This section is dedicated to the discussion of Japanese Anime and Manga — as long as it's not Pokémon related! Want to geek out about a long time classic? Or maybe you keep up with currently airing anime, and you want to join in on the excitement and discussion? You've come to the right place!
A little bit late, but it's time for my thoughts about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
This movie sucked me in right away with it's "lazy summer" atmosphere. Maybe it got me so hard because this summer was everything but lazy for me.
The main trio had cool chemistry between each other and it was fun to watch them living their lives. Every single one of them is likable and distinct enough and it felt like they all have their own lives outside the trio.
As far as a time-traveling stuff goes, I think it was handled really well, especially some minor details all around the movie. I liked that two characters that can time travel are always portrait as being late. I also enjoyed the fact, that when Makoto used her time jumps to change her future, like getting better grades or staying at a karaoke bar longer, nothing bad happened. But once she started affecting and meddling with other people's lives, the time broke and everything got bad. One of my favourite detail was that she tried to erase Chiaki's love confession to her so badly, that she got rid of it so efficiently that when she realized her feelings for Chiaki, she couldn't get the confession back no matter what. I also liked how a train that killed Makoto at the start of the movie and later killed Kosuke and his new girlfriend, was something absolute. Like no matter what Makoto did, the train was always there, following its tight schedule. And I found the detail that they all died because of the same faulty bike kinda funny.
What I didn't like about the time travel was basically everything tied to Chiaki. I think the movie did a great job explaining rules of the time travel up to the point Chiaki revealed he can also time travel. Like how did Chiaki froze the time to talk to Makoto? That scene was still cool, but came out of nowhere and I feel like their confrontation could have been done without everything around being frozen. Also what rules did Chiaki broke and how did he return to the future in the first place, if he had no time jumps left? Why couldn't he just go back to the future when he still had time jumps left and recharge there? Is Makoto even alive in his time?
The soundtrack was fitting the movie and I was actually listening to some parts of it throughout the whole month after watching the movie. The animation is beautiful. Its style kinda reminds me of the old Digimon movies for some reason.
Overall, this was a really great movie and I don't really have much to critize about it, aside from what I said about time travel at the end of it. 9/10.
Also a bit late, but I watched I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. Fair warning, spoilers below.
I was worried going into it that people had been overselling it. In the end, I think that my worries were mostly for nothing. It was a beautiful story, the voice acting was great and the animation was pretty.
I've seen some complaints about this movie, now that I look at its reviews, which are strangely at odds with how much people hyped it up to me. It seems that some people felt it was emotionally manipulative and formulaic. These are both dumb criticisms. Firstly, all writing is emotionally manipulative. The entire point of a story is to communicate something and make the reader feel something. If you have a problem with that, you don't have a problem with this movie, you have a problem with stories.
Secondly, this movie was quite cleverly not formulaic. At least, not in the sense of the criticism I read. It gives the appearance of being so at first, it makes use of some common tropes, for example. But a big part of this movie's message is that things rarely go as planned and anticipated in life and that, because of that, we need to take risks, be open to others and be willing to experience what life can offer us. After all, you never know when you'll drop dead. It's pretty hard to convincingly deliver that aesop while also being incredibly predictable. The criticism of being formulaic comes from the in medias res entry that tells us from the very beginning of the movie that Sakura is going to die and that the predictable way her relationship with Haruki grows. It completely misses the point that Sakura herself repeatedly voices throughout the film - we all know that we'll eventually die. All our lives are short. Hers is just a little shorter. All the same factors are there. That's why she doesn't die because of her disease, but because of a (admittedly foreshadowed) random act of violence. Even for Sakura, who's life and story should have been 100% predictable, things went in ways that neither she nor the audience anticipated. This is actually very clever. It's using your audience's expectations against them - subverting them to share a message and elicit emotions. Sakura's death didn't need to be a twist to send that message, the manner of her death did. Personally, I think giving your audience exactly what you tell them you will, but not at all in the way they expect, is brilliant. I'm usually pretty clued-in about these sorts of shenanigans, but I didn't see this coming at all because I was expertly misled by the writer.
