CGI being used in Anime

CG has been being used more and more in the last decade or so. And there are a lot of conflicted opinions about them. So here, I’ll be going through 4 different “levels” of CG in anime and looking at how they are used and how I feel about them.

Full on CG

Houseki no Kuni - 01 - 02 - Lost in Anime

This is your Berserk 2017 and Bang Dream. A lot of people, including myself, will say that shows that use CG as their main animation medium are very hard to look at. Rakuen Tsuihou was the biggest laughing stock of that year and pretty understandably. The movements look really janky and unnatural and the texture of the CG feels really cheap and brings down the whole quality of the animation. A lot of the public’s mindset on CG anime, however, did change with Houseki no Kuni. Many praise it to be one of the better shows. It has a widely positive reception with a mal score of 8.43. But to me this wasn’t a show that I could enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong; I do like Houseki no Kuni. I had a lot of fun reading the manga. But the CG in the show made it really hard to look at. One of the best parts about the original manga is the beautiful backgrounds and visuals. Every single frame is so full with detailed lines composed so beautifully. But the CG simplifies everything in an unnatural moving model that can’t really express what I loved about the visuals in the original manga. I heard a lot of people say the CG is fine in the show but can you imagine this show being fully animated? It would’ve been absolutely stunning. The story itself allows a lot of aesthetic experiments and I was a little bit disappointed by the CG.

But over time, I think I did get a little bit more used to it. Especially since I got accustomed to games like Persona or the Atelier series that have characters move in CG models most of the time. So I’m sure I’d be more fine with CG anime than I was 2~3 years ago.

Idol shows

𝙿𝙼𝚂」Antique Gucci MEP - YouTube

I don’t like Idol shows and I think people that like idols shows don’t like them for how good the show is too. I find, usually, that fans of idols shows like them because they like the character, or the idols. That’s why concerts featuring voice actors of the characters singing are widely popular. 

But the shows themselves are just bad and a lot of it has to do with the CG dance sequences. To me, this type of show is a lot worse than a show that is completely CG. Even disregarding how unnatural these CG dances look, the CG visuals clash with the hand drawn parts of it. Both parts look completely different because of the texture of the CG animation. This creates a huge disconnect between the daily life sections and the staged sections to the point where it doesn’t even feel like the same show. Then again, it’s not like I’m going to watch these shows even if they were to be done normally animated. 

CG Crowds

5 Best & 5 Worst Uses Of CGI Animation In Anime | CBR

CG crowds are often used nowadays as a method of saving money. Rather than spending a huge sum of money drawing background characters that are normally not given a lot of attention, they put CGI models in the background to fill up the empty space. The thing is, this tactic that they use on parts of the background that don’t take much of the attention of the audience is given attention when they look hideous. Once the movements in the background start to slightly bother the audience, it becomes almost impossible to pay attention to the other visuals in the show that they probably directed the money towards. 

This really also applies to objects that move. Like cars, for example. I’m not an expert in the animation process but I’m gonna guess CG doesn’t work too well with the drawn frames. Like the CGI crowds, they become really really hard to look at. Then again, I understand why studios are doing this. Animation is expensive and it’s hard to believe a street without any cars. But honestly, if the final product is going to look janky as most CG products are, I’d rather see a plain street that looks normal than a bustling street with people and cars that look like they are glitching in real life.

Ufotable

I spent a full page or so just talking about how much I had CG in anime, but I do like them sometimes too. Although very minor, I’m a huge fan of how ufotable uses CG to sharpen up their backgrounds. Although CGI looks really unnatural when they move, when they are still, they are usually fine. Sometimes, they even add a sharp look to the backgrounds. For example, most of the buildings in Ufotable use a mix of CGI and hand drawn animation to create their final look. The final product becomes very meticulously drawn from their shape to their aesthetic feel.

Ufotable also uses CGI for their action scenes. They get CG models to pose for the scene then  draw on top of the models. The texture of the drawings are the same because they still color and draw the way they would normally do, yet the movements feel more organized in many scenes. 

If studios are able to incorporate CG like this, without making it obvious that they used CGI or if they make it look natural and matching with the total aesthetics of the show, then I’d be happy to see studios find ways to save money like this.

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. 

Why I won’t watch Kaguya Season 2

I drop a lot of shows. Recently, this is to a point where I drop almost everything that I watch seasonally. So I can’t do a weekly review of the show, not just because I don’t like watching shows weekly but also because most shows feel like a drag to watch. So instead of doing reviews episodically, I want to just go over most shows this season and reason out why I ended up dropping it. Of course, there are a couple of shows that I want to put on hold for it to finish airing, but those will have separate reviews afterwards.

