Category Archives: Currently Watching

Arslan Senki Episode 14

Episode 14 Production Details

Episode Director: Koji Aritomi [Assistant Director on Princess Mononoke / Episode Director for Kill la Kill’s episode 8 / Assistant Animation Director on Patlabor WXIII]

Storyboards: Takashi Yamazaki [storyboard writer for Shokugeki no Soma‘s episode 6 / key animator for Yu Yu Hakusho‘s episode 79]

Script: Makoto Uezu ( Script on D-Frag! episodes 1, 3, 4, 8 and 12 / Series Composition on Akame ga Kill! / Script on Arslan Senki episodes 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 13, 17, 24 and 25)


The animation took a drop in quality this time around. Lots of CG Animation.  And if I’ve mentioned before the CG is awkward in Arslan Senki.  It doesn’t fit and in the first few episodes had used the same character models for its Persian soldiers. When this aired the previous week took a break–giving us a recap episode of the story so far.

This new episode features a new dynamic with the addition of a new opening and ending sequence. Previously we learned that Sindhuran Prince Rajendra is an opportunist. In order to put himself in a good position as a general and eventual claim to the throne of the country he takes advantage of the chaos within Pars.  He’s fearless and bold, however, this episode quickly points to the notion that he’s a bit of a fool.  Going after Arslan and not noticing Narsus’ suspicions makes light of this.  It also foreshadows the ending of this episode as well.  Not to mention his own general seeing this mistake will be a downfall for Rajendra.

Cleverly, it isn’t until now that we see Arslan viewed as a symbol of the rebirth of Pars instead of a military commander. I really like how Narsus spins the 10,000 Peshawar army to Arslan’s advantage. Splitting their forces, creating a ploy using Gadevi’s men by using the terrain to create a pincer attack around the enemy. Ultimately trapping Rajendra in a situation that forces the two in an alliance and by the end seals the deal using alcohol and blackmail.

The introduction of Gadvei’s spy here also proves Narsus talents as a strategic advisor as he even sees this alliance opportunity with Rajendra too enticing to pass up.


OP: “Uzu to Uzu” (渦と渦) by NICO Touches the Walls

 

Directed by: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Storyboards: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Such a better song to use!  I like how subtle the movements are in the animation until it builds up into the chorus and action sequences!  Mitsumura Tamura’s voice has an amazing range! Overall it does a great job in depoicting the large cast this anime has shown us so far!

ED: “One Light” by Kalafina

 

Directed by: Naomi Nakayama

Storyboards: Naomi Nakayama

Not as good as the first ending but still pretty decent.  It’s emotionally inviting using Kalafina’s popular orchestra mixed with a slight edgy rock sound.  Only issue though is that it sounds like your generic Kalafina song.  It has a similar visual feel to it (Nakayama directed the first ending too!) that the cast is progressing on a grand adventure to reclaim the country.

Animator Spotlight:

Satoshi Kimura

[Previous Works Include)

  • Terra Formars character designer

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 8

Episode 8 Production Details

Episode Director: Ikuro Sato ( Director on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s Second Ending Sequence and Third Opening Sequence / Director on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Director on No. 6‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Captain Earth‘s First Ending Sequence / Episode Director on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 14 and 23 / Episode Director on Space Dandy episode 4 / Episode Director on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 5 and 11 / Episode Director on Soul Eater episodes 4, 8, 18, 24, 31, 40, 41, 48 and 51 [alongside Takuya Igarashi)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Miyao Yoshikazu (Series Director on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken / Storyboard on Soul Eater NOT!‘s First Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Sakura Trick episode 9 / Storyboard on Haikyuu! 12 / Storyboard on Magi: The Kingdom of Magic episode 6)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


How is it possible that this show keeps getting better every episode?!  This episode turns back to its genuine comedy from when the series began by using Zapp as the butt of every joke.  Especially when it comes to seeing Chain interact with him!  The chemistry between the two of them is pure gold!  There’s some obvious relationship tension there, with jealousy biting from both sides.  Zapp fending off against a Blood Breed was only a teaser for part two in the next episode!  Incredibly detailed fight scenes coupled with Zapp’s Master (Raju Jugei Shizuyoshi) makes for some solid character development.

Jugei’s appearance is somewhat ghastly, having lost limbs at some point in time, his choice of words to Zapp that he doesn’t care if he lost limbs speaks a lot about how serious this master really is and how little he cares for Zapp as a person and more as his best disciple. Much like Space Dandy did in building the world to its audience Kekkai Sensen highlights the supernatural aspect of this series by introducing a diverse cast of side-characters that become a bridge in further explaining the main casts’ personalities and endeavors!  This especially works with a 1-cour series like this one!  Fat Zapp was some sight to see!

What makes this episode particularly amazing is how this was just a small bit of fun added to this episode–the main treat ends up being about White and Black.  Their real names are revealed (Mary and William) and we finally get an explanation behind the mystic aura surrounding these two siblings.  They never had their powers to begin with.  Which if you recall from the first episode is similar to Leonardo’s situation with his all-seeing eye and his sister.

