This is one long recap, and I do apologize for that. I saw two great anime for the month of November. I also watch a KyoAni show and read its subsequent LN. It was a busy month on top of a busier schedule. It was fun, as I look back on the past month. Spoilers ahead though. Once again, this is one step forward my long term goal of the 100 Top Moments of 2014.
Your Lie in April – Treat It Like A Baby
After a long while of forcing him to be her accompanist, Kousei and Kaori has finally team up for her violin competition. This also marks Kousei’s return to the piano world, and it is a very big deal. One problem though, he can’t play the piano anymore. Caught up by his trauma, he would lose his ability to hear while he plays and he would feel defeated afterwards. It’s not a good feeling, and he’s been avoiding it for a long time. Kaori begs him to play though, and he accepts knowing there might be hope for him.
Of course, nothing changed. He still can’t hear the music and he stopped playing mid-performance. As the audience explains, his lousy playing is ruining Kaori’s performance. She did the unthinkable though. She stopped as well, and asked him to play once more. Second time around, the metaphorical drowning ensues and there is only one person that can get him out of it.
His mother. After constant flashbacks of a creepy woman haunting Kousei, the mother is now seen in a very different light. It’s nurturing and caring, as she explains to Kousei that he should treat the piano like a baby. This was a big moment for me, because it marked Kousei’s journey to be himself. With his mother as a guiding light, he now gives us a damn good performance alongside Kaori. The performance itself is a top moment, but the first sign of motherly love really stood out to me. He cannot change, unless he realize his mother isn’t this ghost than haunts him but something else entirely. A powerful scene to get us going for the rest of the series.
Your Lie in April – Caneles
This show has strong symbolism and parallelisms. I’d like to showcase the best symbolism for this next moment. The promised Caneles.
When Kaori was hospitalized, she calls Kousei asking him to visit with some Caneles. She never ate them though, because Kousei ate them angrily as Kaori requests him to forget about her. She wants him to press the reset button, but he doesn’t want to. Here comes beautiful symbolism in the form of a paper bag filled with Caneles. Kousei always hesitate visiting Kaori, but when he does, he always has a bag of pastries with him. Notice though that Kaori never eats the pastries until the last time to two of them meet.
In a snowy day on the roof top of the hospital, we cut to a shot of a Caneles with a bite mark telling us Kaori has finally indulged in something she’s been craving for since Episode 17. It’s more than just a Caneles though.
Peace of mind.
This bag represents Kaori and Kousei’s relationship, and it’s been on the rocks ever since Kousei discovered that Kaori has a serious illness. She feels guilty that she puts him through a miserable phase, and he feels guilty because he can’t meet her eye to eye without being reminded of his mother. But on that one snowy day on the rooftop of the hospital, they finally meet and their relationship found closure.
She’s going to get surgery, and he’s going to play the damn best performance of his life as the scene cuts to a Caneles with a bite mark. This paper bag has gone through so much, since it shared a lot of moments with the two. It was present when Kousei discovers Kaori’s illness has turned for the worst, it was present when Kaori was scared unable to face Kousei, and it was present when Kousei hears Kaori asking him to press the reset button. So much low moments between the two characters, but the paper bag was also there in their final meeting. A low moment? No. It was a heartfelt good bye, and it was told through the symbolism.
I’m pretty sure this anime will gain notoriety as time passes, just like how AnoHana is well known for making you cry. Your Lie in April will have a strong legacy as well, and I can’t wait to see it happen.
Your Lie in April – A World of Their Own
The best moments I picked from the show represents its three strongest elements: the character driven narrative, the beautiful symbolism, and finally, the parallelisms.
No explanation on my just side. I just want to post the best parallels in the show.
A sequence of pictures is worth a thousand words, right? Wait till you actually see the similarities of the parallels in the actual show. My gawd, I am in love with this anime.
