends say humans are descended from wolves, and that their ultimate goal is to return to paradise. The only problem is, the last wolves were seen over 200 years ago, and are believed to be extinct…so it is thought by most, anyway. Enter Kiba, a lone wolf who has recently come to town following the scent of the Lunar Flower. He then meets a few others, Tsume, Toboe, and Hige, who flee the town and join him on his journey.

There are a lot of individual storylines which are introduced in the opening episodes of the series. The majority of the time thus far has been spent on the wolf boys themselves. However, there is the story of the sheriff who came to Freeze City looking for wolves, the detective whose head researcher ex-wife knows a lot more than she lets on, and a mysterious masked man who is trying to gather the “flower maidens.” Yet, despite all that, it never feels like these storylines are fighting each other. Rather, they serve as a compliment in a mystery that is clearly bigger than all of them.

Not only are the storylines immediately interesting, but the world itself is also fascinating. Not much about the landscape outside of major cities is known, but a lot can implicitly be drawn from episode four, where the crew travels across what looks to be a war-torn area, and Toboe’s reactivation of a mech that was buried underground seems to imply that much of the world was burned down from advanced military technology. There is a sense of bleakness not just in the landscape but in the colors as well. The four wolves trek across what is essentially open, frozen land, with nothing but snow for miles.

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The wolf boys themselves are fairly compelling, and each of them clearly has their own problems. Tsume has been leading a gang in order to make enough money to survive, but clearly does not fit in with human society. Toboe, at least at first, is a bit more optimistic. A chance encounter with a young girl gives him hope that wolves might be accepted by humans but is later betrayed when the girl cowers after he reveals his wolf form. Hige is admittedly the most underdeveloped of the three since he more or less just meets Kiba and sticks along for the ride. However, I am hopeful that his own storyline will come to fruition.

I did choose to watch the series in dub, only because that is how the DVD is set by default (I am that lazy). Still, I do not at all regret that decision. Not only does Johnny Young’s Bosch play the role of Kiba, but a younger Crispin Freeman takes the role of Tsume, and oh boy do I miss his buttery voice when watching anime dubs. Hige, played by Joshua Seth, and Toboe, voiced by Mona Marshall, also do a great job in their respective roles. Although, in the case of the latter, I cannot help but laugh a little every time I hear his voice.

The only thing I can really complain about at the moment is the format in which I am watching it. The show is almost 20 years old at this point, and as such, is sadly stuck in 4:3 aspect ratio. Not only that, the latent audio is incredibly quiet, and the English subtitles do not at all match the dub script, meaning I am basically required to wear headphones when I want to watch it.

Minor annoyances aside, Wolf’s Rain is looking set up for success. Not does it excel at visual storytelling, but its cast is just big enough to keep it interesting at all times without having to fight for screen time.


Have you all seen Wolf’s Rain? Let me know in the comments, but please avoid spoilers, as by the time this gets released I may or may not be finished with the series.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thank you to our Patron Jenn for being amazing!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: Attack on Titan OADs

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Some of those reading the title right now might be a bit confused as to why I am choosing to cover the topic of this post. After all, OADs are often not important to the story, and on top of that, I rarely if ever talk about them outside of the context of reporting that they exist. In fact, I do not even watch them most of the time unless I am struggling with things to watch.

Well, apart from the fact that Crunchyroll has them conveniently listed on their website and the fact that I said I was going to cover them, I want to feel like I am getting the full-on AOT experience. Plus, it seems as though most of these are to be treated as canon, and since that is the case, I want to give them the respect they deserve as proper entries into Attack on Titan.

There is not really a convenient summary I can write since each episode, or in some cases dual episodes, cover different characters and events. It might be easiest to think of them as an extended “Tales of Ba Sing Se” only a lot darker and with completely different timestamps and contexts. In fact, the range of time in which these episodes happen spans from before the first episode to the middle of season three.

Highs and Lows

I will say that there is no bad episode among the released OADs. There is, however, one mediocre episode, which comes right at the beginning. Episode two focuses on a cooking competition between Jean and Sasha, all the while Jean is looking for every excuse not to see his mom, even going so far as to kick her out of the barracks when she comes to visit him.

