Tag Archives: Drama

Carole & Tuesday Episode 2

Episode 2 “Born to Run” [from the same name as the Bruce Springsteen song]

Production Details

Episode Director: Shōhei Miyake

Script: Deko Akao

Storyboard: Manabu Okamoto

Chief Animation Director: Naoyuki Konno

Animation Directors:

  • Kenichi Ohnuki
  • Kenji Mizuhata

Marvelous. This show is really something special. The amount of production that have gone into these first two episodes has been spectacular–Shinichiro Watanabe got a lot of talent even from his days on Cowboy Bebop, including sound effects by Shizuo Kurahashi! I really can’t see how Studio BONES can maintain quality each episode on a show like this, it looks so beautiful. On top of that they’ve been producing a lot of animation for quite a few anime series as of late. From Mob Psycho 100 Season 2, Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3, and in the Fall 2019 Boku no Hero Academia Season 4. But then again it’s clear they have a lot of talent at their disposal. BONES has 5 sub-studios that work independently of each other where the staff  (which a lot of them are freelance animators) very rarely crossover for anime produced by BONES.

The runaway Tuesday ends up staying at Carole’s apartment and we get a small view of life outside of the introduction from the previous episode. When it comes to Carole and Tuesday you can clearly see a big gap between them. Tuesday is a rich girl and it is apparent in this episode where we see her mention that her maids cleaned the mansion for her and the effects of this are quite humorous. On the other hand, Carole is already showing signs that she’s gradually growing up. Love the reactions she gives Tuesday after she tries to clean the apartment. At least she tried. That’s what counts, right?

There is a lot of influence when it comes to pulling together in episode with director Shinichiro Watanabe. A perfect example of this is Angela’s fashion shoot. Everything was timed perfectly using the camera shots as the downbeat! Mocky’s score gives off this 80’s feeling and it’s great to see a cast of characters that aren’t in the same clothing all the time. From Angela’s modeling job to Tuesday’s comedic cleaning it is nice to see that this show isn’t heavy on the music so early on. We actually can see these characters have lives way before this show even began. Heck, even Carole attending a funeral not to mention a lot of the people that were hired to attend by the client (which in this case is actually the deceased) drives home this fact that life can become very automated and we just have to go with the motions by behaving a certain way. The manager’s performance so to say is a tried and true example of the saying “putting on airs”. It’s in this moment that we get to see a part of Carole’s childish behavior and that there is still quite a bit she doesn’t know about being an adult. A nice strong lead in to that is we get to see a little bit of her past.

From the get-go, this Tao guy seems to be a bit misguided when it comes to people–he’s surrounded or rather isolated himself with AI and computers to guarantee success when it comes to producing music. Creating that perfect song by using older songs and emulating famous artists. This show carries a lot of warmth to it especially with Carole and Tuesday–most of which their scenes have these lighthearted guitar pieces and piano chord progressions–especially in this episode with the girls at the apartment. Is it just me or does her place look a little like the Bebop from Cowboy Bebop? The couch totally reminds me of it! Like I said before, the two girls have a lot of warmth in their scenes and in their music I am glad by this second episode that it’s effectively noticeable between Tao’s dull lab. From the moment I saw Angela I can tell she’s being held back but wants to be the best there is, at least have the best song there is that speaks to her. She will use anything at her disposal to make that happen and with this world set in the future it’s no wonder that Angela might have bitten off more than she can chew with her agreement in working with Tao on her songs. That chair looks terrifying!

When it comes to music and reminding us that this is just the beginning, Watanabe certainly took his time with his staff to ensure they spend a lot of authentic “practice” time with Carole and Tuesday. They played the song once at Carole’s apartment in the previous apartment and out of excitement we get to see how far they will go in wanting to practice on a larger scale! This is evident after their song The Loneliest Girl receives quite the attention from various people at the stage. One in particular, Roddy and the eventual introduction of that guy at the bar from last episode, Gus. Oh my gosh! That ending really reminded me of Bebop! Too funny!

Since this is a show about music, (the girls made a few name drops including Cyndi Lauper) and Carole’s favorite Crystal (shown in the cast as voiced by Maaya Sakamoto!) Speaking of music, the soundtrack in this episode is absolutely shining. I’ve been listening to Mocky’s previous albums, etc. and I can see why they picked him to do the score. He’s ambitious. A multi-talented instrumentalist that has a wide range to work with. It’s as if Nujabes collaborated with Michiko to Hatchin’s composer Kassin to create this psychedelic collection of texturized sounds, a blend of guitar pop sound riffs, and smooth hip hop keyboards layered onto thick drum beats. It doesn’t stop there because he’s been able to effectively capture each scene nicely–from the church to Carole’s apartment, the DJ’s techno/electronica performance (while at first seems ridiculous) however it illustrates how dependent music can become with technology and then that incredible scene right after the girls practice on stage! Loneliest Girl is without a doubt one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in an anime and it’s still being fine tuned by them!

I really want to see the Dropkix (Dandy and Johnny’s band from episode 20 of Space Dandy) make an appearance. That would be icing on the cake for me!


OP: “Kiss Me” by Carole & Tuesday (by Nulbarich feat. Nai Br.XX & Celeina Ann)

Directed by: Bahi JD

Storyboards: Bahi JD

Concept Art: Tadahiro Uesugi

Backgrounds: Jun Kumaori

Animation Supervisor: Bahi JD

Key Animators:

  • Jonathan Djob Nkondo
  • Till
  • Chengxi Huang
  • Spencer Wan
  • Yuuki Yonemori
  • Hakuyu Go
  • Masami Mori
  • Takashi Mitani
  • Takafumi Hori

What a powerhouse staff that worked on this opening! And a positive vibe this opening gives us. Based on image board art by Tadahiro Uesugi by blending this style of 18-century and urban city life with an edginess that holds a lot of heart and warmth. You can see a few of them below. D4apWZLUcAENY0b

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Especially in the movement of its characters. I absolutely adore the color choice in this. We shift from the 18th-century that carries shades of blues and off-white to an urbanized city-life with Carole’s side that holds a lot of different colors. Overall the visuals have this chalky feel to it.

Awesome! We finally get to see the band Nulbarich’s work on this show! The music takes this effect from the very start with a light guitar and shifting with small hip-hop beats. The dance sequence with the girls (and the eventual crowd) is an attractive way for this show to lure the viewer with its music performances. Great tie-in to the overall encompassing theme about “creating music for yourself” and it’s very strong at the end of this incredibly animated opening sequence! I really like the flow of this entire sequence, from the character animation right down to the song, just everything is so smooth! These worldwide auditions paid off. Nai Br.XX and Celeina Ann were great choices for this as their voices in this work together beautifully!


 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 11/10

And it’s certainly NOT A TYPO! THIS EPISODE WAS PHENOMENAL! 

Carole & Tuesday Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 

 

PLOT: Fifty years have passed since mankind began migrating to the new frontier: Mars. It’s an age where most culture is produced by AI, and people are content to be passive consumers. There’s a girl scraping a living in the metropolis of Alba City, she’s working part-time while trying to become a musician. She’s always felt like something is missing. Her name is Carole. There’s another girl. Born to a wealthy family in the provincial town of Herschel City, she dreams of becoming a musician, but nobody around her understands. She feels like the loneliest person in the world. Her name is Tuesday. A chance meeting brings them together.

