Tag Archives: Anime review

Megalo Box: A Rivalry for the Ages

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter

The Spring 2018 anime season had many shows that are worthy of being called great, but arguably the most deserving of that title is Megalo Box. Even with other strong contenders like Golden Kamuy, Hinamatsuri, and the already established My Hero Academia, Megalo Box almost literally came out swinging with its more traditional, yet not less moving story of a man who wanted to win at boxing and do it his way. An engaging story, unique visuals, and a killer soundtrack, Megalo Box is a show that has it all.

Megalo Box tells the story of Junk Dog, a man who moves to a new city in order to compete in Megalo Box, a form of boxing that is conducting using gear, special equipment that enhances the physical abilities of those who wear it. Soon after entering the city, Junk Dog finds out about Megalonia, a one of its kind competition meant only for the best of the best Megalo Box fighters. With the help of his longtime coach Nanbu, Junk Dog, or Joe, according to his illegal citizenship card, will compete to win Megalonia, not just for victory, but also to help Nanbu with his looming debts.

Joe

The characters are usually the focus when it comes to sports-centered shows and movies, and Megalo Box is no different. Almost everything in the show revolves around Joe, the scrappy underdog from nowhere who looks to take on Yuuri, the number one fighter in the land. Even by the end of the show, though, a lot of Joe’s past and who he is as a person is left very much up in the air. To be honest, it would be a lie to say that Joe is especially interesting. However, the story’s forward momentum and supporting cast make up for it plenty.

Nanbu

Speaking of the supporting cast, Nanbu, Joe’s underground boxing coach, is a big part of the show’s plot. While he is the one who gets Joe into Megalonia in the first place, as is revealed later on, he also owes a lot of money to some powerful people, which usually gets the two of them in trouble. I wrote a piece defending Nanbu and some of his actions which you can read here, but even still, he is not a great person overall, because of his history of rigging underground fights. Many who no Nanbu often call him a scorpion, because he will stab anyone in the back to get ahead.

Yuuri

Yuuri is the other half of the intense rivalry between him and Joe that makes the show so interesting. He is a little more interesting than Joe, as his relationship with the owner of Shirato, Yukiko, makes him a bit more dynamic. As the show progresses, Yuuri comes to understand what it is that motivates Joe to fight: his love of fighting. Joe has no Ulterior motive when it comes to Megalo Boxing because he just wants to be the best. By the end, Yuuri recognizes this, and the two show it by fighting the final match of Megalonia without any Gear.

The other major supporting cast member would be Sachio, a small kid who decides to start hanging around Joe and Nanbu after the two help him get out of trouble with a store owner. When Sachio first meets Joe and Nanbu, he is still rather cynical about their chances of getting to Megalonia. However, as time goes on, Sachio starts to believe in Joe because of his fighting ability and eventually starts helping Joe from the outside the ring.

Megalo Box’s story is one that, on the surface might seem stale in played out even when it comes to boxing, but in reality is one of the most compelling shows that have aired this year. Even despite Joe’s somewhat lackluster personality, the show more than makes up for it with his mysterious background and dynamic storytelling. Joe and Yuuri are people that at the outset of the show seem like polar opposites. Yuuri seems more than happy to live the high life and enjoy’s his status at Shirato while Joe is really coming from nothing and has to do everything himself. But, as is shown in the end, the two love fighting and they see that in each other.

Sachio and Nanbu

Another part of the story that I personally enjoyed was the relationship between Nanbu and Sachio. The way Sachio’s innocence makes him really believe in Nanbu only to be betrayed later on is not only great storytelling but it also serves as a great parallel to Joe’s relationship with Nanbu, which is always usually on thin ice. It is also hilarious because Sachio’s innocent belief in him is part of what makes Nanbu do the right thing in the end and come back and help Joe.

