Tag Archives: Manga

Initial Results: Revolutionary Girl Utena

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I have spent a lot time thinking about this series, not because I have any real connection to it myself, but rather because of how widespread its influence seems to be. Not only have I heard this show cited in a number of video essays, even ones not about anime, but but also from western creators of other animated series, like Rebecca Sugar of Steven Universe/Adventure Time, and Michael Dante Dimartino, one of the creators behind Avatar: the Last Airbender.

Seeing as how my journey with Wolf’s Rain came to a close not too long ago, I figured it a good a time as any to get back into another relatively older series. After all, given its influence within the medium of animation, its worth at least having as a point of reference, right? So, after the first six episodes of the series, here are a few of my thoughts.

I will say this first because it has nothing to do with the quality of the series, but the modern anime season really made me forget that series did not have to be 12 or 24 episodes, and could literally just be however long is needed to have a satisfying conclusion. Seeing 39 episodes for this series really threw me for a loop is all.

Now, as for the series itself, there is certainly a lot to like. I have never been overly crazy about the aesthetic of a lot of 80s or 90s anime series, but Revolutionary Girl Utena is one I can get behind. A lot of the colors are fiery and bright, including those on the members of the student council. The overall vibe of the school is very regal and upper-class, showcasing very intricate designs on the outfits of its primary cast, which itself begs the question of why any of the main characters are there to begin with.

Speaking of, Utena and Anthy, the show’s lead characters, offer a nice contrast both in personality and design. Utena takes on a more masculine role, subverting the the damsel in distress trope by vowing in the series intro to become a prince herself, though she does say specifically that this desire still exists within her own identity as a girl. Anthy, meanwhile is apparently what is known as the “rose bride,” who will help “revolutionize the world.” At this point, all of that still feels a bit esoteric and clouded in mystery, which is appropriate because Anthy herself feels much the same way, opting to take a more passive role in the opening episodes.

The two have yet to build a ton of chemistry, other than the fact that they just look cute together. I suspect, though, that will come with time, as the series is divided into four main arcs, of which I am barely halfway into the first. It will be interesting to see both how the contrast in their personalities is shown, and how that contrast will then affect their relationship.

Series creator Kuniko Ikuhara has been praised not only for his work on this series, but also for his previous work on Sailor Moon, as well as a number of other projects later on the in the 2010s. It is clear even from the show’s opening episodes that there is a strong creative drive that went into Revolutionary Girl Utena as a series.

While I cannot say my my attention has been fully retained at every point so far, the show is fascinating, and I do want to see where it ends up. So yeah, I will probably keep watching.


Have you seen Revolutionary Girl Utena? Maybe not? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

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

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Sports and Romance in Blue Box

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I feel like this is cheating since I briefly talked about Blue Box in a secondary findings post a while back, but I actually managed to catch up all the way, which as of the writing of this post is chapter 65.

For those who are still uninitiated with this manga, allow me a brief summary. Taiki is a freshman badminton player who has found himself crushing on his basketball player senpai Chinatsu because they see each other every morning before their respective practices in the gym. Upon learning that she will be moving abroad and thus will not be able to compete in her final year of basketball, Taiki works up the courage to tell her to do what she wants, and not what is dictated by her parents. Chinatsu then ambushes him with the fact that she actually is not moving, and is instead staying with a family friend. Except, that family friend is actually Taiki’s mom, and so the two begin to live together.

Whereas most authors would take that setup, let harem shenanigans ensue, and then promptly cash their checks, Koji Miura has taken a different approach. Well, I say different, but in reality, it is much more standard fair, just done really well.

Romantic comedy and sports is a weird cross-section that I have never taken much time to explore. Like, there have always been elements of it in other shows, with one character centering the sports activities because they themselves are on a team (see Lovely Complex) but I honestly cannot say much for shows where the sports and the budding romantic relationships between those players take center stage. Luckily. Blue Box manages to capitalize on this fusion in a way that, while definitely nothing innovative, is great in execution.

What strikes me the most about this series right off the bat is just how unassuming it tends to be. Taiki, for all his teenage gawking at Chinatsu, never puts his own feelings above hers, and Chinatsu is much the same way. The two very obviously develop feelings for each other, and yet they do basically nothing aside from exchanging some witty dialogue and a few awkward glances. However, where a lot of series would chalk this up to just teenage awkwardness, Blue Box subverts this trope with its focus on sports. The whole reason Chinatsu ends up staying in the first place is so she can finish school and her last two years of basketball, and part of why the two even find each other attractive to begin with is their willingness to dedicate themselves to their sports. Where characters in other high school romances get lost in their aloofness and unwillingness to admit their feelings, Taiki, Chinatsu, and to a lesser extent Hina, are much more focused on accomplishing their own goals.

