Yonkoma, the four cell manga

Everyone saw this post coming, because I have been talking about it for ages—yonkoma, the four cell manga.

Yonkoma is a popular format of Japanese manga, which originated in the beginning of last century. It was inspired by American comics, namely Frank Arthur Nankivell’s and Frederick Burr Opper’s works, which both influenced the father of yonkoma (and Japanese manga in general), Rakuten Kitazawa.

As the (quite literal) translation indicates, yonkoma is a comic strip with four panels or windows. Here are three examples.

All of the yonkoma above are stand-alone mini stories. A plot can begin and end in those four panels. But in the case of all three of these, there is more. They are all parts of manga series, that are made up of hundreds of yonkoma with the same characters and themes. Most yonkoma series belong to the slice-of-life genre or something similarly light. Continue reading

こみっくがーるず | Comic Girls: 10-12 [END]

We have finished Comic Girls! Here are my notes on the last three episodes and also my final thoughts on the series as a whole. It ended up being another long one. I have a lot of notes.

Episode 10: Christmas in Japan is not a family holiday like in Christian countries. It’s a normal workday on which couples go on romantic dates. Kind of like Valentine’s Day. People throw parties, eat red-and-white cake and exchange small presents. Ruki’s problem with this holiday is that she doesn’t have a boyfriend to spend it with. Of course, she could just have a party with the girls and the matron, but as a romance manga author, she seems to not be content with that.

あこがれ (orange line) means “admiration (for couples)”

And so, her motivation to work (blue line) plummets and she hides from the world in her futon. Which is something I totally understand. Continue reading

Why Did I Even Finish THAT?

I want to share a small list of anime I completed and rated 1 or 2 on MyAnimeList. Because even if I rated them this low, they must have some quality that compelled me to finish them.

One Room Special: rated 2

This is a recent addition to the list. By itself it wouldn’t be as bad, but it’s just three short scenes word-for-word from the first season, where the girls wear swimsuits instead of their normal clothes.

Four minutes of disappointment, as one MAL reviewer called it.

The whole franchise is pretty bad, actually. It got a lot of publicity, because Kantoku did the character designs. The art style meshes with his and so it’s pretty, but there’s little animation work. The concept of visual novel-like shorts is interesting as well—we see everything from the protagonist’s point of view and we never hear him talk. So you’re supposed to insert yourself and your voice into the void.

The main reason I finished this is that it’s only 4 minutes. You can do a lot in 4 minutes, but I don’t value my time much. Another reason would be that I have watched the first season. Continue reading

Yama no Susume: Omoide Present

The third season of ヤマノススメ [Yama no Susume, literally Mountain Girls, translated as Encouragement of a Climb] is airing this summer. I watched the first episode and only then realized I have not watched the preceding special! Not that there was any development in the OVA. My biggest hurdle is not remembering the second season well enough, since I had finished it 3.5 years ago. I’m serious—the second season aired in 2014.

Back to last year’s OVA, one interesting snippet of information is that the two short stories are not adapted from the manga. They are anime-originals. The script was written by the man, who wrote the script to the anime adaptation of Girls’ Last Tour, Fudeyasu Kazuyuki. And that was a job well done.

ここなの8/31 | Kokona’s 31/8

The first, roughly 11-minute story focuses on Kokona. Kokona and her mother planned to spend the last day of August together, possibly hiking. Unfortunately Mom was called into work and Kokona will be spending the day alone. Continue reading

こみっくがーるず | Comic Girls: 7-9

We’re 75% done with Comic Girls. The last episode was a little weak, but other than that we’re still loving every second. I definitely plan on reading the manga for comparison. Even though manga creation is on the sidelines, while slice-of-life is shooting, I am still enjoying it very much. Let’s get started!

The seventh episode focuses mainly on developing Kaos-chan. It opens with Koyume-chan getting serialized. With everyone else in the dorm being serialized, Kaos-chan feels even less worthy. (The way she always puts herself down reminds me of someone…)

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Somehow, my husband was more fascinated with the convenient censoring than Koyume’s declaration that Kaos will always be her main character. Continue reading

Notes on Takunomi.

