22 of 22 episodes seen
Story - 10/10
Texhnolyze's story stands out because of the power of its narrative. The story of the Texhnolyzed Ichise is not one that progresses very rapidly, but the complexities of the world of Lux and its counterparts, the inhabitants and their allegiances, as well as the external forces that bring change to the city are all dealt with in full length, providing the viewer by the end of the show a wide and deep understanding of the world of Texhnolyze.
That being said, Texhnolyze shows way more than it tells, and while it's minimalist dialogue and slow pacing may be a turn off to viewers who were expecting fast action based off of the opening, to me it's a great change of pace and very fitting for the dark material that it covers.
As a result, Texhnolyze doesn't spoon feed you information, but instead tries to convey its story more stylistically through the use of different colors, drawings, scene construction, character expressions, and symbolism. And I think it does very well. The show is multi-layered, with religious, artistic, and literary references that enhances the show's already powerful messages but not so overwhelming that you're lost in an incomprehensible mess.
The themes of Texhnolyze are also thought provoking. From traditional cyber punk themes of the fusion of man and machine and the negative impacts of technology or post apocalyptic messages ranging from the fall of man to the meaningless of life, Texhnolyze gives the viewer a lot to think about when the credits rolls at the end, and it leaves up a lot to interpretation to the point where as dark as it is, Texhnolyze still offers a bit of hope at the end of the tunnel.
Art - 9/10
The art of Texhnolyze really does deserve a ten, and my giving it a nine is more of a personal snicker than anything else. The show's set pieces are very fitting for its content. There are few shows where the expression of a character's face or a camera angle or the depiction of certain buildings adds value and importance to the story. Whether it's the haunting perspective of Ichise where his view is now covered with details about his new robotic limbs or the apathetic expression from the show's deadly instigator, Texhnolyze offers up a lot of fine detail to analyze.
Texhnolyze manages to do that and more. While the majority of Lux is bound in grey and other colors that have been shaded with darker hues, the use of lighting is used very effectively when it comes to important and critical scenes or used thematically as a means of splitting characters in light or dark. In short, Texhnolyze uses all forms of visual storytelling to improve upon its already powerful story.
My only gripe with the show is that its cover art is kind of misleading. Ichise, Ran, Onishi, and Motoharu, some of the main characters in the story, are nowhere near as sexy (and for Ran...well she's still kind of cute) as they are in the cover art. Which made me sad. :(
Sound - 10/10
The opening and ending of the show are really interesting and I think they kind of set the pace for the show in a very noticeable way too, getting our bloods pumping by the beginning of the show and then gradually calming us down by the end with a peaceful melody by Gackt. Juno Reactor's Guardian Angel is splendid and I can't think of any better way to have opened the anime.
Its soundtrack is also a diverse mix of slow piano pieces, guitar solos, fast more trance/techno beats, and even the occasional rap. One wonders when listening to Texhnolyze's soundtracks how such a violent and depressing anime could have uplifting tracks, and I think that's one of the qualities of Texhnolyze.
But beyond the sounds, one must realize that Texhnolyze is still a very sensory experience. Just like how the art was used in a way to highlight characters, sound is used pretty extensively as a means of conveying the narrative. The ragged breaths of Ichise as his anger rises up and down, the soft sound of footsteps at a suspenseful moment, the sound of trains, gunfire , shifting of the legs, all these sounds are amplified and brought out in a way that creates such an intense atmosphere that wouldn't have existed with such good sound editing.
Character - 10/10
The characters in Texhnolyze are deeply flawed, but that's all part of their charm. I've heard many people say that they couldn't get emotionally attached to these characters, and while I disagree, I think that's still missing the point.
I'm not a big fan of the phrase "I'm in this show for the characters" because that implies an attachment to certain characters than a show might or might not really need to succeed. There are plenty fans of Eva who find characters like Shinji or Asuka or Rei revolting and still love the show for what it is. The same can be said with a show like Ergo Proxy (and that's not the only thing asinine about that show).
