Tag Archives: Animated Observations

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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Initial Results: Kaguya-Sama Season Three

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Love is war, indeed, and the war now continues into the series’ third season. The competition: fierce, the battles: just as high stakes as ever. Even Chika is resorting to cheating just to get a leg up, much to Ishigami’s continued annoyance. Those who have watched the first few episodes already will understand what I am talking about, and those who have not…what are you doing reading this?

I mentioned in my seasonal intro that Kaguya was the series I was most hyped for. The first two seasons not only had me laughing my ass off but also genuinely had me invested in the characters as people. Luckily, the first episodes of the season have yet to disappoint.

Part of what has made Kaguya-sama work up until this point is its previously mentioned characters. Sure, Kaguya and Miyuki themselves could probably carry a good portion of the show. After all, their dynamic is well thought out on a comedic level. However, they can only be that funny for so long, and the elevated role of Chika, Ishigami, and the recent addition to the student council Miko has helped to prolong the show’s comedic value.

Still, the opening bit between Miyuki and Kaguya is no less funny. With her first-ever smartphone now in hand, Kaguya attempts the daunting task of responding to Miyuki’s messages. The 4D chess of trying to get her to admit to staring at her LINE app for hours and then getting saved by Hayasaka and the “computer system” at the last minute is honestly brilliant.

The growing relationship between Ishigami and Miko is another that I am intensely curious about going into the rest of the season. At times, it can be hard to tell whether the two actually hate each other or if the combative aspects of their personality are just being played up for maximum effect. Personally, I am not complaining either way, but I do hope we get a real conclusion in that regard.

The anime is also no less beautiful than it was last time around. A-1 Pictures seems to be handling the production well enough, and director Shinichi Omata, who handled the first two seasons as well, seems poised to deliver on quality, per the usual. Musically, the series is still quite interesting. the OST feels as strong as ever, and both the opening and ending themes also have their strengths, along with also being incredibly well animated to boot.

Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Ultra Romantic seems to be on track to be one of the better entries of the spring season. Though I have definitely cursed other series with those same predictions into a spiral of bad writing, this series has a proven track record and a convincing one at that.


Are you excited about Kaguya-sama season 3? 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, thanks to Jenn for being our amazing supporter on Patreon.

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: Goodbye, Eri

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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At times, it can feel as though there is no logic to the world in which we inhabit. There is innate cruelty that taxes our very existence. Sometimes that tax is physically far enough that we can go on mostly unaffected, other times, it happens right in front of our face, maybe even behind the lens of a camera…

I won’t bother giving much of a plot description here since the story in question is only one volume. Honestly, the short and sweet of it is that it has my thorough recommendation, but the long version is going to be entering big spoiler territory, so I will give a warning now. Basically, the story consists of a middle school-aged boy named Yuta who confronts personal tragedy by making films.

Storytelling

Goodbye, Eri is much about narrative as it is about tragedy. In most cases, the audience experiences the world not directly from Yuta’s perspective but filtered through the camera on his phone. Even the first panel in which he is scene comes from the camera recording him during his birthday party. Additionally, Yuta is encouraged both by his mother and later by Eri, to record them, and thus the world of Goodbye, Eri is always one degree removed.

This becomes a factor pretty much immediately, as having all of this footage of his later deceased mother becomes the motivation for his filmmaking. The reason narrative becomes so important is that later on, it is revealed just how horrible Yuta’s mother actually is, constantly degrading him for not capturing her perfectly. Despite this abuse, Yuta decides to make the film anyway, with a twist: Yuta is unable to record his mother’s death despite asking her to, and so the final moments of his film involve him running away, the hospital exploding behind him. This eventually leads to his classmates making fun of him and his principal reprimanding him for the directorial choice.

Eri, though shown to be significantly nicer than Yuta’s mother, ultimately makes the same request, and thus Yuta experiences her most directly through his camera. What’s more, the fact that Eri meets a similar fate to his mother makes the continued filming of Eri emotionally difficult.

What makes Goodbye, Eri so compelling is the way Fujimoto Juxtaposes the need to remember somebody fondly with the power to control their narrative. It would have been just as easy for Yuta to make a film that was honest about his mother’s behavior, and yet the entirety of the opening act is filled with nothing but positive, save for Yuta’s indecisiveness at the end.

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Fantasy vs Reality

The ability to control the narrative as a thematic concept is explored even during moments when the camera turns off. We find out in the final moments of the manga that, much like in Yuta’s hastily thrown together screenplay, Eri is actually a vampire. Despite witnessing her death firsthand, Eri returns without her memory. Except, she writes a letter to herself as a reminder of her identity. The resident filmmaker experiences this during another time of immense personal tragedy, after waking up in the hospital to find out his entire family is dead.

