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

October 1, 2013

(This article will be spoiler-free!)

おっす! I’ve been a little side-tracked this past week or so, so the monthly is a little late, but as all of the Summer series I had been keeping up on have come to a close, it should be a doozy of an article to make up for that.
There were a few really great series this Summer, and while it’s a bummer to see them go, it frees up time for new things, which I’m all for. The fall anime season is looming. The days have been less humid, and the nights have been, in several cases, quite chilly, which has already left me missing the summertime. I do my best not to think about how Winter is just around the corner..
September has been sort of so-so as far as productivity goes, though of course there was anime to be watched. Here’s what I saw:

 

clannad-after-storyClannad After Story:
Continuing more-or-less right where Clannad left off, Clannad After Story resumes the story of Okazaki Tomoya, as he prepares to leave his high school life behind him and charge head-first into adulthood alongside Furukawa Nagisa, who has become a close friend of his.
Before he can start his new life proper however, there are a few loose threads to be accounted for, including tending with the volatile relationship he has with his father, and helping his best friend gain the praises of someone dear to him.

What I thought: Absolutely must see! (but only after the first season)
If Clannad was a story about adolescence, Clannad After Story is a one about transitioning into adulthood, and all of the trials and tribulations that come with that transition.
The hardship is relentless, though it never feels contrived, and at a certain point, this anime becomes tremendously difficult to watch, but this is due to the tremendous sense of place you feel with it after spending so much time in its world, and the connection you feel with its characters after seeing them develop over the course of the series.
While the art, animation and voice performances are all fantastic, it’s the writing and the characterization that Clannad After Story excels at.
It’s difficult to put into words how impactful this series was to me (the first season included, but especially the second), without it coming off as hyperbole or needless praise, but I will say that even if you aren’t typically into anime, (why are you reading this blog, first thing, but nonetheless) I encourage you to watch this series.
 Clannad After Story continues and wraps up the series in a memorable fashion. This is a story about doing your best to trudge through hardship, and if you allow it to sink its hooks in you, it’ll be a story that’ll stick with you.

 

53945Hourou Musuko:
Nitori Shuuichi is a boy who, despite the spite it draws from his sister, feels compelled to wear female clothing. One of his best friends is Takatsuki Yoshino, who is tom-boyish, and wears her hair short.
Hourou Musuko tells the story of these two, and their everyday school lives as they wrestle with the confusion brought on by their gender identity issues.

What I thought: Good
This anime has a very soft, sort of washed out look to it that, while I didn’t like at first, grew on me by the end, and the character designs and general art/animation are each great.
While cross-dressing and gender identity could have lent itself to a more light-hearted story, it was nice to see a more serious take on the idea. Given the fact that the main cast of characters are middle-schoolers, this anime’s tone is far more somber than I went into it expecting. They aren’t as lively as I’d expect kids of their age to act, and while this wasn’t necessarily a detriment to this anime or the ideas it expressed, it did make it less relatable than it could have been otherwise. On a somewhat related note, there isn’t much here by terms of drama, which was surprising given the themes expressed here.
There’s an admirable amount of time spent on things such as double-standards, and though this anime may have less of a solution for the problems that arise from gender confusion, and more of a general discussion, but I think it’s a discussion worth sitting through.
A gorgeous series about gender confusion, Hourou Musuko may be lacking in many areas, but it’s a straight-faced series concerning a topic that rarely gets treated as such. 

