May Anime Roundup

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We are almost midway through the season and a number of current season anime are at episode 6 or 7. I have not dropped any as yet, although I really think that this season has seen some very poor shows. I am continuing with catching up on some of the oldies that I watched ages ago and find that they still provide endless entertainment for when I am bored. 

New watches from the current season:

86: A young female officer is promoted to be the handler for a group of soldiers who are fighting in a war  against the Giadian Empire. The soldiers are members of a faction of the population who do not conform to the physical attributes of  the country where they were born and are considered to be expendable. The handler questions the official lack of casualty reports as it differs from what she is experiencing on the ground.  She gradually earns the respect of the “Spearhead squadron” as she listens to them and experiences their deaths through wireless links that she shares with their commander. 

It is an interesting concept and I really like how the story is playing out. It does remind me a lot of how our own military used to abuse us with no regards for the consequences. I do see how it will play out though but hopefully I am wrong.  I am rating it an 8 and MAL rates it 7.95. 

Shadows House: Emilico is a “living doll” assigned to serve Kate in the mysterious “Shadow House”. Kate and her fellow “shadows” are really just silhouettes that are seemingly made from soot. The living doll is their proper face but only after they debut. Emilico is everything that Kate is not and is clumsy, cheerful, curious and mildly irritating but hits it off with the more serious and studious Kate. 

I really like this story because it has so much potential to be something great. There is a sense of menace in the shadows and the jockeying for recognition in the debut pits shadow and doll against each other. I am hoping that there will be a big surprise to the story, and I expect that Emilico/Kate will be the pair that will shake up the status quo. I rate it a 7 against MAL’s 7.62 with 7 more episodes to run.

Mars Red takes place in Japan in 1923 and the country is seemingly being invaded by vampires, in fact they are already high up in the pecking order and  if something is not done soon they will be in charge!  “Code Zero,” a unit within the army, is ordered to eliminate the vampires. Its commander, Lieutenant General Nakajima, remembers the many men who died under his command before and is determined that no more will die under his command. Naturally there are those who wish to shut down the unit and then there is the mysterious drug called Ascra that is being distributed. 

The first few episodes showed a lot of potential and the anime has a very realistic period feel about it, but it seems to be loosing the plot along the way. I will however continue to watch it as it is not too awful, but could be so much better.   I rate it a 6 against the 6.80 that MAL gives it. 

Jouran: The Princess of Snow and Blood:  the seemingly aloof  Sawa Yukimura runs a bookshop while behind the scenes she seeks vengeance against those who slaughtered her tribe and family.  Set is an alternate Japan in 1931 it is beautifully made and some of the visuals are spectacular. However the plot is very convoluted and at times nothing seems to happen of consequence. 

While the story started out well it has fallen flat and at this moment I am not 100% sure what is going on and who the bad guys really are.  Sawa is really beautiful and she stands out amongst the other characters but she is a violent woman of very few words and her backstory is somewhat of a mess.  I rate it a 6 and MAL rates it 6.28 and to be honest I would drop the show if it wasn’t for the visual quality which is really stunning. 

Rewatches:

The first season of Genshiken made its debut way back from Oct 2004 to Dec  2004, and I first watched it in 2010 by which time the second season (Genshiken 2 Oct 2007 to Dec 2007) had also run its course, both were 12 episodes long. I probably watched them one after the other and they were both excellent. The story revolves around a group of Otaku who belong to “The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture” (aka Genshiken) at the university where they are studying. The core group (Sasahara, Madarame,  Kousaka, Kugayama, Oono and Tanaka) pursue their own agenda while watched from the sidelines by Kasukabe (the girlfriend of Kousaka). It is a fascinating watch and a very character driven look at the Otaku lifestyle.  The first season character design was was not great but the second and the 3rd season saw a major improvement in the “look” of the characters.  

