24 of 24 episodes seen
The main character of NHK!, Satou Tatsuhiro, is one such person. What the Japanese call a hikikomori (from wikipedia: "h. is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or young adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement."). He dropped out from college, has no job, and he spends his days locked up in his apartment living off his parents' allowance, only going out at night to buy food and goods from a local convenience store. On top of this, he has a firm belief that everything is a conspiracy, right down to why he is a hikikomori (he believes that an organization known as the Japan Hikikomori Organziation, or the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai (the titular NHK) exists and has the one and only goal to produce more hikikomori).
Then one day he meets a girl, who happens to know quite a lot about him. A variety of circumstances eventually leads to him being a part of a 'project' this girl has devised; one aimed at curing the hikikomori condition. Now, the "troubled boy meets girl and everything slowly improves, interspersed with some drama" story line isn't exactly what you would associate with something good or brilliant right off the bat, but the means by which NHK! handles it is anything but mediocre.
Chiefly, for me, this reason lay in its thematics, the way it handled the various issues it crosses. While it mainly deals with the issues of a shut-in lifestyle, it touches upon many other issues: Dealing with an unfulfilling life, ambitions that never came true, how to face life and its ramifications, wanting to end one's life - and many more in that line, all of which can be cooked down to one simple thing: Reality kind of sucks. It's a harsh, often unforgiving place where you don't get anything on a silver platter. Happiness and success are both goals that lie far away, in high-reaching places, and it's hard to get there. NHK! manages to portray this poignant realization of reality with evocative storytelling and brilliant charaters.
Dealing with such heavy themes, of course, can become quite a lot if that is the sole focus of the series. Thankfully its makers had the sense and wits to insert comedic relief, and at very appropriate moments, even. It manages to retain a slightly light-hearted tone without ruining the concept or derivating from the thematics, and that is a very big accomplishment in and of itself. Not only that, but the comedy is consistently of high quality. There's no reliance on stupid fan service, moe antics or predictable escapades from stupid characters who's only there to serve as comedic relief.
Indeed, every character you see in NHK! has a very well-placed purpose within the plot, they are of high quality and are enjoyable to watch. Satou is a well-balanced character; he's a college dropout and a hikikomori, but he is not a stupid idiot who hangs around for comedic relief nor is he shallow. The scenes where he reflects on his time in high school with his senpai, Hitomi Kashiwa (who also believes everything is a conspiracy), are very nostalgic in their nature and points to a character who knows that his life is askew, who knows that he's on a bad road, who wants to turn, but it's hard. Life is unforgiving and once you're off track it is not easy to get back.
The rest of the cast are just as good as characters; the good-hearted yet mysterious Misaki who wants to help Satou recover from his hikikomori ways, his galge-obsessed neighbor Yamazaki, his old high school senpai who's obsessed with conspiracies, and then some - all of them play a very important part in Satou's story, but never once are you left with the feeling that they are not good characters in their own right. Watching them go through the miseries of their existences, reacting to and developing from all that; it is very, very evocative.
Every one of these characters has a grim story to tell, something that bogs them down and makes their lives hard. But never, even once, do their troubles, their drama, feel forced or unnatural. It is all extremely poignant, it feels right and it is handled very skillfully, as we progress through themes such as abuse, family troubles, reality escape, failed ambitions, obsessive thoughts, depression, self-loathing, loneliness and even suicide; all handled with immaculate care and presented quite brilliantly.
The series' soundtrack is absolutely impeccable; it does the job that a soundtrack is supposed to do perfectly; bringing life to the emotions of the series. The melancholy, the loneliness, the fun and comedy; NHK! has the right songs for the right places, and also features a drove of insert songs, something rarely seen in anime - and generally very effectual, as is indeed the case with this series. I also greatly enjoyed the series' opening and ending themes; Modokashii Sekai no Ue de by Yui Makino has written itself onto my absolute top list of anime themes.
The animation quality is overall solid but it does not quite live up to the standard of the rest of the series. It does have a rich colour palette and its background work is generally solid, but at times the character designs feel rather askew which does detract a little bit.