 

1309638680THE IDOLM@STER:
The Idol world is a tough one, brimming with as many hopes and dreams as it is hardship and misery, and The Idolmaster is a series revolving around an Idol agency called 765 Productions.
Within this small-time agency are 13 young women, each with their own reasons for seeking the spotlight.
The Idolmaster welcomes you to join them as they rise from their nobody status to attempt to rank among the top Idols in Japan

What I thought: Good
While I highly expect this anime is not for everyone given its overtly  萌え nature, The Idolmaster has a few nicely done character arcs, and its fair share of triumphant moments.
I’m certain things have been polished up here or there to make this series appealing as an anime, but it was still cool having my eyes opened a little bit for what idols really are. While I knew stage performances were a large part of what they were about, I didn’t know idols’ charms leaked into other forms of entertainment (such as advertisements, movies, or television shows), and Idolmaster was a pleasant (though sometimes disturbing if you sit back and think about what’s taking place at times) way to learn a thing or two about what exactly it is which idols do.
The art isn’t the greatest, but the character designs are fantastic, and while I haven’t played any of the games this series comes from, this anime makes me quite curious as to what they’re all about.
It may not always carry a tremendous amount of emotional weight, and the moment to moment happenings may not be all that memorable or endearing, but for what it is The Idolmaster is a bright, mostly cheerful series with a large cast of likable characters and a hopping J-pop soundtrack.

 

47533Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W:
Taking place directly after the first season, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W continues the day-to-day goings-ons of Yasaka Mahiro and his love-craved group of otherworldly roommates.
Having diverted the impending disasters of the past, Nyaruko, Kuuko and Hasuta have little left to do on Earth but to continue seeking their prospective relationships with reckless abandon.

What I thought: Good
While W is still a decent time, it possibly suffers from diminishing returns, as much of this anime’s humor is identical to that seen in the first season, and thus requires you to have found the first twelve funny and have retained an appetite for more.
With that being said, however, I’m a guy who did enjoy the first season, despite how throw-away a lot of it seemed. The second is very, very similar, and as you’ve already been introduced to each of the characters (save for a few new ones here or there), even more time is spent on that sort of throw-away comedy, but when all is said and done, if you enjoyed the first season, there’s really no reason not to seek out the second.
Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W is more of the same. If you enjoyed the first season, there may be little in the second by terms of story to be seen here, but there’s still plenty of ecchi comedy to go around.

 

48747Yuyushiki:
What is it exactly that a Data Processing Club does?
Yui, Yuzuko, and Yukari might be able to tell you, if they weren’t knee-deep into discussing the naming of ocular proteins.
Yuyushiki is a slice-of-life series in which these three students do absolutely nothing while talking about absolutely anything.
There’s little to no plot, but instead every-day conversations and (not)Google searches, and the random allotment of information that comes out of both of these things. 

What I thought: Good
The characters are bright and likable, and while there’s little to no story to speak of, Yuyushiki is still a good time. I expect if you enjoy series such as Lucky Star, then you’ll mostly likely enjoy Yuyushiki, though if you find series such as those insufferable, there’s nothing in Yuyushiki that will change your mind.
 I liked the art style quite a bit, and while if you asked me to recall one specific thing that happened in this series, I would probably be unable to come up with anything due to how uneventful it is, it’s still a series that was a fun time while it lasted.
A slice-of-life series akin to your Lucky Star’s or your Yuru Yuri’s, Yuyushiki is time spent doing nothing at all and enjoying every second of it. 

 

51379Kiniro Mosaic:
When she was much younger, Oumiya Shinobu stayed overseas in an English family’s home.
The daughter of that family was Alice Cartelet, and while there was a language barrier between them, the time they spent together left a lasting impression on each of them that carried into the following years.
A few years down the road, Shinobu is now in high-school and is shocked to discover that her overseas friend has come to live in Japan.
What follows is a slice-of-life comedy series intermittently sprinkled with the antics that come from these crossing cultures.

What I thought: Great
While it ultimately brought more cute and less cultural exchange than I originally expected, Kinmoza is a bright, impossible to resist slice of life comedy that never failed to brighten my day.
It may not be for everyone, but one of the things I absolutely love is English spoken by Japanese people in anime, and Kinmoza was knee-deep in it at times. It would be easy to criticize this anime for having English characters who speak Japanese far better than their native language, but to me that just added to the charm.
Kiniro Mosaic is a cheerful series involving (but not revolving around) cultural exchange, and if you can stomach the cutesy, or happen to enjoy this sort of thing, there’s plenty to like.

