26 of 26 episodes seen
1) Yandere Girlfriend
2) Time Travel
4) Tragic backstories
6) Gore & Blood
7) Battle Royale
8) more Deepness
Those eight points alone are more than enough to elevate any anime series to masterpiece level - because honestly, what more do you need in anime?- or at least this may work if you haven't watched more than 10 series, and/or aren't aware that well-written media exist and aren't just a fantasy of film critics and deprecable internet users who hopelessly argue with other questionable internet users about silly things such as directing, writing, characterization and development.
Death games are not a very good idea from the start, being usually more engrossed in their own edgy flair rather than building tension, and Mirai Nikki is of course no exception to the rule, and it gets so ridiculously fixated on being shocking and creepy that it's just not fun anymore. Not to mention the series already pushes the boundaries of credibility with some of the characters: there is a four-year old child attempting murder using poison delivered through mail he sent himself (actually this may serve as a one-liner to describe how clever the writing is). There are also problems with focus and aim as it constantly shifts between actual battle and Yuno being an obsessive Yandere waifu - at least the writer realized the plot was no good and focused on Yandere (I have never been a yandere fan myself, but I can somehow see the appeal as a particular character trait in moe subculture).
I'll be frank, for a chaotic and insane mess of an anime, Mirai Nikki is quite.. slow? Besides the death game thing (which is really too dumb for anyone who has watched at least 10 good anime) the only real hooks are Yuno and the shock factor, and if you don't happen to be a fan of any of them, there are at least a dozen episodes before the story gets a bit more engaging (and of course by engaging I mean the number of ridiculous twists increases).
The characters foundation is there in the form of backdrop - to almost every character is given a horrible past that may or may not be borderline in terms of credibility (in conformity with like 97% of this series), and they sure went "in depth" with 6th's backstory in particular, as it has a lot more "deepness" compared to the others (and a typical example of what I was saying with "trying to be shocking and creepy"). But the real problems aren't in their backdrop as much as they are in their portrayal and overall personality. Yuno's double personality topples every other Yandere in terms of mood shifts. Her excessive obsession with Yukiteru makes her sound often annoying, and her script and behaviour is what one could expect from some questionable hentai, especially when she constantly declares her will to protect Yukiteru and love him forever (which gets annoying, and fast). Yukiteru is too indecisive even for most anime standards (Yukki yukki makes Shinji and Rito look like lions in comparison), to the point that it's not only unrealistic, but also completely unbelieveable even for fiction. Every character besides the two main is horrible to unremarkable, and even the bests among the mud die quickly and get forgotten quickly (the emotional effect from killing off characters in a death game does thin out pretty fast afterall). The only exception is Uryuu Minene who is actually more memorable than the rest; She gets some nice development during those 26 episodes and actually has more than one trait to her personality.
I may have forgotten to mention it before, but mirai nikki is quite mature. Not "mature" as the series is targeted at an older, more experienced and demanding audience, because Mirai Nikki is so obviously targeted at an audience of teenagers fed up with "kiddy stuff" that believe gore, sex, nudity, and people getting killed equals maturity and depth (by the way, it does not.). Oh, and by the way the diary holders all want to become gods by overthrowing the current "Deus ex machina" (this name actually brings me to question if the author actually cared about writing something decent in the first place). Very DEEP indeed.
Mirai nikki goes too far with everything it does, resulting in a chaotic mess that may seem like a pot of gold at first glance, at least to an inexperienced and immature audience, but reveals to be as empty in content as those sub-gossip magazines aimed at middle aged women when taken a good look at for anyone else.