I happened to love the characters but even so, Texhnolyze offers up very human characters that all have plenty of development and screen time. We understand their motives, their philosophies, and they all add something important to the narrative. Whether it's Doc and her attempts at bridging the world of man and machine or Onishi with his steadfast sanity that kept the city from falling into utter chaos or Yoshii with an apathy that I have never seen since reading The Stranger, all of these characters have great characterization.
Enjoyment - 10/10
Texhnolyze is not a show for everyone. It's violent, slow, and almost downright depressing. It's also not a show where people just sit down and expect a fun experience. It's thought provoking and tries to create a narrative that's multi-layered and deep, and it definitely succeeds. It just happens to frighten away a good proportion of the anime fanbase in the process.
I personally thought that Texhnolyze was an intensely enjoyable experience. Every episode was filled with such great world building, characterization, atmosphere, and sometimes even action to admire and think about. I left every episode thinking about something new, and Texhnolyze was enough of an interesting take on cyberpunk that I would say that I came out kind of enlightened and thought about the genre in a different light.
The fact that a lot of the show was up to interpretation was also interesting. Plenty of friends cite how bleak it is, but I happen to think Texhnolyze has some uplifting moments. It offers up that mankind, even down in its darkest moments, is constantly fighting for survival, to live, to find one's meaning in life. It offers that while technology may be a bane on existence, perhaps there's something else there, that it helps us forge bonds or become more human than we were. Texhnolyze has these kinds of themes and messages for us, lying in wait. One just has to look for them to understand and enjoy what the show has to offer.
Overall, Texhnolyze is easily one of the best, if not the best, anime I have ever seen. I think I've found the words I've been meaning to say for a long time.
Texhnolyze is not for everyone, but if one is an anime fan, I highly recommend you give it a shot. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
So when I heard about Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki through its ridiculously high ranking on MAL, I wondered if this would yet again be a Hosada movie that I wouldn't care much for. In a lot of ways, I think Hosada still shows a lot of his weaknesses in previous films in this one, but he's improved a lot, and I'm glad to see one of the few films in anime that I've seen that has been focused on family. It was heartwarming, truly.
Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (or Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki) tells the story of a single mother who, through her love with a werewolf, gives birth to two wolf children, Ame (who was born on a rainy day) and Yuki (guess what day she was born on?). The unoriginal names aside, the story describes their upbringing as the single mother, Hana, moves to the countryside to help them choose what kind of lives they want to lead. The life of a wolf? The life of a human? Both?
What really stands out to me is how Hana is portrayed. I think so often when we think about strong female leads in anime, they tend to have various strengths that stands at the forefront of their character. Balsa, Mokoto, or Revy might be recognized as strong just by their physical capabilities and also their mental fortitude (well...Revy less so I guess). Then you have the mysterious and intelligent female leads like Yuuko from xxxHOLiC or Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari. Just from a broad standpoint, a lot of these characters have had a defining trait that just stands out.
What's interesting is that Hana doesn't have any of these. She's not particularly smart, or strong, emotionally or physically. What she has though, is a determination to use all that's within her power to make the best environment for her kids, and that's something I could really respect about the film. It takes a relatively bland person, nobody particularly special, and gives her purpose, gives her a drive, and she uses everything within her power to make sure she can keep going. It feels real, and a strong point about this show is the emotions that it draws from the various struggles Hana goes through trying to help her kids grow up to be the people they want to be.
Another thing that was impressive was the growth the kids experienced. Kids in anime...or any medium really, tend to be incredibly annoying. They're loud, written poorly with bad lines, and in a lot of ways their voices can be ear sores too. But I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that the children were actually quite interesting. Both siblings had an interesting role in the dynamic that was being explored between the world of wolves and the human world.
Yuki, the older sister, became that symbol of a growing pubescent time where we don't really know where we are. She struggles to accept her identity, and at times to bury it at the cost of other people's wellbeing. Her acceptance of her identity was the lesser enjoyable parts of the movie, but I still think that it still played a pivotal role in her development, and I liked her as a whole.
