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

December 31, 2013

(This article will be spoiler-free!)

おっす! One of the things that makes me hesitant to rewatch series that had left a positive impression on me is the fear that certain scenes, plot-twists or what-have-you may not be as impactful as they were the first time around.
It’s a tremendously difficult thing to draw someone into a fictional story in an endearing way to begin with, and I think series that are able to be just as effective in a second viewing as they were the first time truly are something special.
Is there a series out there that manages to suck you in every time you see it, regardless of how many times you view it?
There’s a yearly retrospective article coming here soon, and I’ve spent much of my December revisiting series I’ve previously seen, but regarding first viewings, here’s what I’ve seen this month (or what I’ve finished from the Fall season):

 

img61492476Kyoukai no Kanata: As highschool student Kanbara Akihito tries to talk the young Kuriyama Mirai out of committing suicide, she suddenly attacks him, and each is revealed to the other that neither of them are human. Kuriyama is a member of a family which are a line of Spirit World Warriors, whose task is to fight Youmu. Kanbara is half-youmu, which is what allows him to survive Kuriyama’s initial attack.
As Kuriyama continues to attempt to kill Kanbara, the two of them encounter numerous other Youmu, some friendly and some not so much, and the two of them, along with some of their friends, attempt to live out their lives in a world looming on the edge of darkness.

What I thought: “Plenty of eye candy, but not as much mind candy.”
KyoAni series are always, if not endearing, an absolute pleasure to watch thanks to masterful production, and this much is true with Kyoukai no Kanata. From the opening moments until the last (especially near the end), this is a series that is absolutely jaw-dropping in the visuals department.
It’s unfortunate that the story doesn’t quite match the quality of the rest of the production though.
One of my favorite tropes is when a story doesn’t go into obsessive exposition to explain its world, and Kyoukai is a series such as this. You’re thrust into a world of Youmu versus Spirit Warriors and you’re expected to piece together the nature of their interactions through what is happening on screen, which I really enjoyed as a backdrop, but the story of Kuriyama and Kanbara, while perfectly entertaining nonetheless, lacks the punch to drive home any sort of real emotional investment, and I think this is partially due to the pace of this series, notably towards the end.
I’m a sucker for pretty things though. I’ll say it. I’m not proud of it, but that’s who I am, and Kyoukai no Kanata is absolutely gorgeous, so it was still one of my weekly go-to series over the Fall season.
While its story runs into some pacing issues, Kyoukai no Kanata looks and sounds fantastic, and while the plot probably isn’t the most memorable or impactful thing you’ll come across, there are enough notable moments (and enough eye-candy) to make it worth a recommendation regardless.

 

Miyakawa-ke no Kuufuku OVAMiyakawa-ke no Kuufuku: Thanks to her older sister Hinata’s tendency to spend all of their income on Manga, Anime and games, Miyakawa Hikage’s life is one of poverty.
While Hinata is content with eating bare meals if it means she can splurge on her hobby, all Hikage desires to eat is meat, though as her sister is incapable of saving money for proper food, the two are forced to go without such delicacies.

What I thought: “Short and sweet.”
As this series’ episodes only ask around fives minutes of your time, this is a good series for if you’re busy doing other things and want to take a quick break, or otherwise don’t have the time to set aside from a series of normal length.
I’d dare say it’s a better looking anime than Lucky Star (which it spun off from), and I like how they gave the voice acting roles to new blood (even if this reflects in the quality of said voice acting).
The character designs are great, and while five minutes offers little time for plot, what’s there is funny enough to make the run-time well worth it.
There’s much less to Miyakawa-ke no Kuufuku than the series it came from, but it requires very little time investment, and what it does is enough for what time it has.

 

1308-kapakresmiKodomo no Jikan: Aoki Daisuke is ready to tackle his first teaching job and whatever challenges it may present, but he realizes he may be in over his head when on his very first day he has a run in with the young and overtly precocious Kokonoe Rin, who soon calls herself Aoki’s girlfriend.
What follows is the especially brazen comedy of Aoki dealing with such a situation, and attempting to find the root of Kokonoe’s behavior, all the while trying to avoid the social scrutiny such behaviors might land him if his fellow teachers were to find out.

