Category Archives: Observation Deck

Final Thoughts: Beastars

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

“Beastars” is certainly a show that exists. Because this show exists, and because I made the decision to watch it all the way through to the end, I am now going to talk about it. Of course, when I say talk about it, what I mean to say is that I am going to talk about how absolutely garbage it is.

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What is this Story?

Its been a while since I’ve talked about a show that I thought was particularly offensive in terms of just how bad it is, so for this post, I will try to go in depth in why I think why certain things do or do not work. For starters, lets look at the kind of story Beastars is trying to tell.

The series focuses on a world of semi-anthropomorphized animals, who are divided into into to two broad categories based on their animal types, carnivores and herbivores. In this world, there is a lot of prejudice against carnivores due to their natural inclination towards eating meat, and more specifically small herbivores. Still, the two groups mostly get along.

At the beginning of the show, an herbivore lama named Tem has been murdered by someone presumed to be a carnivore. From there, the show follows Legushi, a social awkward grey wolf who is just trying to fit in at Cherryton High School. From there he meets Luis, the leader of the drama club, and Haru, a bunny who runs the school’s gardening club.

Story wise, there is just way too much going on. For starters, instead picking a lane and running with it, the show basically tries to split the difference between Zootopia and Twilight. From there the show goes from being a murder mystery to a shoujou drama to an action adventure and then back to a drama all within the span of twelve episodes. The worst part, though, is that the series succeeds at almost none of these, with the exception of a few things which I will talk about later.

Social Commentary: Beastars is…Accidentally Racist?

When I said that Beastars was splitting the difference between “Zootopia” and “Twilight,” I was not kidding. Pretty much all of Beastars characters, settings, and story-lines allude to a similar social tension between those identified as herbivores and those as carnivores.

This tension is shown most obviously in the first episode after Tem is murdered. The pain of his death was felt among all of the students, but specifically within the drama club, which he was a part of. After the incident, many of the herbivore members of the club felt immediately suspicious.

Now, “Zootopia” had a fairly similar message, although it dealt with more specifically with the idea that there was discrimination in the law against carnivores. In this way, it felt much more like an allegory for race relations rather than just another Disney movie about animals.

“Beastars” takes this message in a fairly different direction. The show actively incorporates the idea that carnivores are more naturally likely to kill, and even has an entire section of the series dedicated to show a secret black market where carnivores can eat meat, which has been strictly outlawed.

Basically, the show seems to imply that carnivores are naturally worse in some ways than herbivores. Hmmm…interesting.

Now, I want to be perfectly clear. I am not literally saying the show is racist, and in all honesty, I do not expect most people to pick up on this, considering most are probably watching the show for the drama anyway. However, it is something worth thinking about, because messages like this, even subtle ones, can have an impact on people.

Legushi

Clearly I have much to learn when it comes to ways of character writing. In fact, maybe I should try and reach out to the original mangaka Paru Itagaki, because I did not think it was possible to write a character who is simultaneously the edgiest character, and yet also the most literal Beta I have every had the displeasure of watching.

My god, I have seen harem anime characters with more decision making ability than Legushi. For over half the series, this emo wolf cannot decide if he is pyschopath or in love, and then when he does, and then actually has the opportunity to be romantically involved with Haru, he just does nothing. Absolutely some of the worst payoff for sitting through 12 episodes of drama that I have ever watched.

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Jazz is Cool, but Not in this Show

I was originally going to give “Beastars” some credit for its soundtrack. After all, Jazz often feels like like an underrepresented genre when it comes to anime soundtracks, with one of the only notable exceptions recently being “Kids on the Slope,” which aired back in 2012.

However, I then remembered that most of the scenes where Jazz is playing is either when Legushi almost gets romantic but then does not, and when he is doing one of his stupid emo monologues, which ruins any enjoyment of the music.

Does this Show do Anything Right?

Yes, actually. As much as I hate to admit, the blend between 2D and 3D animation, as well as the 3D animation itself, looks incredibly good. Normally I steer clear of CG heavy anime because of the way they look (see Berserk 2016), but in this case the CG almost always added to the show’s presentation rather than taking away from it.

One area of the show where this is most evident is in during the play held by the drama club. Even despite these episodes having a heavy amount of action, the CG never looks bad, even against 2D backgrounds. The fights between Bill and Legushi were especially entertaining in this regard. It is truly a shame that Studio Orange’s talent for 3D animation was wasted on this material.

Conclusion

Overall, though, I cannot say I am disappointed. “Beastars” turned out to be exactly the poorly written furry drama I expected it to be. There is something to be said for it as purely popcorn entertainment. Plus, those who are only looking for a show with good CG visual definitely will not be let down. Otherwise, this is worth nobodies time.


How do you all feel about Beastars? 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!

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

Final Thoughts: Steven Universe Future

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

The number of shows, both anime or otherwise, that I would consider truly important to myself is one that fits comfortably within the number of fingers on my hand. Steven Universe, for better or for worse, is one of them. The show’s final season, Future, was not only good in all senses of the word, but it has also come to remind me just how much I have both grown as a person, and still need to grow.

