Sopantously doing this whole 12 Days of Anime thing made me realize that I’ve seen a lot more anime I liked this year than I thought I did. Heck, even the ones I disliked which includes the first season of Bingo Stray Dogs, Anime-Gataris, and Hosoda’s The Boy, and the Beast didn’t aggregate me as much as bad anime normally would. However, there’s always an exception every year, and this year it was the five (but felt longer) episode OVA Wounded Man by Magic Bus studio.
Wounded Man just won’t leave my mind. Maybe it’s the fact Kazuo Koike, who is responsible for creating Lone Wolf, and Cub which is one of my favorite manga. Is just as capable of creating something incredibly trashy. From the works of Koike I’ve read, he basically enjoys including plenty of violence, but justify it through in depth character writing, and thoughtful thematic exploration to provide the reader with something more substantial to latch on tool. Wounded Man doesn’t provide any of that. Also missing is the balls to the walls craziness of Mad Bull 34 also by Koike that made Mad Bull 34 trashy, but entertaining to watch all the way through. You won’t get any oversize police officer with grenades attached to his pubes, but you will get a doctor who says bullets always miss their targets right after removing bullets from his patient’s body.
What would have helped Wounded Man be a “classic” like Mad Bull 34 would be if it didn’t take itself so damn seriously. Giving hero Rio Baraka a tragic backstory with everything being all business, and no room for levity. Best of all, Rio Baraka single minded journey for vengeance is just that. He wants revenge without further layers added to it. The revelation in the last episode makes it perplexing why Rio Baraka a better arc. Expanding on Rio views on vengeance, or possibly providing some kind of moral like revenge is futile to make the destination worthwhile. Something that wouldn’t have made it all feel so pointless when it basically pulls the rug under Rio, and because of how static Rio the ending is just bad.
While I’m at it I might as well compare Wounded Man to another anime I saw this year I also disliked. That anime goes by the name Devil’s Line which I found was just as bad, and cringe inducing with its questionable writing. The difference between Devil’s Line, and Wounded Man quality is clear as day despite giving the same rating of a 1 out of 10. I dislike both of them immensely, but with Devil’s Line it is easier to see how it could have been good. The society in Devil’s Line had varying viewpoints on the existence of Devils, and brought up if coexistence is possible with them. Devil’s reliance feasting on blood, and looking alternatives to ease that addiction for Devils to live. Details like this I could picture leading to something good if they were handle better.
Wounded Man correlation to good writing is even harder to find. I found the romance in Devil’s Line to be awfully written, but I’ll take that over how Wounded Man handel’s romance. In Devil’s Line, there were scenes where Anzai, and Tsukasa just talked to build the relationship. Sure it feels contrive when both decide to hook up, but it lays out the groundwork to get there. Starting after Anzai saved Tsukasa from a Devil leading to her being infatuated with Anzai just like that.
Rio Baraka in Wounded Man first encounter with a woman is beating up her driver, raping her, and then saying it was for her own good to warn her about the danger of the amazon. This is also how Rio Baraka is introduced to the audience, and you’re expected to feel sympathy for this dickhead. His second lover he just romantically involved with in episode 3 after lover number 1 dies in episode 2. After that, he goes on to lady number 3, and rapes her to convince her to join him! Even if Rio didn’t rape the two women that fell in love with him he doesn’t have much of a personality, and the anime bother building his relationship with the women helping him on his journey.
I know in Devil’s Line Anzai got too friendly with Tsukasa at the end of episode one, but at least he didn’t rape her, and just try to justify it as a good thing. Anzai try to control himself there after to ensure he wouldn’t harm Tsukasa again. Okay, he tries to improve himself to be a better man. Rio Baraka, I know hammer in this point already, but he raped two of his lovers in the span of five episodes. So even something like Devil’s Line which gets rip to shred has better writing than Wounded Man.
For this it’s Wounded Man I’ll remember for a long time while I’ll slowly forget about Devils Line. The reason being Wounded Man is the antithesis of Death Note for me. Death Note broke my expectation of the possibility of good storytelling. It was a series where I couldn’t imagine how something with its premise could be good, and after watching it here I am watching more anime thanks to it. Wounded Man is not awful enough to make me want to drop anime, but it broke my expectation on how bad writing in anime can be. I never thought that would ever be possible, and while I don’t appreciate it right now. That new low bar for bad writing Wounded Man set was something I definitely needed. With a new bar set, I can wait to witness what’ll eventually break it, and possibly break my spirit while I’m at it.
So that’ll complete my day 2 of the 12 Days of Anime. I absolutely hate Wounded Man, but I’ll be lying if I pretended it wasn’t a strand out anime I saw this year. While further appreciating the good I saw this year I also feel I should take away something from the bad bunch I’ve seen this year. Thankfully the rest of these post will be more positive so I’ll see yah for tomorrow when I post something. Hopefully it’ll come to me just as naturally as this one did. See ya tomorrow folks!
In line with heroine Otome of The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl I chose to participate in the 12 Days of Anime on a whim. Chalk it up to the fact I haven’t felt motivated to do much writing due to some offline drama. However, knowing myself if I let this opportunity to participate in 12 Days of Anime pass me by I won’t get back into this blogging thing regularly again. So, just like how Senpai just jumps into whatever crazy shenanigans in the hopes of winning Otome heart. I too shall take note of his efforts, and just jump into this 12 Days of Anime to see how I come out in the end.
Months after I’ve first seen The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl the movie remains with me. I mentioned it in my review that there’s a lot to take away from it amidst the beautiful animated chaos. Out of everything from it discussion on believing in preordain love over love based on life experience, judging things by their own merits, Senpai preventing himself from going into stalker territory when trying to win the heart of his affection, and so much more. What drives these topics, among the rest of the movie, is the simple theme of that awkward transition from teenager into adulthood. It been years since I got out of that phase, but do recall it not being pretty at all.
My experience in becoming an adult I feel is wonderfully presented by this movie many crazy antics. Just like my first time I was watching this movie. I had no clue where I was going to end up at, but I was along for the ride. Seeing myself in both Otome, and Senpai is what makes it easily noteworthy out of the animes I’ve seen this year.
Otome rushes through one event after the other experience without a desire to see anyone in particular of all the people she makes friends with. This sort of thing I don’t see touch on often in media. Usually the message would be live in the moment assuming everything else is going well for you. Sometime I find myself at the mercy at life just longing for the moment of tedium to be over. I find neither an ideal way to approach life, but then again when I reflect on this idea it’s something very common with me.
As a teenager I moved around the United States living in California, than moving to Georgia, and then finally remaining in Kansas finishing up high school. Years later I’m still moving around these same places, but add Washington on that list, and (possibly) Florida around next year. Moving around so much so frequently, sometimes multiple times within the same year doesn’t let me soak in my environment, and the people I’m surrounded by. It’s typically the thought of not wanting to be homeless over taking my mind over seeing my friends, and family. This still fluctuate even today with it being at a stand still in managing my social life, and my responsibilities.
When it comes to Senpai my relation to him is more, or less getting the girl of his dream. Before I enter my 20s, I use to think if I did a certain amount of things I’ll eventually get the girl of my dream just like Senpai would. I grew out of that mindset when I decided it was too much leaving it up to chance. It was later on in high school that eventually I gave up on that silly stuff, and figured out it’s more, or less the effort I put into dating. Of course, when it comes to the crazy things I did in the name of love Senpai is more entertaining to watch with his reaction. In my corner I’ll just passively mention that one time I kiss a dude at a gay club so my friend would introduce to a girl I liked at the time. Instead of letting my whoever is listening to my story process what I told I just on the conversation quickly.
Senpai also never takes his obsession into something creepily questionable. There’s a brief moment in the movie where he is offer a file on Otome with plenty of information about her, but he refuses to look into it. It seems like a insignificant action in the grand scheme of things, but with the way social media is anyone on the vast world of the web. Anyone can find something about me if they look hard enough. I see so many people put so much of themselves on social media that I always have to remind myself to never share everything in one place. Under wrong hands, this can lead to something you would hope never happens. Take it from me, you don’t to know one day you have a green hair stalker with a black belt in taekwondo who is infatuated with you, and knows where you live. True story by the way.
Another thing I share in common with Senpai is overthinking my situations constantly. Today for instance I questioned whether, or not I should take part in 12 Days of Anime by blogging. I kept overthinking things like my posts won’t be as interesting as other bloggers, my heart won’t be entirely in it, I might rush a few just to stay track, and whatnot. Looking at my laptop multiple time in a situation I became too familiar with. Simply thinking, not acting on my desire to write no matter how it turns out. Out of all the thoughts I had in my head what won out in the end is just go for it. For once, just stop with the methodical thinking, and brainstorm ideas like I did when I was younger.