What I thought: “Awkward and uncomfortable, but surprisingly alright.”
While they regularly go overboard with the innuendo and the fan-service, Kodomo no Jikan isn’t a series entirely without merit.
It’s a series that is tremendously difficult to defend, as it is something that, while quite embarrassing and equally as uncomfortable, manages to be funny despite it; and tells a story that is arguably mired by its premise, but manages to be a more-or-less functional narrative regardless, with a few pretty memorable moments. The fan-service is brought en masse, but it’s delivered in such an over-the-top manner, and the characters partaking in it are so detached from reality that I think it’s tough to be offended by it.
I didn’t dislike Kodomo as much as I expected I would coming out of that first episode, and I just hope my finishing this series and not hating it entirely doesn’t put me on any sort of lists.
Kodomo no Jikan isn’t entirely terrible, but due to its excessively brazen premise and delivery, it isn’t a series that I picture myself recommending to anyone.

 

Galilei-DonnaGalilei Donna: When the three sisters and descendants of Galileo Galilei Hozuki, Hazuki and Kazuki are unjustly accused of being terrorists, they set out on a globe-trotting adventure in the flying mech created by by Hozuki to clear their name, with the only clue being that their enemies are looking for some form of technology created by their ancestor that can only be found by deciphering a set of long lost sketches drawn by Galilei.

What I thought: “Started with promise, but gradually failed to live up to it.”
Galilei Donna felt like the small-fry in the corner swinging at tyrants over the Fall season. Being an original production, it didn’t have the foundation already in place for its plot, and this shows as clear as day, especially later on.
The character and mecha designs are great, and this series has one of the best OPs of the season in my opinion, but the plot is severely lacking, residing in far too much contrivance and relying on far too much convenience in seeing our group of heroines out of the trouble they repeatedly find themselves in.
The plot feels less like a living, breathing narrative, and more like the writers had a general idea for what they wanted this series to be, but couldn’t quite figure out ways to make it compelling.
I really wanted to enjoy Galilei Donna, but by the time the series wrapped up, I couldn’t help but shake my head at how poorly it was handled. Those last few episodes… I mean, what happened?
A stylish series that doesn’t quite live up to its potential, Galilei Donna isn’t outright terrible, but it might require you to turn your brain off to get any sort of enjoyment out of its plot.

 

54739lLittle Busters! Refrain: Having finally collected the members necessary for their baseball team, Naoe Riki and Natsume Rin are ready to take up their mysterious message’s offer and learn what the secret is which their world holds.
Things aren’t quite as they seem however, and Riki is shocked to encounter an unforeseen hardship which threatens to separate the Little Busters, which he and his friends have all helped create.

What I thought: “Melodramatic like the first season, but more often effective than not.”
I thought the first season of Little Busters! started off pretty poorly, but grew into its own by the half-way mark, and while Refrain’s early moments had me thinking I’d maybe see a repeat of what the first season did with its multiple subplots, it quickly turned into something completely different.
Refrain is a lot more personal than what came before it, and while this means a large portion of the series’ characters get very little attention from the plot, it allows it to tell a more cohesive story all in one go.
The art is nice, and there are a few great voice performances in there as well. The story is wrapped up, and while the places it goes in some areas are admirable, some others had me scratching my head. Overall though, Little Busters! Refrain gave me a nice feeling of closure (compared to the first season), and it addresses many of the things that seemed to be set up in the first season but never acted upon.
While it lacks some of the character of the first season, Little Busters! Refrain wraps the series up nicely, and if you enjoyed what time you’ve spent with these characters, there’s very little reason not to check it out.

 

f33ed0c371f66279e98a3ab1a9238ffc1380141927_fullGingitsune: Saeki Makoto is the single daughter and to-be successor of the Inari shrine seen over by her father Tatsuo.
Unlike her father, Makoto has been able to see spirits since she was very young, which has afforded her a friendship with their shrine’s inhabiting fox spirit, Gintarou.
Gingitsune is a series about customs and tradition, told by a young girl, a seemingly disinterested spirit, and the individuals they associate themselves with as they live out their lives at the shrine.

What I thought: “A one-sided cultural exchange somewhat lacking on plot.”
Much like something like Hanasaku Iroha, Gingitsune is a one-way cultural exchange, and while it may lack personality compared to Iroha, Gingitsune excels at the same types of things.
It’s rather difficult to talk about, as not a whole lot takes place from a story standpoint, and there isn’t a whole lot of character growth to speak of, but I think it still works, at least for someone from the West, as it informs us of practices and traditions that you really don’t see or hear about all that often.
Interesting from a cultural perspective, Gingitsune isn’t the most memorable series by terms of plot, but the characters are likable enough to get the job done.

 

54343Outbreak Company: Having scored wonderfully on a government-run test regarding Otaku culture, Kanou Shinichi is given the opportunity to work as an ambassador of sorts, and use his knowledge of his hobby to bridge the cultural gap between a new found country and his own.
What he didn’t know going into the job however, is that that country is found on the other side of a portal, and is inhabited by numerous humanoid races, some of which are even capable of using magic.
Shinichi rises to the task however, with the promise of sharing what he loves with others, regardless of what dimension they may be from.

