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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? August 2013

August 29, 2013

(This article will be spoiler-free!)

おっす! It’s the end of August, and that means two things: An anime monthly, and a quickly-approaching Autumn. It has been hot, hot, hot lately, but I’ve been trying to enjoy it while it lasts, for while I do consider Autumn one of the best times of the year from a weather standpoint, the signification that Winter is right around the corner always sucks the wind from my sails.
This month has seemed to whiz by, with busy nights at work and busy off-days keeping caught up on Summer anime series, though my perspective changed when I looked over the first few series in my backlog I had watched through this month. Those seemed like eons ago! A strange sensation, for sure.
Here’s what I watched:

 

amagami Amagami SS:
Tachibana Junichi was stood up a couple of years ago by a prospective date, and ever since then he has been mindful of seeking out relationships, as not to risk having to experience the feelings he had that night again.
Like it or not however, Junichi is on a collision course with finding the love of one of several young ladies at his school.
Amagami SS is about reliving the same period of time through different actions, with its duration split into sections devoted to a specific potential girlfriend.

What I thought: Good
Ah young love… Where were all of these girls when I was in high school? I highly doubt Amagami SS will be the most thought-provoking or memorable anime series you’ll watch, but it’s an anime that, while crass and immature at times, offers up a good helping of humor and a couple of pretty great story arcs.
The most appealing aspect of this anime was the structure. Every four episodes are a brand new character arc, which takes place within the same time frame each time, but with Tachibana seeking (or being sought out for) the love of a different young lady.
Each girl’s subplot feels fresh and different, and you spend just enough time with it to become comfortable by the time it wraps up to start the next one. On paper it seems like a tough structure to do right, but Amagami SS seems to have executed it pretty well.
The production is decent enough, and I was pretty fond of the numerous OPs and EDs you get as the series goes on. Amagami SS wasn’t the most sincere or funny anime I’ve seen, but not everything needs to be in order to be enjoyable.
 A successful attempt at emulating the branching storylines of visual novels, Amagami SS may not appeal to those seeking a coherent, overarching narrative, but for what it is, it’s an anime perfectly suited for those with plotline ADD.

 

Nichijou:nichijou
From a teenage robot created by a little girl, to a high-school girl whose idea of affection is unloading firearms at her crush, to a teacher who can only just contain his interest in one of the other teachers, Nichijou is a slice of life comedy taken to absurd extremes.
While the lives of these and other characters start off innocent and normal enough, it doesn’t take long for crazy, over-the-top antics to spice things up and spike them into the stratosphere.

 What I thought: Must see!
While I’m a guy who tends to prefer his comedy as down-to-Earth as possible, I found this series to be one of the most briskly paced and consistently funny anime I’ve seen, despite it’s absolutely ludicrous tone and its loud and energetic (though never obnoxious) brand of comedy.
The art style is bright and appealing, and the animation is absolutely up to the task of stylishly encapsulating all of the off-the-wall antics happening on screen ( though coming from Kyoto Animation, this is no surprise of course). The characters have fun personalities and are almost all quite memorable, with one in particular that makes me chuckle just thinking about.
Nichijou is a great series. It’s the type of anime that is perfectly suited for brightening your day or improving your crummy attitude after a long day of work, or for putting a hilarious bookend on an otherwise pleasant evening; one that had a smile plastered on my face throughout almost every episode’s duration, and I can’t recommend it enough.
 With its unending energy, bright tone, and excellently written comedy, Nichijou is the perfect comedy series for just about anyone looking for a few spurts of uncontrollable laughter.