I guess it could be enjoyable as a trainwreck or guilty pleasure for some, but unfortunately I'm not among those as Mirai Nikki bored more than it amused. Some argue that Mirai Nikki was not intended to be well-written in the first place and just tried to be awesome, but even if that were true, when you think about the VALUE the series holds within the medium, it's still extremely poor compared to... you know... good anime? In a way Mirai Nikki may be a deconstruction: the deconstruction of a well-written anime. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
There is not much to say about Angel's Drop, partly because it clocks at under five minutes total of screen time (if you exclude the ending credits), and partly because honestly, spoiling anything about what happens would hurt the overall experience - and in any case, there is no actual depth to its components that needs critical analysis. Experience this at your risk, as I cannot assure you are going to enjoy this special, as it contains some of the weirdest and creepiest humour I've ever witnessed. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
One thing you can notice about Aria the Natural, compared to the first season, is the subtle shift in focus: while Aria the Animation was mostly focused on introducing the characters and setting, Aria the Natural develops those two elements in a way that makes the viewer familiar with every little detail of the setting, the characters' personalities, and their interaction with each other.
The development goes into detail rather than in depth: the characters get a more well-rounded personality and really start to take shape and occasionally shine, but at the same time, it rarely stretches outside the single character and personal growth.
Let me explain it with a metaphor: If we think about Aria as a book, we could say The Animation is the introduction, The Natural is the presentation and description of the main elements, and The Origination is where the actual story starts. The description doesn't include major character developement, but rather a careful look at each aspect in detail, including minor daily events from which the viewer can fully understand the actions and the psychology of a certain character.
The second thing you can notice is the way the setting is presented - one could say that Aqua/neo-venezia takes on a sentience of its own. This is through the extremely dedicated and detailed approach at contextualising and representing its construction - the same as when one attributes a personality to his/her hometown - symbolized by the supernatural, which is mainly a personification of Aqua itself. Surely Aria distinguishes itself among fantasy-set anime by providing a setting that is beyond being just a background for the episodic plot.
I can only congratulate Amano Kozue for succesfully bringing such a world to life and giving care to every aspect of it.
Technically, Aria the Natural is on the same level as the first series, with maybe a little more care to the detail - but essentially there is no major change. The soundtrack is composed of new tracks as well as old ones, and it overall gives the same vibe as usual, fitting the scenes and the atmosphere perfectly and succesfully enhancing the general feeling of (and for) the show.
If you liked the first season even just a little bit, you should really keep watching and complete the other two seasons. The vast presence of supernatural (including genuine "what?" moments) elements might tone down the enjoyment of the series, but overall it's a pleasant and unique experience and I enjoyed it immensely, even so more than the first season.
I can't recommend Aria more: a must watch for every slice of life fan, and worthwhile for just anyone who is interested in watching quality shows. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
For that reason the pacing of the first series can be a little off-putting to some viewers, as the new elements each episode adds are developed only to a limited scope (the introduction) and it might feel as though the whole series is nothing more than cute characters, chilly backgrounds, and relaxing BGM, especially to those viewers who aren't used to the slice of life genre - The Animation is more about taking it easy than actually developing the characters.
Technically, the animation is quite good for a slice of life show, and the amount of effort put by the creators can easily be seen in the backgrounds, water motion, coloring, and the detail of the buildings and scenery. The beautiful art, together with the soundtrack, which is the most memorable out of the three seasons, really creates atmosphere and attempts to draw the viewer in without much effort.
Aria accomplishes the hard task of keeping characters simple while maintaining a degree of originality that allows them to always look fresh; the interactions between characters feel natural and both the comedy and dialogue are presented as though they are part of normal conversations, rather than a crafted script beforehand.
Although I enjoyed the series immensely and would highly recommend it, I must admit the series might not suit everyone's tastes, especially if the viewers are expecting realistic characters and situations because NOTHING is realistic in Aria.
The utopian setting and the unrealistic character portrayal are instruments the series makes use to achieve its main goal: healing. Aqua is a world where everyone is nice, and the dialogues are often sappy (to the point of making recurring jokes about it).
Aria the Animation slowly invites you to join the characters in their discovery of that beautiful world, almost as if Akari invited you for a ride on her gondola. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
There are times media can surprise you with exceptional quality or depth, meaningful characterization, and can often be read on multiple levels than just in terms of standard storytelling: Shoujo Kakumei Utena is an example of this, blending exceptional characters and good storytelling with several other elements that made the series truly unique: Meta-theater, surrealism, and proper use of symbolism throughout the series.
