13 of 13 episodes seen
'Kino's Journey' is a 13-episode long TV series based on a series of light novels and directed by Ryutaro Nakamura, who is famous for his work on 'Serial Experiments Lain'. The show is episodic by nature, and it follows Kino and her motorrad, Hermes, as they travel from one country to the next in a fictional world, all the while learning of different countries' cultures and customs. 'Kino's Journey' is generally slower paced and contains lots of philosophical dialogue, so for that reason I recommend watching this alongside another anime with an ongoing storyline.
Given that 'Kino's Journey' is an episodic TV series, there isn't necessarily a plot or story, per se. Generally, each episode follows Kino as she goes to a different country and stays there for three days. Each country has its own different culture and customs that reflect certain societal traits in the real world. 'Kino's Journey' deals with fairly mature themes and ideas, such as censorship, war, religion and the advancement of technology and its effects. As such, 'Kino's Journey' is a rather pessimistic TV series. These themes and ideas are explored through the exaggeration of certain societies. For example, in one country an emperor had made a rule whereby for someone to become a first class citizen, they must fight other lower class individuals in a coliseum setting, where bloodthirsty first class citizens would watch for their amusement. Otherwise, the lower class would have to live under ground in a sewer setting while the first class citizens could live above ground. To me, this was an exaggeration of the social division and class exploitation that is common in many areas of the world today. Irony is also common throughout 'Kino's Journey', and it is comical in a dark, disturbing sort of way. Heck, the fact that the series is called 'Kino's Journey: The Beautiful World' is ironic in itself.
In way of characters, the only two recurring characters are Hermes and Kino. Hermes is a talking motorrad that accompanies Kino on her journey, and the reason why or how he is able to talk isn't addressed in the TV series. However, since it is common for inanimate objects and even animals to be able to use the human language in this show, we can assume that it's just a facet of their world. Hermes is definitely the less interesting of the two, and while his interactions with Kino are often thought-provoking and sometimes comical, his character lacks depth. Be that as it may, Hermes' purpose in the series is to aide the viewers in understanding or reflecting on a certain concept, so the lack of character development doesn't really hinder him as a character. On the other hand, Kino is a wonderful character and every second of screen time that she had was a joy to watch.
One reason that Kino is a great lead is that she remains largely neutral towards certain topics for the majority of the TV series. For example, unlike your typical shounen lead, Kino is reluctant to involve herself in other people's affairs, which enforces her neutrality. As 'Kino's Journey' is a series largely focused on philosophy, her approach is not only appropriate, but favourable. A second reason is because of her inquisitive nature. Kino consistently shows a keen interest in understanding the actions of others. She asks the questions that you as a viewer desire to know, which aides you in formulating an opinion regarding a topic. Lastly, Kino is a very calm and composed character. She is rarely seen as being anything other than reserved, even in dire situations, which makes her a very cool and likable character. The only criticism I have of her character is that she lacks a bit of character development. While she does benefit from a few flashbacks, especially in the prequel 'Life Goes On', and she becomes increasingly one-sided towards the end of the series, it does leave a lot to be desired.
I have mixed feelings regarding the art in 'Kino's Journey'. On the one hand, it's dark and makes great use of scanlines as to enhance its already gloomy atmosphere. However, with the exception of Kino, I didn't like how the characters were drawn at all. There was very little attention to detail on the characters' facial features, and many of the characters looked the same as each other. Even the background objects, such as houses or the interior of buildings, had very little attention to detail and were very basic. The animation, with the exception of the action scenes which were fairly well done, was about what you'd expect from a typical anime with its budget at the time.
In contrast, the sound for 'Kino's Journey' is very impressive. The OP and ED songs suit the overall mood of the anime, and are good tracks in their own right. The background music isn't overused, and is placed appropriately to add mood or tension to a scene. Ambient sounds, such as the sounds of footsteps or cocking a gun are done particularly well. Kino's VA in the original Japanese audio also suits her character well as the tone of her voice largely remains the same throughout the series, which is important for a cool, reserved character like Kino. I suppose my only real gripe is that Hermes' voice in the original Japanese audio is quite high pitched and annoying, and somewhat detracts from the show.
Overall, 'Kino's Journey' was an interesting and enjoyable watch that I would recommend to anyone that is interested in philosophy or can appreciate slower paced anime. Due to the somewhat pretentious first episode, unsatisfactory amount of character development for Kino and pretty poor art, I think an 8/10 is a fair score.