Rather than outright bad, I would describe this episode as just being closer to mediocre. Everything about it feels…off for some reason. Whether it is the stakes, which are some of the lowest the series has ever seen, or maybe even the focus on Jean’s homelife which is not particularly interesting. If I had to choose one thing about it that feels the most wrong, it would be the comedy, which just feels out of place as the focus of an entire episode.

The highlight of this season is by far the episodes focused on Levi’s backstory. He has always been one of the most popular characters in the series, memes or otherwise, and these episodes cemented the justification for said popularity. These episodes also give us the origin story of Levi’s friends, and how exactly his relationship with Erwin came to be.

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Levi’s story is by far one of the most compelling in the Attack on Titan universe. Little is known about the underground city outside of the fact that those who live down there tend to stay down there. Poverty is its defining characteristic and through a major tragedy, Levi is able to make it to the surface.

In fact, I would argue that both of the two-part OADs are worth mentioning, as Annie’s is also surprisingly good. Her episode focuses on investigating the missing daughter of a wealthy elite. The job is passed on to her after she asks her roommate to report her sick for tomorrow’s Military Police work. Despite not caring that much, to begin with, she ends up solving the whole thing in a day.

It is an interesting story because Annie is one of those characters who also feels a bit underdeveloped despite how much importance she has early on. Unfortunately, I cannot say these episodes do as much in terms of properly explaining her motivations, but it does give us another side of her that makes her feel decidedly more human than even Reiner or Bertholdt. On top of that, the episode shows us yet another aspect of the seedy underworld that is human society within the wall: drugs. At first, it felt like an odd choice, but considering they have weapons that literally send them flying through the air at top speed to kill titans, it makes sense that they can cook drugs.

OADs vs Main Seasons

Outside of the aforementioned episode about Jean, all of these are above average episodes, with a lot of them focusing not just on individual characters, but the soldiers as a group. Something that feels missing from Attack on Titan is a sense of comradery which the earlier military training episodes fail to really foster. I dare say that making time for the content of, let us say, episode three would help to improve that.

Episode three showcases Eren and friends during a training mission in which the only immediate objective is to reach a checkpoint and come back. The group is attacked by black market weapon sellers at which point their gear and Krista are taken. The crew is then forced to use their better judgment to devise a plan and get her back.

Honestly, if this episode were just dropped into the middle of the original series and edited a bit for context, the series as a whole would be a fair bit better. This is not to say that right now Attack on Titan is not compelling, but it feels like if more time were spent on characters earlier on, there would be a bit more impact later on.

That could actually be said for most of the episodes here. Their division from the main series as OADs, while they may still be canon, gives them an air of unimportance. One of my biggest gripes with Annie’s episodes, for instance, is not even anything to do with the episodes themselves. Rather, it is the fact that they exist outside the preview of season one, where their inclusion would have seriously assisted her character.

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What is the Point?

Though not as narratively or technically impressive as some of the others, Mikasa’s “flashback” during the last OVA feels compelling enough to talk about. Many have argued that her character basically comes down to having strong feelings for Eren, and while I do not deny that, it is not necessarily a bad thing for a character to be solely focused on another.

During the episode, Mikasa reimagines the world with the stipulation that Eren has to die at some point, and their terrifying reality mirages itself away, replaced instead by one in which Mikasa’s parents are still alive, and Eren becomes her distant friend.

This episode appears to be in the context in which the group figures out that Eren only has a few years left to live, which makes a lot of sense. Those feelings of desperation can be hard to deal with, and yet, by the end of the episode, it all vanishes, which highlights the immediacy of their situation.

Music? Music.

Surprisingly there are actually a few cool things to say about the music in these OADs. For starters, during the intro sequence to the episode about Jean’s cooking competition, the intro for Guren no Yumiya is edited to focus more on Jean himself. While not incredibly important to the overall episode, it is a nice touch that was admittedly pretty funny.

Of course, I cannot talk about Attack on Titan music without also mentioning the man, the myth, the legend, Hiroyuki Sawano. The base soundtrack for the series is already beautiful, but the female rendition of Call Your Name which is included at the end of Annie’s episodes is absolutely phenomenal and was quickly added to my music rotation.