Megalo Box Soundtrack Intermission

Normally I would not feel super bad about summing up the animation and music in one or two short paragraphs and calling it a day, but Megalo Box brings an insane amount of talent and uniqueness to both the categories. The Music in Megalo Box is a fun and creative mix of a lot of different genres, but mainly a lot of Rock and Rap. The best example of this can be heard on the show’s opening song “Bite” by Leo Imai, which turns out to be an intense Classic Rock ballad. Another great example would be the song “Intermission” which, as you might expect, plays during the show’s midway point whenever it needs to go to commercial break. This song is very much a Hip-Hop beat with a guitar at the center of it, very much fusing Rock and Hip-Hop together. The credit for the music goes to Mabanua, who’s only anime credit according to MAL is Megalo Box, which is quite impressive considering how great this soundtrack is overall.

Many noticed right away how different Megalo Box looks in terms of its animation. This likely comes from its relation to the Ashita no Joe franchise and that fact that Megalo Box was created as a celebration of the series 50th anniversary. Either way, the ruggedness of the animation style and the very drab color palette for the show gives it a huge amount of realism that would not be there without those design choices. The quality of the animation itself is also breathtaking. Megalo Box’s fight scenes are absolutely some of the best in recent memory, and I am including season two of My Hero Academia in that evaluation.

If I were to pick two words to describe this show overall, they would be unique and dynamic. Megalo Box does everything a great sports show should, and more. Its rivalry between Yuuri and Joe is phenomenally well-written, Its animation and music are insanely amazing, and its story does not shy away from more human elements of its characters. If you have not seen Megalo Box, it absolutely needs to be at the top of your watchlist.


What do you guys think of Megalo Box? Is it in the running for Anime of the Season? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Golden Kamuy and An Exciting World of Adventure and Adrenaline

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter

As many have already stated, the spring of 2018 is likely to go down in anime history as one of the best seasons of all time. There was so much quality and diversity in the shows that were airing that for many it was astounding. From shonen favorite like the third season of My Hero Academia starting its run, to brand new instant comedy classics like Hinamatsuri bursting onto the scene, there was a lot to love.

One show that seemed to remain ever so slightly under the radar was Golden Kamuy. While newer IPs like the aforementioned Hinamatsuri and Megalo Box were receiving heaps of praise from fans, Studio Geno’s adaptation of Noda Satoru’s acclaimed manga seemed to go largely ignored. However, despite its relative obscurity during last season, Golden Kamuy is absolutely worth a watch.

The show’s story follows Sugimoto, a Russo-Japanese war veteran who, after leaving the army and finding his late best friend’s wife helpless as she faces a disease that threatens to leave her blind, goes out in search of fast cash. Upon hearing the story the tattooed prisoners and the stash of hidden Ainu gold, Sugimoto rushes to start his journey. Quickly he runs into an Ainu girl named Asirpa, who coincidentally happens to be the daughter of the former Ainu chief. After telling Asirpa his plans, she agrees to assist him in order to find out more about her father, and in exchange, she promises to let him have a small portion of the gold.

Left: Lt. Tsurumi, Right: Toshizo Hijikata

Undoubtedly one of the best parts of the series is its large cast of characters who all have the same goal of finding the valuable stash of gold. Aside from the two main characters, there is also Lt. Tsurumi, who leads a faction of former Russo-Japanese soldiers known as the 7th Division, and whose ultimate goal is to create a separate country, independent of Japan. Tsurumi very much comes across as a ruthless tyrant, even while claiming to care about the men in his division. There is also Toshizo Hijikata, a former samurai who wants to establish his own Shogunate like kingdom where he can relive his glory days.

Left: Asirpa, Right: Saichi Sugimoto

However, the show would be absolutely nothing without its two leads, Asirpa and Sugimoto. The chemistry between these two can really only be described as genuine, as there bond is apparent even from the first episode. Sugimoto’s backstory, in particular, rang as extremely harsh, especially given the historical period the show is based in. Given that the show happens almost immediately after the Russo-Japanese War, this means that the events are happening around 1905-1906, a time when the world was only beginning to opens its borders to foreign trade. Japan especially was very hostile to the idea, and as a result getting the medical treatment that his wife needed was extremely difficult.