Quickly, getting back on topic to provide a good closing for this post. With everything I can take away from The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. What will always stick with me from it is adulthood is never going to make complete sense to me. There’ll always be something I’m confused about, there will always be some reason I get myself in some strange situations like finding frozen sea monkeys in the freezer at my job, yearning for that affection of someone significant, and finally constantly balancing myself into a better person each day.
That’ll conclude my first day in the 12 Days of Anime. I have no clue what I intend to do for the remaining 11 days. I’ve heard rumors if I don’t my best to uphold my side on this that Santa Claus himself would come at my door. Do some kicks, flips, and jump kicks for partially destroying some of the balance in the Holiday spirits. Rumors are rumors so I won’t let that scare me. Next time I don’t know what I’ll have for you all. However, seeing the aniblogging community come together to take part in this made me want to join. My alter ego is telling the tire me offline who has currently been working seven days a week at his crummy job to be festive in the community, have fun, do your best, and let’s do this!
In the late 1980s Viz Media released Area 88 in comic book form in the US. Offering readers cartoonish-looking characters struggling in war, and touching on their struggles to fit back into society. Due to poor sales, one thing the comic book shares with it OVA counterpart is leaving readers/viewers hanging. While talks about the comic book seemingly vanished the OVA is still fondly remembered for its story, and animation during its action sequences.
Being tricked into joining a foreign military by his best friend, Shin Kazama must either survive 3 years in the battlefields of Aslan, or earn money from missions to pay a debt of 1.5 million dollars in order to return home. Taking a grounded approach for its storytelling the OVA chooses to tackle the psychological effects war can have on a soldier. In doing so, it removes any fantastical elements present in other war stories in animes like fighting over ideologies, or having a singular advance piece of technology that puts the odd in a faction favors. Residing in a simple world where politics, and money drives the conflict around Shin Kazama being powerless against these forces.
The OVA is wonky in its pacing. Within 3 episodes each averaging about an hour in length. Two of the three episodes portray Shin as someone out of his element. Not hiding how much he hates the sense of war, and what it’s doing to him. These moments where Shin is confronted about his feelings toward fighting is where the characterization shines best. Showing stages of when he’s a pacifist, and refusing to accept what he has become as the result of the war. Not only will you get a picture of who Shin Kazama is from himself, but also what other around Shin feel about him. Making the human drama the centerpiece of the OVA.
When you do eventually get to the famous ariel fights Area 88 is famous for they have more weight attach to them. Spending time developing a bit of the supporting cast, and the history behind the base the anime is named after. Delving into the supporting cast mindset to explore how the stench of war has changed them forever. Showing the strong bonds between the comrades of Area 88 through some humorous exchanges. Highlighting the team sense of comradery with each other despite their tormented souls, and views on morality.
This OVA does have a villain in Shin Kazama best friend Satoru Kanazaki who betrays Shin to get everything he desires. Sleazily presented as he might be the OVA offers moments where he shows some humanity. Showing some level of remorse for betraying Shin adding food for thought in a otherwise simple character. Rokyo Tsugumo who is the center of a unwanted love triangle is given other things to do in the story than just waiting for Shin. She tries to deal with things sensibly, and is given her own moral dilemma which is handle well in the OVA.
The OVA biggest weakness is the weak romance. While watching the OVA I didn’t get a sense of a romantic connection between Shin Kazama, and his love interest Ryoko much. In a ironic turn, everything else revolving around that romance is actually handled better. One of those being a scene where Shin gets asked if he still believes Ryoko is waiting him. It’s a good scene since it gets across Shin affection for Ryoko. As individual characters Shin, and Ryoko are better than expected, but as a couple their romance storyline lacks any sparks, and chemistry to be on par with everything else the anime offers.
The Japanese voice acting wins by a long shot. While the English dub isn’t bad in any significant sense the voice work is notably weaker. In the English dub you have Chris Patton who voices Shin Kazama easily being the best voice actor in the English dub. He’s able to masterfully hide the jarring shift in Shin Kazama character going from a fish out of water to a cold blooded killer within the span of a single episode. However, Kaneto Shizawa who also voices Shin Kazama provides much more of a punch. Coming across more distraught, and cold compare to Chris Patton who withhold himself a bit in the more emotional scenes.
My biggest problem with the English dub is the supporting aren’t emotive enough. Doesn’t help they mostly play one note characters. Hilary Haag for example who plays Ryoko just sounds helplessly shy in every scene she’s in. In contrast to Sakiko Tamagawa who provides the Japanese voice for Ryoko sounds more concerning than shy in her performance. While the English dub is technically more accurate in portraying the different ethnicities of its cast. English voices are generally subdue better fitting the overall tone the OVA is going for. Whereas the Japanese voices can be over the top in places. However, the Japanese voice acting captures the emotions the best in their portrayals because they aren’t holding back like in the English dub.
Area 88 is hand-drawn by Studio Pierrot whom painstakingly go out of their way to animate the most realistic ariel fights possible. Changing up the scenarios to keep things interesting be it flying through a very narrow canyon opening to avoid radar detection, or trying not to crash into a giant steel wall during an assault on a enemy base. Going all out in showing airplanes being pierce apart in combat, tanks getting blown up, and at times showing pilots getting shot inside the plane. Putting on display a variety of different aircrafts. Through masterfully done camerawork you can easily see no shortcuts were taken during the action sequences in the OVA. Character designs are a bit cartoonish with their hairstyle, and wide arrange of colors. Thankfully it’s not distracting enough to take away from the drama.
The soundtrack in Area 88 is both awesome, and datedly cheesy in some of its choices. During the aerial fights the music is able to add a bit of tension to the proceedings. Thankfully director Hisayuki Toriumi knows when to use music so the soundtrack doesn’t come off as intrusive. While in the dramatic scenes it music can sound very hokey. Biggest standout in the soundtrack are both the opening, and themes. In both the English dub, and English sub version you’ll still get the opening theme “How Far To Paradise” in English sung by Derek Jackson which is pretty awesome rock song. “Kanashimi no Destiny” by Mio is the opposite being a slow, piano piece with some emotional vocals from Mio.
Another track, Sabaku no Illusion by Shima Kitahara is similar to “How Far To Paradise” in pumping you up to see the OVA, but lacks the same energy to match “How Far To Paradise”. “So Long My Love” also sung by Shima Kitahara is the second ending theme, and is a perfectly mellow tune to end the OVA on. Capturing the pleasant, and soft nature of the protagonist underscored by it sadden vocals.
Area 88 offers compelling characters, great aerial combat sequences, and theme exploration that’ll make you think about the various side effect of war long after its over. The ending will leave some conflicted, but it’s an appropriate end with everything wrapping up nicely, and the character arcs are completed. It’s an OVA I would highly recommend anyone checking out whether they want some good aerial fights, good drama, or both. Area 88 can deliver those things in stride in three episodes.
Originally I just wanted to watch some old anime, but apparently they turned out to be lost. This snowball into me trying to find other pieces of animation only to have similar results. So instead of being disappointed I went with researching, and putting a few lost anime titles together into a single post. Hope you enjoy a light history lesson on anime!
1917 & 1918 Animes: A Series of Lost FirstThe idea of seeing the earliest pieces of Japanese animation I’ve been told is a novel idea. I don’t think so since I like seeing how far any country’s filmmaking techniques have advanced either in live action, or in the realm of animation. Often time that’s difficult to do since film preservation wasn’t a priority during the early 20Th century, and old film reels weren’t properly cared for. Importance pieces of history are lost, like Vigathakumaran which is considered to be Malayalam first feature film, and King Kong Appears In Edo considered to be the first lost Kaiju film. So you want to know why I was unable to see a lot of these early animes?
One noteworthy lost anime title is one that premiered in January 1917 in Japan. No information, not even a title of it exist anywhere. Simply some sources whose credibility are questionable suggesting a anime premiered earlier than any other known at the time. This pdf file about 1917 anime would suggest the existence of something older than Dekobō shingachō ‒ Meian no shippai premiered beforehand. Given the fact the short film Katsudo Shashin has no confirm evidence suggesting it’s the oldest piece of animation according to author Jonathan Clements. This unknown film, assuming it actually still exist, could be the earliest known piece of Japanese animation. Discounting Katsudo Shashin that is.
