Tag Archives: Feature

Dealing with Mental Burnout

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As I get back into the swing of posting articles again, I decided it would be easier to also continue to post some of my old columns. Today’s column is one I wrote about a couple years ago and is still incredibly applicable to my life currently since I often find it hard to keep with my hobbies while also doing school. This is an article about burnout, both on how to avoid it and how to deal with it if it’s already happened. With that being said, here it is.


Most people have experienced burnout of some kind at some point in their life. It seems that the most common form of this is with a favorite food or drink. After consuming it a lot within a short time frame, the taste buds start to get bored of it, and eventually, it loses that special something that made it so good in the first place. 

This also happens a lot with people’s hobbies. Given that hobbies are something people choose to do in their free time, it makes sense that they would want to spend a lot of time doing it. However, it can also reach a point where doing it too much leads us to falling out of favor with that hobby. For me, this has happened a couple of times with anime.

I would get into a routine of spending nearly all my time either watching anime, looking for new anime to watch, or talking about anime with people online, and while I did have a ton of fun, it got unhealthy. Eventually, I would just get tired of it, and watch nothing for a few months at least. 

As of writing this article, this has happened about three times now. The first was near the end of freshman year, where I had spent most of my summer break bingeing different series, never really giving myself any time to recover. The second was during my junior year, where the stress of taking four AP classes and joining multiple clubs had my head rolling constantly.

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The third was more recently. I had been watching so much anime, and then I started thinking about why I was even doing so to begin with, to the point where I even questioned my passion for it. All of this is to say that, no matter what hobby a person has, they can always get burnt out. With that being said, here are a few helpful tips to avoid doing so. 

First, it is important that a hobby not be the only thing a person does. While it might not immediately make sense to limit doing something a person likes, if it becomes their sole reason for living, then it can become unhealthy. Mixing in other hobbies into a person’s free time, or hanging out with friends one meets from that hobby can be great ways to avoid this.

Second, it is also important that a person not attach success or failure in that hobby to their self-worth. As someone who has played a lot of “Super Smash Bros” and competed against others in weekly tournaments, it can be pretty easy to get discouraged and feel bad when one does poorly. It helps to take those negative thoughts and turn them into goals if that’s applicable. If not, just take a break, whether that be a day or week, and then come back. 

Burnout is something that almost everyone experiences, even in their own hobbies. We all get sick of doing stuff, especially when we do it too much. However, there are ways to avoid it, and by taking the proper steps now, it becomes much less likely later on. 


What are your experiences with burnout, and how have you dealt with them? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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Smash’s Final Character: Smash Ultimate Patch 13.0

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I know, I know, don’t worry about it.

Smash’s presumed final, although not confirmed, patch for Super Smash Brother Ultimate is here, and with it has come a lot of excitement. New character, new changes, a new stage, and lots of talk among the community as usually. With that being said, lets get into it.

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The Final DLC

This is it, the last character, the one that so many people requested in Nintendo’s fan poll almost six years. Sora from Kingdom Hearts is finally in smash. I have a few friends who were hesitant to be happy about Sora, not because they disliked the character for any reason, but rather because the smash community has seen a number of people who are just ok with sending death threats to people, and while the existence does sour my enjoyment a bit, it still pales in comparison to the joy I feel now that he is finally here.

After my finishing the original Persona 5 was followed by the reveal of Joker only a few months later, I did not think anyone else could reach that level of hype. That is, except for one. When I tell you that I could barely contain myself while watching the final reveal during my nine in the morning political philosophy lecture, I am not kidding. Seeing Sora fly out of Kingdom Hearts into that dark and desolate void was truly a dream come true.

As far as how he actually plays, well…Sora is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, going from playing mostly Joker, a character with a significantly faster than average fall speed, great mobility both in the air and on the ground, and an insane punish game to now the floatiest character in the game has been a significant change. On the other, though, Sora himself seems like a better than average fighter with a lot of unique tools and mix-up potential. Not only does he have multiple two hit kill confirms off of his aerials, his neutral is significantly better than expected, with nair serving as a solid out of shield option and his first hit jab and up tilt being excellent anti-air tools.

The hardest part about the character thus far has been his disadvantage. Being so floaty, along with having a relatively slow double-jump makes getting out of disadvantage fairly difficult against competent players. similarly, while Sora arguably has the best edge-guarding of any character in the game, by contrast, his ability to get off ledge is severely limited, and requires really good mix-ups on the part of the person playing him. Despite all of that, however, I have decided to pursue maining him for the moment, as I want to see how much I can develop my skill with arguably now my favorite character in all of smash.

Balance Changes

I’m only going to talk briefly about the balance changes in 13.0, so for anyone who wants to see the whole list of changes and their implications, please watch the video Beefy Smash Doods made, or just look at the original patch notes here.

TL;DR, the main aim of this patch, like many previous ones, was to buff characters who are generally considered to be fairly bad by the competitive community and even casual players. Among those who received major changes are Dr. Mario, Incineroar, Jigglypuff, King K. Rool, Isabelle, Zelda, Lucario, and Little Mac. Judging based on the criteria of most significant changes relative to their character, Jigglypuff and Mac walked away with the most influential buffs. Jigglypuff now has access to a handful of new confirms and high damage combos, and Little Mac became significantly better and what he does best: pressuring opponents on the ground.

