[Anime] Spring Season 2018

Hah. I really am terrible at keeping this place up-to-date (I apologise). But hey, here’s another attempt. Though I had originally planned to keep a proper record of all the season anime I watch, I didn’t find the time to comment on them weekly or anything like that. Instead, I’ll give a brief (loose) ranking of everything I watched in Spring Season 2018 and talk about some of those choices. Meanwhile, the new season has already started so let’s see if I will do the same for Summer 2018 or if I will actually manage to talk about some series more frequently. Of course, these are all but my personal opinions and I am quite aware that it may differ from what the majority of people thinks, so don’t let anything upset you, should you disagree. 🙂

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  1. Megalo Box: I must admit that originally Megalo Box hadn’t even been on my radar and possibly that was the best case scenario because I stumbled into episode 1 without any expectations whatsoever and was absolutely overwhelmed by it from the get-go. Not having read Ashita no Joe or knowing anything about this franchise, it managed to captivate me either way with its charming characters and breath-taking atmosphere. Sure, I do like sports anime but this show did feel less like a sports anime and more than someone’s very personal story from zero to hero, just like every big Shounen Jump series usually tells its tale but with a sprinkle of realism in there. The story certainly isn’t anything out of the extraordinary but it doesn’t always have to be complex to be special. Megalobox delivers with its love for detail and gorgeous animation that feels alive as you spot the authentic lines of the drawings and listen to the fantastic soundtrack and rap segments that truly pull you into the world of Joe and his motley crew that slowly becomes his family. I enjoyed every episode to the fullest though I had hoped to get even more input on Joe’s opponents/rivals and a little more insight into what becomes of the future tournament(s), the use of gear as weaponry and more about the world in general. The final episode felt a bit too abrupt for my taste, though I liked the inexplicit resolution of the final match. All in all, I can definitely call Megalo Box my favourite anime of Spring season 2018.Screenshot (3681)
  2. To Be Heroine: Also titled To Be Hero 2, it is a sequel to the Japanese-Chinese anime from 2016. I really like the co-productions between China and Japan and I really enjoyed the first season already, so needless to say I was overjoyed to see a new installment in the series. It has definitiely kept its charm regarding its very charactersitic animation and the language swap between Chinese and Japanese when there’s a swap between the two universes is extremely well done and a nice little extra. The story started off as something that seemed rather unrelated to the events of S1 and still rather opaque about its direction. However, later on the characters we already knew also started appearing and the show took a very dark turn, which is in no way bad but very different from the light-hearted tone of the first season. While the first three episodes were still really well done comedy, with the following ones up to the finale we were in for the real dramatic and tragic part. The supernatural elements blended well with the very real, every-day despair of the protagonist and I’m glad the ending wasn’t your typical “All is well” closure but rather a hopeful, slightly melancholic way to To Be a Heroine. (However, the comedy snippets from the other universe in the first episodes will still be the best thing about the series. ;D)
  3. Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan 2
  4. Mahou Shoujo Ore:Screenshot (3793)When I saw the concept of this anime I figured it could either be really good and funny or really miss the mark and be a disappointment. Eventually I am leaning towards the positive opninion I had. Mahou Shoujo Ore made me laugh a lot during its first half, especially how it didn’t take itself seriously a whole lot and broke the fourth wall every now and then. The second half got a little more “serious”, which still wasn’t anything heart-wrenching and even ended up in a comedy’esque twist and ending but I feel like after that change of mood or rather focus on the main plot line, a lot of very valuable characters started to be neglected. That’s a real shame because the minor characters brought a lot to the show and while I wouldn’t call the second half boring, it also didn’t make me laugh anymore or draw any sort of emotion out of me. All in all, I really liked the concept and the characters but it contains a lot of missed opportunities. Maybe there will be a couple of OVAs to make up for those and bring back the side characters for more shenanigans.
  5. Nobunaga no Shinobi: Anegawa Ishiyama-hen
  6. Boku no Hero Academia 3rd Season
  7. Rang Wo Men Shao Ba (Fire x Fire): This one is an interesting one. An all-too-familiar highschool. Male student Xiao wants to join the dating club but accidentally joins a club of self-acclaimed inquisitors of all the puppy love in school. And they also happen to be magicians with deadly powers. Xiao then happens to awaken his own deadly fire magic as well. I wouldn’t know how to summarise the plot any better, especially since not that many episodes are out yet. This series is a small Chinese production and releases a new episode when it’s ready and that’s absolutely fantastic. Even after the few episodes they released I can really feel their passion for bringing their ideas to life. So far Rang wo Men Shao Ba has been funny, may it be dark humour or just genuinely well done comedy, and also very cute. The animation is looking sharp and I’m thrilled for the upcoming episode to release.Screenshot (3795)
  8. Shiyan Pin Jiating (Jikken-hin Kazoku)
  9. Hisone to Maso-tan
  10. Comic Girls
  11. Uchuu Senkan Tiramisù
  12. Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – Toutsuki Ressha-hen
  13. Amanchu! Advance
  14. Nanatsu no Taizai: Imashime no Fukkatsu
  15. Cardfight!! Vanguard (2018)
  16. Hoozuki no Reitetsu 2nd Season: Sono Ni
  17. Isekai Izakaya: Koto Aitheria no Izakaya Nobu: I don’t know what it is with me and shows about food and cooking. Besides always getting my stomach growling, they are somehow really soothing to me. Izakaya Nobu is an animated short about a small Japanese bar that leads to the infamous “isekai”, a different fantasy world like straight out of an RPG. However, the bar owners are fairly used to their otherwordly guests and manage to impress them with their Japanese dishes more and more with every new guest. It’s simple but cute and on top of that, it’s educational. The reason why I actually love the show is the part that comes after the animation, an actual short documentation of a Japanese gourmet visiting restaurants to taste a recreation of the dish in the anime. It is presented in a very authentic, funny way which made me crave the food even more.4eb6e30d340008f8b4092efb4c536542
  18. Akkun to Kanojo
  19. Fumikiri Jikan
  20. Golden Kamuy
  21. Persona 5 The Animation
  22. Souten no Ken Re:Genesis
  23. Wakaokami wa Shougakusei!
  24. Piano no Mori (TV)
  25. Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai
  26. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Kaikou
  27. Caligula
  28. Hinamatsuri
  29. Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashi
  30. Nil Admirari no Tenbin
  31. Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boueibu Happy Kiss!
  32. Omae wa Mada Gunma wo Shiranai
  33. Gegege no Kitarou (2018)
  34. Darling in the FranXX
  35. Cutie Honey Universe