Anyways, the first of my dropped shows was Kaguya season 2. In fact, I didn’t even complete the first season of Kaguya.

But don’t get me wrong. I like Kaguya. Jun talked about what makes Kaguya a lot better than other rom-coms and I would have to agree with everything he said. I mean, the voice acting is amazing throughout, the ridiculous set up makes for great comedy, and the directing and camera movements are interesting and somewhat creative enough (with its line effect and sudden focus on characters) to keep most entertained. I’d say it really does a good job making it feel as though the whole story doesn’t take place in one place because of the various effects, angles and camera movements they use. Other aspects like the OST or animation have no problems either. 

Even with all these great aspects, however, what keeps me away from the anime comes from the fact that I read the manga. I absolutely adore the manga. The characters are really expressive and the jokes are hilarious. And although the anime mostly matches up with the manga, the fact that I read it influenced my watching experience quite heavily So in order to explain why I’m not watching Kaguya, I’m going to have to draw a lot of comparisons to the manga.

My main problem that really sums up the reason why I won’t watch the show is that can’t help but feel like the jokes drag a little. This wasn’t a problem when I read the manga. This is mostly because in manga, the only way of engaging is visually. This means that I can scan through the manga at any speed I want. And the weekly chapters are fairly short. However, an anime or any show’s job is to control the pace you view the episode at. Because of the voice acting or the music, it becomes impossible for one to enjoy the medium as it was supposed to be by skipping through. This means that if I am bored at what is happening on the screen, there really isn’t a way to escape it.

This is largely problematic in the anime. The jokes in Kaguya are great and all. I mean I was consistently laughing while reading the manga, but they are centered around one idea and are very repetitive (at least where the anime is at right now.) Although this may have not been a problem if I hadn’t initially read the manga, but because I did, I know every single joke that is going to appear in that episode and I can’t help but feel a little bored. 

The next reason is the auditory part of it. I understand that a huge reason why people who read the manga watch the anime is because they want to see the characters move with their voice, along with BGMs that make up the mood very well. First, I do like the voice acting in Kaguya. Koga Aoi’s voice is very flexible in range and emotion and fitting with Kaguya’s role, the tone shifts of characters are good punch likes, and you couldn’t have had the famous Chika song without Kohara Konomi. I love the show’s radio as well, and the voice actors are hilarious to listen to. 

But despite that, there is a specific part of the anime that really bothers me: the narration. The narration in the manga is fine and all. It doesn’t bother me too much when I’m just scrolling through the manga. But in the anime something about the narrator’s voice really gets me. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that he is interrupting the flow of the anime, stating the obvious most of the time, just has an over exaggerated voice that is hard to bear, or all of the above.

Take the “that was a lie!” episode with the tests for example. In the manga, it was absolutely hilarious. This is mainly because the text was in all caps with a bigger font that appeared in the next frame over. This made the exaggeration hilarious along with the unexpected element of it. The individual faces of the character, filled up half the page with their expressions which is absolutely hilarious just to look at even without context. Because of this the manga was able to continue on the joke through the short burst, using the past frames event almost as a reference to create comedic effect, which made the chapter really fun. But in the anime I felt both exaggeration of the “it was a lie” and the surprise element both disappear. The anime switched up the line in the subtitle, so it was slightly more of a mouthful, making it lose that impact. The narrator, as well, lost the enthusiasm that I kind of expected. His tone was relatively similar to what it was in previous episodes, whereas in the manga, a dramatic shift to the voice was done. Of course, this probably also has to do with the fact that I read the manga. I was expecting the joke to come and I’ve seen so much memes of it on youtube and reddit that I honestly got a little bit tired of it.

I may get back to the show in the future when I forget about the manga and just need a good laugh. But in the meantime, as good as Kaguya is, I’d rather be watching shows that are less boring until I forget about the manga.

5 Best Winter 2020 Anime

I finally took the time and caught up with most of the anime from last season. And there were quite a lot that I had fun with. So here are my top five favorite shows of last season. If a show isn’t on this list, I probably 1) didn’t watch the show yet (the jewel show, Dorohedoro) ,2) did not like it as much (Plunder, Somali, or Magia Record) or 3) dropped it after one episode (literally everything else.) 