 

hajimari no monogatari posterMahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Hajimari no Monogatari/
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Eien no Monogatari:

Retelling the events of the tv anime, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Hajimari no Monogatari and its follow-up movie Eien no Monogatari tell the story of a young girl named Kaname Madoka, a girl who, while possessing no discerning positive traits of her own, desires to help people.
Upon her discovery of the existence of Witches, who are beings who hide in the shadows and prey on humanity, and the magical girls who do battle with them, she is given the choice to become one of these magical beings and combat the darkness, though not even those with the best of intentions can be granted this power without encountering hardship.

ein no monogatari posterWhat I thought: Must see!
(also worth a look if you enjoyed the tv anime)
As these two movies ultimately accomplish the same goals as the tv anime, and retell the same story, though with better production, a lot of what I originally said about Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica still carries.
 One of the things that differs on the front end, however, is the pace. The tempo of the earlier scenes in the series is increased a little bit in the first film, and while the brisker pace was nice, as it helped move things along, I think I may prefer the tv anime in this respect, as the plot has a little more room to breathe in that version. Whether the slightly increased pace is a detriment to an initial viewing, there’s no way for me to say, as I had already seen the tv anime prior.
 The production quality has increased somewhat however. Some art/animation has been cleaned up, and it seemed as though the majority of the scenes were more vibrant and detailed. The tv anime was gorgeous to begin with, so seeing many of the same scenes with more polish was truly a treat.
 These two movies may merely place a fresher face on a story you’ve potentially seen before, but that is by no means a detriment to the quality of that story. It’s a narrative that brings together a number of admirable themes, a cast of memorable characters, and by the time the end credits roll, might change your view on what is possible to accomplish with a work of fiction.
 As these two movies tell one story however, they’re best thought of as one; and if you’re someone looking to check out this series, it’s imperative that you see both.
If you’ve already seen the tv anime, there is arguably little reason to seek out Hajimari no Monogatari and Eien no Monogatari, other than to revisit one of the most creative stories out there retold with better production. If you haven’t seen the tv anime however, these two movies are an excellent way to experience it for the first time, and I highly recommend you do so.

 

oreimo 2Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai 2:
Continuing after the events of the first season, Oreimo 2 resumes Kousaka Kyousuke’s journey through the last year of high-school.
While the events of the first season have improved his relationship with his sister, Kirino, Kyousuke still finds himself falling victim to her selfish and stubborn attitude.

What I thought: Great
I thought the themes of the story present in the first season of Oreimo were very admirable, and was a little disappointed to find that Oreimo 2 leaned a little out of that direction.  The overall goal of Oreimo 2’s story felt a little more standard than the first season when compared to other slice of life romantic comedies, and without the impending destruction of Kirino’s reputation hanging in the balance, the story was somewhat less interesting in my opinion.
With that being said though, I still enjoyed Oreimo 2 quite a bit, and mostly because there seems to have been more care given to characterization. Kyousuke especially came across as less of a blank slate and more of a troublemaker, and the latter episodes of the second season carry a good amount of emotional weight.
It might not have had the ending I was hoping for, but all the same, it was an ending that I wasn’t expecting, so Oreimo 2 deserves praise for at least keeping me guessing when I was certain I knew how it would end.
 While you may love it or hate it because of it, Oreimo’s second season closes the book on many of Kyousuke’s potential relationships, and regardless of which heroine you’re rooting for, it’s still a second season worth seeing.

 

230px-Hanasaku_Iroha_promo_image

Hanasaku Iroha:
After a spur-of-the-moment fling between her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, the somewhat stubborn but nonetheless bright Matsumae Ohana finds herself moving to stay at the Kissuisou Inn; an Inn owned and managed by her grandmother, Shijima Sui.
Despite the family relation, Ohana doesn’t find the warm welcome she is expecting, as her grandmother immediately puts her to work as a waitress.
What follows is a story of young people interacting with well established rules and lifestyles, and the drama which this interaction often produces.

 What I thought: Great
Hanasaku Iroha drew me in pretty quickly with its excellent artwork and likable main protagonist, but by the end left me with a story that had angsty teenage drama laid out pretty thickly, but was met by that with a good sense of place, and an equal amount of sincerity.
Ohana is a believable, down-to-earth main character, behaving as you would probably expect your average sixteen year old girl to act, and while not all of this anime’s cast were equally as memorable or likable, the story they tell was relatable, and ends on an admirable note.
For someone like me, who is a Westerner interested in Japanese customs, something like Hanasaku Iroha is always a treat to watch, as it’s a window into another culture; and this one-sided cultural exchange is in full effect here.
If there’s one thing in particular that seemed oddly placed with this anime that bears mentioning, it was its sheer number of bath scenes.
A story about misplaced emotions and misunderstood situations, Hanasaku Iroha is not only a cultural snapshot, but a relatable and grounded story told by a cast of generally very likable characters.