While none of these changes are likely the make the characters that much more viable in the competitive scene, except maybe in the case of Jigglypuff, they did seem to accomplish the goal of giving them a higher quality of life and making certain interactions slightly better off for the respective fighters. Overall, outside of my general dislike of what I would consider to be a lot of “Wi-Fi characters,” I do think these buffs were warranted and not particularly egregious.

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The Meta of Smash Ultimate

Based on previous patterns from Smash for Wii U, this is likely to be the last or second to last patch for the game. This means that Ultimate‘s competitive meta will likely solidify in the coming months. Whether or not the addition of such an iconic and fan-loved character will spark an unprecedented wave of new interest in the game has yet to be seen. However, even through a global pandemic in which offline tournaments, the heart of smash community, were shut down completely, the game has retained competitive interest. This has been even more true now that offline locals and majors have begun resurfacing.

The reality, however, is that COVID-19 is far from over, with resurgences of the disease and offspring of new variants helping to maintain its spread. This means that smash could be forced to move online once again at a moments notice. For Smash Ultimate, this means players would be forced to resort to using the game’s notoriously awful online system as their only means of play. Most are aware of this problem, which is why many top players, such as New England’s Light barely played during Quarantine, and others have moved on from the game entirely.

Still, even with a shrink in the community, there has been plenty of development among individual characters. Steve, who many notoriously though was going to be among the worst in the game, is now considered high tier at a minimum among many. This is due to significant developments in the character’s combo and camping game, with many realizing the vast potential Steve has with his ability to build blocks while in the air. Min Min, another terror of online play, seen a similar rise in respectability, with players like ESAM and Pink Fresh performing relatively well at recent offline events.

Sora’s meta is still being explored, but early signs show a lot of promise. As mentioned previously, he has a few easy to perform kill confirms, great edge-guarding capability, and even a recently discovered loop with both his fair and nair, which allows him to combo opponents for massive amounts of damage. Currently, many are of the opinion that the character only rises to mid-tier status, but opinions among top players who have experimented with Sora are quickly changing. This includes PGR rank one player MKLeo, who believes the character to be incredibly strong.

Conclusion

Overall, this has been an incredibly successful patch, both personally and competitively. While I honestly have no idea what the future of smash is at this point, with Masahiro Sakurai saying that he will be stepping down from working on the game, I am excited to see any future content, as well as continue to watch and participate in the growth of the competitive scene.


I hope you all enjoyed this analysis of Smash’s recent patch. I try to only talk about competitive gaming occasionally, since these posts tend to perform relatively poorly. However, for those that are interested in this kind of content, please let me know, since I do enjoy writing it. Otherwise, thanks for reading.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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Anime and the Environment

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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You ever just think about how are existence on this planet is becoming increasingly fragile and that human activity is largely contributing to our own demise? Yeah, me too. The amount of immediate world issues that are important tend to overshadow environmental policy, even during a time when these issues are too crucial to ignore. Luckily, the lineage of great anime directors seem to understand their importance. In my column for this week, I touch on Anime’s environmental messages. Enjoy!


If the quarantine regarding COVID-19 has revealed anything, it is that human impact on the environment is still at an all-time high. The empty roads, the parks littered with trash and gas stations are all a reminder that humans have, for the better but mostly for the worse, altered the planet to suit our needs, causing pollution and the rise of man-made climate change. 

While its oftentimes quirky and abundantly random nature may make it an odd choice for messages about the environment, directors like Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai have already used anime as a way to warn people about the importance of environmental awareness.

Miyazaki’s work on this topic goes back to his earliest films working as a director. In “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” Nausicaa attempts to learn the secrets of an ancient forest that has been attempting to communicate with her. However, she has to do so before the kingdom of Tolmekia succeeds in wiping it out for good. The film subtly represents the idea that humans are not above nature, but rather a part of it.

A similar concept appears in Ghibli and Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke,” where a young prince named Ashitaka must find a cure for a disease given to him by a demon. After journeying to a place called Irontown, he finds out that the mining and crafting of iron products have polluted the nearby area and made the spirits of the surrounding forest angry. Again the film shows a conflict between humans who wish to alter the environment for selfish gain and nature itself. 

Rising star and director of the 2016 hit film “Your Name” has also contributed to environmental consciousness. His latest film “Weathering with You” features a story about a girl named Hina who gains the power to control the weather. However, after using her powers in order to make money, she is forced to join the sky with the weather spirits, although not before being rescued by Hodoka, a boy who recently moved to Tokyo. 

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As a result of not paying the price for her powers, Tokyo becomes cursed with constant rain, leaving much of the city underwater. These depictions of a new dystopian world reflect the director’s concern for climate change, not just as a threat to nature but as a threat to human existence. 

However, these depictions of human impact on the environment in anime are not surprising given the cultural context of Japan. Ever since Japan’s emergence as a world leader on environmental policy in the late 1980s, its government has continued to emphasize reducing citizen impact on the environment.

Much of this has been done by introducing recycling in major metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo, as well as across the country. Japan has also asked private businesses to consider the environmental impact of their day-to-day operations. They have even gone as far as to introduce a number of voluntary programs and campaigns encouraging citizens to participate.

While it is true that younger people are increasingly skeptical of the government’s efforts, many in Japan are of the opinion that environmental regulations should be stronger, not weaker. 

It seems common knowledge at this point, but the media people consume can affect their positions on political issues. Even though environmental issues can seem far removed from people’s everyday lives, they are an ever-looming presence that is inescapable. Both Miyazaki’s and Shinkai’s films are not only great entertainment but emphasize one of the defining issues of this generation.   