This ranking is, like I said before, only a vague listing because some shows were hard for me to rank when put next to others. However, is may be arguably intriguing why I put DarliFra almost at the bottom, although it seems to be an instant favourite to so many people? I feel like I should briefly address the two anime I liked least, just to provide my actual reason behind it.

DARLING in the FranXX could have gotten me onboard, possibly, somewhere at the start if the whole pacing had been different and if I hadn’t found all characters (except the Nines squad) so unlikeable and if the plot hadn’t put me to sleep after episode 2. I really wanted to like it, it’s a TRIGGER anime after all and they have given me so much in the past. I get that they wanted to make something impactful, something complex in between coming of age stories and an apocalyptic setting and (“strange-looking”) mecha. What I got was a lot of very forced romance, a lot of very forced plot ‘twists’, a predictable cast and simply too many episodes focused on character ‘building’ – just that this sort of slice of life didn’t work well for the pacing at all in my opinion. Darling in the Franxx sadly lost my attention and killed my enthusiasm to give it a second chance too fast because I had nothing to cling to which I found interesting. Thus I do believe that any viewer who actually likes any of the characters and can identify with some of the plot lines and character motivations would certainly be able to enjoy this show a lot. Unfortunately that just wasn’t the case for me. And the whole pregnancy and alien stuff at the end really didn’t help.

With Cutie Honey Universe it’s a little more unfortunate because I initially thought I would come to enjoy it a lot (the opening is already catchy enough) but I also didn’t get why there had to be another reboot of a Nagai show that already had a lot of adaptations. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely enjoyed Devilman Crybaby because I felt that it really brought something new to the table while also remaining true to the original. With Cutie Honey Universe that wasn’t the case. And while first few episodes were still light entertainment, with each passing week the episodes became more uncomfortable to watch until there was the episode with the statue scene (those who watched it will know). It is a scene that drags on for way too long and just makes everything so much worse. And this is a good way to sum up the final episodes of Cutie Honey Universe. It’s a reboot that shouldn’t exist. I can’t say if the original is particularly “valuable” material in the first place, since I didn’t read the manga, but it doesn’t have to be, really. However, to experience Honey’s adventures it would surely be enough to go back to the first anime series or the manga.