Steven Universe and The Hero’s Journey

Many who watched “Steven Universe’s” first episode and nothing else probably assumed the show is pretty simple, at least in the sense that it is just a stupid cartoon and and has no deeper sociocultural implications. In that sense they would be wrong. However, looking at the through a critical lens, it feels pretty accurate to say that everything up to future is just a repetition of The Hero’s Journey.

For those uninitiated with the idea, Joseph Campbell’s monomyth describes a broad literary category in which some hero gets called on to face a challenge, goes on an adventure, and comes back transformed. This makes sense because, as anyone who has seen the full series can attest, “Steven Universe” is nothing if not journeys and transformations, both literal and figurative.

In fact, one of the first, and arguably most important, journeys Steven takes is one where he, and those watching, learn about Fusion. While on a mission with pearl and amethyst, Steven is captured by a giant bird, and so Pearl and Amethyst are forced to fuse in order to save him.

Fusion throughout “Steven Universe” serves as both a power up for the gems as well as a storytelling mechanic. It involves two gems becoming one and taking on a new form, and also signifies a more intimate relationship in gems, both emotionally and physically. Often times it serves as the resolution of a given story arc within the show, when a conflict has come to an end, and to characters understand each other more.

“Future,” however, is quite the opposite.

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Steven Universe Future as a Deconstruction

One thing that remained constant throughout “Steven Universe” until the series’ final season was Steven’s quest to find out about his mother’s identity, which he ultimately did. Still, despite getting the answers he wanted, and saving the universe along the way, Steven was still left feeling a sort of emptiness

As Rebecca Sugar, the show’s creator, confirmed in a recent interview, “Future” was Steven finding out who he was, in contrast to all of his adventures that came before. In this way, “Steven Universe’s” final season was an excellent deconstruction.

All throughout the series prior to “Future,” Steven’s own identity is consumed by the shadow of his mother Rose Quartz, who it turns out is also Pink Diamond. Each mission was creating a path forward towards his goal of finding out about his past. But this goal was not without its struggles and harms.

Identity and Mental Health

One of “Steven Universe’s” best traits is its Stalwart commitment to the idea of inclusivity and acceptance of others, especially in regards to gender and sexual minorities. Most of the gems that populate the world of “Steven Universe” remain gender-less while pretty clearly presenting female, a nod to Rebecca Sugar’s own non-binary identity.

This kind of acceptance and understanding is present in Steven as well. He is presented with many tough situations throughout the show, most of which it would have been easier to simply write off the other characters in the show as evil. However, Steven operates off the fundamental principle that every person is deserving of kindness, and chooses to take on their burdens.

Still, as it is explored in “Future,” this ends up being detrimental to Steven’s physical and mental health, to the point where his gem powers run rampant and cause him to turn into a monster.

I think it is also important to emphasize relationship between someone’s perception of the world around them and their mental health. Although Steven is literally his own person throughout the whole show, to him, it never feels that way because everything he does was either in service of finding out about his mom or rescuing other people.

In other words, nothing Steven ever did before the events of “Future” was for himself. On top of that, he was put through many life threatening situations, which caused him a lot of stress on top of what he was going through.

This realization in “Growing Pains” was probably one of the most self-reflective moments I have had in a while, and it honestly made me step back and look at the more traumatic experiences in my life.

The Story

It is easy to forget that aside from its important messages and critiques of social norms, “Steven Universe” has always been a show with mostly good writing, and its latest season is no exception.

“Future” manages to keep itself focused on the topic Steven’s identity, and rarely veers from it, unlike the show’s first five seasons, which were, in a lot of ways, littered with plenty of unnecessary filler. Each episode feels like it has an intended purpose within the arc, and ultimately moves the story forward.

The season also handles tone incredibly well. While the first few episodes come across as light-hearted, it becomes apparent fairly quickly that the story to come will be much less so. However, the show never has to sacrifice coherency to make this jump, and in that respect does a great job.

The ending was also standout moment of the series. The last episode of the series shows Steven telling the other crystal gems about his plans to move out. While getting ready to leave, he wonders why they are not more concerned. As he is getting ready to go, he confronts them about this, and the four of them break down crying.

It is a great vignette that highlights one of the show’s most important messages, that people should always be honest about their feelings.

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The End of Steven Universe

It is at times like these that my head usually rushes to thoughts like “If only there was one more season, one more episode,” etc. I think now is not the time for thoughts like those. Just like Steven himself, it is important to let this chapter close, so that a new one may open. While it is worth appreciating “Steven Universe” for the foreseeable future, it is also important to understand when to let a good thing end, and now is certainly the time.


I have always felt Final Thoughts was a bad title for these kinds of posts because, in reality, this probably will not be the last time I talk about this show. In fact, I have thought about doing at least a few more analytical posts on this show, but at the moment I am not sure. Time will tell, I guess.

Do you have any strong feelings about “Steven Universe Future?” 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!

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

Final Thoughts: Weathering With You

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In the three years after the worldwide success that was “Your Name,” director Makoto Shinkai spent his time hard at work on yet another film, or at least that is what he said in an interview shown after “Weathering with You’s” premiere in U.S. theaters this week.