Again the question of perspective throughout the manga invites the questioning of this dynamic in such a brilliant way. Before this moment near the end, Yuta had primarily experienced Eri through a camera lens, and even during the moments when she is off-camera, the two of them are alone. Now, is it necessary to read Eri as completely imaginary on the part of Yuta as a way of coping with his mother’s death? No, but it is a conversation certainly worth having.

After all, the abandoned building where the two spent hours watching films just explodes in the final panel after Yuta decides suicide is not worth it. Even in the most bitter and hopeless moments of his life, he is still in control, whether or not he wants to be.

Panels

I have already talked about how perspective plays a huge role in determining Goodbye, Eri‘s thematic and narrative elements. However, Fujimoto also uses his art to help support this as well.

For starters, his character designs lend nicely to the grittier realities he tends to portray. A manga with this framework would not work nearly as well with lighter, fluffier character designs that tend to support a more relaxed atmosphere, as this story is anything but relaxed. This is not to pass judgment on said art styles, but I somehow doubt this one-shot would have had nearly the same emotional resonance in another artist’s hands.

On top of that, there are many frames that are drawn more roughly, with less line work in order to simulate the effect of blurriness in a camera. While probably not a complicated endeavor from an art standpoint, it does add a lot to the narrative and thematic elements, as it reminds the audience that Yuta is constantly behind a camera rather than viewing things for himself.

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Conclusion

While a story of this nature likely could have worked in a multi-volume setting, the decision to make this a one-shot was a brilliant one, as the brevity of a single volume lends it a power that not many stories in its lane are able to match. If for some reason there are people at the end of this post who have yet to read Goodbye, Eri, 1. I did warn you for spoilers, and 2. read it anyway. Easily one of the best stories to come out this year, and I would not be surprised to see it win a ton of awards.

95/100


Have some thoughts on Fujimoto’s latest work? Let me know down 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, shoutouts to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

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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My Top 10 Favorite Anime Openings (As of April 2022)

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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In the latter months of last year, I put out a post detailing my favorite anime. For as superficial as it might be to try and pin down favorites, it was a post that I had a lot of fun working on, both organizationally and in writing it. So, I thought it would be a good idea to work on another listicle, and talk about some of my favorite anime openings. While their is some crossover between the two, my favorite openings tend not to be attached to my favorite shows, so this will probably still end up being a surprise for most.

HM: Fiction – Sumika – Wotakoi OP 1

I figured this time around it would be worth including at least one of the honorable mentions so that people know what else was in contention for my top 10. Vocalist Sumika has some damn good pipes, and man is that chorus infectious as hell. On top of that, the visuals are incredibly fun and give a really good representation of the personalities of the main characters. The main reason it is not only the list proper is that, while it is overall a really solid OP, the middle section drags a little bit more than the openings above it. Overall, though, a really solid piece.

10. Shounen Heart – Home Made Kazoku – Eureka 7

Listen, I already warned everyone this is going to be a weird list, so that means no judgment whatsoever (Jk, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments). In all seriousness, I know this probably is not everyone’s cup of tea, however, the Japanese hip-hop group Home Made Kazoku sells the song with a passion that I kind of respect in a campy, 90’s hip-hop kind of way. Their near yelling over this saxophone accented beat is hype in a way that feels hard to explain. Visually, this is definitely the weakest of the openings on here, which is why it stays at number 10.

9. My Soul, Your Beats! – Lia – Angel Beats! OP 1

A theme that might emerge for some in my discussions of these openings is that I care way more about the music than the visuals. Of course, good visuals are nice, but when being compared to the angelic vocals of singers like Lia it feels way less important. That is not to say that the visuals of Angel Beats‘ first OP are bad. In fact, I think the through-line of Kana playing the Piano in various places across the school grounds is a great visual representation of how she manages to affect all of their lives while they figure out what is even happening to them. The visuals are definitely a lesser factor for me, but certainly not a non-factor.

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8. Chain – BACK-ON – Air Gear OP 1

Call it what you will, Nu Metal, Butt Rock, etc, the combination of rock and hip-hop elements has always been a staple in my musical diet, at least up until recently. Air Gear, meanwhile, feels like the perfect fit for the song. A show about battling on rollerblades might as well embrace the edginess. The opening definitely looks its age, with some pretty barebones movement, but it does at least have a narrative, and while the version above does not show it, the credits are pretty well integrated into said narrative.

