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#1
Sep 6, 2015 11:07 AM

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Are you looking for a good unpopular anime, but don’t have time to watch a full TV series? Do you just need a quick anime fix, but only have a few minutes of spare time today? This forum will help you find the perfect unpopular short anime to fit your time and interests.

Every Sunday, an unpopular short anime from our club relations list will be put in the spotlight, along with a brief review. It could be an OVA, an ONA, a short film, or even a music video, but it will always be something that you can finish in a single sitting. There will also be an index post listing every anime spotlighted to date, to help you quickly find what you’re looking for.

An anime must meet these criteria to be eligible for a spotlight in this forum:
• It must be unpopular
• It must be a work that stands on its own, without viewers having to watch another anime first in order to understand or enjoy it
• A multi-episode anime may have no more than 4 episodes maximum, regardless of episode length, and all episodes together must have a combined running time of 120 minutes or less.
• A movie or single-episode anime must have a listed running time of 80 minutes or less.

You are, of course, encouraged to watch any spotlighted anime and share your thoughts about it in this forum. Suggestions for future spotlights are also welcome, as long as they meet the above guidelines. They don’t have to be on our club list, either; if your suggestion is accepted, then the admins will be asked to add it if necessary.
Modified by goshujin_sama241, Feb 3, 2018 3:35 PM
 
#2
Sep 6, 2015 11:08 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight Index

This Week's Spotlight: Tailenders (Action, 27 mins.) (review coming soon)

Previous Spotlights

9/9/15: Pale Cocoon (Sci-Fi/Drama, 23 mins.)
9/16/15: Ai Mai! Moe Can Change! (Comedy, 24 mins.)
9/23/15: Iblard Jikan (Fantasy, 30 mins.)
9/30/15: Bokura no Live Kimi to no Life/Snow Halation (Music, 6 mins. each)
10/7/15: Tenshi no Tamago (Drama/Fantasy, 71 mins.)
10/21/15: One Off (Slice of Life, 60 mins.)
10/28/15: Slam Dunk (Sports, 29 mins.)
11/4/15: Tsumiki no Ie (Drama, 12 mins.)
11/11/15: Initial D: Battle Stage (Sports, 52 mins.)
11/18/15: Dai Mahou Touge (Comedy, 4 eps. @ 24 mins. each)
12/16/15: Poulette no Isu (Comedy, 3 mins.)
1/6/16: Tsuki no Waltz (Music, 5 mins.)
1/13/16: Kowarekake no Orgel (Drama, 28 mins.)
1/27/16: Tabisuru Nuigurumi: Traveling Daru (Adventure, 10 mins.)
2/27/16: Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko (Slice of Life/Drama, 5 mins.)
3/6/16: Universe (Music, 4 mins.)
3/20/16: Natsuki Crisis (Action, 2 eps. @ 30 mins. each)
4/10/16: Tengu Taiji (Comedy, 8 mins.)
4/17/16: Cossette no Shouzou (Supernatural/Romance, 3 eps. @ 36 mins. each)
4/24/16: Mudai (Music, 7 mins.)
5/8/16: Rain Town (Drama, 10 mins.)
5/29/16: Furiko (Drama/Music, 3 mins.)
6/27/16: Saint Onii-san (Comedy, 40 mins.)
7/12/16: Egomama (Music, 4 mins.)
9/4/16: Dragon Half (Comedy/Fantasy, 2 eps. @ 25 mins. each)

An explanation of the rating system

Since everything that appears in the Spotlight comes from the club relations list, that means it’s already something the club has vetted and decided is worth watching, making traditional rating systems redundant. Therefore, the anime featured in this column are rated on a scale of 1-3 spotlights, based on a combination of overall quality of art/story/characters/etc. (good, better, or best) and range of audience appeal (limited, average, or broad).

=a good quality anime, or a better quality anime with limited audience appeal due to artistic style, genre, high entry barrier, etc.

= a better quality anime with average to broad audience appeal, or an anime of the best quality but more limited appeal

= an anime of the best quality with average or broad appeal; if it sounds interesting to you from the Spotlight feature, then do not miss it

Modified by WingKing, Oct 2, 2016 7:56 AM
 
#3
Sep 6, 2015 11:19 AM

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On a personal note, I also want to say thanks to Reverie for allowing me to create this forum. I've always been fascinated with short-form storytelling, both in print and film, and I'm looking forward to exploring this lesser-watched side of anime with everyone!
 
#4
Sep 7, 2015 10:15 AM

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Nice! Maybe I will find something I haven't watched yet :-)
 
#5
Sep 9, 2015 8:09 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #1: 9/9/15

PALE COCOON (2005)
OVA, 23 minutes
Written and Directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura (Time of Eve, Patema Inverted)

Awards:
Best Screenplay, 2006 Sapporo International Short Film Festival



Pale Cocoon is a sci-fi drama that focuses on two people in the distant future who live and work in a vast and mysteriously mostly empty building. Ura’s job is digitally restoring files retrieved from historical archives, while Riko has the task of analyzing his restored specimens. One day they begin restoring a file that may radically change the way they see their world.

Like many well-written stories, Pale Cocoon is rich with themes and ideas that will appeal to different people based on their own experiences. As someone who majored in history, I appreciated it because I thought it made an eloquent case for the importance of exactly why we study and share history, and illustrates what happens to a community when they lose their own history, and when curiosity and questioning give way to apathy and dull acceptance of the status quo.

The artistic style of this short is excellent, visually stunning and very atmospheric. The two main characters in the story never interact face-to-face with anyone except each other; the rest of the building’s inhabitants exist only as faceless shadows or disembodied voices, which further adds to the feelings of isolation and claustrophobia. It’s not a fast-paced story, but if you're in the mood for an anime that makes you think a little, then the journey is worth your time.
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 4:02 PM
 
#6
Sep 10, 2015 9:57 AM

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Oh Pale Coccon. The OVA that shows people should value history. I watched that and it was stunning as a matter of visual and a matter of presentation of how to value the past. If I recall right, it is about two people talking about Earth history, and one of the highlight of the discussion was the structures erected on the land.

Suggestion: Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World - Byouki no Kuni: For You

If I had to re-watch it for the sake of posting a review, I don't mind.
Modified by mlcdl, Sep 10, 2015 10:10 AM
 
#7
Sep 11, 2015 9:01 PM

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Thanks for the suggestion! I'll make a note of it.

All of the "official" reviews here in this forum will actually be done by me, so there's no need to worry about re-watching anything. But I hope people will share their own thoughts on any shorts that catch their interest, too!

mlcdl said:
Oh Pale Coccon. The OVA that shows people should value history. I watched that and it was stunning as a matter of visual and a matter of presentation of how to value the past. If I recall right, it is about two people talking about Earth history, and one of the highlight of the discussion was the structures erected on the land.