“Weathing With You” tells the story of Hodoka, a high school boy who runs away to the city of Tokyo, only to find out it is a little more than he bargained for. After finding a stable place to live Hodaka meets Hina, a girl who has the power to control the weather. Soon, the two decide to start a business, only for things to go horribly wrong.

The film certainly has a lot of interesting things about it, and so here are my final thoughts.

Weathering With You as a Message About Climate Change

Another thing Shinkai mentioned in the interview is that stuck out to me was that part of what inspired him to writer the film was the ever-looming threat that is Climate Change. Initially, I thoughts this was kind of posturing, and was something he only said to make the movie feel deeper than it really is.

However, the more I thought about it the more it maid sense. After all, the story focuses on a coporation (Hina and Hodaka) using the earth for profit at the expense of those around them (The people living in Tokyo), and Hina is almost made to pay for it. I suppose its fair to say, though, that this interpretation is a little mean, and that the message is much more general.

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The Guest Cameos

If you were not paying attention much at all while watching the movie, it would be pretty easy to miss the fact that the two main characters of “Your Name,” Mitsuha and Taki. While it is not super weird to see the two in the new movie, given that they are set in the same place at roughly the same time, it still kind of messes with my head a bit. Speaking of “Your Name,” though…

The Legacy of Makoto Shinkai

“Your Name” was an incredibly successful movie in every sense of the word. Not only did it become one of the highest selling Japanese films of all time, it also has had a cultural impact far beyond just the borders of Japan. It is certainly an epic tail that will be remembered well past 2016.

However despite the experience that “Your Name” was, I find myself gravitating much more towards “Weathering with You.”

Shinkai’s newest film actually feels like a departure in a lot of ways from his previous films. While movies like “Your Name” and “5 Centimeters Per Second” focused largely on the experience of the film, i.e. the overall atmosphere and feeling, “Weathering With You” feels a lot more grounded in its characters, which makes them feel a lot more human and not just random actors in a modern TV commercial.

Conclusion

Despite not feeling that great when going to watch it, “Weathering with You” managed to bring me on the emotional roller-coaster that only Shinkai films can, while also briging fresh ideas and interesting story lines as well. While maybe as ambitious as previous Shinkai films, the feelings it brings are real just the same.


How do you all feel about Weathering With You? 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!

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

Final Thoughts: A Silent Voice

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It is has been over three years since Kyoto Animation released what is probably one of their greatest works since the studio’s founding in 1981. While maybe not the grandiose, love story spectacle that propelled “Your Name” to its spot as one of the best selling Japanese films of all time, “A Silent Voice” is not only an arguably better film, but one that carries a lot more weight in its subject matter. Here are my final thoughts.

The Story of A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice tells the story of Shoya Ishida and Shoko Nishimiya. While attempting to kill himself, Shoya recalls the days of his elementary school. During those times, he was happy, had plenty of friends, and almost no problems, that is, until Shoko Nishimiya transferred to his school. It wasn’t long, however, before Shoko’s deafness made her stand out among the elementary school kids. Soon enough everyone was bullying her, Shoya most predominantly, but with everyone more or less sitting back and laughing. Eventually, it gets so bad that her mom calls, prompting everyone to sell out Shoya as the only culprit, leaving him angry at Shoko. This all leads to Shoko leaving the school.

Fast forward back to the present. Shoya, now in high school, is alone with no friends. Feeling some level of guilt, he decides to try and reconnect with Shoko as a way of apologizing. From there, the two of them slowly build their relationship.

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Hating That Which is Different

A Silent Voice’s central conflict comes from Shoya’s horrible past. At the beginning of the film, he feels so bad about his own life and the things he did to Shoko that he tries to kill himself, but stops at the last second. That horrible past, of course, was bullying Shoko because of her deafness. Because her hearing made it slightly inconvenient to communicate, the kids around her saw this as a reason to hate who she is.

Most important, the lesson to take from Shoya’s past is that the kind of hatred that treats people differently because of who they are is quite literally childish, and ultimately stems from an animalistic fear of that which people do not recognize.

On Redemption and Self-Hatred

Throughout the film, Shoya and Shoko approach their friendship from two very different places, but one that still leave them with self-hatred. Shoya sees his actions as a reason to not only reconnect with Shoko, but to keep himself isolated from others. In his view, the loneliness he feels after being shunned by his classmates is deserved. Part of this does come off as a bit of a martyr complex on Shoya’s end. He sees himself as the only person who should suffer, even though he knows that others also took part in bullying Shoko.

Shoko, on the other hand, almost seems to still hate Shoya for most of the movie. Now, this is understandable given that Shoya went out of his way to make her life horrible during elementary school. However, it is still really weird given the fact that she continues to hang out with him. This, combined her having romantic feelings for him likely created the turmoil which prompted her to attempt suicide.

Because both of them hold in these feelings of self-hatred for so long, it creates a toxic relationship that neither of them quite realize they are in until it is almost too late. Still, by the end of the film they understand each other enough to let these feelings go, which allows them to be true friends.

Sending the Wrong Message?

