I’ve been watching a bunch of anime this winter. At first, it was to drown out all the post-employment feelings from my last job. Visual, a little mindless, I’d get to dabble in all sorts of series and animation styles. Drown sorrows in pretty stuff, basically.
Then, it was to reconnect with story-telling. I love anime and manga when it comes to the complexity of characters. There is something with the Japanese anime that they really focus on character and they make each person so variable. They are very conscious of setting up characters foils, intriguing backstory. It helps that the norms in Japanese culture are not the same as the norms in Western culture, so it makes me think more diversely.
Then, it was to reconnect with my childhood. When you’re a kid, you are always pressured to grow up: by your parents, by your friends, by media, and most devastatingly, by yourself. I let go of a lot of things with the aim of growing up and I really shouldn’t have. I should have kept them firmly in my grasp and let the magic continue to thrill me over the span of my life. That is what passions are for.
So as the finales of these animes come upon us, I feel compelled to point out the best, the less, and the really messed up of what I found in the medium this 2014 winter.
EPIC AWESOME CATEGORY
Kill La Kill
NEVER in my life did I think an absolutely, over-the-top anime about clothing and nudity would be this fucking hilarious. It took me a few episodes to grow on it and, even then, I wasn’t sure. But the finale was AMAZING. Ridiculous and hilarious.
Ryuko Matoi is on the hunt for her estranged father’s killer. Armed with a mysterious school uniform of wicked power, Senketsu, she takes on the leader of Honnouji Academy, Sastuki Kiryuin, and her mother’s fashion empire of evvvviiiiilll.
Make it moments: Ryuko’s best friend, Mako, and her relationship with Gamagoori Ira, head of the disciplinary committee at school. Aikuro Mikisugi, Ryuko’s homeroom teacher, and his showy and hilarious tendencies to be nude.
I’ve mentioned Hamatora before. I love the animation style, the characters, the powers. It’s a bit like X-men meets anime and a detective agency.
The finale was worth it with a heart-wrenching victory at the end followed by a stomach-dropping twist.
Engaged to the Unidentified
Engaged to the Unidentified is a mix of adorable characters. When a boy suddenly shows up to live with Kobeni and her (totally little-sister fixated) older sister, Benio, Kobeni isn’t sure what to think but is accommodating.
When she’s told her grandfather has arranged her marriage with this boy and they are engaged, DRAMA! ensues.
Cute, adorable, very light fantasy elements, but really charming.
Witch Craft Works
This anime is pretty much as ridiculous as the poster is. I had issues following who was friends with who and who was actually helping who and who was an enemy. But once you gave up asking “Why?” it was a very beautiful anime with wonderful animation.
Epic Fail Category!
Okay, this anime hasn’t even finished yet but I’m already calling it an epic fail. I was invested because the main character was identified as Canadian-Japanese despite not acting like any of it, at all. Anyway, the anime has clearly missed deadlines or run out of money. Episode 11 was full of face-still closeups during what was supposed to be action scenes, pan-outs during an important and emotional death scene, and skyline views when the main character learns how to fly. It was already pushing my suspension of disbelief but without the pretty images to back it up? It lost me completely.
Someone even went through the effort to post a video rant about it.
They should have delayed the episode. I should have stopped watching after she went to the store, in Canada, to buy a new bottle of maple syrup…in a souvenir bottle.
This anime was more….fan service than anything else. A kind of riff on Harry Potter, Japanese style, the war between the “goodies” and the “baddies” still going on. Inconsistent world building.
And then the ending of the season. WTF. Deus ex machina, anyone? There was no end. There was no direction in the conflict or even a temporary victory or defeat. Literally, character gets transported to alternate timeline dimension. Now end.
Not Over Yet but Worth it!
*heart heart heart* Every episode twists this reverse Romeo and Juliet a little further. We just finished episode 12 and there are 20 commissioned total. I’m so excited to see where this should be going. All the fumbling romances, misunderstandings, romantic tension. *dreamy sigh*
You want to scream at the episode sometimes but that just means they are pulling your strings extra well.
Nagi no Asukara (A Lull in the Sea)
Final episode next week! I’m so excited! The situation is so dire, all the young romances are on the line, the fate of the WORLD is on the line!
Alternate universe where there are sea-people and land-people and a long history of why. The world is freezing over and these young people are terrified and tangled in the webs of relationships, aging, and a world that doesn’t support them properly. Complex and entrancing, these characters are so well developed and always act accordingly. I can’t wait to see how this series ends.