Posts from January 2015
2014 anime, the less-bulleted edition, part 2
Part one’s not too far
It’s obvious that noitaminA has been getting more hit or miss lately –
outside of Silver Spoon’s second season, Ping Pong is probably the
only show that aired in the block’s 2014 schedule that’s really worth a
watch. If you need a forceful case that the glory days aren’t totally
over yet, though, this is it. The most obvious highlight is Masaaki
Yuasa’s stylized visual treatment, which bursts with an unrestrained
energy that The Flowers of
Evil’s quivering linework
only wishes it had. Like the best of sports shows before it, Ping Pong
spends as much time getting us inside the characters’ heads as it does
showing actual play, especially in the case of the show’s dual
protagonists. And its Chinese cast members are actually portrayed by
Chinese voice actors, one of whom is also fluent in Japanese! Seal of
approval right there.
Tonari no Seki-kun
You might think that getting heavy hitters like Kana Hanazawa and Hiro
Shimono to do a seven-minute comedy series whose premise can be summed
up as “high school kid builds crazy things at his desk” is excessive,
especially given that one of them never actually speaks at all. Tonari
no Seki-kun, however, is one of those shows that lives or dies on its
execution, and the investment demonstrably pays off. Maybe it’s because
Hanazawa has been in every show from here to nigh eternity, but her
exaggerated reactions to the title character’s antics make a terrific
stand-in for our own bewildered amusement as the viewers. As for
Shimono, meanwhile, you’d be surprised how expressive a few well-placed
grunts and sighs can be. (He was apparently really pumped up during the
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki
Yes, I’ve saved the best for last. It’s hard to describe what makes a
funny thing funny without destroying the experience altogether, of
course, but if I had to boil down the essence of Nozaki’s success, it
would be its refreshing confidence in its own humor. There are no sly
winks and nods attempting to make up for lackluster jokes, no lazy
archetypal gags, and no phoned-in characterizations. It’s just a show
that clearly enjoys itself, and earnestly wants you to join in on the
fun. The gentle shots at shoujo clichés are icing on the cake.
Ari Ozawa’s performance as our main heroine Chiyo (that’s her in the
orange there) deserves special mention. Ozawa put in a lot of voice
acting legwork to keep the fast-paced bits hanging together, often
moving from starry-eyed fascination to illusion-free sarcasm in the span
of a line or two, and the results speak for themselves. It’s these
unpredictable turns from her and the other cast members that keep the
show so consistently fresh.
Monogatari Series turned in another pair of solid entries last year.
I’ve long given up on being able to judge the franchise on objective
merits alone, but if you’re anything like me, Hanamonogatari and
Tsukimonogatari are still the old friends you’ve come to cherish.
Shirobako and April Is Your Lie, two shows that started in 2014, but
won’t end until this spring, are sitting pretty on my current list for
2015. Watch this space.
This minor version adds HTML access keys for certain links and support
apple-touch-icon used for iOS bookmark and home screen icons.
I’m a Tumblr theme developer. I have various bug reports and feature
requests that I’d like to send in, not least regarding my continued
inability to edit my theme’s
official venue for discussion of the theme API is a Google
Group that has been dead
for months, and was rarely trafficked by Tumblr devs even before it
died. So, readers: Do I have any recourse for getting things fixed,
beyond complaining a
lot and hoping someone
After eight months of sitting dormant in a pre-release branch, here’s a
brand-new major version of Dichotomy – major because it makes a couple
of backwards-incompatible changes to custom settings. Sorry! I’m trying
to keep those to a minimum for future releases.
But enough about that. Let’s talk about the new features instead! They
include support for avatars (finally) and using profile header images as
backgrounds, streamlined desktop layout options, updates to Google
Analytics code, and a few tiny fixes here and there.
Version 4.0 will be available on the Tumblr Theme Garden shortly – at
least I hope so. As usual, if you have any problems, drop me a message
on Tumblr or report an issue on
2014 anime, the less-bulleted edition, part 1
Here are some more words on things I liked from the year just gone by.
Last time, I remarked that
nobody reads long posts. I’m getting around that this go-round by
splitting this one up into two parts. Ha-ha!
I won’t deny that Golden Time doesn’t make that great of a first
impression. The premise of the romance drama reads like a gimmick, what
with the main character having amnesia, and the first few episodes stick
more or less to the fish-out-of-water formula. If I’d seen Toradora!
earlier, too, hearing that both series shared an original author, Yuyuko
Takemiya, would have set off more alarm bells in my head. It’s a good
thing that didn’t happen, though, because Golden Time is one of the
better entries in the genre to come around in a while, taking full
advantage of its emotionally fraught setting to draw out memorable
performances from Yui Horie and Ai Kayano. And hey, it’s good to have a
show in this genre where the cast are all more or less adults for a
change. Well, college students. Close enough.
I already wrote quite a bit about the theatrical sequel to the original
Madoka TV series in a spoiler-filled
review back in May. For those
of you who don’t want to have the movie ruined, though, or just don’t
like reading too much, here’s a summary: stunning animation, a
spellbinding score by Yuki Kajiura, and tremendous writing out of Gen
Urobuchi – the last of which is all the more impressive given that the
ending of the original series didn’t leave much apparent room for a
sequel. (If only Psycho-Pass
2 had been in similarly
Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s new films
The inimitable filmmaker behind Time of Eve struck again twice last
year, and lo, it was good. Patema Inverted was easily the bigger of
the two efforts, and it shows in the scale of the world that Yoshiura
builds in the film, a (kinda) half-underground half-dystopia that is
wholly impressive. The extroverted nature of action adventure isn’t
quite to the usually more introspective Yoshiura’s talents – the lead
antagonist is nothing if not cartoonish in his villainy – but what
separates Patema from, say, Makoto Shinkai’s venture into similar
territory with his Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below is
that Patema holds on to a genuine sense of awe and wonder. It’s a
great all-ages film, on top of all that.
Flying further under the radar was Harmonie, a thirty-minute short
produced for 2014’s Anime Mirai. A concise love story, Harmonie plays
more to Yoshiura’s traditional strengths while displaying an atypical,
but well-executed, sentimentality. If nothing else, it has one of the
more ingenious twists I’ve seen on the old trope of fated encounters.
Stay tuned for part two. Or don’t. Your loss.
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