7. Jiyuu no Tsubasa – Linked Horizon – Attack on Titan OP 2

On the other hand, maybe sometimes there can be too much narrative. Looking back at “Jiyuu no Tsubasa” while also just so happening to be in the middle of marathoning Attack on Titan (more on that later), it is pretty hilarious how many clues it just hands out. Still, what makes me like it more than its first-season counterpart, other than just being a contrarian, is the way it focuses on that mystery. The series is at its strongest while focusing on the secrets of the world they inhabit, and this opening does that the best, with no questions.

6. Katayoku no Tori – Akiko Skikata – Umineko no Nako Koro Ni

Fun fact: I have yet to watch a single second of the series proper, despite generally enjoying its predecessor Higurashi. On the other hand, why would I when this opening goes as hard as it does? After originally hearing the song in the background of Glass Reflections’ review of the series, I was instantly in love. It is one of the few openings on this list that I have known about for a long time, and musically it has stuck with me. Something about the chants in the beginning and the buildup to the chorus just feels right.

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5. Goodbye Bystander – Yuki – March Comes in Like a Lion OP 2

Of course, if we are talking about openings with a good narrative… Honestly, when everything was said and done, I expected Goodbye Bystander to be a bit closer to the bottom since I had never really remembered any of the March openings super fondly. Yet, as I went back and listened, I could not help but get swept away by the magical instrumentation accompanying Yuki’s heartfelt performance on this song. Both lyrically and visually, the song also talks about an important aspect of the show, one in which Rei is not only becoming more comfortable in his arrangement with the Kawamoto sisters but also realizing the debt he owes them.

4. Gravity Wall – Hiroyuki Sawano, Tielle and Gemi – Re:Creators OP 1

If there is one thing I resent about Amazon’s Anime Strike channel, other than being overpriced for no reason, it is keeping this show behind a paywall and thus not letting as many people see it. Re:Creators is such a phenomenal anime, and alongside it are two incredibly produced OPs, the first of which just happens to be more my speed. Add in the fact that the opening looks just as good as the rest of the anime, and it should be pretty obvious why it is this high.

3. Destiny – Neko – Phi Brain OP 3

I made a rule early on in the creation of this list that their would only be one opening per series. This is because, without that rule, Phi Brain very likely would have snagged three spots on the list. Both of its first two openings “Brain Diver” and “Now or Never” have been heavy in my rotation since I watched the series a few years back. Still, I went with with the third one because it is both visually pleasing and one of the harder hitting songs instrumentally. Neko is an expressive vocalist who commands attention not only during the chorus but throughout the song.

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2. ft. – Funkist – Fairytail OP 3

The reason I clarified my focus on music as opposed to visuals beforehand is because, well, this opening is as high as it is on the music alone. While it is definitely better than some of other openings here as far as the animation, it would definitely be lower were my focus changed. However, that does not matter much considering how incredible the music actually is. The use of flute as one of the primary drivers of melody in the song gives it this really interesting property of being continually hopeful despite some of the darker turns. Fairytail is probably one of the worst when it comes to the whole power of friendship thing.

1. Database – Man With a Mission/Takuma – Log Horizon OP 1

Was it ever really a competition? the answer is yes, it definitely was. However, Log Horizon‘s hard hitting Man With a Mission opening beats it out, partially on nostalgia but also because it takes a lot of what I like about Air Gear‘s opening and turns it up to 11. It may not be as distinct musically as some of the other openings here, but the computerized intro and solid English verse delivered by Takuma certainly give it an identity of its own. On top of that, the art and action present in the series translate really well into the animation, which just looks really cool, even if the storytelling is limited. “Database,” at least for now, is my favorite opening.


And that’s the list, Is there an opening that I missed? One you just want to recommend? Should I do anime endings next? Let me know down 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 supporting the blog on Patreon

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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SPY x FAMILY Episode 1 Reaction

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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The spring season is officially upon us, and with it a plethora of exciting new offerings. However, the series I am focusing on today has received the bulk of the hype from manga readers and new comers alike. Yes, my dear readers, I am talking about SPY x FAMILY.

The series takes place in a slightly alternate universe from our own, one in which the war of information between the west and the east is well on its way. The most trusted by spy on the side of west, Twilight, has been tasked taking out an influential party leader. His mission is one which could potentially alter the course of history, but in order to accomplish it he’ll need… a family?

In my recent binge of romance anime, I think it fair to say that what I was really looking for was some emotional levity. I went looking for solace in stories which were primarily focused on romantic relationships, and while I got some, there is also plenty of that to be found in anime like SPY x FAMILY.