I was initially going to put the word sports in huge, sarcastic quotations in the title of this post because my impression of this series is that sports were just a mechanism for having these characters meet at specific times and locations and miss each other at different times and locations. That is wrong, though. The matches and competitions that our main characters take part in are exciting and well drawn. Still, sports also serve an important thematic role, one that teaches the ideas of patience, hard work, and dedication, things that are necessary for a healthy romantic relationship. We even see this reiterated in Haryuu’s relationship with his girlfriend Karen later on in the story, which is seemingly built on the idea of putting their own pursuits ahead of their relationship, a sentiment that has become increasingly popular with younger generations.

Despite the fact that I just complimented two of them, If I could point to anywhere this has maybe been lackluster so far, it would probably be in its side characters. Kyou is probably the most immediate example of this, as his role for most of the story thus far has been one of an observer. Rarely does he intervene in any conflict, and oftentimes he is just a mediator between Taiki and Hina. Recently chapters have given him a bit more development, and even hinted at his own romantic feelings for Hina, but he still feels like an afterthought in most cases. I feel like it would have been more interesting to get a bit of backstory on the relationship between Taiki and Chinatsu’s mother at this point, but at the same time, the series is also not over yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.

So, yeah, go read it. Why are you still here?


You can tell I really mean it because I even went through the trouble of avoiding major spoilers (partly because I am also incredibly tired this week, but that is less important). Have you read this series already, though? What are your thoughts? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog and being incredibly awesome.

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

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I’ve Been Nominated for an Award?!

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It would appear I have been nominated for an award…a blogging award that is. I am nonetheless grateful to have been tagged by the amazingly wonderful Moya of The Moyatorium for the Liebster Award. It has been a while since I have done one of these, but I sometimes like answering oddly specific questions about myself. So, the Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Answer 11 questions given to yoby the blogger.
  3. Nominate 11 more bloggers.
  4. Ask your nominees 11 questions too.
  5. Notify the selected nominees you chose after uploading your post, like commenting on their post.

Moya has provided such a list of oddly specific questions, and so I will try my best at the end to do the same. With that being said, here they are:

1. What is your best tip for a good night’s sleep

I’ll start by saying that (obviously) I am not a sleep expert, so I can only speak from experience. Usually, the best nights of sleep I get are after a long day of either work or studying, and going to bed immediately without scrolling social media or looking at my phone at all. Lots of devices emit a certain kind of light which can reduce melatonin, the thing that helps regulate sleep. So yeah, at the risk of sounding like a boomer, get off your phone.

2. if you get to own three plants that magically never have to be watered and always thrive on their own, which three plants would you choose?

The answer to this question probably depends on my living situation tbh, but right now I would probably say Rose, Hydrangea, and Daffodil since they all look very nice.

3. What’s your opinion on the true crime genre

I don’t really have anything against it, it is just not for me. Personally, if I am going to listen to a podcast I would rather it be something a bit more immediately entertaining like 2-4 people just talking about random stuff and making jokes or something more politically informative.

4. if you had to doodle a sun, how many rays would you typically give it?

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…3

5. Do you like chocolates with caramel inside (why would anyone like those)?

eh, If they are the only thing around and I am craving something sweet they will do the job, but generally not the first thing I go to. I would rather eat ice cream of some kind or a Mound bar if we are talking chocolate still.

6. Do you like Blueberries?

I suppose so, rarely if ever eat them though outside of being baked into a muffin.

7. What Diet Trend can you never imagine yourself trying?

Keto, without a doubt. Had a lot of IRL friends and coworkers try it and they almost never looked happy.

8. What’s the worst nickname you’ve heard someone call their significant other?

I do not think I have a good answer for this. I use to think people calling each other Bae was kind of cringe, but then I grew up and stopped caring.

9. Tie or Bowtie

Ideally neither, since I think most of them look tacky. If I am picking one though, probably Tie.

10. Are you a good liar?

oh yeah, totally, pffttt…*yawns literally every time I lie*

11. What Kind of cake should I bake for your birthday?

tbh, idk how inconvenient it would be to ship a cake to the States, but I do really like a good coconut cake every once in a while.

Thanks again Moya for the tag and the questions. I did a number of these in the past, and the people I would typically tag are probably busy, so I’ll try tagging some bloggers I’ve found in the last year or so. If they are so inclined, they can use this to introduce/reintroduce themselves, but obviously, it’s no big deal if they don’t feel like it.