All in all though, this is the best show I have watched in a very, very long time. The quality of its story, characters and its thematics was fantastic, and the lasting sensation of melancholy the series brought forth in me is something I have not experienced in other fiction to date. Well done! read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
The series start off quite calmly on your average tropical Japanese island, where a group of kids are attending school as if life was nothing unusual. However, soon a Festum (the series' supernatural/extraterrestrial race) attacks the island, and it is not long before it is revealed that the island is in fact a moving fortress, and the last remnants of a Japan annihalated in the human-Festum war. Also, these kids, with Makabe Kazuki as the lead acre, are revealed to be the only characters capable of piloting a series of robots known as the Fafner - and thus mankind's main hope for survival.
From here the plot accelerates, slowly, but steadily. It tends to stumble at points, and it, like many mecha series of its kind, has all these weird concepts and technologies, many of which are hardly, if even, explained. A pill you have to learn to swallow, I guess. The pacing is generally good, though, taking time to relax and develop the characters inbetween the more action-filled sequences.
Unfortunately, it suffers from the "frequently not making sense" syndrome, and from time to time characters say absolutely nonsensical things, or explain concepts in such a manner; I can only assume this is an attmept to be deep and mysterious gone slightly awry.
Its charcaters are a mixed bunch; your average cast of mentally depraved teenagers; most of them having troubles with depressing pasts, extreme self-confidence issues or other such negatively laden emotions and experiences. They're handled respectably, for the most part, and some of their stories are quite fresh and almost touching. Some, however, fall short of the stereotype treshold both in concept and execution, while others are victims of the "repetitive gag" syndrome, and one or two at least are victims of "not making sense" syndrome.
As a whole however, both the characters' conflicts and the plot made me want to keep watching, made me wonder how it would end up in the end. Was I satisfied? Yes, and no. There's no top marks, but it certainly wasn't bad.
The series' soundtrack is very often absent, or quiet - which can be efficacious at times, but at other times I feel it works against it purpose. When there is music, it's generally good; a few outstanding tracks and a lot of generic ones; especially towards the end of the series there are a few very good themes that are used. The opening and ending themes are performed by angela, a band whose msuic I love more and more by the minute. Their vocalist has an amazing voice, making the themes are a true pleasure to listen to! Voice acting is generally solid, with a few outliers in both directions - as with the rest of the show, it is generalyl not mad, but not outstanding either.
Animation-wise, the series tend to be, at times, quite iffy, especially when it comes to character designs and facial reactions. The mecha are animated well and the battles are entertaining to watch. The colouring is a bit bland, but is remedied by good work in the lighting and shading departments.
Thematically it touches upon many subjects that its genre brethren touches upon. Death, and existence. Individuality, and life. The Festum have a habit of asking the seemingly insignificant question "are you there?" - a question with a more metaphysical implication than one would think at first. Can you truly be said to live, to be here, if you have no reason for living? If life holds no intrinsical value for you?
Summarized, I'd say that Fafner is a solid series. It's nothing outstanding, nothing extremely great, and there are mecha series of its kind that are better - but it was enjoyable. The series finale was good. The soundtrack was as dramatic as it needed to be. It had its distinct detracting elements, but nothing you can't swallow and see past, resulting in a fairly enjoyable experience. read more
159 of 191 episodes seen
So, if yo usat a group of people inside a clsoed room, with monitoers covering the walls, showing nostop pokémon, what would the result be? Eyes clawed out? Ears bit off? Or maybe everyone would believe that if they just went on a journey by foot, every day they would meet a new person or creature, undoubtedly befriending them, only to leave them in the evening - for good. And of course, only after fighting off bad guys who does the same day after day, after day. After day.
Yup, that's pokémon D&P in a nutshell. Horrible writing, the same three or four formulas used over and over again (gym battle/training, rival episode, character of the day, contest/training), the same running gags (Fukamaru hitting Pochama with Draco Meteor, Team Rocket's neverending appearances, and. so. on.) If lather, rinse, repeat didn't sit in your head before, it will after watching pokémon.
Of course, for the long-time-fans, here's always soalce to find in its improvements. The very subpar animation is a little less subpar (well, with the raised standards of "par" oveer the last century, maybe it's not really any less subpar), the battles are more entertaining to watch, the characters are, well, a little less flat and annoying (I'm among those who abhored Kasumi's existence), and the contests, tween girl-appealing as they might be, offers a, uh, more aesthetic variant of pokémon battles.