As the two continue on their journey to collect the tattoos of the 24 prisoners that will reveal the location of the Ainu gold, they begin to learn more about each other. Sugimoto learns more about Ainu culture when they make periodic pitstops into Asirpa’s village, and Asirpa slowly learns more about Sugimoto’s past as they continue to travel. Over time the two pick up another ally in the form of Yoshitake Shiraishi, one of the tattooed prisoners, and one known as the escape king. Despite being also being allied with Hijikata, Shiraishi agrees to help Sugimoto in his quest to find the gold, even though Sugimoto really does not trust him.

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Golden Kamuy’s setting in the northern mountain range in Hokkaido, while also being historically accurate, gives the show a narrative flow that a lot of other adventure stories don’t. Because the setting rarely changes from the mountainous environment, it makes the show much more immersive and can avoid a lot of awkward transitions.

The show’s animation is mostly passible. There are a few spots towards the beginning and end, but it is more than made up for by its beautiful set pieces and largely on point action scenes. The one area where it does fail almost completely is its CG. Granted, the CG alone is not enough to discredit the show as a whole, far from it. And it is also rarely in the show long enough to even be considered distracting. However, during the times that it is used, Golden Kamuy’s CG can really only be described as bad.

Golden Kamuy Bear

The most prominent and consistent example of this is its depiction of bears. They very often come across as looking unnatural and extremely jarring when put next to the rest of the 2D animation, as seen in the above photo. While the director did acknowledge the difficulty of hand-drawing bears and the ability to make them look as consistently good as they did in the original manga, it does not make up for how poorly they look in the show.

The music is also not one of the show’s stronger elements. While it did receive both an excellent OP and ED, the rest of the soundtrack does not come with any standout music. This is by no means to say that it is bad. But, it is to say that it could have been done a lot better. The show’s ED, “Hibana” by The Sixth Lie, has become a personal favorite of mine, though.

Golden Kamuy is by no means perfect. There are a lot of weaknesses in some of its side characters, music, and especially in its CG, but that is no reason to discount it. Historical fiction is something I rarely seek out in anime, but if it can be done even half as good as Golden Kamuy, I would be more than happy to watch more. Overall, Golden Kamuy is definitely worth a watch.


What do you guys think of Golden Kamuy’s first season? Are you excited for the second? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Fireworks: A little Unoriginal, but Visually Stunning (SPOILERS)

If the last few years have proved anything, it’s that Anime films have lots of potential outside of Studio Ghibli. There is, of course, Your Name, which took the anime community by storm. Then came A Silent Voice shortly after, a film which showed that Kyoto Animation was more than qualified to take up the task of talking about a serious issue: bullying. Even before 2016 though, directors like Mamoru Hosoda and Makoto Shinkai have been impressing, with amazing works such as The Girl Who Lept Through Time and 5 Centimeters Per Second, respectively.

More recently, directors Akiyuki Shinbō and Nobuyuki Takeuchi along with the rest of Studio Shaft decided to take up there own original IP: Fireworks. The movie initially had peeked many because the producer Genki Kawamura also worked on the 2016 hit Your Name. So, how did Fireworks turn out? Well, in a lot of ways, Fireworks is a lot like Your Name and The Girl Who Lept Through Time.

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Left: Norimichi, Right: Nazuna

Fireworks centers around Norimichi, a middle school student, is living an average life. On the day of his town’s annual firework festival, his friend Yuusuke gets asked out by Nazuna, who Norimichi finds a strange attraction to. Things eventually get weirder as Norimichi travels through time and learns more and more about Nazuna.

While Your Name is still a great film it has a lot of problems. Its visuals are absolutely breathtaking, with Comix Waves putting every ounce of effort into making sure the animation looks visually stunning. However, as a result, the film’s story ends up being lackluster at best. A lot of the story is sort of left up for interpretation, and the hugeness of it all makes the characters seem unrelatable for a lot of the story. These same problems absolutely permeate Fireworks.

Norimichi

Norimichi, the movie’s main protagonist, never really comes into his own as a character, and neither does Nazuna. The two lead most of the story, yet the premise of the show does not give much reason to care about their relationship, other than that Nazuna is being forced to move out of the town due to her mom’s remarrying. Norimichi especially is really vanilla, and never makes it worth caring about the two’s relationship. All of the other side characters, including Yuusuke, are even less interesting, as they are mainly just used as plot inconveniences, instead of feeling like real people.