What the creators did here was very smart–they showed us Zapp’s day to day life and framed it inside Black’s backstory of how he became the King of Despair. Which also explains his ties to the King of Depravity, Femt.  The significance of seeing his watch all throughout this episode seemed to illustrate that Despair can only control William’s body for a short amount of time.  Especially since at the end of this episode we see the King of Despair in a mirror image talking to Black and then taking over his body.  The blue-hued past sequence was animated nicely.  If I hadn’t been reading the manga I wouldn’t have guessed that he was an anime-only character as he’s so well-developed and fits right into the cast exceptionally well!

Another amazing episode of Kekkai Sensen!  I hope Matsumoto makes another season of this because this has been a fun ride!  I believe to be one of the best parts about this show is that it doesn’t spoon-feed the story to you.

Animator Spotlight:

Yutaka Nakamura

[Previous Works Include]

  • Soul Eater episode 11 (Key Animator)
  • Soul Eater Fight Sequence during Second Opening (Key Animator)
  • Cowboy Bebop The Movie – Spike Spiegel’s fight scene in the train with Vincent (Key Animator)

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Yuki Hayashi

[Previous Works Include]

  • Toriko episode 6 [Key Animator]
  • Summer Wars film – creature fight sequence inside virtual reality space.
  • Kurage no Shokudou OVA – running sequence where the camera pans backwards revealing a wide shot of night time against the ocean and very fluid character acting scenes through the water.

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 7

Episode 7 Production Details

Episode Director: Ikuro Sato ( Director on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s Second Ending Sequence and Third Opening Sequence / Director on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Director on No. 6‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Captain Earth‘s First Ending Sequence / Episode Director on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 14 and 23 / Episode Director on Space Dandy episode 4 / Episode Director on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 5 and 11 / Episode Director on Soul Eater episodes 4, 8, 18, 24, 31, 40, 41, 48 and 51 [alongside Takuya Igarashi)

Storyboards: 

  • Yoshikazu Miyao ( Storyboard on Soul Eater Not! Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Pocket Monsters XY film / Storyboard on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 7 / Storyboard on Sakura Trick episode 9 / Storyboard on Haikyuu!! episode 12)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


This has got to be one of the best anime original subplots I have ever seen. It’s obvious with this episode how interconnected the Black and White plot is to the main story.  Black’s friendliness is a bit off-key compared to his moments with Femt–something is off about the guy. Either he has a split personality or he’s putting on an act in front of his sister, White and Leonardo Watch.  The references don’t let up either.  I mentioned in a previous post about Empire of Corpses throwing references in just for dramatic appeal but this show uses them in the background to develop the large cast better than before!

Leonardo confides to Black the nickname given–Tortoise Knight. A reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ main character Leonardo. This ties together nicely with Kekkai Sensen‘s love affair for American pop culture. Then we’ve got the other section of the story taking form–Klaus.  Zapp’s feeble attempts at gaining the upperhand against Libra’s leader is downright amusing and reflects both of their personalities extremely well.  The fight between Klaus and Ozmaldo is a brilliant idea to build up how Zapp is going to finally defeat Klaus.  We also get a few tidbits of information that Ozmaldo was taken over by a dead Elder and even when Zapp didn’t know about that gives a bit more depth to Libra’s fight against the unknown wonderfully.  I like how the dead Elder that pops out of Ozmaldo’s head looks strikingly similar to that of Deldro Brody’s appearance.

After seven episodes the story isn’t set into stone yet but I have to admit this has been an entertaining and visually freakish series. I only say this because of the ridiculous actions going on in the backgrounds of Kekkai Sensen–the diner scene of this episode.  What a ride this has been!  Glad to see this series has a solid director with Rie Matsumoto at the helm to maintain this style throughout every episode!

Was that announcer the talking toaster from Space Dandy episode 13?!  I’d like to think so!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 6

Episode 6 Production Details

Episode Director: Tomoyuki Kurokawa ( Director and Storyboard on Seikoku no Dragonar Ending Sequence / Director on Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou The Last Song Opening Sequence / Storyboard and Episode Director on Un-Go episode 8 / Assistant Director on Naruto Shippuuden episodes 290 and 293 / Episode Director on Seikoku no Dragonar episodes 1, 5, 8, 9 and 12 / Episode Director on Baby Steps episodes 15 and 24 / Storyboard on Kuroko no Basket episode 20)

Storyboards: Kenji Nagasaki (Episode Director and Storyboard on Monster episodes 14 and 45 / Storyboard on Robotics;Notes episode 5 / Storyboard on No. 6 Ending Sequence / Director and Storyboard on No. 6 Opening Sequence / Director and Storyboard on Zetsuen no Tempest Second Opening Sequence)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


Kekkai Sensen is a unique style of storytelling.  In the same way that Space Dandy told its collection of stories on different planets and aliens this one chooses aliens as an outlet for entertainment.  And a wild one at that!  This series just keeps getting better and better every episode!