One thing that has been highlighted by writers and content creators much smarter than myself is the dynamics between characters and how they can reflect real life relationships. Someone who does really well is The Aficionado, so go check them out. As for A Silent Voice, its safe to say that the dynamics are a bit odd, at least for Shoko anyway. Having a former bully come back into your life wanting to be friends can be a bit awkward to say the least, and is, again, part of the reason why she attempted suicide. Now, its true that in the end the two do end up casting aside their guilt, but it is worth thinking about whether or not sending the message of accepting your abuser back into your life is a good thing.

Good Writing Things That are Good

There are always a few things that good stories do to set themselves apart from other good stories, to show that they are willing to go above and beyond in order to make the best moments even better. One such great moment is near the end of the film, when Shoko tells Shoya she is going to go home and study. Now, this alone makes it somewhat suspicious, but the film adds to this foreshadowing when Shoko, instead of signing see you later instead signs what I presume was simply goodbye. Then, when Shoya goes back to the apartment shortly after to get Yuzuru’s camera, he almost immediately recognizes what Shoko is going to do because he was planning on doing the same thing.

Another one of these moments is actually a fusion of writing and animation. In order to visually represent Shoya’s fear of connecting with and looking at other people, the film uses giant blue X’s which appear on the faces of those he either does not know or is scared to talk to. While it is not particularly complex, it does add to the overall presentation in a way that makes for more emotional scenes, like in the final moments of the film where Shoya overcomes his guilt and is finally able to see everyone for who they are, and so all the blue X’s that were covering his classmates faces then disappear.

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The Animation

There is not much to say about A Silent Voice’s animation other than that it is amazing. While it is true that the film is not action heavy like some of Kyoto Animation’s other projects such as Beyond the Boundary, there is still a lot of care put into the film’s animation. I already mention the blue X’s, but one other part that stands out is the character designs. Something that lesser anime projects can often suffer from are lackluster character designs that don’t inspire many to remember any of the characters. However, A Silent Voice has no problem with this whatsoever, and the character designs are noticeable improvement over the manga.

The Dub

As I re-watched the movie on Netflix for this post, I decided it would be a good idea to give the dub a try, since I had never heard it before. Luckily, the dub manages to deliver in spades. Each of the actors did a great job portraying their characters and made them all feel unique. Some of the best performances came from Robbie Daymond and Lexi Cowden, who voiced Shoya and Shoko respectively.

Conclusion

A Silent Voice is maybe not among my personal favorites, but it is a film that accomplishes everything that it sets out to do. Not only does it talk about important subject matter, but manages to do so with one of the most beautiful presentations in recent memory. It is almost guaranteed to live one in the hearts of those who choose to watch it.


How do you all feel about A Silent Voice? 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!

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

Final Thoughts: Demon Slayer

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

One of the reasons I stopped watching seasonal anime, aside from an increasingly busy schedule, is because following all of what is popular all of the time is kind of a chore. This is not some hipster statement meant solely to ridicule what is popular, but it is to say that only following something because other people are can shift a person’s perspective on that anime. Demon Slayer is a show that, had I been watching it week by week, I probably would have enjoyed a lot more than I did. This is not to say that the show is bad, but rather that some parts of it could have been executed differently. Here are my Final Thoughts.

UFOTABLE: Busted!

It is hard to argue that Studio Ufotable has a bad track record when it comes to animation. After all, they have the Fate/ series, along with other projects like Garden of Sinners, under their belt. Now, most recently, they have Demon Slayer, the animation of which is indeed a cut above most of the other shows that aired this year. Not only do the more static moments of the shows still look good, but the action scenes show a level of care and quality found rarely outside of studios like Ufotable.

One of the best examples of this comes near the end of the series, in the fight between Tanjiro and Rui, where Tanjiro almost manages to beat Rui by himself. Not only does the this scene in particular have an incredibly unique color pallet, the movement of the animation is on par with the rest of Ufotable’s best.

A Fun Supporting Cast

Anime like Demon Slayer rarely ever work without a fun supporting cast backing up the main character, and even then sometimes they still do not. Luckily though, Demon Slayer’s supporting cast is pretty great. Zenitsu, while occasionally being pretty annoying and distracting, brings a lot to the table as a comedic relief. Zenitsu also has a lot of potential as a character, in that his backstory is one of most interesting out of all of the characters in the show so far. Inosuke, too, is a great character. While not as interesting as Zenitsu, he still shines through as unique, in that he does not think to much but still responds to Tanjiro with a level of respect that almost crosses him over into Tsundere territory.

Tamayo, the demon doctor who appears near the beginning of the series, is also pretty compelling. She serves as Tanjiro’s first bit of new evidence that not all demons are bad, and that there are those who are even willing to help those in the human world, as she was once a demon herself.

Tanjiro and Nezuko

My biggest gripe with the series as a whole really comes down to Tanjiro as a main character. While certainly a lot better than other protagonists, his development over the series leaves a lot to be desired.

At the beginning of the series, the show gives us Tanjiro’s origin story. He leaves home for a day only to return to his family slaughtered and his sister turned into a demon. However, Tanjiro’s single-minded focus on revenge for his sister becomes a bit boring after a while, as it feels like that is one of his only character traits. It is not until Zenitsu and Inosuke are introduced a little later on that it feels like their is a significant change of pace in the story.