Ame, the younger brother, had a rather interesting character transformation, and I was actually quite pleased with how he turned out as a character. Unlike Yuki, Ame's transformation into a strong young adult was more unexpected, and I would have never imagined the ending to be as it was. I think thematically speaking, Ame's growth as a character played that oh so important dynamic of a mother's love for children, and the struggle to seeing them leave out for the real world.
Still, despite these strengths, Ookami Kodomo has its fair share of weaknesses. Its exposition was rather lengthy and uninteresting, as the father figure doesn't really provide any backdrop for any of the characters except for the fact that he was a wolf. The film is also marred with periods of boredom, where nothing of value really seems to be happening. A certain portion of the movie, where Ame and Hana visit an old grey wolf seems completely unnecessary, and I think as a two hour movie, it could have definitely been shorter by removing a lot of stuff that was kind of boring and didn't serve as a point thematically.
And while I did say that the characters experienced some interesting changes, I still think that they're relatively weak characters. I think since it's a film about family, character development definitely got a lot of the attention, and that's great. But even so, the characters, for the most part, were relatively ordinary. There was nothing special about them, and while Hana was great at portraying the role of a single mother struggling to make ends meet, I didn't see anything significant from the children until almost the very end of the film that told me that these children were really something special. I think their conflicts with their identities as both wolves and humans, which was hinted throughout the story, didn't come up often enough for some of the scenes at the end to feel relevant, nor did I think there was enough development to justify some of the decisions these characters made towards the end.
Speaking of themes, while I did enjoy a lot of themes that Ookami Kodomo came up with, I can't say I was entirely satisfied at the execution. The ending of the film came up rather abruptly, and while I don't want to spoiler anything, I"ll just say that a certain character's rationality and change to grow up appeared to rather unexplained. I can see in some ways that reflects the idea that when a child grows up, he or she grows up and that's all there was to it, but I think that's not what Hosada was going for.
Anyway, despite these flaws, I think Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki is a very interesting and fun film to watch. It's a heartwarming family tale with a peaceful and interesting soundtrack to go along with it. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Mamoru Hosada's other movies, and even if you didn't, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with how much he's improved the quality of his films.
If anything else, it was a great movie to watch before my mother's birthday.
11 of 11 episodes seen
That's why, to not insult the people who are fed up with labeling The Tatami Galaxy as an intelligent introspective narrative that incorporates deep themes about what it means to have a "rose colored campus life", I'll just say that if anything else, The Tatami Galaxy is a refreshing story that's bold in its premise and succeeds in its execution. While not necessarily a story that left me in awe over its intellectual depth as deep as The Japan Trench, it definitely has some important things to offer, and past all the volumes of texts, I think there's a lot of really well done things to consider about this show. And while some may complain that the show tries to come off as elitist, and at times bombastic and overly complicated, I think people are missing the point if that's what the show seemed to convey to them.
The story of Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is very simple. We're introduced to a nameless main character who seeks the perfect college campus life. The episodes follows him on a two year journey of his exploits, where he chooses different clubs and societies in an attempt to gain higher social standing, a beautiful girlfriend, or just recognition of his talents. These escapades usually end in failure, no thanks to a mischievous friend named Ozu, whose very existence seems to be to keep the main character from achieving his dreams. At the end of each episode, as the main character is reminiscing on how things might have been so much better had he not taken the steps that he did, an unexplained plot device spins him back to the beginning of his college years, and the cycle continues with him choosing yet another club to find his perfect two years.
The style of the show is what makes the show visually appealing and inviting. It's a very vibrant world, and the main character's rather mundane and normal appearance creates a very stark contrast between him and an otherwise colorful world, which I thought fit in quite nicely with everything the show was trying to express. The very smooth animations and unique character designs, coupled with scenes that sometimes just look like a series of different geometric shapes flying in a million different directions makes this show a very art heavy piece, and I think that works to its benefit. Without saying anything about its content, characters, or even sound, the Tatami Galaxy is a very pretty show, and it's a breath of fresh air from some of the more solid and recycled art forms and generalized character designs that are so common today in anime.