Conclusion

For the purposes of this review, these episodes are being judged as a sort of loosely connected mini-series, with the over-arching story coming from Attack on Titan itself and not from any internal connectivity between the episodes. Even with that being the case, they are a great addition to the overall story of AOT, and with the full context of the series now under my belt, I look forward to the final season.

83/100


Have you seen the Attack on Titan OADs? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thank you to our awesome Patron Jenn

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Btooom!: The Anime That Desperately Needs a Remake

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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The great thing about scrolling through my WordPress feed is that, not only do I get to interact with my blog friends, but I also get to scout ideas for potential posts. Credit for the idea of this post goes to The Spooky Red Head, who asked a question that, though I definitely have heard discussed before, I have never really had a great answer to, at least until now.

When Btooom! came out back in the fall of 2012, it felt…unique. I mean, a battle royale on a deserted island…but with grenades? On top of a killer color palette and insanely kickass opening, this show had the recipe for success. At least, that is what I thought. While the show is still decently popular in places like MAL and Ani-list, it is not exactly anything to write home about. On top of that, the show never actually got a second season, which means after that season was over, there was little reason to keep talking about it.

First, I feel like I should clarify. When I say the show felt unique, I do not mean that the battle royale format is unique to it. If anything can be credited for the creation of the sub-genre, it would have to be the Japanese film Battle Royale which was released back in 2000, and even then, there are probably a number of other series/films which took a crack at it before then. Rather, I think it is fair to say that Btooom took the format and intensified it in a way that shapes its own identity, i.e. the brighter colors mixed with the grittier backgrounds and character designs.

“Ok, but the show was still solid. Why does it need a remake?”

A reasonable question someone might reasonably reason reasonably, and yes, I agree. Btooom is an above-average show, and yet the lack of discussion it gets in modern circles would seem to suggest otherwise. The motivation behind this theoretical remake is not quality. After all, plenty of franchises have been remade only to come out worse.

The motivation is instead, for a greater level of success. After all, the environment that Btooom! aired almost 10 years ago was significantly different. The idea of a battle royale was a significantly less popular format in media. Worldwide hits like Squid Game were nowhere to be seen, and the battle royale format in video games was much more niche, since titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PubG were yet to be released.

Fast forward to today, and the battle royale is arguably as popular as it has ever been. A show like Btooom! in today’s anime environment would arguably do much better, and could be a significant moneymaker for any studio that is willing to put the time into marketing it correctly. Of course, there is always a chance the studio fumbles the bag regardless.

Still, I am not here to argue how likely it is the series gets a remake, let alone a good one. What I will say is that, for whatever reason, Btooom was just a little too ahead of its time, especially since it came out during an era where getting any kind of continuation was not particularly common. On the list of media that deserves a heavy spotlight, it is not exactly super high up. On a personal level, though, it is a series I would love to see again.


What series would you like to see get remade? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, shoutout to Jenn on Patreon for being absolutely amazing.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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I Marathoned Three Seasons of Attack on Titan. Here are My Thoughts So Far

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Confession: I originally did not plan on tackling the series in this way. Rather, I would have much preferred covering the series in chunks of episodes, so that they would roughly aline with the major arcs. I had everything set up: a nicely formatted google doc on which to take notes, my laptop on my bed, and an extremely comfy blanket along with Attack on Titan pulled up on Crunchyroll. Only one small problem: I could not stop watching.

Calling myself a big fan of the original series would probably have been a bit of a stretch. It was good for what it was, but it never really left a lasting impression on me. Come time for season two almost four years later and, well, I enjoyed it, but much like the first, it was never anything more than just a well-made show.

Jump back to today, and uh, yeah, I have no idea how this happened. Something in me just really wanted to revisit the series. Call it the echoes of online discussion lingering in the back of my mind, or really whatever, but at that moment I needed to watch Attack on Titan. Before I realized it, an entire weekend and over 40 episodes were gone in the blink of an eye.

