The month of October is over, and it was a very busy month for me. I dunno. I was weirdly active this month. I watched a sh*t ton of anime, and I even pushed to finish the Summer 2014 lineup. Finally, right? After two years, lol. Anyways, for my long term goal of a top one hundred anime moment of the year, I’ll list down some of the moments from the anime I saw at that month to make sure the awesomeness of the moment is preserved properly. It’s a better approach than revisiting the moment and realizing it isn’t really that memorable anymore. I did one last September, and I intend to keep going as long as I’m reviewing anime. With that said, I saw a lot this October, so this list is long.
Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen – Small Invasion
Sh*t. A moment from this anime? It doesn’t deserve to be mentioned, damn it. This anime just sucks, and it should just die in obscurity because it is gawd damn awful.
Ok, wait. I liked one episode, but it isn’t really a great moment. Compared to the dull episodes of the show, I do consider episode ten the highlight of the anime. It’s about Independent Unit 8 defending a small town. They were evacuating people, but also trying to fend off the invading army. I like it, because every member of the unit was utilized. They helped shape the story of the episode, and I was engaged by it. The two boring commanders are gone, another member is hilariously de-commissioned for eating bad fish, and the hometown boy is just shoved into the command position. I like this episode because it had stakes. The characters can die here, and they are badly handicapped. The commander was overwhelmed by the incoming problems, and they were forced to retreat. It was the closest thing to a war the anime can pull off, and it only happened here.
This episode also featured foot soldiers disabling giant robots, so it really does feel more organic. You always wonder why foot soldiers are unleashed in a sea of mecha, and this episode establishes that you can bazooka them robots in the face. Now, the anime does have good moments, but they’re forced. The showdown between Argevollen and the other robot was flat, the commander going rogue was predictable, and the angsty boy’s sister dying was just useless exposition. Episode ten though, featured a nice flow of the story and some common sense you’ll never find in the rest of the series.
Locodol – The Pool Center Presentation
I love this anime, and this moment was the main reason why. After being duped into becoming a local idol, Nanako is forced to come up on stage in her swimsuit and do some presentation about the newly opened pool. She fumbled her way through the entire scene, and her co-idol, Yukari often picked up the slack. It was an awkward scene that will make you cover your eyes in embarrassment, and we just focus on Nanako slowly come undone on stage. After some people started leaving the crowd because of the messy presentation, the idols decided to salvage everything by singing.
At this point, Nanako isn’t an idol. She’s just a girl in her swimsuit, but she still sang. The song was the town’s local theme song, and everyone in the crowd knew it. The audience soon clapped to the song, and then they sang along. Nanako relaxed, and the presentation ends on a decent note. This moment is incredibly precise, because you are constantly with Nanako as she experiences shame, embarrassment and then relief in one single scene. The anime smartly crafted each tension filled moment from her falling flat on her face, messing up the flash cards and then having the crowd sing along. It’s a damn good moment, because the scene was delivered with sincerity. The anime’s heartwarming appeal shines through this one scene in the first episode, and you just know the anime will deliver more awesome things down the line.
Locodol – The Mascot Competition
This moment is both dumb and awesome, and it’s summed up by this GIF.
The entire episode is just a bunch of mascots doing stupid things and just coming off as ridiculously cute. It had a lot of bright moments, but the fact that the mascots are all serious about the competition is just bafflingly awesome. Some mascots face off on one-on-one matches, and I just lose myself at the lengths some groups will go to succeed. Like this gem of a character:
Holy sh*t, muscles. It’s so awesome how dumb the entire thing is, but that’s what makes the whole thing entertaining. It’s a lighthearted affair, but it’s layered with so many funny moments. So many comedic gems also come from the cheesy promotions by other towns. There’s one about two women making a bad pun, and then there’s the fundoshi town. Their main attraction is that they make fundoshis.
And of course, these goofs’ mascot is this guy:
It’s an awesome episode, and it’s a testament to just how simply fun the anime is.