The World of Power and Women (1933 Anime): First Animated Film Featuring Voiceovers
So early 20Th century anime history is lost to time. It’s a shame, but there’s no helping it. In doing so, I went ahead to try to find another important piece of anime history I could witness. Leading to into the discovery of this entry. Animation during the 1920s incorporated Benshi; Japanese performers whom provided live narration for silent films. It’s because of this that animes from the 1920s are difficult to follow when viewed today. In 1927, America released its first feature length talkie film titled The Jazz Singer, and somehow this encouraged Japanese film companies to start making them too. I wasn’t able to find any information, or article going into detail on how The Jazz Singer influence Japan other than that broad statement.
In 1931, Japanese film studio Shochiku released Madamu to Nyobo credited for being Japan first talkie. With the finical success of that movie famed anime director Kenzo Masaoka was commissioned to work on talkie film in anime. Working on the film for a little over a year, and since the profession of voice actors didn’t exist. Masoka casted well known actors at the time to help make the film a success. Thus, Kenzo Masaoka is credited for making the first anime talkie.
Just like the previous entry there are no known prints to have survive of this film. Other the one still which I can’t find any information on how it was discovered. There’s no information on how it could have possibly been lost to time. Considering the atomic bombs incident in Nagasaki, and Hiroshima it’s safe to say it’s probably due to that. So yes, the first anime talkie, and technically performances from the the first Seiyuus are lost to time as well.
Makunouchi Ippo Vs Joe Yabuki Simulation
So Ashita no Joe is one of my favorite manga of all times so you can imagine how the discovery of this peaked my interest. Bad news being it was a 3D animation only being shown to the mangaka of Ashita no Joe, and Hajime no Ippo along with a few other people. There’s some untranslated trivia on chapter 818 of Hajime no Ippo that shows Ippo winning. That’s about as much as I could gather about this since there’s not much information on it other than what’s on the Hajime no Ippo wiki. There were other blogs I found that talk about this, but almost all regurgitated the same information. From the stills, the 3D looks pretty poor, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it as a a huge Ashita no Joe fan. Why it hasn’t been release is up in the air.
Once again, little information on this one. Other than the fact there’s a teaser trailer for the movie I wasn’t able to find any other information on it. Not even any official promotional material has been made available assuming it went into production. Toei Animation was apparently handling the animation since in a 2007 pdf file La Rose de Versailles Toei had plans to release it that year. The file is in Japanese so I basically went to Wikipedia, copy the Japanese title of Rose of Versailles, and search for it in the file which it did come up in. So I don’t know Japanese, or how know to read it at best I’m guessing what the information actually says.
No information on why it was cancel either just leaving me to speculate out of thin air. The last confirm information I could find in English was from Anime News Network where it basically said it was still in pre-production. I’ve also read in the comment section on Odoruna.com where user ferichan claims that Riyoko Ikdea did an interview at a Italian convention talking about the movie. Unfortunately they provided no links to it so I can’t confirm if that’s true either. I never seen the original Rose of Versailles anime, but if this movie came out it would have likely made me want to check out the original series that much more.
Chingo Muchabei (1971 Anime Series): The Last Black & White Anime
Here’s a particular anime series that is significant for the sole fact it was the last anime to be aired on Japanese television in black & white. Chingo Muchabei was based on the manga of the same name by Kenji Morita which is a gag comedy following a Ronin who fights with a Umbrella. While the series was in production during the late 1960s at a time the anime industry made the switched to color animation. Resulting in it airing 4 years after it finished it production. Being broadcasted as quickly as possible since fewer, and fewer people were watching black & white anime at this time.
Would you believe Chingo Muchabei was originally conceived as a standard anime series before it was broken up into smaller chunks because it was ahead of its production schedule. This makes the mindset behind it’s scheduled released puzzling as well as other things surrounded it. If it was ahead production of its schedule why was it released 4 years later after it was completed. Questions like this will probably remain a mystery for Western anime fans. As for a DVD release of this series is listed on YesAsia for the low price of 200 dollars without English subtitles. One can hope some kind soul can fan sub the series since I wouldn’t mind seeing it. It’s my inner enthusiast for old animation that seeks it!
This entry owes a big thank you to Cartoon Research for providing me the material for this entry. They not only provided the most in depth piece on it I could find, but they also have a page dedicated to lost pieces of anime media. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in reading more about lost pieces of anime media.
I would say the research was the hardest part, but honestly it was trying to find more information on these lost animes that was harder. If not for the fact there were sites, and bloggers covering it I would have been defeated, scrapped this post, and called it a day. A lot of information I found on different sites regurgitated the same information so attempting to add my own spin on things was also a challenge.
Not only that, but there also other entries I had to scrapped because they weren’t technically lost. Some of the animes I learned about I did discovered were released on DVD, but not officially subtitled in English so they technically aren’t lost. I only included Chingo Muchabei for the reasons I stated already, and that’s pretty significant I feel to share. I am amaze at the amount of lost media there is. Not just in anime, but in just about all forms in media you can expect. Doraemon for instance has enough missing media that anyone can make an entire blog post dedicated to it if they did the research.
I’ll call it here for now. I also owe a huge thanks to all the sources I used in this post, and their hard work in gathering this information. Without them these animes would have definitely lost to time. Sayonora folks, and see you in the next one!
A Letter To Momo is about the title character Momo recovering from her father’s death, and her mother’s decision to move their family from Tokyo to a remote island. That’s about it to be honest. Well, there is also the whole thing revolving around three Yokai/goblins who are tasked to help Momo cope with her lost. If you’re expecting a drama to tackle the themes of lost, and death you’ll be disappointed. It’s leisure pace makes it more of a relaxing slice of a life than a reflection on hard hitting themes. At the cost depth, the movie remains simple with little added to the premise.
Anything supernatural is given the bare minimum development. It’s good enough to make sense within the story, but lacking in the way that it has little importance in the story overall. The three yokai/goblins in the movie primarily joke around causing mischief to Momo dislike. Each of the three yokai/goblins have distinct personalities with an interesting backstory that is touched on. Their responsibilities on the other hand isn’t touched on quite as much. The methods the yokai use to help Momo cope are a mixed in results; one making a point to have fun, and the other mischievous deed feel pointless. There’s also the supporting characters that hardly influence the movie other than Momo having to become brave. Fine for Momo character since she is a properly developed character by the end, but everyone surrounding her feels more like tools in Momo growth.
Being character driven resulted in a story that has the basics down from setting up the conflict, slowly working towards the protagonist improving herself, and eventually overcoming that problem. It’s just the steps of getting from one point to the other feel disconnected. One sequence involves Momo taking two Yokai to look for food resulting in a chase scene of the three running away from wild boars after the Yokai stole their babies. This chase last a long time adding little to the overarching story. Scenes like these are commonplace in A Letter To Momo. While they are amusing they add up to give an overall feeling the film doesn’t much to offer in theme exploration.
The climax is something of a anomaly since the main conflict is Momo having to accept her father death. Everything before it no matter how sloppily done was intended to be part of her growth. An illness pops up irregularly in the movie, and a expectation that Momo will finally be strong enough to move on if someone else important to her dies. That doesn’t happen opting for a happy that kinda makes sense, and on the other hand is confusing. It felt like writer/director Hiroyuki Okiura wanted to be make a light hearted movie while tackling a serious subject matter, but somewhere in the process he lost his clear direction. Hence the fade to black in the climax that comes out of nowhere, and leaves some questions unanswered. That moment best describe the movie in a nutshell; it has an interest in touching on death, and dealing with it, but not directly dancing around the idea occasionally.
The voice acting from both the Japanese, and English dub cast are wonderful. From the two, I would say go with the English subs. I prefer the English voice of Momo played by Amanda Pace perfectly capturing Momo awkwardness, and inner turmoil. However, where the English dub misses where it counts the most are the voices for the three yokais. In the Japanese cast, Cho (yes, that’s his full name), Koichi Yamadera, and Toshiyuki Nishida whom voice the three main yokai enunciate their characters eccentricities. Their performances, much like their characters, feel exaggerated, and out of this world like they should. While in the English dub, the voice actors downplay the yokais in their performance removing their otherworldly personality. Subduing the supernatural beings did the English dub no favors in the long run since what made them stand out from humans was gone.
