12 of 12 episodes seen
The SoL genre today, by definition, pretty much just demands it to be a show about cute girls doing cute things and, as much as that phrase has been beaten to death, it's been accomplished countless times in numerous ways. There are many paths a studio can take with its writing such as making the show more of a comedy throughout, or adding supernatural elements into it, or making it more of a dramatic tone through its progression, or just throwing moe all over the place like K-On. Natsuiro happens to take just a few bits and pieces of each different possibility and puts it together. It's not terribly melodramatic nor is it that much of a drama in the first place. There's not much of a consistent attempt at setup and execution for jokes and humor, but it's not flat either. And of course the most glaring element in the show is the supernatural aspect, which gives the plot a little bit more of a drive to it than nothing happening.
It's true that the show is really nothing more than just a day-to-day life of a group of characters. The supernatural aspect of the show offers a fair plot device to provoke a bit more character dynamics and scenarios in the show. Rather than the girls running into problems themselves, or in some cases, instead of giving them a solution to a problem they're having, the 'wish-granting' rock offers them a sort of genie's wish granting by solving their problem in a way that doesn't actually help them. This in turn offers a chance for the characters to go through their own catharsis in each episode.
As for the show's presentation, the strongest point lies in its character designs, animation and the overall quality of the show. It's a colorful and vibrant color palette with great backgrounds, and a lot of chances for it to boast nice 'beauty' shots of the environment around the characters. There's a lot of attention to background characters in a few scenes, for example in a public setting where the characters would get a bit too loud and a background character who was texting began to give looks and offer a noise of annoyance, before turning back to text, and then looking again, rather than what most shows do is draw a simple generic character, turn their head once, and then just stare for the duration of the dialogue. Music overall is nothing too special or spectacular, but it does the job properly when the correct mood is needed.
Despite Natsuiro's effort to make a solid plot with good progression, the actual characters themselves fall somewhat flat in the end. For the duration of the show, there is a fair amount of growth in the characters, and most of the cast do have good personalities to them rather than just following their archetypes. A few episodes go back in time to give a bit more insight to the character's background and their tendencies/habits. But in the very long run, there is not much depth to the characters themselves. That could be blamed on the fact that they are very young, just being middle-schoolers in the show, so as real people they haven't exactly found themselves or formed their own personalities, but that isn't to say they're completely one-dimensional. It's just a short jump they needed to being solid characters.
Natsuiro is definitely not the cream of the crop when it comes to a show that tries to deviate from the more typical and common formula of a SoL show, but it has its good merits. It falls short in characters mostly due to the length of the show, but otherwise it tries its best and offers a warm and easy show to watch. It doesn't take itself too seriously, it has a strong beginning and a satisfying ending to it.
Animation: 8/10 - The visuals in the show are easily its strongest point.
Story: 6/10 - There's not too spectacular of a scenario, but it's good enough to pilot the show in the right direction.
Character: 6/10 - The characters are the weakest part of the show, but it's not too gigantic of a flaw considering the fair amount of character dynamics offered in the show.
Value: 4/10 - Once again, the show doesn't stand too far out of the crow of SoL shows these days.
Enjoyment: 9/10 - It was an easy to enjoy show with a great mood and tone overall throughout. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
What is unfortunately considered the spiritual successor to the more successful game, and subsequently more successful anime, Amagami SS, Photokano attempts to take the same direction but with what is arguably a better studio, Madhouse. What this means is that this is almost guaranteed a visually appealing show, which it actually does accomplish. There are multiple scenes where the studio can show off its budget and skill of animation, and create a pseudo-3D scene when the characters themselves are just drawn in. Photokano also inherits the style and character designs from its earlier games, KimiKiss and Amagami. The characters themselves are vaguely original in design, and they don`t try too hard to adhere strictly to their respective archetypes (i.e. the tsundere, the little sister, the childhood friend) by not actually shoving that fact in the viewers` face.