This time around Leonardo befriends Nej – Amagranoff Luozontam Ouv Lee Nej.  Wow that is some name!  A mushroom alien with a love for hamburgers and not just any burgers.  Jack & Rockets’ burgers.  This anime, like Space Dandy, did with its creative humor doesn’t shy away from amalgams and in this episode we see that the popular restaurant chain is a combination of U.S. company’s Jack in the Box and Johnny Rockets.  This is a good way to tie in previous episodes with Leonardo and Zapp eating hamburgers giving us a familiar look at a setting and putting a different spin on it.  This episode held a very different tone than previous ones.  Leonardo’s friendship with Nej is heartwarming and this illustrates our main character’s personality and characteristics firmly to the story.  He’s a good guy with an intolerance for injustice.  Even if that injustice stems from the smallest of actions.  Small actions lead to larger consequences and Kekkai Sensen narrative is a first of its kind to show us how these aliens experience discrimination.

At first, Nej is run over by two Jack & Rockets’ drivers but as the events unfold his situation only becomes more grim.  Things seem to settle down when the two decide to give him a bag of hamburgers for the trouble but when they encounter him again is where things take a turn for the worst.  One of the drivers, Roger, beats Nej in brutal fashion in order to cover up their accident.  Martin wearing a mask reveals Nej’s hidden ability–when he becomes stressed he turns red, loses spores resulting in an amnesia event for anyone around him.

The second beating of Nej turns out to be disturbing visually.  Illustrating a dark side to humans in this fictional New York.  People that hate aliens just because they do. And at this point has Martin (the other driver) desiring this amnesia power Nej holds.

The aftermath has a Space Dandy style written all over it–ridiculous yet relatable.  Leo’s friendship with Nej shows the care he has for others.  He’s in some ways carefree even though just about every episode he’s attacked by Zapp or other episodic villains.

After Leo and Nej are kidnapped and Nej is beaten up (for a second time), he explodes again showing us a recurring storyline until we get to the final few minutes of the episode where more of the main story unfolds.  This was a fantastic episode full of feels!  There is also the Trigun reference “Love and Peace” from White towards the beginning of this episode speaks levels about Leo’s relentless compassion!

The music score in this was amazing!

Animator Spotlight: 

Takashi Hashimoto

Style: CGI, Mecha animation, smearing animation motion, Smoke effects and liquid effects.

[Previous Works Include]

  • Kyousogiga Episode 0 [Key Animator]
  • Mononoke Episode 12 [Key Animator on Close up cat sequence during the Bakeneko Arc]
  • Casshern SINS Episode 7 [Key Animator on tower building crashing down]
  • Bastard!! Episode 3 [Key Animator on fight sequence especially his work during the demon morphing scene]
  • Gatchaman CROWDS Opening Sequence [Key Animator on the final segment before episode starts up in Part A]
  • Kemonozume Episode 13 [Key Animator on fight sequence between Yuka and Toshihiko right after the Opening Sequence]

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Arslan Senki Episode 13

Episode 13 Production Details

Episode Director: Takashi Yamazaki [Also credited as Takayuki Tanaka, as a pen-name] ( Key Animator on Yu Yu Hakusho episode 79 / Storyboard alongside Masami Shimoda & Takuya Sato on Selector Infected Wixoss episode 11 / Episode Director on FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episode 23 / Episode Director on Shokugeki no Soma episodes 16, 20 and 21)

Storyboards: Takashi Yamazaki

Script: Makoto Uezu ( Script on D-Frag! episodes 1, 3, 4, 8 and 12 / Series Composition on Akame ga Kill! / Script on Arslan Senki episodes 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 13, 17, 24 and 25)


I cannot believe it has been since November that I last discussed this anime series.  Amazing how time flies and I’m glad to be getting back into re-watching this show.  After this episode there was a recap for the next week when it aired.

Finally!  We’re at Peshawar, the last outpost of the Pars Empire for everyone’s journey.  With the return of Narsus and the young girl he saved, Alfried presents to us a new theme in this series in more ways than one.  Respect and how it can be earned.  Narsus was once well-respected within the Pars army even by its King for his unparalleled abilities as a tactician. Elam’s comical banter with Alfried in this episode illustrates how this group is going to become stronger as time goes on but that its bound by the loyalties of two men–Narsus and Arslan.  Narsus gained the respect of Daryun a long time ago and and while he has his duties as a knight to be a shield for Arslan, Narsus is becoming the strength the young prince needs.

This episode even points this out with Kishward’s arrival and it solidifies Arslan’s principles to rebuild the entire social structure from the ground up.  Quickly we see that Arslan has shown potential to be an honest King when he says that “If we don’t make the new kingdom a better place, there’s no point in fighting for it”.  This statement alone sums up nicely his rationale of thinking!  Exactly the opposite of what Hermes’ goal is–he doesn’t care how the country ends up just that he rules it out of revenge of the King of Pars for stealing everything from him.  Which is why he’s going after Arslan and anyone related to the family.  Bahman being reintroduced here brings up what had troubled him when he was first introduced–Arslan’s origins.  When Hermes sneaks into Peshawar to confront Arslan is right where Bahman’s role is somewhat similar to Vahriz was to Arslan.

