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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? May 2014

May 31, 2014

(This article will be spoiler-free!)

おっす! Is it that time already? This past month has been a complete blur. Blame the humidity.
I love anime, but one of the types of stories which plagues the anime industry are those of the relentless demands of an animators job, and the negative impact their profession can have on their lives. Long hours, heavy workloads and low wages (coupled with the fact that a large number of animation studios are located in or around major cities, where the cost of living is high), make it an uphill battle for animators to see their hard work appear on screens seen around the globe.
Just this past month, a story went up speaking of an animator who took his own life after a period of misery brought on in part by being overworked, and these types of stories aren’t as uncommon as you would hope.
I’m typically not one to advertise for other people’s projects (it takes a lot to get me to advertise for my own), but well-regarded names in the anime industry are fronting a project to build dormitories for animators, and provide them a more reasonable style of living than is the norm nowadays. The project can be found HERE, and while it’s half way to its goal, there is only just over a week left for people to contribute. Spitz’s Soapbox will be donating to the cause, and I encourage you to do the same if you have a little extra money to part with for a good cause.
I get a lot of joy out of anime, but I never want my joy to come at the cost of someone else’s suffering. I hope this dorm project succeeds, and is a firm first step at improving the working conditions and income of those responsible for bringing to life the series we all love.

Here’s what I finished up over the past month:


6905Devil May Cry: The Animated Series:
Taking place chronologically after the first video game, DMC The Animated Series follows the half-demon Dante and his self-staffed “shop” which individuals can visit to enlist his services as a Devil Hunter.
Never seeming to be able to get ahead of his debts, Dante loafs around his establishment eating pizza and reading magazines.
The series is for the most part delivered as a series of one-off plot lines, with Dante investigating a demon who kills his prey through a game of Poker, a young girl who has inherited a fortune, and a demon who preys on anyone foolish enough to speed through the night in its territory to name a few.

What I thought: “Starts with promise, then quickly squanders it all away.”
I came out of the first episode of this series ready for more, but come the end, it took a lot of effort to keep my attention affixed on the screen.
It feels like the writers had the general idea for what they wanted each episode to be, but lacked the ability to fill those episodes with interesting or entertaining dialogue or character actions, and instead what we get is a series that started out with promise, but rapidly ran out of clever quips or fun over the top action sequences.
This is disappointing because while the games were never known for having especially great storylines, the action found in the games was always stylish and exciting, and the characters (Dante especially) were entertaining in an over-the-top sort of way. It’s unfortunate then to watch the animated series and see that neither of these two things were executed successfully.
While it has the ability early on to sucker you into it thinking it may sport the same over-the-top lunacy of the games, Devil May Cry The Animation’s art, animation, story-telling, and action scenes each quickly suffer from diminished quality. It is a series that tries numerous things and nails none of them.


P3_The_Movie_poster_3Persona 3 The Movie #1 Spring of Birth:
Yuuki Makoto is new to Iwatodai City, and is a transfer student into Gekkoukan High. some of his new fellow students share a special gift with him, which is the ability to remain conscious during the illusive hour which rests between one day and the next.
In this Dark Hour, creatures dubbed Shadows roam freely about, slaying anyone unfortunate enough to wander in.
Upon discovering Makoto’s impressive talent in battling these Shadows, one of his upperclassmen and dorm-mates, Kirijou Mitsuru and her small group of allies enlist him into SEES, which is a secretive group tasked with battling the Shadows and uncovering the secrets of the Dark Hour.
Based on the video game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, Spring of Birth is the first part of Person 3’s feature film anime adaptation.

What I thought: “Incredibly stylish, but perhaps too quickly paced.”
The visuals sport harsh, contrasting shading which gives this anime a distinct, stylish look which, along with its usage of darker hues, excellently reproduces the tone from the game.
Eye-candy is great, but what makes the Persona games stand out as much as they do is their relatable and involving plots, so I was fearful going into this movie that, even though it was being split into multiple parts, I wasn’t sure there would be enough time to let the plot soak in.
This is somewhat the case here, but not to the point which ruins the movie as a whole because of it. Social Link characters from the game show up, with one in particular who is prominently featured in a scene, but they are never properly introduced, and I imagine if the viewer has not played the game prior to this film’s viewing, they may be wondering “Who the heck was that guy”. The plot also moves along at a somewhat breakneck speed, but I would say it does a decent enough job at starting up the story.
Makoto is an interesting protagonist and is handled well. In contrast to Narukami Yuu from the Persona 4 anime adaptation, who was handled as a sort of comic relief character, Yuuki Makoto is a solemn fellow, saying very little and doing as he’s told.
Spring of Birth has me excited to see how this collection of films ultimately pays off. It could have benefited from a longer run time, and the action scenes aren’t the most exciting or tense around, but what’s here is a good first step.
It’s tough to say with this film alone how Persona 3’s anime adaptation will pan out as a whole, but Spring of Birth, if anything, is an anime film as equally pleasing on the eyes as it is on the ears.