Tagging

The Questions

  1. Worst airport/taxi experience?
  2. Weirdest encounter with a stranger?
  3. Hardest test you’ve ever taken?
  4. Is water wet?
  5. Highest number of sodas you’ve mixed together and drunk?
  6. What day-to-day task would you consider relaxing?
  7. You are making a list of your 10 favorite anime. What show gets close, but doesn’t make the cut?
  8. What is manga/comic series you would not like to see adapted into movie/television?
  9. How many pieces of media would you say have significantly altered the trajectory of your life?
  10. If you could pick any job, but you had to give up retirement before 75 no matter what, would you pick a new job?
  11. Where do you see yourself next month?

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon

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

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The Observation Deck: Wolf’s Rain

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Where do we all come from?

I do not mean in the immediate sense of parenthood or biological relations, but rather in a much broader philosophical sense, as in, where does the origin of humans come from. The most commonly accepted answer, and the probably correct one, is based on the theory of evolution. However, what if that was not the case? Bones’ 2003 original series Wolf’s Rain attempts that very premise, engaging with questions not only of origin but even some of the end.

The world of Wolf’s Rain is one informed by legend, a legend that says humans were originally descended from wolves, some naturally through a process like evolution, others who actively revoked their humanity. Most, though not all, have cast aside this legend as nothing but heresy. Kiba is a wolf who one day decides to stroll through Freeze City, drawn in by a particular smell, and in search of Paradise, the supposed promised land for wolves that none have yet to reach. En route to this strange aroma, he meets others, Tsume, Hige, and Toboe, each of whom decides to join him on his journey to paradise. Still, this journey is not without its various interruptions and detours.

This is a series like nothing I could have expected, with twists and turns at every stage of its narrative. With that being said, let’s talk about it.

Wolves are the World

By far the most defining characteristic of Wolf’s Rain is its focus on religious myth. The existence of Wolves as it is written into the world functions a lot more like a creation story than anything else. The difference, in this case, is that in this world, those myths are real, the evidence being our four, later five, main characters and the various others we meet in the background. The text which informs this myth is the Book of the Moon, a book that was banned nearly 200 years ago from the beginning of the story. It describes the process of wolves becoming humans as well as the origin of the wolves themselves.

This wolf religion, so to speak, and how it is expressed in the lore of the series, is endlessly fascinating. It draws on a variety of influences, from its more western conception of Paradise, a word often used as a synonym for Heaven in Christianity, to its eastern focus on reincarnation and rebirth, and even its more “pagan” focus on nature the life that exists within it. I will stop right here to say that I am not at all a student of religion or religious history, and this analysis is based purely on my general pre-conceptions of these belief systems, so if you are someone who is better versed in these subjects and has also watched this series, feel free to better inform me in the comments.

Even outside of big foundational ideas, however, the series has a lot of unique bits of lore. An important in terms of the plot is the Wolves’ ability to disguise themselves in human form. The first arc of the show even has Kiba dealing with his own prideful nature, refusing to turn into a human, and only doing so at the behest of Hige. Because most living creatures, not just people, are descended from wolves, others are able to awaken to their true identity and take on a human form as well, most notably the character of Blue.

The World is Theirs, or So It was Thought

The YouTube channel Mother’s Basement recently made a joke in their Kaguya-sama essay (which you should all go watch if you like long video essays since it is very good) about video essayists relating everything back to socialism. It is a good joke, like all good jokes are because there is a bit of truth in it. Now, allow me to continue that stereotype but for anime bloggers.

Kidding, except only kind of. A large part of the story in Wolf’s Rain is the battle against the Nobles on the journey towards Paradise. There are two important bits of context in understanding why this series could be construed as a socialist, or at the very least anti-capitalist narrative.

The first is the nature of the nobles themselves. It is said that nearly all humans are descendants of wolves. The exception to this is the bloodlines of the nobles. It is for this reason that one noble in particular sought out Paradise for himself.

The second is the organization of society. The world in which everyone currently inhabits is one of catastrophe and decay. One might even call it the end times. People are confined to cities, with little outside of them except for a vast wasteland, which are divided up into jurisdictions. These jurisdictions belong not to any formal government, but to the nobles. It is stated by multiple parties throughout the series that the wars engaged in by the nobles are not ones of necessity, but rather ones of dominance

It is also these nobles that have simultaneously maintained the ban on the Book of the Moon while trying to create Paradise for themselves. The way that people have been alienated from their origins and led to believe otherwise for hundreds of years seems like a decent, albeit maybe slightly confusing, allegory for the ways that capitalism has separated people from their work and created feelings of nothingness.

