Aki Miyagawa moved to Tokyo to pursue her dream to be a taiko drummer, but had a hard time balancing her strict training regimen with her part-time job. Now, after 15 years, she's returning to coach others for a taiko festival.
Project by J.C.Staff announced to be part of Anime Mirai 2015.
Aki no Kanade was one of the four films of Anime Mirai 2015 (Young Animator Training Project), a project funded by the Japanese government's Agency of Cultural Affairs in order to support training animators.
This movie is as sweet as it is short. Sadly, we don't get more than about 20 minutes to get to know our main character, Aki, and her story growing up. The story starts showing us how her life has turned out as a professional drummer, and then jumps back to show us how she was introduced to, and came to love, the art. We follow her life from this point and watch her as she grows up.
It's a cute personal story, focused heavily around the points where drumming has affected her life. I think the main point that can be taken from Aki no
Kanade is to follow your dream and work hard to make something you love a reality, and not stopping at the first hindrance. It doesn't offer too much else really; it's charming, it's comfy and it's worth the 20 minutes it takes to watch.
As arbitrary as number-ratings are, MAL has them, so I will use them.
Story 7 - Art 8 - Sound 8 - Character 8 - Enjoyment 8. None of which I feel like I need to justify with an explanation. They're set with the show's length in mind - They did good for the time they had, as I think the show would've held up quite well if dragged out for the usual 12 episodes instead of 1. Overall 8.
Here we are at the end of this year's film festival week. Aki no Kanade was created as a part of 2015's Anime Mirai project. For those of you who aren't familiar with what that is, it's designed to train young animators. Harmonie was also created as a part of it, just for the 2014 Anime Mirai. JC Staff headed the project. Yes, the Toradora, Azumanga Daioh studio.
We open with a drumming performance. Then we cut to the performers having some beers and chatting. One of them, Aki, seems to be feeling down. Probably because all of them have to have side jobs. The next morning
she gets a phone call from her former teacher asking her to return to her home town in order to teach the drums. She agrees and quickly takes the train back.
The biggest flaw with this film is simply that it tries to do a bit too much. There's this ongoing theme about past traditions being lost. There's also quite a bit that ties into the difficulties of pursuing your dreams as an artist, specifically a musician in this, in the modern world. And all of that gets tied into flashbacks about how Aki became enamoured with the drums. And this isn't a decent length film. It's about as long as an ordinary episode of an anime. Which, basically, means that it can't handle all of those ideas in any amount of detail. So, we get a cursory handling of the topics that basically relies on them being immediately relatable. Which, to be fair, they are.
That being said, what we do get of them is really well done. You get enough of a glimpse of Aki's troubles as a musician to make it relatable. You see enough changes to convey the idea of traditions being laid to rest in the name of progress. And you see enough of Aki's journey as a musician to give you a decent idea of what the drums mean to her. And it's good enough that you want to see more. Seriously, I would watch a full anime that was just this as a more fully fleshed out narrative. It also does have a good amount of charm to it.
The main focus is on Aki herself. And she is a very strong character. Her arc of returning to her roots and regaining her passion is well handled. The characters around her are, fortunately, developed enough that they have verisimilitude. They might not be the most complex characters of all time, but they have enough to them to make them feel like real people. And they're probably the best you'll get from a twenty five minute film.
I'll give the young animators full credit on this one. The film is well animated and the art just looks great in general. With nice backgrounds, good looking musical performances and characters that look pretty nice. About the worst it gets is that the driving animation is a bit hovery due to them not liking to show the wheels.
JC Staff got some strong actors. Satou Rina takes the leading role. Nakahara Mai & Kugimiya Rie take secondary roles. And they all deliver strong performances. The music is really good as well. There are some nice, traditional drum performances.
Aki's friends, Megumi & Akane, hang onto each other in a way that's pretty homo-erotic.
Aki no Kanade is a solid short film. For twenty five minutes, it does everything it needs to do and handles its themes as well as it can given the time constraints. I quite enjoyed it. Ultimately, I give it an 8/10.
Story 9/10. Pretty decent for a short movie. Was expecting this movie to be longer but I guess there's no need. The cover for this movie speaks for itself, there's a lot of challenges and doubts faced for Miyagawa; while there's also the same girl who's ambitious and is proud of her work. This story encompasses a lot of cultural art into it, kind of hard to find a movie who literally focuses "on a girl who wants to be a professional drummer."