Number 5: Hanako-kun

Aesthetics, aesthetics, aesthetics. Hanako-Kun was easily the most aesthetically pleasing show this season. This is for everything in the show from character designs to background art. There is something about the use of thick outlines along with the color palette that they used that uniquely makes the show feel comfy yet eerie to look at. I don’t think many would disagree when I say Hanako-kun is a delight for the eye. That being said, that was all that the show had really going for it. The whole show seemed to drag a lot in certain spots with dialogue that weren’t too interesting enough to captivate me. They also handled a lot of the exposition in a manga panel style. Although this wasn’t bad, it did feel a little sudden and slowed down the aesthetic experience of the show. Regardless, the fact that the show was pretty enough to watch to completion makes it, to me, a similar experience to violet evergarden – another show that I thought didn’t do well writing wise. 

Final score: 67/100

Number 4: ID: Invaded

I still have a couple of episodes left of ID: Invaded, but I decided to include it because I am enjoying what I watched until now. Immediately from the first episode, I was intrigued with the system of IDO. The concept is extremely interesting, and the visuals that accompanied the different worlds were all different, unique, and fascinating. I would’ve even liked an omnibus style crime show where the main character just goes on researching different types of IDO worlds of criminals (which is similar to the earlier bit of the show.) The beginning of each entrance to the IDO is really exciting. Because the main character does not remember anything when going into the IDO, he always starts off with “I don’t remember anything. All I know is that I’m a master detective.” which for some reason gets me hyped everytime. However, I thought that everything outside of the IDO world was less enjoyable. First of all, the Koharu girl is extremely annoying. I hated the “justice-first” mind that she carried everywhere. The officers commentating on what’s happening in a sci-fi room also felt like it was interrupting the exciting. Regardless, the show’s concept makes the show interesting enough to complete. 

Final score: 72/100

Number 3: Kyokou Suiri

Like Hanako-kun, this is another show where one aspect of the show just carried the rest of the show. Or more specifically in this case, one character. Kotoko is an amazing character. She is extremely cute, her design with the curly hair and elegant outfit is great, her backstory and concept is interesting, and the way she speaks is witty and fun to listen to. Kyokou Suiri really seems to understand this fact (probably accidently) as most of the show is exposition and dialogue from the viewpoint of Kotoko. The two characters, Kuro and Kotoko, were perfect personalities that Kotoko bounces off of. And the interaction between them were the highlights of this show. The exposition did eventually get a little boring later in the show when it became more case focused and less character focused, yet Kotoko always made me come for more.

Final score: 75/100

Number 2: Bofuri 

I initially thought that this show was another unoriginal game show without much substance. Well, that’s not wrong. But strangely, I ended up enjoying this show. A lot of the things about the show are not very good. And for a while a lot of things in this show bothered me. Maple is way too broken, the game mechanics don’t make sense, the characters yelling the same skills becomes really annoying, and every other character except maple all seems extremely useless and replaceable. The only reason why I continued this show was because I wanted to see how long they could contain the overpowered concept for. But at a certain point, I stopped thinking of this show as a serious game show different to the likes of Darwin’s Game or SAO, and started taking it similar to cute girls shows and Arifureta. The ridiculousness of it along with the cute characters really allowed me to just take in the show as a cute girls show. In the end, I ended up enjoying this show as a good pastime. 

Final score: 75/100

Number 1: Eizouken

Yuasa Masaaki saved anime. I watched the first episode when it came out, and immediately stopped watching. I knew that I had to watch this show from start to finish without stop because this show felt like it was something else. And it definitely was. Everything about this show is great. The characters, who represent different parts of anime staff roles, are extremely fun and they all have really good dynamics together. The visuals, especially during the imagination sketch-like aesthetics, are really great to look at. The story and setting is one that any anime fan would love. Throughout the show, Masaaki’s passion for the industry is so visible. This show is a must watch, and it alone probably will make this season the best this year.

Final score: 98/100

The Struggle with Additional Characters(ft. Hidamari Sketch)

So many times, in long running TV shows and occasionally Anime, come a time in the show where either some character(s) join the main cast. There’s many reasons that can apply to this situation, such as some of the main cast leaving because their actors are too expensive, or even the writers running out of ideas with the current character dynamics. But whatever the reason, you often find that characters are coming in and out of shows. And the ones that come in are almost never just as good as the original cast.

Obviously there’s the sentimental value that you’ve come to bear for the original cast. But there’s indefinitely something beyond that. Good writers can obviously come up with characters that would have interesting chemistry with the pre-existing cast, and with the main cast already having been deeply explored, it may end up being easier to write a character with a personality and background that compliments the others than it would have been in the beginning. But more often than not, show writers are not that well skilled.