How do you all feel about these issues? Are you fans of Ghibli and Shinkai? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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The Observation Deck: My Hero Academia Season Five

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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You thought it was someone who posts consistently? It was actually me, DIO!

Anyway, outdated references aside, hope you all have been well while I’m away. At least, as well as anyone can be doing right now. Regardless, I finally got the chance to catch up on some anime over the weekend and it was, first and foremost, at very much needed relaxer for myself. College is hard, especially when the productivity sirens are constantly blaring in your head despite having zero energy to actually accomplish anything. What I have managed to accomplish is finishing season five of “My Hero Academia,” and I want to talk about it.

What is Peace?

One of my favorite video essays on YouTube is actually about “My Hero Academia,” and given how the last season has played out, with its refocus on the League of Villains and Meta Liberation Army, it feels worthwhile to talk about. Pause and Select’s “Boku no Hero Academia and Peace” discusses how All Might, serving as the symbol of peace, not only upholds society on a day to day level, but himself serves as a goal, or what he describes as a metanarrative, around which people build there worldviews. This metanarrative of peace, rather than any particular ideology, serves as the object of Shigaraki’s, as well as many other villain’s, hatred.

It becomes that much more obvious then, as he explains, that peace could be a stand in for a number of things: justice, preservation, etc. The important thing is that their is a metanarrative to stand for or against, rather than what that metanarrative is exactly. What struck me as most interesting while re-watching it is that contrast, that villains are defined not by an ideology per se, but by their opposition to peace. This has become even more true after the last arc, where Shigaraki has not only powered up his quirk, but has undergone a sort of transformation.

This transformation, which occurred during his fight with Re-Destro, had him realize that his vision for society was non-existent, and that he does not need a future because the present is all that matters. What really matters for Shigaraki, symbolized by his evolving quirk, is destruction. This arc not only had some deep ideological implications for the villains, but also characterized them in a way that was both incredibly dramatic and deeply humanizing. Twice’s backstory, in particular, was a testament to the idea that the villains in this series are often a product of environment rather than a representative of some inherent evil.

Meta Liberation

Speaking of not being inherently evil, the meta liberation army was another important part of the season’s narrative. A group that is initially presented as “just another villain group” turns out to be a rather unique allegory for the real world.

The series spends a fair amount of time discussing the era in which having a “quirk,” was not only not normal, but actively despised by the majority. This lead to many people with quirks being attacked by those without. A man named Destro eventually rose up to help those with quirks be allowed to freely use them. The movement ultimately became violent, and was squashed by the government at the time, but many still held onto their beliefs.

It is interesting how this group is cast in the villain role and, again, I think they are treated to some dynamic characterization. Still, despite being fairly sympathetic in their quest to give equality to those with quirks, they are still ultimately thwarted by the League of Villains, who forces them to come together under one umbrella. The final fight between Shigaraki and Re-Destro was somehow fairly slow paced but also incredibly exciting, as the devolution of Shigaraki’s character lent the fight to a build-up of anticipation and stakes.

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Oh Wait, This is About High School Kids

It would not be “My Hero” without the band of dorks that 15-year-old cosplayers love to dress up as (no disrespect though, just really funny that there are so many).

Seeing as how most of the cast was not the major focus of the season, it makes sense they would not get as much screen time. Even so, the initial team matches are a great way to show off the character’s skill development between the previous season and now. Shinsou was a a great highlight in this regard, as his appearance in season two left a lot to be desired. But, his participation in the hero matches and evolution as a hero under Aizawa’s teaching was a great addition to the season.

There is also a lot to be said of Deku, Bakugou, and especially Shouto’s development during the season as well. Finding out that Deku had access to the quirks of all his successors, the first one being “Black Whip” was hype., to say the least. The explosion of that power during the initial team battles felt like a serious awakening in him, with Deku realizing that beating Shigaraki and One for All would mean unlocking all of these powers and controlling them successfully.

The story of Shouto’ s relationship with his father has always been a rather complex one. This has become even more evident over the last season, as Endeavor now feels regret for his actions, but is also unable to connect with Shouto, or the rest of his family, in a serious way. While Shouto seems to be approaching a place of forgiveness, Natsu is not. On top of that, it is hard to imagine that his wife will want anything to do with Endeavor given how he treated her in the past. The initial comparisons of Shouto’s character to Zuko of “Avatar,” while done jokingly, seem fairly apt given his development.

Solid Animation, as Usual

The problem with talking about the animation of “My Hero Academia” is that there is not that much I can say that has not already been said by me or others. While it is not bad, it is also not particularly exciting in any way. The main exception of this is, of course, the beautiful moments of Sakuga that the series is well known for. Though there were not as many in this season as in previous ones, some shout outs do have to have to go out to Iida and Shouto during their match, and to the already discussed Shigaraki and Re-Destro fight.

Conclusion

Though I do not know if it reaches the same heights that season two did for me, season five was certainly a welcome change of pace that introduced a number of new storylines while also developing some previously established ones in a big way. With “My Hero” being the big series that it is, it would be easy for a studio like Bones to cut corners, but luckily they have continued to put their effort into this series and it shows. Those who are at all a fan of the series should continue on to season five.