Amaburi – The Interviews
Eh, there’s really no great moment from this anime. Before I picked this moment, I actually had to think of one scene from the show that I remember. True enough, there’s really only one scene that stood out. While, yeah, the anime is one cute moment after another, it was really forgettable shlock. It had good episodes like the idols singing and dancing, or the one with the pirate seals where Latifah is chained up while wearing a bikini. Those moments are just dumb nonsense though, and I don’t think it’s really that great. I’m a big fan of “respecting the original source”, so I hate this anime by not really giving us that. The LN is amazing, so I’d choose a scene from the anime that was true to the LN’s vision: the interviews.
In volume 2 of the LN, Amaburi is lacking man power, so they needed to get some hands to join the team. The interview had a lot of zany characters like a masked wrestler fighting the security guard, and an American astronaut. These are the creative choices KyoAni did for the anime. Let’s improve the fluff by adding our own brand of fluff. Ok, fine. In the LN, there were just three interviews. It’s Girl A, Girl B, and Girl C. It plays out just like the anime, except Girl C was never interviewed. I was shocked to see her become the main character in volume 3 though, as she has a heartfelt journey finding herself while working in the park. She even claimed that Moffle reminds her of her firefighter dad. We later find out, the dad is actually dead now and Moffle is now being a caring guy despite being introduced as a cynical asshole. Anyways, the LN interviewed Girl A and Girl B.
The best moment in the show goes to Girl A, the AV idol. That’s it. She’s just the best moment in the show. One, KyoAni is teaching its mass audience the term AV (Adult Video) that they can google easily. It’s porn, by the way. Two, this is the very first time “AV” is actually brought up in anime. I’ve seen the term “gravure” thrown around, especially in Idol anime, but clear cut “hey, I work in the Japan porn industry” is a first for me. KyoAni wouldn’t allow a blind character to be blind in its anime, but the punchline that Girl A is an AV actress is fine. I do not understand KyoAni’s intentions at this point. Why not just faithfully adapt the original source?
Log Horizon II – We Are Gamers!
There are a lot of moments in this anime that shared the same idea and impacted the story in their own way, so I decided to combine them into one giant moment. They all share the big reveal of the real life person behind the characters, which is a well-developed plot point in the anime.
The first big reveal is Shiroe himself, as he contemplates about his short comings and his troubled past. The scene of a young Shiroe locking up his house, to take a walk in the middle of the night, is just so sad. You kinda understand Shiroe in that one solitary scene, and the satisfaction he gets when he plays Elder Tale. Shiroe and his young version even share a lonely time together in an empty playground. This is the defeat people experiences when they die in the game, but it mostly gives our main character the needed boost to conquer all his problems as he is reborn into the world once more.
The second big reveal is the leader of Silver Swords, the guild that refused to join the Round Table, bearing his heart out. He had an entire episode dedicated to himself as he just shares a passionate speech to his fellow raid members. It was a long ass speech, but it was very heart felt and vulnerable. The leader revealed that he’s considered worthless in the real world, and people think all his time dedicated in Elder Tale was worthless. His speech picks up steam as he explains that he actually found self-worth inside the game, as he experiences different things together with the gamers he plays with in Elder Tale. It’s a very relatable speech that honestly deserves its own slot in the Top 100 moments of 2014. I think the message is deep, but the anime’s execution isn’t as epic though. Stil, it’s an awesome moment. For one character to just talk, bare it all and share his love of gaming, is a very powerful moment for this anime.
The last reveal is my favorite one, since it made the sinking second half pretty memorable. When faced with the ridiculous Odyssey Knights begging to just die to escape the game, one of the young members of Log Horizon snapped. He explains to the Knight that he is being a fool, and he has never experienced near death in real life. And then we cut to a scene of the guy in a wheel chair looking on as other children play soccer. Oh my gawd, how heavy was this reveal? He is the happy and mini-leader of his small squad, and he just reveals that he is in Elder Tale because life basically gave him crappy options. He was revealed as a soccer player before, and he even claims that it’s one of his hobbies in the real world. This lighthearted throw away scene is then re-incorporated into something much more devastating. I really love it, because it did so much. It added depth to the story, developed the characters, gave us a gut punching moment and transformed the narrative once more. It went from your typical fantasy adventure into a more personal thing. Log Horizon is just amazing, and I’m still bummed we aren’t getting a deserved third season.