Hidamari Sketch is an example of a show where there was a more than solid cast, but the team(or rather, mangaka) decided to add an additional two characters who simply did not live up to the main cast. Nori and Nazuna are not dislikable, but they’re simply nowhere near the level of Miyako, Hiro, etc. Even the side characters like Natsume or Sae’s little sister are much, much more cuter, interesting and likable.

Still, there are some fun occasions with the two new main characters where they have some really enjoyable chemistry with the original main cast that stems from the upperclassmen and lower classmen. 

Also, Nazuna’s voice is just a little too high pitched for me, which just makes it worse- but that’s probably just me…

On having to watch anime (and watching weekly)

Consuming anime feels a little different when you have to watch and discuss them.

Image result for Sora shiro room

In the past, I’ve always watched anime by myself, binge watching every show I can find. And throughout my life, I’ve never been a person who enjoys watching anime weekly. From a young age, anime — or any type of medium — was something I did by myself. While most of my friends at school would always play games together, I would usually be watching shows at home. Because of the abundance of shows that were available to me, I’ve never even thought about watching shows weekly. And even if I did, the 2~3 series I completed between weekly episodes made me forget all about what happened. So in the end I rewatched the whole thing when it ended. 

But a huge reason why I was able to binge shows like this was because I didn’t participate in discussions.

Image result for umaru watching tv

I think the only reason why one would be watching seasonal anime is to discuss the shows. Unlike older shows that are kinda everywhere, airing shows gives everyone a focus. Something that everyone is watching. I mean, no one is talking about shows like Nichijou or the Monogatari series in blog posts or discussion threads; it’s all Bofuri or Eizouken. 

Image result for nichijou mio

This is a huge reason why I think I was able to watch a huge amount of older shows. Because I didn’t understand the concept of different seasons or air dates and cared (known) about discussion threads and such, I just went off on my own way, watching anything and everything.

However, in the last two years or so, I find myself watching seasonal anime. And I feel like I have to watch them.

One of the reasons why I’m more inclined to do so now is that I just don’t have that many shows (or at least good shows) I can watch left. The rate that I used to consume shows outpaced the rate in which shows came out greatly. Recently, the only binge watching that I do is watching really bizzare old shows that aren’t very fun or rewatching my favorite shows. The latter is of course fun, but there’s a limit to how many times you can watch a show over and over again. So the only option left for me became watching seasonally.

Image result for girlish number

And to fill in the time between episodes, I started discussing shows. 

At the start it was just reading through reddit threads, joining and ghosting on discord servers, or talking to friends that actually watch seasonal anime. But little by little, I started participating more and more. Eventually creating this blog (although I don’t post very often.)

But a new problem came up from this. Now that I participate so deeply — whether it’s discord servers, forums, or this blog — I can’t help but feel that I have to watch anime to avoid missing out. It’s not like I am active enough on my blog nor have been blogging for a long time to say that the blog is a restriction for me, but with people pinging me or texting me about shows, I feel like I have to watch these shows.

Image result for shirobako miyamori

It’s a weird feeling. It’s not like I can’t decline them and say I’m gonna watch till the show is over. But once you taste that conversation with others, it’s like a trap you can’t escape. Every show must be talked about or else seasonal anime feels empty.

But as I am watching shows weekly, it became very hard to find shows that I thought were mindblowing. Of course, there’s the fact that watching weekly makes you forget stuff or the excitement for shows die down after a few weeks and all, but the discussions I had with others may have swayed me to think negatively about shows. Because I was watching these shows weekly solely for discussion purposes, I found myself stretching out the 20 minutes that I had for that week, and nitpicking every single detail that otherwise would not have bothered me at all. So ultimately, shows never became perfect like before. 

Image result for gochiusa chino mad

It wasn’t until this season, when I watched Eizouken, that I felt another 10/10 show would ever appear. That’s a huge reason why, after 3 episodes or so, I stopped watching Eizouken and actively avoided any sort of discussion on it. I’m probably taking this a little bit too extremely, but I’ve been avoiding reading blog posts or chatting to avoid this completely. I’m so weekly minded that any sort of temptation can and will tip me over to watch the show. 

This does make me feel really left out though. Everyone I know are talking about how good the show is and I’m just here kinda frustrated that I’m not watching the show. But as much as I want to watch the show, I want avoid anything that might ruin the experience even slightly.