The Grunge

The music of this series is very much bathed in the era that birthed it. At least in the States, the late 90s and early 2000s were very much a high point for alternative rock like the famous Nirvana. I am also not versed enough in music history to say whether a similar trend existed in Japan or not, but regardless, the soundtrack is very much of its time.

This is true both of the soundtrack and the series’ famously over-the-top opening Stray, which was written by Tim Jensen and performed by Steve Conte.

The compositional mastermind behind all of it, though, is Yoko Kanno. Kanno is by far one of the most brilliant artists to touch anime soundtracks, and she holds punches when it comes to Wolf’s Rain. The series can go from heavy guitar-based ballads to heavenly orchestral arrangements at the drop of a hat. I honestly do not think I could find a bad track even if I went through it multiple times, as every one of them has a place.

Video and Audio Formatting

Technology has come a long way, even in just the past 20 years. Better hardware and software have meant significantly better quality for both live-action and animated media. Some media, like video games, have gotten the treatment of HD remakes, meant to improve the quality from when it was released on less powerful machinery.

Anime is not often on the receiving end of such treatment, as is the case with Wolf’s Rain. I mentioned in my initial reaction to the series that part of what made it hard to get into it was the 4:3 aspect ratio and the oddly quiet latent audio found on the physical release. Now, I am still of the opinion that this should not be knocked against the show itself and is simply a reality of the time. However, it is slightly annoying that any time I wanted to watch it I either had to put on headphones or put the tv on max volume.

There is the outside possibility that this is a problem with my PS4, which is the only DVD/Blu-ray player I have access to at the time of writing. I do kind of doubt this since I have watched more recent disc-based media on it without the same problem.

Conclusion

As sad as it is to say, the series creator Keiko Nobumoto passed away just last year after a battle with cancer at just 57 years old. Not only did she create this amazing series, but wrote others such as Cowboy Bebop and Tokyo Godfathers. Her work has undoubtedly touched the hearts of many, it would be a shame to see a series as amazing as Wolf’s Rain be left out of that conversation.

91/100


How do you feel about Wolf’s Rain? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

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

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Blog Update: Finishing College and What’s to Come

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My Last Semester

By the time this post is released, there will likely only be a few weeks left until the start of my final undergraduate semester. Seeing as how I have no immediate plans to pursue graduate-level work, it is also going to be my last semester of college for a while.

I definitely have some conflicting feelings. After all, I have met a lot of important friends in college, especially after the last year and a half to two years, and leaving them behind, even if it is only temporarily, is going to sting. Still, I am excited for what the future has in store, which hopefully includes being able to pursue my interests, even if it is just in my free time.

As far as how that affects the blog, well, I say this every time, but hopefully, it will not, though I cannot make any promises as far as post volume. Still, two of my total four classes are online, so hopefully, this one will be a bit calmer.

Website Re-design

I feel like re-designing the website is more or less an annual occurrence at this point, but I have never been fully satisfied with how it looks after any given re-work. I will skip the whole “Guess I’m just a perfectionist bit,” because I do not necessarily think that is true, but I do feel like my tastes change has something to do with it.

This is going to be one of my goals before things get busy again, and so I figured it would be better to at least let everyone know before that happens. At the very least my logo could use some serious updating. After all, if I am being completely honest, I have never felt like it looks particularly inviting.

Flaking on my Writing

This may sound weird considering this blog has been going strong all summer, but I don’t feel like I have lived up to my goals. I really wanted to work on a collection, be it a full collection or even just a chapbook. However, three months since the end of last semester and I barely worked on a single poem all break.

I did make some progress on a short story/potential novel, but that still does not feel like enough. It is difficult to not be hard on myself considering the amount of free time I had, but most of it just amounted to playing video games. No time like the present, though, so I’ll be trying to get back into the grove soon, alongside trying to update Solidly Liquid as well.

What I’m Watching

  • Arakawa Under the Bridge
  • Wolf’s Rain (I haven’t finished it since the last update) 🙂
  • Attack on Titan (Now waiting on the last part)
  • Various Summer Seasonals

What I’m Reading

  • My Alcoholic Escape from Reality
  • My Wandering Warrior Existence
  • Blue Box (officially caught up)
  • Blood on the Tracks
  • Chainsaw Man Pt. 2 (officially caught up)

How are you all doing recently? Have any more questions for me? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog.