Needless to say, my idea of cataloging my rewatch/journey through season three was basically out the window. From that point, I mostly just tried to enjoy it without thinking too much, and safe to say, I did. Anyone who clicked on this post expecting a full review is going to be sorely disappointed. Rather, for this post, in particular, I wanted to describe my thoughts on the series as a whole up to this point, after which I will segway into covering the OADs and then eventually doing an episodic review of season four like I had originally planned for the whole series.

With that being said, here are said thoughts.

Titan Lore

I remember getting to “that scene” in season 2 for the first time and getting a bit of whiplash from how fast I reached for the remote to rewind. Like, what?! At the time I was very confused, but in hindsight dropping the bleak reality that is the titan lineage out of nowhere is pretty tonally consistent with the rest of the series.

Even before that though we get the also crazy, although slightly less surprising reveal about Ymir, which again makes sense. Season three, however, is where the reveals reach a whole new level, and where the worldbuilding comes to a head. I will admit to being a bit concerned about season three after hearing some mixed opinions from others watching at the time. Still, I cannot help by find Attack on Titan‘s third season to be the best out of the three so far.

This is not to say that any of the seasons are bad per se, it is an incredibly high-quality show, but whereas many series get bogged down by their focus on worldbuilding and lore, Attack on Titan feels at its best during its moments of historical reflection, when the truth finally reveals itself after years of sacrifice and hardship, and this is not even including what is still to come in season four.

If I were to finish ranking the others, season one probably gets a slight edge over two, but not by much. The way season one lingers on the surprise that is Annie and just how much there is left to know creates this weird mixture of hope and pessimism which informs the proceeding seasons really well. However, season two also does a great job at fleshing out some of the minor characters like Gaby, so points to it for that.

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Eren and Friends

Eren has always been a mixed bag of a character, and for good reason. The start of the series shows him at his most angry and revenge-filled, his teenage angst out in full force because of the death of his mother. On top of that, Eren has to be a functioning soldier at an age where he would not even be old enough to drive a car in the state where I live.

However, as knowledge and responsibility of his powers dawn on him more and more, especially after many of his fellow Survey Corps members literally die to protect him, that visible anger begins to subside. The show then presents to us an almost completely different Eren, one whose sole focus has shifted to protecting humanity…and also still killing all of the titans, kind of.

Armin has been my favorite character in the series for a while, his development from the scared puppy who just followed around Eren and Mikasa to the next military genius of the Survey Corp is one that I very much appreciated. There are also plenty of times where he feels the most relatable. Like, everyone else will be ready to go and Armin is there saying “you guys aren’t still scared shitless?”

Mikasa is somehow still the coolest character, and yet also the least developed. Though not necessarily a bad thing, the only thing that really changes is just how obvious her affection for Eren is. In fact, her big emotional outbursts are only ever in relation to the safety of Eren or Armin, which says basically all that one would ever need to know about her.

WIT vs Mappa: What to Expect

For those unaware, during the transition between the end of season three and what was then named the “final season” (despite not actually being the final season) Attack on Titan changed studios. WIT, who handled the first three, gave it over to Mappa. Supposedly this had to do with a thematic change present in season four, and thus WIT wanted a new approach to the series, but at the moment, having not seen season four, I am not exactly convinced.

Still, everything that I have seen as far as trailers and promotional material does not leave me with much to complain about. Attack on Titan looks as good as it has ever been, and with an arc that is bound to be action-packed, I am indeed excited.

On top of that, Mappa has a solid track record, producing the hit shounen series Jujutsu Kaisen as well as one of my favorite series Terror in Resonance. Also, apparently, they made Kids on the Slope, which, man I need to watch that series already…

For as much as I appreciate the grittier, more jagged character designs to come out of WIT’s production of the series, it is not an automatic negative to have Mappa at the helm. Rather, the most concerning element is not the animation but rather how the story will resolve from this point on

Conclusion

Safe to say that I am incredibly optimistic about Attack on Titan even despite the studio change. It is a series that has quickly risen through the ranks for me, and while calling it a favorite is not quite a done deal if season four manages to keep pace, it is a high likelihood.