The characters themselves aren't super original. There's a lot of stories in anime that use a pretty similar configuration for their main cast. But, that's not always a bad thing. Honestly, you'd be hard pressed to create a character that was totally original given humanity's thousands of years of telling stories. While there's always slight differences, most characters can probably be split into twenty or so different archetypes with some overlap. Sakura and Haruki were exactly the right types of character to tell this story.
That isn't to say that I think the writing was flawless. I think that the beginning was a little slow and that some of that run time might have been better spent showing Haruki's growth. Yes, he did grow and develop and at a very reasonable pace for the kind of growth he was experiencing (the pacing was very good in general tbh), but I do think his interactions with Issei (and maybe Kyoko) were a little underutilised. I also think that the story probably should have done a better job of addressing the muk that went down in Sakura's bedroom. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of it, but I think it's still a little vague and potentially confusing for some people.
Speaking of Kyoko! They really needed to elaborate more on why she was so obsessively protective of Sakura. That could have done with some context.
The biggest flaw with this story though, the one thing that I would say actually annoyed me a bit, was that Sakura's illness very conveniently never seemed to actually have any real impact on her life. She was, functionally, completely healthy but was doomed to die because Plot. I'm always a bit irritated by this because that is just not how a serious illness works. Yes, you can live a relatively normal life, but its effects should still be felt throughout the story, not just when the plot demands it. I suspect that might be why some people complain about feeling manipulated. Sakura is never really actively hindered by her sickness until the story demands it. I can't help but think this is why the story never actually confirms what her pancreatic disease actually is, because then it would have to commit to showing the consequences of her situation. One scene with some medication in a bag and one in a hospital - where she somehow still seems perfectly healthy - doesn't cut it.
All in all though, this really is a great film. I highly recommend it. 9/10
First and foremost, I'm not sure all the terrible reviews I've seen are earned. It feels like a lot of them were written by people who never saw past the first episode... which is admittedly understandable because the first episode is absolutely, one hundred percent psyducking awful. The pacing is horrendous, it does nothing to interest you in the weird world of Fractale and it does nothing to make you like the characters either. After episode one though, things do improve. Not a lot at first, admittedly, but it's definitely a continuous upwards curve until the last episode where things honestly take a bit of a dive again.
To get the quick things out of the way first, the show has a really nice soundtrack and the backgrounds are really pretty. The animation isn't anything amazing and, honestly, feels like it predates the show's actual original run (feels more like late 90s/early 2000s than 2009 a lot of the time). The character designs also don't do much for me. They aren't terrible, I don't dislike them, but they feel extremely generic... which they shouldn't because they are objectively all weirdly dressed. I have no idea how they pulled that off.
The acting isn't the highest calibre I've ever heard either. It's not terrible by any means, but it's nothing special. Granted, some actors give significantly better performances than others. At the very least, the more central characters are mostly solid performances, some are really good even. It's the antagonists and side parts that sometimes left me disappointed. The exception to this rule is Clain, the protagonist himself. He got better as the show went on, but in the early episodes his VA put on a pretty underwhelming performance I felt.
Now, onto the writing. This is where things gets complicated. Outside of episode one which, again, was horrendous to the point I was doubting my choice to watch this.
Throughout Fractale, there's a pretty consistent feeling that the writer was more interested in exploring a concept than a story and that they didn't really have the clearest ideas of what they wanted from the themes or the plot. And the concept behind Fractale's world is fascinating without a doubt. It's also, unfortunately, very poorly explained with vague worldbuilding and little explanation as to how anything actually works or what Fractale really is. Even by the end.
This is incredibly frustrating because, again, the base idea behind it is really interesting. A utopic society that is so heavily integrated with the digital that it is hard to tell real from false at times? Sign me up. That's a great setting. Throw in some mind control and a dogmatic "religion" that allows that world to function to raise ethical questions? Psyduck yeah! And the one thing Fractale definitely does right is that it makes you question who is right and wrong in its world. I can't take that away from it. The very nature of the setting and the opposing forces within it (the rebel terrorists who want to be free from Fractale and the order that are fighting to preserve it and keep it alive... with some thrown in mind control) forces the audience to consider the morality of both sides.