Log Horizon II – The Impossible Raid
The raid arc is just epic. I love how it just gave us pure raiding action with a lot of moving parts. The anime didn’t just stop at giving us a satisfying raid though, it also stacked the odds against the main characters. Since the dungeon was designed to not be accessible, since it leads to a rule breaking area, the game piled three raid bosses in front the party. We follow the characters systematically reduce one bosses’ HP, and even saw some of the party members get wiped out, and then the anime throws a big twist by having two more monsters in the mix. It’s an amazing sequence, because the anime even captured that slight moment of helplessness gamers experience when they lose a boss fight. They sulked in one corner, dust themselves off and they tried again.
The climax of the raid arc is one of my favorite moments in anime, since it covered a lot of ground. It gave us a satisfying boss raid full of gaming elements to amplify the experience, it developed three characters for a redemption they can only find in the raid, and it gave us a wonderful conclusion when Shiroe decided to share the victory with the rest of Elder Tale. I was in awe when Shiroe reached the area where the gold in the game is distributed to monsters, and he basically gave us a solution where everyone wins. It’s amazing, and definitely one of the ten best moments of 2014. I am confident of that.
Super Sonico The Animation – The Countryside
First of all, this anime sucks. I’m still heavily insulted by how much of an advertisement the anime is. Love Live is kinda the same, but Sunrise is smart enough to give us bare minimum effort for the anime. Super Sonico is different. It’s just so insulting, and I feel like poor White Fox was getting their arms twisted as they are forced to make this show. Despite all that, I do like one episode, and its episode seven entitled “Star Rain”. I like it so much that I recommend it to people. Go on, you’ll love it.
The episode doesn’t have a story, but it has a lot of atmosphere as we follow Sonico in a quiet countryside journey. She hops on a train, visits a glassmaker, chases a raccoon and then gazes at a beautiful starlit sky. The episode is just White Fox being White Fox. No product placement about Sonico being an idol, a product or a figma. It’s just her in a slice of life journey. The animation is top notch, the pace is soothing and the sound is pure calming laidback countryside stuff. This episode is just a pure anime experience I thoroughly enjoyed, and I do strongly suggest you guys track it down and watch it as well. This was a nice palette cleanser to an otherwise massively dumb anime. As massive as Sonico’s boobs, because I forgot she was curvy until I re-visited the anime.
Wake Up Girls – Subhuman Trash
I love this anime simply because it’s different. It’s not your typical idol anime. It has its flaws, but I just love the idea of an idol anime focusing on the shady dark side of the idol industry instead of the saccharine one most idol anime love to feature. It’s still an uplifting anime, but it also acknowledges the f*cked up side of being an idol. Stuff like keeping true to kayfabe, their hyper fans and the mistreatment of the girls. It’s all in Wake Up Girls.
My favorite moment is this:
My review of the anime is shared countless times, and you often just see people saying “ignore the words, just look at the pictures especially the one about the subhuman trash”, and they have a point! This line is just shocking, and a part of the shock comes from the fact that the sentiment is very true. Idols are, in a cynical sense, a piece of subhuman trash meant to be adored and worshipped. Some shows just don’t outright say it.
Wake Up Girls – The Tsunami Aftermath
This anime is the only one, I’ve personally seen, that acknowledges the 2012 Tsunami that hit Japan. It doesn’t outright say it, but it was subtly hinted at. In an episode where the girls went to a vacation house, one of the girls took a stroll down the docks. It was a short conversation you’d miss if you didn’t pay attention to it, and I was in awe at the fact that the anime mentions it. I’m in awe that it’s the only anime that mentions it. I would’ve thought some mecha anime would’ve incorporated the nuclear meltdown to its story by now, but nope. No mention of it in anime whatsoever, except this one uplifting nod to the strength of people to overcome adversity.