Animated by Production I.G. the animation leans more on the more realistic side. Sparingly using 3D, the cel animation has a nice, clean, smooth movement throughout. The lack of background characters is noticeable whenever Momo walks outside in broad daylight on the island, but other than that the animation has little faults to it. This doesn’t mean it’s a spectacle either since most of the activity in the film are mundane. The few times where the fluid animation gets to shine is either during a chase sequence, or when multiple characters are being hyperactive.
Hiroyuki Okiura shines through more as a director than he does a writer. One instance being his usage of cinematography. There’s a scene early on in the movie perfectly establishing how shy Momo is with her remaining silent for several minutes as family around her joyously talk to each other. Okiura doesn’t draw attentions to his character more subtle traits through dialogue which is appreciated. Characters subtly grow, and change without it being told to you directly. His eye for details creates a realistic backdrop through soft, and dim colors in his environments. Providing lovely scenery shots of the ocean, and the small island town. Also, seeing our characters have a change of clothes throughout the movie, a detail that is ignored by a lot animation, is a nice a touch, even if it’ll go largely unnoticed.
In terms of animation the standout sequence is easily in the climax with dozen upon dozen of different yokais being animated, meshing together to basically form one giant umbrella, and with multiple moving parts. My description of the sequence can’t do it justice since there’s more to it like the flowing hair in the wind, the raindrops splitting apart when hitting a monster, the different individuals monsters moving around frequently, and other small details that would be difficult to capture through mere text. No other sequence in the entire movie comes close matching this impressive feat of animation. The music is composed by Mina Kubota comprising tracks that are soothing, whimsical, and calm. It’s a nice soundtrack to play with the nice visuals.
If half an hour was cut from A Letter To Momo I would have favored it a bit more. By lingering around too much the intended effect it wanted to have become lost to me. Sure it’s a solid movie with amusing moments, and good character growth, but there’s also not enough meat to the overarching story that made it feel it was worth it’s two hour run time. The final result of the movie isn’t what it could have been. I came out confuse by it execution even though the intent was clear. In the end A Letter To Momo is a solid anime.
When I think back about my romance experiences in high school I immediately laugh, and stop thinking about it just as quickly. I find it hard to believe I blew certain things out of proportions that today I don’t bat an eye at. One of them is confessing my feelings for a girl with the outcome being devastating to my very existence, or the greatest thing on Earth. One thing I certainly wasn’t when it came to young love was having it on my mind all day everyday. Imagine having an entire cast of characters just think, and talk about lovey dovey stuff to each other all the time, and you’ll have this movie in a nutshell.
In short, I’ve Always Liked You follows seven friends each in love with another person in their circle of friends. One bright spot are the characters facing the same conflict are decently fleshed out. Each character is given some time to explore their predicament, and how they’re uncertain to approach their situations. However, in a movie that barely crosses the one hour mark most of them will come out more shallow than others. Only Natsuki, and Yuu barely scraped out of this issue since the film dedicates more time to them than any of the other characters. While failing in being engaging there’s more to latch onto with Natsuki, and Yuu than with the other will they, won’t they couples.
When all the characters face the same issue of being unable confess their feelings to the one they love their personalities just mesh into one. Everyone is nice, shy, and contemplative about taking the next step from being just friends into a couple. This makes for one boring cast of characters when everyone is written to act similar to each other. Becoming easy to forget about them as you’re watching. Souta for example has the “love of first sight” symptom with further reasoning for his conquest of love coming off delusional. Souta, and his love interest don’t learn much about each other, or spent much to together making the outcome of their story hard to accept.
What passes for conflict in this movie feels underwritten. There’s a scene involving Natsuki being walked home by Koyuki (who likes Natsuki), and hugs her being unable to control himself. Nothing inappropriate is done in this scene, but the characters overreact artificially making something bad out of something innocent. This goes nowhere as the characters quickly move past it. There’s also the characters of Miou, and Haruki getting the short end of the stick in their plot line. Nothing ends up getting resolved between these secretive love birds. Worse of all, there’s not even an attempt to make this lingering plot point have meaning. Not even the faint idea of unrequited love stemming from this fear to express yourself is even touched on.
There’s another plot point in the movie that is left lingering. The folks over at Qualia Animation decided to dedicate an entire movie, The Moment You Fall In Love (2016), to resolving that. Something tells me someone over at Qualia Animation knew they might be testing viewers patience going around in circles with the repetitive conversations centered around love. Wouldn’t be an issue if they either had a smaller cast with a better focus, or a longer run time to flesh out the large cast more than they did.
The animation ranges from subpar to fine whenever it doesn’t have a flashback. Movement when at a distant, or simply talking is choppy in places. When in flashbacks it does that classic cheap animation thing of having a single frame stay on screen for a long time. This isn’t an issue until the end where they become more in used. Generally the movie is bright, and colorful, though there’s lack of shading in the hair. Qualia Animation does the trick for the movie, even if improvement in certain area is noteworthy. Character designs could be better. They just come off as bland.
When it comes to the music from Honeyworks I have no issue. They’re good songs that is able to fill a scene with more emotion than the film’s story. The usage of them is poor at times with director Tetsuya Yanagisawa placement of them being jarring at time. Within 30 seconds you have insert track play which is jarring for making a first impression. Once the movie is halfway through Yanagisawa uses Honeyworks song more often to substitute his poor storytelling. Voice acting is good with none of the voice standing out in their roles. Their characters all act the same, and they did the best with what they were given.
If the movie had more going on other than just teenagers being shy about confessing their feelings than it could of had a better chance of standing out. Seeing similarly written characters within the same movie all face the same issues without any distinguishable traits is not my idea of a good romance. There’s not much to seek your teeth into other than the surprisingly good soundtrack it has, but other than that if you want to be lost in excitement for a love story I suggest looking elsewhere.
Well this is a surprise. When I think about unique I am the furthest thing from that definition. In fact, before typing this opening I looked up the definition for unique on Dictionary, and it said “everyone is capable of being one of a kind, except Arsene_Lucifer. F*&% that guy!”. Of course I thought this was a troll until I actually looked it up in my own dictionary, and it said the same thing! Refusing to believe this I asked random people on the streets the definition the of unique. They all told me to go away. It’s as if I’ve been living in a entirely different world than I thought I was a part of. Only one way to get over this revelation, blogging! Firstly, those rules.
Display the award!
Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. (Try and include a little bit of promotion!)
Answer the questions they’ve written for you!
Nominate bloggers and give them three questions in the spirit of sharing love and solidarity within our blogging family!
Before I answer the questions I would like to thank, and provide some kind words about our sponsor Eumiiboo. Do you like reading, but don’t what to read? Well don’t worry because Sakura Galleria is all about further adding things to your reading backlog. Covering a wide arrange of comedy, romance, horror, and you name it Webtoons that’ll make you wish you had more time to read muahaha! Not only that, but you’ll get her thoughts on anime music, manga, and discussion pieces all for the low, low price of absolutely free! Best part of all, she’s pretty good at it. So go check it out! Do it, she holding my Pandas hostage!
Now that we returned to our regularly scheduled blog, lets get to the questions!
If you were to describe your life based on a anime character, who would it be, and of course why?
That’s a tough one. I guess I’ll have to go with Yato from Norgami. Much like Yato, I tend to generally go around doing odd favors, except for people I know. Just like with Yato, his jobs will lead him to some strange situations to almost comical level. Whenever I share my stories in Bobsamurai’s Discord server they tell me my stories sounds like things out of a sitcom. I’m inclined to agree when you have stories that includes a car getting blown up, helping out a friend to fix his problem vomiting on women, taking one of my bosses daughter out to prom as a favor, going into a gay club to help my friend get a guy he has a crush on be jealous, and so many other random things.
Another thing I would say I have in common with Yato is his goofball nature despite the dark past he has. I try to maintain some fun in my life despite the hand life dealt me with. Because hey, there’s no point in moping around as I eventually gotta move forward since you can’t run away from your future.
Now let’s try to get personal, what was one of the anime’s you’ve watch that left an impact on your life, or perhaps change your view in a certain point in your life.
In Cardcaptor Sakura case, it was specifically episode 22, that unexpectedly moved me in a way I wasn’t expecting it too. The series did a good job providing me with a cast of likable characters who grew on me. Then come in episode 22 getting me on a emotional level, and actually made me tear up from happiness of the strong family bond presented between Sakura, and her father. It was touching to the point it made me consider wanting to be a father one day. I can’t name you another piece of media that ever made me consider that.
In 2003’s Fullmetal Alchemist, there’s a funeral scene that has more hard hitting the second time around. I knew the death of this certain character was coming, but it didn’t make it any less gut wrenching, and shocking seeing it a second time. That funeral scene was very sad for me to watch, and is one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen in any anime. It’s only during the closing credits did I realize I teared a up bit.