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

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Attack on Titan Final Season Episodes 80-87 and What’s to Come

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The journey through Attack on Titan has been, if nothing else, exciting. It started with a re-ignited spark of interest in the series and has turned into a strong change in opinion about its quality. Whereas my original opinion of AOT was positive but not all that passionate, it has now become one of my favorite series, if not top 10, then at worst top 20.

It is a series like no other and has really proved that over the course of the last season, from its strong political drama and allegorical elements to the production side of the equation which remained equally strong even after swapping studios. So, the ending, at least for now, has finally come. How was it?

Not like this will be much of a surprise, but it was amazing. I was honestly kind of surprised just how many compelling stories beats the show was able to fit into the season’s last eight episodes. There is of course the Rumbling and its initial devastation on Paradis, which transitions pretty smoothly into Gabi’s redemption arc. There is also Armin stopping Coney from killing Falco, and Annie meeting up with Hitch just in time for the Apocolypse, after which they join together with Reiner, Levi, Hange, Piecke, and the Marleyian general.

This would be a lot for a normal 10-12 episode anime, but to fit into the final third of an already reveal filled-season while still remaining totally coherent is an incredible feat. Bubble had about the same time to accomplish that and could barely manage 1-2 engaging plotlines.

As for particular highlights, Coney and Armin’s interaction right before meeting up with the others felt the most compelling. It serves as a reminder that desperation can make people do anything. Coney’s mom is the only one who has a chance of being alive, and so he takes that chance, even despite part of him knowing it was wrong. The final fight at the harbor was also really cool as well. One thing that Attack on Titan is consistently good at is showing both the ease and difficulty of throwing away one’s humanity at the drop of a hat. Again, we see Coney making a difficult choice in order to save Armin.

Speaking of choices, might be worth addressing the founding titan in the room, Eren. It was not much of a surprise to see Eren take back the founding Titan from Zeke (The opening of this half is literally called The Rumbling), but that does not make it any less dramatic. Finding out about Eren’s ability to see the future and therefore have everything already planned down to the second was wild. The screenshot of him staring down Grisha while right next to him is funny, but also indicative of Eren’s willingness to do anything for Paradis.

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All of that ignores the fact that Eren has become a genocidal maniac. However, hindsight is always 2020, and I think what a lot of initial discussions about AOT’s ideology missed is that Eren is rarely the good guy. The only time he is ever cast in a sympathetic light is during the first few episodes. After that, Eren’s reckless and homicidal attitude is very often framed as at best concerning and at worst actively putting others in danger.

The show has always been about ideology. I mean, they live in a post-apocalyptic military state. However, it has never, up to this point at least, actively glorified these repressive beliefs and systems. This could change in the last part, and if it does then we should be having a different conversation, but since I am definitely not reading the manga, we will have to wait and see.

I know I have mentioned it a ton of times already, but man the action scenes in this show are amazing. There is the inherent appeal of Godzilla like battles against two monsters just beating the shit out of each other, or the David and Goliath style battles of man versus titans. Besides those two, the show also takes care to make sure that the human-level conflict is engaging as well. Going back to Coney and Armin, their meeting in Coney’s hometown felt genuinely nerve-wracking in a way that the outcome was unclear until the last second.

Good CGI also helps its case. There are very few anime that can actually claim to have good 3D animation, with Beastars being one of the only ones that I personally have seen. However, the titans and heavy machinery that is rendered in 3D still fit seamlessly into the world.

Ok, but where does the series go from here? Well, ideally up. The reality is that Mappa is working on a number of projects over the next year, including the upcoming Chainsaw Man adaptation that also has a large number of eyes on it. This means that, while it would be awesome to see the last of Attack on Titan go off without any problems, there is a non-zero chance that an extremely overworked production team will inevitably let some things slip through the cracks.

Still, this last season was arguably the best so far. On top of that, Mappa at this point has established itself as one of the best Studios in the industry, employing a lot of talent throughout the years. Hopefully, that means good things to come.


Now that I am officially done with all of Attack on Titan‘s anime available story, what are your thoughts on the series? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

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

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Four

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Last week was solid, and so is this one. However, there is one show that I simply have no desire to continue, as you will find out in a bit.

RWBY: Ice Queendom Ep. 4

One thing I have realized about this series is that it kind of suggests that the person watching should have already seen the original. Which, I guess makes sense. The anime never really marketed itself as a remake, after all. Still, I cannot help but feel a little annoyed when shows which are more or less telling the same story rely on the original for character development as opposed to doing the work themselves.

I say this because the show treats Ruby and Weiss’s relationship like the two have known each other for a while as opposed to 3 episodes. It makes sense in the context of their bickering, but there just is not enough history at this point to sell the dramatic impact of their fight. If this arc happened at the mid-point of the season it would make a lot more sense, but definitely not now.

Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 4

Something I love about Made in Abyss is that it is very much in the show not tell camp of storytelling. Rather than info-dumping a million pieces of relevant backstory, it lets the material speak for itself. This episode, in particular, is bridging the gap between the past and the present, both for the island itself and for Reg and Nanachi.

Faputa, who Reg meets at the end of the last episode, is implied to be both a figure in Reg’s past and also, through clever transitions, the native girl who accompanied the original adventurers on their journey. In Nanachi’s case, while shopping at the market with Majikaja, finds out that he knows of Mitty. The two trek through the Hollow village, and in the final frames of the episode Mitty sits underneath a giant guardian. This was a really cleverly planned-out episode and overall one of the highlights of the week.

Call of the Night Ep. 4

I am glad that Akira is sticking around, at least for a little bit longer. There is a lot of great character chemistry between the three of them, and this episode demonstrates that perfectly. The episode starts with Akira not being able to sleep, calling back to Kou in episode one, and so she decides to stay up, running in Kou and gets invited to hang out with him and Nazuna. The three hang out, play video games, and Nazuna kinda just jokes with them and makes them feel awkward.

Akira also spends time dealing with an internal conflict as well. Part of her wants Kou to come back to school so that she can escape her own loneliness, but part of her also recognizes that despite Nazuna literally being a vampire and Kou being a middle schooler, their relationship makes Kou happy. The visuals and music have also been incredible, so that helps too.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer Ep. 4

Ok yeah, I am done. I wanted to give this series an honest try considering how interesting the opening chapters of the manga were, but man has it just been a snooze fest, and this episode did not do any better.

We get a bit more backstory about Hangetsu which is, admittedly, well included in the episode alongside his growing affections for Hisame. However, that is pretty much the only compliment I can give it, as Yuuhi is somehow unlikeable in the worst way possible, even outside of the questionable relationship with Samidare. On top of that, the studio seems committed to “animating” this show with as few frames as possible. This show has some of the stiffest action scenes I have watched in a while.

If I were rating this right now this would get a 40/100 at best. Please do not bother watching this, and I have not uttered this sentence very many times, but just go read the manga.

Lycoris Recoil Ep. 5

Another solid but ultimately confusing episode from Lycoris Recoil this week. There are a lot of questions about the politics of this series that it could not be bothered to answer. For starters, Kurumi implies within the first minute of the episode that even the current president doesn’t know about the Lycoris, which has a lot of implications on its own, but also the private detectives seem to suggest that the DA has the ability to shut down even the public police force…huh?

The rest of the episode was ok. The lead duo takes on a client who is secretly being hunted by an assassin, only to find out that was not real and what they do not know is that the whole thing is connected to the Alan Institute as well. The show really just has me intrigued, not in a cool and methodical way, but more in a “watching a drunk guy stumble his way around the restaurant looking for the bathroom” kind of way.

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 3

A show that makes a lot more sense is The Devil is a Part-Timer. Well, as much sense as a show about Satan coming to the human realm and now also raising a plant baby can make, anyway. Maou and Emi are enjoying a day off, while also looking out for any potential danger that might come to pass. However, when they least expect it, Gabriel comes down to request Alas Ramus and the holy sword. But, he’s nice enough to give them a day to make their decision.

Definitely, a bit more plot-focused, but that is not much of a bad thing, as the main plot for the series has generally been pretty solid. On top of that, Alus Ramus and this mystery of the World Tree is still really fascinating. Also, Rika and Ashiya as a couple would be hilarious, change my mind.


What did you think of this week? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, a special shout out to our Patron Jenn for supporting the blog.

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: Komi Can’t Communicate (Pt. 2)

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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If there is one thing I realized pretty quickly during my high school experience, it is that managing my anxiety along with communicating things to other people can be extremely difficult. Luckily, though, I had a lot of good friends, and a fairly fast-paced four years which included writing for our school paper and a number of high-level classes which kind of forced me to make decisions and take care of myself. Still, it is not always that easy for others.

Komi Can’t Communicate focuses on its namesake character Komi. While the others in her class view her as basically a walking goddess, Komi herself could not have been blessed with less confidence. This has left her unable to communicate outside of writing down what she wants to say in a notebook or otherwise. Tadano, however, sees the situation she is in, and vows to help her get a hundred friends, even as feelings between them have only gotten more complicated.

Komi Still Can’t Communicate

Oh boy, more Komi…yay.