The overall theme of the show is that of a camera, where the main character obtains one and begins his journey of self-discovery through his newly acquired `new look` at the world around him. This also gives the show a unique excuse to include ecchi scenes and panty shots left and right. A clever aspect to the show is the overall setup of the rest of the series. In the early episodes, most, if not all, of that `flags` for the girls are setup n what can be considered subtle, and not out of place or awkward in writing. This gives somewhat of a justification for the following `arcs` that the show presents itself in.
However, the problem with Photokano lies in its delivery, in that there is none. The character flags are set up in the near beginning, the setting with the Photography Club is created, and the main character isn`t a terribly boring and generic person. But what comes to follow is essentially a string of one episode arcs, where each episode is dedicated to one girl. The camera motif is quickly rendered meaningless because the (very few) character dynamics have almost nothing to do with the theme of the camera itself. The secondary characters, who are the members of the Photography Club fall flat after their introductions (which is unfortunate because one of them is voiced by Shiraishi Minoru) and are never developed. The final and most important flaw of the show lies in the girls. While the show can cleverly jump from arc to arc, there is absolutely no time for any characters to be developed. All that can be presented in the end is a character trait, like one`s love for food, or the other`s stoicism, and then immediately tries to force false character development in the span of 10-15 minutes.
Anything and everything that was set up by the beginning of the show, which was in all fairness actually not that bad, is completely stunted and abandoned. In its attempt to try and accomplish what Amagami SS did, which had roughly 40 episodes total when OVAs are included with each girl getting at least 3-4 episodes each, Photokano hurts itself by spreading itself too thin. Sadly, the only problem really was the length of the show.
Art & Animation: 9/10 - Madhouse sure knows how to show off when they can do a pseudo-3D space camera trick. Good colors, good backgrounds, nice shading when the detail is there.
Sound: 7/10 - While voice acting is nothing special in this show, the music tends to stand out for at least 2 or 3 tracks when things get serious in mood.
Story: 5/10 - It`s a shame to say that time restrictions are whats holding back nearly everything about that show, even though that isn`t saying much to begin with, but it`s the truth and the story suffers for it.
Character: 3/10 - There are nice designs for the girls, and some of the secondary characters look pretty nice, but style only goes so far when the characters are literally paper thin and shallow.
Value: 2 - Nothing too meta or self-aware about the show, and no significant impact on the industry other than being an attempt at what Amagami was.
Enjoyment: 5 - Personally, I wanted to like the show. There was just no real chance to. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
For an early-2000 anime, Abenobashi stands out in animation. Although its unfair to compare it to others for the sole sake of it being developed by Gainax, it's still worth mentioning the work put into its art style. With each new episode presenting a different atmosphere comes a new form of animation each time, from super-deformed to 3D-space with the main characters drawn in. Being drawn well and animated fluidly, the characters and interactive environments blend in well with the drawn backgrounds, which at many points detailed beyond quality seen in early 2000 anime.
Abenobashi uses the alternate universe trope as its main story-telling device, which is nothing new. The intelligence in this show's story telling is the use of parody with most, if not all, of the alternate realities used. In almost every episode, the show parodies themes from American Hollywood movies to common cliches in anime, and even Gainax's other works such as FLCL, Evangelion, and even Gurren Lagaan (which is surprising since it wasn't even produced until 5 years after.) The witty dialogue and loveable personalities of the characters, well timed jokes, and running gags and slapstick comedy make it easy to watch and an enjoyable experience.
-Spoilers, but more In-Depth Review further-
Unfortunately, this show would garner a score closer to perfect had it not been for its missteps at the ending. Abenobashi places a strong and important theme during its running; moving on. It takes a long time for the actual moral to make itself known, but nonetheless its an integral part of the story. Nearly every member of the main cast needs to deal with the loss of someone; a relative, a friend, and a lover, and the show constantly hints at trying to fix the problem rather than move on and accept things as it is, but merely failing to. But it's not until the very conclusion that the anime betrays is own theme by presenting a cop-out ending. A better, more true ending was so in reach, and so easy, but for some reason it didn't accomplish. It is quite possibly the only drastic mistake made for the whole series.
