“In This Corner”….

April 15th, 2021 in Anime, General Reviews, Movies by

I feel that I will never understand the magnitude on the Japanese psyche regarding WWII and the dropping of the bombs. It permeates every fiber of their being and colors almost everything they do, consciously and unconsciously, even so many years after the events. We have another film that looks at the war experience, but it is done in a different manner. The inevitable comparisons between “Grave of the Fireflies” and this one, “In This Corner of the World” (“Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni”) will happen, as both are depressing, but the latter approaches it in a more hopeful, but less natural-looking, manner.

The film covers around 15 or so years of time; I’m thinking 1932 to 1946 or thereabouts. We come into the life of Suzu (the lady in pink). She is a fabulous artist, but a bit of a scatterbrain. She lives in Hiroshima and spends a lot of time sketching, sketching, sketching. The movie reflects this, in having her be in the sketches she has done, a soft line or pastel approach, or having the artwork come ‘alive’. When she is 18, she is given a proposal of marriage by Shūsaku (him to the far left), as he remembers her from 10 years earlier. They move to Kure.

Now, to help with the geography, Kure is a big naval base and about an hour train ride from Hiroshima. And since Shūsaku works for the navy and his family is there, thus the move. The movie details all the privations and struggles with being a nation at war and a city that is a prime military target, as well as Suzu trying to fit in with a new, somewhat abrasive, family.

There is a strong element of nostalgia, reflected by the art decisions. If Suzu was still alive, she could be in her 90s, and so it comes across as remembrances of a time past and the paths that could have been taken. Certainly when the war comes into her life, with the endless bombings and air raid sirens and food shortages and the shift in mood, the film takes on its darker tones. War affects everyone in varying degrees and when personal tragedy strikes Suzu, it takes all of her emotional courage and fortitude to soldier on and try to remain true to herself.

Despite it being a war film, I found it rather gentle, even when she is interrogated by the military police for sketching the harbor and its battleships. Even then, the whole thing is laughed off. The way they handle the bombing of Hiroshima is done in an interesting manner and how they are a caliber of collateral damage from it.

Again, it was a moving film, perhaps aided by the art style that softens the corners and makes things not as horrible as it really was. The movie ends too soon, as you would like to see how they moved on with their lives after all of this. The only sour note for me is that the US soldiers were portrayed as pigs. Perhaps they really were that way and a dash of kindness from them to the civilian population could have gone for miles and miles, but still, I see it as the only dour note in an otherwise poignant film.

Back to the art style, as you can see it is more cartoonish, avoiding a lot of the tropes that come with a ‘regular’ anime approach. They inhabit a kind of tweeny world, where it is not full cartoon, but certainly not as realistic as it could be. Again, this might be holding in nature with the remembrance part of the overall directorial approach to it. You might want to compare/contrast with “The Wind Rises”, which covers a similar slice of time, in how they made their artistic decisions. It is still a film worth watching, if only to understand things better.

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           7 (Not certain if it is fully effective)
Plot                  8 (An interesting story told interestingly)
Pacing              8 (Moves along with a strong deliberateness)
Effectiveness   8 (Good use of sensibilities of the era)
Conclusion       7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service      1 (A similar show would be “Ouran High School”)

Overall            8 (Well worth seeing)

Three stars

Here Comes the “Bride”

April 8th, 2021 in Anime, General Reviews by

I could have seen this at AX 17, but they mooked with the scheduling so it passed me by. I had to wait for it to come online to grab it. This is a caliber of lead-in to the series, as it is a three-part OVA. The series itself was released in 2018. This short-run talks about things after the dust has settled and everyone is more or less comfortable with one another. If the series is going to be like this offering, it is going to be both intriguing and restrained. This is “The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star”.

Now, this came first and, although it does give a good introduction into the series, it might be misplaced, as you have to play a ton of catch-up and guess-me, but it is billed as a prequel. And since the series hadn’t even started when this was released, this is what you get.

Hatori Chise (ginger in the center) is a lonely teenager when we begin. She has always had this gift of seeing those things that cannot be seen by mere mortals. She is referred to as a ‘Sleigh Beggy’, and is of some considerable worth. She is a type of mage who unconsciously attracts the love of magical creatures who will help her when she is in need. Needing an apprentice, the ancient mage Elias Ainsworth (him at the left) takes her in, with the understanding that, one day, she will be his bride.

Don’t let his looks scare you; there is a deep and caring heart behind that grim visage. They are both overseen by Silver, the landlady of the house (and a banshee, but that is revealed later). You don’t want to mess with her, OK?

The OVA contends itself with an incident in Chise’s past and a book that she was fond of that later went astray. You also learn the details of her tragic past and why she is the emotional wreck that is presented to us.

This is one good-looking show. A great deal of effort was invested in the backgrounds and the character designs, so it all looks and feels natural…despite having winged creatures fluttering about (as seen above between Silver and Chise). Elias does not open his mouth to speak, so this takes a bit of getting used to. It is all done by telepathy and I think it would have looked odd to see Elias open his jaws to speak than this simpler approach.