If you don't look in comparison however, there's no light at the end of the tunnel. Characters, flat (but no Kasumi!). Plot, horrible, repetitive and everything's way too long (180 episodes and counting in Sinnoh alone, compared to the 80 episodes of Kanto). Animation, bad (God, I wish it'd look a lot more like Bleach at its peak). Music, -- oh, that I didn't discuss.
The soundtrack is a mixed boat, same for voice acting. To specify, the mix doesn't stem from one character's seiyuu being better than another, but the difference between original and dub. The dub is so substantial in the pokémon franchise that I can't really omit that part in a review, even though I don't really watch it. But anyway! The seiyuu do a fair enough job of the characters. Nothing outstanding though. The English VA's however, oh God. That's Star Wars Holiday Special-bad. And that's almost where the soundtrack in the dub is, too. Iffy themes which you've heard over and over for 600+ episodes of pokémon. But that's where the Japanese version is good; the music, although much from the video games, sound better, fits better and doesn't sound as old and repeated as the dub's themes.
For me, and probably many, one of the few things (aside nostalgia, devotion and fanboy/girl-sim) that really keeps them watching is Team Rocket. The chemistry between them is really amusing, and while their plots and introduction themes are as boring as ever, their speech and mannerism are quite funny still. Aside that, it's all for the kids, this one. Yup, it keeps them hooked, and does it well. Pokémon is, after all, a kids' show, so I'm not that annoyed by its lack of, well, anything. For what it's worth, its persistent themes of friendship, hard work and trust does appeal to kids in a good way, and parents can rest assured that Satoshi, Pikachu and the gang will take their kids through a friendly and safe thirty minutes of action. read more
6 of 6 episodes seen
Or are they?
What if these androids had a soul of their own? A feeling, curious mind capable of receiving sensations, learning them, recognizing them, adapting to them? That is the thought Eve no Jikan tries to bring forth, and boy, is it a provoking one! While not really permeating the series in a very visible manner, it does raise the question of what it means to be conscious, and why we humans possess the ability of awareness and freedom do do what we choose. And what makes us different from robots in this sense? We are constructs of (mostly) organic matter driven by electric signals, robots are constructs of non-organic matter driven by electric signals. What is it that would make them aware and not us?
Granted, Eve no Jikan focuses mostly on the 'what?' of the situation, and not the 'why?' And it doesn't necessarily hand out any answers on a silver platter, if at all, leaving room for the viewer to reflect on the situation; what it really means and how it affects its surroundings.
Eve no Jikan is a short series; the episodes are short in length, and there are only six of them in total. Even so, ther has been excellent effort put into the characters; both making them interesting, deep and natural from the starting point, all the while expanding on that throughout the show; how they change their views on androids, or not, what their circumstances and how these affect their choices. The result is characters with whom I could sympathisize as far as their choices went, and qutie honestly, I was torn at the start as to who was the most right; those thinking of the robots as, well, robots, and those who treat them as equal humans. A question which answer is both subjective and circumstantial; landing much on the fact whether or not a robot can develop feelings and awareness to the extent way we humans possess it.
As if that was not enough, EnJ has some rather striking visuals. While I am not a big fan of CG or the like in anime; here it rather mixed in; and at times it felt more like 2,5D than 2D or 3D. The lights were well-placed, creating a nice balance to the scenes; the character designs were simple yet impressive, and backgrounds were astounding. What really makes the animation stand out however; is the astounding camerawork. Yes, camerawork. It isn't the most touched-upon element of animation style in anime, unfortunate as that may be. It really makes a difference to see different angles than what you would expect, different techniques; and in the case of EnJ; what at times well-simulated handheld camera; one of my favourite camera methods, be it live-action or animation (though in the latter EnJ is a first for me!). It creates avery special experience, and combined with the "2,5D"-feel it struck home with me.
To top it off, EnJ had a stunning soundtrack. While not featuring many tracks, those that were present set the atmosphere for the show, and did its proper job as a soundtrack. It had no distinct opening or ending themes (an instrumental tune for the latter, during the credits, however); save for the final episode's ending theme, which quite personally I loved. Might not be your taste though.