If the series were taking itself super seriously, there might be a problem. Names like Westali and Ostania feel a bit on the nose, especially considering the period they are trying to invoke (At that point you might as well call them Americaville and Russialand). On top of that, Twilight as a character takes himself way to seriously to be enjoyable on his own.

However, the moments in the first episodes which are most enjoyable come from when the veil is lifted, and we seen the humanity in both Twilight and Anya. As much as the life of spy is one of deceit, retaining a sense of humanity is important too. It also helps that those moments also happen to be pretty hilarious.

There honestly is not much else to say beyond that. Both characters seem to have a solid foundation, and for as much as the show does not take itself super seriously, the action sequences still look fantastic. It feels like an adaptation worthy of its source material. The big question is whether or not the rest of the series will stick the landing, and given that SPY x FAMILY has been confirmed for 25 episodes, it is a big landing to stick.


How do you all feel about SPY x FAMILY so far? 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 shoutout to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

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: Kotaro Lives Alone

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Normally, I would start this review with a joke or some stupid bit of imaginary dialogue as a way of easing people into the content. But to be completely honest with everyone reading, I do not have one this time.

Because, well, fuck this show is so sad…

Kotaro Lives Alone was released on Netflix early last month, and given that I have not been keeping as up to date on their releases, came as a bit of a surprise. What I initially guessed to be little more than a run-of-the-mill slice of life series ended up being something that at points was hard to watch, but not necessarily in a bad way.

The series focuses on Kotaro Sato, a kindergartener who has moved into the same apartment complex as an aspiring mangaka Shin Karino. Kotaro eventually makes friends with most of the people in the building, but it leaves everyone wondering: why is this kid in an apartment by himself? The others in the building soon come to find out about Kotaro’s dark past and his relationship with his parents.

Kotaro and Trauma

For anyone who has yet to see this series and becomes interested in watching it, let me use this space to offer a bit of a warning. For as cute an aesthetic the show has, Kotaro Lives Alone goes to some surprisingly harsh places. Thus, I suggest those who are triggered by similar experiences hold off or proceed with caution. Given that I will be discussing these same elements throughout the rest of this review, the warning applies here as well.

With that being said, It would be hard to have an honest conversation about the show’s subject matter without mentioning the themes of abuse and trauma. Kotaro Lives Alone is not a question, but a statement. A reality imposed by the unacceptable behavior of his parents. Thus, he is forced to fend for himself, and it is only after he becomes friends with his various neighbors like Karino, Mizuki, and Tamaru that he begins to truly lower his guard. It is an honest view of how these systems can inevitably warp our minds to focus solely on survival, represented by Kotaro’s persistent desire to “become stronger”

Ok, but Why a Kindergartener?

At first, I did think it weird to have the main character be at an age where most kids are barely able to speak, let alone pay taxes and rent. After all, the idea that a four-year-old would be allowed live alone and sign contracts sounds pretty ridiculous. Regardless, the nature of animation is exaggeration, and one of the biggest known effects of trauma is forcing kids to mature at a pace they would otherwise not.

It is within this framework that we can begin to understand Kotaro’s character. The extent of his abuse has created a child who is not only self-reliant but one who actively refuses the help of others as a means of saving face. All of this makes Kotaro a much quieter kid, who makes friends in a way that feels awkward to someone who watching from the outside.

What’s more, Kotaro’s personality is much different from that of his peers. It is noted often and by multiple characters that Tono-Sama, his favorite show, is not particularly popular among kids his age. The show’s focus appears to be on strength and personal responsibility, how to be a good kid, and things that have also been forced on Kotaro by his situation.

It Takes a Village

In the absence of said abusive parents, Karino thinks it important to help Kotaro in his day-to-day endeavors. Thus, he, along with the others living in the apartment, decides to help look after the young boy. As previously mentioned, it takes a while for Kotaro to get used to the idea of trusting these random adults, but eventually, he becomes used to their company.

The relationships Kotaro builds with Karino and the others are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. For every moment in which the group becomes closer, another element of the kid’s broken past seems to come out, whether it be the fact that he doesn’t like having his picture taken because his father used it to track him down or his affinity for large meals due to the absence of consistent food.

Stability for Kotaro has largely been a privilege, and getting comfortable is hard for him.

Kotaro’s Animation

For as compelling a story as Kotaro Lives Alone is, its animation is one of the departments where I would say it feels lacking. Not bad per se, as the choice of bright colors contrasts well with the drabness of flashbacks to Kotaro’s past. Rather, I cannot really come up with anything particularly praiseworthy about it. Which, in all fairness, is true of most shows I review.

