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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? July 2013 (pt 1?)

July 13, 2013

(This article will be spoiler free!)

おーい!It’s far too early in the month for one of these, but I’m moving to a new place here in a bit and I’m unsure if I would be able to get one of these out otherwise.
A question has come up relatively recently where someone asked what would be a good anime series to introduce the medium to someone who was interested but unsure where to start, and that would leave them with a positive impression.
Everyone values different things for different reasons, and therefor what Person A might want out of something can (and in most cases will) differ from what Person B wants out of it; but if someone were to ask me for an anime series to sort of open their eyes to what anime can accomplish, I think I would point them toward Anohana (which I talked about in a previous post).
While Anohana isn’t my all time favorite anime series, I would suggest it before anything else for a couple of reasons; the most important reason being that it’s relatable. The themes and ideas expressed in Anohana are things we all experience in life, and what it does with those themes resonates emotionally in a way that (to me at least) not many other anime can match.
This is especially important, coming from someone living in the U.S., because I think a lot of Americans who don’t really know what anime is just see an animated show or movie and think “Oh that’s a cartoon. It must be for kids.” While Ahohana isn’t a grim story, it is a mature one, and I can’t think of a better anime to show someone that “Yes this an animated medium, but that doesn’t mean it’s only intended for children.”
Maybe you’d suggest something different?
Anyway, I’ve been able to finish a few shorter anime so far this month, so here’s what I’ve been watching:


yy2Yuru Yuri 2:
Akari, Yui, and the rest of the members of the Amusement Club are back, and alongside the members of the Student Council, they’ve brought all of their hijinks with them for a second helping of absurdness.

What I thought: Great (if you liked the first season)
If you have seen the first season (or any portion of it for that matter) and you weren’t into Yuru Yuri’s particular breed of comedy, then the second season probably isn’t going to change your mind.
If you don’t mind the premise though, you’ll find another helping of bright slice of life comedy with Yuru Yuri 2. Much like with the first season, Yuru Yuri isn’t the deepest of anime by terms of story, but it is nonetheless a bright, energetic and most importantly hilarious series supported by a great art style and a cast of likable characters. Throughout its twelve episode duration, it became a bright ending to my day, and I’m eagerly looking forward to what has been whispered as a potential third season.
If you made it through the first season of Yuru Yuri and enjoyed it, you really have no real reason not to check out the 2nd.


FLOWER-OF-EVILFlowers of Evil:
Kasuga Takao is a quiet student whose primary hobby is reading. He considers his crush, Saeki-san, who also happens to be one of his classmates, to be his muse.
One day, once everyone else had left school, Kasuga-kun spots out of the corner of his eye a bag containing Saeki-san’s gym clothes.
Getting lost in the moment and being unable to think clearly, he pockets them and rushes home.
While he greatly regrets what he has done, it is only when someone reveals that they had seen him take the gym clothes when things really begin spiraling out of control.

What I thought: Great
The first thing you’ll notice when watching Flowers of Evil is that this anime uses rotoscoped actors to produce its character art. While I can certainly understand why some people may look away in disgust at how this makes Flowers of Evil look, I can also say that while a more traditional anime art style probably would have worked, I doubt it would have been as effective at grounding this story in reality as rotoscoping does. It may look strange when characters suddenly stop animating in the middle of a scene, but overall I was pretty impressed with what this anime’s look does for its tone.
The story is excellently done as well. Kasuga-kun is an entirely relatable individual who behaves as you would expect a somewhat shy high school kid to act given his situation, and as much can be said for the rest of the cast.
Flowers of Evil can be very slow at times (I highly expect one episode in particular to live on in infamy amongst the anime community), but it’s all necessary to ground the story and try to place you in the characters’ shoes.
It’s some tense stuff overall, and while the ending maybe didn’t provide as much closure as I would have hoped for building up to it, it does promise a continuation to the story. A continuation that I’m very interested in seeing.
It isn’t often you’ll stumble across a more grounded anime story, and even if you have no real interest in the plot, Flowers of Evil feels much different than your average anime.


koichoco21Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate:
 Takafuji Private Academy is an enormous school housing thousands of students. One of these students is Oojima Yuuki, who is a member of the Food Research Club – a club that is comprised of numerous members, though their day-by-day club activity consists of little more than sitting around and eating snacks bought with the club funds provided by the school.
When it comes time for a new Student Council President to be elected, one of the prospective candidates suggests that clubs with no real purpose should be disbanded.
To avoid having their school club taken away from them, the members of the Food Research Club encourage Oojima to run for Student Council President.