But, still, it always dances around how any of it all actually came to be and how it works. That wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't integral to so many of the things that happen in the story. What's more, while all the mysteries of that world and those that surround Phryne and Nessa are intriguing, a lot of those mysteries feel completely manufactured or were the results of poor writing rather than intent. A lot of things could have been cleared up simply by Phryne actually explaining to the poor bastard that got dragged into her mess at least a little of what was going on or by having people not talk in intentionally vague flowery language. Neither of those methods of creating intrigue are what I would call good writing as a general rule. This is especially irritating in the cases of the mystery of how Fractale works and its origins because they never even try to give a satisfactory explanation. This makes me feel like the writer themselves weren't actually sure, but wanted to give the impression they were instead of handwaving.
The characters themselves were a mixed bag too. Phryne's writing felt extremely inconsistent early on, like they hadn't actually decided on anything beyond "weird and mysterious girl". It cleared up by the end, but at that point she'd developed another problem of being extremely frustrating because she kept supposedly learning a lesson and then immediately would ignore that apparent development. She wasn't all bad, she had redeeming qualities, but I frequently found many aspects of how she was written bothersome.
Clain was pretty bad in general. For most of the show, he seems to have no agency. He never makes decisions and he rarely displays moments of personality beyond his fascination with old technology. He has his moments, like when he calls his parents (or their doppels anyway) or the Granitz family out on their muk. But, mostly, he feels like carboard.
It's not all bad news though! Nessa is cute and likeable from the beginning, but also contains a surprising amount of depth. The idea of a sentient digital being who is saddened by how little she can interact with the world is interesting. The reason she is the way she is, is intriguing as well. It's one of the few things the show actually bothers to explain. I feel like the aforementioned longing (to have more freedom to interact) could definitely have been explored more though. It also would have made the ending feel better since it essentially gave her what she wanted... just not in the way she'd have hoped perhaps.
Enri and the other Grantitz people of Lost Millennium were bothersome at first but they quickly grew on me. None of them are examples of revolutionary writing, they're all pretty typical and tropey. But they're very likeable and they represent a big part of the ethical questions raised by the world.
The antagonists are the most boring characters in the show outside of what they represent. They feel very generically evil or otherwise they have interesting motivations that are not explored nearly enough. In particular, Dias and the High Priestess could have been extremely compelling characters with more screen time and exploration.
So yes, Fractale is riddled with problems. It get progressively better as it goes on and it is by no means all bad. There's some likeable characters, the background art is pretty and the setting itself is interest and raises some intriguing questions. But it feels like the writer didn't have a clear enough idea of what they actually wanted from the story and that by the time they were figuring that out, it was too late. I think the most frustrating thing about Fractale isn't that it was bad, it's that it was average. It was a very unremarkable show that easily had the potential to be so much more if the writing was smoothed out and the production budget a little higher.
I gave it a 5/10 in the end. I don't regret watching it. I honestly really did enjoy it, especially the latter half. It just could have been so much better.
I'd love to write a full and detailed review, but Higurashi falls into the category of shows that I refuse to spoil. I'll say that, I loved Gou and Sotsu every bit as much as the seasons that came before them and I really like the way the themes in each half of the series parallel each other. I feel like the second half (the new seasons) simultaneously reinforce the main morals of the original two seasons but also add caveats to them that complete the lesson and add a dose of reality to a very fantastical series. Which is funny, because a lot of people would probably feel that a certain episode near the end went off the rails. They're not wrong, but they aren't right either. I just can't explain why without spoiling huge things :')
I'm so glad that Higurashi stayed good in the new seasons. Rei and Outbreak were... well they happened. I'm glad that this confirms that they happened outside the canon though. Outbreak was fine I guess, but Rei was just awful. Gou and Sotsu were the conclusion the story really deserved. Bittersweet, beautiful and thematic. This is a series that means a lot to me, so I'm really pleased with how they wrapped it up.
The things I can be more specific about are the animation, voice acting and sound track. The animation in the original seasons gets some flack that I understand but don't agree with. I think the newer art style introduced in Gou was a bit jarring at first for those of us used to the original, but ultimately I really like it and the animation quality really did take a huge jump. Bonus points for the beautiful painted scenes in the end credits too. The voice acting was great too. I'm very pleased they got the original cast back to reprise their roles. Finally, Higurashi has one of the best soundtracks in anime and if you think otherwise you're just wrong. Sotsu has the best ED in the franchise and while nothing will top the original OP, Gou and Sotsu are both at least in the same ballpark (so was Kai for what it's worth). The ambient noise and music that I came to love from the original seasons was also very much still present.