Despite its lackluster story, Firework’s visuals are absolutely fantastic. Studio Shaft and Akiyuki Shinbo brought there A game when it comes to the animation. The scenes with the time travel device especially make the whole movie worth watching. My favorite part would have to be near the end when the device shatters and Norimichi and Nazuna both get to see the different parts of their memory.

Fireworks is, unfortunately, pretty much the definition of mediocre. The story remains fairly stale and uninteresting, and its Sci-fi elements feel like they have been done before, mainly in films like Your Name. The movie is still worth seeing for sure, but if you were planning on buying a ticket to see it in a local theatre, I would wait.


How do you guys feel about Fireworks? Good? Bad? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Two Sons Wander into a Bar, and Both are Really Scared About What Others Will Think (SPOILERS)

If there is one issue that has become increasingly more important in media, it is representation. I’ll admit that for a long time the concept was a bit foreign. The first time it was ever brought up to me was in my sophomore English class, and even then I only kind of understood it. As someone who’s only to minority status is through religious affiliation, it never really felt like that big of a deal. Since probably around the time I started this blog, I’ve become much more receptive to the idea, and with having just finished Wandering Son, It has become all the more clear not only how important these stories are, but just how powerful they can be.

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Wandering Son mainly focuses on the stories of two students, Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki, who, at the beginning of the show, are just starting their first year in middle school. The two have been childhood friends for awhile, but these two also share a secret: their transgender. Nitori, a boy, identifies as a girl, and Takatsuki, a girl, identifies as a boy. The two realize that middle school is going to be much harder between trying to keep their secret, making friends, and mending old relationships.

One of the most heartbreakingly well-written parts of this show is just how much of the characters pain you can feel through the story. Even for people who do not necessarily understand transgenderism, and there are still many, it is incredibly easy to feel the pain that Nitori and Takatsuki are going through. As kids, it is clear that they do not really have the ability to articulate what it is they are feeling, and most of their friends do not have the capacity to understand. Add in the extremely socially conservative Japanese culture, and you get just a glimpse of what any transgender kid growing up in Japan must be feeling.

It is also a testament to the show’s writing that even in a small, eleven window period that most of the characters feel fleshed out and most of the plot lines resolved. Both Nitori and Takatsuki come to terms with who they want to be, and who they feel they are. Chiba learns to accept that, despite her love for Nitori, that it is a love that will probably never come to pass. Mako, who at the beginning seems somewhat unimportant, ends up getting his own incredibly satisfying character arc. Even Anna, who only shows up about half-way through, manages to come across as the kind, understanding, somewhat stand-offish person the story meant for her to be.

Really, my only complaint on a story level is that there is not more. The pacing of the story was extremely well handled, with each episode having both continuing the plot as well as further highlighting the theme of identity is vital to a person’s life in every episode. However, after the eleventh episode, when a lot of the drama seems to ramp up again, it just stops. All the built up progress that was made with the two main characters and the audience is left feeling betrayed.

Wandering Son is a show where the animation takes a bit of a back seat to the writing and the characters. That is not to say that the show’s animation is bad, but simply to say that it was not the focus of the production team when making the show. Still, for what it is, it works. The show’s color palette focuses mostly on using lighter, more faded colors to emphasize a lot of the elements of its plot, like a lack of understanding about one’s self, as well as the growing distance between people.

Screenshot 2018-05-09 00.42.55.png

Nothing among the show’s musical score stands out as being particularly brilliant or deserving of praise, but it is by no means bad. The music does a great job in assisting in creating tension in the story when it needs to, like near the end of the show when Nitori starts to feel his and Takatsuki’s friendship growing apart because of his relationship with Anna.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write a formal review, and I’m really glad that I was able to find a show so worth reviewing. Wandering Son is very much a modern story, one filled with heartbreak, confusion, betrayal, redemption, and acceptance. Even its core theme of not being able to reveal your identity can be relatable in some way to one degree or another. I would absolutely suggest you check it out.