Image result for eizouken

Although I do think that watching these shows weekly and discussing the shows with others may drain the fun a little, I think that these discussions will add fun to any show that I otherwise wouldn’t have cared too much about.

Take Arifureta for example. Arifureta, on the season that it aired, was like the show that I talked the most about. I’d watch every single episode the day it came out, and use the following week to just talk about that episode and speculation. And I must say, making fun of the show is extremely enjoyable. Like I love talking about how bad Arifureta is. Of course, laughing at Arifureta myself was also fun, just because of how horrible the show is itself, but laughing at the show together with others made it so much more fun. The nitpicking that I said was a problem before was like what made Arifureta Good. 

To me, this discussion changed my viewing habits slightly from enjoying the show itself to enjoying all the context and discussion around it as well. I think that this may be the reason why I don’t really find show mindblowing nowadays, but find every show, on average, generally better thanks to the discussion I have on the more mediocre shows.

I’m not saying that me having to watch anime because of the discussion I am a part of is a bad thing. They both have their goods and bads. But I sometimes do wish I could go back to the crazy days when there were so many shows left for me to watch that I just consumed everything in front of me.

I’m curious if anyone else had discussions impact viewing experiences. Do you like nitpicking shows or watching for the purpose of reviewing? Do you feel forced to watch shows when running a blog?

How Music in Slice of Life can transform「calming」into「relaxing」

Music affects our viewer experience, often much more than we end up realizing. When reading media reviews, especially ones concerning anime, I often see a lack of focus on the sound section. Now, of course I definitely think that part of this is on the fault of the anime industry, due to many series having lackluster soundtracks. But I think that the anime community in general has a lack of awareness for how important music is to a medium.

Animations consist of three different key elements, art, sound, and story. Now, I’d indefinitely mark sound in the last of the three, and music is only one of the three elements of sound, sound effects, voice acting, and music. But just because it’s not as vital as the story or art, you shouldn’t underestimate the massive effects that it can have on your experience with a show.

In this post, I’ll mainly be talking about the effect music has on slice of life shows, but the influence it has on viewers is universal to all genres. An excellent example would be Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Yoko Kanno is a serious legend, with masterful control of music. So much of her compositions in Stand Alone Complex are catchy and get me so hyped up whenever I hear them, enough for me to go back and download the soundtrack after completing the series. Of course, there are instances in which you can overuse your music, which I’d argue is somewhat of a case in the TV series Suits, where the same 10 songs are probably used the entire time. That said, the music in that show is also crazy good, which helps me not get tired of the soundtrack.

If you’re a slice of life fan, you may have heard of Hidamari Sketch. It wasn’t too successful, and that goes especially for the western community, where there’s only a little over 25,000 members listing it as completed in Myanimelist. The show is a bit of an oddball, where it implements many usage of Shaft’s signature material despite being an Iyashikei show. It’s directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, which was what dragged me into the show in the first place. There’s lots of creative imagery and clever usage of real life images to make up for small budget but also to establish character. There’s lots of other things to like about Hidamari Sketch, like the charming cast and excellent voice acting. But to me, what elevates this show from a good one to an excellent one, and what truly allows me to relax when watching it is the soundtrack.

The soundtrack of Hidamari Sketch is incredible, there’s so many songs that just ease up my shoulders as soon as I hear the music start. The best is probably “Shinmiri” , a song which whenever I hear it come on, I just begin sinking into my couch helplessly. The songs in Hidamari Sketch aren’t just catchy, they’re healing. Hypnotic, almost. As I said earlier, music influenes viewer experience in any genre. But in my personal opinion, I think the music of an iyashikei show is what truly helps it to become a real gentle, relaxing experience.

If you want another excellent example, I’d give you Aria, which I already made a post about why the setting of the show makes it kick even more ass. But Aria’s soundtrack is what allows the show to do what it does best, make you comfy and relaxed. The series’ opening, which plays in the beginning of the show allows it to reestablish its calming tone every episode. That opening song, “Undine”, played by Makino Yui, is one of the most relaxing vocal songs that I’ve heard in my life. Not only does it perfectly match the magical, mysterious yet inviting tone of Aria, but it’s just so god damn soothing.

I think I’ve said enough about why music is so important to anime, and the slice of life genre in particular. Do you have any opinions on genres that music is vital to, or want to share an excellent soundtrack of a show you love? Leave a comment!