Yes! And
 
#8
Sep 16, 2015 8:05 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #2: 9/16/15

AI MAI! MOE CAN CHANGE! (2012)
OVA, 24 minutes
Directed by Takeo Takahashi (Spice & Wolf, Rokka no Yuusha)



Moe Can Change! -Myroid 4 Life- is a bishoujo mobile app game, where the player can “raise” his own moe girl, called a “Myroid” in the game. She starts off as a blank slate, and gains different types of experience points through her interactions with the player, which over time allows the player to start changing her outfits, appearance, and even influencing her personality type, until she eventually becomes the type of moe girl the player wants.

That’s about all the background information you need to know before watching Ai Mai! Moe Can Change!, which is a one-episode OVA adapted from the mobile game. The main characters are the mischievous Chie and the stoic Anna, two of the girls who help the player navigate menus and options in the game. Here, they’re a pair of high school girls who have just started to work for the company that produces Myroids, and still don’t fully understand what they’ve gotten themselves into yet. The OVA is pretty much a pure comedy short, while also introducing potential new players (through Chie and Anna’s story) to the game and how it works. Lots of hijinks ensue as the characters fool around with the app, testing out its various features on each other and on other unsuspecting bystanders in the real world. Some of the jokes are classic anime-style gag comedy, but it also does a good job of mining humor from the two main girls’ contrasting personalities and their often very different reactions to the situations in which they find themselves.

I didn’t have especially high expectations for this short, but I found myself laughing more often than I expected to. The animation isn’t the highest quality, but it’s passable enough. Same with the soundtrack. Its best selling point is its characters, though. As long as you like Chie and Anna, it’s a pretty pleasant way to spend 24 minutes. It's probably not the funniest thing you’ll ever see, but it’s worth a try if you feel like watching a quick light comedy, especially one featuring cute moe girls and lots of cosplay.

Note: Depending on where you try to watch Moe Can Change, there is at least one version on YouTube where the timing of the subs is way off, and the first time I tried to watch it I couldn’t understand anything that was going on. The upload I ended up watching for this spotlight is on Dailymotion, and it plays just fine.
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 3:58 PM
 
#9
Sep 23, 2015 6:13 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #3: 9/23/15

IBLARD JIKAN (2007)
OVA, 30 minutes
Directed by Naohisa Inoue



Naohisa Inoue is a Japanese freelance artist, best known for a series of surrealist-impressionist paintings that he created depicting a fantasy world named Iblard. Hayao Miyazaki is a big fan of Inoue’s work, and asked him to work with Studio Ghibli a few times over the years, most notably as the background artist for the fantasy scenes in the movie Whisper of the Heart. Another collaboration with Inoue led to this 2007 OVA.

For Iblard Jikan, Ghibli took a series of Inoue’s Iblard paintings, and added a little bit of digital animation to each one. Sometimes the animation is very subtle: the reflection of sunlight on the water, grass rippling in the breeze, or a lazy curl of smoke drifting from a chimney. Others have more noticeable movements, like people walking in and out of houses or cars driving on tracks. There are eight different sequences of paintings shown, with each sequence set to a different piece of music. And that’s really the whole thing. It’s certainly beautiful to look at, and to listen to, but there’s no dialogue at all, nor really a clear story. It’s basically like an anime version of a meditation video, or a travel/scenery video where the location just happens to be a fantasy world. It’s certainly not for everyone – this is the sort of thing you really have to be in the right mood to watch – but if you’re ever looking for a short anime to help you relax, Iblard Jikan might be one of the best choices out there.
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 3:55 PM
 
Sep 23, 2015 9:29 PM

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It is one of the few anime that art speaks a lot and on this case, Iblard Jikan speaks art as a whole instead of just another way of presenting. The story for me is more like presenting the beauty of the society. I do agree that its not for everyone. I ended up picking that on a time where my mood is for watch something to analyze since it is something you can't simply watch by just seeking for story as it is non-existent at face value.

Iblard Jikan is one of the few anime that can be deemed art by itself. The others I've seen that can be said the same are Ef series, Madoka Magica, and Gankutsuou. Though unlike Iblard Jikan, each title has their definite story and Gankutsuou is more fitting in art of a novel instead of art by itself.
 
Sep 27, 2015 3:53 AM

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Here are my thoughts about those shorts.

Pale Cocoon
A very good short OVA. A bit confusing at first, but if you think more about it everything makes sense. The best part of this anime are visuals, which are stunning. The rest is only very good :-)

Ai Mai! Moe Can Change!
It was enjoyable to watch. The only good parts are comedic scenes and characters. And that's all. There is some story, but I wouldn't call it a one.

Iblard Jikan
I actually watched it at least one year before Whisper of the Heart. When I finally got my hands on the movie, I knew that I saw something similar to the fantasy world somewhere before, but couldn't remember where :-P
So after finishing it I used Google to find it. I was surprised that Iblard Jikan was created twelve years after Whisper of the Heart.
 
Sep 30, 2015 8:15 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #4: 9/30/15

BOKURA NO LIVE KIMI TO NO LIFE (2010)
SNOW HALATION (2010)
Music Videos, 6 min. each
Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku (Love Live! School Idol Project, GATE)
Music by Takahiro Yamada (Infinite Stratos), Lyrics by Aki Hata (Azumanga Daioh, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)



I decided to do something a little different this week and spotlight these two music videos jointly. Anyone who’s seen Love Live already knows these two songs come from that franchise. One of the reasons I chose these two videos is because they were actually the first two pieces of Love Live animation ever made. Both came out in 2010, over two years before the first season of the TV series. So you can easily watch these even if you’ve never seen anything from Love Live before; in fact, you’d be watching them the same way as the first fans in Japan did - with no future knowledge of how the series would evolve from here.

"Bokura no Live Kimi to no Life" ("Our Live, Our Life With You") premiered in August, 2010, only about a month after Dengeki G magazine announced the project and introduced the girls. At this point, the group didn't even have a name yet (µ's was chosen by fan vote a few months later). The song is a very fast, upbeat dance track, with guitar and horns as the lead instruments for most of the song. Appropriately for a first single, the lyrics are about embracing your dreams and goals, and invite the listener to step forward and take a journey together with the group. The video’s concept is fairly basic; it has lots of nicely animated scenes of the group dancing on the lawn (some traditionally animated and some in obvious CG), interspersed with clips of the girls having fun together at school. The animation is bright and bold, with a heavy emphasis on primary colors – reds, greens, and blues – and the entire vibe is very warm and playful. It’s a good introduction to Love Live, because it really encapsulates what the franchise is all about: cute girls, catchy music, and making people feel good. Incidentally, the raw version of this music video available on some streaming sites actually has a slightly different arrangement than the fansubbed video I watched for this review. The fansub version uses a different mix of the song, and the clip of Honoka running to school comes about four minutes into the video instead of at the beginning. The same animation's all there, just in a different order. I don't know which is the official version, or if they were both official releases, so I’m just pointing it out.

