Sunshine Bound! Chroma's Spring 2015 Impressions!
Rain is too frequent of an occurrence around here. About three quarters of the year, we’re being drenched in downpours that can get quite cold at times. For this very reason, it’s super exciting to see the Spring season come to an end to shine down those few months of glorious sunshine.
Regardless of weather, Chroma is watching anime. How was my Spring season? It’s time to find out.
Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoshitsu
In 2006, Kyoto Animation constructed their portrayal of a silent, enigmatic bibliophile by the name of Nagato Yuki. Her incredibly detailed emotions were released to the world in a gentle vapour, never resorting to anything that lacked subtlety. Years later, they would put the data-collecting alien life form in a movie, where she would give the protagonist Kyon the choice between living with the current Nagato that was almost impossible to carry a simple conversation with, or an alternate Nagato that blushed heavily, acted quite frail and had the capabilities to gain confidence and grow into a regular high school girl.
During this contrast between the two personalities, this spinoff occurs in the alternate world where Nagato has a blatantly obvious crush on Kyon. There’s a romance element intentionally tossed in, and the main genre it focuses on is light-hearted humour. As you go in, it’s essential to remember that this vastly skewed look at the Haruhi universe with Satelight’s new designs is a spinoff. You mustn’t take it so seriously. As I went in with the correct mindset, I quickly found myself enjoying the comedy and new designs for what they were.
Strangely, the show actually started to get worse for me when they started to revert back to the Haruhi origins. The new portrayal of Haruhi, Mikuru and Tsuruya essentially disappear, droning into the spinoff’s take on “Someday in the Rain”, a famous Haruhi episode. While I do appreciate them actually going into what the title of this series means, there was an insanely sharp switch that made it feel quite odd for me. The bright colours fade to grey, and the ditzy Nagato is replaced with what is intended to be the “Nagato-of-olde”. Unfortunately, if that was the intention, they failed to capture the subtlety and genius behind her simple expressions, and merely brought back her monotone voice. It was portrayed that the frail Nagato was beginning to seep into the silent Nagato’s personality, but it still added this third character in the middle that I wasn’t exactly comfortable with. It had its moments, I suppose.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until the end of time: “I LOVE TEKYU”. This is honestly a series I can just enjoy seeing week after week for years on end. It has absolutely no focus, ludicrous characters and quick glances into the pits of insanity only ever dared to be visualized by Satan’s overactive imagination. I can’t say much about this series because I seriously can never predict what it will throw at me next. Hell, I can’t even remember what I just saw.
What was I talking about again?
Takamiya Nasuno Desu!
I have to apologize, my brain is still hurting. But you know, it’s that goooooood kind of hurt. I dare say airing this alongside Tekyu was an immediate recipe for mental disaster. The first week I tried, I somehow awoke hanging upside down from the top of the Trump Tower with a syringe sticking out of my ear. But you know, even through all of the painful, vertigo-induced pain I was experiencing, I just thought to myself…"why don’t I buy myself out of this situation?".
I urge humanity to consider this option when life gives you problems.
I keep throwing awards at this series, and none of them are sticking. Oh! That’s because it’s still ongoing. Makes sense, makes sense. Well then, allow me to give you the insight so you can at least catch up while this fantastic gem is still running.
Ore Monogatari! begins as Goda Takeo rescues a young girl named Yamato Rinko from a molester on the local train. Takeo is a massive guy, sporting an interesting look that comes complete with big puffy lips. His taste in girls has always been on the cutesy, innocent side, but deep down they always talked badly about him behind his back. It’s quite fortunate for Takeo that he managed to rescue a sweet girl who wouldn’t ever talk badly about anything ever. Yes, Rinko is easily my favourite girl of 2015 by far, at least to this point. Looking back at it, she may even encompass 2014 with her majesty.
Standing right besidethese two (and not in between) is best friend Sunakawa, a good looking fellow who naturally draws the eyes of women of all ages. He doesn’t smile often, but heaven and hell be damned if I said he wasn’t the best bro someone could ask for. While I can’t spoil just what he does to draw such compliments from me, I can assure you that it’s beyond respectable. Even with women out of the equation, Suna and Takeo get along like two peas in a pod, with Takeo managing to pull laughs out of Suna like nobody else possibly can. Their tightly-knit friendship is really well portrayed, and I always appreciate true friends spending time together.