Both of these anime have a strong theme revolving around families, and both make made me appreciate the same thing even more after watching them. Serving as a reminder no matter how distant the bridge between me, and my family can be at times they’ll always be my family. In a very cliche way, for better, and worse.
Imagine, you have been chose to create a crossover between three anime series, which would it be and why?
For my answer I would combine Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Serial Experiment Lain. A odd combination right? Well with Gundam I get the mecha action, and war politics cover, while Neon Genesis Evangelion has the psychology, and Serial Experiment Lain has existentialism. If I combined story elements from all three anime it’ll be a clusterfuck to manage the information delivered to the viewer, yet I would like to see that. Something like Lain diving into the wire to see all kinds of reaction people have in this world that has mecha wars, and end of world monsters to content with would be interesting.
Witnessing these series to trying to make something coherent in their crossover would be a blast to watch. As for the character interaction side that’ll unlikely happen given Shinji doesn’t want to get in the robot, Lain is addicted to the web, and Ray Amuro hates war. Although, if there is ever a Gundam crossover with Neon Genesis Evangelion I’m still happy with that.
Now my turn to ask the questions muahaha!
What’s the most challenging post you’ve written for your blog?
If you had to choose between making your husbando/waifu a real person, or being in charge of making a continuation to one of your favorite series which would you choose? Of course, don’t forget the why.
Which animal from any anime is your spirit animal?
Now the one thing you’ve all been waiting for. Time to see who wins the big one. My nominees for unique bloggers are:
If you’ve already been nominated, I would apologize, but that just makes you twice as unique. And the winner is, oh my gosh! It’s a three way tie! Never in my entire life hosting such an event has this ever happen! Congratulations everyone! Give yourself a round of applause. You’re all wonderful bloggers.
It’s my time to make my exit, and let the offline me at this time get back to working at his miserable job. Muahaha, wait that’s also me! I’ll see you in the next post. Sayonora bloggers!
Other than vague knowledge of the famous story of Journey To the West novel I know absolutely nothing about Chinese mythology, yet I don’t need to in order to be completely absorbed in Big Fish & Begonia. Embodying one of my favorite aspect of animation is it unique ability for visual storytelling. Some nuances might be lost in translation unless you’re well verse into that country’s culture, but what is never lost are the limitless possibilities of what you can experience through animation.
Big Fish & Begonia is set in in the realm of The Others, a sort of parallel dimension that controls the seasons and tides on Earth and is where the souls of humans go after they past. Our leading lady Chun, a 16-year-old girl, travels to the human world in the form of a dolphin and forms a connection with a human boy. The first thing this movie gets out of it way is it world building. Setting up the important pieces of how souls are handle in this world, and later on expanding on them to fuel it main conflict. All the important details involving the world function is fleshed out while leaving enough unanswered to give it world a mysterious allure.
One of my ongoing issues about fantasies is the quick fix magic becomes in their stories. You’ll get that quick magic fix here, but there’s an effort to express consequences for one’s action I feel don’t come across as strongly in other fantasy stories. There’s a comment made by a character how the newer generation doesn’t value life when he frequently sees them throwing it away so easily. The whole film is dedicated to characters making sacrifices for another love one in multiple situations. Doing so in a way that paints the subject with some manner of complexity. Detailing it in a way where the reasoning behind it makes sense, but the action taken is unreasonable with drastic results.
No other character embodies this better than Qiu. He has the most tragic arch out of any character in the film. Through Qiu, the film tackles the theme of unrequited love while adding to the already well explored theme of sacrifices, and consequences. Everything revolving around Qiu is fully realize becoming the heavier emotional core of the film. It’s nearly impossible not to sympathize with Qiu wanting to protect his childhood best friend Chun as the world crumbles around him. While the film still get its happy ending, there’s a mid-credit scene that ensures you don’t forget about the significance of these characters sacrifices.
The story is structured nearly flawlessly. Allowing plenty of room be taken under it spell through a sense of wonder when Chun briefly explores the human world, and realm of The Others. Through Chun the viewer will be able to see a harsher side of The Others realm like Chun never witness before. Doing a magnificent job getting across how hard hitting it is for Chun to see everything around her crumble for the value of another life.
Preventing itself from becoming heavy handed the film also has some nice subtlety to its storytelling. None of the characters action are over explained. Instead the film drops some subtle visual reminders in certain scenes to help viewers make the connection easier. One area I’m most happy with is handling the discussion on the worth of human life. From Chun perspective her experience make her value human life a lot more than the adults of The Other realm that simply sees the existence of Kun (a human reincarnated into a Dolphin) as anything more a harm to the balance of the worlds. This plot point nicely sits in the shades of grey having it a strength.
There’s a rat woman character in the movie who goes into the human world who gets forgotten about. Providing a false villain for no reason considering she didn’t add much to the overarching story besides adding a plot hole. Another issue is how Chun affection for Kun is handle. It feels like Chun falls in love with Kun over the fact that he just saved her life, and is willing to sacrifice everything for him. This is salvaged by the fact that through montages it gets across the bond they build over time. There’s also the absent of dialogue shared between Chun, and Kun unable to build the bond to a point where it easy to accept Chun goes as far she does to rescue Kun’s life.
When looking at the sums of it parts there’s some oversights on the storytelling front. On the whole, in its effort to create vast sweeping emotion it makes it possible to be lost in the moment. By pacing itself just right it narrative shortcomings aren’t lingered on for long. Going head first with beautiful visuals, and big emotions expressed by it characters. I’m not excusing the story’s shortcomings, but when I got swept up in the moment those shortcomings were the furthest thing from my mind. Well, except maybe the 3, or 4 times it had the someone got pooped on jokes. Those jokes took me out of its majesty temporarily.
Animated by B&T studio the animation is richly detailed with a mixture of digital animation, and some light usage of 3D. My biggest surprise is the 3D in Big Fish & Begonia blends nicely with the 2D art. It is very noticeable, but good enough that it doesn’t take you out of the moment. There’s plenty of times where the animation shine creating dreamy like imagery like a scene involving Chun getting a ferry ride through the clouds, and giving off a oceanic like effect when riding roaring through the clouds. All the while maintaining high detail with so much moving on screen. Like a scene involving a giant stuffed rat that houses a vast array of real rats that leave it to forage before sewing themselves back up inside has much details to marvel at.
In particular the finale has plenty of chaos incurring in the background of the world brought to life by stunning details, and smooth movement sparring no details on its particle effects. At night the ocean reflects the sky, it’s stars and the sublime hues present; while during the day it is almost invisible and many objects look like they are floating through air to create a dreamy mood. It’s beautiful movie to look at with its lush color palette creating one very colorful movie. Sometimes giving off the visual finesse comparable to a Miyazaki movie.
The English dub is great, especially with Stephanie Sheh, and Johnny Yong Bosch in the leading roles. Johnny Yong Bosch in particular as Qiu is gut wrenching, and a emotional powerhouse. It’s easily one of his best performances as a voice actor. He steals the show with ease. Then Stephanie Sheh who is also good manages to pull a convincing performance. She’s able make you believe what her character believes in a short amount of time. One downside to the English dub are the mouth movement are mistimed with the English dialogue. So you’ll characters speak while their mouths don’t move for a bit early on. It doesn’t happen constantly, but is noticeable.
The music is composed by Kiyoshi Yoshida. It’s sweeping, and epic doing justice every scene it’s used. Offering a peaceful quality during calmer moments, and a feeling of other worldly dread when things escalate. Finally, the ending theme “Jiao Xi Ru Feng” by Xu Jiaying appropriately ends the movie with a epic ballad that’s somber, and warm.
In a 24 minute documentary about the making of this movie it started life as a short film through a group of very passionate individuals in 2004. Through the course of 12 years B&T Studio would hone their skills doing various commercials, and short films, but would lack funding to complete the feature film. The studio goes into a failed endeavor making a game which dug them into a bigger financial hole than before. People leave the project, and it seems hopeless. Much like the movie itself, the trails to finished the movie required plenty of sacrifices. Every product has their share of setbacks, but few of those works have their passion seep through every frame on screen. One thing that is vividly expressed in everything about the movie, even without knowing it’s production history is the passion is strongly felt from watching it.