In all, EnJ is quite the unique experience, and, if you're open for it, rather thought-provoking. It definitely swayed me, and this was the first time I ever felt bad for a robot, which looked like a robot. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Baka to Test is the kind of comedy where the characters themselves, and not necessarily the situation around them, is what makes you laugh. The various character's personalities all have some sort of specific trait which an experienced anime watcher may recognize, to an extent. The totally kawaii moe girl; the tsundere; the yandere; the peeping tom. WHile they're all too apparent, they really do work; in the hands of skilled enough writers, overused character type can be fun to watch over and over again. And it does throw a few interesting turns at you; like the FFF (christ, I'm still laughing over them) - a cult like the KKK; only that they go after those who have girlfriends (or guys who receive obentou from girls, for that sake).
And the two male leads, who are actually refreshingly deep - for comedy male leads, that is. Akihisa is rather wimpy, and a total idiot, and has tons of quirks which one may or may not recognize oneself in (they're all over-the-top, though). All his quirks are a constant fuel for humour; seeing one's own problems made fun out of is something most people can recognize.
The other male lead, Yuuji, is totally hilarious to watch. He is in no way a sidekick character, like Kouta; instead, he takes on more of a 'group leader' role; being class rep and the one in charge of planning for the summoning battles. Truly, when he is at his peak, he is like Kamina (TTGL) in attitude; over-the-top spirited and spouting loads and loads of bull concealed as meaningful and supportive words (who can forget Kamina's "believe in you, who believes in yourself"?). Even those who don't recognize the Kamina-esque personality will probably find his adamant personaltiy hilarious to watch.
As far as settings go, you don't experience anything new. School humour show is school humour show, meaning pool days, theme park trips and that stuff are obligatory. Not to mention the school hallways; which are used as the base for the ESBs. The school does, however, have a few pleasant surprises (like the ESB server room, and the exam paper vault). And of course, the school's roof, where the more serious moments typically take place.
The show doesn't stand out much on its other fields; while above middling quality it's not much more. Backgrounds are tormented by an annoying, dotted style, which I see no apparent reason for having in the show. Character designs are average enough, but the hand-drawn effects which appear at the 'heroic goodbye' talks between Yuuji and are hilarious; likewise is their increased face complexity featured when they are shocked or have any similar reaction.
The soundtrack is standard-fare humour; themes fit the humour setting, the few 'dramatic' moments, and that is about it; there's no memorable theme or likewise to set your mind on. The opening theme is standard upbeat crazy j-pop style, and unfortunately lacks any interesting animation. Same can be said about the ending theme; though it's more j-rock than j-pop.
SUmmarized, Baka to Test is your everyday absurd humour show with a few quirks thrown in to make it refreshing enough to be truly enjoyable, and anyone who's looking for an easy no-brains laugh may find it pleasing. read more
9 of 12 episodes seen
The plot revolves around the male lead, Junpei, and his quest to help a hundred cats to avoid turning into a cat himself - due to a curse brought about by his own clumsiness. So every episode or so we get to see a new cat with some trouble, and our allergic hero trying his best to help the poor cat.
Now unfortunately it isn't as promising as this might've sound. Nyan Koi! is a harem anime, and you'll find that it does a lot of harem-esque episodes and setting, among others the school excursion, swimming pool trip and naturally a swing to the amusement park. Most of the settings have been done before in more than one anime, and it's just being re-lived here, no genre-shaking events, no brilliance to set it out from the crowd.
When the show starts out the focus is much more on the cats, perhaps the reason being that all the characters aren't fully introduced yet, but it gradually turns more and more into a cheesy harem comedy, winding up as a lot more generic harem with every implication this brings forth. Dull and bland, with little to savor from it. Admittedly, it does present a few laughable moments throughout its whole, but aside that the entertainment value is very low, and unless someone is a big fan of harem series with little flair to them, it isn't worth the time it takes to watch it.
Character-wise, there's nothing to write home about. Every character fills their standard harem role to an extent. The wimpy main. The wimpy main's out-of-this-world-cute love interest. The wimpy main's tombyish childhood friend. The crazy cross-dresser. Even a pair of twins; the yandere and the tsundere girls. And a crazy older girl. The others aren't much to talk about either; from the typical mom-and-sister pair to the crazed old man, and of course one or two filler guy friends of the male lead.
Pretty much that's it. They're set in stone as charcaters and have limited potential. But Nyan Koi! at least tries to use that potential, salvaging what it could from the characters to make them better than bad, if not necessarily good.