Let’s get on to the obvious part. This is a shojo series, so there are shojo tropes we have to look out for, right? I urge you to not think of this series as a typical shojo series, where the romance often takes a backseat and is drawn out for a long time, really keeping you on the edge of a potential relationship for episodes on end. Granted, there are a number of series that use this method and add their own flair to make it work, but I like progress in a relationship. Luckily, I can happily tell you that Ore Monogatari! delivers on this and more. This is one that should not be missed, and at this pace, it will easily match the joy that Kimi ni Todoke brought me.
Hokago no Pleaides
I miss my car. My 2007 Jet Black Honda Civic never gave me one mechanical issue through 8 years of constant driving, pushing it on constant roadtrips to the local grocery store and all the way to another country over 30,000+ km. No matter how preciously adorable Subaru and Aoi are together, I just can’t ever betray my beauty.
Hokago no Pleaides actually managed to make me forget that it was a big product placement for the Subaru automobile company. That’s one heck of an accomplishment while the main girls ride magical brooms that purr like engines and show off insanely subtle Subaru logos before they blast off. I’m not kidding though, I actually did manage to disconnect myself from that fact, and I did see it more for its actual presentation involving the story.
What I like about this show is that the main girls are really tightly-knit together in a friendly bunch. They don’t really argue, they prop each other up at every turn, and little Subaru and Aoi together are (once again) just a precious little pair. However, you can sprinkle as many gumdrops atop a bland dish and it will still be bland after you finish said gumdrops. This series isn’t exactly anything special. It has an “anti-hero” that none of the girls seem to recognize, even though it’s so painfully obvious. Every episode is the same little chase to grab the star fragments first, and even with the little moments on solid ground between certain characters, I still found it to be a little repetitive by the end.
However, if you have space for a nice little colourful show, it really does no actual harm. Even as I put off episodes into the next week, it did manage to put some smiles on my face.
P.A. Works worked wonders with their musical romp Tari Tari, and this appears to be Kyoto Animation’s take on the more dramatic world of music. Having gone through 5+ years of concert and jazz band in high school, an ensemble anime was very appealing to me.
As you’d expect from any other KyoAni work, the visuals are mouth-wateringly gorgeous. Eyes gleam with hopes, nightlife screams with unparalleled lighting, and character designs beg to be matched for other studios. So hey, let’s look at those character designs, shall we? With such a massive ensemble, one initial look at the members got me quite excited. There seemed to be a wide variety of designs, from short to tall, pigtails to Kumiko’s lovely curls, and much more. So imagine my frustration when these characters that were introduced so well at the start failed to make some sort of return. Remember how I said KyoAni eyes always gleam with hope? Even that is mostly sapped when the overly heavy drama, and the depression takes over fast.
The school has a music teacher that only has the top spot in mind. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it really does seem like a goal they set too high from the very beginning. The ensemble immediately requires an audition to determine who needs to be let go, as well as who is best qualified to take the lead roles. Of course, this quickly falls into an ‘alpha role establishment crisis’, spawning more negativity where I didn’t feel it belonged. I personally felt an entire arc was wasted just from a nosy kohai instigating a fight to determine if her treasured senpai was better than the younger Reina. After they hold a re-audition (really, a re-audition? What was the point of the original one?) to try and pull Reina’s earned crown from her, it ends up right back at where they started anyways.
So aside from the lost potential in character development and somewhat poor use of airtime, what did I actually like? Well, main characters Kumiko and Reina are an absolute delight. I know they’re well-loved for their potential yuri undertones, but I very much treasure how close they are from just growing up through music together. They support each other and smile a lot more for it. They portray emotions that run past “depressed”, “empty” and “melancholic”. Kumiko especially is a fantastic design, and I love every moment she’s on screen. Natsuki is another character I still like quite a bit. I am not ashamed to admit my initial perception of Natsuki was not fully correct. Instead of the enigmatic prodigy I made her out to be, her silence seemed to show the stressful binds from an activity she wasn’t entirely ready for. When she breaks these binds for good, her personality changes into a really spirited motivator. I really enjoyed the contrast.