But despite a cheap ending that doesn't stay faithful to the rest of the show, Abenobashi is certainly a gem rightfully recognized by many. Its sharp script and self-awareness and parody make it a must-see show for all who have enough experience in the industry. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
There's nothing special to be seen in Nakaimo. The art and animation are sub-par at best, and most if not all of the character designs are nothing special, other than hair color and someone who wears a witch costume through a good portion of the series. Music did not stand out, nor make much impact on any dramatic scenes that deserved the attention. At the very least, the story itself is unique and a bit of a departure from the normal harem trope, but for reasons to be further explained in spoilers, it can't achieve its full potential of drama.
The biggest weakness of this anime is its story-telling and pacing, and the characters involved in it. A good harem would present its cast of characters, and put them through some emotional trial, and force them to go through dramatic character dynamics to help them grow and form more intense relationships with each other. Unfortunately, for Nakaimo, rather than having regular character development, it puts the viewer in the same position as the main character; unaware of his surroundings, and confused.
What makes this anime different from other harems is that instead of having to build relationships with multiple girls, our main character has to tread lightly and meticulously pick a suitor to marry, and is also wary of being lured in by his illegitimate little sister. So with this atmosphere, Shougo is constantly suspicious of the girls around him, hindering the relationships between them to grow. This is the exact opposite of what we need in a main character and his relationships with other girls.
-Minor Spoilers, but In-Depth review follows-
As if that itself wasn't enough of a problem, each girl has her own reason to actually go out of her way to fake being Shougo's little sister. This is the show's method of presenting trial for our main character, but in doing so it actually lowers the quality of the show. Being that it is a short series, each girl gets roughly 2-3 episodes to herself with her scheme of trying to pretend to be Shougo's little sister, and considering we don't actually find out who it was or why they did it until the end of their arc, there is little to no actual development of the character herself, nor any growth in the bond with Shougo.
When the final mystery of the anime is revealed to the audience and main character, the unfortunate truth is that the revealed character didn't receive the proper development over the show. Even the last few episodes that should be dedicated to this character were not, and further hindered the climax of the show. but it is fair to say that she receives the most attention and development compared to the other girls (which isn't saying much). Her and the 'side-kick' character that lives with Shougo, Mizutani Ikusu. She is probably the most interesting character as far as personality goes, for her upfront and bold appearance, while being naked for most of the show.
Nakaimo definitely has good grounds to be different, but unfortunately it's too short and too quick for it to get anywhere. It lacks the time and devotion needed to interesting characters, and hurts itself as a harem anime because of its unique plot and attempt to be bigger than it really is. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
One of season one's strong points was its ability to, in the plot, build up anticipation and suspense to the viewer, using cliffhangers and twists. R2 follows the same trick as its predecessor, but delivers much better. The best way to describe the plot of R2 is dynamic, meaning it changes very much. The story that is created and built in season one is, without spoiling too much, completely turned around and changed from what any viewer would expect. By doing this, the viewer goes through a whole different experience. Rather than allowing a viewer to think and predict what will happen in the future, they are presented something completely new, which makes the story that much better. Plot devices such as the chess motif is still used, and may I say, used a little better.
As far as production value goes, I'd like to say it's great. The animation is astounding, mostly in the mecha action scenes. But character designs and environment, directing, and the like are good as well. I don't think CLAMP could have done a better job at making character designs the way they did, as they fit the character remarkably well. I'd also like to give R2 and its predecessor kudos for its voice acting. I watched both seasons in English, because compared to other shows, its pretty damn good. It's not very easy to tell what good and bad voice acting is in a foreign language, so because it's in English, I can safely say it's damn good.