Animation Production: BONES [Animation Production for the following works: A.I.C.O. Incarnation, Akagami no Shiraiyukihime (Snow White with Red Hair) Angelic Layer, Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront), Bungo Stray Dogs, Captain Earth, Chaika The Coffin Princess, Concrete Revolutio, Cowboy Bebop the Movie, Darker than Black, Hisone to Masotan, Escaflowne: The Movie, Eureka Seven, FullMetal Alchemist and BROTHERHOOD remake, Ghost Slayers Ayashi, GOSICK, Jyu-Oh-Sei, Kurau: Phantom Memory, Mars Daybreak, Mob Psycho 100, My Hero Academia, No. 6, Noragami, Otona Joshi no Anime Time Episode 2, RahXephon, Show by Rock!!, Soul Eater, Space Dandy, Star Blazers 2199, STAR DRIVER, Sword of the Stranger film, Tenkai Knights, The Skull Man (animation assistance on Episode 11 with MANGLOBE studio), Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Towanoquon film series, UN-GO, Wolf’s Rain, X’amd Lost Memories, Zetsuen no Tempest (Blast of Tempest)] [In-Between Animation on Episode 1 of Real Drive / 2nd Key Animation on Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (Run with the Wind) 

Chief Director: Shinichiro Watanabe [Director on the following works: Blade Runner: Black Out 2022, Kid’s Story OVA (part of the Animatrix Stories), A Detective Story OAV (part of the Animatrix Stories), Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Baby Blue OVA, Kids on the Slope, Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo], Space Dandy] [Music Producer on Michiko e Hatchin] [Opening Sequence Director on STAR DRIVER OP 1] [Storyboard on Episode 12 of Birdy the Mighty Decode / Director on Death Parade Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Episode 19 of Ergo Proxy / Co-Producer and Music Producer on Michiko e Hatchin / Music Director on Mind Game / Director on [cancelled project T.A.T.u.] opening sequence / Storyboard on Episodes 5, 8 , 12, and 16 of The Vision of Escaflowne / Episode Director on Episodes 3, 7, and 9 of Dirty Pair / Music Producer on Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine / Storyboard on Episode 22 of Noein]

Director: Motonobu Hori [Key Animator on Episode 11 of Atom the Beginning / Storyboard, Episode Director, Animation Director on Episode 24 of Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad / Storyboards on the BERSERK films / Key Animator Episodes 1 and 3 of FLCL: Progressive / Unit Director, Key Animator, and Prop Design on Ghost in the Shell: Alternative Architecture Film / 2nd Key Animator on Episode 7 of Kemonozume/ Key Animator on Episode 16 of Michiko e Hatchin / Storyboard Episode Director and Key Animator on Episodes 2 and 8 of Paradise Kiss / Key Animator on Episode 8 of Paranoia Agent / Key Animator on Re:Cutie Honey OP Sequence / In-between animator and Clean up Animator on Spirited Away film]

Series Composition: Aya Watanabe [Digital Painter on Berserk films 1 and 2 / Finish Animation on Episode 8 of Demonbane / Finish Animation on Episodes 1-4 of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!] 

Character Designer: Eisaku Kubonouchi [Original Creator and artist on the following manga: Cherry / Chocolat] [Original Creator and Character Designer on Sono Toki, Kanojo wa TV anime] [Character Designer for Cup Noodle ads featuring 17-year old Kiki from Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service]

Original Creator: Shinichiro Watanabe

Music: Mocky (Canadian singer, music producer, songwriter and composer) (Co-writer on the following songs: Bittersweet Melodies, Graveyard, and Caught A Long Wind” off the album Metals by the artist Feist.)

Chief Animation Director: Yoshiyuki Ito (Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Concrete Revolutio / Key Animator on Episodes 1, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 18-20, 22, 24-26 on Cowboy Bebop / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Hisone to Masotan / Planning on GANGSTA / Key Animator on Kaiji Opening Sequence /

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Motonobu Hori

Storyboard:

  • Motonobu Hori
  • Shinichiro Watanabe

 

The time has finally come. Another Shinichiro Watanabe anime series. It has been five years since Space Dandy and Zankyou no Terror have aired and with that time of absence it has given the acclaimed director plenty of time to craft together his next story. Carole & Tuesday. The story of two girls from entirely different backgrounds that find a connection to the meaning of their lives through the use of music. Singing and songwriting specifically.

Shinichiro Watanabe holds a special place in his heart for music. He used jazz in Cowboy Bebop–this not only put his name on the map as a sensational director and creator but also for Yoko Kanno’s career as a composer. Bebop was a huge hit in the United States (in its original run on Japanese TV not so much) and this allowed the viewership of Japanese anime to expand to a wider market.

With his next series, Samurai Champloo he infused the traditional sounds of Japan–the shimasen, taiko drums, etc. with Nujabes, FAT JON, and many others using hip-hop against a samurai backdrop with a story of a girl in search of a samurai that smells of sunflowers.  In 2012, he turned to Yoko Kanno once again to Yoko Kanno for her acclaimed work on Bebop’s jazz score in order to faithfully adapt Yuki Kodama’s award winning manga Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope). 2014 was high big year to shine, because he put together two series in the same year. Zankyou no Terror, a story about two teenagers on a journey of retribution. This time Kanno’s score turns to Icelandic atmospheric music to setup a modern day drama. Now we’ve got music at the forefront again and this time in a very special way. One might notice that this show maybe shifting it’s musical influence towards pop music.  Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” (the name of this episode title and also shown in the intermission artwork) becomes Teusday’s inspiration in the pursuit of music.

Carole & Tuesday was initially announced in March of last year as a 10th anniversary Flying Dog and 20th anniversary Studio BONES production. Worldwide auditions were held for the lead characters (Carole and Tuesday’s) vocal parts. And we get the fantastic Tokyo born Japanese pop and R&B singer Celeina Ann for Tuesday and  Nai Br.XX (from New York) for the role of Carole’s singing parts.

Now onto the premiere episode!

Tuesday is a shy and timid girl trying to make her life something special–with her guitar and robot luggage she begins her journey to Alba City for a different life. Did anyone catch some of the callbacks to Shinichiro Watanabe’s previous series? The narrator portraying a more integral comedic part for this show indicates the callback to Space Dandy’s narrator. The robot charging was an homage to QT from Space Dandy running out of power–the comedy in that was pure genius and we get this first glance at how Tuesday reacts to things that don’t exactly go as planned. Tuesday is this shut-in living life in a rich family household but even in the first five minutes of the show we see her struggle–this is especially reflected in the character animation and expressions.