I really like how we actually get to see a flashback of a young Hermes training with Bahman.  Having built up rage inside of him and incredible swordsmanship we get a brave yet terrified view of Arslan–realistic for a 14-year old boy to act in life or death situation.  Unfortunately though Hermes’ over-exaggerated performance is his undoing when Arslan aims the torch towards him depicting he has a fear of fire due to his past.  Seeing Narsus, Daryun, Falangies and Kishward come in to save the day was rewarding.  Simply because this series’ past couple of episodes has been about gaining the trust of companions and Bahman getting killed at the hands of Hermes enhances this incredibly well! Fantastic episode!

It’s a shame that the animation by LIDEN FILMS and Sanzigen is extremely thick and heavy in this show. It doesn’t work too well. Those fight scenes could have been more fluid than what we got and there were many times that the character models were not completely drawn in.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 12 [END]

Episode 12 Production Details

Episode Director: Toshimasa Ishii ( Episode Director on Nanatsu no Taizai episodes 6, 14 and 24 / Episode Director and Storyboard on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso episode 18)

Storyboards: Toshimasa Ishii

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


Originally, Tomohiko Ito had been wanting to do an anime for Boku Dake ga Inai Machi ever since he started reading the manga.  As for Kei Sanbe, Boku Machi‘s original creator, he grew up reading Ranpo Edogawa’s Boy Detectives Club Series which make sense as to why Kenya’s surname is Kobayashi.  Referring to Yoshio Kobayashi, the leader of the Boy Detectives Club and lives with who we know of from last year’s Game of Laplace Kogoro Akechi.  Love seeing how influential series can be for other artists and mangaka to add in small tributes to other works!  Speaking of other works, I wonder if anyone caught the Guilty Crown reference on the poster of Satoru’s anime poster in the epilogue.  Plus there’s a poster of Senkō no Night Raid and Seikimatsu Okaruto Gakuin both are A-1 Pictures titles with Seikimatsu directed by Tomohiko Ito!

As for this episode I believe this is a prime example of how an ending can completely change one’s perception of a series.  Either you really like this series or you don’t.

Honestly, I didn’t really have many problems with how this episode turned out.  If you think about it they did the best job they could with only 12 episodes to work with.

The fact that there can’t be much of a confrontation if you consider the state Satoru is in from his coma allows for the mystery aspect of this series to work in a solid manner.  All in all, I like how realistic it is.   There were a lot of assumptions made on Satoru’s part from what would guarantee that Gaku would push him off the roof, saving Kumi, how did Kenya and the others even know that they needed to save her from the poison?  But when push comes to shove illustrates how much of a coward Gaku is.  Relying on Satoru’s survival because it’s the game of chase that gave him a thrill of a lifetime.

Going into this series I started reading the manga alongside to find differences.  These past two episodes were vastly different in general setting and content especially with how Satoru’s confrontation is with Gaku Yashiro.  The manga builds the scene up by moving forward a few years later–giving Satoru a chance to recover and for the author Sanbe to further develop the ill Kumi into a deeper role.  The anime barely touches on her friendship with Satoru but I felt that this was much better because it sticks with what director Tomohiko Ito originally wanted–a human drama between school children.  And that’s exactly what we received! Kids that have turned into adults catching up on lost time so to speak!

Overall though I’d say that the presentation of this was nicely done.  Satoru beats Gaku because he’s held on to his connection with others.  At the start of this series, Satoru was very much a loner, his revival ability has changed that for him as Boku Machi progresses through its narrative.  It’s an ultimate test to what they shared over the course of this series as teacher and student trying to resolve a classmate’s home life. A satisfying ending. The later half of this episode is very much where Boku Dake ga Inai Machi shines.  It’s genuinely affectionate moments in framing the best times of childhood that deliver solid dramatic scenes that feel painfully sincere even when you become an adult.

While many people may be upset by this ending due to its quick pacing or how little detail there had been throughout this series on Satoru’s revivals. Why do they occur?  What caused them in the first place?  That’s not what Boku Machi is about.  It’s about how he’s fixed his future for the better and not just his.  The epilogue is a nice view of how everyone has been living out their lives without Satoru around and what an ending it was!  Glad to see that the kids, now as adults, get together at a restaurant and catch up on old times!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 11

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Episode 11 Production Details

Episode Director: Makoto Hoshino ( Episode Director on Sword Art Online episodes 7 and 20 / Episode Director on Sword Art Online II episode 10 / Storyboard on Rail Wars! episodes 2 and 4)

Storyboards: Shinpei Ezaki ( Director on Sengoku Basara Ni‘s Opening Sequence / Storyboard, Director and Producer on Guilty Crown OVA Lost Christmas / Episode Director on Kimi no Todoke episodes 8, 18 and 24 (alongside Norhihiro Naganuma) / Storyboard alongside Tsuyoshi Yoshioka and Tomoki Kyoda on Eureka Seven AO episode 13)

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


I was very shocked that Gaku Yashiro’s backstory would be the part they would cut out. His interest or ‘spice’ as he calls it and referring to Satoru as his new ‘spice’ makes sense in giving anime-viewers an understanding of his spider’s string that he sees from his victims and his appreciate for Satoru’s deduction.

Very creative to omit Satoru from every scene of the opening sequence! Love how this brings mystery to those that don’t know what happens to him.

