Simplicity and aesthetic in anime

The Monogatari series is probably the best example of this with a lot of scenes in Bakemonogatari and some of the following seasons having little to no animation but being so stylised that it remains visually interesting. Studio Shaft also tends to do this with other shows. When there’s a long dialogue scene or if they just don’t have the staff to do high quality animation they’ll just throw in a weird camera angle or have the scene take place in bizarre setting.

It usually ends up being interesting anyway. Whatever trick they use gives the viewer something to look at and think about in place of animation. Sometimes it’ll create a sort of feeling that can’t be put in words like the iconic desks stacked together for literally no reason:

You would be reaching far if you looked for meaning in everything they did but it ends up looking good nonetheless.

This happens even in other mediums. The Pop Team Epic manga often reuses the same simple drawings on a page to keep the focus on the punchline. The manga author and illustrator Panpanya also does this with their simplistic character designs to draw attention to the amazingly detailed settings.

In the video game industry, a game might be created with a large budget and an army of developers behind it and still come out bad while a solo indie game developer can create a masterpiece.

Anime like Violet Evergarden also fall into this trap of putting way too much effort into the animation while the other aspects don’t hold up as well. Animation can’t save a mediocre script. It should work in harmony with the other elements to get the point across.

I am by no means advocating for less animation in anime, I just wish that more shows would focus on their aesthetic cohesion and not just add more of everything while adding nothing.

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Scattered thoughts on Yuru Camp ∆ – Some might call it a review

If you have seen Yuru Camp, the appeal is obvious. People might watch it after a tiring day to forget about troubles, or with a friend on rainy day with a cup of coffee.

Shows like this aren’t uncommon and usually fall under the label of *Iyashikei*. What sets Yuru Camp apart from anime in that genre, and why I wouldn’t consider it Iyashikei, is that it has development in characters and doesn’t follow the usual tropes of the genre. The show never gets too serious, though, and has a consistent upbeat tone throughout.

In the beginning we are introduced to the protagonist, Rin, who has loved camping since she was a kid and continues to do so in high school. While camping she runs into Nadeshiko, an energetic and lively girl who has recently moved into the area. Nadeshiko then joins Rin and they share a meal together on the lakeside with a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji.

Coincidentally, they later find themselves in the same school. Nadeshiko joins Aoi and Chiaki in the Outdoors Club as they struggle to actually go on a camping trip.

Rin’s friend Saitou isn’t as much of a camping enthusiast as her, which isn’t a problem because Rin loves camping solo. However, as Nadeshiko keeps tagging along on Rin’s adventures, she begins to open up to the idea of camping with others.

Even those who don’t usually like ‘cute girls doing cute things’ anime praise the art style and mellow mood that persists throughout the show. The soundtrack is light and charming and the … mixes well with the cute designs of the characters (especially Rin). Only few can finish Yuru Camp without wanting to go camping themselves.

If I had to think of something I didn’t like it would be that the jokes aren’t really that funny, which is fine most of the time because they help to keep a light-hearted tone, it’s only when they get dragged out for too long they become a problem. Besides that, the CG vehicles can look goofy at times and Aoi’s lip fang is a bit unsettling:

Yuru Camp thrives on its aesthetic. Nothing is particularly outstanding but everything combined forms a relaxing atmosphere that you can lose yourself in for 12 episodes.

Because of this, the best way to watch Yuru Camp is to binge it while wrapped in a blanket on a cold winter day with a cup of tea in hand.

Yuru Camp is far from perfect, but it’s great for a quick hit of relaxing cuteness when you need it. It does this much better than other shows of its kind and I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their usual tastes.

On Rating Anime

The main purpose of rating anything is to keep a record for yourself of how you felt about a particular movie, anime, album, or basically anything that you can have an opinion about.

Rating is ranking

If you rate something a 10 you are saying that it means more to you than something that you rate a 5. And if you rate something the same score as something else you are saying they are equal.

For this reason I sometimes gave ratings with decimals but I’ve stopped now because it made things complicated and it was pretty inconvenient.

Quality vs Enjoyment

Quality is enjoyment. Your score should reflect how you felt about a show. Even if it had terrible production or other technical aspects, if you enjoyed it you should give it an appropriate score.

On the other end, you shouldn’t feel obligated to give an anime a higher score because “it has great animation” or something like that. Unless, of course, great animation made the show enjoyable to you. Again, it’s all up to you because you’re rating for yourself— not for others.