So... yeah. I could gush about this forever but I couldn't do that without giving spoilers that I'd rather not. Suffice to say, I'm well pleased.
Spooky month. Time to return to that one series. I think the next show in the watch order list I was using is... Nekomonogatari: Kuro. And since that's only a few episodes, I'm going to further burden myself by also watching as much of Monogatari Second Season as I can :')
I finished season 1 of Demon Slayer. I'll probably add additional thoughts for Mugen Train before the end of the month too, but for now...
It's good and it's consistently good. But, aside from the god-tier animation, it is not god's gift to anime like a lot of people seem to preach. The story and the characters are all compelling, but there's nothing groundbreaking or particularly unique going on for the most part. I just want to get this out the way; it's a typical shounen series. It's a very well made show, and I enjoyed it a lot, but I consistently found myself aware that the animation was what got it as much praise as it has more than the story.
I can't stress enough that I liked it a lot, but I really wanted to start off with that little disclaimer because I feel like it's a series that, while deserving of praise, has been overhyped.
I can't say a lot about the overarching story because there is a lot left to unfold, but it's solid. The pacing is good, the alternate reality it takes place in is intriguing and I'm eager to see how it all plays out. The characters are compelling and - if we ignore the very first outing Zenitsu and Inosuke had - very likeable (at least the ones who are meant to be). They aren't anything special though, actually they pretty standard for the modern version of this genre. Good characters though! Just not unique.
I will say though, that as far as characters go, I was really pleased with how Nezuko is handled. She isn't just a prop plot-device or a damsel in distress. Even without words, she feels like a fully realised character who carries her weight and contributes to the movement of the story. She matters as a character just as much as she does as motivation for Tanjiro - who is honestly the least interesting of the important characters introduced.
The performances are all very good. Although it's also a little distracting at times hearing so many familiar voices all in one place lol.
I have nothing to say about the animation that hasn't already been said a billion times.
7/10 over all. I think it is comparable to MHA in quality, certainly it will be as it develops, and probably gets off to a stronger start.
So, I finished watching Little Witch Academia. It was honestly a lot better than I expected it to be, although that's not to say I have no criticisms either. Although, in fairness, I'm also not the target demographic.
So, it's a Trigger anime. That really shows. The animation is just as fluid and expressive as I've come to expect from them. It doesn't seem to matter what art style they use, the quality of the animation Trigger does always shines through.
As far as the story goes, I'd be lying if I said it was mind-bendingly impressive, but it was extremely solid. What it did well was orchestrate small challenges that held great meaning for the characters. The show, while being a bit heavy-handed at times, also did a great job with integrating compelling themes throughout the story. In some ways, the show is less about a witch school, and more a metaphor for persisting against the odds, self-belief, peer support and working to earn your success. In other words, things that are essential to achieve any goal.
The story itself does start of slow, but not in a bad way. The first season is mostly slice of life with a little sprinkling of plot. This serves well to build the world and get us acquainted with the characters. This approach works fine since these episodes are almost always well-written narratives that stand fine on their own. That being said, there were definitely some episodes that were more, or less, entertaining than others. The transition to an overarching multi-episode plot was also done really well with the seeds being sprinkled early on to gradually come together and grow into something more compelling.
The story of the gradual uncovering of the seven lost words was a really good story... but Croix was a problem. I don't think the show needed an antagonist to function - actually suddenly introducing a villain to a show that has mostly been about struggling against personal adversity/circumstance was pretty jarring. She was also just... not as interesting as she should have been. Also, the fact that she nearly started a literal war between the UK and Totally Not France and didn't receive any consequences is just grating. Don't get me started on the fact that the entire conflict there started with a football dispute and then spiralled into that. Magic or not, that's a little eh.
They already had the setup with the gradual disappearance of magic. I think the show would have been better served forgoing a traditional antagonist and being written around the idea of using the Grand Triskelion to bring it back. It didn't need Croix and keeping the focus on circumstance would have made for a tighter story. The second Chariot twist, not her identity because calling that a twist is a stretch given how obvious it was from episode one, was great and it also didn't Croix to work. In fact, I think if it had been a personal error and not manipulation of Croix's part it would have been a lot more impactful.