As far as the characters, I think that's a strong part of the show as well. It's a very dynamic cast, filled with people that go beyond the initial archetypes that were cast on them. The deviant friend, Ozu, is more than just the troublemaker bent on destroying the life of the main character, and might have a few secrets of his own. Akashi, the cold and abrasive female lead, has a few quirks that makes her interactions with the main character enjoyable, and while she receives probably the least amount of attention, her presence usually gives the audience a moment of clarity and logic that the rest of the show sometimes neglects. Even supporting characters like the handsome charmer Jougasaki and the self proclaimed deity Higuchi all go beyond their initial stereotypical roles and become people with dreams, aspirations, and personal flares that make them more human and lively in the story. In other words, the characters in this story feel more like humans, rather than labels you can attach to characters and identify as a specific trope or another. That allows people to connect with the story more.
At the end of the day though, the meanings that are derived from this work are not really that "deep" or "thought provoking", and I can see why people get frustrated when they receive hype that's poorly directed. I mean, sure, if you look past the amusing speedy text, the simple story line, and the humor, the Tatami Galaxy does have something more to tell. It's a story about appreciating the things you have, not the things you don't. It opens our eyes to the endless possibilities and futures each and every one of us has in front of us, but it also expresses how sometimes certain things are just meant to be, and we as human beings in a cosmos of unpredictable circumstances can only do what's, in our minds, the best decisions given the hand we're dealt. However, while these themes are probably deeper than the average harem or slice of life show that's airing these days, they're certainly not ideas that are uncommon in literature.
But if one goes into the Tatami Galaxy expecting some radically deep and intellectual material, I think that's the wrong way to approach the show, much as it is a mistake to approach almost any anime with the sole intent of gaining some kind of intellectual value from it. The real focus of the Tatami Galaxy is to highlight a specific portion of our lives and to illuminate all the different possibilities that can arise from such an important period. All its supposedly "smart" insights and musings come secondary to what some might consider a nostalgic experience, and to others an ongoing process. And to that extent, I think the Tatami Galaxy succeeds in its efforts to display a time that may be difficult for a lot of people. It's not hard to sit in the main character's shoes and think that while other people are off having successful adventures in college, you're the only that seems to be left behind the crowd, nor is it hard to imagine back to one's college years and think what could have done better to maybe change one's life around.
These are the questions that the Tatami Galaxy asks. It doesn't necessarily try to probe at some greater questions of life or delve deep into better understanding a specific human condition, nor do I think there's an intent to appear smarter than it is. I'd say that's more or less a product of the main character's personality shining through the narrative, which I think adds stylistic appeal that's probably more or less rare in animes that just open up stories with a happy girl saying her name and what school she's in. Instead, the Tatami Galaxy asks "what kind of possibilities do we have in life" and by extension "how many of those possibilities have a negligible impact on where we end up?" The show doesn't answer this question completely. It tries, in some areas, especially with the main character who gives extensive explanations and attempts to rationalize an answer with his narrations, but ultimately it leaves such an ending to be answered by the audience, who forms a conclusion based on the main character's experiences. That's the Tatami Galaxy, a cosmos of different paths and opportunities to be explored and a moderately insightful look at a time where one may feel disillusioned by what many consider to be one of life's greatest experiences.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Tatami Galaxy, and I didn't enjoy it because it was a deep and thought provoking work. It was fun to watch, visually appealing, had characters that were interesting and beyond my initial expectations, and ended up nicely with a few important messages about life that I took to heart. If that's the kind of story you're looking for, I'd like to highly recommend The Tatami Galaxy to you.
14 of 25 episodes seen
SAO's premise is really simple. A game has recently been released that allows a user to enter into a virtual reality world called Sword Art Online, where players can do all the things in the equivalent of a modern MMORPG. However, a few hours or so after players log on for the first time, the creator announces that no one can log out from this virtual reality and the only means of escape is clearing all one hundred floors of Aincrad. Sounds interesting enough. It's been done before, but cliche isn't necessarily bad.