Nezuko falls into a similar boat. While admittedly cute, she does not do a whole lot outside of acting as the catalyst for Tanjiro’s journey to become a Demon Slayer. It is not often she contributes to the story outside of being Tanjiro’s sister who was turned into a demon.

Conclusion

I do not think it can be said that Demon Slayer is bad, because it is not. It has a lot of great moments, a ton of stellar animation, and enough in main story that makes it worth sticking around. However, part of me still feels like there is a lot more to learn about both Tanjiro and Nezuko and I hope more of that comes out as the series progresses.


How do you all feel about Demon Slayer? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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

Final Thoughts: Chuunibyou

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Back in 2017, I watched Chuunibyou for the first time to my absolute delight. The series, despite my initial impressions of just another uninspired slice of life series ended up being unique in a way that was both admittedly cringe but also endearing. As I talked about in one of my latest OWLS posts, the show has a great message about allowing reality to be replaced by fantasy as a way to cope with the the harshness of it. Aside from that, though, the show’s characters are extremely well written. I had not watched the show in a while, when I remembered earlier this month that the show received a movie sequel back in 2018. So after re-watching both seasons of the show and seeing the the movie, here are my Final Thoughts on Chuunibyou.

Chuunibyou as a Metaphor for Autism

When I first watched the show back in 2017, one of the things that stood out to me was the concept of Chuunibyou, otherwise called 8th grader syndrome. It was a so called disease that caused people do play out some kind of fantasy without much respect for the real world. After finishing the first season of the series, one thing that came to mind was the similarities between Chuunibyou and Autism. After all, the metaphor kind of makes sense. Autism, generally speaking, causes problems with learning and social interaction. This is shown a lot with Rika, and how, even with Yuta’s help, she struggles to live as a normal person. It is also true that not all people who have autism have it forever. As it turns out, a small minority of kids who are diagnosed with autism actually end up losing it, usually with the help of early intervention and treatment.

However, the metaphor is not perfect. While some are lucky enough to lose their autism, most cases of it are usually lifelong conditions, so the idea that so many kids could just lose it in such a short period of time is a little preposterous. Also, both Yuta and Rika were not born with the condition, but rather became enveloped by Chuunibyou after watching someone else affected by it. Written a little differently, though, and the metaphor might have actually worked.

Yuta’s Responsibility

Regardless of what Chuunibyou actually means, one thing that remains constant throughout the show is Yuta’s influence over and responsibility for Rika. When the two meet in the first episode, Rika confronts Yuta over is Dark Flame Master persona that he had waved goodbye to with one final chant before starting his first day of high school. After telling her he is done with that life, Rika becomes even more interested in him. Eventually, since the two live in the same apartment complex, they just start hanging out. Toka, Rika’s sister, sees Yuta as a positive influence, and so is more or less ok with him.

The two do end up spending a lot of time together, even going so far as to start dating. Still, Rika remains a Chuunibyou. While Toka has always dealt with her sister’s weirdness, she viewed Yuta as a way to “fix” Rika. Ultimately though, Yuta ends up becoming a sort of shield both against Rika’s immediate family’s wishes that she would be normal and expectations of others. He allows Rika to be who she wants, validating her as a person along the way.

Honestly, Its Just Fun

For as important as it is to dive into the meaning behind a particular show, Chuunibyou also serves as a reminder of just how fun it can be to watch slice of life shows. Chuunibyou as a condition that Rika and the others have all dealt with creates a funny, dysfunctional family vibe that endures throughout the length of the series as well as the movie. Hmm…

Oh! The Movie!

Chuunibyou! Take on Me! was pretty much half of the reason I even decided to rewatch the series, so I guess should talk about it for a bit. Honestly, my expectations going in were pretty high. After all, Chuunibyou is a Kyoto Animation property, not to mention that the movie format would like give them even more room to play around with the gorgeous animation they are known for.

Unfortunately, and it pains me to say, the movie was not much more technically impressive than its anime series counterpart. The animation in terms of fluidity was more or less the same, and the Chuunibyou based action sequences were pretty much on par with their counterparts in seasons one and two.

Story-wise, the movie was great. Toka, wanting Rika to live with her in Italy so that she can be taken care of, moves her stuff out of Yuta’s apartment. In response, the two decide to elope, running all across Japan, trying to escape from the evil priestess. As the two journey together, Rika struggles to understand what it is that she wants. However, by journey’s end, the two make the ultimate lover’s contract and decide to get married.

If I had to describe the movie in one word, it would be satisfying. While it is true that their relationship kind of goes from zero to 100 real quick, with Yuta proposing to Rika seemingly out of nowhere, it also just makes sense given their relationship. It was never really in question whether or not the two were going to be together, and so the movie just speeds up that ending. Normally, I would be complaining about this, and indeed even in Chuunibyou this kind of pacing is pretty weird, but given the nature of the relationship between Yuta and Rika, it could be argued that it makes sense.