We are in a new timeline, 2003 with a large change in character dynamics and narrative. This episode focuses on Satoru regaining his now scrambled up memory rather than having a long set of intense moments building up to an ending cliffhanger.  I really like how the creators decided on using his child’s voice as his inner monologue. A small detail that illustrates how he hasn’t truly grown up in his mind yet. Satoru saved the lives of Hiromi Sugita, Aya Nakanishi and Kayo Hinazuki at the cost of losing 15 years of his life.

When I read that the director would be following the manga’s ending I was ecstatic to finally see how they would animate all this content in 12 episodes.  I guess I was wrong.  As there were a ton of instances this episode diverged from the manga.

The opening is nice because we get to see how determined Sachiko is at reuniting with her son.  She truly is the best mom ever!  Reuniting with Kenya and Hiromi but most importantly the scene that will probably upset a lot of anime fans of this show.  Kayo Hinazuki is married to Hiromi and has a baby.  Boku Machi built up relentless attempts to ensure the audience believes that Satoru’s relationship with Kayo would become much more than just friends.  Airi was the initial love interest of this series and I feel that this series including the manga is trying to come full circle to that.  It’s a nice way to establish closure between Satoru and Kayo as they’re older.  Catching up on lost time so to speak. The last time we saw Hinazuki she was staying with a relative and hadn’t been at Satoru’s school since her mother’s situation had been taken over by Social Services.  This was a huge change from the manga as she’s in just about every scene during the Aya Nakanishi arc in the manga.  The impact is what makes this episode strong.  Seeing Kayo after so long reminds him that he saved her and was able to give her a life that makes her happy.  The tears he has during that scene visually intensifies this.

There are issues I have with this episode however.  While the Satoru and Kayo segment is neatly wrapped up.  The story goes back into the mystery of this show at full force. Perhaps too fast actually.  At the end of this we’re seeing a final confrontation between Yashiro and Satoru on the rooftop of the hospital.  I felt this was somewhat anti-climatic because he is sticking around the hospital waiting for the right time to catch his spice, Satoru.  All the pieces of the puzzle regarding the killer fall into place so conveniently this time around.

It was nice to see Sachiko remember the train to Ueno that Satoru had mentioned back around episode 2.

An ending can make or break a series I just hope this one doesn’t disappoint considering how much they’ve cut out and altered.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10

 

Kiznaiver Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

PLOT: The story takes place in a fictional Japanese city named Sugomori City. One day, Noriko Sonosaki tells her classmate Katsuhira Agata, “You have been selected to be a Kiznaiver.” The Kizuna System, which allows Katsuhira to share his wounds, connects him to the classmates whose lives and personalities completely differ from his.

The Kizuna System is an incomplete system for the implementation of world peace that connects people through wounds. All those who are connected to this system are called Kiznaivers. When one Kiznaiver is wounded, the system divides and transmits the wound among the other Kiznaivers. Sugomori City is built on reclaimed land, but as the years go by, the city’s population is decreasing. The story is set in this town where Katsuhira and the others live. ~ANN


Animation Production: Studio TRIGGER ( Inferno CopLittle Witch AcademiaKill la KillInō-Batoru wa Nichijō-kei no Naka deNinja Slayer From AnimationSpace Patrol Luluco)

Director: Hiroshi Kobayashi ( Storyboard and Episode Director on Yozakura Quartet: Hoshi no Umi / Storyboard and Episode Director on Kill la Kill episodes 5 and 18 / Key Animator on Kill la Kill episode 23 / Storyboard on Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis / Storyboard on PSYCHO-PASS 2 episode 9 / Storyboard on Death Parade episode 9 / Director and Storyboard on Yozakura Quartet: Hoshi no Umi and Hana no Uta Ending Sequences)

Series Composition: Mari Okada ( Script Writer on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 1, 2, 4, 7, 17, 18, 23 and 24 / Series Composition on Selector Infected Wixoss / Series Composition on Zetsuen no Tempest / Script Writer on Rurouni Kenshin OVA’s 6 and 7)

Character Designer: Mai Yoneyama ( Chief Animation Supervisor on Kiznaiver / Key Animator on Punch Line Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Kill la Kill Second Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Shinsekai Yori episodes 1 and 25 / Key Animator on Death Parade episode 6 / Key Animator on BLEACH episode 341 / Assistant Chief Supervisor on Kill la Kill episode 13)

Music: Yuuki Hayashi ( Music Composer on Blood LadClassroom Crisis, Death ParadeHaikyu!!Boku no AcademiaRobotics;NotesSoul Eater Not!)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Yoshihiro Miyajima ( Production Advancement Role on Kill la Kill episodes 3, 7, 16 and 22 / Production Advancement Assistant under Studio TRIGGER on Patema Inverted film / Production Advancement on Sword Art Online episode 8 / Episode Director on Inō-Battle wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de (When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace) episodes 2, 7 and 11)

Storyboards: 

  • Hiroshi Kobayashi ( Director and Storyboard on Yozakura Quartet: Hoshi no Umi and Hana no Uta‘s Ending Sequences / Storyboard and Episode Director on Kill la Kill episodes 5 and 18 / Storyboard alongside Shoko Nakamura on Kill la Kill episode 22 / Storyboard on Noragami episode 5 / Storyboard on Punch Line episode 6)
  • Kazumasa Ishida ( Key Animator on Vividred Operation episode 4 / Key Animator on Kill la Kill episodes 4, 5, 11, 14, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23 and 24 / Key Animator on Terra Formars episode 5 / Key Animator on Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider episode 3)