Now, before I explain why this show gets a pretty low grade, there are a few things the show does right. The animation for one is pretty good, and I kind of like the way they implemented a lot of gaming references and mechanisms into the show. I think it gave the show a bit of credibility that it might otherwise not have if it had been a more simplified version of an RPG without any real explanations. A few characters here and there are enjoyable and for a simple story, it's just fun to watch at times.
However, the real issue with SAO is that while it's a pretty world with nice animation and people with actual gaming experience can go "aha....I get that" whenever there's a reference pulled out from the show, there's nothing really special going on in the show. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It can just be a generic action show with the occasional important message after every fight, but being in the top fifty of MAL seems a bit extreme for something that bland.
Here's what I mean. The beginning of the show wasn't necessarily in line with the light novel in the sense that they piled on a lot of different short stories beforehand before getting on with the main plot in the light novel. That's okay, except none of those stories really bring anything important to the table. People die. People go crazy upon questioning their mortality and existence in the world. The characters explore different facets of the gaming world. This stuff is nice and maybe even well integrated for those who aren't familiar with MMORPGs, but for anyone else, this stuff is just flat out boring and uninteresting. They don't really bring up any interesting quirks about MMORPGs that really impressed me, and as a result, the material comes off as more of a mainstream gateway show than any attempt at a serious work that deserves a higher grade.
At the very least, it doesn't do a lot of service to what the show seems to be hinting at. There seems to be a real dichotomy between people who want to stay in Aincrad because they've gotten so used to the place after being stuck there for almost a year and people who are desperately looking for a way out into the real world. I think this motif of what is truly real and what it means to live is kind of an important part of the story, but SAO doesn't really take us in that direction. Instead it goes on a bunch of different uninteresting escapades where the main character ends up getting every girl imaginable to take a liking to him or sleep with him. I think there's a glaring disruption and distraction from a lot of the main plotlines when half the time people are questioning their feelings.
Even when the plot finally becomes to come together and the plot begins moving toward the climax, it's not like it becomes any different from what happened before. The episodes are spliced between periods of serious but predictable plot and the main character and heroine having short romantic interludes with one another. It's a really overdone mechanic that's not particularly fun to watch, especially when there's nothing substantive that's going on between the two while they're interacting. It's just love without any reality to it (zing).
And that's where the problem gets magnified. Character development in this show is really subpar because while there were a lot of stories aimed at individual character development, characters either grow away or stay stagnant in those episodes. The main character, Kirito, doesn't really experience any overwhelming changes, and the main heroine Asuna doesn't really change except she grows more mature looking and becomes waifu-status with her cooking abilities. It's as if the only character development the characters actually go through is the leveling up of their abilities.
Finally, even other elements of the work fall short. Yuki Kajiura, who's written beautiful works for other anime, really disappointed me in this anime. For anyone who really knows Yuki Kajiura, she often uses the same melodic techniques, instruments, and vocals when she's doing works. It's kind of like how you can interchange Hans Zimmer music with all the films he's done movies in and they'll sound appropriate for soundtracks still. I'm fine with that as long as the music is good, but for the first time, this has been the one show that I've seen where the tracks, at times, have been almost identical to tracks I've seen from shows like Fate/Zero, except only slowed down because the scene was different. Like I said, I think having similar music is fine, but having the same melodies is kind of on the edge for me.
At the end of the day, I think if you want to just enjoy a show and have fun without really thinking too much about it, Sword Art Online is fine for you. You're probably better off just reading the source material, but I think the anime is decent for getting across a plain story with nice action and the occasional twist....if you're actually surprised by the kind of twists SAO busts out. The main heroine is nice to look at, and certain parts of it are funny and quirky. Some of it are just nice nods to MMORPGs and maybe you'll like those too.
Otherwise, don't go watching this show if you think you're watching a show that's top-fifty-on-MAL-caliber, because it really doesn't deserve to be there.
1 of 1 episodes seen
And as someone who thought UN-GO was surprisingly decent, the prequel surprisingly didn't disappoint either.