"Snow Halation" premiered in December, 2010. It’s another up-tempo song, and the piano is the featured instrument this time, with a notable use of sleigh bells to accentuate the Christmas theme. It’s a love song, written in a confessional style. The girls sing about their pounding hearts, their feelings of love, and not wanting those feelings to remain just a dream, before finally asking the listener to accept their affection. The video is more ambitious than "Bokura," putting the girls in several different locations at their homes and around town, with added prologue and epilogue segments that give it the feel of a short film. It frames a loose story around the song where the girls are trying to either express their feelings for - or find the right Christmas present for - the person they like. Visually it’s very striking, using light and shadow contrasts to emphasize some of the dialogue, and both the Christmas lights of the town and the girls' white costumes on stage really pop against the night sky in the background. The dancing animation is well done again, and while there’s still some obvious CG, it didn’t seem like there was quite as much of it this time.

Overall, both songs are tightly written J-Pop with good hooks, and it’s easy to see why they clicked with listeners. "Snow Halation" peaked higher on the Oricon charts (at #74), and has remained far more popular with fans. I also think it’s the better song. It’s just as danceable as "Bokura," but it’s smoother and more melodic, there’s more emotional heft to it, and the overall arrangement is much cleaner, with fewer instruments demanding the listener’s attention. I also found the "Snow Halation" video the prettier and more interesting one to watch. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Try watching both, and decide for yourself which one you like better.
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 3:52 PM
 
Oct 1, 2015 6:13 AM

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Very nice music videos! Not only the music is nice, but so are visuals. It's really hard to complain about them :-)

Pros for Whisper of the Heart reference (or homage?).
 
Oct 1, 2015 2:32 PM

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Where did you find subs for them? I watched all 6 of the Love Live music videos raw because that's all I could find. I'm sure that I probably could get more out of them if I knew what they were saying. Could you give links to the subbed versions?

I liked all of their music videos, some more than others.
Modified by zombie_pegasus, Oct 1, 2015 3:02 PM
 
Oct 1, 2015 7:41 PM

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Torrenting is the only way I know of to get them. If you're set up for that, you can find them at Nyaa.se - it looks like English fansubs are available there for all six videos (just change the "all categories" pulldown menu to "English translated anime" when you search).
 
Oct 4, 2015 10:46 AM

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I also enjoyed the six Love Live music videos. The music is the usual simple, catchy pop music featured in the series. The art and animation quality are up to the level of the main series; the costumes and backgrounds are detailed, and the animation is somewhat jerky, albeit no worse than most other anime. Snow Halation is my personal favorite out of the six.

Some time ago, I found French fansubs of all of the videos on anime-ultime. For those who can read French and prefer streaming, you can search there (assuming that they haven't gone away in the meantime).

I just watched Ai Mai! Moe Can Change! I largely agree with WingKing's assessment; it is a pleasant bit of lighthearted fun - a generally successful effort, but nothing spectacular.

Short films like these are a nice diversion every now and then. I'll have to check out more of the ones that come up in this thread.

Also, although I know old anime isn't a primary focus of this club, you might consider some for this thread. Most of the anime of the 1910-1960 period consists of one-off short films, and there are some interesting ones. If you want to check out any of this material, I've seen a few and could send you some recommendations.
Modified by WeirdHeather, Oct 4, 2015 11:27 AM
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
 
Oct 7, 2015 5:53 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #5: 10/7/15

TENSHI NO TAMAGO (1985)

Movie, 71 mins.

Directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor 2: The Movie)
Story and Art by Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D)



Tenshi no Tamago (Angel’s Egg) was Mamoru Oshii’s first feature-length film after he left Studio Pierrot in 1984. On the surface, it’s a simple story of a lone girl who wanders around a surreal, decaying cityscape, collecting water in jars and carrying a large egg that is her most precious possession underneath her dress. One day she meets a young soldier. Initially he frightens her and she runs away, but they encounter each other again and a tentative friendship starts to form between possibly the only two living people in this place. Beneath the surface, however, this film is anything but simple. Oshii is famous for saying that he doesn’t like to talk about the “meaning” of his films, because he wants the audience to find their own meaning in what they watch. Certainly many of his other movies like Ghost in the Shell are open to multiple interpretations, but perhaps none more so than this one. It’s a dark, atmospheric film that’s light on dialogue and very heavy on symbolism and allegories, especially Christian allegories. The pivot point of the film, for example, and its longest sequence of sustained dialogue, comes when the soldier recites the biblical story of Noah’s flood to the girl, only to add a twist ending to the story that definitely did not come from the Bible, but very much ties in thematically to the movie’s own story.

Visually, Angel’s Egg is very striking, and there were many times where I wanted to pause the movie just to study the artwork. The characters live in an apparently abandoned gothic-style city, where the structures seem to be a mix of organic and man-made. Some buildings are recognizable in shape as houses, skyscrapers, and cathedrals, while others might be carved out of fossilized animal carcasses – in possibly another bit of Christian symbolism, the cavern where the girl lives has the feel of being inside the belly of Jonah’s whale. Yoshitaka Amano, who is probably most famous internationally as the character designer for the first six Final Fantasy games (and for creating the logos and much of the promotional artwork for every Final Fantasy game since), was the character designer and art director for this movie, and so probably largely responsible for its unique look and feel, along with background artist Shinji Kimura (who also drew the background art for Akira and My Neighbor Totoro, among other movies). The characters themselves look very hand-drawn, right down to the imperfect pencil lines of their facial features, which may discomfort some younger anime viewers who are used to the sterile precision of modern computer-drawn animation. The soundtrack is fantastic, with a mix of spiritual, choral, and ambient music that fits the mood of the movie perfectly.

I have to admit this was a challenging movie for me to watch, especially in the beginning when I wasn’t sure where it was going, but ultimately it rewarded my patience, and I’m very glad I stuck with it. I'll probably watch it again someday, both to study the artwork again and think more about how I personally would interpret the story.