Bad vs Good

I would consider a bad anime anything below 5 and a good anime above 5. An exact 5 would be an anime that falls directly between those two.
A 6 or 7 is something that I enjoyed but probably won’t remember or care about after a while.

An 8 or 9 is an anime that I thought was great but just failed to get the top spot.

And then we come to the 10/10.

The perfect score

Ironically, a perfect score doesn’t necessarily mean the anime was perfect. Rather it means that it had a meaningful impact on you. It’s something that you won’t stop thinking about for a while after you finish it. It’s the kind of anime that you don’t want to end because that means you won’t get to see more of it.

Revisiting old shows

Your tastes are always evolving and sometimes you may not feel the same way about something you saw a couple years ago. In this situation it’s okay to change it.

However, you may also want to leave it as is as sort of a rating of the memory of watching the show and not the show itself. If you watch that anime and it brings up all the great feelings it did the first time it’s fine to just keep the initial rating.

I’m constantly changing my scores. I’ve changed almost every score I gave to this season’s anime (Unfortunately it wasn’t positive). When you’re in the moment you may give an undeserving score so it’s best to spend more time thinking about it to get an accurate one.

Explaining why you gave a score (whether writing or speaking) usually helps to organise your thoughts.

Review: Highschool of the Dead

The Premise

Corpses come to life and attack the living and a group of students and teachers band together to try and survive the apocalypse.

The Characters

This is one aspect of the show that didn’t interest me. Each character had their own quirks, traits, and role in the story. Narratively, they we good characters but it was hard to form a connection with them.

They also weren’t terrible characters. I still cared if they died and felt all the suspense if they were put in a life threatening situation.

However, I found most of the dialogue to be boring. There was also some weird love triangle (or square?) that was being hinted at or explicitly stated at times.

The side characters just came and went. Mr Shido’s group and Shizuka’s friend were interesting but we barely saw them. (I also feel like Mr Shido’s arc could have been explored a bit more.

The Plot

The plot is the strong point of this anime. Each episode keeps you at the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. The main objective of the characters isn’t to find out why people are becoming zombies or to save the world– they just want to survive with each other and find their parents.

They often find themselves in situations where they have to question their morals or redefine them completely.

The end of the series (don’t worry I’m not going to spoil anything) doesn’t really tie everything together in a spectacular climax. Instead the characters continue their journey without us and we are left with this quote:

“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”
-T.S. Eliot

The Fanservice

Well I couldn’t just ignore it. This is basically half of the anime. From the frequent panning shots of girls’ bodies to the bath scenes, this show tries hard to squeeze some *excitement* into every scene. It has received some undeserved criticism because of that but I just see it as part of the show. It’s even funny at times such as in episode 8 with this iconic scene.

The OVA

A year later an OVA of Highschool of the dead was released. It’s just a classic beach/swimsuit episode where nothing really happens.

The team gets into swimsuits and enjoy their day at the beach before tripping on a hallucinogenic and getting into more questionable scenes.

It didn’t interest me much and based on the MAL score other people would agree. It’s what you would get if you took all the plot out of the anime.

The Verdict

If you like plot driven intense action series with a little fanservice here and there, this is the show for you.

Similar Series

Prison School: The leader in action and fanservice.

Deadman Wonderland: More intense action, less fanservice.

Kore wa Zombie desu Ka?: More zombie, less everything else.

Hanigare – Connecting through loneliness

( I know this is the anime almanac but I really loved this manga)

Title: Nettaigyo wa Yuki ni Kogareru ( A tropical fish yearns for snow) [aka Hanigare]

Author & Illustrator: Hagino Makoto


Amano is struggling to cope with the lonely feeling of being disconnected from those around her after moving to Nagahama when she stumbles across Honami, the sole member of the aquarium club at the school she’s about to attend.

Honami is athletic, smart and beautiful which makes everyone see her as perfect. However, because of this people also find it difficult to approach her. She constantly has to live up to people’s expectations of her. This creates a lonesomeness of a different kind, one where it feels like no one knows who she really is.

Their paths cross at the aquarium, when Amano was at the salamander’s tank and Honami approaches her. Then in class, Amano is incidentally learning about Salamander by Ibuse Masuji.

In this story the salamander traps the frog with him in order to cure his loneliness. Later Amano tells Honami that the salamander in the story reminded herself of her. Then towards the end of the chapter Amano silently exclaims, “if only I could become the frog.”

If you like Yuri, romance, or if anything about this manga interested you I’d highly recommend you check it out. People often compare it to Bloom into You and the author says the style is influenced by Koe no Katachi so if you like either of those you’ll also probably enjoy Hanigare.