Yuuki Shinjuurou, who remains nameless for the first thirty minutes of the movie, starts off as an orphan who is picked up by a variety of incredibly nice and caring foster parents, who all tell him that the best payment is to go out and help other people. Taking this payment to heart, Shinjuurou goes on a life seeking journey to help find himself. Ironically enough, by the end of this journey, he summons a monster whose soul purpose seems to be exactly that. There's a mystery that springs up in between, but that's not too important.
On the surface, the plot sounds contrived and cliche when thinking about all the sob stories that are around these days in anime, or any medium for that matter. But what really makes Inga-ron good isn't necessarily the plot, because the plot follows the same formula that the original anime occasionally used: an out of order sequence of events that build up to the main climax of the mystery. What made Inga-ron good was the attention to detail and its ability to make us actually care about the characters.
Whether it be Shinjuurou shaving the morning after a particular character pokes herself trying to touch his face, or the little pictures on a roll of film that Inga looks at near the end of the episode, Inga-ron makes small little jabs of humor and character development that does't make it painfully obvious. It's those small little touches that constitute a good character, and I appreciate the well put in effort.
By extension then, Inga-ron also does a nice job of making us like the characters that get screen time. I say that, because there are quite a few character introduced, and as much as I enjoyed the movie, the amount of characters that I didn't like definitely overwhelmed the amount that I did. In a 45 minute movie, that's kind of expected, and I have to hand it to the show to give the most important characters enough development for us to like them. Inga's identity for example, turned out to be quite a surprise, and the actions of that identity near the ending of the show really earned a lot of my respect. The movie was really able to build on themes that the main story was grasping at, that someone's truth and desires belong to that person alone.
I'd definitely recommend Inga-ron to anyone who liked UN-GO. It's definitely a prequel that gives the characters in the main storyline justice, and gives a new spin on the story too.
After this, I'm tempted to even rewatch UN-GO again... read more
8 of 12 episodes seen
Unfortunately, after eight episodes of "giving it a chance", I have yet to find any point where I can say that I like this show.
The story itself is pretty lackluster, unexplained, and overall poorly developed. The whole of it is centered around this girl, we shall call her Ichika-senpai, who's an alien from outer space and has come to find something on Earth. We're never really told what that something is, but I assume it's done to fill in some kind of suspense or drama, which is unfortunate because I found that I didn't really care what Ichika-senpai was looking for. In Anohana, the main character Menma, also had a wish and was looking for something, but the audience was so much more involved in that wish. The reason is because it actually meant something. Menma's wish was intricately tied with the friendships that all of her friends seemed to have forgotten, and there was also the ultimate question of: what happens when Menma gets her wish?
There's never that kind of a feeling in Ano Natsu, and the reason is because there's never a point where that wish matters at all. Sure there's the feeling that Ichika-senpai might leave, but considering that Ichika is a cardboard cut out of a very boring archetype, there's no reason for me to care if she's leaving. Maybe I should be happy?
Instead, the show replaces that plot point with a boring drama/romance/slice of life atmosphere whose only saving grace is Lemon, the scheming loli that always seems to know what's going on. Unfortunately, Lemon's the only good entertainment in the show because everyone else is just clueless and too filled with romantic thoughts to be involved in anything else.
And that's why the story in Ano Natsu is disappointing. The concept is these kids are filming a movie and that's supposed to build on some sort of complex/intimate relationship as these characters mature and grow. But nothing's really that complex. It's just a huge web of love pentagons that's only appealing because the characters are hot and romance is cool. It's almost as if the director thought that people liked the small little romantic aspects of Anohana more than the actual show, and decided to dedicate all the small drama he put in Anohana into an entire show. The movie idea could even be thrown out the window, because the movie really does nothing to build on any of the characters other than putting them in situations where they can flash their hot bodies. You might as well have just put them in school and done the same thing...kind of like Toradora, except Toradora was actually interesting.