Carole’s introduction is wonderfully timed–Mocky’s soundtrack (which is reminiscent of Michiko e Hatchin’s score by Kassin) fits this perfectly as we clearly see her wildly cool energy she gives off. Heck, the framing in this compared to Carole’s is heavily angled (especially during her skateboard sequence) to establish her character a little bit more and this “I live on my own, have a job, so I’m forced to be an adult out of circumstances). She has her own place and her early adulthood gives us some inkling that the parental situation is something of a stepping stone for her through her music. The restaurant sequence provides a nice look at how nefarious people can be–balance that is foreshadow to the next scene with Tuesday. It seems to me that one of the larger motifs in this show will be the empowerment of teens being true to themselves and singing out their hearts. Tuesday is breaking away from the sheltered life that she has been living up to this point. Carole yearns for a brand new life— from the boy trying to steal to the men treating her like trash in the restaurant outlines this quite clear. It wasn’t until the commercial actress Angela is riding in the car with her mother that the motif hits the nail in the coffin for this series. Trying to reach your dreams. Her mother not wanting to achieve singing pours out this fact that she’s playing right into the hands of her family as some doll. I’m glad we get to see the parents already and they aren’t shoved into the story too late.  Given the mother’s reaction that the guitar is missing might suggest that Tuesday is an AI. Angela’s mother mentions how she could turn all of her managers into AI, and the fact Mr. Tao’s line of work looks more than meets the eye validates this theory I have about Tuesday. AI’s are replacing the singers of the entertainment business, in Carole and Tuesday it is a story of a world without music and art. A world tied by the boundaries of society dependent on emerging technologies–many of which that have removed any kind of free thought of expression with a voice to shout out with. I find it really intriguing when Carole starts playing on the bridge that no one notices her singing and the police officer chasing after them just adds more cause to this. Confined by the companies that have built these AI’s on a higher pedestal than human entertainers.

The chance encounter between the two girls, Carole and Tuesday is well timed. The soft grainy editing is a smart choice to quickly introduce us a meaning behind their dreams in becoming musicians. An entire episode focused on a heartfelt buildup to their first song performance at Carole’s place. One that is beautifully animated by Takashi Mitani. These two girls aren’t creating music for some higher meaning or fighting off society rather it is how they want to express themselves. We clearly see the beginnings of this and a blossoming friendship where Carole posts their very first selfie on Instagram. A real instagram for Carole_and_Tuesday was created some time ago  which you can check out here (As of writing this its at 21.3k followers within the span of a few days!) and follow Carole and Tuesday’s journey together! Keep in mind that this series’ backdrop is set in the future with some incredibly detailed art but I want to point out how the new media affects the society structure and people’s interactions with others. That small instagram post allows for these two smaller artists to gain traction. Social media can be skewed in favor to those that have money and the resources–it’s who you know and in Carole and Tuesday’s case this is only the beginning of their influential change to the world(s?) and their popularity.

Like I said before this show is about spreading the freedom to express one’s self and for these girls it goes from a small indoor practice session to shouting at the rooftops just learning that they can be anything they want to be even if society won’t accept it.

Also want to say how shocked I am that this show is going to be 2-cour! 24 episodes!


 

ED: “Hold Me Now” by Carole & Tuesday (Nai Br.XX & Celeina Ann)

Directed by: Norimitsu Suzuki

Storyboards: Norimitsu Suzuki

Animation Supervisor: Norimitsu Suzuki

Animators: Norimitsu Suzuki

 

Norimitsu Suzuki is a freaking awesome animator. Having animated the UN-GO ending sequence, the adorable Soul Eater ending 2 with Maka’s walking cycle, among many others! His walk cycles are incredibly fluid and give a lot personality and physique through the attention to a character’s clothing and movement in the arms and legs. He animated this entire sequence by himself. Incredible. This is a treat because the song gives us an idea of how their music might turn out in future episodes once they are heavily produced. The lyrics that bubble through the background shows this off as some kind of pop music video. The grey transition into color of Carole and Tuesday and its background choice sets a charismatic tone that adds layers to their music to greater heights!


 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 11/10

Did I do a typo? I think not!

Yagate Kimi ni Naru (Bloom Into You) Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 

It has been quite some time since I have reviewed a series. The last time was Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (After the Rain) episode 2. I have a lot of backlog reviews to go through and edit and post. Real life obligations have taken over but that doesn’t mean anime is out of my life. I’m still hosting anime events for my club, attending regular theater screenings and watching shows on a seasonal basis. Just not as much as I had before. Japanese anime is still a large part of my life so I hope that once in a while I can keep updating this site with new reviews and other content. I am always looking for people if anyone is interested in writing reviews for my site.  Please. Please contact me at beatslars@gmail.com if you are wanting to become an anime blogger. Now onto my review of a series currently airing.


 

PLOT: Yū has always loved shōjo manga and awaits the day she gets a love confession that sends her heart aflutter with bubbles and blushes, and yet when a junior high classmate confesses his feelings to her, she feels nothing. Disappointed and confused, Yū enters high school still unsure how to respond. That’s when Yū sees the beautiful student council president Nanami turn down a suitor with such maturity that she’s inspired to ask her for help. But then the next person to confess to Yū is Nanami herself.

Animation Production: TROYCA (Animation Production and CG Work on Aldnoah.Zero / Photography on Anthem of the Heart (film) / Animation Production on Sakurako-san / In-Between Animation on Bungou Stray Dogs / 2nd Key Animation on Shokugeki no Soma Episode 6 / Photography on Inari Koi Kon / In-Between Animation on Mob Psycho 100 / In-Between Animation on Boku no Hero Academia/ Animation Production, Finish Animation , Photography on RE:Creators / Production on Kimi no na wa (Your Name)]

Director: Makoto Kato [Director on Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru / Storyboard and Episode Director on RE:Creators Episodes 2 and 10 / Episode Director on Aldnoah.Zero Episodes 3 and 12]

Series Composition: Juuki Hanada [Script on Accel World Episodes 6, 7, 13, and 20 / Scenario Planning on Ah! My Goddess Episodes 4, 7, 10, 13, 17, 20, and 26 / Series Composition on Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) / Script on Chobits / Script on Fate/Sta Night Episodes 5, 7, 14, 18, and 21 / Screenplay on K-On! Episodes 4, 5, 8 and 12 / Series Composition on the Love Live franchise TV series and films / Series Composition on Nichijou / Series Composition on Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish) / Series Composition on Sora Yorimo Toileting Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) / Script on Sound! Euphonium / Script on Saber Marionette J / Series Composition on Steins;Gate TV series and feature film / Series Composition on Yozakura Quartet]

Character Designer: Hiroaki Gohda [Director on Ah! My Goddess TV series and film / Character Designer on Amagami SS / Key Animation on Aldnoah.Zero Episode 3 / Series Director on Bubblegum Crash / Animation Director on Sakurako-san Episode 12 / Key Animation on Dirty Pair: Project Eden film / Key Animation on Dream Hunter Rem Episode 1 / Animator on Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko OAV / Key Animation on Neon Genesis Evangelion / Character Designer on Onegai Teacher / Animation Director on RE:Creators Episodes 19 and 22 / Key Animation on Urusei Yatsura: Remember My Love film]

Original Creator: Nio Nakatani (Original Creator of Eclair: Anata ni Hibiku Yuri Anthology (Eclair: A Yuri Anthology to Resound in You)]

Music: Michiru Oshima [Music Composer for the following works: Arc the Lad, Aura: Koga Maryuin’s Last War / BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad / Zetsuen no Tempest / Boys Over Flowers / Buddha films / Casshan: Robot Hunter Casshern OAVs / Le Chevalier D’Eon / Fancy Lala / FullMetal Alchemist original series / Fuse: Memoirs of a Huntress film / Gokusen TV-Live Action / Haikara-san trilogy films / Hal film / Kaze no Tairiku (The Weathering Continent) / Legend of Crystania / Little Witch Academia / Maho Tsukai Tai! (Magic User’s Club!) / Massage ni Iko / Nabari no Ou / The Night is Short Walk on Girl / Patema Inverted (film) / Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (Live Action film) / Project Blue Earth SOS Queen Emeraldas / Rokka no YuushaAkagami no Shirayukihime (Snow White with Red Hair) / Sora no Wo To (Sound of the Sky) / Speed Racer XThe Tatami Galaxy]