I would also like to note it's moral value, at least what I got out of it. The ends justify the means, correct? Or does it? Is it really worth going through what you will to get to your goal, even if it is a good intention? Or is the evil that spawns from your good intentions too great? I'm sure there is a little more to it, but this is the jist of it.
For insert songs, OP's and ED's, and soundtracks, R2 surpasses season one. The songs alone are good, but used in the way they were in the anime made it much better. The timing and choice of music made the show much better than it would have without, not saying that it wouldn't be good without it. It just wouldn't be as good.
What I like most about R2 is the ability to be dramatic. It is the likes of which I haven't seen since Clannad, and even though the two are completely different, I can say that the dramatic effect on me from R2, while not as strong as Clannad, was much more drastic than other shows. With the use of the dynamic story as I stated above, R2 increases its dramatic effect on its viewers. Of course, I can't exactly tell you what happens, so all I can say is watch it for yourself, and you'll understand.
R2 is good. It's great. Hell, it can be called brilliant. It makes little to no mistakes, and works hard. Overall, it's incredible. I recommend it to anyone, and obviously the first season. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
While I did praise After Story more than any other series I've seen, I could not help but notice that Clannad's characters are almost too similar to those in Air, one of Key's other visual novels that came before Clannad. However, this is not to say that I disliked the characters. I enjoyed it very much because of how dynamic the characters turned out to be and how they were enjoyable to begin with. Several characters, mostly Tomoya, go through incredible character development, the likes I haven't seen in any other anime.
Like Key's other visual novels, the story played out brilliantly where you could not help but shed a tear here and there. Unlike it's predecessor, After Story made a much greater emotional impact on me than I originally thought it would. However, the actual story of After Story does not begin until the first eight episodes are finished, where the story arcs of Sunohara Youhei, Misae Sagara, and Sakagami Tomoyo. It's obvious that After Story is all about Tomoya and Nagisa, and these characters feel like they were just thrown in because they couldn't fit in the first season. But it wasn't that big of a bother anyway, because even those story arcs were touching.
In the end, After Story is brilliant show that is unprecedented in many ways. Even with a few problems here and there, and a story line that shed tears and confused even more people, After Story is, like stated above, a life-changing experience that can inspire anyone. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The character who shares this interruption in consistency with his viewers is none other than our hero, Kyon. He is the link between us as viewers, and the world of Haruhi Suzumiya. He is the character that shares the same question, "What is going on!?" (Not including those who have read the light novel, but I'm sure that the same thing was going through their minds at the time). The story Of course, there were parts that were a little hard for me to understand, but I did my best to get through it.
Small things like hitting a desk while walking, having a notebook bump into the top of the desk before pulling it out, a cat pulling on blankets before being lifted, the ruckus and damage that occurs when two people have a dispute; all these small things impress me, as they break through the regular physics that I've seen in anime. Of course, there were more things like this in the movie, but it would take up a lot of space.
Kyon (as a male role in this movie) is one of, if not my favorite male roll in any anime works. The voice acting, facial expressions, and everything else about him, I was able to imagine on a real life actor. Nagato Yuki, who is one of my favorite characters of all time, is changed into a timid and shy school girl who I couldn't help but smile at from time to time. The characters are very well done and, with this movie's art style, is one of Ishihara Tatsuya's best work as its director.
The last thing about this movie is its original soundtrack. If I had a dollar for every goosebump I had during this movie... let's just say I wouldn't exactly be taking the time to write this review. I would probably be living a life of luxury in Japan, eating gourmet food from Hokkaido. But instead of a cheesy analogy, I'll explain. This movie wouldn't have made as good an impact on me, had it not have been for its music. "READY" (which was used for the climax of the movie) was probably the best piece of work in it.
Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu is definitely a movie worth, for fans of the series, to skeptics of it, no every anime fan out there, and to even non anime fans (of course with an explanation for the back story). This movie deserves its position, as I've seen before, one of the best anime works of all time. read more