What do you guys think of Hourou Musuko Wandering Son? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

A Place Further Than The Universe: A Tragic Tale of Overcoming the Odds(SPOILERS)

Anime has a lot of things that most viewers assume just come with the territory: awkward shots of female characters, painfully generic character archetypes, and plots that do not get resolved after one season and the show not getting a second season. Even looking as good as the show did from promotional videos, there was always an inkling of worry that the show was just going to be plagued with those aforementioned anime staples. However, not only was A Place Further Than The Universe not that, it ended up going above and beyond my wildest expectations, and is probably going to be in the running best anime of the year.

A Place Further Than The Universe centers around a story of getting to Antartica, mostly driven by Shirase, a quiet and awkward girl who everyone is more than content with just making fun of her for her goal. Mari, a girl who is tired of wasting her youth and doing nothing in high school, runs into Shirase after she drops a million yen in a rush to catch her train. Mari, after returning the money Shirase dropped, tells her that she wants to come with Shirase on her journey. After meeting up with Hinata, a worker at one of the convenience stores near there school, and Yuzuki, a child actor tired of her controlling mother, the group manages to get a spot on the first expedition to Antartica in three years.

Even from the show’s setup, it is compelling. The show first introduces Mari, who remains unsatisfied with how her life is going. She feels like there is so much that she could be doing, but that she is too scared to take the risk. After meeting Shirase and learning about her planned trip to Antartica, she is determined to join her and break away from her normal, everyday routine.

It seems like a generic compliment at this point, but each of the characters in the show feels so human. Mari’s situation is something I can find myself relating to in a lot of ways, especially since I am about to graduate high school. Shirase too is someone that I think a lot of people can relate to. It is hard losing a family member, and when we do it just feels like a natural instinct to carry on their memory in any way we can. Hinata and Yuzuki also play a vital role in rounding out the cast, and are unique and interesting characters in their own way. Hinata, eccentric and lovable, is probably the most compelling of the four. Having gone through bullying from her classmates, she starts homeschooling so that she can take control of her own life, but in the process becomes removed from the world. Yuzuki, on the other hand, is a child actor who has been surrounded by people her whole life, and is used to being in the spotlight. Not content with her life of fame, Yuzuki meets up with the other girls and decides to bring them along on the trip, and simultaneously makes some friends.

Screenshot 2018-03-31 14.23.30

Seeing as how there is not a lot of action in A Place Further Than The Universe, most of the show’s budget goes into making every shot look as detailed as humanly possible. Everything, from the details of the ship to the background shots of the artic, and even the random background characters look good in this show. It is kind of amazing when you consider that Saho Yamane, the show’s art director, has only this show on her list of credits. A very good first job, to say the least.

The music is nothing special, but it gets the job done. The best part musically about A Place Further Than The Universe is probably the opening, which I talked about in one of my Opening of the Week posts, so check that out if you want to hear more about it.

I really cannot stress enough how great this show is. It has an infectious, adventurous spirit, and its characters embody everything that makes us human, and all of the things we should strive to be: honest, with ourselves and other, persistent, and courageous. Check this show out. Now.


What do you guys think of this A Place Further Than The Universe? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Fullmetal Alchemist Movie: Kind of a Mess

I have already talked previously on the Aniwiter about my expectations of this film, specifically the fact that the movie planned on using an all Japanese cast, and how I thought that was not reflective of story’s setting. However, even after I wrote that post I was still hopeful that the movie could at least have something about it that was worth watching. However, even going into the movie with lowered expectations, I still found a lot not to like about it.

The Fullmetal Alchemist movie uses the setup of the original story, focusing on Ed and Al, two brothers who, after trying to bring back their mom using a forbidden alchemic process known as Human Transmutation, lost their bodies as part of the experiment. Now, determined to find the key to solving their problems, the philosopher’s stone, Ed and Al continue their search.

One of the only parts of the movie that seemed like it was going be good were the effects, but sadly that ended up being one of the worst parts. The C.G. for most of the movie looks horribly integrated into the rest of the movie, to the point of looking at of place on any set they appeared on. Especially the monsters at the end, which might have honestly looked better if they had just used claymation.