Script: Mari Okada ( Script Writer on Rurouni Kenshin OVA’s 6 and 7 / Series Composition on Selector Infected Wixoss / Series Composition on Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans / Series Composition on Mayoiga / Series Composition on Zetsuen no Tempest)


Studio TRIGGER was first established in 2011 by Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka shortly after they left Gainax.  I bet you all have heard Imaishi’s name before.  His directorial debut came from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann one of the most popular series of the 2000’s.  Fast Forward a bit to 2013 when TRIGGER began their first two full-fledged animated work in the Fall 2013 season with Kill la Kill and Inō-Batoru wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de.  Kill la Kill was brilliant as it used a societal structure focused on fashion and ended up being entertaining and highly sexualized.  The other show they aired was an adaptation of Kota Nozomi’s light novel of the same name.  Following in Gainax-esque style and in line with Kill la Kill it has the marks of cartoonish and comedic character animation with many scenes in stilted frames. There are many references and even cameos of characters from Kill la Kill in the show that just remind us that TRIGGER isn’t about pretty.  They’re an animation studio with a whole lot of wacky artist charm.  This season we actually have two series airing that are being produced by TRIGGER.  The first one is an animated short entitled Space Patrol Luluco, which I will discuss later in another post.  The other is Kiznaiver.  An original work in both animated format and manga launching at the same time.  From the visuals, Kiznaiver is far from what Ninja Slayer was last year–it looks entirely normal!  At least that’s what the first episode is making us believe right now!  Immediately I was interested in how different the staff is for this show.  First time that Mari Okada is writing a script for a TRIGGER series and it looks like Kobayashi Hiroshi got a promotion because this is the first time he’s lead director on an anime!  He previously storyboarded some pretty incredible episodes including Death Parade‘s episode 9 about two men with secrets challenging each other at ice hockey.  I’m eager to see what Hiroshi has in store for future productions!  Then there’s Death Parade and this season’s Boku no Hero Academia composer Yuki Hayashi composing Kiznaiver‘s score.  This first episode was one of the more unique premieres that I’ve seen so far this season.

Smart move to start this show up with a known face from TRIGGER and Gainax– Yoshinari Yoh.  His style stems from using very expressive morphing effects and running animation.  The backgrounds during this part remind me a lot of the flashback scenes of Kill la Kill lots of red and black with a heavy amount of grain.  This looks very cool in 4K.  This episode’s pacing is mellow.  My first thought was this is a TRIGGER series so where is all of the rapid-fire humor and highly animated energy?  There’s a few running sequences that are animated with tons of movement involved but they aren’t as wild as Kill La Kill or Panty & Stocking‘s.  The scenes that do have them in Kiznaiver are animated by another TRIGGER employee– Kai Ikarashi.  And then I remembered that Hiroyuki Imaishi’s complete attention is on TRIGGER’s other show Space Patrol Luluco.  It’s good to see him passing off the reins to someone else for a change.  I’m curious how Kiznaiver is going to turn out without him or if he will develop anything for this show at all.

The narrative of this episode focuses on high-school student Agata Katsuhira and his connection with others.  Even though he is literally numb to pain.  He’s been getting beaten up by classmates all his life–the typical setup of a high-school boy gaining mysterious powers through tragedy.  Why did TRIGGER decide on high-schoolers for this show?  It would have been more interesting if they were from completely different age groups.  Putting my gripes aside about this Agata is very different compared to the other Kiznaivers.  He’s a wimp and that leaves a lot of development for him in the future.  During his conversations with Chidori Takashiro and Hajime Tenga you might notice he’s a total introvert.  It isn’t until he meets Noriko Sonozaki that he shows off some personality.  Noriko abducts Agata, Niko Niiyama, Chidori, Maki Honoka, Tsuguhito Yuta and Hajime Tenga. Stumbling over his words and showing a timid side illustrates how beaten down he is by Noriko mentally.  As little as we see of the rest of the Kiznaiver cast when they’re on screen together we get a glimpse of how quirky and interesting their personalities are.  Leading to an incredibly animated scene cut, possibly 3d rendering was involved in it?

Kiznaiver is full of philosophical themes.  The idea of empathy about sharing each other’s pain to reduce conflict throughout the world is fascinating but what surprises me the most about Kiznaiver‘s premiere is how the pacing is. We get a slice of life story in the beginning that throws at us an overused trope–kids are cruel.  At least it that’s what we’re led to believe until we see that Agata can feel no pain.  Turning him into a sacrificial person without a connection until towards the end of this episode.

Moving onto the next philosophical motif we’ve got the ending phrase that’s been used throughout this episode– “One for all, all for one”.