How do you all feel about “My Hero Academia?” Let me know in the comments below.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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Quadeca, “From Me to You,” and the Internet

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I do not often talk about music on this blog because I rarely have opinions strong enough to justify writing a whole article about them. However, this is without a doubt of of my favorite projects of the last year, which is strange because I definitely would not consider Quadeca to be one of my favorite artists. Still there is a lot to talk about when it comes to “From Me to You,” which is why I thought it was worth taking another post to explore. In particular, I want to take a bit of time to talk about the storyline of the album and some of the implications of its subject matter.

The story of course starts with the track “Sisyphus,” named after a Greek god who was cursed to push a boulder up a mountain only to have it fall over and over again. The track mainly concerns itself with Quadeca’s internal monologue, with the story of Sisyphus being used as a metaphor for his relationship with his own success and self-growth. Try as he might, the fear of getting to the top of that mountain, only to fall back down and have it start all over is a scary prospect.

While Quadeca, or at least the character that he plays in the album, is not the only one in this story. There is, of course, another, indicated in the chorus: “You’ve got a mountain of your own,” and throughout the rest of the album. So, who exactly is this “you?” Well, at first glance it might feel reasonable to answer that question with some variant of romantic partner, and to an extent, that is right. In the song “Shades of Us” he does mention that “[he] just wants love,” but also says that its “outside my reach, always inside my aim.” This would rather imply that he is currently single, so at best this might be addressing some future relationship.

Instead, the “you” here feels a lot more literal, as though he is addressing the audience directly. Quadeca appears to be telling both the story of his experience with internet fame, as well as reflecting on the creation of the album itself, both of which have come with their ups and downs.

This becomes much more apparent on the song “Smiling at the Ground,” in which he raps about a crazy fan who would rather see him break up with a potential girlfriend as opposed to being genuinely happy, as well as the music labels which resent him for staying independent. These things are so stressful that he “searches his fake name” only to be relieved when neither of them appear together with it. The following track “Can’t You See” also speaks to this idea as well, where Quadeca equates this Sisyphean journey to being “lost in the fog,” and that it is both “hard to stay, hard to stay gone,” again repeating the idea that his situation is very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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While it is fair to say that most artists and/or people who create things, especially on the internet, hope for some level of success, it does not necessarily mean they want all of that attention at once, or even really at all. The process of virality, in which a person can become famous overnight, is an area that feels like it has been overlooked in cultural discussion. Having thousands or even hundreds of thousands of new eyes on you, as well as a mountain of new expectations can be incredibly nerve wracking. Even now that Quadeca has an established fanbase who probably will not abandon him, the fear alone can make an album that was supposed to come out in 2020 take a whole extra year.

Another major theme of the album is the idea of balancing work and the rest of one’s life. This theme comes to a head much later in the album on the three tracks “Burnin Bridges/Long Day,” “Work!” and “People Pleaser.” Each of these tracks aims to address a different aspect of Quadeca’s relationship with his work and how it has affected his other relationships.

“Burnin Bridges/Long Day” sees him playing the part of “the villain,” but also directly states how he’s “burning all [his] fuckin bridges til there’s nothin left,” and that he “trusts no one but myself, the only one that hasn’t fuckin left.” In other words, from his perspective, Quadeca is taking people out of his life who never really cared for him anyway. While this is a pretty common sentiment across rap as a genre, it feels even more important here given how the internal monologue established in earlier songs has made it clear just how much he doubts himself.

“Work,” in contrast, sees Quadeca satirizing the unhealthy relationship with work that many have come to understand as grind culture, or the idea that one should always be focused monetary or social gains, even at the expense of interpersonal relationships. Though it may not seem like it, the exaggerated lyrics as well as the fax machine noise which slowly ingrains and distorts itself into the beat make it fairly obvious. Some of the best lines, in this regard, are when he talks about “only loving you from like 3:15 to 5 PM,” as well as having “like twenty-five Red Bulls still tryna find them wings, like a blind Rick Ross.”

It becomes even more apparent when beat comes to a halt, and Quadeca talks about how “[his] mind got carpal tunnel” and that “[he] wants it all to double, even the stress, even the mess, even the largest struggle.” In this final verse, he point out how those who have bought into this grind mentality put themselves through all of this work, in part at least, so that they can where it as a badge of honor around others. The song “People Pleaser” serves almost as a prequel, describing how Quadeca’s innate need for validation from others got him into the cycle he is in, with the ever increasing quantities of money he manages to acquire never being enough for this “you.” The line “feelin’ like its eight-bit, lookin like its IMAX” also helps to reinforce the idea that, while his life on the outside looks great, self-doubt is still very much central to his problems.

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All of this comes to a pinnacle, almost literally, on the song “Summit Pt. 1” in which the major themes get reinforced. Despite how much progress has been made, both in Quadeca as a person and on the album itself, he still does not believe he has made it particularly far, evidenced by the refrain “And I’ve been lookin’ at the summit. They say we’re halfway there, I think we’re halfway from it.” Still, it would be unfair to say that he has made no progress at all, as it he also says that “me and my boulder grew a bond,” implying that, despite still not being confident, he has managed to get something of a handle on these mental burdens.

Additionally, the question of who exactly “you” is becomes an issue again, because although earlier in the album Quadeca implied a lack of romantic relationship, the song “Its All a Game” does seem to present a major romantic interest. Still, interpreting the “you” as still talking directly to the audience makes a lot of sense. When he says “I swallowed it, thank god that it was you that shared the key” in reference to the previous interlude, Quadeca seems to be saying that if there was anyone who he was going to share his most vulnerable self too, he would rather it be an audience that has expectations of him rather than random strangers.