The art style is not particularly outstanding either. The color palette is bright and rich, filled with clear and hapyp colors. The character designs aren't particularly outstanding, and rather flat. The detail put into the characters' various attires is a redeeming factor though. Overall the depth of the animation isn't very present, much due to the rather simple effort put into shadowing and light effects in general. Most of the scapes and interiors are made a tad too background-y, and as such the characters and other nonstatic objects feel slightly awkward in comparison. What it does well, however, is the visual humor. From their expressions to effects and the like, it does help in provoking a good laugh when due.
The soundtrack is just like the rest of the serious, rather average and nothing to really look forward to. The background music contains all the standard themes for the various harem anime situations and moods, and fits right in with said moods, but I found myself thinking how the music should've been better, which kind of deterred the mood. The opening theme is a rather typical upbeat J-pop song, with a bright, cheerful vocal line and likewise string parts. The ending theme is a tad richer in its build and thus more listen-able, but still has an air of ending theme written all over it.
Overall Nyan Koi! ends up nothing more than an average harem series with nothing in particular to add to the genre, and save for a few laughs here and there is not something worth the time it takes to watch it. read more
11 of 11 episodes seen
What would a person do, if they had a cellphone charged with ten billion yen, and the ability to call a strange person to do whatever you wished for, for a certain payment? What would a person do with that kind of money? The main character is in possession in such a cell phone, but he has no idea just why, as he has lost his memory.
Higashi no Eden is a very interesting anime. It doesn't follow any previously-seen anime conventions, clichés or stereotypes. Indeed, it is more like watching a action/mystery movie or two put into a TV series format. Of note is that it is not adapted from any other media, which allows the animation company to unfold themselves freely, and it shows; original anime usually has more uncommon pacing, and they tend to bring about a fresh element or two to them. Higashi no Eden brings many.
The plot isn't all that easy to follow at times. It's not a bunch of it, but some points makes you want to stop and double-turn, just to make sure you got what they went on about, an example being how a group of characters suddenly went into talking about a concept we hadn't really heard of before, like we were supposed to do, or at least have some kind of background knowledge of it. Nothing the average viewer won't catch on to quickly, though. To repeat myself, apart from some few, smaller issues here.
Akira is a highly interesting male lead, and fortunately he does not grouse or whine too much about his amnesia; most characters who do that end up becoming bland angst-vessels with no real depth. Rather, he is cool and level-headed, heading into any situation and tackling any news with stoic ease. He cares for those around him, and while he now and then seems ambigous, especially when it comes to what he has done , in essence he's a good person with a kind heart.
On th sidelines is a cute young woman with the name of Saki. Morimi Saki. She accidentally ends up both meeting and befriending him during a trip to the US; and also tagging along with him back to Japan. They develop a quite interesting relationship, and as a couple have a lovely chemistry. Admittedly her character isn't as interesting as Akira's, but that might just be personal preference speaking.
Apart from the mains, you have two-or-so groups of people and a few other supporting characters, whom obviously suffer a bit from the lack of screen-time, being more role-fillers than anything. Still they prove to be quite interesting characters, and especially compelling is the so-called Selecao, the people who have received the special cell phones; to see and experience what these induvidials have done with the power they have been granted. A few of the episodes fall into the formula where an episode or two is used on their past, what they have done with their power and a small plot event leading to Akira getting to know some more about this game the Selecao are a part of.
One of the best parts of Higashi no Eden is its beauteous animation. It is clear-cut and detailed, with soft edges and gentle strokes. The backgrounds are all made in a gentle water-colored fashion, yet there is impressive effort put into lighting effects, the smaller details and reflective surfaces in particular. Be it a mirror in an elevator, the glassy floors of an airport, or any other such surface, they are all done with meticulous care. The character designs are a tad on the simple side however, but are still made with a flawless touch and are aesthetically pleasing. As a final touch, the ending credits are done with a rather unusual type of animation; paper animation.
Following the strong suit is the soundtrack and voice acting of the show. The background muysic, while not always apparent, has a lot of themes for any occasion; the more upbeat and jazzy themes, with some more thriller-esque, suspenseful lines rolling behind them, the outright creepy tunes, and of course the more laid-back music for those occasions. The opening theme Falling Down, performed by the well-known English rock band Oasis, is a peculiar song with an interesting, almost psychedelic feel over it and the lyrics. The ending theme is not very spectacular, bar perhaps some itneresting lyrics. Of course, on mustn't forget the spectacular insert song Reveal the World, which is always an experience to listen to (and which lyrics are found in the opening sequence of the anime.