Big Fish & Begonia is an monumental achievement for Chinese animation. It’s visually absorbing from beginning to end, with a highly imaginative world it takes advantage off, and a story that’s easy to get become lost in makes one wonderful experience. The sums of it parts are muddle, but the whole thing is nothing short of amazing. I highly recommended Big Fish & Begonia for any fans of animation, and movie fans in general.
Producer Noritaka Kawaguchi whose name is attached to such projects like Garden of Words, Your Name, and Children Who Chase Lost Voices brings you an anime film about life in China. It might seem odd at first a Japanese producer making this movie until you remember Japan isn’t new to outsourcing their animation to China. In this case specifically it’s a co-production between Chinese animation company Haoliners Animation League, and CoMix Wave Film from Japan. The later of which is best know for animating Your Name, and several of Makoto Shinkai other works. Under the helm of three directors Flavors of Youth takes a gamble on it talents ability that doesn’t payoff. On a technical level it shows China is capable of matching the visuals of Japan best animated movies, but other than that this anothology has nothing else to show for it.
Sunny Breakfast (Hidamari no Choushoku)
The first anthology film is also the weakest without question. This short film marks the debut of internet-based filmmaker Yi Xiaoxing, and his inexperience shows. This short movie is about Xiaomin reminiscing about his youth, but mostly monologuing poetically about his love of noodles like its the only reason life is worth living. He expresses his excessive love for noodles to a point it becomes hilarious. Credit to Crispin Freeman who managed to properly portray his character despite the dialogue he was given to work with.
Here’s a few of those lines:
“Your tongue go numb. Little by little it forgets the sensation of its home town. That flavor I lost. Now seems to haunt me.”
“The mushroom were always strong, and fresh. The kukurage with its firm texture. Each added their own unique layer to the thick broth that crater them. Creating a flavor that made my heart soar.”
“The eggs soft, and fluffy that made the noodles richer as they slid down your throat. That light amber soup, that brought out the flavor of every ingredient.”
Why this short movie is the worst in this anthology is that it tries too hard to be dramatic in a short amount of time, and pretty badly while I’m at it. It tries to pull at the heart strings by having Xiaomin’s grandmother die towards the end. Something that could have worked if Xiaomin monologue about spending time with his grandma instead of describing how good his noodle tasted, or how inferior noodles now taste compare to when he was a child.
Going as far as describing the texture, and the warmth it gives him as a child versus the cold, and heartless taste when he’s an adult. It’s difficult to take Xiaomin seriously about what he lost in his youth, and having to move on from it when more time is spend on him passionately describing what he eats than showing what he experienced.
This story also suffers the most the difference in culture. Apparently in China food is a big deal since it’s the basis for family bonding, and socializing. Although, the short film itself failed to establish this clearly to the viewer so its failure is it own undoing assuming everyone knows about the importance of food in Chinese culture.
Sunny Breakfast gets a 2 out of 10. Only positive is that it’s unintentionally funny hearing the dialogue in the English dub, and is the shortest in the anthology. The animation is lovely to look at.
A Small Fashion Show (Chiisana Fashion Show)
This one is a bit better, but suffers from feeling shoehorn in its storytelling, and a forced happy ending. It’s about a woman who is a fashion model who feels she’s getting replace by younger models. Oh, there’s also a storyline about finding yourself, and being a family. The simplistic story is at odds with itself. On one hand it displays the toll the modeling career as taken on her health, and how badly it treats her since the modeling business will quickly forget about her. Then on the other hand there’s family drama she faces with a sister she hardly spend time with, and the most meaningful conversation they is arguing with each other. These conflicts are quickly resolve by the main character simply believing in herself which somehow fixes everything.
Unlike the first film, you’ll see the main character interact with the people around her instead of being told what’s happening. It struggles to develop characters since their conflicts is a lot more layered than it can explore in its run time. The rival model that appears in the story amounts to nothing more a tool to progress the story. Add on top of the fact the rival malicious intent isn’t even explained, nor is that conflict properly resolved. Another thing I find issue in this film is whatever commentary it wanted to have about the fashion industry is clumsily handled. There is a scene where the model has to soak in the world moving on quickly from her when looking at a billboard with a younger model. The idea behind this scene is good, but given the force happy ending it makes this scene, and other feel redundant.
One thing that is consistent among these short movies is they are all pretty to look to look at. The voice acting in this short film is the best since the actors have a lot more to work with, and the progression of events is more natural so the voice actors won’t overact. This film was directed by directed by CoMiX Wave 3DCG chief Yoshitaka Takeuchi whose lack of experience also shows. On the animation front he knows what he’s doing, but storytelling he has no clue what he’s doing.
A Small Fashion Show gets a 3 out 10. In wanting a happy ending it rushes its conflict ending up shallow in its attempt to give its two cent on the fashion industry, and the importance of family.
Shanghai Love (Shanghai Koi)
The best short film in the anthology, though not by much. It’s biggest strength is feeling like a condense Makoto Shinkai film. You’ll get the lovely animation, the tragic romance story, and you’ll sadly get teenagers acting very stupid. Unlike the previous films, this one is less in your face about it message. Sorta, it combines the failed attempt at tear jerking of Sunny Breakfast with the under written characters of A Small Fashion Show. It also contains the dumbest characters in this anthology when you look at the finer details.
The main character of this story is Li Mo (not a vehicle who wished to be a real boy as far as I know) an angry high school guy who has crush on Xiao Yu, a girl who is implied to be his childhood friend. So the girl’s parent want her to apply to a prestige high school, and the boy wants to go to said prestige high school since he likes her a lot. That’s seems stupid, but pretty harmless until you realize the Li Mo doesn’t want Xiao Yu to know he’s applying to the same school. On top of that, he also says to the one friend he tells about this plan that he’ll denounce their friendship if he tells Xiao Yu about the plan. This contrived conflict makes it impossible to sympathize with any of its characters. All Li Mo has to do is tell Xiao Yu he’s planning on going to the same school as she is, and problem solve, and of course that doesn’t happen.
None of the characters are fleshed out to care about them. Xiao Yu suffers the most from this since she’s meant to be Li Mo love interest, and the only way the film develops her is by mentioning she got physically abused by her parents. It just feels like a cheap manipulative ploy than it does a characteristic. As Li Mo there’s not much to like either. The writing didn’t know how to depicts friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time so it simply has Li Mo acting like a jerk to her for no reason. He’s a victim of the dumb writing since he, and Xaio Yu communicate through messages recorded on a cassette tape. The movie uses the excuse he’s studying so he won’t listen to a certain tape resulting in his heartache, though again, he did bring this on himself.
Li Mo character arc is somewhat competently handle. Exploring a character who lives with regrets is decently explored. Giving you a good idea how much regret he feels about this certain event in his past. Same with it touching on parents being hard in pushing their kids towards a good education. It’s only mentioned without delving into it theme, but doesn’t get drown out by all the melodrama on screen. Another one of its positive is being written in a way where it tries to make you forget about the logical, and be caught in the moment of the story. It sometimes succeed in that until logic rolls in its head.
We now come to the ending that negates the whole experience of the story, and sweeps it under the rug. If it wanted to get across the whole point Li Mo lost out on a experience of his life because of his action it would have hit home a lot more with a sad ending. The happy ending is fine, but with the direction it was heading it undermines what came before it.
This short film is visually the most outstanding with its detail background of a populated China from simple things like oncoming traffic to the urban streets of Shanghai. Everything move very smoothly without much of the 3D standing out in the movie in general. The music here is okay. It’s melodramatic for sure, but actually noticeable where in the previous short films the music wasn’t a presence. The one downside to this short film is Ross Butler performance as Li Mo. He doesn’t deliver any of his dialogue with any emotion, and simply sounds bore about everything he talks about.
Shanghai Love is directed by Li Haoling who unlike the previous two director actually has some experience under his belt. While he still has room for improvement he shows promise in being able to replicate the spirit of a Makoto Shinkai movie through his own style. Out of all the directors who worked on this, Li Haoling easily shows the most promise.
Shanghai Love gets a 6 out of 10. The characters are pretty stupid, but it manages to capture the feel of a Shinkai movie pretty well. It’s the best simply because it’s direction is clear, and direct in its simple ambitions.
There’s a post credit scene, though it doesn’t help much as the characters basically say they’ll move forward. A good message for certain, but not delivered in the way intended. It assumes anyone will become lost in its visuals to overlook the haphazard writing. If there was an overarching theme it gets lost underneath the one dimensional characters, the forced happy endings, and a general lack of proper storytelling from two of the directors involved. It wants to pull at the heartstrings, but ironically feels artificial, and soulless like the very thing it tried, and failed to criticize.