Review: Autumn 2018 anime (Part 4)

Well, this is the end of this little series I was doing. I know there’s a lot that I left out but from now on I’ll just write about anime that stand out for me for whatever reason.

SSSS.GRIDMAN

I may be biased because I love studio Trigger- but I think SSSS.Gridman is amazing.

I’m not a huge fan of mecha anime and the action scenes are alright, but I would gladly watch this show just for the characters and the dynamic between them.

I plan on dedicating a post to this anime once it’s completed so let’s hope that it’ll be positive.

7.5/10

Anima Yell

Anima Yell isn’t that memorable. It has standard characters and an average plot.

It seems like not much effort was put into this anime, and I don’t think it really works well as a comedy or a drama.

The only reasons I can see someone watching this is if they find the characters cute or they have a very specific interest in cheerleading anime.

3/10

Uchi no Maid

Uchi no maid is a light-hearted slice of life about a former air force member and current lolicon who becomes obsessed over a cute Russian girl and becomes her family’s maid.

The more I think about it, the more I can’t understand why I enjoy this anime. It has some aspects that I have criticized other anime for but I keep finding myself coming back to watch it.

I guess that’s because it’s enjoyable, relaxing and funny most of the time. I always enjoy comedies like this, with an odd premise behind it.

6.5/10

Hey, Your Cat Ears are Showing

I can’t say for sure because I haven’t finished them all, but this is definitely the best short of the season so far.

I love the artwork which works great with the story to make what is arguably the cutest character of the season and, dare I say it, the year.

7.75/10

Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet

Based off of the renowned play by Shakespeare, this anime takes place in a school in which students are divided into the Black Doggy and White Cats houses, determined by that person’s home country. And as it goes, the leader of the Black Dogs is secretly in love with his rival.

This anime isn’t the first to base itself off of Romeo and Juliet but it certainly does it well. The stories aren’t exactly the same. You can see that the staff recognize the underlying themes of the play and also respect it.

The very first scene is a direct re-creation of the first act, with a fight starting between the two groups and a person in a higher position breaking it up.

It does of course contain some clichés typical in anime romantic comedies but I think it’s premise is interesting enough to enjoy it.

6.75/10

Karakuri Circus

This anime’s art style vaguely reminds me of Kaiji. It also had an awesome ED that I would consider the best of the season, but that alone isn’t going to get me to finish this series.

There’s not much else to say about it. It was pretty average in its other aspects. I liked the whole premise of the circus and how puppets are used as weapons.

6/10

Review: Autumn 2018 anime (Part 3)

Radiant

Sorcerers are people who have survived the lethal touch of the Nemesis which gives them the power of Fantasia. Seth, the young apprentice of Alma, aspires to become a great sorcerer one day.

The first episode opens with an exposition dump about how the world works (which is never a good sign). We are then introduced to Seth and we’re shown his dedication to becoming a better sorcerer.

Tommy, Seth’s friend, is constantly being told to stay away from him by his parents and the townspeople. This interaction shows us just how much the townspeople discriminate against sorcerers.

Radiant appears to focus on mankind’s inherent fear of the unknown, and how they cope with being constantly exposed to it. This idea does make me curious, but I don’t think this show is for me.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this anime’s popularity booms soon. It has everything you would expect from an anime of this nature.

But that’s exactly the problem I have with it. It doesn’t have anything unique about it. The first episode alone is full of clichés and just generally doesn’t present anything new.

One thing I will give the show is it’s great character designs. I love it when I can tell so much about a character just from how they look. It’s sad to see that many anime don’t take full advantage of their character design.

5/10

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san

What comes to your mind when you think of bookstore staff? Whatever your answer is, you probably wouldn’t think of this guy:

Visitors from all over the world come to this bookstore, which creates some interesting scenarios. Like he says himself, most of the excitement comes from eccentric customers.

There’s not much to it but I enjoyed it anyway. The episodes are about 11 minutes long so I’ll probably squeeze this in between all the other shows I’m watching now.

6/10

Release the Spyce

Basically the whole show

To be honest, I’m in love with this anime. From the awesome visuals to the chemistry between the characters, everything feels amazing.

But what really got me hooked was the premise. There aren’t many spy anime these days, and much less ones with cute girls in the main cast.

Now, I wouldn’t exactly call this show outstanding but it’s piqued my interest enough for me to consider it one of the best of this season.

8/10