Overall, Chuunibyou has emerged as one of my favorite KyoAni series as well as one of my favorite in general. It is certainly unique in its presentation and ideas, and also is just in general a fun show to watch. It is definitely a worthwhile show to watch.


How do you all feel about Chuunibyou? 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!

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

Final Thoughts: Carole and Tuesday

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It took a while but I finally managed to watch the last episode of Carole and Tuesday, and I have a lot to say about it. So, here are my final thoughts.


Carole and Tuesday is aptly named after its main characters who come from two very different places. Carole is a refugee from earth who is barely making a living in Alba City, the capitol of Mars. Tuesday, meanwhile, comes from a affluent part of Mars, and has a politician running for president as a mother. One day, after realizing that her mother will never approve her desire to make music for a living, Tuesday decides to run away from home. After making it to Alba City and subsequently getting her stuff stolen after arriving, she meets up with Carole on a bridge. The two immediately hit it off after performing together and formally agree to make music together.

Expectations

I try with every show I watch and talk about to keep my expectations somewhat neutral, with varying rates of success. However, given the high profile nature of the show, with it being directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and being about musicians living on Mars, I got pretty excited.

It was incredible sitting down to watch the first episode and have not only a great premise but also an amazing musical scene right off the bat. A lot of different thoughts were running through my head, and I had a lot of hope that this show would live up to the hype of its initial episode, and I am glad to say that, for the most part, it did.

The Music

If there is one thing people have heard about this series even before watching it, it is probably the music, and just how incredible it all is. Which, one might reasonably expect given that it is a show about the lives of two musicians who form a band. However, for those whose tastes tend to be on the pickier side when it comes to music, this show might not be as appealing. The range in genre, while overall pretty big, mainly tends to focus on a more pop sound, which is represented largely in the main characters Carole and Tuesday.

Despite this though, the music overall tends to be really well done, and even the pop sounding stuff sounds much better than a lot of stuff on top forty radio. Denzel Curry specifically did a great job when it comes music of rapper Ezekial. While not having to large an involvement in the show, really only showing up in the later quarter of the show and doing two songs in total, Curry’s voice and more lyrical leanings made it incredibly enjoyable.

I also want to give props to Lauren Dyson, the vocalist for Crystal, for their amazing work. I will totally admit that I have been bumping “Unbreakable” nonstop in my car ever since I heard it while watching the show. For being the only real representation of R&B in the show, she does a fantastic job.

Carole and Tuesday as a Political Conversation

One thing that kind of irked me about the first half of Carole and Tuesday is that the fact that they are on Mars is kind of irrelevant. In fact, for the first twelve episodes, it is only referenced a handful of times, and it is usually only as a reminder of Carole’s past. A lot of the writing just kind of went to waste, that is, until the pieces are put together in the second half.

As the episodes continue it becomes much more obvious that seemingly innocuous background information like the fact that Tuesday’s rich mom is running for president, or that Carole is an illegal earth refuge starts to come into focus. What started as a show about two girls wanting to escape their problems and create music together becomes a much more outwardly criticism of politics of the modern day, specifically in America.

Now for those, who do not think this is in anyway a critique of American politics, tell me if this sounds familiar: A political elite runs for president as an outsider, with the help of a few unsavory figures, running on a platform of destroying trade deals and deporting illegal aliens. While it is true in this instance I am describing Donald Trump, I am also describing Tuesday’s mother, who ends up being the main reason for the outwardly political shift in the show’s story.

Immigration ends up being the main focal point of the later half. Tuesday’s mom, at the behest of her resident shady character and political consultant Jerry promises during her campaign for president of mars that if elected she will deport all illegal immigrants and refugees. This promise, being something that would directly affect both Carole and many of her friends, leads both Carole and Tuesday to work towards creating change.

The Finale

From the beginning of the first episode up until the second to last, the show builds up the final moment of the show, “one that would go down in history on mars.” Part of the reason I talked about expectations earlier on was because of this. A moment in the show so important that the writers decided it was worth building up in the first episode should have a serious impact.

However, I feel like overall it is a bit of a letdown. The final scene features artists from all different walks of life, many of whom Carole and Tuesday meet on their adventures throughout the show, gathering together in secret to stream a live performance of a new song that opposes Tuesday’s Mom’s divisive rhetoric. The song and the performance thereof are both handled really well. Some of the characters animations during the song seem to contradict the very serious nature of the song, however, and makes it a little bit awkward. Still, for a scene that was built up for the entire show, it made me feel a little underwhelmed, largely because of the supposed importance. If the show had made more of an effort to make immigration a more important part of the underlying story, as opposed to starting this arc halfway through, it would have had more of an emotional impact. I will admit that I think this opinion has much more to do with my expectations than the fault of the show itself, although I do think changing those things would have made the show better.

Conclusion

There is a whole lot more I could talk about when it comes to the show, from the subplot with Angela, to the implications and importance of the show’s message, but I would much rather not spoil it. While it does have some noticeable flaws when it comes to things like animation and storytelling, it is an overall worthwhile experience that I highly recommend checking out for yourself.


How do you all feel about Carole and Tuesday? 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!

