OK this is my shit. Sometimes I find it troubling how often products designed for the elderly appeal to me. Shouwa Monogatari has been billed as an “anime for seniors”, set in the year Shouwa 39 (that’s 1964), full of nostalgia for days gone by. It’s really just a slice-of-life period drama about the year Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics - barely 20 years after WWII.
The plot is standard fare, revolving around a working class Tokyo family with 3 kids of varying ages. The interesting part is how the era informs the drama, creating tension between generations in the context of technological progress like the newly built Shinkansen, electronics and commercial air travel. The production quality is just beautiful too, complete with lovingly animated rendering of real structures and locations. Deep nostalgia is evident in the opening credits, which contrast past and present photographs of parts of Tokyo and their 1960s animated versions. It’s so moving, you guys.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you of how much this show CARES, after the ending credits (and their awesome 60s soundtrack) each week is a special segment full of information about an area featured in that episode and what it looks like today. These “Burari Sanpo” or “Casual Stroll” segments are a real highlight, giving you tiny snapshots of Tokyo’s history. Which is perfect, because the whole show is just a very sweet window to the past.
Oh and good news if you don’t watch raws: I noticed today that a fansubber has picked up episodes 1 and 2 already, so if you’re also digging on that senior citizen vibe you now have no excuse not to watch this.
"What if a Female Student Manager of a High School Baseball Team Read Drucker’s ‘Management’" is a pretty fantastic name for a business novel. The book can’t have been that bad either since it became a massive best-seller in Japan and now has a 10 episode anime and a live-action film (June 2011) based on it.
The first few episodes of MoshiDora were a little slow on the pacing, but honestly I’m just happy to have another baseball anime to watch this spring. Sometimes I forget to watch anime otherwise. Most baseball animes are only peripherally about the sport anyway and this one is obviously no different. Manager Kawashima Minami (whose name must be homage to the most famous of fictional joshi managers, Asakura Minami) attempts to determine who the stakeholders are in high school baseball, how to market to them, methods of translating technical language to the consumer (coach-to-team and vice versa) and motivating through responsibility.
It looks like she’ll be dealing with the issues of a different team member in each episode (le sigh, problem-of-the-week) with some underlying problem to eventually resolve surrounding her own relationship to baseball (childhood trauma?!) and a few earnest hand-grasping “sports-yuri” pairings (Minami and her sick childhood friend Yuki, star pitcher Asano and his freckled kohai) a la Oofuri thrown in the mix. I’m into it.
I saw Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time last night. Confession: I know it’s blasphemy for a long-term anime fanatic of my disposition/history/snobbery, but I actually hadn’t seen any Ghibli films before this year. I’ve been trying to watch as many as possible recently! Nausicaa is probably my favourite, but Howl’s came close to stealing my heart. Especially Calcifer. And especially any scene with Calcifer eating things. And extra-specially any scene with Calcifer eating firewood that he feeds himself with his little fire-arms. <3
I didn’t start watching this until a couple of weeks ago, but now I’m glad I picked it up! Having followed the manga for a year or two I was worried the anime wouldn’t do it justice. The character designs have all lost their sharp and pretty edge, and I heard rumours that Misaki wasn’t the ball-busting tough chick she is in the manga. It’s true anime Misaki is a tad more deredere earlier on but she’s still a strong female protagonist. What I’m enjoying most about the anime actually, is Usui.
Of course I like him in the manga. He’s an ideal shoujo hero - silent and manly, has perfect hair, always napping on rooftops, prone to making extravagant moves (jumping off of buildings, kicking down doors) to protect the girl he loves. But I have to admit I’ve got a soft-spot for his hapless rival Shintani, simply because Usui is so damn perfect and Shintani is an adorable, junk-food eating, tree-climbing, gas-station part-timing goof… plus he’s got a scar on his cheek/major moe point. (Shintani hasn’t shown up yet in the anime by the way, tanoshimi~)
But Nobuhiko Okamoto’s voice acting really takes Usui to the next level! He swings so well between the cool shoujo hero voice and a petulant monotone that can be teasing, perverted or apathetic (above) but is always hilarious. Manga Usui has plenty of perverted and quirky moments, but maybe because the manga is currently entering a more emo arc to do with his past or maybe because they are usually little single-frame asides, I don’t notice them as much as I do here. And it’s making me dig Usui more and more. Dare I say, I’ve caught the Usui-fascination. orz
My reaction to the news, from Ojisan, that I am being pitted against some other proper anime blog in the AniBlog Tourney has left me with the above expression. WTF? This isn’t even a blog, and it’s hardly about anime anymore. A year and a half ago I guess I used to write episodic reviews, but now it’s a busy month for me on here if I post a SeraMyuu video or a screenshot for the lulz and rant about some drama only my Mum and I have seen. Hell, it’s not even good for a tumblrrrog.