Ultimately, what this show really needs is a second season with better direction. I want to see the pair of tuba players that blush at each other. I want to see why Asuka is such a sly prankster by nature. I want to look further into Aoi’s mind about her decision to quit the band, and I still want the well-established characters to continue growing. I might change my tune at that point, but right now, this euphonium needs a good polish.
Hello! Kiniro Mosaic
Hello! Or should I say…”welcome back!”.
Kiniro Mosaic introduced us to the world of "Japan meets England", mashing together biscuits you could use spell out your name with girls who absolutely drool at the mere sight of blonde hair. It was a really charming little series that also brought us the glory of Kujo Karen, voiced perfectly by Toyama Nao. Also, who didn’t love the lesbian-in-denial Aya and her blatantly oblivious interest Yoko? It was a great first season that earned a spot in my top 5 series for that year.
Season 2 kicks off insanely well. The comedy that was a bit hit and miss really steps up, bringing some incredible laughs early on. Toyama Nao really gets into her role, and Karen is given the screen time she deserves. We’re even introduced to more character developments, including a new teacher named Kuzehashi (adorably nicknamed Kusshi-chan), Karen’s best friend Honoka, and even Yoko’s sly and cute little siblings. These additions easily fit into this world and immediately start expanding it for the better.
Where the series begins to lose its a bit of steam is in its second half, winding down its great momentum and opting for some slower episodes with not as many hard-hitting jokes. While they were still cute as always, they didn’t have that powerhouse effect that the first half did. To cap it off, the first season ended itself with a musical number that Disney would have been proud of, but they really don’t do anything to end it here. Now that I’ve gotten over those small bumps, I can still recommend you giving it a shot, and I really hope you will.
Having a high school class of (essentially) dropouts hold the fate of the world in their hands seems a bit foolish. However, when the goal is to assassinate an alien teacher as quickly as possible, maybe it’s the misfits of the school that would stand the best chance.
The lovingly named Koro-sensei can move at mach speeds, essentially dodging all attacks and making assassinations virtually impossible. To combat this, the students must cooperate with their other teachers to creatively bring Koro-sensei to his demise. Along the way though, it appears that Koro-sensei isn’t their only concern, as other villains get in the way to make their lives more difficult.
The Danganronpa styled animation didn’t really bother me, but I did have an initial concern about it. Perhaps it was because Danganronpa was so average by the end that I wasn’t quite sold. When I got over that bump, I started to look at the more important bit, the characters. What Ansatsu Kyōshitsu does well is establish its badass protagonists. Both Nagisa and Karma look moderately harmless in class, but put someone in their kill zone, and their eyes will gleam at the opportunity. Their lips will curl, and their faces will droop in this cold shadow that could freeze hell.
When it comes to it, this series can’t do the same for its villains. There’s a crazed boss who hides mostly in shadow and scratches his wounds (which makes a disgusting sound), an over-the-top principal who is essentially a fascist leader, an empty-handed fighter who speaks like a samurai (for some reason), and worst of all, an idiot with a constant derp face that loves to dip his gun in things like soup and drink out of his weaponry. It’s been a while since I saw a character this unapologetically stupid.
At the end, I realized something regarding this show. It’s not bad, but it’s not exactly great either. It’s a series that I don’t really mind going through, but hearing the news about a second season is making me think about picking it up or not. I can’t honestly say that I’d enjoy another 20+ episodes of the same thing, but if it’s short I might consider it more. At this point, I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly.
That brings our Spring 2015 season to a close. Looking back at it, it really was a mediocre season overall for me, offering only one or two series that really broke the mold and got me excited to watch week after week. My faith remains strong for summer, with a new season of Working!! and Non Non Biyori in the wings, along with a KEY/P.A. Works collaboration titled Charlotte, and even the next Little Witch Academia, which I will be getting the first look at in a few days at Anime Expo.
So yes, I’m leaving for Anime Expo this Wednesday! This will maybe be a quieter year for me, for I am holding back on funds and looking forward to less autographs. There aren’t as many exciting events planned, and it just seems to be a weaker year planned when viewed from afar. However, the gems still exist, and I look forward to meeting some talented seiyu and creators who make each season worth returning to our monitors for new stories and worlds to explore. The report will come in once I return, so I hope to see you back for it!