In all one can say that Higashi no Eden is, for an anime, a rather interesting venture into something one ight not have experienced when watching an anime before. To quote myself, it is more like a movie or two put into a series format. It also piques the attention of some interesting themes, regarding what one would do given the money and means to accomplish pretty much anything if they really wanted. While nor a focal point of the series, it provides at least some appetizers for thought. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
It is a fact that everyone in this world is connected. In our world, we have cell phones, the Internet; there's no limit to how we can connect with our fellow humans. Lain, the protagonist, gets drawn deeper into such a world, The Wired, realizing that this is indeed true, but on a much deeper level. Because everyone is connected with one another, not electronically nor physically, but on a deeper, unconscious level. Yes, who are really "you"? Or "I"? What is the truth abouth our existence as humans?
Oh, yes, what is indeed real in this world, and what is fiction? What can be defined as reality, and what is just an illusion of our mind? Or is everything merely a hallucination brought forth by our brain - or our brains as a whole? And in whichever way existence functions, who, or what, holds a responsibility for it? For our world, a fictional world, a dream world?
If you think the review has turned into a philosophical thought process straying afar from the show itself, I tell you this: It does not. Serial Experiments Lain deals with all these questions and problems, if not directly and bluntly, then it does so in a way that may bring you to think. And sometimes, it's good if we are brought to think about these kinds of things.
Amongst all the philosophical elements; the seeping, minimalistic cyberpunk aspects that bring about more perplexion than understanding, a plot eventually shines through; though in ways it serves merely as a vessel to bring forth these questions. Conspiracy theory, computer science dawdling, intricate hide-and-seek of the mature kind, blackmail, Serial Experiments Lain doesn't skimp back on the plot workings, and to sort out the complex web of events, question sand meanings brought forth by watching this show is quite the ordeal.
Amongst this mess of nothing and everything is quite a special cast. Some, well, some of them are seemingly normal people. Lain's cold mother, non-caring sister and her computer-obsessed father. They are all people you could see existing in the real world. Even the timid and shy Lain is someone you can find in your neighborhood. However there exists a limit to how much you can believe when you watch this. How everyone acts. How they really are. Are they the same? There is something about everyone; that distinct cyberpunk feel which gives you the feeling that everyone goes around carrying a veneer. But, maybe they are. Or maybe they aren't after all. Make a guess.
The artwork of Lain is quite peculiar. Though extremely simplistic; minimalistic nearly, it works. The almost-empty rooms. The simple faces and costumes. The barbones backgrounds, or the bright, monochrome backdrop that serves in lieu of it at times. It all works very well. It works because of the type of show this is. It shows us what we need to see, when we need to see it, no more, no less. Thus it serves as an advocate to let your thoughts be placed elsewhere. There's nothing to obstruct your mind from swirling into deeper and deeper meanings and questions.
And likewise is the background music. Or lack thereof; because there is extremely little music playing while you watch. While not directly praiseworthy, it has its effect on the overall feel of the show, in a positive direction, too. The only tune stuck within me is the opening theme, which is a mystery in and of itself. Enthralling lyrics and a soundscape that is quite enjoyable to listen to.
On its own, none of what you see in Serial Experiments Lain really has it in itself to make up a good anime. Butwhen melded together, the impression you're left with is quite unique and not something you're likely to encounter anywhere else in the vast world of anime. It is an experience that makes you sit down and think about certain things in life, and it's definitely worth your time to watch through it. But savour it in the right tempo; too quickly and you'll be left to ask yourself what was realyl going on, and too slow results in a product where maximum yield won't find its way uinless you sit down and re-watch the earlier layers. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
The first episode of the show can be quite overwhelming to some; you will rather suddenly be introduced to the entire cast of fourteen seventh-graders and one fourth-grader. They are gathered from various places on a summer camp, enjoying a seemingly peaceful summer. That is, until they decide to explore a hidden cave. here they encounter a peculiar man with an even more peculiar name, who invites them to play a certain game...
To put it simply, they are tricekd into a contract binding them as pilots for a giant robot, and what's worse, they have to fight other giant robots, unless they want Earth to face acopalypse. And so they decide to fight. But there are a lot of secrets revolving around the impeding fights, the robots and why they have to fight. And some of them are more horrible than others...