Ten years ago now, Ichijou Raku made a pact with a childhood friend. Keeping a locket for himself and leaving its key to his female friend, they promised one another that if they ever met again in the future, they would get married. A silly, childish promise to make for sure, but it has been stuck in his head for some time.
If only he could find out who the girl was…
Then one day, his family (comprised of Yakuza) inform him that he has been the target of a organized marriage, and that he was now the fiance of a rival gang’s daughter; a short-tempered blonde named Kirisaki Chitose.
Thus begins the fake lovey-dovey relationship between Raku and Chitose. While Raku’s heart is set on a classmate, he is forced to pretend to be in love with his new fiance, or risk a feud of epic proportions.

What I thought: “A comedy series better than the sum of its parts.”
It’s easy to look at Nisekoi and dismiss it as yet another run-of-the-mill high school (kind of) harem series. Multiple females are vying for the affection of our protagonist, and wacky hijinks ensue at every turn.
But I think what makes Nisekoi work, is the ever-stylish presentation by Shaft, and the energetic delivery of this series’ voice cast. Each of the heroines are likable in their own way, and Raku is helplessly stuck between confessing his feelings for the girl he likes, and pretending to be in love with the girl he can’t stand to be around.
A pretty obvious goal is set by the plot which at a certain point stops being addressed, so if this is the only season of this series we’ll see, that could be seen as a tremendous flaw, but regardless of whether we see more Nisekoi in the future or not, the first is a ton of fun to watch.
While on paper Nisekoi sounds like a bore, the presentation is so pleasing to look at, and the execution sports such enthusiasm and energy that it’s impossible not to laugh. It was easily one of the highlights over this past season.


hDJ3iBaAno Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo
Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai Movie:

Ano Hana the Movie works as a sort of reflection and epilogue on the events of the tv anime.
This is a story of a group of friends who, when small were inseparable, but became distant of one another after one fateful day.
Now, years later, they are drawn together to uphold a promise made while they were young.

What I thought: “A bittersweet
afterword to the tv anime.”
While the film does contain an abridged retelling of the events which transpired in the tv anime, I would encourage anyone interested in this series to watch the tv anime first, because while you can most likely get the gist of the story with this film alone, the narrative isn’t as coherent as it was in its previous form, and for the sake of the characters respective arcs, and for the story told here as a whole, the series deserves time to tell its story with a proper pace.
That being said, and unlike other append movies for tv anime series (I won’t name any names, but I’m sure you know which I’m talking about), Ano Hana The Movie is a pleasure to watch. The story has already been told, so the new footage and story found in this movie, again, while a pleasure to watch, isn’t as impactful as what came before it simply because the characters’ hurdles have (for the most part) already been overcome.
I did like this film a lot though, and I think if you’ve seen Ano Hana and have been thinking about giving the series a rewatch, maybe watch this film instead. The new scenes are enough to keep you interested, and the retelling of the events of the tv anime aren’t paced too quickly to keep up with. It’s a good balance of old and new content, and wraps up quite nicely.
It isn’t recommended that you to go into this film with no prior knowledge of the series, but if you’ve already seen the tv anime, Ano Hana The Movie is a film just as warm and heartfelt as the series which preceded it.

And Tonari no Seki-kun ended for real this past month (I think!?). I don’t have much to say about that series that differs from what I said in a previous post, but I will repeat that I think that series is a fun time. While series like Pupa or the currently airing Nekoyama to Inugami (so far) fail to live up to their potential, Tonari is done right. The antics are short and varied, and the delivery is entertaining. If you have a couple minutes to spare and enjoy comedy series, check it out!
Still ripe on the vine for viewing are Psycho Pass and Karas, and I’m still whittling away at FMA: Brotherhood where I find the time. Summer is right around the corner (already? are you sure?), and with it brings not only the ending and beginning of a ton of series, but also the E3 expo! Expect thoughts on what is shown there in this month’s video game monthly.
I’m closing the book on March!
(Maybe soak up some sun, but keep your plots unspoiled.)


From → Anime

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