My only other critique on the writing is that while the humour was genuinely funny, the show sometimes leaned too hard into references.
I think that's all there is to say really. It's a solid show that I enjoyed a lot more than I expected I would. It's not something I'm likely to go out of my way to rewatch, but I am glad that I was convinced to give it a chance. It's not amazing, but it's good. A solid show that shows Trigger's strengths and few of their weaknesses.
And we're here with another genre of the month! Wooooo!!
It's the last month of the year. I'm sure you'd expect a christmas theme but doing something that would be expected is boring so we're going for... DUN DUNDUN
This means any anime that does not take place in modern times. This means anime with a medieval setting, 1900's setting or anything that is not around the 2000's. Enjoy! I look forward to seeing what you all will choose!
• Moderator of the RPT ꕥ Art Studio ꕥ Anime & Manga •
Over all, I really enjoyed it. It had a very Game of Thrones vibe, but with historical Viking flavour. From what I understand, a lot of what happens in the show is derived from actual historical figures and events, so this makes sense.
The plot of the show is essentially split into three. The first few episodes are set up with Thorfin as a child and are focused mostly on his father, Thors. After Thors dies, the show then is split into two simultaneously occurring plotlines. Firstly, Thorfin's desire for revenge against Askeladd and, secondly, the political plot based around the war between England and Denmark and Askeladd's goal of protecting Wales.
All three of these segments are very compelling... on paper. The early episodes following Thors and the plotline surrounding Canute and Askeladd's poltiical ambitions were honestly much more interesting than Thorfin's revenge plot storyline. Which is weird, because all the characters are very well written and conceptually Thorfin's story is great. The idea of a character being taken in by his father's killer, wanting to kill him for revenge in an honourable duel and gradually becoming so obsessed with that goal that his original motivation loses all meaning is fascinating. But the show does something weird.
The show spends 4 episodes of 25 at the beginning setting things up. We get to know Thors, we see the impact he has on the people he meets and we see him die at Askeladd's hand. This is... extremely slow. But a slow pace isn't the end of the world. The next three episodes pick up the pace and follow Thorfin as he grows up as a member of Askeladd's band of Vikings, all the while desiring to kill Askeladd in a duel himself. From episode eight onwards, things start getting weird with the writing - which is very good as a general rule, but some strange choices are made. From this point on, the story starts to gradually shift to focusing more on the war between Denmark and England and the political machinations of Sweyn, Canute and Askeladd. This is all extremely interesting and honestly where the show really picks up. Askeladd and Canute are really compelling characters. But Thorfin, who is the protagonist of the series, becomes progressively less relevant. He doesn't grow as a character, and his desire for revenge is almost a gag more than a serious plotline. Thorfin's character growth and plotline don't really kick in again until episode 21 when he encounters Leif again. That means that the supposed protagonist is basically side-lined for 13/24 episodes. Half the show. The protagonist. Sidelined.
This doesn't make the show boring. As I said, Askeladd and Canute's story is the most interesting part of the show. But it's really hard not to be constantly aware of how irrelevant Thorfin is despite his protagonist status. It makes it feel like the writer wasn't sure if they wanted to write a revenge tale or a political war drama and the two ideas were just ham-fistedly jammed together. Now, with season one ending with Canute taking the throne and Askeladd dying to facilitate that (and the protection of Wales by extension), the eventual season two is going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting with Thorfin's recovery from his revenge addiction to remain as interesting as it was in s1.
While that is a gaping flaw though, it's the only real one. Thorfin is a tad boring too for the most part, but every other character is extremely layered and compelling. The morality of the show is a dark shade of grey where even people who have noble end goals are willing to sacrifice all of their principals and do terrible things to get there and the friendliest people in the crew are still perfectly happy to slaughter whole villages. It paints a brutal, but realistic world full of bad but extremely interesting people and I love that. The animation is also really fluid and expressive and the music is solid too, especially the original OP and second ED.
So yes, this is an incredible show that I have one major gripe with. I still highly recommend it.