Rating: 3/10 (10/30 all short films added together)
Normally how I would prefer writing about any anime series I’ve completed is finishing it first, and spending who knows giving my general thoughts on it. This time I’m going to change it up because Black Clover has given me so much I want to express in just 10 episodes so far. This will obviously include spoilers so if you don’t want to be spoiled, even on minor stuff, I recommend you skip this post.
So yes I’m watching Black Clover. Yes I know it’s constantly bashed by the anime community. Yes I know how generic it is, and yet that didn’t deterred me from watching it. I was in the mood to watch a shonen, and given the fact I tend to be evenly split with agreeing with the general public on anime why not give Black Clover a shot. I guess to further add context I’ve also been told by one elitist on Discord that Black Clover is the worst shonen of all time. Going out of his way to tell me I would hate it more than My Hero Academia which I constantly claim to be the worst shonen I’ve ever seen.
So the ever alluring negativity around Black Clover made it inevitable I would get around to seeing it when it got an English dub. I typically watch my shonen anime with the English dubbed since it’s easier for me to get into. Okay, except for My Hero Academia since Deku voice actor was annoying, and Assassination Classroom dropped the ball on Kuro’s voice actor in the English dub. Well enough about that, time to get into Cringe Clover.
To preface my actual thoughts, Black Clover is set in a world where magic is everything. Orphans Asta, and his rival/friend Yuno live in this world; Yuno is exception at using magic, and our protagonist Asta has no magic powers at all. Both dreaming to become the Wizard King, the world’s most powerful Wizard. So I’m going to ignore the fact that Black Clover does everything you would expect a fighting shonen to do. Not because it’s a detriment to the anime, but even without the shonen tropes there’s still the high fantasy aesthetics to the series. I don’t like high fantasy in general since too many of them feel the same in aesthetics so it already has that going against it.
Where to begin when it comes to episode one. Well, for two minutes the anime starts of okay showing Asta, and Yuno being dropped off at a church as babies. The only thing to comment on this scene is baby Asta is apparently strong enough to kick a grown man in the face, and make blood come out of his nose. I’m not even sure if that’s remotely possible, and frankly my dear, I ain’t going to ponder too much on it. After that it skips to fifteen years later.
By the time you get to the two minutes mark is where it takes a nose dive into, yep, cringe territory. It does just about everything in its power to ensure the viewer dislikes Asta from the beginning. A character who is constantly shouting at the top of his lungs, and don’t even get started on his “SISTER LILLY WILL YOU MARRY ME!” fatuation. For starter, Sister Lilly is a nun, and no matter how many times Asta get told she can’t married because she’s a woman of the church Asta keeps on doing it. The first minute you see Asta as a 15 year old teenager he shouts at a nun to marry him, and continues to shout for the rest of the episode.
During the first five minutes, there’s a orphaned kid named Nash who just bluntly info dumps aspect of the world onto Asta. You know, a character who lived in this world for 15 years, and would know that everyone in the world has magic except for him. That was clumsy exposition delivery. Asta than quickly does crunches leading to more shouting. Unlike future episodes, episode 1 oddly has strange of zany character movements. Guessing they thought it would be hilarious to introduce the characters in this manner. Spoiler, it’s not.
After a bit of comedic banter the viewer gets told Yuno, and Asta use to get along well. One thing the episode is not good at is exposition. It feels too much like the characters are directly speaking to the audience watching the anime instead of to other characters. Episode 1 would also introduce the first of many royal wizards who hate commoners. In ten episodes you’ll get about 4 characters Asta encounter that simply hate commoners. Just in case you don’t get the point, the dialogue they spout is what you would expect from one dimensional baddies. So you can look forward to many “Filthy commoners! You should be happy I’m even acknowledging your wasteful existence” type of dialogue.
Another thing the first episode shoves in the viewer face is Asta is the underdog, and Yuno is a prodigy. Given the notion the anime writing is far from subtle stuff like this become par for the course. It is worth complaining about, but every single time it happens not so much. There’s a scene where all the children whom reached 15 years of age go to a ceremony to get their Grimoire; basically a book whose length, and thickness is filled with various degrees of magic, and different capabilities. At Grimoire Tower, for somebody who has no magic ability of any kind Asta obviously doesn’t get his. It is absolutely laughable, and painful witnessing such a pathetic character saying he’ll be the wizard king when everything is against him. If the anime didn’t give me such a poor first impression of Asta I would probably would feel sorry for him.
After the ceremony is over, deep in the forest, Asta shouts (yay!) that he ain’t giving up. Then we Yuno getting picked on by two royal wizards who don’t like the fact they got overshadowed when Yuno got picked by the four leaf clover grimoire. A legendary grimoire that was bestowed on the first wizard king which basically means its very powerful, and is lucky. This leads to the episode’s villain attacking the teens, and attempting to take the four leaf clover grimoire from Yuno. This is where Asta gets the bright idea to help Yuno, and the two teens picking on him. Things obviously go disastrously, and through the philosophy of believe it Asta gets the Black Clover when on the verged of death. He gets beaten up by 3D chains, but that ain’t important. What is important is the first episode ends on a pointless cliffhanger since the episode villain is quickly beaten in episode 2.
Once I saw the credits roll for episode one I realize one thing, I fucked up, and yet I looked forward to this mess of anime. Everything about episode one was so questionable, so messy, so clueless, and all in the right ways I enjoy a trainwreck. It was incompetent in all fronts, and the people behind it are clearly trying to make something special. I doubt it’ll reach the likes of so bad it’s good anime like Brain Powerd, and Mad Bull 34, but I can tell 12 episodes in I have no qualms about continuing it.
Sadly episode 2 is basically filler. All it does is needlessly expand on a plot point quickly establish in the first episode regarding Asta, and Yuno’s past. If the anime was going to have episode 2 set in the past it would be better to just switch the order of the episodes, and slightly edit them to play out better in the long run. Instead Studio Pierrot thought it was better to do this for some unknown reason. Also, even when beaten up Asta still asks Sister Lilly to marry him.
One noteworthy thing about episode 2 is a grown man tries to take the necklace of a young Yuno so he can buy beer. Once Asta goes out searching for Yuno, and sees someone took his necklace Asta tries to retrieve it. A young Asta gets beaten by the grown man, and the grown eventually gives the necklace back because Asta won’t give up. Upon seeing this I was baffled this grown man beating up on a kid for minutes just gave up so easily after pummeling Asta for minutes. It’s not like Asta hurt the grown man in any way. Oh yeah, episode 2 also forgets to show the well being of the two royal wizards picking on Yuno in episode 1 that episode 3 had to fix that.
So Asta obviously beats the first major foe in the series, and finally gets his grimoire. You would think this is when the story is finally going to kick off, but episode 3 ends with Asta, and Yuno making it to the capital to take their Magic Knight Entrance Exams. In hindsight, the anime taking it time to flesh out the characters is fine. Seeing Asta trying to achieve his goal to become the wizard king, and prove to a orphan he shouldn’t stop dreaming because of his status is worth cheering for. However, it feels like a drag when Black Clover bound the mold of fighting shonens, and does exactly those things without deviating from it. Becoming a double edge sword to commit to what it wants to be shamelessly.
While editing this, I completely forgot about the scene where Nash tells Asta to stop dreaming because their orphans. In this moment when Nash is down, Asta decides to go up him, his right hand on Nash shoulder, and yell in his ears that he can dream. So your earbuds ain’t the only ones that’s getting destroyed.
Episode 4 has Asta, and Yuno entering the capital, and spending the entire episode on taking exams. For someone who has no magic power Asta obviously fails them. Some of the supporting cast are introduced here like the captains of the different guild of the Magic Knights, but aren’t important for now. This episode is noteworthy because it’s the introduction of currently my favorite character know as Nero, the anti bird. The anti-birds are basically birds that flock to people who have little to no mana ability. Since Asta uses Black Clover which negates magic, anti-birds are attracted to Asta naturally. Nero simply stays around on Asta head seeming unimpress with his adventures. His stoic impression is worthy enough to have captured my attention.
From this point onward I now finally generalize my issues with Black Clover. For starter, a majority of the royal wizards are written to be one dimensional villains. In episode 4 you get two examples of this; the obvious being being Sekke, a wizard Asta befriends while taking the exam. For the final exam, all wizards have to pair up with a partner, and do battle with them. Sekke pairs up with Asta since he has no magic ability, and shows his true character by boasting how much he simply chose to partner up with Asta for a easy victory. Obviously that doesn’t happen, and Asta win in one hit! The other example is when Noelle Silva (first seen, but not properly introduced) get told by her brother that her existence is unnecessary. Twelve episodes in, and Black Clover been proven so far to be incapable of writing a villain who’s motivation isn’t to simply pick on commoners!