Another thing I slightly dislike is the character designs, specifically concerning Kotaro. Idk if this was another choice specifically motivated by psychology, but his eyes look almost lizard-like. There is a deadness there which just feels incredibly off-putting. Again, it makes sense given the context of the story, the whole premise is incredibly off-putting. I wonder, though, if maybe there was another way to portray that through his character design.

Conclusion

Kotaro Lives Alone is an incredibly special series. It is rare that shows tackle social issues specifically and with this much depth. It was indeed hard to watch at times, but mostly because of the painful reality of its descriptions. Because of the gripes I mentioned with its animation, along with some of the later episodes kind of blending together, I cannot give it a perfect score, but it does deserve your undivided attention at some point.

88/100


How did you feel after watching Kotaro Lives Alone? 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 for supporting us on Patreon!

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: In the Land of Leadale

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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“Hey guys, did you hear about the new anime that just got announced ‘I Woke Up in Another World as a Rake in Autumn?!'”

For as stupid as the landscape of light novel to anime production has become over the past few years, it is not as if it is all bad. After all, with every dime, a dozen video game fantasy stories comes a genuinely great piece of art. If waiting through five seasons of In Another World With My Smartphone means we also get a Violet Evergarden or a Spice and Wolf, I am more than happy to wait.

Still, despite its fairly common-looking presentation, I had at least some hope for In the Land of Leadale. Its focus on a character who was stuck in the hospital and only had video games as an escape, while not particularly original, did at least set itself up for some more introspective moments. However, while Cayna is certainly wide awake in this new version of Leadale, ready to discover its mysteries, the series itself is, unfortunately, sound asleep.

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Video Game Fantasy World, Yay…

At this point, my gold standard for isekai-like fantasy worlds is No Game No Life. Maybe that is a little unfair because their stories are not trying to accomplish the same things, but I am making it anyway. The reason being: regardless of your feelings on its story and characters, No Game No Life‘s aesthetic contributes to building an identity that is fundamentally its own. Disboard is not just a setting, but a core aspect of the series.

This is not me asking every series to reinvent aspects of the genre or anything. However, there are a lot of elements of Leadale’s world that just feel boring. The towns are fantasy towns, the weapons are fantasy weapons. With the exception of the towers belonging to the various missing players, there is not much that separates Leadale in this regard.

Ok, but Good Story?

Leadale‘s story is definitely one of its better qualities, though I would probably stop short of calling it good. Cayna, now imbued with the powers of her avatar, begins exploring the world to figure out what exactly has happened. Along the way, she meets her in-game children she apparently forgot about, along with a crew of mercenaries and various figures from the magical academy in Felskeilo.

Much of Cayna’s adventure in this regard is fine, albeit a little dull. She goes to the guild, gets a quest, completes the quest, rinse and repeat. As she completes these quests, however, she finds more and more towers belonging to the missing players, getting special rings from the guardians of these towers. It is not well-explained what will happen when she manages to collect all of them, but it does at least give the series a through-line which keeps it somewhat engaging.

I think the best compliment I can give Leadale‘s narrative overall is that it feels a lot like watching someone play an MMORPG. Which, in the right context, can actually be a lot of fun. However, the series does little to clarify its overall plot, which means that context for enjoyment is absent.

That, and the fact that the series had one of the most powerful moments I have seen in a while. After adopting a young girl named Luka on one of her last quests and building a house in the countryside, Cayna sits on her back porch watching her and Lytt play in the flowers. At that moment, she reflects on the journey she has had thus far, contrasting it with the life she lived in the hospital and all of the things she has been able to do since coming to Leadale. It is a scene that serves as a reminder of how much potential In the Land of Leadale had that sadly got thrown away.

The Non-Ending

“Read the Manga” Endings, or in this case “Read the Light Novel,” have been fairly common in anime since the genre became popular. This is because anime is often used as a promotion for its source material counterparts. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this from an art perspective, it hurts even more since it feels as though the anime was only just picking up steam.

Before I get preempted in the comments, I will say this. I know it is hard for studios to commit to longer-running series because it often doubles their production costs. Not to mention, longer series often mean more crunch time for already overworked and underpaid animators and staff. Regardless, the show definitely could have benefited from an additional 12 episodes, given how much source material there already is.

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Conclusion

I honestly feel a bit bad picking on the series like I have. Lord knows there are plenty of other isekai tail riders that deserve it a lot more, but while I did not expect much from them, to begin with, In the Land of Leadale seemed like it might be different. Sadly, aside from a few good moments, this was not the case. It is a fine series, but I cannot recommend it as something people need to watch.

58/100


How did you all feel about In the Land of Leadale? 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, thanks especially 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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