Of course, the outside world isn't going to stand still as rampaging robots duke it out across cities, killing thousands and ruining property for billions. This results in some intricate side-plots with some, well, some standard mecha parties/groups. Namely, the military, and some separate group of scientists. And these side-plots, which plays out quite well and interestingly, are pretty much what you get of a real, continuous plot; because aside that and the fighting it's much more about each of the characters struggling with problems in their life.
And the characters, sure, they get their screen time and it is done very well. Extremely well. Though I must admit that for seventh graders they act a little on the mature side. Maybe they shoulda been a few years older and it owuld have been completely believeable. Anyway, they are normal children, thrown into an unescapable battle with everything at the stakes if they lose and nothing but despair to the victor. Since they each know what cruel fate awaits them when they get chosen as the pilot for the robot, they end up living out their last days doing what they feel compelled to do before parting with this world. And yes, you get to see inside the lives of each of the teenagers; some getting more screentime than others, and it would seem that each of them have their troubles in life. Love, forbidden or not, revenge, family problems, there's a ton of stuff these adolescents have in their life.
Oh, it plays out quite beautifully, except for the aforementioned fact that they seem to young to actually react to these problems, at least in the way they do; they seem overly mature for their age.
And along with the main cast, there's quite the few interesting side characters. who have their important say in the plot and the lives and struggles of the main characters, while shining wonderfully on their own.
There was one thing which struck me when I watched Bokurano. It was that it seemed very dispassionate, almost cold in its emotions. When there's a battle, it's not like one would feel the adrenaline. When characters face problems, it's not like they seem overly emotional about it; at least the viewer will not go as far as to become emoional with them. The voice actors, they were all quite quiet and calm, and so was the mood set forth by the animation and the soundtrack. This was, to this reviewer, a good thing for the show. It is great to see that the show is never rushed; yet, at the same time, it doesn't get bogged down with unecessary scenes or anything. It just is placid.
Together with this, the animation is quite marvelous to look at. It's not breathtaking or meticulous, but it's good to look at. There's no sharp, glaring or bright colours. There's no rough edges or anything. The light and shadow efffects are lovely to look at, too. It's all very temperate. Even the massive mecha, which are all made in CGI, aren't too glaring or disturbing to look at in the environments it is put into. Movements in eneral are qutie smooth; they certainly didn't skip ahead on frames when making this anime, and that is really nice.
Going along, the opening and ending themes are quite melliflous tunes. Chiaki Ishikawa has a serene voice and sings three stunning songs thereafter, all of which are themes I would want to listen to over and over. "Uninstall" is very mysterious, almost a bit adventurous; yet very inviting and makes you feel that the show has something for you to experience. The ending themes, "Little Bird" and "Vermillion" both are interesting themes to listen to. The first is something I could gladly listen to after going to bed at night, to fall asleep to, or simply and plainly relax to. "Vermillion" leans towards the J-pop side of things, but has its interesting tone, like you're just drifting off somewhere, in a world of dreams, illusions.
The background music is composed mainly of calming string tunes and mysterious, inexplicable piano songs. It sets up the mood quite well, albeit keeping mainly to a single one or two; making sure that your emotions keep within the doldrums; reposed and quiet.
If I were to sum it up, I would have to say that Bokurano isn't a show that stands out very well. It doesn't leave a lasting impression, but while you watch this, you will most certainly be affected by an aura of melancholy; of placidity and stoicism. It drags you into the lives of a group of unsuspecting adolescents and shows you what would happen if someone suddenly had the choice between not doing anything and watch the Earth go asunder; dying along with it, or try and save it, with a risk of failing, and still dying. It shows you what a variety of people would do with their final days, if they knew they were about to die. To me, Bokurano was quite good, but not entirely up there. read more
23 of 23 episodes seen
The story itself is set to a small Japanese town, and a select few inhabitants of that town. The first person to note is Okazaki Tomoya, a high school senior notorious at school for being a tardy delinquent; always late for classes, if he shows up at all, and he surely doesn't care for anything. And while that is true, he isn't the kind of person who goes looking for fights and has a foul mouth. The reason for his current life situation is a complex one, but can be summarized as such: He's simply bored. Of going to school. Classes. The town he lives in. His home and drunkard father.