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

Final Thoughts: Kakegurui

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It seems as though the show I will be talking about today left just as quick as it came. Kakegurui was indeed an action packed gamble fest, just as advertised, and while my feelings on the show overall are somewhat mixed, there was still plenty that had me enjoying it from beginning to end, including anime’s favorite gambling girl Yumeko.

Source: Heroxyz on Deviant Art

With that being said, here are my final thoughts:

Gambling has Stakes, Usually

One of the criticisms that was levied against the first season was that it quickly went from an interesting take on the gambling genre to a sort Shonen power fest in which the bets got bigger and more unnecessary for seemingly no reason other than trying to cheaply raise stakes. While I don’t fully agree with that criticism, I can certainly understand where it comes from. The show’s first season started out pretty harmlessly, with Yumeko showing that she knows a thing or two about gambling, but by the end of it, people were literally betting away their life in order to play. Now, the reason I don’t fully agree with the criticism is because of Yumeko, who seems to be representative of gambling herself. She’s unpredictable, insane, and always willing to go as far as possible to get the most thrills, and she throws herself on everybody, driving them to go as far as humanly possible. Indeed, Yumeko is the toxicity of gambling embodied in a high school girl, and in that context the insane stakes actually make a lot of sense.

Creating Investment Through Facial Expressions

One of the more consistent, and arguably more famous, elements of Kakegurui is the famous faces of the characters in the show. When any of them are feeling a strong emotion, or are getting more emotionally invested in their gamble, their faces contort in extremely animated ways. The most famous of these faces is, of course, Yumeko’s herself, but there are plenty of other notable ones.

These faces are effective in a couple of different ways. One, because of their exaggerated nature, it becomes extremely easy to tell the emotions that the characters are feeling, and two, because these faces are generally not pleasant to look at, they make it much easier to feel what the characters are feeling, because in that way they are much more human.

Where Does Ryota Stand in All This?

From the very beginning Ryota has always kind of seemed like an irrelevant character in Kakegurui’s story, which is why the fact that he still has so much screen time kind of bothers me. The only real purpose he’s had in the series in either being Yumeko’s play thing near the end of season one, or helping her by calling other people to come gamble in her place, i.e. Mary near the midpoint of season two. I do think that he is also maybe representative of something, in the same way that Yumeko is, but for as much as I have thought about it nothing really comes to mind. I also do not think he is a bad character, mostly that he’s underdeveloped, which brings me to my last section:

Season 3

As the show has now caught up with the source material that spawned it, the possibility of a season three soon is unlikely. Because of this, my feelings about the ending are as follows:

I do also hope they do something with Ryota and allow him to grow as a character, cause otherwise he will also be boring and not good.

Conclusion

Kakegurui is a deceptively enjoyable show. Despite having a few somewhat grading downfalls, the show is still enjoyable enough to watch all the way through and feel like it was worth your time, especially if you like anime that revolve around gambling and games. Give it a watch if you have time.


What do you guys like about Kakegurui? Let me know in the comments below. If you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal:

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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

Final Thoughts: Aggretsuko

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

The first season of Aggretsuko was a show that I enjoyed thoroughly. Now that season two is out on Netflix, I got a chance to watch it while it was laying in my bed with literally nothing else to do. I was definitely hoping season two would live up to the first, and on that front I can say with confidence that it did. However, aside from Aggretsuko as a show being generally good, here are some more of my final thoughts.

#Relatable

As much as I think relatability, like the word “dark” has become an overused buzzword in reviews and commentary, for which I myself am also guilty, I do still think it a lot of contexts that it is important, especially in a Slice-of-life context. Retsuko, despite being a much different person, and living in a much different scenario, is someone that I relate to a lot, especially in the realm of self-confidence and goals. She has friends, but doesn’t have a whole lot of interests or goals, and that is definitely something I have experienced. However, its not only Retsuko. Haida, Retsuko’s office friend, is also relatable in a lot of ways. For example, when he asks Retsuko to go out with him, only to get rejected. Haida, for a lot of season two is left in the support role, still having feelings for her, but also still wanting to be a good friend. Even Anai, the newest character in the series, is somewhat relatable. His fear about not being able to make it in an oppressive corporate environment makes him paranoid, and I can definitely say cheers to that, brother!

Retsuko as a Metalhead

If you know anything about the show, its probably that a lot of Aggretsuko’s, more so in its first season, revolving around Retsuko’s secret love of Metal music and karaoke. Whenever she is sad, angry, or otherwise feeling negative, she generally defaults to hitting up a karaoke bar after work and screaming her lungs out. Eventually, Retsuko finds friends in the form of Washimi and Gori who help her work out her problems. Despite not being that big a fan of metal, I actually quite enjoyed a lot of the musically bits, especially when used as a comedic punchline. One of my favorite parts was probably near the end of season one where Retsuko goes to an office party which just so happens to have Karaoke. Retsuko makes a very drunk decision, screams her brains out, and insults her boss Ton while doing so. She later realizes that no one remembers because they were also drunk, and so she lets out a huge sigh of relief. It is one of the funnier scenes in the entire series.