Alright, maybe that is a little mean. However, season one, while definitely being above average, was not the series I was looking forward to the most. Since part two finished a bit later than the rest of the spring season, I was not able to review it when I talked about Kaguya and Spy x Family. However, even compared to those two, it does little to stand out.

I will re-affirm that the show’s central premise is a good one and that Komi does a lot to be an entertaining character. The switch between her more cartoonish, goofy expressions and the weirdly sensual face which feels like an expression of how people view her on the outside is genuinely entertaining. On top of that, I still appreciate the message the show is trying to deliver: That people with crippling anxiety exist and deserve to be respected.

It is a shame really that the supporting cast, despite adding quite a few new characters in its second half, does little to elevate the series or its message. Tadano is pretty much as boring as ever, though I will give him credit for having at least a little bit more of an internal sense of development. All of the other new characters are either annoying like Shisuto, or get so little development as to not be worth mentioning outside of the fact that progress Komi’s emotional growth

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The lone exception to that is Katai who is by far one of the funnier characters during the second half. While it certainly helps to be one of the only other recurring characters, his dynamic with Komi and Tadano is well written. Katai, much like Komi, is an anxiety-ridden mess who just wants some friends, but whereas the ladder of the two actively attracts attention to herself, the former’s huge build and unintentionally aggressive demeanor leave most people scared of him for most of the second half.

What is more, Katai appreciates Tadano’s kindness and really wants to be friends, and continually looks towards Komi for “guidance” despite being intimidated by her. Meanwhile, Komi is just as scared of him, if not more, and so the two spend a lot of time staring at each other while never really saying anything, which is a solid bit that creates a lot of humorous moments.

A Blossoming Relationship?

The romantic tension between Komi and Tadano has been present since pretty much the end of part one. The more that Tadano helps her, the more he realizes just how much he loves being around her. Conversely, the kindness Tadano has shown Komi has been genuinely life-changing, and so she in turn builds feelings for him.

Despite the continued buildup of this relationship, nothing emerges even during the show’s finale. The two stand next to a classroom window while they reflect on the events of that school year, thinking about just how far the two of them have come. Yet, none of that progress is really shared in their own relationship, at least not romantically.

Interacting with other people can be scary, and even scarier is sharing feelings with someone that they might not have themselves. So, I guess in a way, that sort of ending makes sense. Still, If there is another season in the works, I hope we get to see the two of them in a post-confession world.

Conclusion

Normally I would have a bit more to say, but since I have already talked about part one of this series in-depth, there is not much reason to do so again. The first part was solid, and overall part two is maybe even a small bit better. At the end of the day though, the show is still just ok, lacking in a lot of strong characters and compelling arcs that would maybe propel it a bit higher.

63/100


How did you all feel about Komi Can’t Communicate and it’s second half? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

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

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Attack on Titan Final Season Episodes 76-79

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Wow. Attack on Titan has been through some crazy arcs. Revelation after revelation has come and gone, and while many of them have been shocking, none have really hit with this level of intensity, outside of the Reiner and Bertolt reveal in season two. These episodes genuinely made me consider abandoning this episode-by-episode format and just marathoning the rest. Without rambling for too much longer, let us get into it.

For starters, the stakes have never been higher. What sets the content of the final season apart from the rest of the series is its sense of scale, which is on full display in these episodes. The Marleyian army has begun their invasion of Paradis, with a large percentage of their strength, including the Titans, helping out. The story of Attack on Titan has gone from the survival of a small group of people trapped inside the walls to a global conflict implicating millions of people. An event like the rumbling does not just affect Eldians, but rather everyone on earth.

We also find out that Eren, who was presumably on board with Zeke’s euthanization plan, was actually only using him to access the founding titan’s power, even if it ultimately backfires. Part of me wants to argue that this was a pretty obvious twist, but at the same time, was it? Eren witnessed the deaths of hundreds, probably thousands of his comrades at the hands of titans. I am by no means saying that euthanization is a proper response to the situation, it is understandable how someone whose mind has been twisted by that kind of trauma might ultimately arrive at that conclusion.

On top of this, Eren…dies? Probably not, but seeing his head gets blown off by a titan rifle was one of the more visceral scenes of the entire series. While in liminal space, Zeke takes it upon himself to show Eren some memories of their father Grisha, but after a while, it seems as though Zeke is coming out of the experience more surprised. Also, the whole attack titan having the ability to predict the future thing both made sense and did not, but it was a pretty cool reveal anyway.

While Eren spends his screen with Zeke time having a, uh, reverse change of heart? Gabi has a normal change of heart. For her entire life up until this point, the people of Paradis were nothing but devils to her, an amorphous blob of evil on some distant island ruining the Eldian identity. However, as she spends time with the locals, and almost gets killed by “one of her own,” she comes to understand the folly in her thinking.