All constructive criticism is not only welcome, but appreciated, thank you. read more
14 of 14 episodes seen
Having read reviews on MAL and various other websites, it's plain to see that a lot of the fans were disappointed with this addition to the Haruhi franchise. I'll admit it, I loved the first season (hence why it is in my favourites at the time of writing this) and was even more so impressed with the movie, 'Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu'. But I had been putting this season off for
a while for one reason; Endless Eight. There's a topic in the discussion section of this anime called "Sign here if you watch all eight episodes of Endless Eight". When being able to complete eight episodes of TMoHS '09 (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 2009) is regarded as a feat by the masses, it makes things quite problematic for people who have yet to have seen the series because, generally speaking, one would presume it to be "crap". For such a short series at 14 episodes, to hate eight of those episodes would calculate to 57%, so is everyone suggesting that only 43% of the series is worth watching? At one point, I was seriously contemplating dropping the series entirely, but after completing it, I'm so glad I chose not to. The shit this series gets thrown at it doesn't do it justice, and in my review, I hope to remedy that.
First and foremost, type in "chronological order Haruhi" into the Google search bar and click on the Wikipedia link. Scroll down to where it says "2009 version". That is how the staff have intended for their viewers to watch the series. If you, like me, watched the first season in broadcast order and have yet to view it chronologically, then this is a perfect opportunity.
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of non-linear stories, so re-watching the first season as well as the new 2009 version chronologically really appealed to me. With that out of the way, TMoHS '09 can be divided into three sections: episode 1 (Bamboo Blade Rhapsody), episodes 2 - 9 (Endless Eight) and episodes 10 - 14 (The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya parts 1 - 5). Keep in mind that TMoHS '09 isn't necessarily a second season, although is commonly referred to as being one by the fan base because it is the second anime entry of the franchise. Similarly to the first season, only six of the episodes are important to the overall storyline. As you may have guessed, those episodes are episodes 1 (Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody) and 10 - 14 (The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya Parts 1 - 5). So that leaves us with the infamous Endless Eight, which will be the first segment of the anime that I will analyse as it is the one that receives the most negative feedback.
Firstly, Endless Eight is a filler arc, so it isn't an imperative to watch it. However, I feel that to be an insult to Kyoto Animation's efforts, so I wouldn't advise skipping it. And why would you? Sure, the execution wasn't great and it could have been better, but it's still worthy of a watch none-the-less. Endless Eight is an eight episode long arc (obviously) set in the last two weeks of Summer vacation from August 17th - 31st. The SOS brigade decides to spend their last two weeks of Summer to the fullest by participating in various activities, ranging from swimming to cicada catching to stargazing. One night, Kyon is awoken by a phone call from a distressed Mikuru and is then asked by Itsuki to join in their group discussion, immediately. Upon arriving at the rendezvous point, Itsuki explains to Kyon the predicament that they are all in. That as soon as the clock strikes 12 a.m. on August 31st, they will be forced to repeat those two weeks all over again in an ininite loop, with no memory of doing so. The exception to this, however, is Nagato. She remembers all those 10,000+ times that she repeated those two weeks. Personally, I loved this concept, but quickly started to become disinterested in it. The reason is simple: it was drawn out for too long and the differences between each episode weren't significant enough to keep me hooked. Some people claim that KyoAni became lazy and started recycling scenes, but that is factually un-true. It is clear that KyoAni put a lot of effort into each scene. Although in essence you're watching the same episode eight times, there are differences in each and every episode. They include:
The clothes they are wearing;
How they decide to phrase something;
Kyon may become more aware of the situation in some episodes than others.
The second point I made is the most noticeable. For example, during each episode, Nagato tells Kyon how many times they have repeated the two weeks. His shocked reaction stays the same, but the dialogue used always changes. In one episode he says,
"That calculates to... uh... 594 years."
In another episode, he says,
"That's about 594 years!"
And in another episode, it shows him actually calculating it on a phone, which surprisingly comes to 594 years.
I mentioned earlier that the main problem with this arc is that it was drawn out for too long. I can understand why they did it, though. Had it lasted only three episodes, you wouldn't have felt the same level of sympathy towards the characters the same way as you would with eight. But it could have been done just as successfully with five episodes. The first episode could have been when the problem was introduced, the third could have been the solution and, finally, the fifth episode could have been the conclusion. I think that one would enjoy this arc more-so if they are interested in film studies and can appreciate this purely on its aesthetic value. I also felt the ending to be quite... erm... anti climatic. Considering how long it was drawn out, I
feel that little effort was put into the conclusion of the arc. One thing that did impress me, though, was how Nagato dealt with the situation. She was always a calm and reserved character in the first season, but there are several points during this arc where she appears as if she's about to have a mental breakdown. Hell, her eyes tell us enough about how she must have felt. Overall, this arc can feel like a chore to complete at times, but if you think about the amount of effort that KyoAni put in to this, then it doesn't seem so bad. It was a bold and gutsy move on behalf of KyoAni, and I commend them for that. I definitely wouldn't suggest completing this arc in one sitting, though.