In summary, if you like a more minimalist, experimental kind of anime that’s heavier on visual storytelling than dialogue, like Cat Soup or Texhnolyze (or in non-anime terms, movies like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey or David Lynch’s Eraserheard), then you should definitely find the time to watch Angel’s Egg – I think you’ll find it a rich and memorable experience. Viewers who prefer fast-paced action anime and people with short attention spans, on the other hand, might have trouble sitting through this one.
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 3:49 PM
 
Oct 21, 2015 6:38 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #6: 10/21/15

ONE OFF (2012)



OVA, 4 episodes, 15 mins. each
Directed by Junichi Sato (Aria, Princess Tutu, Kaleido Star)

Trailer:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpi5i0_one-off-ova-trailer_school

There’s always been a certain romantic lure about motorcycles. They're fast, powerful, and dangerous, yet sleek and sexy at the same time, while even in Japan as in America, the people who ride them are often associated with a freer, more rebellious lifestyle. One Off is about a girl named Haruno and her friends, who all live in a rural mountain town. Haruno spends her days hanging out, going to school, helping at her family's inn, and riding up and down the mountain on her scooter delivering eggs. She was an optimistic dreamer as a kid, but the teenage Haruno feels trapped in this isolated hamlet, and has become much more self-critical and pessimistic. Enter Cynthia Rogers, a world-traveling Australian woman who roars into town one day with her red Honda sport bike and skin-tight riding leather and immediately takes a job at the inn. Her free-spirited nature and stories of touring far-off countries on her bike captivate Haruno’s friends, and force Haruno to re-examine what she wants from her own life.

Junichi Sato has a reputation for being one of the best slice of life anime directors out there, and One Off won’t hurt his standing in that regard. It doesn’t really feel like a “healing” series to me in the same fashion as Aria, but it does have a nicely grounded cast of characters who inhabit a very ordinary, lived-in space. The way Haruno and her friends all interact with each other feels easy and natural, and there’s a good chemistry between Haruno and Cynthia, even when Haruno doesn't entirely welcome the older woman's presence. Helping this along is a very strong voice cast for a relatively low-profile production, including Saori Hayami, Eri Kitamura, Yuu Kobayashi, and Aya Hisakawa. The story isn’t especially deep or unique, but for a one-hour series it works effectively and covers what it needs to. The visuals are very strong, with backgrounds of beautiful skies and sweeping vistas, misty morning sunrises, and lots of lovingly animated and detailed motorcycles and scooters driving around on the narrow mountain roads.

Besides the simplicity of the story, some viewers may also dislike the product placement. This OVA was sponsored by Honda and their branding appears frequently throughout, from Cynthia’s beautiful CBR250R motorcycle to the Honda bike repair shop and café where the girls hang out after school. It’s not so heavy-handed that it overwhelms the show, and it didn't personally bother me, but it's impossible not to notice it either, so be warned if you’re sensitive to ads.

One Off isn’t groundbreaking, but its attractive mountain setting and likable cast make it a very pleasant short OVA to kick back with for an hour. I’d recommended it for slice of life fans and Sato fans, or for people seeking out some of the relatively few motorcycle-oriented anime out there.
Modified by WingKing, Oct 28, 2015 7:17 AM
 
Oct 21, 2015 9:38 PM

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Thanks for recommending One Off. I have no particular interest in motorcycles, but I like Sato's work (Aria is an all time favorite of mine). One Off is a slice of life in miniature; it contains many of the usual elements, but in a concise and compressed form. At times, the atmosphere reminded me of Aria, particularly in the more quiet and relaxing scenes.

Although this show prominently features motorcycles, it is not about them. They are merely used as a device to help tell the story. Of course, the Honda name is prominently featured since Honda sponsored the program, but the product placement is not too distracting. I would rather have this sort of advertising than the traditional model. I hate having television shows interrupted to show annoying ads - that is far more distracting than the sort of product placement found in this series. Reaching a proper balance with product placement is difficult; the sponsor naturally wants to be as prominent as possible in a program, but if the advertising gets in the way of the narrative, it becomes a problem. This show manages to reach a reasonable balance.

One Off isn't for everybody, but as WingKing said, slice of life fans might enjoy it. Additionally, people curious about the changing world of advertising might want to take a look; the traditional model of TV advertising is running into trouble, and the model presented here - single sponsorship with prominent product placement - might turn out to be viable in the future.
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
 
Oct 22, 2015 3:58 PM

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This anime short was my forum signature awhile back. I enjoyed this series quite a bit. I would have to agree that this would be a series that isn't for everyone but I enjoyed it for its real life portrayal.

As stated by WeirdHeather the "advertisement" by Honda (who sponsored the project) was creative and a bit unusual for an anime but I thought it was a win. Made me want a Honda CBR250R.
 
Oct 22, 2015 6:50 PM

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Dropped One Off before due to finding the foreigner annoying. Decided to give it a go again due to this week spotlight.

I certainly notice the Junichi Sato style on it since just like his other shows, the slow but consistent pacing. Realistic touch has been a specialty of his and One Off has it as well though unlike the famous Aria or the recent Tamayura, this one lacks proper time to develop the story.

As a matter pf advertisement, this is a big plus. Their's no exaggerated promotion of Honda but it was done to match perfectly with the dialogue and setting of the story. It doesn't bring any inconsistency in the story as well.

On another note, I don't have the intention to watch any of Aria until I finish Tamayura because from the first 3 episodes of Aria I tried before, it literally provide the same feeling of Tamayura.
 
Oct 22, 2015 10:16 PM

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I'm glad to see a couple other responses to One Off. Over the years, I have come to detest advertising in many of its forms. I have boycotted traditional commercial television since 1989 because the advertising became too annoying, and it is only recently, thanks to ad-free subscription streaming services, that I have returned to the world of television. Despite this, I don't see advertising as inherently evil, and I think One Off might provide a model that will work in the future, at least for certain types of shows. I see no reason why a successful artistic endeavor can't be built around a branded product, and One Off proves that this is possible. It is a win-win situation for everybody. The creators have the artistic freedom to build a successful story while making use of familiar brands and products that exist in real life, and they get funding to assist in their efforts. The sponsor gets positive exposure for the brand. The viewer gets a satisfactory artistic experience. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, striking the proper balance is difficult; for example, if the sponsor tries to exert too much control, the whole effort can easily and impressively fall apart.

This model of sponsorship actually isn't all that new. The single sponsor model, potentially with obvious product placement, was the standard model in the United States for radio and early television from the mid-1920s through late 1950s. Some shows did a great job of integrating the sponsor's products into the program. Jack Benny's programs during the Lucky Strike era (fall 1944-spring 1955 on radio) were some of the best examples; he turned the mid-show commercial into a comedy sketch. One Off, in a way, feels like a revival and continuation of that old tradition.

I'll be looking forward to WingKing's next recommendations. So far, this has been a useful and productive thread.
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
 
Oct 23, 2015 8:59 AM

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So much discussion, I love it!

In terms of how One Off handles its sponsorship, the first comparison that came to mind for me was the Houkago no Pleiades ONA from 2011. That was a sci-fi/magical girl instead of an SOL, but it was also 4 short episodes (at 6 mins. each) and sponsored by Subaru. Gainax incorporated the sponsorship into that series mainly in two ways. First, the lead girl herself is named Subaru (which actually fits because she comes from a family of astronomers, and “subaru” is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster). Second, the girls carry staffs that turn into driveshafts when they need to fly somewhere, and the front of each driveshaft also has a car grille and wings shaped like headlights, which I thought was a pretty creative idea. I'm just mentioning it to note the similarities, though. The Pleiades ONA itself isn’t really worth watching because it just got a far superior remake as a full 12-episode TV series this past spring. I certainly wouldn’t mind if One Off followed that pattern and also got its own full series treatment someday – it feels like the bones of a solid 12-episode series are already right there in the OVA.

goshujin_sama241 said:
As stated by WeirdHeather the "advertisement" by Honda (who sponsored the project) was creative and a bit unusual for an anime but I thought it was a win. Made me want a Honda CBR250R.