As I look back on the episode, I am actually impressed at how strongly written it is. The idol group is in turmoil amongst each other, and one of the girls shared her secret to the main character. She basically claimed that she was weak before, but then gained courage to achieve her dreams. This was mirrored, very subtly, by how the people of the town slowly recovered from the gigantic natural disaster. The character just talked, really, but her delivery is so powerful. I admire the way the voice actress presented her lines, and I was honestly more in awe at how well written the entire thing is. And, as a cheery on top, the next moment was the turnaround for the group. As the main girl shares her secret, we flashback to the subhuman trash scene once more.
She turns around to the smug manager though, and she claims:
A powerful scene evoking human strength, in an episode about overcoming adversity of every kind. I feel like I did this anime a dis-service, and Iwish I can review it once more.
Seikoku no Dragonar – Tentacles
Okay, not all moment is a slice of exposition or character introspection that I indulge in with some milk and chocolate. Sometimes, the moments are just extremely awesome moments by their own. This is a good example. I don’t remember anything in Seikoku no Dragonar. I think it’s about a dragon, but the girls are dragons and the main character has two dragons? There’s also a pink girl naked most of the time. Whatever.
Three words!!!!! Hentai. Level. Tentacles!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, gawd damn it. This is an anime that featured hentai-like tentacles. The slimy things were just a shy away from penetrating the girls, but they did everything else. They groped parts that can be groped, slithered on parts that can be slithered on, and oozed slimy things a tentacle monster should do. I don’t even remember what this anime was about. It’s generic LN stuff, I think.
This is why I anime. Rejoice, you perverts. Yosuga no Sora is in my top posts because of all you sick bastards that won’t stop googling disgusting incest sh*t.
Amagi Brilliant Park (Light Novel)
This is my first light novel, and it was not fully translated. I think there are a lot of volumes now, but I stopped at the unfinished Volume 3. As a completionist, I refuse to move on until I finish that volume. It was about a little girl about to save the park with her singing, and I literally raged when the next chapter is missing. This is a good reason to now learn Japanese, so there is something good that came out of this depressing journey.
And when he opened the bathroom door—
He saw Isuzu, half-naked, putting on her clothes. Actually, one could argue that she was completely naked, save for her knee-high socks. Though Isuzu had her back to him, he was still able to see the outlines of her breasts as she put on her striped bra.
What a strange order of dress.
That was the first thought that came into Seiya’s mind. Following that were ‘Nice ass you’ve got there’, ‘Why do you smell so good?’, and ‘So you’re into stripes, huh?’.
Naked>socks>bra. Certainly a sequence that Seiya could not comprehend. Why on earth was she taking a shower in the house of a complete stranger, anyway? Seiya decided to leave such questions for later.
I mostly read the LN to bash on the anime, and I knew early on the anime is going to be awful. I just needed more ammunition to properly hate on it, aside from my usual “KyoAni is awful” rant that I do on all my review of KyoAni. To anyone that reads my KyoAni reviews, I apologize. I don’t rag on other studios as hard as KyoAni, and the reason is because I am in love with the studio. Well, I used to. I’m like that boyfriend that got dumped by his girlfriend, because she went through a massive growth spurt and realized she can do better, and secretly wishes the girl can at least give him a passing glance one more time. What happened to love? C’mon.
I didn’t realize, until later, that the LN is actually done by the author of Full Metal Panic. I think the fumoffu mascot was KyoAni revealing the author’s identity. I still hate it, but I love the light novel. I’m not sure if it’s the same for other LN, but they are really stripped down. They don’t have much literary flowerings on them, and (as Keiko would say to my writing) its more action oriented than anything else. When you read an LN, it feels more like a script than an actual novel. I guess this is why adapting LNs feel easy when the prose is already meant to be visuals as is. Character description and sequence of events feel like someone describing an actual anime to a blind person. It’s not a bad thing, but I kinda understand why the LN industry is so closely related to the anime industry. The latter pretty much spawned the former, as a bunch of anime fans pour their imagination into several volumes. Anyways, the volumes I read on Amaburi is amazing, and I’d intensively learn Japanese if it’s the only way to keep reading them.