That said, none of the anime was actually horrible though I also dropped quite a few which is rather uncommon for myself. Near the end, there were those few that really left an impression on me but the rest was rather forgettable, to say the least. I hope that summer season will deliver as one of the strongest anime seasons. I’m very excited for quite a few of the upcoming show, so hopefully I can do this again in due time, just to talk a little about the hobby I love so much~

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[Koyasu Road] Tabiusagi-san

Not too long ago I approached an animated show for children that already aired 9 years ago: Happy Happy Clover. It’s a very straightforward slice of life story about the every day adventures of the bunny girl Chima and her friends in Crescent Moon Forest. Of course, my main motivation to watch Happy Happy Clover was strongly influenced by the fact that Koyasu voices a character in it. It is a bunny called Tabiusagi-san (which literally translates to “traveling bunny”, but I read that his localised English name was in fact Rambler).

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A his name suggests, Tabiusagi-san travels many different places and when he comes by Crescent Moon Forest the animals always ask him to tell them all about his wonderous adventures. He does have a healthy amount of self-confidence on him and appears to be much older than Chima and her friends, but nevertheless he’s still just a bunny and therefore really cute most of the time. Especially his voice is cute, Koyasu did a wonderful job of portraying this character headstrong and charming and at the same time perfectly adorable and calm, regarding his tone. There was a scene when Chima, who has a crush on him, comes to wake him up  in order to challenge him to a race and he’s just so annoyed because he wants to sleep a little longer. That might have been one of my favourite moments because cutesy and pouty Koyasu is something I absolutely adore but don’t get to hear that often compared to other voices he does.

Happy Happy Clover itself isn’t particularly good, nor is it completely bad. It’s leightweight entertainment with a good cast and decent character designs but if not for my bias, I propably wouldn’t have watched all 13 episodes. Interestingly enough there were some pretty sad topics too, e.g. how Tabiusagi-san mentions he doesn’t have a home because his forest was burnt down by humans, together with his parents. That’s rather harsh, is it not? Obviously they didn’t elaborate on this very much because of the audience it’s directed at. Tabiusagi-san must have suffered a lot in the past, although he seems fine in the series. I keep wondering if the directors had something deeper planned for the plot or if they just needed some tragic background story. Another thing that pleasently surprised me was how Tatsuhisa Suzuki was voicing the prankster fox named Charaku. Tatsun was the last person I’d expect to show up in this anime but naturally he, too, did a great job at portraying his character. In general, this show was really interesting in regard of hearing a handful of seiyuu with slightly younger voices and a range different from their usual one.

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[season] Amaama to Inazuma 1

Shin-Ei Animation’s adaptation Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning) based on Gido Amagakure’s manga of the same title has started airing and the first episode was absolutely beautiful. The viewer is given a proper introduction of the characters and the setting. It’s been six months since teacher Kouhei Inuzuka’s wife has died. He is now taking care of their daughter Tsumugi by himself, but he’s not very good at cooking. Therefore the two of them have mostly been having boxed lunches for every meal. Despite the loss of his beloved, Kouhei seems to get by alright, Tsumugi apparently doesn’t seem to realize her mother has died. Or rather she is still too young to grasp what has happened. Probably her dad told her that her mother went on a trip to make her absence easier to understand, since near the end of the episode Tsumugi says “when mum comes back home”or “send mum a letter”.

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Kouhei and Tsumugi go to a cherry blossom viewing where they meet a girl crying under a tree. The girl’s name is Kotori Iida, as we find out later, and her mother owns a restaurant of which the girl hands them a card. As the days go by, Tsumugi grows more and more tired of the same boxed lunch every day so Kouhei decides to take his daughter out to have some “good food” for a change. When they arrive at the restaurant of Kotori’s mother, they find out the woman herself isn’t actually there so Kotori tries her best to prepare some rice for them. As they eat the rice together, not only Kotori but also Kouhei become emotional and decide to cook and dine together from now on…

For a slice of life show, it has a perfect pacing, it’s not too fast or too slow, the first characters were established but not too much was given away yet, making the viewer curious for more. At least that’s what I can say for episode 1. The opening is adorable, creative and fits the show really well, and so does the ending. And of course, the cast is full of elite seiyuu. So far we’ve heard Yuuichi Nakamura as Kouhei who aces at portraying a loving and caring father and Saori Hayami as Kotori. Tsumugi is voiced by Rina Endou who is still a child and relatively new in the business but she is doing really well and her voice is adorable.