 

40621Seitokai no Ichizon lvl. 2:
Sugisaki, Mafuyu, Kurimu, and the rest of Hekiyou Academy’s Student Council return for a second term of slice-of-life comedy.
With graduation on the horizon, Sugisaki Ken is running out of time to achieve his harem ending, as he knows that once everyone goes their separate ways, things will likely stop being as carefree and fun as they are every day in the Student Council room.
Understanding this, he does his best with what time he has left to ensure his fellow Student Council members achieve happiness.

What I thought: Meh
While it may have a few good gags here or there, overall Seitokai lvl. 2 is lacking in both the story and the comedy departments.
It isn’t a repulsively bad anime by any means, but it’s tremendously forgettable, which I found quite disappointing, as I have positive memories of the first season.
Where the first season had a number of good character moments, a few truly hilarious scenes, and a number of clever pop culture references, the second relies a little too heavily on repeating the same material and breaking the fourth wall to reach for humor.
As it runs a few episodes short of the typical 12 episode format, this anime also seems to end just as it begins, though given its tendency to retell old jokes, this is probably for the best.
 It’s an unfortunate thing to see a good series get a lackluster second season, but Seitokai no Ichizon lvl 2 simply lacks the charm and humor of its predecessor, and it begrudges me to say that there’s very little found here to warrant the run-time, as short as it may be.

 

29971Mayo Chiki!:
Due to the unfortunate physical reaction brought on by his gynophobia, Sakamachi Kinjirou is unable to comfortably interact with females. While this can make his social situation at school difficult to begin with, it isn’t until he stumbles into Konoe Subaru in the boys bathroom that his life takes a turn for the worst.
Subaru is the butler of the wealthy Suzutsuki Kanade, who accompanies her everywhere she goes, as his family has served Suzutsuki’s for generations.
As Kinjirou is shocked to find out however, Subaru is not the man he claims to be, and seeing this as a potentially fun situation, Suzutsuki Kanade seeks to use it as a spring-board to cure Kinjirou’s gynophobia.

What I thought: Good
In the same vein as something like Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, Mayo Chiki! flirts with going overboard on the fan-service, but does so while giving rise to a good number of awkward or funny situations.
I liked the nice clean art style and the character designs a whole lot, and while the plot wasn’t all there in the ways I wish it were, for what it is, Mayo Chiki! still had enough character and humor to be entertaining, and what fan-service there is, often seemed to (but didn’t always) mingle with the situations brought on by the plot in entertaining ways. 
The plot is lacking, and the fan-service is in full swing, but Mayo Chiki! manages to overcome both of these things with a cast of likable characters and a number of awkwardly funny situations.

 

 And that’s August. It hadn’t been a large period of time since I watched through the Madoka Magica tv anime, and maybe because of this I was tremendously surprised at just how well that story still held my attention. As the movies are more-or-less a re-tread of the tv anime, I had expected to have it on to the side and only actively watch it when an especially good part came up, but I inevitably became glued to the screen just like the first time.
As implied above, Winter is my least favorite season, but a continuation of the Madoka Magica series is making me look forward to it a bit. I’m very curious of where they will take the story from where it ended previously, and it’s gnawing at me that there will probably be no showing of Hangyaku no Monogatari in theaters near where I live in the States once it finally makes its way here this Winter.
We will see what happens when it happens, though. As for now, here’s to Summer 2013; one of the best I’ve had in awhile.
Keep those plots unspoiled!
じゃ、またね。

From → Anime

4 Comments
  1. Hey, I haven’t watched the Madoka movie series but have watched the TV series. I plan on watching the new Madoka movie when it comes out though. So is there really any need to watch the first two movies, or is it pretty much exactly the same as the TV series but condensed? Thanks!

    • The first two movies are almost identical to the 12 episodes of the tv anime. The only big difference I noticed was the omission of the dream sequence which opened the tv anime.
      Other than that though, they’re more-or-less just a prettier to look at version of the same story. You’re good to go!

      • Cool! I’ve been wondering that for a while, so thanks.

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