But in the honour of the 20(!?!)-odd people who voted for this piece of rubbish personal website of mine, I thought I’d write something about the anime I’m currently neck-deep obsessed with. Gokinjo Monogatari is one of Ai Yazawa’s (the creator of Nana and Paradise Kiss) earlier works, and is in fact the lesser known prequel to Paradise Kiss. I wanted so badly to watch the 50 episode anime quite a few years ago when I first saw ParaKiss, but my Japanese wasn’t good enough back then and there were no fansubs. I decided to return to it recently - and luckily for anybody in the same boat nowadays, a fully subbed version is now available.
Let me call out my bias from the get-go - everything about this series is like CRACK to me. I may seem like a shounen sports junkie to those reading this not-a-blog, but my true passion has always been pure mid-90s shoujo manga adaptations. The flat cel-shaded, poor quality animation gets my heart pumping with nostalgia for my first love. Anything in the vein of Hana Yori Dango and Sailor Moon, from the era when even the romance animes had to come with Bandai merchandising affiliations, really just DOES it for me, y’know?
Gokinjo takes that 90s aesthetic I love, and kicks it into the next level with my next favourite deal-maker - mature, slice-of-life themes. Yazawa Ai has this underlying current of realism in all her works that injects a sour note into every almost-happy ending. Gokinjo Monogatari is by no means dark, or even half as tragic as Nana, but its focus on small personal tragedies (Mikako’s parents’ divorce, the troubled love-triangle between Yuusuke, Body-ko and Ayumi) is something I really appreciate. As is Yazawa’s beautiful rendering of a flawed, multi-dimensional female lead in Mikako, as always.
This is a story about a bunch of cool teenagers at a hip art school in 1995, being creative, dating each other and finding themselves. Mikako, an aspiring fashion designer, organizes a group of her friends (and enemies) into a DIY collective that makes and sells their respective crafts at local flea markets. It’s the the struggles of this collective that form the centre of the show, along with Mikako’s relationship with her childhood friend and next-door neighbour turned romantic interest, Tsutomu (above).
The fact that the clothing is absolutely dated might pose a problem to some - but I LOVE it. That plastic, neon, fuzzy, rave fashion and the feel of Gokinjo reminds me of all of those mid-90s teen dramas I adored - like Hackers, Kids, the Finnish film Freakin’ Beautiful World, the game Jet Grind Radio for Sega Dreamcast… It’s like this show was made for me - one of the members of the flea-market collective is even a video game programmer who routinely pulls all-nighters debugging on his crappy 90s PC.
But although I may be blinded by how absurdly “up my alley” this series is, I can still recommend Gokinjo on the basis of writing alone. I’m jaded as hell, and this show made me laugh OUT LOUD (something I never do watching anime, even when I say I did) and actually bawl my eyes out multiple times in just the first dozen episodes. The plot is well-wrought, the pacing is perfectly dramatic and comedic when it needs to be, the characters are fascinatingly human for the most part - and while Mikako’s seiyuu may be an awful singer, the soundtrack KILLS.
Anyway, I’m sorry to anyone who reads this as a serious anime blog - for my lack of interest, my lack of interesting content, and the fact my layout sucks and you can’t see any of my tags and shit if you don’t use Tumblr. But in exchange, I can whole-heartedly recommend you go watch Gokinjo Monogatari because it is fucking awesome.
As expected, I love Yutori-chan. It’s hilarious and true and short enough for me to watch during crunch and it has the best themesong of all time. Here’s an English translation of the lyrics so you get the jist of why I love it so much:
I just didn’t do the things you didn’t say I had to - why are you so angry? Unpaid overtime? No thank you! Sorry, but not tonight! What, you’re not even listening to me! I’ll say “Excuse me, I’m done for the day!” right on time.
When I say something, those rigid adults respond right away with a “Because!” In one ear, out the other. Don’t let it weigh on you!
I’m not being selfish, I’m just doing things at my own pace! Aren’t misunderstandings annoying? I want to be able to live honestly and true to myself! Working straight through the holidays? Don’t you need a break? I’ll take an overseas vacation instead - with pay!
Things will work out somehow! Overexert myself? Tough it out? Nonsense! If trouble lasts for too long… I’ll count on you!
I just can’t write a Spring 2010 Anime Preview. I’ve been trying for weeks! (And by “trying” I mean putting it on the backburner~) But I’m not interested enough to do the necessary research to write anything of value about what shows I’ll be checking out!