Chief Animation Director: Hiroaki Gohda

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Makoto Kato

Storyboard: Makoto Kato


 

Before I dive into Yagate Kimi ni Naru I want to discuss one of my favorite genre. Yuri. Girls love as known to English speakers. An entire genre of manga and anime about girls and women falling in love.  There are many people that might think that yuri automatically connotes stories about sex, however that is not the case. And Shoujo-ai focuses on the romance portion of it. Yuri is meant to express both sexualized and non=sexualized stories. Some fantastic examples of the genre are Aoi Hana, a realistic portrayal of two high school girls (that were once childhood friends) falling in love. Simoun, a series about women pilots that are fighting in a war and have relationships with other women pilots. Two other yuri anime that are highly symbolic series come from its director Kunihiko Ikuhara which are Revolutionary Girl Utena and Yuri Kuma Arashi (Translation: Lily Bear Storm). While Yuri Kuma Arashi, which you can read my full review here contain sexually suggestive themes doesn’t shove it down the viewers throats, that these scenes are meant strictly for the story. These shy far away from what many would see tackle “in-your-face” sexual situations for pure fan service intentions. This include series such as Valkyrie Drive. About the only romance series that I can relate with Yagate Kimi ni Naru is Kimi ni Todoke–how they both handle relationships more realistically– speaking your mind and either agreeing or disagreeing with the other person.

A large reason that put Yagate Kimi ni Naru on the map this season for me, is its music composer. Michiru Oshima. A composer in my Top 10 is probably getting knocked off this list because of her. Her music is incredibly moving and works like Akagami no Shirayukihime (Snow White with Red Hair) and Hana Yori Dango (Boys over Flowers) contain some very powerful and enriching songs.  She writes some of the best classical music in TV anime. I only say this because she is the one that heavily carries the hearty romance of this series. The drama is light in this first episode and we clearly can see that Yuu is confused about love because she doesn’t know what it is and how she feels. The violins play a large part with Yuu’s emotional level in this.

We have all the build up we need for a strong romantic melodrama. Yuu Koito feels isolated from most of her friends–this can be clearly seen in the first 10 minutes where we see her discussing confessions with Akari and Koyomi. Akari is head over heels for Oogaki, and Koyomi yearns for romance but hasn’t found that someone yet. I love the framing in this because we get this view of the three of them from the outside and Yuu is divided by her friends and the soft white brush of the clouds illustrate her being separated from the others–a beautifully visual motif of this.

Throughout this episode we get close up shots that aren’t fully in frame–especially with objects in focus and backgrounds sometimes out of focus to depict Yuu unsure about her own future when it comes to love. While we do have a few tropes–girl Yuu witnesses Touko’s confession scene with the boy, the backdrop of the student council allowing the two lead characters Yuu and Touko closer together (another anime/manga that does this is Citrus) and of course the Touko confession towards the end. Like I said before Oshima’s music delivers the acting, and the soft character designs to a new height. A mature perspective in telling a high school love story between two girls. Not to mention the emphasis on flowers [establishing this yuri theme  and the change of seasons showing that these two have been in the student council for quite some time without wasting time with “just a phase” and very sexualized viewpoint of yuri romance. Something important to note about Yuu in this premiere is the constant focus that she doesn’t understand people’s obsessions with love poses this question about sexual identity. The balance to Yuu and the love interest is charismatic senior Nanami Touka and while being in the mind of Yuu in this episode points out that Touko has ALL the answers–that she is very mindful and Yuu respects her in appearance, smarts and more.  Sayaka and Seiji are some of the minor cast in this that I am sure will add to the melodrama nicely. Given the treatment of this premiere and how faithful they were to the manga I have to wonder where they will end this with only 1-cour (at least announced for now). As for the animation, it has a cute art style that keeps up with the character art from the manga, has a few interesting first person shots and extremely detailed backgrounds that pull this characters into the show more strongly than the super thick lines of the cast in Citrus. Yagate has a softness to its visuals that compliments its beautifully arranged Oshima soundtrack.


 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni Episode 2

Episode 2 Production Details

Episode Director: Shingo Uchida [Episode Director on Ace Attorney episode 2 / Director on Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I / Unit Director on Blood-C: The Last Dark / Episode Director on FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episode 39 / Key Animator on Gantz episode 26 / Storyboard on Hajime no Ippo Rising episode 2 / Storyboard and Episode Director on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure episode 18 / Episode Director on Thundercats [2011] episode 8]

Storyboards: Ayumu Watanabe [Director on Ace AttorneyMysterious Girlfriend XSpace Brothers]

Script: Deko Akao [Series Composition on Anonymous Noise // Series Composition and Script on Amanchu! and Amanchu Advance / Series Composition and Script (episodes 1-2, 5, 8, and 12) / Script on My Little Monster episodes 5, 8, and 10) / Series Composition and Script (episodes 1-3, 6 and 7, 11 and 12) on Noragami) / Series Composition and Script (episodes 1 and 2, 4, 8 and 9, 11) on Akagami no Shiraiyukihime (Snow White with Red Hair)]


 

This show’s framing is very good. The contrast color balance of yellow against blues and the white clouds add a clean look to Ameagari’s backgrounds and crisp line art to the movement of this series characters and background objects.

Kondo’s comedy is realistic, he’s a carefree manager with a lot of responsibility and many a times he messes up. Yui Nishida brings a fine point to Tachibana’s feelings about love and what makes her heart move.  This episode teaches us that when you give up on something–you will always hold a special place in your heart for the things you don’t want to try for. In Tachibana’s case she is slowly spreading her wings and trying to find her something that makes herself be happy. In this case her track team and how she loved to run with her classmates on the team illustrates her timid behavior.  A directorial choice with an inspired direction with this sequence as we see Tachibana running  alongside a clear sky. The running sequence shows to Kondo how impressive Tachibana is but plays a toll on her injury. Takashi’s clumsiness with the plates was the backbone for this entire sequence to come crashing down literally.  His hyper active personality is quite the difference to Tachibana’s shyness when she’s around Kondo. I really like how this Ameagari plays around with this ideas between vulnerable intimacy and tension with Tachibana’s frustration in the previous episode all while maintaining a sublime mood this show instills to its audience.

This past season we’ve had a lot of series about fantasy, supernatural and mecha anime that its nice to finally have a series so grounded in reality. This show strays away from abnormal jump out animation and highly expressive acted moments and opts for complacent yet complex cast of characters. Allowing this series particularly this episode to present so many identifying characterization moments in a such a short amount of time –Tachibana’s injury and her willingness to help others (ex. delivering the phone back to the customer) and Kondo’s worried nature towards her that all of these scenes are pleasant to watch. Tachibana’s injury doesn’t draw too much expanded attention to herself and that entire scene just rests carefully within the episode’s narrative. The acting is spot on–almost as if Kou Matsuo directed it.  If any of you don’t know, Matsuo has a tendency to have his actors voice before animating a series [Red Garden, Natsuyuuki Rendezvous, Kurenai]. The voice acting is quite good in this because the visual presentation is treated satisfyingly subdued.

The make-up animation especially towards the later half of this episode creates a sense of nostalgia for Tachibana remembering her scar. WIT Studio has a habit these days of creating these well-polished watercolor closeup shots that look super warm on the screen and then there are these side-panel crayon like designs that enhance the details of this series’ characters in a more adult style. A true illustration put into an animated work! Both are incredibly beautiful and mixed with complementary colors that carry a romantic visual quality to it.