Derived from the Latin phrase “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno” it was suggest that it was first popularized in in Alexandre Duma’s “The Three Musketeers” and not long after became the official motto of Switzerland.  In the late 1800’s Switzerland officials used the phrase to evoke a sense of duty due to widespread flooding in the alps to promote charity work and earn donations.  In general the term refers to a group against all attacks upon the group being that if a sacrifice is made to protect the group it would become a noble act.  There is speculation as to where exactly this phrase came from as it appears in a lot of works and original stories.  This term is also seen in the Bible.

Corinthians 12:26: If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

It’s this idea that brands Kiznaiver‘s cast with allegorical themes for the sake of developing them throughout future episodes.  I like how little we learn about the other high schoolers but what we do know is through their actions. Hajime Tenga tries to feel up Niko Niiyama resulting in their first encounter with the Kizuna that’s been injected into them. I feel we will begin to see some similarities between them as they learn how to cope with the Kizuna System.


OP: “LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME” by BOOM BOOM SATELLITES

Directed by: Takaashi Horiuchi

Storyboards: Horiuchi Takashi

Animation Supervisor: Mai Yoneyama

Notable Key Animator: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Oh..there he is!  Hiroyuki Imaishi lent his creative talents to the opening sequence.  Now I can see where his spastic style comes in at the very beginning with that visualizer scene!  This is such an incredible opening sequence! Everything flows together so smoothly.  Did the do a ton of 3D rendering for this series including its opening sequence?!  If so this looks visually stunning.  Boom Boom Satellites new song translates strongly into what the series reflects upon with pain and this idea that people can be connected to each other through it. One of my favorite openings of Spring 2016!

ED: Hajimari no Sokudo (はじまりの速度)” by Sangatsu no Phantasia

Directed by: Yuki Watanabe

Storyboards: Yuki Watanabe

Animation Supervisor: Yuki Watanabe

Notable Key Animator: Mai Yoneyama

This ending isn’t as amazing as its opening but its still good in my book.  Bright panel scenes of the characters mixed with still shots.  I like how there is a slight grain and blurry effect to emphasize that there is going to be a a social aspect to this series than just the Kizuna System.  Is it just me or does the song and the style of the visuals feel like the entire sequence was done by Takuya Igarashi of STAR DRIVER and Captain Earth? I get that vibe when I see this ending.  Interesting how the male characters aren’t shown but Agata is only depicted with actions of his hands and feet. The flowers seem to represent a loss or forgiveness of feeling one’s pain.

I’m trying something new with these posts featuring animated sequences. Hope you all enjoy this! I did a few with ONE-PUNCH MAN Episode 3.

Animator Spotlight:

Kai Ikarashi

[Previous Works Include)

  • Terra Formars episode 5 (Key Animator)
  • ONE-PUNCH MAN episode 7 (Key Animator)

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Sushio

[Previous Works Include]

  • Mushishi episode 16 (Key Animator)
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann episode 7 (Key Animator)

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 10

Episode 10 Production Details

Episode Director: Takahiro Shikama ( Key Animator on STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto episodes 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 12, 23 and 25 / Layout Animation Supervisor on STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto Opening Sequence’s 1 and 2 / Key Animator on Garo: Honoo no Kokuin episode 18 / Action Animation Supervisor and Storyboard on Sword Art Online episode 2 / Episode Director on Sword Art Online episode 20 / Key Animator on Zankyou no Terror episodes 1, 3, 7 and 11)

Storyboards: Takahiro Shikama

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


 

Contrary to a lot of what manga readers felt about this huge episode, I didn’t hate this.  I really enjoyed it. Up until now I’ve gotten used to the visual appeal this show runs with–the color red means imminent danger (we see a lot of in the car segment), sound effects and Kajiura’s music score raise the bar in building dramatic tension.  Now I can see why Tomohiko Ito didn’t want to direct the big reveal episode.  I feel that his focus was somewhat different than Kei Sanbe’s.  Boku Machi has been leading us on this trail in trying to discover whom the killer might be from his 2006 timeline and the three missing children’s abductor.  It was a bold move for this show to cut out a lot but every episode I’ve enjoyed immensely.  Tomohiko Ito’s intentions were to get across the relationship between Satoru and Kayo–mostly that their relationship as adorable as it has been would wind up being the framework for this series rather than a full-fledged mystery anime.  It works in many ways as an solid drama piece focused on children.  IF they wanted to faithfully adapt this manga this show seriously needed another cour or at least another 4 episodes.  This is what happens when you try to adapt a 45-chapter manga into 12 episodes.  Previously there have been scenes trimmed down for the sake of time and with it comes episodes that will by the end of this series result in rushed pacing.  The problem was fixed quickly (with small changes along the way like replacing Kayo with Hiromi talking to Gaku) and the only major difference here is that Kayo doesn’t come back to school—she stays with her aunt. This makes a huge impact and bears importance of the previous episode’s main story– getting Protective Child Services to act on Kayo’s mother finally freeing her from all the torment she has caused in her life.

Satoru is aware that taking away the targets doesn’t solve the issue he has to pick up all the pieces he has done in previous timelines to understand that there’s a brand new target for the killer.  One thing is certain though.  He hasn’t lost his resolve.  After saving Kayo, ensuring Hiromi Sugita is safe with Kenya and now gets Aya Nakanishi, whose story was a few chapters long in the manga is saved by joining their hideout in under a few minutes. Trimming of the manga was necessary for the 2nd half of this episode to come off smoothly.