Locodol – the Nagarekawa Girls song
The locodol mostly sang Uogokoro-kun’s cheesy theme song, but they finally have a chance to be a true idol by singing their own song. Nanako wrote the lyrics, Yukari did the rhythm and the other girls helped as well. The fun part is that the anime covered three episodes on the song’s reveal, slowly hyping it up. On the day of the grand reveal, we realize the song is….pretty lame.
I was like “that’s it”, but then it got me thinking. Why is the song so incredibly lame? Well, because a high school girl wrote it. Some idol anime would give us a bright and catchy single that you can buy on itunes. That’s fine, because idol anime needs to be like that. Locodol sacrifices the chance to sell a product though, as to not compromise the characters. Making an idol song is honestly not that hard, since they all sound the same. Bubbly and cute. Idol songs have this distinct saccharine appeal to them that a lot of people do respond to. It’s popular for a reason, but think about it. Making a song intentionally lame is a lot harder. You’re making a song supposedly made by an amateur song writer, so the piece should not be that impressive. The amount of detail to pull that off is pretty incredible. Most anime barely does any effort like that, but this anime is so precise that it never strays off its intended goal: to make a laidback and enjoyable anime. This anime has integrity, and it’s gawd damn rare now. They even made the characters sing the lame song in often off key amateurish ways, so that’s a level of detail that makes this anime incredible.
Nobunaga Concerto – Time Travel Buddies
If I do finish and rank my top 100 anime moments of 2014, you can bet this show won’t be on it. There isn’t really any moment that stands out with this one. I liked one, but I prefer the execution in the manga instead of the anime’s pace. So this guy named Saburo became Nobunaga, and he has a meeting with the leader of Mino province, Saitou Douzan. He is introduced as a menacing person, with his daughter calling him a “viper”. He looks like a super serious dude ready to kill Nobunaga when he meets him. In fact, he outright said it. If Nobunaga doesn’t impress him then he’ll cut him down. You do not f*ck with Saitou of Mino. On the way to his meeting though, Nobunaga decided to show up in his school uniform. The people in the meeting were outraged, but Saitou was shocked. He decided to greet this Nobunaga in the appropriate fashion as well.
He wore his policeman uniform. Yeah, it turns out Saburo isn’t the only one that travelled back into the warring period. A policeman has been stuck there for thirty years now, and he felt relieved to finally see someone familiar to him. It was a very shocking twist. The anime incredibly botched it, but the panels of the manga reveled in this important fact. Saitou’s approval of Nobunaga did sign his death flag though, and his son later rallied a rebellion to end him. In the end, Saitou just entrusted the uniform to Saburo hoping that he can give it to Saitou’s daughter in the future. It’s an awesome moment, because the story is a serious historical drama. The fantasy aspect is always hiding in the shadows though ready to give us surprising twists and turns in this historically accurate narrative of Nobunaga’s conquest to rule Japan.
Sabagebu – Fried Chicken with Lemon
This anime sucks, and it doesn’t really have a moment worthy of being in a top one hundred moment list. This one will go in the honorable mentions, and the best moment in the show is all about one fat otaku. He is first introduced as an arcade light gun champion, and he just stuck around afterwards. All the episodes involving Fried Chicken with Lemon (that’s his name in the show) is undoubtedly the most enjoyable ones in the anime. I think he only appeared three times, excluding the clusterf*ck of the final episode, but let’s rank each moment in a sub-list dedicated to this wonderful character.
Top 3. The arcade showdown with Momoka. If he wins, he gets to take sticker pictures with Momoka. Pressured into sharing a moment with a fat creepy otaku, Momoka assaulted the guy with her weapon, knocked him out, kicked him for good measure, and cheated to win the game. Touched by his weirdness though, Momoka still agreed to the photo, which she later regrets. It was pointless, but it was good because FCL was in it.
Top 2. The high heels Cinderella strawberry mishap. So this dude fell in love with a beautiful girl wearing high heels. He was so mesmerized by the high heels’ grace and form that he put up reward money for the beauty to mesmerize him again. Momoka, being a greedy person, wants the reward money. FCL taches her to walk in heels, and this involves avoiding dog crap on the park (represented by strawberries). The otaku somehow ended up face first on the strawberries, and the skit ended with the big reveal: it was Fried Chicken with Lemon wearing the high heels that mesmerized the rich guy.