Kyokou Suiri Episode 8~10: The up, the down, and the repeat

Maybe the expositions are catching up to me a little. Frankly, as much as I do enjoy this show, episodes 9 and 10 weren’t very enjoyable. But let’s take a step back to an episode that was enjoyable.

Episode 8 was still great. Most of the story was addressing what happened in the time skip (which to me seems like would be more interesting than anything in this Nanse arc) between Rikka (Kuro’s cousin), Kuro, and Kotoko. Kotoko was unbelievably cute like usual, both when explaining the flashback and in the flashback as well.  

My favourite scene this episode, and maybe the funniest moment of the whole show, was when Kuro thought of Rikka then Kotoko as his wife. Watching Kuro being disgusted at the thought of Kotoko, along with her obsessive behaviour was absolutely hilarious. 

The whole scene after the flashback, when Kotoko talked to Saki, was also fun to watch. Watching Kotoko making it as though her relationship with Rikka was great was also funny. Although it was again fairly repetitive, episode 8 was great in the same ways the whole has been on its highs.

But what I started to see in episodes 9 and 10 was that it was starting to drag a lot. I keep repeating on how I was perfectly fine with the exposition style of this anime because of how much I love the dynamics between the characters. But these two episodes, this was completely thrown out of the window. First, Kuro was fighting the Nanse the whole time. The fight did not serve any sort of excitement what-so-ever due to the lackluster fight sequence (I was able to handle it last time because of his “lack of knowledge in martial arts but watching something like this for 40 minutes is different from 2 minutes.) We cut to him fighting sometimes and I think it’s supposed to reflect how much progress that they made towards making Nanase weaker but this doesn’t do too much. Saki is sitting on the front of the car and occasionally adds reactions time to time. She makes the whole situation slightly more natural but that’s about it. Kotoko does most of the talking in these two episodes as she is sitting down with her laptop. Naturally, with this setting, the show wasn’t able to capitalize on the character interactions that made the show fun (other than Saki saying “really?” “this kid is a genius” etc.) Unsurprisingly, this isn’t too fun to watch. 

Unlike past episodes, where we would see little bits of personality while they were speaking – either through monologue, body language or little cutscenes – which made the character interactions so enjoyable. But in these two episodes, none of this felt like it was there.  Of course, there is the fact that the characters were all separated, and with all this lacking her monologue doesn’t get any interesting, 

Although it was reassuring to see that they used at least somewhat more unique ideas that’s not just “fake reports”, the way that the stories were explained was a problem. When Kotoko was explaining the story, the background was set around a Net like atmosphere which, although at first interesting, gets boring when it repeats for 2 episodes. 

Because of this extremely lackluster setting and the abundance of exposition, the two episodes felt like a picture book. So like what I would do when reading any boring book, I skipped through after I had a grasp of the story. The whole experience for me was just clicking the right arrow multiple times to skip through while watching the show.

I really hope that the show doesn’t have 2 more episodes of theories before ending…

The Unfortunate Circumstances of Studio Shaft’s Hidden Gem

On the 11th of January 2014 to May 24th, you may know that one of the most successful rom com animes aired, titled ‘Nisekoi’. You may also know that Nisekoi is immensely popular, and is stacked with various qualities which include an already successful manga source material, popular voice actors on the anime, and incredible visuals that even people who dislike the show cannot argue about.

But what you definitely don’t know, is that during the time of Nisekoi’s airing, studio Shaft took on another project. On the 13th of April of the same year, Mekakucity Actors had been broadcast for 12 episodes, and it was… something. The reviews on the show are mixed, and it’s very easy to see why. And you’ll find that those reasons are because the show ended up being too oriented towards people who already knew Kagerou Daze, and also because the art directing is experimental at best and questionable at worst. Mekakucity is an adaptation of a story that was told by music artist じん, who told that story through his music. The story is undoubtedly convoluted and hella confusing, but you have my word that it is definitely interesting and fun once you get invested into it. 

The problem with Mekakucity Actors is that it was never given a full chance. The anime released as a small fan appeal project, with not even enough effort to try and appeal to non-kagerou daze fans. And what’s most disappointing about that is the fact that, at least for my money, Mekakucity Actors manages to still be pretty damn entertaining. There’s  quite an amount of storytelling attempts that are made throughout the 12 episode course, and it tries and implements Kagerou Daze’s music element. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but to me, simply getting to watch studio Shaft’s signature trippy animation in a new light was damn fun.

If you’re still not convinced that this show really lacks the budget that it could have had, then watch this, and if you still believe the show’s budget did it justice, then I have nothing to say.