Art 10/10. What's there not to like about it, the characters were drawn beautifully, each one had a unique style, even the
father who mugs a lot.
Sound 9/10. As mentioned, it brings a lot of cultural background in traditional drumming. You also got that soothing tune as well. Pretty decent, but that's it.
Character 8/10. You can see a lot of character development within this short movie, you can see their ambitions, their challenges, their doubts, their roles, their inspiration; but there's still some stuff missing. But then again, it's a short movie.
Overall 10/10. Pretty enjoyable, had a lot of ingenuity in it, maybe it would have been better if it was a longer movie. But as mentioned, pretty decent for a short movie, encompasses a lot of cultural/traditional aspects within this movie; has the character developments and roles, a lot of emotional aspects tied around the main character, art and sounds were decent. Okay I guess.
As with every review I make, this one is biased. Objectively, this OVA would probably get a 9/10. However, I loved it enough that I gave it a 10. If you have a problem with this scoring system, feel free to express that.
I just finished reviewing Charlotte, which took a lot of time and energy out of me. This time, as a way of spiritually cleansing myself of that show, I am reviewing something that I actually really like. There aren't too many spoilers, simply because there isn't much to spoil. It's only one episode. This anime is about a girl who
likes to play the drums. The rest of the synopsis is on the page already, so I'm not spending time talking about it here.
With this being a one shot OVA, the plot is very simple. There just isn't enough time for a deep, complex story full of twists and turns. However, that does not make it bad. There are things in it that admittedly are kinda stupid, for example when the stage breaks right before they're about to perform the drum festival. Like really? Did they not check beforehand for any signs that it was unstable? And what caused it to collapse in the first place? It stood up fine in the strong winds of the typhoon the night before. Maybe it was weakened by the wind and rain? But there still wasn't any obvious reason for the collapse. These are just speculative defenses. It gave a good reason for why the festival didn't happen anymore. Who'd want their kid to be there? I mean it almost killed at least three little kids already. But the cause for it is kinda stupid. Regardless, the plot is strong and heartwarming. The ending feels nice and was conclusive enough.
This is where the OVA really shines. The characters in this are almost all interesting in some way. However, there are a few that are kinda iffy, which is what keeps this from being a solid 10. Let's start out with out main character Aki. She's a girl who's currently a professional drummer in Tokyo. In this short 22 minute OVA, we learn about her backstory, motivations, family situation, and friends, giving us a deep understanding of her character. Given that every other character is basically a side character, they don't get that much development. One of my favorite characters in the whole OVA though was the boy (who's name I forget) who sat next to Aki when in their first lesson preparing for the festival. His awkwardness around her at first felt so realistic. He kind of reflected my personality at that age. Especially the scene when they're in middle school and he is going to give his button to Aki, but then chickens out at the last second and runs away felt a lot more human and realistic than him being 100% super smooth guy. It made him more sympathetic. The other characters with names, Megumi and Akane don't really have much personality. They're cute and charming and Akane's skull necklace is so fucking cool, but they're really there just to be Aki's friends. This is fine since this anime is only 22 minutes long. They don't need to be deeply developed because the story doesn't focus on them. Aki's dad is what brings down the score a little bit, simply because of my personal feelings. I just flat out didn't like the dad. Without sugar-coating it, he was a dick. I mean, I get that he didn't like her playing the drums, but seriously? Not only did he not see any of her performances, he didn't even see her off at the train station when she was leaving for Tokyo. He doesn't even greet her when she returns home after 15 years. Thankfully, he shows up at the final performance at the end of the OVA, which redeemed him a bit in my eyes. But still. What a dick.
The art in this was decent. It wasn't beautiful, but the scenery was pleasant to look at and the girls were very cute. And let's be honest, cute girls is enough to score any anime an 8 on artwork right?
I don't usually talk about animation, but there's something I'd like to point out that I thought was a nice touch. When the girls play the drums, their mallets actually come down and hit in rhythm with the audio. The animators didn't need to do that, but they took the extra step and made it look more realistic. Reminds me a lot of Kyoto Animation.
Literally nothing to say. It sounded good. I liked the voice acting. I'm sorry I'm really bad at writing about sound.
Aki no Kanade is a perfect example of what can be accomplished in a single episode. The characters (at least the important ones) are fleshed out, the story is interesting, and the ending is satisfying. I recommend this anime to anyone who hasn't watched it. It's a true masterpiece in my opinion.