How do you all feel about Attack on Titan? Let me know down in the comments, but please keep any and all spoilers out, as I am going in pretty much blind.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for being an amazing Patron

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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School is Out: What’s Next?

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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College is officially done, and hopefully, that means more consistent content coming your way. After got to endlessly feed the algorithm…yay.

In all seriousness, I am happy to be back, and now that I have time to write and watch/read new series, I will be able to focus on delivering some articles on a regular basis. With that being said, there are just a few things I thought would be worth touching on briefly.

Update: The Animated Observation’s Rating System

At the beginning of the year this year, I implemented a rating system for the series I review in depth. There were a number of reasons behind the change, which are outlined here. Looking back on it over the last few months, I am happy with the change. It gives me as a writer and the reader a way of quantifying my feelings without necessarily taking anything away from the review itself. As such, it will probably continue to be here for the time being. It may get a visual tweak along the way, but the primary system itself will remain intact.

Taking Part in K’s Tik Tok Battle Royale

Anyone not familiar with K at the Movies should change that very quickly. He’s a great personality who makes excellent content, and over the course of the next month or so, I’ll be taking part in one of his awesome challenges. I don’t know how much he wants to be revealed at this point, so I’ll keep my mouth shut for now, but be on the lookout for more on that soon.

Working on a Chapbook?

This is not as much related to Animated Observations but I did want to talk about it for just a bit. In addition to focusing more on writing here, I want to put some serious focus on my poetry. My basic timeline for this is to have some sort of complete chapbook/potentially complete collection by the end of summer, and then start considering my options for release once the new semester begins. I will also hopefully be documenting this journey over on Solidly Liquid, so those who have yet to do so, be sure to give it a follow.

What I’ll Be Covering

It has been a while since I did this, but I figured it would be fun to let my lovely readers in on what I’ll be covering in the upcoming weeks. This is not definitive by any means, and there is always the outside chance that I get distracted by some new shiny object, but I am hoping to get through these at least by the end of next month:

  • Attack on Titan (OADs and Season 4)
  • Arakawa: Under the Bridge
  • King’s Game
  • Wolf’s Rain
  • Kaguya-Sama (seasonal)
  • Spy x Family (seasonal)

This should hopefully give me enough to chew on for a bit before another seasonal rotation hits and the summer comes to an end.


What are you all up to? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Thanks as always to Jenn for being an amazing Patron.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

The Observation Deck: Bubble

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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There are a number of anime that I approached in the past with the mentality of really wanting to like them. Whether it was because of a specific visual in a trailer, or a plot summary that felt particularly compelling, I watched them with the expectation that I was going to enjoy them. The best example of this which comes to mind is Food Wars, of which I sat through two and a half seasons before finally realizing how utterly mediocre it is.

Unfortunately, it seems as though I and many others have had a similar experience when it comes to Netflix’s latest anime film Bubble. In this case, a lot of what got people excited upon its announcement last year was the big names attached to the project, most notable of which are Tetsurou Araki (Attack on Titan, Death Note) and Gen Urobuchi (Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass, Fate/Zero). Sadly, though, for as much talent as this project managed to pull, it only ended up being just ok.

Bubble tells the story of a seemingly magical Tokyo, where the appearance of bubbles followed by an extreme explosion created a unique anti-gravity environment that was flooded by the surrounding ocean. This new environment attracted an experimental project involving orphans and parkour where teams compete for resources while living in this now floating city.

Doing Too Much

Another thing that this movie made me imagine was a writer’s room filled with like 20 people where everyone was just kind of shouting out ideas to the head writer (Urobuchi in this case) and they just kind of write it all down and try to make it work in order to keep everyone happy. Kind of a shame really, since Urobuchi’s writing is generally very purposeful and slimmed down to only the most important elements.

Like, take a second to really think about how many plot points get introduced. A bubble storm that destroys Tokyo, orphans who invade the city while it is on lockdown, a then seemingly government-endorsed research project, a parkour sports league that may or may not be government-endorsed, a bubble that gains sentience and becomes obsessed with the main characters, a plot by one of the parkour teams to kidnap the lead researcher of the science project…what?