If there was one thing I would change it’s how little we see outside of the school, the workplace, and the cafe they travel to. I’d like to see a lot more expressive scenery within the structure of the story outside of these places!

That cliffhanger!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni Episode 1 (Initial Impressions)

PLOT: The protagonist 17-year-old high school student Akira Tachibana is a girl who barely expresses herself. She harbors a secret crush on Masami Kondō, the 45-year-old manager of the family restaurant she works at part-time.

Animation Production: Wit Studio

Director: Ayumu Watanabe [Director on Ace AttorneyMysterious Girlfriend XSpace Brothers]

Series Composition: Deko Akao [Series Script Writer on Akagami no Shirayukihime [Snow White with Red Hair] Amanchu!, Arakawa Under the BridgeFlying WitchNoragami,

Character Designer: Yuka Shibata [Character Designer for Kimi ni Todoke, Key Animator for Shikabane Hime: Kuro, Storyboards for Little Witch Academia Episode 1]

Original Creator: Jun Mayuzuki

Music: Ryo Yoshimata [Shin Megami Tensei Devil Children TV Anime / High-profile live action TV composer and producer]

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Ayako Kawano [Storyboards for Ace Attorney’s Sequence Ending Sequence, CG Digital Artist on Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive film, Episode Director on Durarara!!x2 Ten Episode 19, Storyboard on Blend S Episode 4]

Storyboard: Ayumu Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Yuka Shibata (worked at GAINAX in the 2000’s following much of the staff to work at TRIGGER. She left after storyboarding iDOLMASTER episode 17, then working for UFOTABLE where she was a character designer for the Majocco feature film. Now she does freelance work.)


Every once in a while a series comes along and sweeps you off your feet just by the first episode. It’s been well over a year and a few months since I have last posted anything. I will try and get at least a few posts out every once in a while.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni has a unique premise–immediately after I heard it was receiving an anime adaptation I was intrigued. A relationship between a 45-year old man and a 17-year old high school girl. First thing is first I really like how this show doesn’t focus on sexual intentions. At the moment, Ameagari delivers a strong coming-of-age romance story. If you are a fan of the manga animation director Yuka Shibata does a faithful job at keeping with the source material’s art style.

Plus, the quality of this series is about the best out there. Dare I say it’s better than Violet Evergarden? That series has the usual Kyoto Animation style to it and while it does look pretty Ameagari has a charming tone to its overall presentation.

Akira Tachibana is a shy high-school student that clicks with a few of her friends and was once on the track team. This episode calmly introduces us to its cast with a strong focus on sound effects and the choice to not heighten the music score. Tachibana works at the cafe her crush (Masami Kondo) manages at–and we quickly get the idea that she is head over heels for him. Masami Kondo on the other hand is a carefree man and we see that when he sees his old self in  how he yearns for romance.

The very first moment is spectacular because it establishes an air to how this series will handle itself in telling a love story. Framing plays a large part in this. Akira’s beginning the next chapter in her life–the sharp attention to details and incredible direction key in this idea by showing a bit of her past in a subtle way. This show masks a lot of her background on the track team while at the same time hiding her emotions about it all. The great part about this is he doesn’t show it–neither does he realize it himself. The introduction of his son plays with the charm of this show by sliding in some comedy and Akira’s interest in him. Also lying down some groundwork for the two of them to be couple material later on in this series.

That second half was directed wonderfully! Especially when Akira remembers how she first met Kondo and how this is depicted by the shirt he left on the chair! Great visuals, emotionally-charged music and a nice way to end it–with a comedic scene between the two of them!


OP: “Nostalgic Rainfall” (ノスタルジックレインフォール) by CHiCO with HoneyWorks

Directed by: Ayako Kouno

Storyboards: Ayumu Watanabe

Animation Supervisor: Akiyo Okuda

Animators:

  • Kouta Fumiaki
  • Yuka Koiso
  • Keita Nagahara
  • Masato Hagiwara
  • Takemoto Yoshiko
  • Kawazuma Tomomi
  • Maeda Kyosuke
  • Erika Nishihara
  • Sachiko Matsumoto (Chief Makeup Animator on Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)
  • Yuko Sera
  • Hideyuki Arao
  • Mayuko Kato
  • Kana Ito
  • Tetsuya Hasegawa
  • Naohiro Osugi
  • Chikashi Kubota
  • Tomoyoshi Tsuchiya
  • Hiroshi Tomioka

This opening sequence is fantastic! The very beginning represents spreading your wings and discovering your dreams. How should Akira act around him? Akira shows her personality in a big way through this entire sequence–from calm and shy to extremely expressive. The change of clothing acts as a tool of excitement for her. She wants to express her feelings towards him and this comes across nicely with the dancing animation. The use of bright colors was a strong and smart choice for this entire opening! A fun fact the scene towards the end showing heart fragments to each other was animated by Chikashi Kubota. An animator for feature film A Letter to Momo and some of the explosion sequences to Space Dandy. The heart fragments combining into one was an entirely different animator–Fumiaki Kouta. As for Kouta is known for animating a lot of sequences of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. A great animator that uses a detailed approach on effects such as fire, liquid and smoke during fight sequences.

A bit of background behind the music group Honeyworks. They first got their start on streaming service site, Niconico since 2007 using the Vocaloid system. To this day they still remain active on their channel. They’re a circle of performers consisting of composers Gom and shito and their illustrator Yamako. The guitarist Oji  (Kaizoku Ou), illustrators Mogelatte and Rocoru act as support members. The style of music is rock songs with a positive form to them. The band also writes light novels based on their songs. as part of their Confession Executive Committee Love Series. As for this song it’s particularly bright, remaining in their style from their previous works with a rock-pop sound using Chico’s voice with her fantastic vocal range!


ED: “Ref:rain” by Aimer

Directed by: Ayumu Watanabe

Storyboards: Ayumu Watanabe

Animation Supervisor: Chiaki Kumakura

This is by far one of the best songs that Aimer has ever done. I may be biased here because I don’t think there is a single song of hers that I don’t like. This song translates to this series’ story extremely well. The lyrics and piano hits a tender view on love with beautiful visuals to match it! The line art of Akira is stunning!

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Sangatsu no Lion Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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PLOT: The protagonist Rei is a 17-year-old professional shōgi player, who lives by himself, not having a real family, and has scarcely any friends. Among his acquaintances is a family, which consists of a young woman, Akari Kawamoto, and her younger sisters, Hinata and Momo, who also keep several cats. As the story progreses, Rei deals with his maturing as a player and as a person, while developing his relationships with others, specially the Kawamoto sisters.

Animation Production: SHAFT

Directors: 

  • Akiyuki Shinbo
  • Kenjiro Okada

Series Composition: 

  • Akiyuki Shinbo
  • Fuyashi Tou

Character Designer: Nobuhiro Sugiyama

Original Creator: Chika Umino [ Honey & Clover]

Music: Yukari Hashimoto

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Kenjiro Okada

Storyboard: Shinsaku Sasaki

Script: Yukito Kizawa


I decided to change things up a bit and not post so much information on production staff regarding previous anime they’ve worked on.  Hope you all enjoy it!

One of the most anticipated series of the season finally arrives! This adaptation is quite different than what I expected from when it was first announced. This turned out to be quite a solid piece of work.