My concern is whether to see this at the beginning of the series, the end of the series or in the middle. As I said, it was a bit of a jolt to be plunked into this with nary an understanding of the characters. In watching the series, things become much clearer, so overall motivations are explained and a fuller sense of Chise’s tragedies are given the showcase they deserve.

The reason for the lowered review is that I felt we were really blind-sided, flung into the midst of things and the back story still didn’t answer a ton of questions. But I recommend you see it. My anger is directed at how the viewer was treated in all this by the parent company and not with the show as a whole, but that’s how I call ‘em.

It’s an OVA; of course you chain it and it explains things nicely.

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           9 (Lush and rich)
Plot                  8 (Typical but with some good twists)
Pacing              8 (Solid, but can seem languid)
Effectiveness   7 (More the nature of how we were introduced to it)
Conclusion      5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service     0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Bingeability  10 (Take the whole thing in at once)

Overall            7 (Good story, hurt by drop-in approach)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. You will be my bride.

The “Bane” of My Existence

April 1st, 2021 in Anime, General Reviews by

I wuz robbed! Someone call the anime police! What a crock of crap! Please excuse my histrionics, but never have I felt so cheated by a show as I was from “Kishin Houkou Demonbane”. It promised one thing but devolved into…mecha! I can’t stand mecha, but the fact they had to lie and cheat me into it is even worse. So why did I hang around for the full run? I’ll explain that in a bit, but first, the plot. Giant fighting robots! I mean…ahem! That is to say…. (more…)

“Lies” We Tell Ourselves

March 25th, 2021 in Anime, General Reviews by

I will never understand the Japanese mind, especially in the anime way. It’s that a lot of shows I see tend to reinforce the idea that the government is going to take care of you, but it comes off as quite authoritarian. So, you have no say in how the government takes care of you. It’s good for society, but not necessarily for you. Despite this rather dour opening, we look at the dramedy of “Koi to Uso” (“Love and Lies”).

“Cheer”, Cheer, The Gang’s All Here

January 28th, 2021 in Anime, General Reviews by

More Japanese weirdness. OK, sure, this is another “Girls Who Save the World” tale, but what they are doing is saving their city from neglect. Huh? Wha? Eh? This is more of a way to promote the virtues of your particular city, and this is done via ‘action heroines’, some superhero girl who battles the baddies, while extolling some aspect of the city she represents. Well, everyone wants to get in on the act and Hinano City is no different. Thus we have “Action Heroines Cheer Fruits” (“Akushon Hiroin Chia Furūtsu”). (more…)

I Met Up with the “Gambler”

December 24th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

And here is the ‘two’ of the one-two punch. Another of those very harsh private academies animes, this one is truly a classroom of the elite, but that’s not what we are trying to accomplish with “Kakegurui” (orKakegurui – Compulsive Gambler”).  (more…)

“Elite” Interests

December 17th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

This is part of a one-two punch review in regards to Japanese schools and their educational system. Most animes use the schools as a jumping-off point to look at some harem rom-com or superhero education, so the school is more background or a platform for these events, rather than part and parcel of the whole approach. These particular shows I am scrutinizing look at the school itself and the academic mindset that drives them along. It seems harsh and cruel by our standards. Hell, it’s harsh and cruel by the Marquis de Sade’s standards! It makes one wonder if all private academies are like this. If they were any tougher, you might as well be training to be a Navy SEAL. Our first scholastic offering is “Classroom of the Elite” (“Yōkoso Jitsuryoku Shijō Shugi no Kyōshitsu e”, or “Welcome to the Classroom of the Supreme Ability Doctrine”). (more…)

Lord, It’s a “Miracle”

December 10th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

A trope in and of itself, members of faith are usually portrayed as a caliber of charlatan or deceiver and are potentially as evil as the evil they are fighting, and usually at the expense of those they purport to be saving. But we are working both with and against this trope with “Vatican Miracle Examiner” (“Bachikan Kiseki Chōsakan”). (more…)

The “Principal” Cause

December 4th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

This first came up as an offering at AX 17, but since there was zero description in the handbook about it, my initial thought that it was going to be a stupid rom-com, about a princess who, for whatever reason, has to be the principal of a high school for a year and learns about ‘commoners’ and their problems. I could not have been more wrong, as it is an Alternate Universe Steampunk Spy Drama. Thus we arrive at “Princess Principal” (“Purinsesu Purinshiparu”). (more…)

It’s All “New” to Me

November 19th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

When the show “New Game!” came out, I had two big problems with it. The first was the overwhelming female cast in it (men were there, but certainly background at best) and the fact that for trying to put out a video game, there was a decided lack of pressure. The game would come out when it would come out. Not very realistic. With the second season of “New Game!! 2” (“Nyū Gēmu!! 2”) upon us, they have at least raised the stakes a bit. (more…)