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I’m eager to find out more about the feelings of loneliness Kotori has in connection with her mother, watch Kouhei trying to master cooking to make Tsumugi happy and meet new characters.. I honestly can’t wait for the next episode!

 

[DRRR] Izaya’s second character song

The DuRaRaRa!!x2 Ketsu Bonus CD Vol.5 features Izaya and his brand-new character song and I cannot believe he is the one that gets to cover 勝手にしやがれ (Do as you please) by Kenji Sawada!! The DRRR team is a clever bunch, they knew exactly what they were doing when they were assigning this song to Izaya. It’s about breaking up, about being left behind and loneliness. And the cover just adds up perfectly. :’)

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To be fair, the whole song could strongly match Shizuo and Izaya regarding how we may or may not look at their relationship, but one thing becomes obvious either way: the hinting at their last battle especially with the lines

さよならというのもなぜか、しらけた感じだし
あばよとサラリと送ってみるか

Saying “goodbye” may be somewhat of a killjoy
so maybe I’ll just send you off with a “later

which clearly point out the parallel to the /sayounara-abayo/ moment in the series when Shizuo officially bids Izaya goodbye in order to finish him off for good. Izaya can’t properly deal with how even Shizuo is evolving and abandoning him, the one archenemy he always had is now lost to him too. The paradox “Shizuo-complex” , to quote Simon again, like so many times before.

/愛というのに照れてただけだよ/ “it was just that I was a little embarrassed of this thing called love” Simply put, this is exactly what Izaya might feel like and what his main problem is, as Shinra once pointed out. He’s afraid and unable to overtly and genuinely show affection towards someone so that he can protect his heart from getting hurt in any way. But ironically that is what hurts him the most in the end.

Do as you please becomes twice as sad when you apply the song lyrics to Izaya because he’s that sad individual who can’t break out of his vicious circle of loneliness. Sawada might have referred to being left by a beloved, for the information broker it gets so many more meanings… “looks like you’re leaving me after all” Does he mean Shizuo who he has become attached to against his will? Does he refer to his family? Or the life in Ikebukuro he must leave behind? Celty’s head and what is connected to it?

I’m not going into detail about all the lyrics even though they give a lot of insight and are beautiful but I just wanted to point out how glad I am that they chose this song for Izaya but I’m also upset because please, just let me rest from the pain (jk never stop the angst)! Maybe I’ll find some time to talk about the complete lyrics and my Izaya related interpretations some time soon…

 

[Koyasu Road] Kapaeru

Takehito Koyasu, the seiyuu ruling over my heart. Come rain, come shine, come snow, come sleet, for Koyasu the show must go on and I’m willing dig into all of his work. Here I will list my impressions.

This time I’ll comment on Kapaeru from Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera.

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Kapaeru, like his name and appearance suggest, is a Kappa youkai who works as an informant. Like most of the male characters in the most recent adaptation of Dororon Enma-kun, Kapaeru is a rather lecherous individual that happily joins in when it’s about chasing skirts. In the 2011 anime he is reduced to the role of the team’s mascot character and comedic relief, but when he does appear he does his job well. As much as I adore Koyasu’s deep voice, his comedic voice acting is fantastic as well and just stresses his amazing range. And although he is matching the pitch according to the humour of the situation, for Kapaeru he mostly uses his high cutesy voice with a Kansai dialect. Recently he hasn’t taken too many roles with higher, more child-like voices, so in Dororon Enma-kun it’s always a comedic delight to listen to him. In episode 7 there is a scene where Yukihime and Kapaeru are ice skating but then he gets slapped away by a youkai. He flies away shouting “Triple axel~!” in a graceful, defeated voice but in the next scene he suddenly comes back, completely pissed off, asking who kicked him in the face and the sudden shift from his cute to his angry voice à la Bobobo made me laugh so hard-I will be forever grateful for that moment.

With the rest of the cast he also produced the hilarious character song album “Showa Hit Studio” that partly served as the anime’s background music. In the trio song “Enma’s real, real hard work” with Kappei Yamaguchi and Minoru Inaba he sings in his Kapaeru voice while in his solo song “Affair” he switches back to his deeper voice he often used when performing songs like “Sora no Soko” (Weiß Kreuz). The contrast is hilarious and especially when regarding the fact that Kapaeru is supposed to sing the song, the whole situation becomes twice as overdramatic. If Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera is a good anime or not is another question I won’t get invested in today but the Koyasu audio material we got from the series was definitely something I’m not complaining about.