An incredible use of sound and SHAFT uses creator Chika Umino’s slow-paced story to its advantage with director Akiyuki Shinbo at the helm!  Per Umino’s request! From the trailers and now this first episode I can tell that SHAFT put a lot of restraint on how they typically animate their shows like the Monogatari series.  The first half is a beautifully animated and very subdued long morning for the protagonist Rei Kiriyama.  SHAFT certainly was the right choice in this because they were able to breathe life into Rei’s dark objectified view of the world and flip it with a superb second half.  The animation is simply designed–using a solid palette structure for its backgrounds.  At first glance this isn’t an anime with a large budget like what we’ve been seeing with Yuri!!! on Ice! , but when you see this episode you can clearly get a clear indication that a lot of time was spent on the direction of the animation.  Closeup shots of objects (especially the drinks) and facial expression techniques.  The most important develop of this show is through its use of sound effects!  From the very first scene it’s clear that there is a certain level of discomfort in Rei’s home. He’s internalized all of his emotions (if he has any) and through a very smart stylistic choice in visuals and sound direction that Rei is suffering.  Without the addition of music until the shogi match illustrates a larger picture that Rei enjoys his isolation.

I think it says a lot when a series chooses little dialogue to capture an audience into its narrative. We don’t know the man he’s playing is his father until he sees a news report later on from a tragic unrelated event. Sound was crucial here–the report established Rei’s disconnect from his own circumstances perfectly!

This transitioned nicely into the Kawamoto family’s introduction. Bubbly music score and strikingly bright animation.  Hues of pinks and yellows represents how lively the family is–the antics with the younger children remind me of 7-year old Naru from Barakamon.  The animation in the second half of this episode reverts from the dismal and dark tone that Sangatsu no Lion originally went for!  You either like the style or you don’t. 3-Gatsu no Lion is different than what we’re used to seeing with shows like Honey & Clover.

Akari Kawamoto, the oldest of the three sisters notices Rei’s disconnect from society–it is seen when she, right after Hinata had texted him, requests that he pick up vegetables for the dinner. I like how this show doesn’t force the interpersonal relationships down our throats–we given small details in doses.  The news report, the text messages, even by the end of this episode we see that Rei is gradually crawling out of his shell through the use of shadow effects and dream-state imagery.

I’m actually quite glad that this premiere didn’t shove Shogi matches to explain his character in-depth.  Using a visual narrative and a down-to-earth family to establish his grounding in the world succeeds wonderfully!  Posters of the manga on the train, Sangatsu logo on the grocery store sign. Perhaps SHAFT was taking the source material advertising a bit too literal.  Although, it certainly is one way to do it.


OP: “Answer (アンサー)” by BUMP OF CHICKEN

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Directed by: Naoyuki Asano

Storyboards: Naoyuki Asano

Animation Supervisor: Naoyuki Asano

Key Animators:

  • Hironori Tanaka
  • Tsutomu Shibuya
  • Shintaro Douge
  • Kazuki Ito
  • Atsushi Saito
  • Nozomu Abe
  • You Yamamoto
  • Naoko Masui
  • Tomohiro Shinoda
  • Naoto Nakamura

Notable Key Animator: 

  • Hironori Tanaka [ BLEACH #166 (specifically Ichigo and Grimmjow fight sequence)
    • Known for character acting and expressive animation particularly with line-work animation and hair animations.

Hironori Tanaka animated many of the opening scenes for this, notably, Rei’s drowning and the majority of sections featuring water sequences.  A bit of history about this animator. He’s well-known in the world of sakuga having worked on some very popular series including School DaysFate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade WorksGurren LagannBakemonogatari and one of my favorites The Tatami Galaxy.   I believe what stands out best as his best work as a key animator is on director Kou Matsuo’s Kure–nai.  Episode six to be exact–featuring a musical sequence.  Sometimes there doesn’t need to be -in-between frames when there are many key frames used.  Typically TV Anime do not produce this level of quality, however, there are times when this style of animation is utilized. This seems to be Tanaka’s style resulting in a very smooth flow to his sequences. He’s one of a few animators to be experienced and designs scenes with a purity to them . I say pure because he is able to draw 50 to 80 frames just to get a sequence nailed down properly.

Sangatsu‘s opening has very beautiful animation with varying shades of blues and other dark tonal colors that mesh together with a powered pigment influence.  BUMP OF CHICKEN are back for the anime adaptation reprising their role in 3-Gatsu no Lion material with both a well-designed opening and ending sequence.  They definitely delivered an emotionally-charged and well-written indie-styled rock song that matches these visuals beautifully.  Rei is drowning without a pathway to follow in life–the visual cues with the doorways represents that he has many choices in life but doesn’t have a grasp on his own life yet. I really like how the song gives an uplift with the chorus and suddenly the animation changes to firefly visuals and the family that has taken a chance on him might just give him the push he needs to figure out his life goal.

Yuri!! on Ice Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

Yuri!! on Ice effortlessly ignites an engaging story about figure skating with fluid animation, a compelling soundtrack, and a creative charm that works perfectly.

PLOT: Yūri Katsuki carried all of Japan’s hopes on his shoulders to win at the Gran Prix Finale ice skating competition, but suffered a crushing defeat. He returns home to Kyushu and half feels like he wants to retire, and half feels like he wants to continue ice skating. Suddenly the five-time consecutive world championship ice skater Victor Nikiforov appears before him with Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian figure skater who is already defeating his seniors. Victor and both Yuris take up the challenge on an unprecedented Gran Prix series.

Animation Production: Studio MAPPA [Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope]TeekyuZankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo], Garo: Honoo no Kokuin, Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS, PunchLine, Ushio and Tora, In This Corner of the World, Days, Hajime no Ippo: Rising [co-produced with MADHOUSE])

Director: Sayo Yamamoto [Storyboard and Episode Director on Samurai Champloo Episodes 5,11, 18, 22 and 26 / Storyboard on Death Note episode 22 / Series Director and Storyboards on Michiko e Hatchin / Storyboard on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Episode 11 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Space Dandy episodes 2 and 7 / Director and Storyboard on PSYCHO-PASS‘ first opening sequence / Director and Storyboard on Shingeki no Kyojin [Attack on Titan]’s first ending sequence / Director and Storyboard on Space Dandy‘s ending sequence / Director and Storyboard on Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS‘ ending sequence)

Series Composition: Sayo Yamamoto

Character Designer: Tadashi Hiramatsu (Animation Character Design and Animation Director on Cutie Honey [Live-Action Film] / Director, Storyboard, Animation Director [OP; episode 1] on Re: Cutie Honey OAV / Key Animator on Darkside Blues film / Key Animator on Master Keaton episode 28 / Key Animator on Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes 15,19, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 26 / Storyboard and Assistant Animation Supervisor on Mushishi episode 8 / Key Animator on Mushishi episodes 16 and 20 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Denno Coil episode 10 / Key Animator on Kimi ni Todoke episode 5 / Key Animator on Space Dandy episodes 2 and 17 / Animation Supervisor and Character Designer on Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakkuritsu / Storyboard on Kuromukuro episode 5)

Music: 

  • Taku Matsushiba (Composer for the following advertisements and animation projects: Asahi The Dream, Oono he Kaerou, Yokai-Watch “puni puni”, Toyota Vitz, JR Toukai, Nissin Cisco, Mix Channel)
  • Taro Umebayashi (Composer for the following works: Space Dandy [credited as ‘milk’]