The writing was another huge problem. For starters, Ed especially just seems to be completely different from his anime and manga counterparts. In the anime, one of Ed’s main appeals was his quick-wittedness, and how he was always one step ahead of almost everyone else, which kind of justified him being rude and obnoxious towards others. In the film, however, Ryosuke Yamada, who plays ed, makes him out to be more of a generic, straight shooter action hero, and that isn’t who Ed’s character really is. There are also problems with the fact that the studio chooses to condense what, between brotherhood and the original anime, were almost 20 episodes of content that were squeezed into two hours, like how many of the heartfelt moments of the original are entirely glossed over.

The movie’s music can mostly be described as unmemorable, as in I literally cannot, as I am writing this review, remember any individual track that played during it. Nothing was really noteworthy enough to stand out on its own, but it did do a good enough job of carrying the film to the end.

This review so far might give the impression that the Fullmetal Alchemist movie is bad. It is not, it is just extremely mediocre. The show does nothing to elevate the source material that it is borrowing from, and a lot of the time actively messes it up. Unfortunately, this movie just does not land the mark, and I can’t really recommend watching it.


What did you guys think of the Fullmetal Alchemist movie? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you like what you’re reading and want to support The Aniwriter, consider supporting the blog on Patreon. Even a dollar a month would help out. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

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Hyouka: A Magical Mystery Adventure

Hyouka is, without a doubt, an experience. From its expressive color palette to its wonderfully seductive soundtrack and the writing that makes it both a great slice of life show and a great mystery show, Hyouka has so much to offer. It may not be the most popular Kyoto Animation show to come out of the last year, but it is definitely one of the best.

The story of Hyouka centers around Hotaro Oreki, a high school student whose motto is “If I don’t have to do it, I won’t, and if I have to do it, I’ll do it quickly.” A self-described energy-conservationist, Oreki wishes to go through life using as little energy as possible, until one day his sister asks him to join his school’s classic lit club. Along with his best friend Satoshi and other friend Mayaka, the three usually spend their time solving mysteries to curb the insatiable curiosity of their club leader Eru Chitanda.

A lot of the show’s appeal is founded in its writing, specifically the relationship between Eru and Oreki. The show never sets out to make their relationship romantic in the first place, but it is easy to see from the beginning that the two have a special connection. From the first time, they meet the show gives a visual representation of the spell that Eru puts on Oreki whenever the two are together. Oreki knows that he will not be able to resist her request for help when she asks, so he goes with his motto and tries to solve the mysteries quickly.

Speaking of, the mysteries are another essential part of the shows massive appeal. Not only are they well crafted and executed, the show also makes a lot of references to famous mystery writers and stories, enveloping the show further in a self-awareness about the genre that it is tackling.

The show also focuses a lot on the other two members of the Classic Lit Club, Satoshi and Mayaka. Satoshi describes himself as ” a jack of all trades but a master of none.” He feels that he himself will never be especially good at anything but will always have knowledge on things that many do not know. It was fascinating seeing his character slowly unraveled by the story and then eventually revealed at the end. Mayaka also turns out to be a much more interesting character than initially suspected. Her Arc with the Manga Club turned her from an ok character to someone with an actual backstory, and that ended up being what made her likable in the end.

The music, while nothing particularly special, does do an exceptional job. The choice to give the soundtrack a more classical feel helped to invoke the Sherlockian Era that is often referenced by the show itself. Each track has a fairly unique feel to it while maintaining a level of thematic consistency throughout its use in the show.

The show’s animation is yet another high point, with Kyoto Animation bringing the show’s world to life in every conceivable way. One of the most beautiful things about the show is the way the atmosphere will turn a hazy purple whenever Oreki is around Chitanda. Not only does it make those scenes absolutely lovely, but it also ties together multiple thematic points in the story.

Overall, there is very little bad I can point out within Hyouka. It’s mystery storytelling combined with its fascinating cast of characters and lovely soundtrack and music make Hyouka one of the best shows not only within the slice of life genre but of all time.