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[Koyasu Road] Koumei

Takehito Koyasu , the seiyuu that has gradually become my favourite seiyuu. I can be lured into watching anything with him in it just so that I may be able to hear one line of his beautiful voice, ranging from hentai to shoujo genre and whatever else is out there. Here I will list my impressions.

This time I will talk about Koumei Shoukatsuryou from Koutetsu Sangokushi.

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He is the protagonist’s master and from the first second you see him you know, he’s either the bad guy or at least has some evil intentions. But the only one who doesn’t seem to notice that is his disciple Rikuson who greatly looks up to him. And if Koumei isn’t the target of jealousy or loathing from the enemy empire he is like the almighty item in this anime. Everybody wants to gain his respect, serve him or belong to him. He is also so powerful that most characters make him out to be untouchable/invincible. With his graceful appearance he easily fools the people around him, hiding his scheming nature. He just really enjoys toying with people apparently. Everybody wants Koumei, but he doesn’t accept anyone (except his disciple in the end for whom he becomes “the darkness” but Rikuson still decides to sacrifice his life for his master; that’s true love for you). The voice pitch Koyasu chose for Koumei is the one I usually call his “calm bishounen voice“, it stays deep and in control, doesn’t really range much, maybe gets a little flirtatious every now and then and is usually used by him when voicing beautiful, androgynous men. It fit Koumei a lot because his character was truly always in control of the situation and seemed to know what the outcome would be like at all times. I liked Koumei because of his sly nature and was glad that he didn’t die at the end. The way he makes everyone gay for him is outstanding and yes, that Koyasu voice was music to my ears…!

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Spring Anime 2016

Anime spring came with a lot of easy-going shows, additional seasons and a few surprises mixed in. The shows I was anticipating did not let me down so far but the anime I’m enjoying the most at this point are somewhat unexpected choices. I’m going to talk a little about those series that have caught my interest the most so far.

Favourite Anime of Spring Season 2016

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Agetarou at his first gig

Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou (とんかつDJアゲ太郎)

Agetarou works at his family’s tonkatsu restaurant to succeed it one day, but the routine bores him. One day, a delivery leads him to a club where he eventually gets hooked on DJing and now he is determined to master both being a chef and a DJ…

Continue reading “Spring Anime 2016”

The development of the DRRR OST

Now that, after 5 years of waiting, the Durarara!! animation has been blessed with a continuation and therefore the conclusion of the complete story, naturally Makoto Yoshimori, the composer of the first Durarara!! score, has done himself the honour and contributed more atmospheric tunes for the second and final season.

What struck me as most impressive about the evolution of the score is how Yoshimori has managed to maintain the atmosphere from the very first track in 2010 to the very last in 2015. And yet it has undergone a lot of change befitting the characters. In the first season of Durarara!! we were confronted with Ikebukuro and its inhabitants getting entangled in all kinds of unbelievable plots. It’s an introduction – a prelude to later, even crazier events –  and therefore the show feels a lot more high-spirited. The music adds a lot to that. It’s lively and nonchalant and psychedelically crazy. In comparison the soundtrack of the second season feels a lot darker in many aspects. The three parts of the Durarara!! x2  anime are the climax of the series all the way down to the conclusion: those are the moments when all the truly shocking and menacing twists and turns happen, when the characters we got to know grow up or crumble and become something else entirely. Thus, on the second and third score we find considerably fewer tracks with an easy-going atmosphere to it and it only makes sense. The fast-paced tracks have a different feeling to them and though they might still be upbeat, they lack the touch of ease and nonchalance that we experienced on the first season’s OST. Only with the fitting music the atmosphere can truly be brought across to the viewers. Yoshimori has managed to create a perfect symbiosis between music and anime but despite that, his style still remains distinctive to the very last note. This is why the Durarara!! score is one of my favourite works out there: in my opinion it perfectly captured the mood that Ryougo Narita described in his novels, it is what supports the animation the most (right after the voice acting) and simply by listening to the soundtracks you can experience the adventurous, bizarre story of Durarara!!.

Continue reading “The development of the DRRR OST”