It is a brutal realization to have, not just as a kid, but as a kid who has spent a non-insignificant portion of her waking hours training to inherit a titan that would be used to kill the Eldians as well. It is the kind of identity crisis that can only come to fruition in the midst of something as traumatic as war. 

The stakes were also pretty high for Falco, as despite going with his brother to beg Zeke not to turn him into a titan, he ultimately ends up as one anyway. Well, he was for all of two minutes, anyway, but ultimately end up eating Galliard, and will presumably take the roll of the jaw titan. Still, this was another section where it felt like nothing was guaranteed. His confession to helping Eren back in Marley and admitting his feelings for Gabi ultimately made it seem like his time was coming to an end.

On top of some quality writing, there were also some crazy bits of animation. Specifically, the transition scene between Eren getting shot and finding himself in the liminal space with Zeke was some of the most expressive animation I have seen, not just within Attack on Titan, but across anime period. The way it portrays the slowdown of time alongside the compactness of the battlefield in stark contrast to the empty desert that is the home of the Eldian founder Ymir is breathtaking.

These were without a doubt some of the best episodes in the series, and I am beyond excited to see its conclusion. Speaking of, since it is the end of July, I figured next week would be a good time to marathon the rest of the episodes and wrap up this series, so stay tuned for that!


What are your feelings on the “final” season of Attack on Titan? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon

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

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Feeding the Flames: Anime Music, Turn-Based RPGs, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Well, as usual, I am behind schedule on the series I was planning on covering this month. So, in order to supplement this, it is time once again for some hot takes.

Length is Not Important in Making Good Art

I thought about this a lot after finishing Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto. He completed a well-rounded story in just about 200 pages and arguably wrote not only one of the best manga of the year but potentially a contender for best manga of the decade.

If it sounds like I am calling out shounen here, well it is because I am…kind of. Obviously, this applies to all long-running series, but Shounen stories tend to disproportionately fit into the category. However, the probably here is not the length itself, but rather that the longer a series goes on, the more prone it is to losing focus of its main plot.

The most important thing when writing a story is not its length. Rather, it is making sure that each part of said story is purposeful, and engages with its other parts in a way that makes sense.

Turn-Based RPGs Aren’t Inherently Boring

As much as I consider myself a fan of more action-oriented RPGs like Final Fantasy 13 and the very small amount of the Tales series that I have been able to play, something about the turn-based style of gameplay has always held its charm for me.

While I can certainly understand why people would feel strongly about their repetitive nature, part of that come from a lot of games that either focuses heavily on grinding, have little variance in gameplay, or both. Games like 2012’s Bravely Default prove that even small variations in the traditional formula can make for engaging gameplay that requires more attention than simply mashing through menus.

Still, I am not gonna sit here and pretend like most games that stick with the turn-based formula are innovating in that way.

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The Tokyo Ghoul Anime Wasn’t That Bad

There are very few anime that I would say are wholly inferior to their source material. One of those is The Promised Neverland, which…yeah. The other, though, is Tokyo Ghoul. So much of the second season just feels scuffed as hell compared to what we got in the manga.

However, to say that its first season is on the same level feels a bit ludicrous. The adaptation of its story, even if some minor details were left out, was solid, and the animation from Studio Pierrot was above average. It was by no means perfect, but certainly not bad enough to complain endlessly about.

Hiroyuki Sawano

That is the take because my boy Sawano is on fire. On a more serious note, I do think Sawano has, at least at this point, cemented himself as one of the better music producers of anime history. It can certainly feel one-note at times, but at his best, his production is so hard-hitting that it frankly does not matter.

If I were to name some of my favorite music producers, it would likely be Sawano and Yoko Kano. I realize that these are not especially controversial picks, and this series is called Feeding the Flames, but hey, what can I say, quality is quality.

Good Anime Endings are More Memorable than Good Anime Openings

There are a lot of good anime openings, both in turns of animation but also in terms of music. However, the same cannot be said for anime endings, which often feel hand-picked to sound as boring and forgettable as possible. It does make sense, though, as first impressions are often much more important when it comes to sticking to a consistent audience. This is why, despite not thinking much about them, I could very easily name some of my favorite ending themes (more specifically, my favorite anime ending at the moment is Style Helix by Myth&Roid from Re: Zero, while my second favorite is Hibana by The Sixth Lie from Golden Kamuy).


What are some of your hot takes? Let me know down in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks go to Jenn for the support on Patreon.

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

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