What do you think about Hyouka? Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading and bye for now, Friendos! Also, if you like what your reading and want to help the blog, consider supporting The Aniwriter on Patreon. Even one dollar a month would be a big help.

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Sound! Euphonium: The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

Slice of life shows often time make me the most emotional. Not because they are inherently designed to elicit emotions, but because the characters are often on screen for so long that it becomes only natural to be invested in what’s going on. I mean, it’s not like their’s an overarching plot most of the time. Sound! Euphonium, however, is different. It has a goal for the main characters by episode two, and it details their struggle to achieve that goal. What is not different, though, is the attention to detail when it comes to the characters. Sound! Euphonium goes the extra mile to make sure that the characters have lives of their own lives, and by the end really capture what it means to be apart of something.

Sound! Euphonium centers around Kumiko Oumae, a freshman Kitauji High School. Upon attending her first day she is greeted by a performance from the Kitauji High Band, and is less than impressed. Later that day she meets some newfound friends and decides to join them in checking out the band. After a day of not really knowing what to do, she decides that she will join the band and once again play the Euphonium. Now in Kitauji Band, Kumiko meets a whole host of other music nerds, including Reina Kousaka, a skilled trumpet player who has her sights set on the band’s new teacher.

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As with other Slice of Life shows, the characters are at the forefront of the story. Kumiko and her friends develop over the show’s two seasons and come out having learned what it is they really want. Hazuki gets her arc first, falling in love with Kumiko’s childhood friend Shuuichi and enlisting the help of Kumiko in order to help her with her feelings. She remains indecisive on the matter, but eventually with encouragement from Kawashima and Kumkio telling her that she doesn’t like Shuuichi, a thought that was largely holding her back, Hazuki decides to ask him out. the date goes well enough, but Hazuki soon realizes that Shuuichi is not going to reciprocate her feelings. This experience not only makes Hazuki more worthy of sympathy but also makes her realize that her passion can lye in more than just romance and that her love for Tuba-kun is just as strong.

Asuka, the Band’s Vice President, is explored in the latter half of the second season. Her arc involves the abuse from her mother and her mother’s insistence that she leaves the band. It is later revealed that this hatred of band comes from her having divorced a famous Euphonist. This abuse from her mother finally gets to Asuka, and she decides to leave the band, rarely if at all showing up for practice even right before the national competition, but Kumiko decides that Asuka needs to return, and spills her heart out in front of her. Asuka’s always cheerful attitude and resistance to talking about her personal circumstance appear true to life, as many who are going through abuse are often the most involved in making sure others are happy. Whether they be happy or depressing, the show remains committed to telling the stories of its characters.

Sound! Euphonium also shows the realities of being involved with an organization in high school. I know from personal experience that no matter how much you do not like someone, you have to stick it out and work together with them. But, more often then not, for every person you do not like, there will be 10 more you do. Kitauji High’s Band is a great example of finding a community of people who share the same passion you do, and getting to have fun with them while also improving at the thing you love. It is a reminder that high school is can often time be the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and that chapter can only be a good as you make it.

The show’s excellent writing aside, its animation is another great point. Kyoani put together a great team for Sound Euphonium, and ended up with a great result because of it. Everything, from the fireworks at the festivals to the performances and even the background, oozed talent and attention to detail.

The music, while still being good, was, unfortunately, one of the weaker points. Both of the show’s openings and endings were nothing worth mentioning and all but one of tracks in the show could be described as “adequate.” The one exception, of course, is the track the show is named after, “Sound! Euphonium,” a song that captures the emotional nuance of the show in a way that words would have a hard time competing against.

Screenshot 2017-12-27 22.36.42

Sound! Euphonium, having remained off my radar for a long time, is a show that all will always remember fondly, largely because of when I watched it. Its ability to tell a compelling story about a bunch of band nerds wanting “to be the very best like no one ever was” is a testament to its quality. Even with only an above-average soundtrack, the show will likely remain in my heart as a go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a good high school slice of life.

