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Retroactive Posts: Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? Jan-Feb 2013

May 8, 2013

(Originally posted on February 14th, 2013)

(This article will be spoiler free.)

Happy Valentine’s Day. Hopefully unlike me you have someone to spend it with. I have a blank white surface to type at though, so it isn’t so bad.

When I started this blog, I had hoped to talk about more than just video games, but it seems like with movies, I haven’t really seen enough of them to be able to recognize the craft and execution of them. I know whether I enjoyed one or not, but it could often be difficult to articulate why in the same manner for which I do video game reviews.
This being said, I would like to do more than just game reviews, so I came up with the idea for this. I’m unsure how often it’ll be, but maybe it’ll highlight some stuff you might not have seen, or have heard some buzz about but aren’t sure what all the fuss is about.

Or it’ll just be more opportunity for me to yammer on incoherently about random junk that interests me. Who can say really.

The early part of the year is slow when it comes to video game releases (and with it being the end of the console cycle, fresh new things are few and far between), so throughout January and the first half of February I’ve been catching up on some of my anime backlog.
Here’s what I’ve been watching, what it is, and what I thought about it.

338144_another_misaki-mei_inaya_1920x1080_www.GdeFon.ru_Another:
Several decades ago, a popular and well loved high-school girl named Misaki, of class 3-3 dies abruptly, devastating her classmates. One day, a classmate points at her vacant desk and shouts “She isn’t dead. She’s right there!”, and the facade of denying her death continues until the day of their graduation, with even the teachers playing along.

Since then,  class 3-3 has been stricken with a curse. The same classroom which the story’s protagonist, Sakakibara Koichi, a transfer student from Tokyo, finds himself being placed in.
Immediately upon his arrival, Koichi stumbles across the distant and aloof Misaki Mei, a solemn young classmate who bears the same name as the girl who died all those years ago.
Not soon after, the death toll starts rising, and Koichi is unsure whether he can believe anything he is seeing, or whether what he is being told by his fellow classmates is the truth.

What I thought: Excellent.
They don’t shy away from killing off their characters, and this becomes evident very early on. Because of this, I had a legitimate feeling of dread throughout its duration, as I knew anyone could fall at any time, and with little to no warning. This only works if the characters are likable, which in Another’s case, holds true.
The narrative isn’t air-tight, and they take a few liberties to keep the viewer behind the plot, but if you look past that and just hop along for the ride with the intent on being told a horrific story, Another is worth seeing, especially with the accompanying OVA (which I urge is saved for last).
An excellently paced and realized narrative found within a beautifully animated wrapper.

 

sample_7e364140b2d3a68a9105dfb811b896a5Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!:
Togashi Yuuta had a severe case of middle school 2nd year syndrome before he graduated, and now, seeing how foolish he had acted, is trying to cut all ties with that part of his past.
Upon meeting Takanashi Rikka, however, who is currently waist-deep in 2nd year syndrome, it becomes clear that his hopes at a normal school life is far from within his grasp.

What I thought: Must see!
Not only is Chu-2 one of the most visually pleasing anime I’ve seen in awhile, but the characters are all incredibly likable, and the story itself is one of the most memorable I’ve seen since ever.
It’s at the same time hilarious and heartfelt. It bears a message, but lets it emerge organically through storytelling in lieu of forcing it down your throat.
I’m a pretty cynical guy. I’ve seen a lot of stories unfold in front of these slowly failing eyes of mine. Stories that follow the same loose mold as Chu-2 even (dude goes to new school. dude meets carefree lady-killer friend. dude meets girl). As a guy, I’m reluctant to admit that I’m capable of shedding a tear or two when something plucks the right strings, but I have no issue with admitting that by time Chu-2 concludes, I was bawling like a baby.
The right story told in the right way at the right time? Possibly, but even so, Chu-2 still does everything right, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

 

fd5b83bc60e208d919ec0a7e355990c1Sword Art Online:
 A short period of time in the future, virtual reality becomes (lawl) a reality, and Sword Art Online is a brand new mmo which makes use of this technology to fully immerse its players within its world.
But something goes awry as thousands of players log in to play on launch day. There’s no way to get out, and to make matters worse, if you die in the game, you die in real life.
Sword Art Online tells the story of Kirito, as he works his way through the game with the hope of destroying the end boss and putting an end to the mmo, allowing its denizens the ability to return to their real lives. Along the way, he encounters numerous hardships, and meets a cast of likable characters.