However, Adolescence of Utena, the feature film that came out in 1999 (Two years after the series finished airing), shares almost nothing of these excellent qualities, and while it is truly an unique experience, it's a complete failure.
Production-wise, it's similar to the original series. The character designs aren't as good, especially Anthy (which loses a good portion of her charm), and Utena (which gets a more tomboyish haircut, probably related to her being a prince), the other characters are pretty much left as they were with minor differences.
The backgrounds and surroundings are very surreal and intriguing, the school becomes a set of stairs with buildings inbetween, and most of the time the locations are artsy and highly metaphysical. Art plays a major role in the movie and every scene is filled with symbols, references, and messages which hide secret and obscure meanings.
The soundtrack uses some of the most memorable tracks of the TV series OST, including the opening, and adds a few other average and forgettable BGMs. The voice actors are the same from the original series so they were as good as always - no complaints.
So, what did go wrong?
The main storyline - the dueling system inside Ohtori academy - is there, so duels happen; though, there is given no reason or ulterior motives for the duels, they don't have any explanation, and any little reason they could acquire at the cost of precious screen time (the movie is only 85 minutes long) gets nullified a few minutes later.
There is litterally no flow between scenes, you are shown a sequence of scenes which have no logic at all, sometimes following the storyline, sometimes focusing on some romantic sub-plot between Utena and Touga which has no reason to exist (and wasn't there in the original series as well) and is totally useless to the movie, sometimes it's Utena and Anthy dancing with cheesy background music and wasting some screen time. Ellipsis would be the key word here. Too bad there's dots inbetween those holes, and the link between those dots isn't long or resistant enough to connect them and make a complete figure.
The script is just as bad as the writing, a few predictable lines put through mostly meaningless dialogue. Nothing interesting.
The abysmal writing continues to strike through characterization.
The character personalities are distorted and undeveloped. We never see any developement happen during the first half (unless time skips count as actual developement). Utena is not Utena. She is more prince-looking than ever yet lacks her tomboyish side and most of the traits which made her an interesting character, or if such traits are there, they are not developed and can only be noticed if you watched the original series. Anthy became quite bold and willingly submissive and shares nothing of the intellectual freedom and sensuality that made her a likeable character. Some of the minor characters are altered as well, such as Akio or Shiori.
Somehow, after two thirds of totally wasted screen time the movie I realized story and characters weren't the point, but they were actually devices for something else: symbolism.
Symbols are really the protagonists of the movie, and if you're attentive enough, they lay out some sort of meaning: The growth of Utena through adolescence and breaking free from what was restraining her from becoming an indipendent and strong woman. This is one of the infinite treads supposedly woven by surrealist imagery, washing machines, utenamobiles, tank castles, nonsensical broadcasts, machinery, and a few lines that could be easily ripped off bad shonen anime.
After finishing the movie, I asked myself: "Was it really worthy of a 1/10 score?"
Everything about this movie is unnecessary, from its existence to its terrible storytelling, to its symbolism. It wasn't just boring, it was painful to watch.
Adolescence of Utena is the pinnacle of pretentious, topping the likes of Elfen Lied, Ergo Proxy, or End of Evangelion, and since pretentiousness is its main quality, by having nothing else to offer it's among the worst anime I've ever seen, and it gets a dreadful score in terms of enjoyment.
I said at the beginning of this review that this movie is a complete failure. It fails as it doesn't add anything to the original series (as an artsy sequel / standalone): most of the themes found in Adolescence can be found in the original series as well, backed up with good writing, more depth, memorable characters. It fails as a re-telling since two thirds of the movie are pointless and the story is butchered and full of bullshit ellipsis/sceneskips/holes.
Watch at your own risk, and make your own opinion about it. read more