What I thought: Meh
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate was somewhat of a difficult watch. Not because it was… bad necessarily… I wouldn’t call it “bad” so much as it is “middling”; but because the story this anime tells is tremendously boring.
It’s a difficult thing to make a fictional story based on politics interesting to begin with, but pair that with a cast of truly forgettable characters and a plot that relies a tad too heavily on convenience and you’ve got yourself an anime that, while delivering the three things laid out in its title, does so in an uninteresting and (again I’ll use the word) forgettable way.
The production seems fine and all, with decent enough animation and an okay art style (though I wasn’t a fan of several of the seemingly over-thought character designs); and the music is quite good as well, but when all is said and done, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate just wasn’t particularly interesting from a plot standpoint. A little personality goes a long way, and Koichoco just doesn’t have it. Without personality, there is little room for investment, and little reason to care once the story tries to be dramatic.
The best part of this anime was a brief scene in which some of the characters cosplay as Madoka Magica characters; though even that scene just had me wishing I were re-watching that anime instead of watching this one.
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate isn’t an insultingly bad anime, but that isn’t to say it’s an anime well worth your time either.


260px-Little_Busters!_main_castLittle Busters!:
When he was younger, Naoe Riki lost his parents. Feeling lost and alone, it wasn’t until an older kid named Natsume Kyousuke offered to include Riki in his small group of friends that he was able to once again find joy in life.
This group of five is called the Little Busters, and their close-knit friendships continue into highschool.
One day, Kyousuke proposes that the Little Busters form a baseball team from which they can celebrate their youthful days. The group agrees, but only before realizing that as they only have five members, they would need to recruit more teammates if they expect to have a full roster.
What follows is Riki going about this recruitment of new members, and attempting to overcome whatever hardships may be in the way.

What I thought: Good
Little Busters! has a rough start. The characters don’t immediately come off as anything less than irritating, and overall I would say this anime tries a little too hard to accomplish what it sets out to do with its drama and cuteness. With that being said however, while Little Busters! may lack in execution, I still think it’s a story that has its heart in the right place.
The recruitment of new characters and helping them through their issues gave me a good SMT:Persona vibe, and while they squeeze the drama out a little too frequently, there are some admirable ideas expressed in several of the characters’ subplots that I genuinely appreciated.
It doesn’t quite achieve the roller-coaster, a couple of the characters are underrepresented in the overall plot, and while there isn’t so much of an ending as there is a teaser for a second season, at the end of the day I would probably still recommend Little Busters!.
Heartfelt themes, terrific character designs and a great soundtrack make Little Busters! worth the sit, even if it doesn’t always earn what it ultimately accomplishes.


VividredpromoVividred Operation:
Vividred Operation takes place in a future where humanity thrives off of a new technology developed in part by the ingenious scientist Isshiki Kenjirou, dubbed the Manifestation Engine.
All is peaceful until an enemy race of creatures known as Alone descend upon the island housing the Manifestation Engine with the intent of destroying it.
To save the machine, Dr. Kenjirou bestows upon his granddaughter Akane and her friends, keys which allow them to tap into the Vivid System, and don suits which provide them the power to do battle with the Alone.

What I thought: So-so
I came across Vividred Operation thanks to the Strike Witches connection, and that is a connection that is made abruptly clear within the first thirty seconds of this anime.
While in Strike Witches the fan-service was easily shrugged aside, in Vividred Operation, you’ll have so many obnoxious full-screen crotch and rear end shots stuffed abruptly in your face that it’s bound to make you fall out of your chair.
Strike Witches was a strange exception in my book, but Vividred Operation’s fan-service wore out its welcome very, very quickly.
It’s too bad, too, because I like this anime’s setting and look (though the art/animation is lacking in numerous spots throughout), and the characters have bright personalities, though I probably could have used some more backstory to flesh them out a bit more. It was cool to see a technological take on the whole magical girl thing as well, but when all of these things seem to often take the back-seat to the main characters’ back seats (if you know what I’m saying), it’s hard to really take any of it seriously.
As a younger cousin to Strike Witches, Vividred just didn’t have enough going on in terms of plot and character to keep me interested, and the excessive amounts of fan-service compounded this issue. There are salvageable aspects to Vividred Operation that prevented it from being entirely awful, but it isn’t the sort of thing I would watch again, and it would be a difficult thing to recommend to someone else.
If  fan-service is your cup of tea, Vividred Operation will probably appeal to you, but if not, it’s a somewhat lackluster technological take on the magical girl genre.


 That’s all so far! The summer anime season has started, and it looks to be a promising one! I’ve started several of the summer series (with a few being Watamote, Il Sole Penetra Le Illusioni and Kiniro Mosaic), and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. Yamishibai will begin very soon, and I’m looking forward to that one as well, being a fellow who enjoys his ghost stories.
I still have plenty of backlog series to get around to, so it is sure to be a busy summer as far as anime is concerned.
I’ll surely have finished a couple more series by the end of the month, so if I get the internet sorted out at the new place by then I’ll of course make another post, but I can’t really make any promises with that as of right now.
As I’ve said before, there may be a quiet period on this blog, but I am sure to return!
Until then, keep your noses clean and your plots unspoiled!

From → Anime

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