Top 1. The panty photographers. This one is straight forward. A group of photo freaks wants to take Momoka’s panty shot. They hound her constantly, even doing ninja moves making her bend down and expose her panties. FCL is on the save though. He puts on a pair, and he tries to fend the freaks off Momoka. On second thought, f*ck this anime. You cannot make the best thing in the show sound good. Motherf*cker!!
HaNaYaMaTa – Timid Girl and Fairy
I saw five anime this month. A COMBINED 70 EPISODES!!!!! Ohmygawd, this is unhealthy. I can’t help it though, because I saw two good shows that I finished them in less than three days. Also, one show was only ten episodes long. October also had five weeks, I think, but this is still not healthy. I even stopped watching Your Lie in April, since I could’ve finished it on October as well. Good gawd, I need a distraction.
Anyways, the first episode of Hanayamata is amazing. The opening sequence is absolute cuteness, but the anime opened with a monologue from the main character, Naru. She halts the pacing of the story, and she flattens us with her monologue about being a timid girl, being not good enough and wishing she can be someone better. I was expecting sudden barrages of cuteness, but I didn’t expect a proper character introduction. It was so precise, and it was so thick with exposition that I felt a bit scared. If this cute anime only did this strong show of effort on the first episode, then I would be pissed. I seriously thought that. My mind was quickly changed though, because Naru’s monologues eventually build up to her encounter with Hana. Naru’s words painted a grey world full of self loathing. When Hana was introduced, she was dancing with the cherry blossoms, and Naru was just wide eyed. Ladies and gentleman, this is called subtext: the hidden content or the unsaid words yelled out by the visuals. This is smart writing, and it occurred in a show about cute girls doing cute things. What the hell, right? This is a big sign of good things for the anime, and you just know the experience will get better moving forward.
HaNaYaMaTa – Daddy Issues
Every character in the anime had some sort of crisis. For Tami, the graceful upperclassmen that Naru looks up to, it was her fear of disappointing her father. Again, the narration takes over as Tami paints us her grey world. She gave up her passion just to make her father proud. She loves ballet, but she dropped it so she can focus on flower arrangement and piano lessons. She states that she would do anything for her father, but the man would only give her cold responses. When a chance to join the yosakoi club is brought up, Tami had a crisis. Will she join? She asks her father, and he replies “that’s not a good use of your time. I’ll be very disappointed.”
And I was like “damn, this is too heavy for a show with a squeaky voiced blonde girl, yo.”
Ohmygawd, this moment is amazing. Tami is perfect, and Naru looks up to her. By her own admission though, she thinks she is just a patched up rag doll as she breaks down in front of Naru. It’s a beautiful moment of seriousness that I cannot believe the anime pulled off with grace and dignity. It honestly feels much better than the anime adaptation of Little Busters. There was build up here, a serious look at the character and it amounts to a heavy hearted moment that just takes you for an emotional ride. I didn’t like how it was resolved easily though, but the moment is still incredibly powerful.
The Great Gatsby (book)
Oh hey, I finished a book. Look at that! I’m sure other people have read this book as part of their high school curriculum, but it’s a first for me. You see, I met this ani-blogger who really fits more of a book blogger, but the dude is stubborn. Anyways, the blogger likes books, so I asked for something good to read. I was directed to “Winter Dreams”, a Scott Fitzgerald short story. It’s also described as the “prototype” to The Great Gatsby, whatever that means. So after finishing the short story, I just tackled the book next. The author is an easy read, and his style appeals to me personally. Anyways, the book is fantastic. Being a prototype of the short story actually means exploring that “1920s Jazz era” theme and expounding on it. The book is regarded a classic because of its strong theme of the “American Dream”, of immigrants and other cultures clamoring for it but often ending up dead face down on a pool. I like this story though, because of the characters. I think they make the book, not only timeless, but also easily relatable. The characters are so beautifully flawed that you can relate to each of them. You can hate them, but also like them. You can think they’re selfish but you also know the actions they take are entirely justified as it does connect on a personal level. Personally, the American Dream theme was lost on me, but the theme of “being recklessly young” is something I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters acted on passion, and they kinda got what they deserved. They thought the world is their oyster and they can get away with anything. I mean, two of the characters openly cheated on each other. How young and reckless can you be?! But that’s why I like this book. It’s just complex yet relatable at the same time.
