ブレンド・S | Blend S: 1-3

I know this anime, Blend S, aired two years ago, but I still haven’t finished it. I have a lot of notes, so bear with me. Let’s do this!

The main character, Maika, has a hard time finding a part-time job because of her condescending appearance. I know it sounds weird, but her eyes just have that particular look, that makes her seem disdainful when dealing with customers. And since the customer is our bread giver, that’s not exactly a valued trait at most establishments.

This is a problem until she arrives at Stile, a café half full of otaku, where the waitresses act out certain archetypal roles while serving the customers. There’s a tsundere (Kaho-san), an imouto (Mafuyu-san) and Maika-san earns the sadistic role for her eyes.

The whole anime is less about the inner workings of a café and more about the character mechanics. For that reason, let me quickly introduce the five who appear in the first episode.

The main character, Sakuranomiya Maika, is a sheltered youngest child of a wealthy, traditional Japanese family. She tends to speak in polite forms of verbs, making her down-putting edicts even more so. Unfortunately this singular characteristic can’t be translated into English very well. Continue reading

結城友奈は勇者である | Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: 1-3

While searching for kodama in anime, I came across this magical girl series. One middle-school Hero Club usually helps out in their community by finding homes for stray kittens, putting on plays for kindergarten children or cleaning up the shore. As it turns out though, the club has a mission bigger than that.

As always, there will be SPOILERS for the first three episodes!

In the first episode, the girls are chosen to protect the Divine Tree and through that the world. They transform into magical girls and take on their first enemy.

Virgo Vertex

On the other side of the equation are the Hero Club members. Continue reading

Anime Mirai 2015

This is a double review, attempting to highlight the short animations that come out off Young Animator Training Project. In 2015, the project was called Anime Mirai and it spawned four animations. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get all four. Hence it’s only a double review. I’ll try to make it as spoiler free as I can.

Aki no Kanade (アキの奏で, lit. Aki’s Rhythm) – J.C.Staff

It has been 10 years since Aki moved to Tokyo to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a taiko drummer. However, trying to balance work and taiko practice is harsh, and each day is incredibly stressful. One day, Aki receives a phone call. A taiko drum festival is going to be revived after 15 years. Will she be able to come back and give technical guidance?

This is a story of finding lost passion. Before returning to her hometown to train the drummers for the festival, Aki feels like a failure for not being able to live off her drumming jobs. That she still has to keep a second job to pay her bills. But looking at the other drummers in her squad, she’s not the only one.

If you’re feeling lost on your journey and lack the drive and motivation to continue, think back to the things that made you start. That initial excitement and the reasons you have since almost forgotten might spark something. Aki remembers her training and the festivals in her hometown, the way she loved taiko drumming before it became a means of making money. Continue reading

Notes on Mitsuboshi Colors

I wrote about Mitsuboshi Colors in my Winter 2018 Preview I.

I’m expecting a cute slice-of-life, an iyashikei anime. Barely anything will happen… something like Non Non Biyori. Which is a fitting comparison since both are made by Silver Link.

Well, I can certainly say the series did not meet my expectations. There were some good moments, but those could be recounted in a pretty short post. So that is exactly what I’ll do.

Going by episodes, I have two notes on the first one. First off, the anime is very true to the manga. That’s not a good thing, because the manga is rather boring. And second, the CG is awful.

In general, the art style and the animation aren’t exactly stellar. Through out the anime you will see some scenes repeating and a lot of barely modified photos for backgrounds (at stores, the zoo and in the museum). The characters and foregrounds are animated in a very average style, nothing to write home about. There is nothing wrong with any of that, but it sure gives of a lazy/low-cost feeling. Continue reading

ゆるキャン△ | Yuru Camp

Yuru Camp (or Laid-Back Camp in English) aired this last winter. We finished it soon after it aired, but I had been just so busy that I didn’t start writing a review until the summer. So here it is, half a year later.

Rin Shima likes camping, but minds the people, so she goes camping mainly in the colder months. During one of her trips she meets Nadeshiko Kagamihara, a dummy who just moved to the area and wanted to see Fujisan as it’s portrayed on the back of 1000¥ bills. This encounter spurs Nadeshiko to try camping. Together with the (two) members of the Outdoor Activities Club at school she ventures into the great outdoors.

That’s pretty much it. It’s a slice-of-life anime, my favorite genre. After three episodes I was thinking “It’s a nice slice-of-life, though a little stupid. Definitely not a must-watch.” But after the fourth it suddenly clicked with me and the regular length episodes were too short. And less stupid. (Even when they wrapped one of the girls in aluminium, bubbles and cardboard. See episode 4.) From the fifth episode onward it was amazing.

Before hitting the fourth episode I complained to a friend that the anime doesn’t have much to add to my life and he said:

It made you read the manga, mission accomplished.

He was alluding to the fact that a lot of adaptations are made to make the viewers buy the original manga. So as long as it made them read the manga (from a legal source, preferably), it has accomplished what was expected of it.

Yes, I have read a little of the manga in preparation for the review. Compared to the manga, the anime is more, well… animated. Most of the jokes go over much easier in motion, even though the content is pretty much the same.

Word of warning: As always there are spoilers and a lot of screenshots. 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

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

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

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

すすめ, カロリーナ. | Susume, Karolina.

I enjoy art of all kinds and because of that follow quite a number of artists. One of them is Matheusz Urbanowicz, a polish artist who lives in Japan and draws amazing (mostly) watercolor scenery. While Mattō himself is an interesting topic, today I want to introduce you to his latest creation, Susume, Karolina.

Susume, Karolina. is a three-minute animation about Karolina Styczyńska, the first foreign (as in non-Japanese) female, who was able to become a professional shogi (Japanese chess) player.

It was written and directed by Mateusz Urbanowicz, who also did the backgrounds. The music was handled by Hanukkah Nakamura and the rest of the animation was done by Studio Colorido of Fumiko’s Confession. The sponsor is CalorieMate balanced food.

Please watch the video—preferably twice, the first time without captions to take in the beauty and the second time with the captions, in which Karolina explains the scenes.

Continue reading