Angel Beats and Arakawa Under The Bridge both intrigue me but also include elements that make me yawn. I’m probably more likely to look into the latter if I watch either. Time is something I ain’t got a lot of lately. =( Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei definitely looks like a show I want to watch but none of the promo material has grabbed me too deeply yet. Kaichou wa Maid-sama is a manga I’ve been following for a while - the set-up is mostly fluff but the protagonist Misaki is the tough and likable sort of tsundere and there are plenty of super hot dokidoki scenes - so I’ve been planning to watch the anime. Though I’ve heard this adaptation doesn’t look promising so far, which has kind of quelled my excitement. I’ll stockpile and marathon K-ON!! when I feel like something fluffy again and I’ll watch Oofuri as soon as I finish the first season. (Could say the same about Major and its megalithic backlog of seasons I’ve been putting off but I gotta fill my baseball anime void somehow…) Weirdly enough, Yutori-chan might be the new show that interests me the most this spring, since it’s short and sweet with a cute colour palette and apparently makes a subtle commentary on generation differences between women and girls in contemporary Japanese society? LOL
I might post about any or all of the above shows as I watch them, should I watch them. So in lieu of a proper anime preview here is my own personal DRAMA preview. (Note: a lot of these picks are pretty fucking obvious. FOR ME)
I never watch dramas while they are airing, so none of these are current (I think the most recent ones here are from the 2009 Fall Season). The reason for this is that my drama watching buddy (who also happens to be my awesome mother, Linda) collects the DVD boxsets, so I have to buy them online after the DVDs are released. So much for relevancy. But I like old shit and this post is mostly for personal reference (and Linda, so she knows what we’re watching over the next few months!!!) If you find something on here that interests you too that’s a bonus, but at least you’ll know what to expect reviews of on this blog upcoming ^__^
An older drama but one I’ve been wanting to watch for ages. If you don’t already know how much I identify with Hiroko Matsukata, the overworked female magazine editor, then I don’t know whose blog you have been reading. The Hataraki Man anime was hugely inspiring to me in work and life and love, so I’m dying to see how it looks with the live-action treatment. (Also I was pretty fist-pumpingly stoked about the hints of future romance between Hiroko and grouchy cameraman Sugawara in the final anime episode, although that might be too much to hope for~)
My second favourite Adachi franchise, in between Touch (1st) and Cross Game (3rd). Now that both Cross Game manga and anime have wrapped up I’m starved for more Adachi (heck I even read all of Katsu) so I can’t wait to relive H2, drama style. For Cross Game fans, imagine if Kou and Azuma were best friends but played for rival highschools. Now imagine if Wakaba hadn’t died, but rather grew up and starting dating “Azuma” in 7th grade without knowing her childhood friend “Kou” ever had a crush on her. PAINFUL SITUATION RIGHT!?!? And “Senda” even gets an egocentric but cute girlfriend! That’s H2. And it’s awesome. No actor could ever be as perfect as Hideo Tachibana is in my mind, but the dude who plays Hiro is pretty hot so I’m looking forward to this.
Tough, capable and single female teacher in her early 30s. Starts dating dude 10 years younger than her. I don’t care that it’s the too-pretty Teppei Koike as the younger teacher guy. You had me at “ohitorisama”. My fascination with dramas about single career women continues.
Love story between a professional basketball player and an aspiring concert violinist. How I missed the fact that two former Sailor Senshi (Kitagawa Keiko and Komatsu Ayaka) are in this I have no idea. I’ve heard some mixed reviews, and I don’t remember Sailor Mars being a stellar actress and she’s the main love interest. But sports romances are my kryptonite so we’re definitely watching this.
The usual odd-couple cop partner story, this didn’t really appeal to me when I first heard about it. But everyone I know who has seen this has raved about it. And when one of my Japanese girlfriends found out my Mum is a massive Oguri Shun fan, she asked me why the hell we hadn’t watched this yet. So consider this a gift, Mrs. Hanazawa Rui.
Linda also bought Atashinchi no Danshi and Samurai High School from her favourite K- and J-drama stand in the mall, so I’ll probably review those too. Lots to watch, geez. Busy busy life. (´；ω；`)
Ayane and Pin are totally going to get together. Cross fingers. Haha, she’s so mature for her age and he’s so immature for his - they’re a match made in hell. I hope Karuho Shiina does more with the running gag of them always walking home together since she’s said the manga is going to focus on more of the side character’s relationships going forward.
Oh hell who am I kidding, if that just means we’ll get some more development of Ryuu and Chizu I’ll fist-pump regardless.
So yeah, fully enjoyed Kimi ni Todoke and all that. I’ve heard murmurs around complaining that this was a strange place to end the anime - especially since the conclusion of the school festival arc (chapter 40) would have been a more natural and satisfying ending - and I’m not sure what I think about that.
To begin with, I don’t think I’ve been appreciating the Kimi ni Todoke anime as a discrete work. I find I’m increasingly more of a manga fan than an anime fan these days, since I read a lot more than I watch, and having been a big fan of Kimi ni Todoke since long before the anime was announced I mostly watched this series as a colourful soundtrack redux.
Which was lovely, since this was a very faithful adaptation - and there was some stellar voice acting to augment all of my favourite characters - but I wasn’t viewing it with a discriminating eye. If I had to compare, I would probably say the manga is superior, simply because the pacing is better. Maybe dreamy shoujo manga pacing translates poorly on to the screen - I know I had the same issue with the Skip Beat anime - or maybe it’s personal preference and I tend to just prefer manga as I get older? (I’m not that old okay…) I don’t even know. But those long interior monologues do work a lot better on the printed page.
I’m really not sure how people who approached this show without reading the manga would have experienced it… and I am quite curious. All I can say is I enjoyed it tremendously and I’m looking forward to the second season which is sure to be announced - since there’s a lot more exciting stuff to come in Sawako’s New Year! ^__^