You should check out the wikipage of the book though. Scott Fitzgerald thought the book was an instant classic, but was utterly shocked when the critics gave it mixed reviews. He died with the book getting a mild reception at best, and it’s sad because he knows he have a game changing masterpiece in his hands. He did. After he died, the book got a sudden surge of popularity and it soon became an American classic. It’s a story ripe for a film, and I can’t believe no one has tried making a movie out of it yet. There are tons of documentaries, but c’mon. You can make a movie out of Walt Disney convincing P. L. Travers to agree to adapt her Mary Poppins book on the big screens. The Great Gatsby’s rise to literary classic status writes itself.
The Great Gatsby (movie)
It only felt natural to tackle the movie, since I always wanted to be one of those snobbish “the book superior” people that I’d overhear in theaters. For this one, yeah, the book is superior. I remember how the blogger that introduced me to The Great Gatsby argued that the appeal of books is that your mind makes up the details. I argued that visuals can still be artistic in the hands of the right director. I understand their point now. After being intimately introduced to the setting, the characters and the story, I had an expectation coming in that the movie never satisfies. I frowned at every small detail it dropped, and I was saddened or furious over important scenes it’d halfheartedly skip. The broken steering wheel scene, the bath tub scene and the importance of that boat guy that helped transform Gatz into Gatsby. I was on the film’s side though. I was a connoisseur of the visual artistry, and I wanted to defend this movie. Sadly, I can’t. The movie reeks of green screen, and it was used lazily. The movie failed to capture the era of the book. My gosh, 1920s is a beautiful setting. You don’t use green screen to tell that story. I was expecting stages of colorful design, like Broadway adaptations. The book feels old, so building a set instead of lazily making fake green screen adds more to the experience. It just didn’t feel right. The movie’s biggest crime though is gutting out Nick and Jordan’s Winter Dreams subplot. They were the characters in Fitzgerald’s “prototype”, and they had ample time in the book. Jordan was reduced to a minor character, often just a spectator, and Nick just didn’t feel right.
The casting is atrocious. Toby McGuire as Nick? No. I consider him a notch above Micheal Cera, since they both come off as pathetic yet charming. Nick Carraway had more dignity, since he was a broker. The movie shoehorned a subplot about him being a writer, and it felt forced. Now, the book’s title does come from Nick’s admiration of Gatsby, but Nick had an air of superiority that Toby McGuire just cannot capture. Leo Dicaprio as Gatsby also felt wrong. I dunno. Leo was trying too hard, and his “old sport” lines reeks of unimaginativeness. He clearly didn’t know the character, and he just acted from the script. His performance was good though, but he comes off as, yknow, Leonardo Dicaprio. Gatsby was enigmatic, captivating, but he was also harmless. While his mysterious phone calls made him shady, his dialogue always makes him friendly as if someone that doesn’t know how to really act rich. He just looked rich, and that was kinda the point. Sadly, it’s a point Leo can’t really express. The movie also tried to make Gatsby larger than life, but he wasn’t really like that in the book. He was introduced as a background character talking about a plane, until he informed Nick that he was Gatsby. In the movie, my gawd, he had fireworks in the background and intense music. It’s because it was Leo Dicaprio, not Gatsby, you’re seeing at that moment.
The movie did have some high points. I consider them very high points. The best one would be Daisy’s introduction. The curtain scene was spot on, and then we were focused on the eyes.
I love this moment, because it was the classic Daisy character but also the eyes on the cover of the book. The movie paid beautiful tribute to both, and I was just smiling. Carey Mulligan looked like Daisy, and that was pretty good casting. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t portray Daisy properly. In fact, everyone was portrayed badly. The movie only really moved from one familiar setting to another. The characters were never a high point of the movie.
I’ll stop here, because this isn’t supposed to be a review. What the hell is wrong with me? It feels nice to be one of those stuck up “the book is better” people though. As a visual critic though, this movie didn’t stand out on its own. Sad.