What I thought: “It both pokes fun at and celebrates Otaku culture while retaining an identity of its own.”
If you use Anime in part to grow vocabulary and listening skills while learning the language, sometimes you encounter series that seem tailored specifically for you, and then every once in awhile, you come across something like Outbreak Company, which nicely realizes the wonder and joy that comes from cultural exchange, but does so while poking at and having fun with the tropes found within the culture it’s informing its viewers about.
It’s a cleverly put together series with a nice look, a great cast, and a strong message, and I think even if you aren’t into the cultural exchange side of it, Outbreak is still entertaining enough to make it work the time regardless.
A series about the ups and downs of interacting with other cultures, Outbreak Company smartly mingles modern Manga/Anime tropes and cultural exchange, and does so while offering up a good helping of comedy.

 

51581Non Non Biyori: Having just transferred from a school in the bustling city of Tokyo, Ichijou Hotaru is shocked to find the rural village of Asahigaoka even less inhabited than she had assumed.
In the local school (which sees the use of only a half-dozen students) she meets new friends and with their help, attempts to grow comfortable with her new surroundings.

What I thought: “Immersive and endearing.”
This one was keeping Summer alive there for quite awhile. The pace is such, and the production is high enough that it’s easy to get sucked right in to the environments, and the cast is bright and colorful enough in character that Non Non is an absolute pleasure to watch.
If some of the background artwork in this series aren’t photos with some sort of color filter on them, I would be very impressed. Non Non is quite the looker, and it’s supported by some just fantastic sound design as well. It’s one thing when an anime has panning (mostly) still shots of environments to fill in time and stretch out an episode, but it’s something else entirely when a series manages to do this to suck you into its setting, and Non Non does this superbly.
The cast are mostly younger girls, and you could argue that this series deals in 萌え trappings, so perhaps if that’s something you prefer to avoid then maybe Non Non Biyori isn’t for you, but its atmosphere is terrific, and I was genuinely bummed that it had to end.
Its cute tone may be a red flag for some, but Non Non Biyori achieves a terrific sense of place with its excellent visuals and sound, and manages to be funny enough to warrant praise from yours truly. It is a series I highly recommend.

 

While I did my best to keep up on the series that I thought might be interesting, there were still a number of shows that had to be tucked into the backlog for later viewing. I ended up following ten series in all this season, and I feel like once the Winter season kicks off (here soon!), I’m going to be more decisive on what to start and what to save for later, as while I enjoyed this season quite a bit and there are a number of series I enjoyed (and some I’m still enjoying), ten is just too many to keep up with.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Kill la Kill would be a longer than average series, as that was(/is) one of the better Fall shows, but on the contrary, I was sort of bummed to hear Log Horizon would be running longer as well, as I find that show a tedious, dreadful bore to watch, and easily the weakest of the shows I picked up this season. Some people seem to be enjoying it though, so I’m happy for them that they’ll have more to see of it.
That’s the last anime monthly of 2013! I don’t know if it’ll be tonight or tomorrow (31st or 1st), but a year-end article is coming! Keep an eye out if you’re interested.
じゃまた読んでね。
(Keep those plots unspoiled!)

From → Anime

3 Comments
  1. I think more people thought that Galilei Donna was disappointing in many aspects. It seemed promising in the beginning, but it left out too much to remain stable till the very end.

    Kyoukai no Kanata was indeed eye candy, yet as you said, it left out on the storytelling. The producers apparently thought you would figure it yourself, but the problem was the story remained vague to the audience. I thought that Kyoukai no Kanata was best at moments when it was more focused on slice of life. Like the idol scene, it was perfectly executed and showed that KyoAni is best at those lightweight moments. To create something more dark you need more practice I guess. Perhaps they could ask somebody who worked on Psycho-Pass or Fate/Zero to achieve a more dark look and feel.

    • And Galilei was such a bummer, too, because there were many great characters in there, like the mech’s goldfish a.i.,Grande Rosso. I thought while Roberto’s backstory was kind of extreme, there were moments that really did make him out to be a good antagonist, but where it all ends up was just laughable.

      I still liked Kyoukai quite a bit despite all of its issues, but I think because of that I’m bummed that it isn’t as great as it maybe could have been. The animation is sooo good though. Great attention to small details such as quick glances or Mirai trying to keep her glasses on her face during fights. Great stuff. I haven’t read any of the light novel, so I’m unsure whether it has some of the same issues. (I would like to though.)

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