The series attempts in humor tends to be cringey for a lack of a better term. You’ll wince at Black Clover attempts at comedy either missing the mark because of the punchline, or questionable to the point you’ll have no choice but to laugh. Like in episode 5, when Yami (Captain of the Black Bull Magic Knight) asks Asta how long it takes for him to take a shit, and Asta attempts to give him a precise calculation of how long his turd is.
Moving on, episode 4 introduces Clover Clip which are basically shorts at the end of an episode animated in a chibi style. These Clover Clip tend to better in telling jokes, and are there to be silly. In episode 5 you just basically get the results of the exams, and Yuno gets accepted no problem. In fact, all five captains raise their hands when he get called up since he proved himself a very capable wizard. Also, it helped in the same episode Yuno fights a royal who despises, and thinks poorly on commoners. Of course given past events this means the heroes will come out on top.
When Asta gets called up none of the captains raise their hands. It’s only after Asta make the bold proclamation that he’s going to be the wizard king that Yami, captain of the Black Bull, shows Asta his huge mana powers. Once Asta refuses to back down he officially joins the worst of the Magic Knights. Where is Yuno you might ask? He’s with the Golden Dawn whom he believes will be the surest way to achieve his goal. Episode 5 finally ends when Asta gets a rude first impression of the Black Bulls by getting a fireball to the face. Not forget in the background our fellow Nero, the anti-bird, isn’t far behind from making his classic stoic impression.
Episode 6 basically introduces Asta, and the viewer to the member of the Black Bulls. Consisting of Yami Sukehiro the laid back captain who shows his subordinates tough love by giving them tough missions. Magna Swing who is the (not actually) cool dude with the glasses who’s just as hyperactive as Asta, comes from small village like Asta, and his grimoire allows him to throw fireballs. Hence, his last name being Swing expect his baseball gimmick to be more balant later on…I’m predicting that’ll be the case at least. Vanessa Enoteca who is a pink hair wizard who so far mostly appears in her lingerie (not I’m going to complain with everything else in Black Clover pick on) who is relaxed, an alcoholic, caring, lazy, and doesn’t mind flirting around with the other squad members.
Gauche Adlai who’s only defining trait is that he is a siscon, and yes his nose bleeds thinking about his younger sister (because casually imply incest is exactly what I need in my anime). Gordon Agrippa who speaks so quietly you can’t hear him, or read his subtitles. Can’t forget he’s a pale man who dresses like a depress clown version of a Gestapo. Luck Voltia who hasn’t done anything yet 10 episodes in, Grey who is just a monstrosity for now, Charmy Pappitson who loves stuffing her face with sweets, and Finral Roulacase who just teleport.
Now that you’re introduced to the group of outcast the rest of the episode is simply Asta proving his worth to the other Magic Knights, and passing a test to get accepted. He passes, and becomes an official member of the Black Bulls. After that is episode 7 where Asta meets the other new member of the Black Bull; Noelle Silva earlier seen all the way back in episode 4, and in the opening animation. Before that though, I have a issue with Funimation using the word dank in the English dub. It feels completely out of place, and upon hearing that word I paused the episode, and did something else for a bit because of how irksome it was. Seriously, don’t ever use the word dank in your English dub! It’ll sound dated years from now.
Episode 7 is basically Noelle overcoming her “I’m royalty. Don’t look at me peasants” snobbishness (sorta), and accepts she’s officially one of the Black Bulls. Her backstory of being mocked for not being able to use her magic ability correctly is a good one. However, the presentation of it is over the top that it comes across as a petty issue. Noelle over reacts when Asta discover her not being able to use her magic she nearly gets herself killed. Best part of all no one in the Black Bulls cares because that’s the whole of being a Magic Knight. Learning to use your magic.
Okay, now I generalize my issues again. The cast of characters aren’t sympathetic at this point in the series. They are just wacky, and tend to overreact to every situation. Black Clover is an expert in making sure the first impressions you get on its characters be negative. Another is making nearly every high class, or royal character be out to be one dimensional ass holes. Just in case the point that royalty look down on commoner wasn’t clearly gotten across it’ll do it until it gets tire of it.
Another thing I’m going to comment on is the animation is cheap looking. In movement there’s nothing much to complain about, but when it comes to the characters faces there numerous instances where Asta face is just off. It either be Asta design is that terrible he doesn’t look good in many angles, or Studio Pierrot rushed this production. Either, the animation side doesn’t impress so far. Especially the action which lacks choreography in favor of flashy looking battles which don’t have any flare to them.
We get to episode 8 where all that happens is Yami, and Magna loose at a poker game. They loose their clothes, and have to do a favor for an old friend of Magna. Seyhe is an old man who basically helps Magna indirectly become the man he is currently. This backstory is actually done well, and fleshes out Magna decently. It’s surprising given how badly it can handle character development that Manga backstory turns out to be decent. As you would expect, they go to a village to kill wild boars disturbing the peace in Sosshi Village (Magna home village), and face greater trouble than they expected. While I’m on episode 8, there’s no way I’m buying the thing below is a broom.
Episode 8 – 10 is Asta, and Noelle first mission, and takes place in Sosshi Village. As you might guess the village get taken over by a group of wizards looking for a stone, and yes, they hate those damn filthy commoners! Again, Black Clover the “We hate filthy commons” archetype again. I would stop caring, but at the same time it’s infuriating it keeps using this! One thing I would like to comment on is in Episode 9; towards the end of the episode Noelle monologues how much she doesn’t want to die in a backwater hick village. However, mere seconds later a little begs for her help, and just like that turns around to help protect the village. This happens in the matter of seconds making Noelle look pretty bad.
After a magical fight between the evil wizards they end up killing themselves before offering up any answers. Oh yeah, Seyhe is dead, and Magna says his final words to him at his tombstone. Can’t forget Nero finds a stone, and the ladies thinks he’s cute. Can’t blame them if Asta, and the other male members of the Black Bulls is what they got to look at every day. With that, I’m going to conclude my expected long run impression on Black Clover so far. Still, this turned out even longer than I expected.
Despite my many issues with Black Clover from the questionable world building, messy character writing, and repetitive villain motivations it doesn’t stray off much from what I would expect from a shonen. It’s uninspired for sure, but unlike other shonens I’ve seen, it simply accepts that fact, and revels in it all the way. For me, that alone wouldn’t make it the worst shonen I’ve seen because it understands what it is, and does just that. So to that person who thought I was going to hate Black Clover more than My Hero Academia on Discord, you gotta do better than that seriously. If this is the worst shonen you’ve seen I envy you!
So what would I give Black Clover so far? I guess a 6 out of 10. I complained nonstop about it sure, but it’s easy to watch, doesn’t give me a headache with it bad writing like many bad shonen anime, embraces openly what it is, attempts to flesh out characters even through its bad pacing, and I find enjoyment in it, even in the none ironic ways at points. It’s a typical shonen with the aesthetics of a typical high fantasy. I expected a lot worst, and didn’t get that. I don’t like much of what I see, but I ca say for certain I don’t mind watching it. Even if it’s writing is grating at points.
My predictions for future episodes.
Asta gets a harem. There’s already Noelle, a tsundere who likes him for being nice to her, and a grown woman who teases him. Of course he would get one because Japan for some reason loves putting harems in anything with a high-fantasy setting recently.
Asta is going to fight more royal wizards, or magic knights that despise commoners.
Because it has a high fantasy setting there will either be a prophecy of a great evil returning to cause chaos in the land, or Asta, and company will have to collect a specific amount of a certain object (typically 3 pieces), and ensures they don’t get in the wrong hand.
Just like in Assassination Classroom, the group with the worst reputation starts showing up every other group in a number of challenges.
Asta will shout “SISTER LILLY WILL YOU MARRY ME”.
Asta will shout.
Hey since it’s being compared to the Naruto series. I predict Asta, and Yuno will not be bumping ugly anytime soon leaving its fujoshi fanbase disappointed.
I’m not sure if I’ll make another installment of Cringe Clover since who knows if the rest of the series will inspired me to write even more posts on it. If I do, I’ll call the next installment Cringe Clover 2: Electric Boogaloo. Sayonara until the next post.