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Jun Shishido (Storyboard and Episode Director on Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope] episode 6 / Storyboard on Kingdom episode 32 / Series Director and Storyboard on Hajime no Ippo: Rising episodes 1,2, 21 and 25 / Storyboard on Kiseiju: Sei no Kakuritsu episode 11 / Episode Director on Death Parade episodes 1, 6 and 11 / Storyboard on Death Parade episodes 3,6 and 11 / Director on Ushio and Tora‘s first and second opening sequences /

Storyboards: Sayo Yamamoto

Script: Sayo Yamamoto


From the director of Michiko e Hatchin and Lupin the Third: Fujiko Mine comes a story about competitive figure skating.  Originally this project by Sayo Yamamoto was created as a music video entitled “Endless Night” for the Japan Animator’s Exhibition project from Studio Khara [Neon Genesis Evangelion] and Dwango last year.  The visuals are stunning and some of the best this year has to offer. I knew this season would be huge considering that my favorite genre Josei [Sangatsu no Lion and Fune wo Amu] would be getting the spotlight but this knocked out just about every show that’s aired so far out of the water!  Yūri Katsuki is a timid 23-year old skater admiring the talents of skating legend Victor Nikiforov.  This episode does a fine job in establishing Yūri Katsuki as someone with much to learn.  He’s more relatable than many male protagonists and adding to this realism are a few qualities that outlines director Yamamoto’s attention to characterization–he has problems managing his weight. Not to mention the effects of his dog’s death weighing on him too. Which I’m sure the anime will explore this avenue later on.  His issues can clearly be seen as we see him crying in the bathroom and during the childhood segment alongside Yuko–he’s emotional and hasn’t quite come to terms with his loss at Gran Prix. Russian figure skater Yuri Plisetsky didn’t help the situation either. However, it does set up a nice rivalry between the two of them.  We also see how affected Yūri is after losing at the competition through the episode’s stylistic direction affixed on Yūri’s own physical appearance.  This is highlighted in his face perfectly.  From a downward spiral to an ultimately uplifting skating performance that turns out very rewarding in the second half.  As the story progresses we see that Yūri still has passion for figure skating.   Spending the remainder of this episode at the Hasetsu skating rink and an unexpected encounter at the hot springs provides a solid start to the story.

The visual quality is superb–the cast is attractive and this comes across during the skating scene as well.  Transitioning from Yūri and Victor Nikiforov’s skating performances.   MAPPA and Yamamoto didn’t mess around with staffing for this anime.  Picking  two time Japanese national ice skating champion (now retired) Kenji Miyamoto to choreograph all of the skating scenes and the visual appeal is breathtaking.  This isn’t the first time Miyamoto has choreographed either as he’s choreographed show programs for Japanese figure skaters Shizuka Arakawa, Daisuke Takahashi, Akiko Suzuki and Yuzuru Hanyu.  Working as a coach and choreographer gives him a chance to shine on projects like Yuri!! on Ice!

The ice skaters move freely across the screen–extremely life-like.  From hand gestures to flowing hair, Yūri and Victor’s curvatures and clothing embellish a style that’s physically charming and sensually engaging. In other words this is a fine example at what animation can achieve–a physical style that comes off more beautifully than to sexualize its characters through fanservice framing. What’s interesting is how artistic the entire sequence is–you can see his passion through his skating and this is depicted in his slimmer figure on the rink and top-notch performance.  The animation choice during this scene was beautiful on purpose.

Off the ice, this show explores body language in a variety of ways–closeup shots of expressive facial animation and quick comedic caricatures capture ballet teacher Minako-sensei and Yūri perfectly. Hopefully, we will get to see a ballet performance from Minako in a later episode accompanied by a originally-composed Taku Matsushiba piece.  This show couldn’t be all pretty like the previews let on. The goofy animations were done by famous Ranma 1/2 and FLCL animator Hiramatsu Tadashi.  Reminding us that we’re still watching a Japanese anime.  The background designs are a pencil-sketch style and very colorful. Object are highly detailed as well.  These characteristics in animation transitioned nicely to the natural movements of the characters giving off the idea that there is beauty outside of ice skating.

Overall this was a beautiful piece of work that is an extension to “Endless Night”.  One that I highly recommend checking out.  A charming additional to the Fall 2016 Anime lineup!


 

OP: “History Maker” by Dean Fujioka

Directed by: Sayo Yamamoto

Storyboards: Sayo Yamamoto

Animation Supervisor: Sunghoo Park

Absolutely incredible. This is one of the coolest openings I have ever seen. Beautifully animated and on-point with the song by Dean Fujioka!  I love his voice it’s very smooth sounding and his English is amazing. The song was written in cooperation with Taku Matsushiba.  His style is astounding–this song is heavily inspired by classical and contemporary pop music. Providing a nice introduction in the anime’s backdrop–a modern day skating story.  Very inspiring lyrics and visuals that are filled with huge amount of artistic passion!

ED: “You Only Live Once” by Wataru Hatano

Directed by: Yoichiro Hayashi

Storyboards: Yoichiro Hayashi

Animation Supervisor: Tadashi Hiramatsu

This was a surprisingly good ending.  Really good. Coming off from the modern day musical styled opening sequence this one focuses on life outside of the ice skating element.  An entire sequence of instagram posts of the famous figure skaters featured in Yuri!! on Ice! Looks like a sequence taken from  FREE! but with a lot more heart to it.  This ending comes off super smooth with the addition of an electro-pop sound for the ending song and seiyu Wataru Hatano’s singing. Enjoyed this ending a lot. Anyone notice the “bae” acronym? Very funny.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] [93/100]

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A show that masterfully created suspenseful drama. Productions were top notch–visuals by A-1 Pictures put this towards the top of my list as some of the best animation including its wonderful cinematography!  Yuki Kajiura scored a dramatic soundtrack and it pays off!  Especially with Kayo’s scenes between her mother and the incredible detail on object framing throughout the kids conversations at school!

We get a realistic perspective on how Satoru grows up through the eyes of a child.  If it weren’t for Satoru’s mother, Sachiko, being such a strong parental figure (supporting Satoru’s decision on not abandoning Kayo) in this series I would not have rated this in the 90’s.  It’s because of her we understand Akemi’s treatment of her own child, Kayo, and that Boku Machi is more than just a chilling murder mystery series.  It is clearly seen by the first half of this anime that the director chose to highlight the friendships (Kayo x Satoru) rather than focusing on Satoru finding out who killed his mom [until towards the end of the anime].  We get a concurring theme of murder mystery that helps him get closer to Kayo–the animation and cinematography were important in getting this across.  We see realistic scenes between the two of them from hand holding to birthday parties and while being in his 10-year old self it’s Satoru’s job to protect Kayo it also rewarding that he is learning new things about himself and why he couldn’t connect with his mom and friends before.  His revival ability gives him the chance at a “do-over” and it’s amazing to watch it pan out.  Offering us well-written inner dialogue scenes from heartfelt moments to comedic scenes.