That however, changes drastically one day, when walking to school. he hears a girl mutter the word 'anpan' to herself. This draws on his curiosity, and before long, the two of them are talking to each other. The girl, Nagisa Furukawa, evidently mutters names of foods she likes, to give her the confidence to get through the day. She is currently repeating her senior year due to illness, and she has one thing she absolutely must do: Re-establish the school's drama club.
To do this she needs members. And before long herself and Tomoya are looking around the school for new members. And here the somewhat-standard harem cast is built up. The soon-to-be drama club members are for the most part girls, each with their distinct personality and quirks which probably aren't unknown to someone slightly experienced with this kind of anime.
The route it takes from here is, at its bones and skeleton, a standard visual novel approach. There are several story arcs covering various amounts of episodes; each arc focusing on a specific girl. Of course, this means that the girls have their problems and issues which they have to deal with. And our main characters do just that, by valiant effort to help their newfound friends. And a little bit of Dr. Phil mixed in. One of my pet peeves with this anime.
But from what we now know, it sounds like any other anime of this type. So what is it that sets Clannad apart from the rest, and elevates it above them?
The first answer would be the characters. Yes, they start out a bit cliché, in some ways, but that's not really a bad thing. Making totally original characters personality-wise nowadays isn't that easy after all. What Clannad does with the characters after their introduction, however, is amazing. Not only are their struggles portrayed excellently and grippingly, they develop into strong induvidials who are there for their friends, who can face the world and its hardships more openly.
The second answer lies in its themes. Here it completely blows everything else out of the water, because what the producers want to tell us through Clannad is realistic and believable what concerns both actual plot execution and message. What the characters do, I can belive. What they learn from their struggles, I can learn and take with me to real life. That's how strong Clannad's message is.
Mostly it's about family. What is a family? Who can be family? How important are bonds? What if you don't have proper family at home; only jerks with no right to call themselves your family? Clannad tells us that a family can be found anywhere; not only in our own home. The main characters of the show may just find their own little family together, as they work with the drama club.
A character which I think deserves extra mention is Sunohara. He is in many ways the comedic relief person; when you see him around you expect something funny to happen. Or well, at least that's what you're supposed to do. But Sunohara isn't just a blond, shallow klutz. At times he really shines through with his deep character, proving that he, too, can be a capable supporter among his friends.
As most would expect of Kyoto Animation, the animation budget is all but slim. One of the things which makes Clannad so lifelike is the animation itself, through sheer quality. Lucid, vivid and soft colours makes sure the eye is pleased through gentle contrasts and lifelike static and non-static objects on-screen, be that walls, characters, cityscapes or other such things. The detail level is exceptionally high, which again contributes to that feeling of the series being alive. Clothing, furniture, decorations, it's all there and looking truly neat. But what contributes most to this feeling of being alive lies in the character motions. Not only are they fluid and pleasant to watch, they're abundant. You've most likely watched a series only to find that the characters walk stiffly, and when they talk they remain static during the whole conversation, save for maybe one or two motions. In Clannad, they swing their arms to be dramatic and to prove their points. They aren't static when jsut standing upright speaking. They do things during conversations which ensures that they seem more like real humans standing there than 2d anime characters.
And what would a show be without its music? Just as the animation contributes to the series coming alive, the music does an outstanding job at amplifying the emotions portrayed. Many of the themes are dramatic, sad; this to reflect the overall sadness of Clannad. Yet there are other themes too which fit right in. The standard new day at school theme, some comedy-like themes, they are all there. And they are composed beautifully, making sure every mood swing and feeling sweeps your heart away, gripping at your innermost feelings of empathy and compasion for the characters. The opening theme, remixed from the game's counterpart, is a lovely upbeat theme mixing strings, a neat bass and percussion all mixed into an allegro which has interesting lyrics as the topping. The end theme is basically a metaphor for what goes on; the dango family representing Nagisa and the caring people around her. It is a very bittersweet tune, offering cuteness and melancholy all the same.
And parallelling all that happens is the story of a girl in a world that has ended. A strange, mysterious world, where she is alone. All alone, savefor a doll she built from scrap metal. What this symbolizes and means, you can watch for yourself. Though, this side-story's relevance to the main plot is not revealed properly before the second season.
All in all Clannad offered a very pleasant surprise to me; offering both enticing themes, a fresh plot and interesting, deep characters. Once during the season I also had to experience a tear making its way down my cheek. That's the kind of anime this is. If you haven't watched it, you should definitely give it a try. read more