 

 

Review- Classroom of the Elite: What Was This Supposed To Be?

Finishing up the reviews from last week, I wanted to talk about Classroom of the Elite, for a few reasons. One of the major ones is that I can’t understand what this 12 episode studio Lerche production was really trying to do. It seems to want to go in a lot of different directions without deciding on one, and it’s a worse show because of it.

The Story of Classroom of the Elite centers around Ayanokouji Kiyotaka having just joined Koudo Isukei High School, a state of the art facility where almost all of the students graduate and find a job. The school is divided into Classes A, B, C, and D from highest performing to lowest performing, and Ayanokouji happens to end up in Class D. The members of class D are initially given 100,000 points to spend at the school, where there is food and other amenities to spend points on. Everything seems to be going great for the students until they realize that those points were actually a test and that they won’t be getting any more until they do better.

 

ayanokouji
Kiyotaka Ayanokouji

 

Initially, I was excited about this series. It seemed like it could go a thousand different unique directions and tackle a lot of interesting subject matter, but it ended up going in all one-thousand of those directions and not really trying to stick to anything. For the first few episodes it stuck with its original premise, then it moved on to a crime drama in which AyanoKouji and his other classmates have to prove Sudo’s innocence, then it turned into a fanservice show, and finally, it became a wilderness survival show. Classroom of the Elite tried so many different directions that it never really got good at any of them.

Its lack of direction isn’t the only thing that hurts it because the show’s characters can be classified as either bland or unoriginal. Ayanokouji certainly comes off as the latter, and the show’s other main character Horikita falls under the former. The only other characters really worth mentioning are Sakura and Kushida who also fall under extremely bland.

The writing overall can be classified as uninspired.

The music of the show doesn’t really stand out either. There isn’t any standout track that makes me want to go back and listen to the whole thing to see if I missed something, and most of it just sort of blends together to the point of not even realizing it’s there.

The animation, I feel like I’m repeating myself, sits somewhere in between slightly above average and slightly below average. Nothing about the art style was overly interesting, but it also wasn’t horrifically bad. There weren’t any problems with the quality of the animation either, and the few action intensive scenes the show gives us look good.

 

Classroom of the Elite 2
The Members of Class D

 

I already said it in another post, but most of the shows in the summer season were painfully average. There was nothing offensively bad about them, but nothing really stood out as overachieving, and that’s the best summary for this show as well. I would recommend you skip it and not waste your time.

 

Black Clover Episode 1 Reaction

After having watched the first episode of Black Clover, I can admit at least that I wasn’t entirely correct in dismissing the hype around the show. The criticism of Black Clover being similar in setup to Naruto is in some way merited, but I get the feeling this show will be able to escape that stigma around it.

As of right now; however, the show is very much caught up in those cliches. Asta and Yuno come off as Naruto and Sasuke clones but with magic, and even how they explain the main characters new found powers is the same. Naruto invoked the power of the nine tails, and Asta unlocks the five leave clover, and the fifth leaf represents a demon. Asta and Naruto are also both orphans that want to become the rulers of their respective kingdoms.

It is interesting to note that Black Clover seems a lot more concerned, at least as of the first episode, with the fact that Asta and Yuno both came out of poverty, and the idea that your beginnings don’t have to define who you are. If that is going to be a theme throughout the show, then it is wholly welcome. A show focusing on poverty and not held back by where you were born, in this case, a rural village, would be a great addition to shonen genre.

Of course, I couldn’t write this reaction without mentioning Asta’s voice actor. For whatever reason, the director of this show decided that Asta’s voice needed to be as annoying as possible, and he found Gakuto Kajiwara, who then internalized that request and gave us the ear scraping noise that is the main character’s voice. I can certainly understand why people would stop watching because of it. We’ll just have to wait and see if it improves, but as of right now, I think this comment on MyAnimeList perfectly summarizes my feelings.

Black Clover Comment

Overall, I’m still excited for this show. The animation looks comparable to other Pierrot productions, and the music that we did hear in this episode was, for lack of a better term, hype. I do hope that the show comes into its own more as time goes on because it would be a shame to see all this potential wasted.