Aesthetics over Anything

It seems like when a lot of people say “animation” they are describing visual presentation in anime. The thing is animation and aesthetics or visuals are completely different things. Whereas one describes how well the pictures flow together with cinematography or high frame rate, the other is basically describing how “cool” it looks. 

And while both are very important to anime, I’m a firm believer in Aesthetics being more important than animation or any other aspect of an anime. More than that, I think aesthetics are the aspect that pushes a 9 out of 10 show to a 10 out of 10 masterpiece.

A show I want to point to is Nisemonogatari. This is a show that a lot feel is the weakest of all the monogataris. And I would definitely agree. Nisemonogatari does feel a lot of times like a fan service season. Most of the characters that the season focuses on are all characters that have been briefly introduced yet never talked about previously. But even with these aspects that should make a show boring in normal circumstances, I think the aesthetics itself covers up all of the problems that the show has. Every second in Nisemonogatari you are on the edge of your chair, not because of a tense battle scene, but because you are speechless at how beautiful each frame is. 

Take the Shinobu bath scene. You can see the full display of Shaft’s unique aesthetics. First, you have the hyper-empty room. Shaft directly put the characters as the focus of an exaggeratedly large room. Then you have the colors that kind of look hollow to support that empty feel of the room. Both of these aspects immediately direct the viewer’s attention to the center with the red flower petals and the bright hair of Shinobu. You also see these transparent glass-like materials on the side of the bathroom that just adds to the holy like atmosphere that Shinobu gives throughout the whole scene. 

Even the infamous toothbrush scene. No one will tell you that that scene has good directing, animation, or even say it’s good (unless you are into that stuff) but the visual presentations in the scene are also really unique. Immediately as the toothbrush enters the whole atmosphere turns into this erotic pink. You see each string (?) of the toothbrush flying around beautifully with the music in every direction. My favorite part of this scene is when the camera fans to the monitor. The chair and the background is simplified and you see a video and Karen on the monitor. This single frame that just screams Shaft made me so invested in Nisemonogatari as a show.

But good aesthetics doesn’t have to be a Shaft show. take two shows for examples: Slime Isekai and No Game No Life. Both isekai shows feature the cliche of an overpowering main character. Both are very fun shows. But I enjoyed No Game No Life a lot better than Slime Isekai. And a primary reason to that is No Game No Life’s aesthetics. The world of Disboard is filled with extremely bright and flashy colors. Immediately, as the show starts off with Sora and Shiro being blasted from their dark rooms to Disboard, we are introduced to the world with an explosion of neon-like pink and blue colors. The brightness may seem a little bit blinding but it screams fantasy immediately. The contrast from their dark room with only monitors to light up the room to the brightly shining world of Disboard immediately caught my attention when I watched the show. 

That’s not to say Slime Isekai wasn’t visually pleasing at all. If you look at the cave scene in episode one, the lightly saturated bluish colors of the cave that prevent everything from going pitch black creates a very mysterious atmosphere. I can tell you that I enjoyed that visual presentation a lot more than Arifureta’s almost blinding dark cave. But No Game No Life aesthetics, more than Slime or Arifureta, is very unique. It’s a whole new setting that presents a whole new visual presentation from anything that I’ve really seen in anime. And I truly think that shows like this that can present a unique visual appeal makes it really stand out from the rest of the anime out there. This is exactly why I think shows like Aria, Mushishi, Hidamari Sketch, or Kara No Kyoukai stand way above any other shows in their genre.

You might be thinking aesthetics isn’t the only reason why No Game No Life is better than Slime and why that’s better than Arifureta. And I agree. These examples that I gave are shows that I think are just fundamentally good in other areas as well. After all shows with good aesthetics are useless if all other aspects of the show fail. But to me, a show with great aesthetics, failing on other areas is a lot more refreshing than an okay show with boring visual presentation. Because personally, I’d rather read a pretty art book than a good novel.

