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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? July 2013 (pt 2!)

August 7, 2013

(This article will be spoiler-free.)

皆さん、こんばんは。 It’s close enough to the end of July that I figured I would post a pt. 2 to accompany my post early last month. This way August’s monthly won’t be gargantuan.
One of the coolest things about learning a second language so far has been the sort of realization that words don’t really come with any sort of predetermined definition. They’re like money in a way. Money is absolutely worthless, but the idea behind money is what gives it value.
While two cultures on opposing ends of the world may develop differing styles of speech and written language, ideas such as “love” and “hatred” exist everywhere, so if anything, learning a second language is somewhat of an eye-opening endeavor; because while two cultures may be different in a lot of ways, we’re all human beings that share the same sorts of ideas, and generally value the same sorts of things in life. That’s a comforting thought to me, and prior to attempting to learn a new language, it’s an idea I never put much thought into (maybe you’re different?)
While some things may have been set aside amidst the move (such as proper meals… or a good night’s sleep), I’m an individual who prides himself on keeping to his anime regimen, so I was able to finish a few additional series during the second half of July.
Here’s what they were:

 

1772Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko:
As Niwa Makoto moves in with his overly energetic aunt Touwa Meme (and her far removed from society daughter, Erio), he struggles to survive his day by day encounters with the inhabitants of the city he now resides in.
Futons will be worn, rockets will fly, and numerous eccentric individuals will be met as Makoto seeks to suss out whether otherworldly beings really exist, or whether the true aliens are simply the strange people who happen to live in this U.F.O. crazed city.

What I thought: Great
It’s difficult to suss out why I enjoyed Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko as much as I did..
It looks great and the cast is comprised of a strange and entertaining band of characters, sure, but I probably wouldn’t recommend this anime to anyone looking for a particularly memorable plot.
That being said, the writing is such that the conversations which Makoto and his new acquaintances participate in were always able to draw me in thanks to some sharp writing and a few truly hilarious scenes, and as I said before this anime looks and sounds great (not since the first season of Seitokai no Ichizon have I heard an OP so catchy), so it’s tough not to recommend it when it really comes down to it.
The plot isn’t Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko’s strongest suit, and the ending had me wondering if I had missed a few episodes, but at the end of this strange story of awkward relationships and the comedy which they spawn from those involved, I still managed to genuinely enjoy my time spent with it.
 A small band of memorable characters and excellent production prevent Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko from being held back by its lack-luster plot. This is an anime for those who can appreciate good characterization and everyday, down to earth comedy.

 

8058778193_a7ca32f0ff_oGirls und Panzer:
Due to having misfortune related to Tankery in her past, Nishizumi Miho has enrolled in Oorai Girl’s High School with the specific purpose of not having to participate in it any longer.
However, as she finally begins meeting new friends, Tankery is once again started at Oorai, and Miho hesitantly agrees to join.
What follows is Nishizumi, Isuzu, Akiyama, and the rest of Oorai Girl’s High School Tankery club participating in the cross-school Tankery competition.

What I thought: Great
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with Girls und Panzer really, but man did I enjoy the heck out of this anime.
The first things you will see are CG tanks, which is unfortunate if you dislike seeing CG in anime, but it isn’t overbearing; and as a good portion of this series is spent within tank battles, you get used to it quite quickly. The art style is detailed and aesthetically pleasing other than that though, so the CG here gets a pass in my book.
As the cast of characters is pretty vast, you don’t get as much character development as maybe I would’ve hoped for, but as that time is spent instead on the tank battles, which were by far the highlight of this series, it’s hard to get too bent out of shape over it. What character you do get was plenty to keep me invested, and it made the ending something worth seeing.
The tank battles are where it’s at though. These are tense, excellently paced and unpredictable; and they’re made all the more dramatic by the slower, cumbersome pace of the tanks. As a guy who typically dislikes action in anime because of how repetitive or free of thrill it can be, I found the tank battles in Girls und Panzer very exciting.
In several ways, Girls und Panzer is like Strike Witches without the fan-service. The story isn’t the deepest out there, but if you just want to see and hear things getting blown up, you really can’t go wrong with this anime.

 

29107Persona 4 The Animation:
Retelling the story of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (the video game), Persona 4 The Animation tells the story of Narukami Yu, a high school student who has come from his home in the city to the rural town of Inaba. There he will stay with his Uncle and Cousin for one year, until his parents return from overseas.
Rumors are going about school concerning something called the Midnight Channel, which appears if you look into a turned off television at midnight on a rainy night, and is said to display the soul mate of its viewer.
It isn’t long before a murder takes place, and Narukami Yu and his new group of friends begin questioning whether it has anything to do with the Midnight Channel, as the victim was last seen on it prior to their death.