I might've forgiven the poor implementation of story and the boring romance if the characters were good. With good enough characters, one might feel involved in the romance, and the story might be less important than how these characters are growing and maturing. But yet again, I have to say that the characters were no more than either just cardboard cut outs of random archetypes or just really really boring. These characters don't grow, nor do they mature, nor do they confront any problems other than romantic ones. By the end of the eighth episode, if I had to say anything about how these characters changed it would be that they started realizing that they're caught up in a cluster of paltry romances.
In my opinion, a good character is a character that you can talk about for a good period of time. His traits, his motivations, his personality, aspirations, etc. etc. What can you say about Kaito? Well, he's a decent guy who's honest and true to his feelings, but if we're basing Kaito's character quality on that, I'd have to say that's pretty pathetic. The same can be said for Ichika-senpai, who is just some shy beautiful girl that we don't really get to know about other than her struggling coping with love. Same with Kanna, Testurou. Mio might be the only exception to the rule, ironically, because the things that she's done reveal a lot more about her character than people give her credit for.
So, in other words, the story is way too focused on romance for me to really like it. I can understand why people think romance is cool, but even the romance in this show is pretty lackluster and shallow, on top of the characters not being able to make me get involved in said romance because they're only focused on romance too.
Maybe I'll finish the show in the near future, but falling asleep and slapping my forehead has become a common act whenever I watch it, so maybe I won't. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
Instead, the show acknowledges these things exist, before tossing them out of the window. In its place is a warm body of characters that embrace a petite little girl named Yune, a Japanese girl traveling to France for the first time. And as she learns more about France, so do her new friends learn about Japan.
It's a simple concept, but what supports the show isn't a stunning plot (because the plot really isn't that great), but character interaction that exposes the depth and thought that was put into each segment of the show. Characters like Claude, Yune's master, and Alice, the 1800s version of an Otaku, have dynamic personalities that underline distinct perspectives of Japanese culture. One sees it as a potential nuisance and ignorant about the world. The other sees it as fascinating yet introverted on subjects like wealth, status, and cooking.
Yune herself acts as the foil for people like Claude, Alice, and Alice's sister Camille, a closed off European doll with past ties with Claude. Her clumsy actions, lack of knowledge of France, and her hardworking tendency serve as inspiration, humor, and crucial lessons in each episode. But that doesn't stop Yune herself from being a powerful main character, who holds the burden of making new friends while leaving her most beloved family members back home.
What amazed me most about this show was after being given a few stock and straightforward character archetypes, they became people that became more likable and personable. Claude, while occasionally annoying and stubborn as most male characters are, shows a different and softer side to himself every once in a while. Claude becomes more than just the strong male lead trying to fill his father's shoes, but also a normal boy suffering from feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and regret.
Oscar, Claude's grandfather and the person who brought Yune over to France, is also worth mentioning. Oscar is very normal and more of a peripheral interest in the show. But even that doesn't stop him from being a likable and interesting man. Behind his occasional flings with women is a man with a great big heart and well experienced in bringing joy to the faces of children. His very presence can make you smile, not because what he says is funny, but because he reminds us of what our parents used to do to make us feel happy on rainy days.
Alice and Camille, while being stock rich people with lots and lots of wealth, surprisingly are accurate portrayals of girls in the 1800s. Alice depicts the girl with big dreams, fear of the corset, and a spoiled attitude that borderlines on the bratty. Camille portrays the shut in woman, who's only role in society is to now marry and continue a line of wealth. Their presence in the story is the antithesis of the poor and modest Claude and Oscar, and they teach things in this story that Claude and Oscar could have never done, and vice versa.
Even a little poor homeless boy is given depth as someone who, while resorting to stealing and lying to get his way, can still understand what it feels to be loved.
Add this on with a simple art style and a nostalgic and heartwarming soundtrack, and you have what makes up the bulk of Ikoku Meiro no Croisee.
While it's true that Alice may sound annoying, and the plot can be dry, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee deserves to rank itself as one of the better slices of life I've seen in the last few seasons.
Perhaps it's because I've recently moved to New York, and I find myself in a state much like Yune did.
Or maybe it's because the show is just plain good.