The 3rd season (Genshiken Nidaime) flighted in 2013 and most of the previous cast have more or less graduated and moved on with their lives (theoretically) and the society is now the stomping ground of a group of female “fujoshi” who are yaoi fans. It has also become the place where cross dressing Hato can pursue his own love of yaoi while dressed as a girl. The series has a lot of funny moments and is very enjoyable to watch and the previous members of the society also appear in a number of episodes, and the secret crush of Madarame is exposed. I thoroughly recommend watching all three of these seasons and they are well put together and make for a entertaining watch.  This was my 4th rewatch of the series and you can bet that somewhere down the line I will rewatch it again as it is timeless. 

Incidentally, the OP and ED of the 3rd season are amazing and while I have not completed the manga (127 chapters of it) I am hoping to get there eventually.

Planeterian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yum (Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet.  Jul 2016 to Aug 2016) is a short series of 5 episodes that deals with a war ravaged earth and a “junker” that encounters a robot (Yumemi) at the abandoned planetarium on top of a department store. She is still waiting to welcome visitors that won’t ever return, having been abandoned 30 years previously. She is marvelously persistent in her endeavours to have him watch a show about the stars in her planetarium, but things do not work out as they should and eventually the electricity finally fails, and Yumemi is seemingly on borrowed time as her own batteries start to run out. She admits to him that she is “just a little broken” but insists on accompanying him to his vehicle. 

I won’t give the game away but will say that the last 10 minutes of the last episode are heartbreaking.  It is a wonderful anime although it does not win any points for complexity. Visually very well made and with only 2 main characters it is an excellent watch.  A movie was made in 2016 that really retells the story and continues the narrative of the “junker” as he tries to bring back the memories of what he saw when he encountered Yumemi and her universe.  I was not overly impressed by the movie though as it had lost a lot of the magic.  A crowdfunded OVA was released in January 2021 that is really a prequel to the story but it was not as good as I expected. 

Violet Evergarden (Jan 2018 to Apr 2018), a Netflix original animation, tells the story of a young girl caught up a war. An orphan, she was raised for the sole purpose of decimating enemy lines and is taken under the wing of Major Gilbert Bougainvillea who teaches her how to read and write but ultimately uses her as a weapon. She is badly wounded almost at the end of the war and ends up working as an “Auto Memory Doll” for one of the ex soldiers that came to take her from the hospital.  Violet has very few emotions and is traumatised by the death of the major and by her experiences during the war. She battles to understand the thoughts and feelings of  people and searches for meaning in her own life.

Visually the anime is as beautiful as can be expected from Kyoto Animation, and the character designs are stunning. Violet is truly breathtaking as are many of the female characters in the series. Each episode is a stand alone story but with the same recurring theme throughout the series and there is a strong anti-war theme and it does ask questions about the effect war has on those left behind.  The franchise has spawned two movies and hopefully we will see a 2nd season and it is very recommended watching although tissues will be required for at least 5 of the episodes. I rate it a 10 and MAL rates it 8.64 and it ranks at 58.  

Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (Aka Yorimori or A Place Further Than The Universe.) Aired from Jan 2018 to Mar 2018 and is a story about 4 high school girls that become friends and who then journey to the Antarctica on board an icebreaker.  It is a wonderful anime and has such a great energy, however it is only 13 episodes long and as such is very rushed towards the end. The show is very character driven too and they really bring out the personalities of the girls, some being more irritating that others (My personal favourite is Miyake, Hinata, although the main character is Tamaki, Mari). The part that I really enjoyed was when the girls go out on deck while at sea in roughish weather. It brought back so many memories to me and that is part of the attraction. 

If ever there was s show that needs multiple OVA’s and a movie this is it! The OP and ED are excellent too, and generally the artwork is quite good although the characters all seem to have white edges which can seem a bit odd. I rate the show 10 and MAL rates it . 8.56 and it is ranked 81. 

DRW © 2021. Views expressed are my own and do not represent any official reviews or opinions. Information primarily sourced from myanimelist. Copyright resides with the respective copyright holders

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