The journey is still not going to end, both as an artist and as a person, until he meets his. In a way, acknowledging that “we’re halfway from it” is saying that not just he, but everyone has yet to reach their full potential, and although everyone might have a mountain to climb and a bolder to climb with it, seeing what is at the top might just be worth it.


There is a lot more about this album that I can and probably will talk about, from the incredibly constructing bars and ryhme schemes, as well as the amazing production. Still, if I did try and talk about it all in one post this would probably end up being a 20 minute read, and as someone with an incredibly small attention span myself, I do not want to do that to other people. So, have you heard “From Me to You?” What do you think of 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!

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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Five Anime Characters Who Deserve Spinoffs

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Oftentimes anime, and stories in general, are defined by their main characters. “Harry Potter,” “Naruto,” anime aimed at kids such as “Yugioh” and “Pokemon,” as well as a ton of others. Some stories are just better suited to that orientation, which is totally fine. However, there are a lot of series which produce characters who are more interesting than the main character, and sometimes even just more interesting than the rest of the show. With that in mind, today, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about some of these significantly more interesting characters, ones that could probably rock their own spinoff series. Without further adu, let us get into it.

N (Pokemon: Black and White)

Is…this cheating?

Part of me was not sure whether to include a “Pokémon” character here because it feels like the games is the primary medium through which people enjoy the franchise. Still, many people grew up with and still currently enjoy the anime series, so it feels kind of fair.

N still feels like an anomaly as far as “Pokémon” characters go. After all, most character motivation in the anime series goes as far as being a good trainer or breeder and while it is true that the series is aimed at kids, that always came off as kind of lazy. N, however, is one of the sole exceptions. Much of his arc as a villain is him questioning the structure of “Pokémon” society, asking the tough questions like “Are Pokemon treated fairly?” and “Are they better off without humans?” I did not actually watch all of B&W, so I can only really attest to his arc in the original games, but he could easily carry a 12 episode cour set in the “Pokémon” Universe.

Hinata Miyake (A Place Further Than the Universe)

This one is a little less fair because all of the characters in “A Place Further Than the Universe” are actually good. However, of the four main girls, she feels the most interesting, even without having the most development. This is because what we do get of her background is really interesting. Homeschooled most of her life and graduated high school early, now doing college while working part time at a convenience store and just shows up wanting to go to Antarctica.

There are so many questions that surround her throughout the course of the series, and unfortunately, there are not that many answers. Now, maybe she does not carry a whole 12 episode series by herself, but I do think she is worth at least a couple of OVAs focused on her, with a bigger focus on her life as a kid.

Akari Kawamoto (March Comes in Like a Lion)

Speaking of super interesting characters who did not get as much development as they probably should have…

Do not get me wrong, “March” is still one of my favorite shows. However, for as interesting as Hina’s arc was in the second season, it felt like Akari was oftentimes neglected. As the primary maternal figure in the series who essentially had to take on that role at the drop of a hat, one might think that she would have a bit more focus than she does. Like, sure, she definitely has some spotlight episodes, but none that are primarily about her, aside from maybe one or two. This also is not to say that she is more interesting than Rei. But I do think a series which focused on her transformation from a daughter to a guardian figure would be incredibly interesting.

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Shun Aonuma (From the New World)

Re-watching this series recently made me realize just how much depth there is behind the story and characters, even if the production quality is not always there to support it. At the top of the candidates for most interesting from the series is Shun. Yeah, sure, part of that interest is generated from just how early he exits the series. However, his relationship with Saki and Satoru was genuinely one of the most interesting elements, and his home life is left a complete mystery. There is a ton here that could very easily fill up a mini-OVA series.

Arthur Boyle (Fire Force)

Ok, but like seriously, can he talk about him?

I said in my discussion of “Fire Force” that Arthur’s character is…confusing. Like, he’s perpetually stupid, was raised in a happy family until he was not, and thinks he is King Arthur because his parents pretended with him and now he just uses the persona as childhood trauma. Yet, he is relegated in the anime as a…joke character? To be honest, his entire existence just bewilders me so much. I would want to see a spinoff focusing on him for no other reason than clarification, because wtf?!


What characters would you like to see get their own spinoff? Let me know in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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The Observation Deck: Princess Jellyfish

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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“What…was that?”

“…what?”

“No, but like, what did I just watch?”

“‘Princess Jellyfish,’ dumbass.”

Even after writing this 12 hours removed from finishing the series, I still am not entirely sure how to feel about it. There were so many twists and turns that happened that at first felt like they were only tentatively related, but upon reflection make a lot more sense. There are also a ton of political, economic, and gender elements that further complicate the series. So, with that being said, let us take it one at a time.

What is Gender, Anyway?

I want to start this segment by saying that I am nowhere close to an academic. In fact, I’m not even a sociology major, I am in my third year studying English. So, in no way am I an expert on gender issues. That said, I still think it is worth trying to understand how these concepts affect the story of “Princess Jellyfish,” because they are indeed a major part of the show’s progression.

Tsukimi is an 18-year old biological woman who moves into a sisterhood of sorts to try and make it as an illustrator. Only a few months into having moved there, one night, she sees a Jellyfish in a storefront that is likely to die, and tries to get the attention of the store clerk. After failing to convince him to take care of the Jellyfish, a mysterious woman appears to help, and convinces the clerk to give Tsukimi the sea creature. The two head back to her apartment, with Tsukimi feeling severely uncomfortable with just how stylish this woman is. After the two fall asleep in her room, Tsukimi learns that this woman is Kuranosuke Koibuchi, a biological male and the child of a prominent politician. The latter part of that we will get to later, but, for now, gender.