The next section of the anime that I have decided to analyse is episodes 10 - 14, or 'The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya Parts 1 - 5'. Remember that infamous first episode in broadcast order on the original series? Did you ever wonder what that was all about? That is what this arc is for. The cultural festival is nearing, and the SOS brigade have decided to participate by making a film.
In the original series, you knew that they made a film for the cultural festival, but you didn't know how it was decided, what went on behind the scenes, what conflict occurred, etcetra. I'm a sucker for things like this, when you're shown what went on behind the scenes. I thought this was a worthy addition to the season and thoroughly enjoyed this arc.
As for the first episode, I can't really analyse it without spoiling too much. Considering it's the first that you watch, you'll know whether you like it or not. All I can say is that this episode is essential if you intend on continuing with the anime franchise and is, in my opinion, the best episode on this season. It was strong for an opening episode and set the bar high for what was to come. A little too high, actually.
Animation, sound and characters have all remained pretty similar to what they were in the first season, so I don't intend on writing a huge paragraph for each of the said aspects. My only complaints are that the opening and ending songs weren't anywhere near as enjoyable as the first season's and details of facial features fluctuated. Other than that, everything was on par with the first season.
Overall: 7/10 read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
School Days: After watching this you'll be thankful your days at school weren't as f**ked up as this! In all seriousness though, the mental torture some of the characters have to endure is heart breaking so if you intend on watching this expecting a light-hearted love-triangle, DON'T! This is one of the more psychological romance animes i've come across meaning you're likely to enjoy this if you enjoy depressing romance animes.
The synoposis already explains the jist of the story. A love-triangle between the protaganist's childhood friend, Sekai, and his love interest initially, Kotonoha. What makes the story of 'School Days' different to other love-triangle animes is how it's presented and carried out. Normally, a lot of those animes are light-hearted and throw in some comedy to lighten up the mood. This isn't the case in 'School Days' and because of this I find it to be somewhat unique in that sense.
Art & Sound:
Art - It's on par with most other animes for its time. I personally liked the character designs because they made the characters look cute and suited the anime rather well (similar to Kyoto animation). The background art was also fairly good.
Sound - The Japanese voice acting was good and suited the characters pretty well. However, the opening song didn't suit the anime at all. It's a very cheerful opening and, personally, it sucked. Not only didn't it suit the anime but I found it to be lame. With that being said, the ending song wasn't too bad. Sure, you wouldn't find me listening to it on my iPod but it did suit the anime pretty well. It sounded sad and depressing and that's the sort of song an anime like this needs. Normally I listen to anime OP and ED sequences but on this occasion both of them sucked. On the other hand, the sound effects and lip syncing was well done.
The two female protaganists aren't anything new to the genre. Infact, they are quite generic to be honest. A shy/quiet girl and an up-beat childhood friend. However, the male protaganist, Makoto Itou, is in my eyes, to be frank, the biggest douche in any anime i've seen thus far. At a first glimpse he appears to be a normal teenager in love. That isn't entirely the case. He's like a child with a toy. When they don't like it anymore, they stop using it and throw it away. I feel this is a perfect analogy to use to describe Makoto Itou. He plays with their emotions and uses the girls for his own perverted pleasures. Then, when he's bored with them, he chooses another girl to sleep with. I guess you could say Itou is "the man"! But, in all seriousness, he's the most despicable protaganist i've ever seen. Personally, I quite liked this aspect of 'School Days'. They thought of the biggest douche bag possible and chose him as the leading main character. Something I don't see too often. The supportng cast was also fairly decent. Sekai's best friend seems almost emotionless but only cares for Sakai's well being whereas Itou's best friend is a cheerful, dorky character who tends to lighten up the mood by constantly trying to impress Kotonoha.
Personally, I didn't enjoy this anime and i'm amazed that it's raked within the top 100 in terms of popularity. Why is this piece of trash so popular?
After I completed this series, I sat down and reflected on what I just watched while listening to some music. After about 10 minutes or so, I realised something. There is a moral to this story. The human heart is a fragile thing and you shouldn't play with other people's emotions. You can't just treat girls like some sort of object and throw them away when you grow bored of them. It'll eventually come back to stab you right in the chest. read more