Conflict, Resolution, and Marriage

One of the more interesting internal discussions that Aggretsuko has in its second season is about the concept of marriage. Near the end of the second season, Retsuko’s super rich visionary CEO boyfriend Tadano tells her that she does not want to get married, but that he still wants to spend the rest of his life with her. At first, Retsuko is conflicted, not sure if she is willing to accept just being together. Later, Retsuko confronts Ton and tries to hand him her letter of resignation after being gone from work for almost a week. However, Ton can tell something is wrong, and advises Retsuko that she should stand up for what she believes in and not let others make decisions for her. Retsuko, with the assitance of Haida, Washimi, and Gori, confronts Tadano, letting him no that its marriage or nothing.

It is definitely a timely discussion. The reality is that many in both the millennial generation as well as Gen Z are much less inclined, for a wide variety of reasons, to get married. It is a symbol of permanence, a commitment to another that is supposed to last a lifetime, but as much as some might like to, many in these generations are not in a position to get married. Economic conditions, both in Japan and the U.S. are getting worse by the day, and it is becoming harder for regular people to afford basic things, and as such most people are not focused on marriage. However, another reason marriage is less appealing is that many more people, especially women and certain minorities, also feel empowered to be free and independent due to many more people having access to higher education, and as such marriage is less appealing from that perspective as well, because it ties you to someone.

Retsuko, on the other hand, views marriage as an institution of stability. Being that she does not know what she wants to do with her life, Retsuko sees marriage as a way to not only to be stable, but also as way to become invested in another person, and even more people if she were to have kids. Its a strange, yet understandably pure feeling. It is also very #relatable.

Conclusion

Retsuko is one of the best new Slice-of-life comedies to come out in a while. Its first season was captivatingly funny, while hinting at a lot more to come, and the second season felt like the perfect delivery on that more to come. Overall, it is absolutely 100 percent worth your time.


What parts of Aggretsuko did you all enjoy? Did you enjoy it at all? Let me know in the comments below. If you would like to support Animated Observations, consider buying me a coffee on kofi:

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

Final Thoughts: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Well, its been a long time in the making, but with its recent arrival on Netflix I was finally able to watch one of the most iconic anime of all time: Neon Genesis Evangelion. As of writing this post I have yet to watch End of Evangelion, the sequel film which, by many critics accounts, is supposed to be the “proper” ending, not because I want to be a contrarian, but rather because I wanted to absorb the original for what it is. With that said, here are my final thoughts on the show.

Evangelion’s Animation

The most common criticism I heard from people who saw Evangelion and who had talked about the show was its horrible animation, and the long sequences of time where literally nothing happens. At first, I thought this was just a really long-running joke within the anime community, but as I watched the show I started to realize that, well, those people were not kidding. In fact, there are a lot of scenes that have still frames that last up to thirty seconds, sometimes even longer. This becomes even more prevalent towards the end of the show, with the last few episodes being particularly bad. There were definitely some parts that could be dramatically justified in being still frames, but even then it was used far to often for it to not be a negative.

Evangelion, Religion, and Acknowledging My Lack of Understanding

Since I’m talking about a show that is not only universally praised for how good its story is, but also one that has a story filled with religious imagery and references, I felt I should be completely honest about my understanding of the show: I know little to nothing about Christianity. Even though I was raised Catholic, I honestly do not have the first clue about the bible and a lot of stories contained within it. I have a vague recollection of the story of Adam and Eve, but that is about it. Still, despite lack of understanding, the show’s story and ideas are not entirely lost on me.

Loneliness and Self-Hatred. That’s it, That’s the Show

Well, not entirely, but they do play a major factor in the story of Evangelion. Almost all of the main cast, including Rei, Asuka, and Misato, along with Shinji at the center, are dealing with Loneliness in their own way. Shinji famously deals with his loneliness by running away, Misato by distracting herself with guys, Rei by finding comfort in Shinji’s father, and Asuka by trying to act tough and put her effort into piloting her Eva. Shinji in particular becomes lonely to the point of self-hatred, and begins to wonder pretty quickly in the series why he pilots an Eva to begin with.

However, the ending of the show is where I think a lot of people find solace. In the end, despite all of the horrible things that have happened up to this point, Shinji learns that reality is only as powerful as you want it to be, and that your outlook on life can change a lot by just thinking about it differently. When Shinji finally comes to understand this, he is greeted with all of his friends and family, telling him “Congratulations.” It feels weirdly like the end of a video game, almost like the final boss was himself all along, and that all he had to do was just not hate himself. Personally, I find the message a little troubling from a mental health perspective, as most people with depression and anxiety will tell you it is not as simple as just getting over it, but I do appreciate the idea of trying to have a more positive outlook.

Still, despite the extremely budgeted animation and my lack of understanding of the show’s religious references, I found myself really liking it overall. Definitely worthy of the title “classic.”


How do you all feel about Evangelion? I did think about touching on the translation controversy, but my feelings can basically be summed up like this: Its a dumb translation, and not only does is it not cool to get rid of the gay elements of the story, it also just sounds horrible when watching the show. It should be changed if possible. Still, I’m curious as to your thoughts. Let me know in the comments. If you want to support Animated Observation, check out my Kofi:

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