What I thought: Must see!
There are a few minor speedbumps with the premise which I, early-on, had trouble getting over, but by the time I heard a familiar tune being hummed over winter silence, they had me eating out of their hands.
Sword Art Online is unique. I’ve never sat through a story before that was so oppressive that I was terrified to progress, but so excellently told that I was compelled to see the end of. It makes you feel the characters’ burdens, and want to see them succeed, even when nothing comes without a price.
There were some very minor issues I had with it, which hold it back ever-so-slightly from Chu-2 levels of perfection, but I was emotionally invested, and was both anxious and weary of seeking the conclusion. Something I’ve personally never experienced before with a work of fiction.

 

strike-witches-logoStrike Witches 2:
The fight never ends. Shortly after humanity realizes the Neuroi are capable of communicating with them, a gigantic nest appears and swallows everything in sight, leaving nothing but destruction in its place.
Having caught wind of this new threat, Sakamoto, Miyafuji, and the rest of the pantless, firearm wielding band of witches of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing reunite once again to take the fight to this new enemy.

What I thought: Great (if you liked the first season)
I’m not going to sit here and try to defend Strike Witches. If you see it as gross, overly excessive fan-service, pandering to a bunch of loli-loving perverts, it’s the kind of thing that is practically impossible to refute.
I will say, however, that fan-service isn’t what I go into Strike Witches for, but instead the bright tone and the likable characters. It’s a guilty pleasure. Undeniably so.
The second season has all of the charm of its predecessor, and while it has its “please don’t let anyone see me in the same room as what is on the screen right now” moments, there are numerous heartwarming scenes to be found here as well, with one of the highlights being a Sanya/Eila centered episode found about halfway through the season.
If you’ve seen the first season (or survived a couple of episodes for that matter), you already know if Strike Witches 2 is for you. If not, that’s alright. We all have our guilty pleasures.

 

UntitledGunslinger Girl:
Gunslinger Girl is about a small, government run program in which small girls nearing death are abducted from their hospitals and brain-washed into becoming stone-cold, gun-toting killing machines. Cybernetic bodies ensure they’re practically impossible to kill, and a form of conditioning ensures that they do as they’re told, even if it means throwing themselves in harms way to protect their handlers.

What I thought: Interesting premise. Worth a look.
I’m a little torn about Gunslinger Girl. There are some truly interesting ideas in there which are all worth seeing, but ideas that I can’t help but feel like could have been exploited in a more impactful way.
I like all of the girls’ personalities, and the interactions between they and their handlers is all very interesting, but there’s no overall narrative holding it all together. I wanted a reason to become invested in these characters, but a plot never really surfaced.
The animation, while not the most aesthetically appealing, is well suited to the anime’s tone, and enjoyable enough to look at. The dialogue is well written and performed, and like I said, the characters are likable, so I was always interested in watching them interact with one another, but aside from a couple memorable moments, Gunslinger Girl never really grabbed me in a big way. I was never bored while watching it, but I was never all that engaged either.
It’s fine as it is, but looking back on it, I can’t help but feel like it should have been so much more.

 

And that’s all I’ve been watching. I’ve begun Gunslinger Girl’s 2nd season, and following that I have Angel Beats and Elfen Lied to get to, so expect another one of these some time in the near future.
Until then, check these out if you haven’t already. They won’t leave you indifferent.
Wikipedia is your enemy for anime plot synopses! The less you know the better!

From → Anime

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  1. Spitz’s Year-end Wrap Up 2013 | Spitz's Soapbox

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