This movie drops picks up and drops story beats like Thor suddenly losing his connection to Mjolnir. Multiple times. Generally speaking, I tend to give more points to interesting ideas even when they are executed badly. After all, in an age where art is as well funded as it has ever been and now everything is a re-tread of something else, having genuinely new ideas is hard. Still, the media does need to execute for it to be worth watching, so ultimately the story fails in that department.

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Well, It is Pretty

Honestly, that could be the tagline for most of the anime films I have covered over the last few years. However, Bubble does go the extra mile above simply having a few nice-looking frames, because my god is the choreography in this film phenomenal.

And no, the use of the word choreography here is not a mistake. Sure, the characters are technically playing a non-dancing sport, but the way they are animated to glide through the air while bouncing from building to building, car to rock, is absolutely breath-taking. While I am incredibly lazy and therefore cannot be bothered to check the entirety of the staff listing for both projects, it is clear that Wit-Studio and many of those who worked to bring the visuals of the 3D Maneuver Gear in Attack on Titan to life brought the same passion to the parkour scenes in Bubble.

Speaking of, parkour is actually such a cool thing to watch. There was definitely a time in recent history when the saturation of parkour videos on YouTube made it hard not to meme. Yet, it never stopped those videos from being fun to watch. I will not sit here and lie saying I watched them for hours, but I would also be lying if I said the occasional parkour compilation video did not get me hyped. Again, it is one of those ideas which feels genuinely unique to this film, and it does look nice, but it never feels like it adds anything to the story.

Good Music

It feels like ever since the release of Your Name back in 2016, the standard for music in anime films has become Radwimps. Regardless of how one feels about the story of Your Name, and I know my opinions have certainly changed since then, the soundtrack is one area where its reputation has remained untouched.

Luckily, Bubble does not suffer much in this department either. For starters, both its opening and ending themes fit with the nature of the film, with the opening being more upbeat and EDM-based and the ending song being more of an acoustic ballad, with a more melancholic tone.

The rest of the soundtrack is composed by Hiroyuki Sawano (Again, the talent pool here is insane) and is definitely reflected in the more bombastic moments, like on the track “Tower.” However, Sawano knows how to flex his muscle a bit, as is evidenced by the more mysterious main theme which is titled after the movie and also sounds like the call of a siren. This feels appropriate since Uta is primarily compared to the little mermaid throughout the film.

Oh yeah, the characters…

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This Movie Has Characters?

I was legitimately about to wrap up writing this post without touching on the characters at all, which should tell you just how much is actually going on in this mess of a film.

The main storyline, if it can even be called that, focuses on Hibiki, one of the kids who ran away into Tokyo after the explosion at Tokyo Tower. He is something of a genius at parkour, and at times seems to be the Defacto leader of the group Blue Blaze. After an accident near the tower where he almost gets sucked into a BLACK HOLE (yeah forgot to mention there are black holes in this movie), He is saved from drowning by a bubble-turned-humanoid which he later names Uta.

The most interesting part of either character is not even the romance, but rather Hibiki’s Auditory Hypersensitivity, which is used to explain why he often spends time alone and is constantly wearing headphones. Many in online discussion of the film have taken this to be a soft confirmation that Hibiki is autistic since that particular condition is often associated with being on the spectrum. However, the film seemingly never confirms this nor does anything with it outside of a two-to-three minute flashback near the end. Again, a nice inclusion, but it feels like this could have been a much bigger focus considering where the film ends up.

I would bother to list any of the other characters except that literally none of them are consequential or even really remotely interesting. In the interest of not spoiling the movie for anyone who still wants to check it out after reading this, the best summary I can give is the following: the romance is ok, except it does not actually go anywhere. As far as the ending goes, it is exactly what one would think it is going to be once the movie reveals a certain plot point.

Conclusion

I wish I had more to say about Bubble, except actually not really because this post is already over 1000 words, but I do not. For those who do not give a shit about a compelling storyline and are fine with just looking at nice visuals for almost two hours, by all means, be my guest. For everyone else…well, it is possible to get something out of this, but chances are not particularly high.