It's a pretty sweet bike. I wouldn't even mind having that NPS50 Ruckus that Rie wants so much.

WeirdHeather said:
This model of sponsorship actually isn't all that new. The single sponsor model, potentially with obvious product placement, was the standard model in the United States for radio and early television from the mid-1920s through late 1950s. Some shows did a great job of integrating the sponsor's products into the program. Jack Benny's programs during the Lucky Strike era (fall 1944-spring 1955 on radio) were some of the best examples; he turned the mid-show commercial into a comedy sketch. One Off, in a way, feels like a revival and continuation of that old tradition.


Yeah, I've listened to some of those from time to time and they are good spots. Although it's kind of hilarious in hindsight to listen to those ads touting that smoking Lucky Strikes is good for your health.

WeirdHeather said:
I'll be looking forward to WingKing's next recommendations. So far, this has been a useful and productive thread.


Thanks! :)
Modified by WingKing, Oct 24, 2015 9:34 AM
 
Oct 28, 2015 7:15 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #7: 10/28/15

SLAM DUNK (1994)
Movie, 29 minutes
Directed by Nobutaka Nishizawa (Galaxy Express 999)



Long before Kuroko’s Basketball became the standard-bearer for basketball anime, the 90s had another king of the hardwood in Slam Dunk. I’ve seen just a couple of episodes of the former, but before watching this movie I’d never seen or read any of the latter. So my two biggest questions coming in were first, how easy will it be for a brand new viewer to pick up and follow the story, and second, can someone who isn’t already a fan of Slam Dunk still enjoy this?

Fortunately, the answer to the first question is that it’s very easy to pick up. The movie, which is really only a few minutes longer than a regular TV episode, is a self-contained story about the main character, Sakuragi, and a boy on the other team, Oda, who used to be his classmate in junior high. Back then they were rivals for the same girl, and now they’re competing again on the basketball court. Their showdown during the game is interspersed with cuts and flashbacks that fill in the backstory and flesh out the important characters. I knew enough about both boys within the first 5-10 minutes that it was easy to follow along and get invested in the rest of the story from there.

Now, is this something you can enjoy without already being a Slam Dunk fan? Probably, though moreso if you’re already inclined to like this type of show. The rivalry between the boys is well-written and completely believable, while the basketball sequences are drawn pretty realistically; the players' motions are paced well and their passing, shooting, and rebounding form is accurate to real basketball players. This is still early 90s hand-drawn cel animation, and the character designs are very much of the period, especially the haircuts (my favorite being Akagi's classic hi-top fade). I also liked that Sakuragi is not a super basketball prodigy. This is apparently only the second actual game he’s ever played, and while he brags about his mad skills as much as any shōnen manga hero, he’s incredibly raw as an actual player. He barely knows the rules, and keeps making simple mistakes that leave the other team’s fans laughing at him. Frankly, I found it refreshing to watch a shōnen protagonist who’s so fallible. On the other hand, the biggest problem I had with this movie was that I didn’t find either of the boys all that likable. Sakuragi comes off as an egotistical hothead, and we learn he also has a violent streak and a history of fighting people. So I was actually more sympathetic towards Oda at first, until the flashbacks showed a side of his character that made me suddenly like him even less than Sakuragi. I assume Sakuragi is a more likable protagonist if you’re actually familiar with him already from the rest of the series, so that may be the one place where a newcomer is at a disadvantage.

Overall, the Slam Dunk movie does enough good things to make it worth a watch for sports anime fans who want something short and sweet, or for fans of 90s anime who are in the mood for a good period piece. I’m not a big sports anime fan myself, but ultimately it won me over. It has some warts, but it also has a sincere earnestness and energy that makes up for some of its other shortcomings.
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 3:44 PM
 
Nov 4, 2015 8:46 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #8: 11/4/15

TSUMIKI NO IE (2008)

Movie, 12 minutes
Directed by Kunio Kato (The Diary of Tortov Roddle)

Awards:
Academy Award, Best Animated Short Film of 2008
Annecy Cristal, 2008 Annecy International Animated Film Festival
Animation Division Grand Prize, 2008 Japan Media Arts Festival
Hiroshima Prize and Audience Prize, 2008 Hiroshima International Animation Festival



“Still waters run deep,” an old saying tells us, and it’s an apt one for Tsumiki no Ie, an Oscar-winning short film about an old man who lives in a waterlogged world where he has to keep building new floors on his house as the water continually rises. One day he accidentally drops something that falls all the way down to the bottom of his house, and he takes a scuba dive to go retrieve it, passing through the many old floors of his house that are now underwater. It’s a simple, peaceful story, but in the capable hands of director Kunio Kato, it’s also an amazingly deep and emotional experience to see it all unfold on the screen. This is one of those movies that’s hard to find adequate words to describe, because the basic plot summary can never convey exactly why someone should watch it; you need to see it for yourself to fully appreciate what it does so well.

The look of this short is pretty unique, with pastel colors and grainy filters that make it look and feel more like European animation than typical anime, but the results are both evocative and effective. The entire story is told without a single line of dialogue, just a pleasant, atmospheric soundtrack to accompany the visuals. That said, the story is still perfectly clear and easy to follow just from the audiovisual cues alone. It has no trouble communicating its message and meaning, though that meaning will probably be slightly different for every viewer depending on their age and life experiences.

Most of the time I’m recommending a short with a certain audience in mind, but Tsumiki no Ie is a short that anyone who likes animation (not just anime, any kind of animation) should watch at least once. I remember being disappointed when it won the Oscar because I was rooting for Pixar’s Presto, but now that I've seen both I'm convinced the Academy made the right choice. Presto is a fun short, but Tsumiki no Ie is incredible. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss it.
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 4:07 PM
 
Nov 11, 2015 8:45 AM

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Starting this week, I've added a rating system to the Short Anime Spotlight. I've had plans to do this from the start, but since everything in club relations (and by extension this forum) is at least "good" material, I didn't want to do the typical 1-10 number or 1-4 stars when I'd never need the lower half of those scales. I finally came up with a system I'm happy with, though. Spotlighted shorts will now be rated on a scale of 1-3 spotlights based on my judgment of its quality and audience appeal. Please see the forum's Spotlight Index post for a full explanation. I plan to go back and add ratings to the previously spotlighted shorts later, as time permits.