One of the most prominent ideas in the series is this concept of the more otaku lifestyle of the Amamizukan residents versus the “Stylish.” In other words, there is an opposition between women who fit a more traditional definition of feminine beauty and those who do not. However, it is not just the Tsukimi and the others who are opposed to this idea within the story. Kuranosuke, for as much as his outward appearance reflects this feminine beauty, is still a dude, even if the other women in the apartment are clueless.

Kuranosuke, in this way, is an amazing foil to Tsukimi, because while they may be different in personality, habit, and lifestyle, they are incredibly similar in how gender plays a role in shaping their lives. Both perceive themselves, to one degree or another, as not being adequately feminine for the reasons previously explained. Sure, Kuranosuke does not show it as outwardly, but their feelings for Tsukimi and concept of self still affect their decisions.

Additionally, both of these characters are influenced significantly by the presence and absence of their mothers. For Tsukimi, it was more a general sense of encouragement and home that her mother gave her which made the two close. Whereas, for Kuranosuke, that connection came because of fashion and the absence of their father due to work. After their mothers make an exit, both characters find themselves questioning who they are what it is they want out of the life they have.

Another element of gender which underlies this entire conversation is perception. Even much more so than empirical and objective reality, perception, as well as self-perception, drives how people understand and act in the world. Gender, as social construct, is understood in much the same way. It is a product of perception, behaviors, and associations of those behaviors with a particular biological group. Tsukimi feels inadequately feminine because feminine beauty is associated with wearing lots of makeup and wigs. Kuranosuke feels the same because the other part of this feminine ideal is being a biological women, which he is not. Their relationship serves to validate their experiences by combining each other’s personality in the series’ climax.

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Life’s Hard, But Being Rich Helps

Ha! I bet you thought we were done with the university lecture. Gottem!

Gender is without a doubt an important element in “Princess Jellyfish,” but what is equally as interesting is class and the ways in which these two elements intersect. Even before potentially getting evicted from their homes became a major issue, the story sets up this difference between the women in the apartment and the Koibuchi family. All the women come from pretty modest means, including Chieko, whose mom owns the building they live in. Even the famous mangaka of the group, whose works make a lot of money, is portrayed as always being in her room working on new material.

The second episode sets this up as well. After Kuranosuke leaves, the women go shopping for cheap pot luck ingredients. The episode goes so far as to set up the recurring joke that Banba has the superhuman ability to locate the cheapest food at a grocery store. So, yeah, needless to say the group is not exactly living it up. This serves in direct contrast to Kuranosuke and his family, who are incredibly wealthy due to both their uncle and father being prominent politicians. Because of this, Kuranosuke is able to afford whatever they want whereas Tsukimi is used to dawning normal looking tops and skirts as well as the always comfortable track suit.

In much the same way that gender influences our perceptions and vice-versa, class plays a large part in the human experience. Things that might seem trivial to Kuranosuke, like how much money one spends on food, is much more important to Tsukimi and everyone at the apartment. Thus, they are oblivious to a lot of Tsukimi’s feelings and everyday problems. It also becomes an issue when Kuranosuke suggests buying the apartment building so that Chieko’s mother cannot sell it to the redevelopers. Of course, everyone at Amamizukan laughs at him, but then he continues to bring it up, to the point of being pretty annoying about it.

A great example of this is when Kuranosuke suggests selling Chieko’s doll collection in order to help make money for the effort. They then begin filling bags with the dolls while Chieko panics. It is only after Banba grabs their shoulder that Kuranosuke stops. After that, they have the idea of selling all of Chieko’s parents’ old stuff, which everyone hesitantly goes along with. In both cases, Kuranosuke assumes what is best for the women without really asking how they feel about it, and only sees the situation through the lens of money.

A lot of Tsukimi’s negativity comes from the self-perception that she is not worthy of this ideal of beauty, even despite the fact that she dreams of wearing a white-laced wedding dress which looks like a jellyfish. While it is never said explicitly in the show, it would not feel like a stretch to say that part of this self-perception is also derived from her class status, and that, simultaneously, Kuranosuke’s confidence comes from the fact that they can afford these amazing dresses, wigs, and makeup.

But That Writing, Though?!

Outside of its focus on social issues, “Princess Jellyfish’s” writing is incredibly well done. The series starts out simply enough, and someone who only watched the first episode might find it pretty tame, even for the standard of slice of life. In fact, I had the very same opinion after I finished its first episode. However, where the show shines through in this regard is how, rather than having particular character arcs, it keeps its focus on the relationship between Kuranosuke and Tsukimi, layering their opposition with new problems and focuses.

(For the record, I did read a little bit about the manga, and I am aware the other characters get development, so this comment is solely in regard to what is shown in the anime.)

In this way, the pacing is fantastic. In almost every episode the stakes are raised in some way, whether it be an increased chance that the others find out Kuranosuke is a guy, or the new information that is revealed about each other’s past. Even the relationship between Tsukimi and Shuu, as non-existent as it is, becomes a big plot point. If there were ever a series whose manga I would read in order to find out the rest of what happens, it would be this one.