I wrote about Takunomi in my second Winter 2018 preview post.

This is the “women drinking at home” anime. It’s also adapted from a manga, but I haven’t read even a chapter. Nevertheless, what am I expecting from this? A healing, relaxing anime with working women and beer and snacks. It’s only 15-minutes per episode too.

It ended up being less than 15 minutes and not just beer, but alcohol in general. Still my expectations of an 癒し系 [いやしけい, iyashikei, healing] anime were fulfilled.

From the left: Michiru, Nao, Kae, Makoto.

Among what I’ve been watching, Takunomi was a breath of fresh air—young female professionals doing grownup things. In this aspect it was reminiscent of Shirobako. That was a great show. I feel like there hasn’t been a similar one since. Nothing exceptional at least. Although, maybe Hisone and Maso-tan will fill this hole? I plan on watching that.

Returning to Takunomi, it’s definitely nothing special, but it sure was relaxing. Continue reading

あまんちゅ!約束の夏と新しい思い出のコト | Amanchu! OVA

This OVA is a direct sequel to the first season of Amanchu! It came out over a year ago, but I only watched it this April, when I was readying myself to watch the second season, Amanchu! Advance, which aired in the spring.

As always, beware of spoilers!

Akane (left) and Chizuru (right) arriving at Izu-kogen Highlands.

The premise is very simple. Futaba/Teko’s two closest friends from the city come to visit her. Chizuru is jealous of Hikari/Pikari and lets that spoil most of her visit. (Even though Pikari’s grandma warns her in a way. Listen to your elders.) In an apology that leaves nobody wondering what happened, she accepts that Futaba/Teko can have other friends and be happy with them. Continue reading

What is “Young Animator Training Project”?

Have you ever heard of Anime Mirai? Or Anime Tamago? Or one of the 32 shorts that were born through the Young Animator Training Project? You might not know it, but you probably have.

Young Animator Training Project is an annual project launched in 2010, and funded by the Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs in order to support training animators. The project culminates in a series of anime shorts produced by various animation studios each year.

The project was launched by Japanese Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) in 2010. The animation labor group received 214.5 million yen (about US$2.27 million) from the Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, and it distributed most of those funds to studios to train young animators on-the-job during the year. One of the reasons for the support of the Agency for Cultural Affairs is the concern that more of the Japanese animation process is being outsourced overseas—thus leading to a decline in opportunities to teach animation techniques within Japan. In 2011 the Agency once again provided funding for JAniCA to select more young training projects under the same budgets.

–Wikipedia

When the project was introduced in 2010, it was called Project A. 2011 through 2015 it was called Anime Mirai—that’s when I heard about it. Since then the name has changed to Anime Tamago.

Anyway, why am I writing about it? I plan on writing about all eight past years of this project. Every year there are four shorts, so I have eight four-in-one reviews in mind.

To entice you a little more, let me mention that this summer’s 音楽少女 [おんがくしょうじょ, Ongaku Shoujo, Music Girls] originated in an Anime Mirai 2015. The series’ first episode aired the day before yesterday, July 6th, 2018. Little Witch Academia went through the same process.

Look forward to it!

こみっくがーるず | Comic Girls: 4-6

I’m back with more Comic Girls. We watched three more episodes and there were some moments I’d like to point out. As always there will be spoilers for episodes 4 through 6. (Read my notes on episodes 1 to 3.)

The fourth episode focuses on Ruki—first her deadline is coming up and then she scores her first signing. The rush up to the deadline while going to school tires Ruki out and there’s some fanservice based off that. Continue reading

夏目友人帳 陸 特別編 | Natsume’s Book of Friends 6 Specials

Although I haven’t seen the sixth season yet, I watched the specials. Not like it matters much with Natsume’s Book of Friends, since the episodes are usually stand-alone stories.

As always I will spoil the anime, so be sure to watch it first! It’s only 46 minutes including OP and ED.

The Stump of the Ringing Tree

A hundreds-years-old ginkgo tree had been cut down in the neighboring town. Natsume and Nyanko-sensei meet the spirit of the tree while going to buy sweets. The spirit is soon to leave this world, but knows he’s forgetting a promise. Continue reading