Now, on to business.

Short Anime Spotlight #9: 11/11/15

INITIAL D: BATTLE STAGE (2002)

OVA, 52 minutes



Initial D was one of those long-running shōnen series, with the manga spanning 48 volumes released over 18 years, and spawning five seasons worth of TV anime, plus a movie and several OVAs. Like many long-runners it can be difficult to get into after the fact, since there’s so much of it. Apparently the producers felt the same way, hence one of the reasons we have this OVA. Initial D: Battle Stage is essentially a compressed summary of the first two seasons of the anime (First Stage and Second Stage, totaling 39 episodes), plus the Third Stage movie. And the compression method is very simple: the OVA is just a collection of significant street races from those parts of the series, with a brief plot summary before each race to give the viewer some context. That’s about 20 hours’ worth of anime summarized in about 50 action-packed minutes. Of course, you’re only going to learn the bare minimum of the story and even less about the characters this way, but if you’re just looking for a taste of what Initial D is about, it works.

Whether you like or hate the animation and sound of Initial D: Battle Stage is going to depend greatly on your tastes. On the animation side, the street races are all rendered in CG, and the races from the first two seasons were even remastered and upgraded to match the quality of CG used in the movie, which actually looks pretty good, at least when the cars are driving and cornering – it’s only when they get off the ground during a jump or a crash that it starts looking obviously fake. On the other hand, the regular character animation was left untouched, which creates a rather jarring contrast when it starts flipping rapidly between the circa-1997 hand-drawn characters and the circa-2002 CG-rendered cars. The soundtrack is 100% Eurobeat music, with a different song for each street race. I liked some of the songs a lot, but if that’s a style of music you don’t care for, then it might be a long 50 minutes getting through this.

If you’ve never seen Initial D before, this is a good way to get an idea of whether you might like it, but you don’t need to watch the whole thing if you don’t want to. Two or three races should be enough to tell you if the series is likely to be your cup of tea, and since the clips of each race are only around 3-4 minutes long, that’ll only take you about 5-10 minutes. For veteran Initial D fans, this is a good quick fix if you just want to enjoy some racing action without revisiting the story. If you’ve seen the first two seasons and have a favorite race you want to re-watch, it’s worth checking out the Battle Stage version for the upgraded CG. Battle Stage also includes an extra race between Seiji and Keisuke that did not appear in the TV series.

Personally, I thought this was a good OVA for what it set out to do. I’m not an Initial D fan – I’ve only read two disconnected volumes of the manga and seen a few random episodes of the anime before this – but I do like to watch racing, and the races are animated well and convey the right sense of speed. Plus, I happened to like the music. That’s about as much as anyone can ask from something like this. I might’ve enjoyed it more if it was about 20 minutes shorter, though, because I was starting to wear out towards the end.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Nov 18, 2015 9:10 AM
 
Nov 18, 2015 9:06 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #10: 11/18/15

Dai Mahou Touge (2006)
OVA, 4 episodes, approx. 24 mins. each
Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (Genshiken, Girls und Panzer, Prison School)


Just your ordinary magical schoolgirl and her adorable best friend

Punie-chan is the beautiful blond princess of the fairy tale world of Magic Land. Now it’s time for her to prove that she has the skills and ability to someday rule her world as its Queen. With her cute magic wand and her cute talking animal companion she comes to Earth and enrolls in a Japanese high school to begin her year of living among humans. Along the way she’ll face challenges like making new friends, passing her midterms, and helping to run the school sports festival, while also fending off the many would-be challengers to her place as heir to the throne.

Okay, stop for a second and think about all the things you’d expect to see in a show like I just described.

Got ‘em?

Now throw half the things you just imagined out the window, and turn the other half completely upside-down and backwards. That’s Dai Mahou Touge, a wickedly funny parody of cutesy magical girl anime that skewers and subverts every last bit of its sweet and innocent candy coating by the time it’s over.

This 2006 OVA was adapted by veteran director Tsutomu Mizushima, who’s certainly no stranger to black comedy. Its closest cousin in his oeuvre is Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, about an angel sent to Earth by God who carries a spiked club and constantly uses it on the protagonist at every slight provocation. Personally, I found Dokuro-chan too crude and gory for my tastes, though it was still pretty funny sometimes. Dai Mahou Touge, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as over-the-top gross (though it still has its moments), but the humor might be even blacker and funnier. No magical girl cliché is spared, of course; the sight of Punie having to go through an elaborate magical girl transformation animation every time she wanted to cast even the simplest spell was always a hoot, while the story of how she befriended her animal companion Paya is even more awesome. It also has plenty of fun with all the typical scenes from 99% of high school anime, from the aforementioned midterms and school festivals to first dates and peaceful lunches with friends. It even finds places to parody American movies too. My favorite scene riffed on 2001, True Lies, Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Tora Tora Tora, Full Metal Jacket, and Apocalypse Now - with a musical nod to The Doors for good measure - all in the space of just over three minutes.

If that all sounds like the kind of comedy anime that might appeal to you, then you should definitely give Dai Mahou Touge a try. Not only did I enjoy it far more than I ever expected to, I’m probably going to watch it again fairly soon because it’s so packed with references and rapid-fire sight gags that I’m sure I missed some things the first time. If you still aren't sure, then I will just leave you with this little tidbit from the first episode.



Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Dec 16, 2015 7:32 AM
 
Dec 16, 2015 7:25 AM

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Short Anime Spotlight #11: 12/16/15

POULETTE NO ISU (2014)
ONA, 3 mins.
Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida (Fumiko’s Confession)



If you’ve watched anime that aired in the NoitaminA block this year, like Punch Line or this season’s Perfect Insider, then you may have seen their 10th Anniversary bumper at the start of each episode, which has a collage of animations of a girl sitting in a chair bouncing across the screen. The girl comes from this short, Poulette no Isu (Poulette’s Chair), which was commissioned by NoitaminA for their anniversary.

The story is about Poulette, a somewhat reticent girl who wants to make friends with some other girls but doesn’t know how to approach them. Sensing her distress, her small wooden chair suddenly springs to life, taking her on a ride across the fields before unceremoniously dumping her on the ground in front of the other girls. Surprise turns to welcome as she’s invited to jump rope with them, and they’re all friends by the end of the day. That’s not the end of the story, though, as the chair remains in Poulette’s possession while she grows up and continues to help her out.