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Small Things I Enjoyed

I feel like this should be a regular segment in my reviews, because oftentimes there will be things I want to talk about that do not fit into a specific category, which makes me feel like including it would make the review read a bit more like rambling…anyway,

While Clara the Jellyfish does not appear incredibly often, I do love that she was used as part of the commercial break intro and outro. Going from the rising announcement of her name to a group of deep-voiced men saying the word “tequila,” presumably because it was a funny sounding rhyme, in the middle of each episode is legitimately charming. Her narration of the Amamizukan residents’ interactions with the real world not only makes for a good laugh, but it also helps to build her up as the show’s mascot, giving that little extra bit of memorability.

Also, Idk what it is, but between this series and others like “Lovely Complex,” I think I just really vibe with the late 2000’s/early 2010’s shoujo aesthetic. The use of bright pinks, yellows, and oranges is just phenomenal, despite the fact that I am not a particularly big fan of those colors. Actually, now that I am thinking about it, that also explains why I liked the color palate in “Golden Time” a lot as well. I guess what I mean is me small brained and easily impressed. 🙂

Conclusion

Putting the thoughtfulness of this series into words has been hard, and while It is hard to evaluate where exactly this will land among my favorites, it feels likely to end up there. Still, this also ended up being on my longest written reviews. So much of “Princess Jellyfish” speaks to a sense of self-inadequacy that has been with me for a long time. There is a truly validating feeling while watching this show, in the much the same way that “March Comes in Like a Lion” continues to validate me. Honestly, I do not know if I could recommend this enough, but do expect me to return to this series at some point.


How do you all feel about Princess Jellyfish? Let me know in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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Initial Results: Sonny Boy

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Alright, I’m gonna be real honest, I still cannot take this show’s name seriously. I’m sure there is a specific reason for it, but it honestly just reminds me of older people who talk like its the 1950s lmao. Idk if there’s a slightly different connotation in the Japanese title, but man is it funny.

“Sonny Boy” focuses on a class of high school seniors who, for whatever reason, have been transported to an alternate dimension. Additionally, an unknown amount of these students have gained supernatural powers that allow them to alter reality. At the center of this story is Nagara, an easy-going nobody who appears to not have any powers, but who has attracted the attention of another girl named Nozomi. The students attempt to uncover the strange rules of these worlds while also looking for a way home.

In all seriousness though, an anime like “Sonny Boy” is one that I really get a craving for on occasion. There is, of course, the ever looming mystery of where they even are and how they got there. Then factor in these strange powers that range from somewhat useful to incredibly powerful, and there is already a ton worth being invested in.

The thing that interests me the most, however, is where the focus of the story and characters often lies. It feels weird to call it this, but with most isekai stories of today, the majority of the time is spent on the main character’s “conquering” of the particular world in which they’ve been summoned to. Not only are there a ton more characters in the same situation, the “world” they’ve appeared is actually more like a seemingly unknown number of worlds, with each actor in it being important to what is happening.

“Sonny Boy” also does not take for granted the implications of being transported into a completely new place with no rules. Quite the opposite, the series is laser-focused on the breakdown of societal norms and how the changing of the rules which govern society effect people’s behavior, or in some cases, don’t. These kinds of narratives are fun because they question the fundamental assumptions that we have about the world, and how easily something everyone assumes is an unbreakable rule can just as easily be thrown out the window.

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I am not particularly fond of the way the term “fallen off” gets thrown around as criticism of media, but it does appear as though Madhouse has been slowing down their production schedule in the last few years. How much of that was caused by the pandemic versus general changes is something I am not aware, but needless to say that “Sonny Boy” has not suffered because of it. The animation looks incredible, and has a more off-putting style that feels in line with the absurd nature of the show.

Overall, while I can’t say I was expecting a whole lot before I started watching it, I certainly am now. Like I’ve said previously, “Wonder Egg Priority” has pretty much ruined my confidence in making predictions on quality, but I would be genuinely surprised at this point if the show doesn’t end up as one of the better ones to come out this year.


“How do you feel about “Sonny Boy?” Let me know in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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The Observation Deck: Beastars Season 2

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

“Finally…my suffering is over…I can be free again…”

“omg what happened?”

“I watched “Beastars” season 2…”

“Beastars” is a show that continues to exist, and will continue into the future since it has already been confirmed for a third season by Studio Orange. Joy. Now, you as the reader may be asking, “Jack, if you did not like the show that much, why continue to watch it?” Well, unfortunately I like to dabble in a bit of masochism every now and again, and when I saw that the second season would be on Netflix this month, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity.

However, now that the second season is done, so too is the masochism, and now I can get down to brass tacks. Aside from the masochism there is really only one reason I would watch the series again: to talk about how aggressively awful it continues to be.

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The Dub

While I did not talk about it last time, I actually watched both seasons in their English dub. The first season is because at the time I just felt like watching a dubbed anime, and the second season is because I do not like switching languages once I start an anime. Sub versus dub discourse aside, I actually find the English voices to be one of the more tolerable elements of the show.

Almost everyone was cast really well, from the smooth voice of Legoshi, voiced by Jonah Hill, to the rougher, more grizzly voices of both Gouhin and Ritz. Even the nasal tone of Haru works a lot better than it probably should. In all honestly, the only voice that didn’t absolutely blow me away was Lauren Landa playing Juno, and even then she did not do a bad job by any means.

Seriously, What is this Story?

Shameless plug, but for those who have not read my review of season one, I recommend checking that out as well, if you feel like reading the same opinions twice.