 

51619Watashi ga Motenai no wa dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!:
Kuroki Tomoko is a master of high school relationships, having simulated them to no end in her dating sims.
Upon graduating into high-school however, she comes to realize that the social skills she thinks she has developed in her games do not at all translate into real life.
Watamote is about one girl’s quest to become accepted in social environments, and her tremendous missteps at every turn.

What I thought: Good
Watamote is, in a sense, what I sort of expected Haganai to be; a story about a social outcast trying desperately to insert herself into society but failing miserably at every turn.
It’s a nicely animated and performed series, and while the goofy antics Kuroki gets herself into to seek friendship range from humorous to hilarious, there isn’t a whole lot to be found here aside from that.
It’s perfectly fine, of course; this anime was enjoyable regardless, but in the end it left me wanting more, and not in the “this is a great series and I can’t get enough of it” sense, but instead a “I sort of wish they’d give me a good pay-off” sense.
Kuroki is a likable character though, as while she seems desperate to find a friend, it’s really only her own fault that she can’t make that happen; and it’s sometimes awkward and sometimes hilarious seeing her try different things to change that.
Watamote is probably best gone into with the intent of enjoying the journey instead of the destination, but it’s a humorous journey to take all the same, supported by a clean art style and a terrific soundtrack.

 

39665Kokoro Connect:
Kokoro Connect tells the story of five high-school students, who one day, for no reason they can immediately decipher, begin swapping bodies with one another.
As time goes on, strange occurances such as these pull this group of friends both together and away from one another, as their understanding for one another, through these happenings, grows exponentially.

What I thought: So-so
While this anime looks and sounds nice, and there are a number of good ideas and admirable themes strewn about, I couldn’t help but feel like Kokoro Connect was trying a little too hard to be dramatic.
A lot of the reason it doesn’t really work is that there’s no ramp up to said drama. There’s very little time spent on characterization, so it’s difficult to empathize with the cast when they encounter hardship.
It also contains a tinge of unnecessary fan-service, which sometimes derails the scenes in which it is found.
I didn’t dislike Kokoro Connect, but I can’t help but feel like it didn’t live up to its potential given the themes expressed here, as well as its overall premise. Because of this, while I didn’t find it a difficult sit, I didn’t look forward to seeing where the plot went as much as I looked forward to seeing it end.
While I’m sure Kokoro Connect has its heart in the right place (no pun intended), I feel like it could have done more with what it tries to do.

 

GeneiTaiyouTitleDay Break Illusion:
The elemental tarot, A force that is as mysterious as it is powerful. Taiyou Akari is a girl whose bloodline is one of the chosen to draw upon the powers of the Elemental Tarot and protect humanity from those who would use it for harm.
Upon her discovery of this power, she is invited to a secretive organization known as Sefiro Fiore, who bring together individuals from all Arcanas of the Elemental Tarot and sends them out to do battle with evil.

What I thought: Great
The story, while somewhat lack-luster in my opinion, remained interesting enough to carry me through. The visuals on the other hand were a treat to see. Vibrant and creative, they’re a good contrast to the sometimes grizzly happenings taking place.
While I kept up on several of the Summer season’s series, Day Break Illusion was possibly the one I looked forward to the most each week, though, admittedly, this is mostly due to what a light-show it can be.
If you’re looking for an especially memorable or otherwise mind-bending narrative, Day Break Illusion is not that; but if you’re content with a fireworks show of creativity placed parallel to a disturbing premise, there’s plenty to like here.

 

yami-shibai_oYamishibai:
A teacher who is left with a disturbing experience when she remains at school late into the night.
A man who moves into an apartment across from a bizarre woman.
An overworked business man who sees something he wishes he hadn’t on a train car one day.
These small stories among many more make up Yamishibai, which is a stylish, animated take on Japanese paper dramas.