Helming this project was director Hiroyasu Ishida, a young up-and-coming animator who first made a splash in 2009 when his short anime Fumiko’s Confession went viral. Ishida created Fumiko when he was still in college, and while it’s enjoyable for its fast-paced comedy and its squashy, Looney Tunes-style animation, it’s primarily a gag reel with only a bare minimum of story. Poulette has a few elements to it that may remind viewers of its earlier cousin, especially a sequence towards the end, but Ishida shows more mature direction and a better sense of storytelling in this short. Even though there’s no dialogue, both Poulette and her chair are much more fully developed characters than Fumiko and clearly communicate their respective personalities to the viewer, while the story itself packs the right amount of laughs and a few warm fuzzies into its three and half minute running time, while still being thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The music was composed by Masashi Hamauzu, best known as the composer for Final Fantasy XIII. His pleasant score for Poulette is mostly piano with a little bit of accompanying violin during the chair rides, and it conveys the mood of each scene appropriately without overpowering it.

Another thing you’ll probably notice when you watch Poulette no Isu is that the animation style bears a striking resemblance to Studio Ghibli productions. This part comes from its animation director and character designer Yojiro Arai, who previously worked as an in-between animator at Ghibli. Both Arai and Ishida now work for a small company called Studio Colorido, who produced this short, and with both of them still under 30 years old, this partnership promises to be one to watch in the future.

This is one of those rare anime I'd recommend to just about anyone, except maybe those people who are allergic to anything even the least bit cute. It's a quick, fun, and endearing little ride.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Jan 13, 2016 8:21 PM
 
Jan 6, 2016 3:27 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #12: 1/6/16

TSUKI NO WALTZ (2004)
Music, 5 mins.
Directed by Atsuko Ishizuka (Hanayamata, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, No Game No Life)
Animated by Yoshinori Kanemori (Macross: Do You Remember Love?, Monster, One Punch Man)
Music composed and performed by Mio Isayama



The moon has long been associated in many cultures with magic, mystery, and dreams. “Tsuki no Waltz” or “Moon Waltz” in English, is a song that is all about a strange and magical adventure. The singer describes being led by a “rabbit in a tuxedo” to a place in the forest where a dance is going on, while the dancers include bizarre and mystical characters like a butterfly in a chiffon dress and the Prince of the Moon Palace.

The music video brings that strange, dreamlike flavor of the song vividly to life, beginning with Alice in Wonderland imagery that includes a statuette of blond girl in an Alice-type dress and a rabbit, before transitioning into a magical encounter with the Moon Prince that leads into a journey across the sky.

Atsuko Ishizuka made her debut as a professional anime director with this short. She was working as a production assistant for Madhouse at the time, but she had already created some independent animation features while she was still in college. The producers of Minna no Uta, the NHK television series that commissioned this music video, were apparently familiar with her college work and requested her as the director. Madhouse agreed to take a chance, pairing her with veteran animator Yoshinori Kanemori to bring her vision to life. Although the production was fully professional and created with modern digital ink and paint tools, they deliberately chose to retain the very sketchy, hand-drawn look of Ishizuka’s independent shorts, leaving the character designs rough and unpolished. I think it was a good choice, because it adds an extra layer of unreality and dreamlike looseness to the visuals. Madhouse’s gamble on their unproven young director paid off, as the video was very well received by Japanese viewers.

Ishizuka’s biggest calling card as a director in recent years has been her use of really bold, heavily saturated color palettes, as in No Game No Life, and while much of this video sticks to more muted colors, there are some bold splashes in a few places that already foreshadow the style of her later work. My favorite part of the video is from around 3:05 to 4:05. This is where Ishizuka’s preference for eye-popping colors really comes across strongest, with the bright gold clock and the bold pinks and blues of the flowers standing out against the background of the night sky, and I really like Kanemori’s animation sequence from about 3:15-3:30 where the girl starts to run, slips, and nearly falls off the clock hand, but gets swung back up and around to safety as the flowers start blooming.

Tsuki no Waltz didn’t initially impress me the first time I saw it, though I always liked the song, but after watching it a few more times and learning more about its production, I really like what Ishizuka and Kanemori invented here. The visuals fit almost perfectly with the song lyrics, and just like many actual dreams, it turns out that what we’re seeing isn’t as simple as it looks. That’s why it’s worth watching.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Jan 13, 2016 8:21 PM
 
Jan 13, 2016 8:16 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #13: 1/13/16

KOWAREKAKE NO ORGEL (2009)
OVA, 30 mins.
Directed by Keiichirou Kawaguchi (Hayate the Combat Butler, SKET Dance)



College student Keiichiro has been living in a state of depression over a recent tragedy in his life. One day he finds an abandoned robot girl sitting in a junk pile, holding a flower in her lap. He brings her home, thinking about fixing her up, but is told that she’s an obsolete model and no replacement parts are available. Before he can get rid of her, though, she sputters back to life on her own. Remembering how he found her, he names her Flower, and so begins a memorable summer spent together with his new companion.

Robot girl dramas aren’t as common in anime as magic high schools, but they’re still a pretty familiar story at this point. Whether we’re talking about shows like Chobits, Plastic Memories, Mahoromatic, or DearS (where the girl is technically an alien, but might as well be a robot), there are certain familiar beats and plot points they tend to have in common. With a new entry in that group, the questions then become, how does it try to differentiate itself from its peers, and how well does it execute its story? Kowarekake no Orgel (Half-Broken Music Box in English) treads some familiar territory, especially if you’ve seen the above-mentioned shows, but the execution of this short is quite solid, both visually and in its script, and the end result is a very satisfying OVA experience. It makes the most of its short running time, and while there are things it would have been nice to see in a longer movie or TV series, the story still feels complete and the climax successfully delivers the emotional impact that it aims for. This is definitely a must-see for robot girl fans, but even if you’re just looking for a good short-form drama to watch, it’s worth checking out.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 3:36 PM
 
Jan 13, 2016 8:36 PM

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One of the best OVA I've experienced without a doubt is Kowarekake no Orgel. What Clannad took 20+ episodes was fulfilled in 1 merely OVA that is less than half an hour.
 
Jan 27, 2016 7:48 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #14: 1/27/16
Tabisuru Nuigurumi: Traveling Daru (2012)
OVA, 10 mins.
Directed by Ushio Tazawa



When a little girl accidentally loses a beloved toy at the airport, a handmade stuffed animal named Daru, it magically awakens and sets out on a globe-spanning journey trying to find her again.

Traveling Daru, which I like to think of as anime’s answer to both The Incredible Journey and the “travelling gnome prank,” was originally created as a short film for the Starry Café, a planetarium café at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, and the story is a perfect fit for that commission. Have you ever been at the airport and stopped to think about how many people are there at the same time as you, and how many hundreds of different directions and routes all of them are taking from that one central point? The creators of this OVA obviously have, because it beautifully conveys that feeling of the infinite possibilities of travel, and you know as soon as you see the little girl’s flight and the first flight that Daru hops aboard flying away in opposite directions that this isn’t going to be a quick and easy reunion. Daru visits all kinds of places on his long journey, from Buckingham Palace to the Sahara Desert to Antarctica, and I’d love to know the story of how he ended up all the way down there! There’s pretty much no spoken dialogue except at the very end, so this is another short that relies heavily on music and visuals to set the mood and tell the story, and for the most part they do that very effectively. The score complements the mood of the work nicely, and the visuals are done well, including some effective usage of parallel animation in a few places, and a few good sight gags that I won’t spoil for you.