My Ultimate Top 5 Cute Girls show list

I adore cute girls shows. Over the last 10 years or so, they have become the staple and norm of anime and they have been dominating the market. Although there may be this negative mindset against these shows because of their repetitiveness, there are a lot of cute girls shows that are a lot more special than others in one way or another. So here are 5 shows that I believe are the 5 best cute girls shows of all time!

Is the Order a Rabbit

ごちうさSS 「意味深なごちうさSS Case5:シャロ」

If you told me to choose the cutest show of all time, I’d say Gochiusa without any hesitation. This show does everything to be cute. It has a unique setting, round character designs, fantastic voice acting, and fun events that rounds out everything. What makes this show really fun to watch is how easy it is to watch even when the show is not funny. In a lot of comedy, slice of life shows, such as Asobi Asobase, are focused on the comedic side so when I can’t necessarily relate to a joke or don’t find the joke funny, it becomes really hard for me to continue. But in Gochiusa, even when the jokes aren’t as funny you still find yourself having fun watching the characters. But more than the anime itself, because of the various events that the show holds and the deluxe cast of voice actors whom I avidly follow, the outside influence of the show makes it almost impossible for you to miss out on the show if you follow voice actors. 

Nichijou 

Nichijou!! I love that anime; it's so funny! | 鳥獣戯画, 日常 ...

Nichijou is my favorite comedy of all time. It’s explosive animations, perfect comedic timing, and most importantly Mai trolling are all fantastic. I think what makes Nichijou really different from a lot of these comedies that gets talked about a lot is the exaggeration in animation. But what gets talked about a little less is the characters. The characters in Nichijou are very unique yet they play multiple roles. Usually comedy characters are limited in their roles in shows. For example, there is the boke character and the straight man character. But in nichijou, everyone kind of plays all of these roles. Like how comedy is with friends in real life, Nichijou’s character’s role changes depending on the situations that they have been set up with. For example, you can see Yuuko playing boke yet being the straight man with Mai most of the time. Other than that, the characters are just really fun. Nano and Hakase are both so cute and watching the process of Nano going to school in the middle section is absolutely a blast.

Aria 

アニメ映画『ARIA The AVVENIRE』(アリア ジ アッヴェニーレ) 特報 ...

Aria is so immersive. Every season of Aria fills you in with the wonders of Neo Venezia. And it’s really apparent how much thought was put into mixing the setting and the characters into this relaxing pot. The show is about Mizunashi Akari, who is training to be an Undine at Neo Venezia. The characters are really fun to be around. Personality wise, they are mostly fairly laid back and relaxed in the very low stakes environment. Akari, especially, has this really bubbly personality where she finds joy in very much mundane aspects of life. And all the characters seem as though they are having a lot of fun in their life. But another huge aspect of the show is the music. I can easily say that the music in Aria is the most relaxing in anime. The instrumental of the show is usually light orchestra or piano music that is really easy to listen to. With the very detailed background along with the cool, clue color palette, the show, both visually and auditorily, gets the viewers to feel like they are sitting in Akari’s gondola. 

K-on

けいおん | 注意!サムネイル画像なので1 ... | 京都アニメーション ...

K-on is probably one of the highest regarded cute girls ever, and it is rightfully so. I mean show can you even have a cute girls list without Hokago Tea Time. K-on takes the viewers on a wonderful journey of 3 hours with Yui, Ritsu, Mio, Mugi and Azusa. Although the show does take an omnibus style, the characters grow and develop so much through the 3 years of highschool. The thing is, you can’t really feel this when you watch the show. The show does such a good job making the viewers naturally change with the girls that everything from their jokes to conversations feels like they didn’t change much. But once you go back to season 1 episode 1 after watching the movie, you will immediately be surprised at how much they change just in the way they talk and interact. And by the end you will look back at the emotional rollercoaster and be blown away by the time you spent with these characters.

Hidamari Sketch

Hidamari Sketch is arguably my favorite anime series of all time. Everything about this show is perfect. To list a few: Yuno, Yuno, Yuno, Yunocchi.