65/100


If you have seen Bubble already, how did you feel about it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special shoutout to Jenn for being an awesome Patron

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Everyone Should Read This Manga

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Hey, everyone, I’m back haha

The final stretch of this last semester at college was a bit harder than usual, for reasons that honestly have more to do with me than with any of the actual work. I will probably have an update post sometime in the next week detailing more personal stuff, so look out for that. For now, though, I wanted to put out something a bit more substantive to really get back into the writing grind.

One series, in particular, has been holding my attention more than a lot of others, despite the fact that, as of the writing of this post, it only has 8 chapters due to its monthly release schedule. (As an aside, I am actually totally ok with this. Monthly release schedules for manga seem way healthier than the hell that is weekly chapter releases, so I kinda hope that becomes more of an industry-standard).

Show-Ha Shoten is a shounen comedy about a high schooler Azemichi, who in his free time calls into radio shows to deliver the best jokes around, going by the alias Everyday Shijima. One day, he gets to me the famous child actor Taiyo Higashikata while doing some work for the student council. The two quickly realize their shared passion for comedy, and so when Higashikata’s partner bails during the school festival, the two deliver a powerful comedy set that gets the whole school laughing.

Ok, But Why Should I Read It?

Well for starters, it’s only eight chapters. While the feeling of diving into a longer-running series and catching up is certainly fun a lot of the time, there is something to getting in early and seeing how it develops. I can only imagine what it must be like for people who have been reading One Piece religiously for the last decade. The chapters are a bit meatier than most manga, averaging around 40 pages outside of the first, but given the aforementioned monthly release that kind of makes sense. Still, I imagine after reading the title “Everyone Should Read This Manga,” most are probably looking for something a bit more compelling than it is quick to read.

Ok, let us start with the characters then. Azemichi is in a position that I think a lot of people who are at least in high school can probably relate to. Clearly, his interests lie with comedy, but social expectation, both from his parents and from society at large says that comedy is not an option. In that way, there are a lot of comparisons to be drawn between himself and Blue Period‘s Yatora Yaguchi. Azemichi, though, does stand out on his own. His nervous attitude is typical, but not so paralyzing that he is unable to take the risk of doing what he loves.

Higashikata is a bit harder to talk about without giving too much away since a good portion of his backstory is intertwined with developments in the most recent chapters. Still, if the phrase “child actor” did not set off a few alarm bells, well then it definitely should. Even threw his backstory, however, Higashikata has managed to be charming and funny, with his weirdo personality often taking center stage, both literally and metaphorically, in the duo’s relationship.

What’s So Funny?

Talking about the comedy in Show-Ha Shoten is ironically the hardest part of explaining its appeal. On the surface, this feels like it should not be the case. After all, comedy is comedy, right?

Most understand the idea that what one person finds funny is not what other people find funny, and no, I do not mean in the edgy, “politically incorrect” way. That topic is far too big for a series as straightforward as this. Rather what I mean is the cultural differences between American and Japanese humor. While certainly not a new aspect of discussing comedy manga/anime series, given how much focus there is on how the comedy itself is judged and critiqued, it is worth talking about.

To but briefly, Japanese humor, in general, relies a lot more on setup and storytelling than it does on being witty or pun-focused. Thus, the judging and response of the audience reflect that. A duo that fails to tell a compelling story usually scores very poorly, whereas duos that can execute a particular beat well do better. All of this is to say that the comedy which the series tends to focus on, both in and outside of the structure of routines, is a lot different than what most are probably used to.

What makes Show-Ha Shoten so compelling is not necessarily that every joke lands perfectly, but rather that the jokes, in combination with the shounen battle elements, create a cheery, feel-good atmosphere, occasionally challenged by the more serious contemplative moments of whether or not Azemichi can actually make a career out of his passion.

Conclusion

Ok, fair enough, I cannot promise that literally, everyone will enjoy it. Still, while its attempts at humor may not be for everyone, the passion behind the comedy and its well-written main duo makes it something that everyone should at least check out. The artist for death note also did the art for this, so that is a plus.


Have you already read Show-Ha Shoten? How do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Thanks as always to our Patron Jenn for being absolutely amazing!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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