I had an argument with someone on that post who basically said that the story makes more sense if I wait for next arc, and so I did. Now, I cannot really be angry, since I was planning on watching the next season when it came out anyway, but I do feel a bit lied to, and by a bit I mean a lot, because this was ABSOLUTELY NOT better than the first season.

Man, where do I begin. I probably should have been taking notes while I was watching cause there are just so many things that do not make sense, and have continued to not make sense. First of all, why does this show insist on introducing things at the beginning of the season only to not touch on them again at all the same season. Like, the anime literally introduces a giant snake security guard that convinces Legoshi to pursue Tem’s killer only to just disappear completely by episode three. Like, ???

Second, if “Beastars” was trying to make some grand social commentary in the first season, it almost completely abandons that idea in the second. Again, the anime is trying to split the difference between “Twilight” and “Zootopia” and thus far as inherited the strengths of neither, basically relying on the viewer to just not think about it to much and buy into all of the carnivorous brooding of its main characters. Speaking of,

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Jesus Christ, These Characters…

Honest question: am I supposed to like any of these people? Do not misunderstand me, of course I want there to be more complex characters, and having defined heroes and villains is not always better for a story, especially one which is relying on the straining relationships of its cast. However, while its important for their to be conflict between characters, at the end of the day, they do need to be at least a little bit likeable, or even just interesting for me to care about them.

Sadly, a pretty large percentage of the cast falls into neither of those categories. I talked about how Legoshi’s entire persona is basically just a fedora wearing nice guy, but like, the others are pretty bad too. Louis comes off as an asshole for most of the series until suddenly he and Legoshi are on good terms? Haru never even really felt like a character to me, probably because the show plays way to hard into Legoshi’s fantasy of protecting thy fair maiden. In fact, the only reason the two have a relationship in the first place is because Haru decided to go down on him as thanks for helping her club.

As much as I wanted to like these characters, (mainly because I have now sunk a collective 10+ hours into this series), I just cannot give them any credit. They feel both underwritten and overwritten at the same time, and because of the anime’s terrible worldbuilding and story, none of them come off as well done characters.

The Music and CG are Still Good, at Least

Apart from the dub, “Beastars” has two other solid qualities: Its soundtrack and its animation. As far as its music goes, the series does a great job supporting its abyssmal writing with some genuinely engaging jazz tracks. From its instrumental pieces produced by Satoru Kosaki, to the talented vocalists who appear scattered throughout, it is a genuinely nice distraction while watching.

Studio Orange also continues their great work in the realm of 3D animation. There is genuinely not a bad looking scene in the entire second season, and the fusion of 2D elements and backgrounds with the largely 3D characters is genuinely impressive. While I still have yet to warm up to the use of 3D in anime as a whole, I certainly have hope for what Studio Orange can do in the future.

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Conclusion

To tell the truth, as a critic, I am relatively easy to please. Just give me an interesting enough premise with a passable execution in the writing, along with some good visuals and ok music, and I will generally be happy. I mean, that is what happened with “Gleipnir” and I will still defend that show as being kind of underrated. “Beastars” cannot even manage that, with its terrible world, sometimes cringe and sometimes boring characters, and ham-fisted attempt at “societal” commentary. There is only so much one person can do pretty up a garbage can.


How do you all feel about “Beastars?” Let me know in the comments below.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

Initial Results: The Aquatope on White Sand

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Imagine finally getting the thing you have been working your entire life for, only to have it given away to someone else. Fuuka dreamt of being an idol ever since she was a kid, and now that dream is gone. With nothing better to do, she takes a trip to Okinawa, walks the beautiful coastline with luggage in hand, and falls asleep on the beach. A day later, she finds herself inside the city’s local aquarium, and meets the high-school aged summer director Kukuru. Fuuka’s strange adventure is only just beginning.

To be honest, I was not sure what to expect from this series. Not only am I not as familiar with P.A. Works as a studio, I am barely familiar with the show’s writer Yuko Kakihara. Sure, I have seen a bit of “Chihayafuru” and “Cells at Work,” but outside of that I was a bit lost. Luckily, though, the series’ first two episodes have given me a lot of hope as far as expectations go.

The pacing did seem a bit off at first. After all, she spends the whole first episodes running around, and only has a serious discussion with Kukuru at the end of the second. Thankfully, however, Myanimelist has the series at 24 episodes. This means that, unlike a certain disappointment from a few seasons ago, *cough cough* “Wonder Egg Priority *cough cough* there should be plenty of time for character development and backstory.

As far as the overall story goes, I am a big fan of this set-up. The idea of working hard only to have that work not matter is one that is not only relatable, but allows the idea of starting life over again to flow naturally from it. At least as far as I am aware, the idol industry is a legitimately hard one to be successful in, so this kind of story makes sense. mirroring that, it is not at all the surprising to hear that smaller businesses are struggling to keep up with the cost of staying afloat, let alone make a profit.

Something else that makes sense about the series is the blue coloring that influences the series animation. From the oceans, to the color of the aquarium, even down to the wet suits and the school uniforms. Everything has a blue aura about it which matches the scenery and subject matter. P.A. Works also did this with “Nagi no Asukara,” and both shows are definitely better for it.

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Overall, even with just a couple episodes out, there is a lot here to like. I will not make the mistake of hyping it up to any extreme, but if “The Aquatope on White Sand” stays on track, it will turn out pretty good.


How do you feel about “The Aquatope on White Sand” 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!

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