On a more serious note, Hidamari Sketch is the most special out of any show in this list because of the visuals. I’d go so far to say that Hidamari Sketch is the most visually pleasing show I have seen in my life. The first two seasons capture the very essence of late 2000 shaft, while the last two seasons have the polish you would expect from recent shaft shows. It might be a little bit jarring at the start because of the art style, but once you get used to it other visual elements like the still life or the background or the patterns become more of the visual focus. Of course, as you’d expect from a cute girls show, Hidamari Sketch also does an excellent job making fun characters for you to watch and hang out with. Other than the main four, who are all very playful and unique in their own ways, the two new characters that join in the 3rd season or the teachers at school are all hilarious characters that make up a lot of the show. 

Should you Play: Sayonara Wild Hearts

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a game that came out quite a while back, but in case you were still wondering where to buy it or not, here’s my opinion:

So I sat down to play… Sayonara Wild Hearts (2019) - George ...

In short, yes.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is extremely entertaining, with graphics that look really good, and uses the blockiness of it to its advantage by making it a part of its aesthetic.

Sayonara Wild Hearts - Original Soundtrack 상품을 Steam에서 구매 ...

But although the visuals are great in the game, I think the key appeals of it are the music and the gameplay. Wild Hearts itself is an extremely short game, even for its 13 dollar price, and it’ll take you 1-2 hours to clear the entire game.

Review: Sayonara Wild Hearts - A Marvellous, Music-Driven ...

It’ll take longer than that, maybe another hour or two(or even more) to get Gold Ranks on all of the stages, but in 2 hours you’ll have seen everything the game has to offer.

The gameplay consists of dodging and shooting, while collecting points through hearts. Yet its constantly changing, sometimes being a 3D racer, while other times its a shooting game or resembles a 2D platformer(this review is intentionally showing similar photos that are mostly from the beginning of the game, to avoid spoilers).

sayonara wild hearts review (7).jpeg | GameCrate

But the key point to the gameplay is that it’s extremely easy. The levels themselves don’t require much skill, and there are countless amounts of ‘silent checkpoints’ in the game, allowing for quick respawns close to where you died, which keeps your excitement high while you’re playing.

Many people have referred to this game as a rhythm game, but I don’t think you should go into this game with that expectation. The music is definitely great, and there’s no doubt that this game would be much worse without it. That said, the gameplay itself is very loosely connected with the music, and rarely relies on your sense of rhythm.

I think the best way to understand how cool this game actually is, is to watch the trailer for it. When I first watched it, I thought that there was no way the game is actually going to look like this, but literally all of the gameplay looks like whats shown in the trailers. It transitions so smoothly between the short cutscenes and the gameplay, and it’s really unique in how you’re put in all sorts of new situations, introducing new gameplay mechanics that are really cool to play with, but simple enough to not warrant a tutorial.

Sayonara Wild Hearts Wallpaper 68826 1920x1080px

I only have two major complaints with this game, both of which are related to the ‘coins’ that are in every level, which affect the ‘rank’ that you achieve after each level. The first complaint I have is how disconnected the gameplay is to the visuals. There’s these guiding ‘coins’ in this game, and so when you’re being chased by an enemy, instead of looking at it to see where it would go and where you can dodge, you can simply look at the coins to look at where you’d go. This makes the visuals feel much less important and dragged my attention away from it, which is a true shame considering how cool and well done they are.

Sayonara Wild Hearts Review - Full of Heart (PS4)

The other complaint that I have is how the coins actually appear. During the parts in the game where there is no enemy, and all you’re really doing is chasing the coins to get a better rank(and lack of anything else to do), often times there is no visual cue or consistent pattern to how the coins appear. Instead, it’s much easier(and I think the only way to actually get all the coins) to kill yourself after seeing where to coins appear, so that you go back to the previous checkpoint to be able to collect the coins.

Sayonara Wild Hearts Review | Flashy stylish arcade bliss

But enough of my complaining, if you’re even considering this game, then I would strongly, strongly recommend it, especially since it’s only 13 bucks. The problems I mentioned were some things I found a little annoying during my first playthrough, and I’m sure some people won’t even notice or be bothered by it at all.