Director Tomohiko Ito [Sword Art Online] cut out a lot from the manga and still managed to give us an ending that is satisfying.  The manga explains that Satoru can rerun moments of time backwards sometimes of his choosing.  In the anime, his ability is known as revival where it occurs through a situation that leads to tragedy.   In the manga, chapter 3 explores this in detail when Katagiri Airi and he discover a building getting torn down and Satoru has a rerun.  He knows something is off and discovers a child stuck in an elevator shaft.  After saving the child’s life he discovers that Katagiri’s first name is Airi and they call each other on a first name basis after the incident.  In the anime this entire scene is completely removed resulting in a lack of characterization for Airi. And still the anime captured even Airi’s moments nicely.  Using her as Satoru’s push forward in the middle of this story worked–Satoru can lean on his friends for help.  IF it wasn’t for her punch scene with the manager and the entire fire sequence I don’t think Satoru would have leaned on his friends, especially Kenya, as much as he did in the second half of Boku Machi.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 93/100


 

On a side note I thought I’d share some upcoming events my anime club is having. If anyone is interested in helping out with my events please contact me.

Anime Nights’ Facebook Events

Arslan Senki Episode 16

Episode 16 Production Details

Episode Director: Kazuo Nogami (Episode Director on Ninku episodes 18, 28, 35 and 43 / Episode Director on Denno Coil episodes 7, 9, 11 [alongside Tomoya Takahashi], 18 and 20 [alongside Masaru Yasukawa] / Episode Director on BLEACH 284, 293, 300, 311, 320, 326, 333, 340 / Episode Director on Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon] episode 3 / Episode Director on Terra Formars 10 and 11 [assistant episode director])

Storyboards: Kazuo Nogami

Script: Aoi Shushiro [Script writer for Samurai Champloo episode 10 / Series Composition writer on Hamatora / Script writer for Galilei Donna episodes 5, 9 and 10]


We’ve seen this many times before.  Narsus outwits Arslan’s enemies and this episode wasn’t much different on that front.  There needs to be more personal dilemma for Narsus rather than an over-powered strategist, some kind of slip-up needs to happen to build his character out better. I say this because Narsus is yet again faced with overwhelming odds and still manages to come out on top.  Rajendra has 50,000 soldiers and Gadevi has 150,000 men including drugged war-elephants.

Narsus thinks ahead by misleading Gadevi, pulling  his soldiers out of Gujarat leaving behind dummy soldiers (literally) for them to square off against.  It takes a turn for the better when Rajendra, haven’t being told of the plan, is caught by surprise when his army shows up to battle Gadevi.  It’s great to see that the plan isn’t  being told to us in plain view and even, we are surprised by how Narsus’ strategic skills are put to use in a battle with two other armies.  The tactics used in this were fantastic, however, unlike the first few episodes there wasn’t too much tension developed.

This is where  I want to mention that the director on this series is Noriyuki Abe, the general director of BLEACH.   While, BLEACH was known for information drops right before a battle, revealing a plan to an enemy even way before it occurs. This was problem for this show however Arslan Senki steers (for the most part) clear from that (for now) and designs a wonderfully written set-up to its battles especially in this episode.  Too bad the tension and the animation aren’t polished–tons of heavy action scenes detracted away from the importance of this battle.

The aftermath of the battle  with Gadevi also portrays quite a vicious image of him.  He’s ready to execute Jaswant before the Vizer steps in and this alludes to how Arlsan is viewed by the company that he keeps.  Jaswant notices the difference in how Arslan treats his loyal subjects as opposed to Gadevi.  It this entire scene that explores how immature Rajendra and Gadevi’s sibling squabble is. Making matters worse is when the old king, Karikala wakes up and isn’t too pleased to hear his sons are bickering, costing thousands of soldiers’ lives. Given the situation it makes sense, during these times, that there would be a duel before the Gods. Using Daryun for this battle is just a small piece for Arslan understanding himself, his allies, and the world accepting him as the future of Pars.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6/10

91 Days Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 

Animation Production: Shuka [Durarara!!x2 Shou and KetsuNatsume Yujin-Cho Go Season 5)

Director: Hiro Kaburagi (Storyboard on Guilty Crown episode 6 / Series Director on Hozuki no Reitetsu / Episode Director on Kaze no Stigma‘s Opening Sequence / Series Director and Script on Kimi ni Todoke and 2nd Season / Director on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun / Storyboard on Rolling Girls episode 9 / Episode Director on Speed Grapher episode 19)

Series Composition: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on Gin no Saji / Series Composition and Script on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!! / Script Writer on Prince of Stride: Alternative episode 2 / Series Composition and Script on Usagi Drop)

Character Designer:  Tomohiro Kishi (Key Animator on Baccano! episode 1 / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun / Key Animator on Gunparade Ochestra‘s Opening and Ending Sequences / Animation Director on Space Dandy episode 5 / Animation Director on Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo] episodes 4 and 6)

Music: Shogo Kaida ( Music Composer on S.A.Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Hiro Kaburagi ( Director on Dededen Specials / Episode Director on Fantastic Children episodes 2, 5, 9, 11, 15, 20, 24 and 25 / Storyboard on Guilty Crown episode 6 / Director on Hozuki no Reitetsu / Episode Director on Kaze no Shoujo Emily episode 19 / Director on Kimi no Todoke / Episode Director on NHK ni Youkoso! [Welcome to the NHK!] episodes 5, 13 and 22)

Storyboards: Hiro Kaburagi (Series Composition on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED]/ Series Composition on Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon] / Series Composition on Joker Game)

Script: Taku Kishimoto


I remember how spectacular Zankyou no Terror‘s premiere was. Full of dramatic action and sequences that left me wanting so much more from a 25 minute episode run-time.  This was the case with 91 Days.  A revenge story about a young man Angelo Lagusa vows to take a revenge on the family that murdered his own. Script writer, Taku Kishimoto nailed the human relationships in this first episode wonderfully. For the first few minutes we are gently brought into the drama surrounding Angelo and his curiosity towards the Vanetti family.  He receives a picture of his younger brother claiming that the Vanetti family is in the town of Lawless.

The first ten minutes of this episode as beautifully written, incredibly drawn and the camera angles were a stylistic choice that comes off like you’re watching a high-budget 1920’s crime film.  Angelo’s brother Luce Lagusa and his friend Corteo playing with the candle are a small piece of what makes 91 Days a step up above many shows that are airing this summer season.  Shogo Kaida handles the music in this anime and I’ve got to say I’m impressed.  The use of strings during the murder scene weaves together nicely between shots of the kids looking through the crack of the closet doors witnessing the traumatic event unfolding. I also love the slow-motion effects the creators decided on using–Testa slashing at Vincente Vanetti to Luce running out of the closet to a well-lit room to save his mother.  The framing in this was spectacular!  Three Vanetti members were involved in the killing of his mother, father and brother and it creates potential in developing these characters further when (or if) we are introduced to them in some way or another.

An original story and I’m glad to see a newer studio tackle it too–they produced the previous Durararax2 Shou and Ketsu seasons so I can clearly see where their budget was being used on. It was for this. The lighting between many dark scenes of the house and landscape of the woods fit together.  I’m glad they decided on a TV route for this rather than a feature-length film.  So much story is involved!  Hopefully, they will make this longer than 1-cour (91 episodes is wishful thinking).

After the murder scene we are treated to an introduction reminiscent of the Godfather films that sets the tone and atmosphere of a 1920’s world.  Also this acts as a gradual build in time jump that begins Angelo’s revenge on the Vanetti’s. Creteo being a moonshiner was a nice choice.  It reminds us of the time this series is set in and opens up a door for Angelo to get involved with a ragtag team of bootleggers that turn out to be none other than Nero Vanetti himself, one of the men that helped with murdering the Lagusa family!

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10