Satoru notices Misato, the girl who caused all the ruckus in an earlier episode about Kayo stealing is the girl left alone and the perfect target.  The setup is nicely woven in to this because there is lots of foreshadow with two particularly big scenes—Satoru saying goodbye to his mother as he leaves for school.  The long wide-panning shot of him leaving and waving goodbye represents this.  They could’ve left it out because it’s making Satoru’s situation more obvious he won’t make it out alive.  “See you” has been a catchphrase of the series throughout—but now it’s too obvious and perhaps a little to late to show the relevance in it.  That scene with Kenya and the others mentioning how they’d see him tomorrow pushes the fact that he definitely won’t make it to the next day with a revival or not.

In order to save Misato he enlists the help of Gaku Yashiro, his homeroom teacher.  It’s obvious if you’ve paid attention that Gaku is in fact the killer.  The big reveal.  This big moment in the series where Gaku tells Satoru that he’s always had his plans set in motion may have been the ultimate villain trope. It’s overused in anime but I really like how simplistic it is.  Most of what the manga had portrayed for this scene, even with the cliche villain lines it ransitions nicely into animated format.  I just hope his backstory is shown.

Satoru realizing he’s been fooled and trusted Gaku too much just goes to show how much he has lost himself in his 10-year old body.  In the first few episodes of Boku Machi when Satoru revivals back to 1988 you’ll notice how much narration he does as an adult but once the story progresses you’ll see little by little he loses that narration.  Nice effect to illustrate his naivety and his childlike view of Gaku.  A father-like figure that when he saw Gaku take action on Kayo’s mother embellishes the car scene in this episode perfectly.

As ominous as it felt through the entire car ride between Gaku’s nervous tapping on the steering wheel and his increasingly worrisome statements getting more extreme the reveal was only a matter of time. The use of red was amazing this time around.  Between the shots of the red bag in the backseat and the red car ahead of them pointing to Gaku this reveal was monumentally built up nicely.

As much as this show likes to “reward” and “take away” precious moments this episode was no different.  Satoru having gained the identity that Gaku is the killer and having saved his friends from being abducted he ends up drowning in a river not before he tells Gaku that he knows his future!  As cliche as it might have been this episode’s sole purpose was to leave the audience from the eyes of 10-year old Satoru and venture into reality.  And that reality is that the man Satoru looked up to all this time, asked for advice about Kayo and her situation completely breaks down!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 9

Episode 9 Production Details

Episode Director: Tomohiko Ito ( Assistant Director on Summer Wars film / Storyboard on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Opening Sequence / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 8 / Episode Director and Storyboard on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard alongside Yasuji on Michiko e Hatchin episode 19)

Storyboards: Tomohiko Ito

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


Just as the title of this episode suggests this closes Kayo’s arc and just in time because we finally get to see what’s coming to Kayo’s mother.  She’s an abusive parent whose abusive because she is.  Someone like this is unaware that their actions are wrong and I’m glad the show’s creators didn’t make her into a difficult person to understand.  She’s far away from being sympathetic as she doesn’t even understand the kindness she’s being shown from Satoru and Sachiko in earlier episodes.  This show delivers in strides—the mystery game that Satoru and his friends are playing is very much in line with Satoru’s reality.  That there is an actual killer out there.

Boku Machi’s efforts shine when the human drama that has been wonderfully woven together puts on multiple facades from the aesthetic mystery and supernatural time travel elements to deliver a simple story.  Kayo’s mother is abusive because she couldn’t handle being a single parent and that Kayo is a reminder of her abusive relationship with her husband.  It’s great that their is another side to this—Sachiko.  They at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to parenting.  We see that when Sachiko stands in front of her son as Kayo’s mother grabs a shovel and swings it at her head!  This is an apathetic ending for Kayo’s mother seeing her own mom distraught at the sight of how her daughter has turned out to be a parent.

After episode 7 this series is trying everything it can in removing suspicions from the teacher being the killer and it makes us question his motives.  It’s a smart gamble to make him questionable that he is coming off as a red herring.  The biggest part of this is how he’s revealed to have tons of candy stashed in his car not to mention the obvious quick cuts between his initial impression on his eyes that Satoru has discovered his secret stash, the finger tapping on the steering wheel and covering the top portion of his face.

While this series killer is still on the loose, providing a few clues along the way, visually, this episode firmly establishes that this show will be focusing on the thriller narrative of Boku Machi for the rest.  Keeping that in mind where this series true commitment lies is in the bond between Kayo and Satoru—it’s been a strong realistic emotional core of the show that makes me question whether or not that the story can stand on its own without it.  I say this because it looks like the Aya Nakanishi arc will get rushed.  Curious how the creators decide to adapt the rest of the manga in just three episodes.

Want to point out how incredible Akemi Okamura is.  She’s so versatile!  I can see that she was a good fit for Kayo’s abusive mother–Akemi Hinazuki.   She can be cool-headed but at times terrifyingly ferocious!  Reminds me of the antics she delivered with her role of Mayaya from Kuragehime!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10