What I thought: Great
 Of course since the series is an anthology, some of the stories it tells are bound to be stinkers compared to others, but I was surprised at just how effective the majority of these stories were at being tense and horrifying, especially given their extremely quick 5 minute run-time.
 There isn’t a ton of animation, but this of course fits the kamishibai style nicely, and the artwork doesn’t really suffer from it or anything. The performances suit the tone perfectly, and overall, if I had to voice any sort of legitimate complaint with this series, it would be that it ended far too soon.
Do you enjoy spooky stories? Do you have a couple of minutes to set aside? If yes to either or both of these things, Yamishibai is for you.

 

52137The Severing Crime Edge:
Haimura Kiri sort of has a thing for cutting people’s hair.
One day he discovers Mushanokouji Iwai, a young girl with long, flowing hair. A girl whose hair cannot be cut.
As Kiri-kun comes to find out, however, he is the descendant of an individual who possessed a special sort of item, called a Killing Goods.
It is with one of these items, which Haimura becomes involved with Mushanokouji, and jump-starts an age-old feud which threatens each of their lives.

What I thought: Good
Crime Edge is absolutely ridiculous in all the right ways, and though there is an especially unlikable character here or there, and the fan-service ranges from humorous to uncomfortable, it is a ridiculousness that keeps it entertaining throughout its duration. The premise and delivery is bizarre, but oddly enough, there are some really cool ideas going on here with the Author/Instead concept, and some interesting sorts of Killing Goods as well; some of which are objects that you wouldn’t assume might be deadly. 
If you can handle the fan-service, The Severing Crime Edge is a series that is equally as ridiculous as it is creative.

 
A doozy. September was a roller-coastery month for sure, fitted with a fair share of both drama and 萌え. A good, good balance.
The Halloween season is probably my favorite time of the year, and I’m thinking of re-watching Another as the spooky October atmosphere collects. The Cowboy Bebop movie seems as though it might be a suitable Halloween night feature, but other than those I’m blanking out on anime well-suited for the season.
Speaking of seasons, the Fall anime season is upon us, and while there are far fewer series appealing to me than was the case with the Summer season, I’m still looking forward to the second season of Little Busters, as well as the new Kyoto Animation series, Kyoukai no Kanata.
またね。
Keep those hands clean and those plots unspoiled!

From → Anime

4 Comments
  1. Clannad AF was a great series. It was a bit slow at the beginning working through the character arcs, but when it finally came to terms with itself and moved on with Nagisa and Tomoya it took a turn for the better. This is indeed a must watch for fans of anime and those who are new to the medium.

    Hourou Musuko was a very good anime that took the step to tell a story that has some taboo to it. Gender confusion is indeed a pretty edgy topic and this series showed the struggle in non comical sense. Which made the show very strong. I believe it wasn’t that much about the series itself, but about the message it tried to send to its audience.

    I can’t agree on Kiniro Mosaic though. I found it more like an advertisement for Japan where everything is great and beautiful. I won’t argue on the contrary though. Still the English was good and welcoming at the beginning, but it began to turn into a string of sounds that had to sound like words. I can appreciate the attempt, but that’s the most credit I can give it.

    I expected more from WataMote like you stated. There were strong signs that it could be really steady, but the depressing vibe of the show started to move onto me. And that’s not what I wanted this show to be. The manga, from which I’ve read a portion, was more comical and the anime on the other hand felt less compelling.

    Great post. I like the combination of new and some what older shows.

    • That may or may not be true about Kinmoza, but regardless, it’s not something I felt while watching it.
      We all interpret things differently though.
      And thank you! I don’t keep up on every series as it’s released, so what’s “new” to me isn’t always new to everyone. Hopefully that isn’t a bummer to anyone reading.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Spitz’s Year-end Wrap Up 2013 | Spitz's Soapbox
  2. Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? February 2016 | Spitz's Soapbox

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