What I thought: Must See!
While some corners are cut, and there are some very small changes, it’s still immediately impressive how much they manage to cram into each episode concerning the plot, considering what a dense game Persona 4 is by terms of story; and there are a few things you get with the animation that weren’t present in the game. The characters all make the transition into the anime perfectly fine, except for this Narukami Yu guy; oddly I don’t recognize the name… But in all seriousness, having the protagonist (who was more-or-less mute in the game) say very little compared to the other characters, and often only to provide comic relief was a smart move. If they had made him a chatterbox, it probably would have felt out of place to those who had played the game prior.
The pace is quite quick, so I could possibly see someone who hasn’t played the game having difficulty keeping up with everything, but I would say there’s enough side-splitting comedy and emotional resonance in there to keep even those who have only seen the anime invested throughout its duration. Personally I’d of course recommend the game first, but if you don’t have the ~100 hours to sink into an RPG, Persona 4 The Animation is a valid alternative, even though due to the quicker pace, some of the drama isn’t as impactful as it was in game form.
If you’ve played through the game, there’s still plenty about Persona 4 The Animation to make it worth the watch; but if you haven’t, it’s a briskly paced melding of modern fantasy and slice-of-life comedy supported by a great amount of visual style, a cast of likable characters, and a plot gushing with admirable themes.

 

clannad.pngClannad:
Okazaki Tomoya is somewhat of a trouble maker, and somewhat of a loner. Putting forth little effort into his education, and little effort into mending his troubled family life, it isn’t until he happens across the soft-spoken Furukawa Nagisa – who insists that he helps her start up a Theater club at school – when things begin seeming to have purpose again.
Together, Okazaki and Furukawa seek out potential members, and try to help them out with whatever they may need in the process.

What I thought: Must See!
Adhering to the roller coaster, Clannad is a story that is adept at having you rolling on the floor laughing one moment, and then glued to the screen the next.
While there is an overarching plot, Clannad could be easily broken into sections relating to particular subplots. Each of these subplots is given enough time to breathe comfortably before being wrapped up, and due to this it’s easy to become comfortable with the characters involved, who all have if not fun, at least relatable personalities. Some of the comedy goes a little over the top, but it’s still some hilarious stuff, so it in no way detracts from the story.
The art style is nice, and the animation as well. There are a couple things here or there that I wasn’t particularly wild about found within the presentation, but all in all I’d still recommend this series to just about anyone.
A relatable, down-to-earth narrative paired with a cast of likable characters and an appealing art style, Clannad is an anime that earns every laugh, and every tear.

 

20631Durarara!:
Leaving the comfort of his rural area to attend school in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, Ryugamine Mikado looks to his long-time friend Kida Misaomi to show him the ropes, as Kida has lived there long enough to be used to the crowded excitement of the city.
As Ryugamine is only just getting settled in, he sees with his own two eyes an urban legend, that of a headless motorbike rider.
He soon encounters a number of hardships, and as more characters come into play, he comes to realize that some secrets simply aren’t meant to be kept.

What I thought: Good production. Somewhat boring story.
Durarara! had the potential to be interesting. The idea of telling a story through the eyes of a huge cast of characters is a good idea, and I’m sure it has been done properly somewhere else, but Durarara! lacked the personality necessary to make something like that work. Out of the large cast, I only found a couple of them to be interesting characters, and as the plot progresses, even they started becoming a bore to watch. This quickly becomes a headache, as Durarara!’s focus per episode shifts between any one of these characters, and typically lasts the duration.
The plot is a slow, slow burn. It takes quite awhile for anything important to happen, and the vast majority of your time watching this anime is spent listening to its characters having long, often meaningless (in regards to the plot) conversations with one another.
This isn’t to say Durarara! is all bad. I think it has a great look, and the animation is nice. The music is fantastic, and the voice acting is fine (<33 Hanazawa Kana), though the plot usually isn’t urging any sort of emotional performance out of them. There are a few good subplots, and this anime does have a decent ending, but Durarara! is too slow and the premise isn’t executed upon well enough for me to give it anything but a very cautious recommendation.
Maybe it just wasn’t for me, but I was more often falling asleep in my chair than I was sitting on the edge of it with this anime.
A nice look and fantastic music might make Durarara! great on the surface, but prolonged sittings with this anime reveal that it’s perhaps a little too grand for its own good.

 

And that’s the second half of July! I’m happy to have finally gotten Durarara! finished with. It’s always a bummer when your backlog has a backlog; but now I can move on to some other stuff that had caught my interest.
As I was without internet for a few weeks, I have a lot of catching up to do with this summer’s anime line-up. Watamote and Yamishibai in particular are two series that I’m dying to tear into, and combined with the backlog, these next few weeks are looking pretty good as far as anime is concerned. The summer isn’t over yet! It’s the best time of the year, so let it last!
It’s good to be back and tip-tap-tapping these things out to any of you who read them, and I’m looking forward to continuing the Soapbox from where it was left last month. From here on, we’re back on schedule.
The video game monthly is coming up, and I’ve been wanting to do another type of article to kill the lull between monthlies, but we’ll have to see what we can do.
Until then though, またね。
Keep out of that scorching summer heat, and keep your plots unspoiled!

From → Anime

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