Traveling Daru was produced by ComixWave Films, which is best known for producing and distributing the majority of Makoto Shinkai’s catalog. And while Shinkai himself was not involved with this film, it wouldn’t feel entirely out of place in his filmography, since it also shares that theme of “distant love” that’s common to many of his movies. Most of the main staff, including director Ushio Tazawa and key animators Takayo Nishimura and Taisuke Iwasaki, had also previously worked with Shinkai, most notably on Children Who Chase Lost Voices. While I think his fans as well as Ghibli fans will especially enjoy this short, Traveling Daru should appeal to anyone who appreciates either travel and adventure stories, or stories of love transcending time and distance. It’s currently streaming on Crunchyroll, and freely available to watch for both subscribers and non-subscribers.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 3:38 PM
 
Feb 28, 2016 8:24 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #15: 2/27/16
Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko (1999)
OVA, 5 mins.
Written and Directed by Makoto Shinkai (5 Centimeters Per Second, Children Who Chase Lost Voices)



With a new four-episode short anime inspired by this film set to begin airing next weekend, I thought this would be a good time to go back and spotlight the original. Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko, or as it’s titled in English, She and Her Cat: Their Standing Points, is a simple but effective story, narrated from the point of view of a cat named Chobi who was found on the street and adopted by a young woman. As time passes, he shares his observations of her daily life and his feelings with the audience. All of his narration is tempered by his unconditional love for his owner, whom he describes as, “Kind like a mother, and beautiful like a lover.” Above all, the film is a tribute to the joy of pet ownership, and the wonderful bonds of love that are possible between humans and animals. It’s a must-watch for cat people, of course, but I think anyone who’s ever cared for a beloved pet of any species will understand and appreciate the sentiment beneath it.

Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko was created in 1999 by a director you might have heard of before, Makoto Shinkai. In fact, it was actually his first film, which he created on his own in about five months. Tenmon composed the music, as he has for many of Shinkai’s movies since, and Miko Shinohara, Shinkai’s future wife, is the voice of She. Shinkai himself did everything else in the film, including the script, all the art and animation, and the voice of Chobi. The backgrounds were adapted from photos, while the characters were designed and drawn from scratch. The pairing of the more realistically depicted backgrounds with the more cartoonish characters (especially the cat) makes for an interesting but not unpleasant artistic contrast. Also noteworthy is the black-and-white animation, which is a rarity in modern anime. Although that was done to save time and money on the production, it luckily enhances the atmosphere of the film too.

In terms of theme, this is an interesting counterpoint to much of the rest of Shinkai’s work. So many of his plots focus on distant love and separation, but here the relationship between She and Chobi is present and close, and it serves as an oasis of comfort and happiness for both of them, one that they are happy they can share with each other. Maybe some of Shinkai’s later main characters should’ve taken a lesson from this film and gotten themselves a cat.

Rating: (add one spotlight if you're a cat person)
Modified by WingKing, Mar 6, 2016 9:48 PM
 
Mar 4, 2016 7:37 PM

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Had to rewatched as I forgot whats this all about. No wonder I forgot, its way too simple yet it is quite the anime where the story is taken granted as normal.
Modified by mlcdl, Mar 4, 2016 10:12 PM
 
Mar 6, 2016 9:42 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #16: 3/6/16

UNIVERSE (2007)
Music, 4 mins.
Directed and Designed by Gekidan Inu Curry (Madoka Magica)
Key Animation by You Yoshinari (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kill La Kill)
Song Performed by Maaya Sakamoto



Sometimes you find an animated music video that feels as much like a distinctive short film in its own right as it does a promotional vehicle for the song. The music video for Universe is one of those, although considering the talent level of the people involved with it, maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. The song is a rather gentle J-Pop ballad, written and performed by Maaya Sakamoto. It begins with one little girl walking by herself, contemplating her place within the vastness of the universe. She describes herself as one of, “six billion lonelinesses” out there, yet as time goes on she sees others dancing together (depicted in the video as humans and devils), and eventually out of her own imagination conjures up a prince of her own to dance with. As she, her prince, and the other dancers all float away, the message of the song is clear: we are each one little universe contained within ourselves, but we are also part of a larger inter-connected universe that’s formed and shaped by all six billion of us together.

The video was made at Production I.G., although the principal creators are actually much better known for their work with other studios. The character designs, backgrounds, and storyboards were made by a duo called Gekidan Inu Curry, who also directed the project. They specialize in collage art and are best known for their work with Shaft, especially the magical world sequences in Madoka Magica. In this video, they chose an artistic style that evokes the feel of a watercolor picture book, and it fits the material well. The visuals frequently made me want to press the pause key just to study them, especially during the dancing scenes. Most of those clips only last a few seconds each, but all of the characters are uniquely designed and some of the backdrops contain a wealth of little details. Key animation, meanwhile, was done by You Yoshinari, the longtime top animator at Gainax who later became one of the founders of Studio Trigger. He has a few nice sequences here, especially the part where the prince emerges from the middle of the girl’s hair.

Universe is a unique little work, showcasing a very distinctive artistic style that I’ve never quite seen duplicated in any other Japanese animation (Gekidan Inu Curry mentioned once that they draw some of their inspiration from Russian and Czech animation, and from my limited exposure to those countries’ output I can see the link). My biggest complaint about this video, ultimately, was that I couldn’t find an HD upload of it. This is one of those animations that almost demands to be watched in high-def, because there are so many interesting things to see. Unfortunately it’s been region-blocked on YouTube for those of us who don’t live in Japan, and none of the other sites hosting it have an HD version. Regardless, it’s still worth watching even in low-res, especially if you find its artistic style interesting or appealing, or if you’re a fan of anyone who's involved with it.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Mar 20, 2016 8:59 PM
 
Mar 20, 2016 8:55 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #17: 3/20/16

NATSUKI CRISIS (1994)
Action, 2 eps. @ 30 mins. each
Episode 1 Directed by Kouichi Chigira (Full Metal Panic!, Last Exile, Luck & Logic)
Episode 2 Directed by Jun’ichi Sakata (Kaze no Stigma, Comic Party Revolution)



Now here’s a franchise that's really fallen into obscurity. Back in the 90s, when fewer anime were put on television, a lot of the second and third-tier manga properties got short OVA adaptations instead of a full TV series. It was especially common with shoujo romances, and I hope I can spotlight some of those older shoujo OVAs in the future. Today’s spotlight, however, focuses on a 90s OVA at the opposite end of the genre spectrum. Natsuki Crisis was an 18-volume action/martial arts manga published from 1991-1997, with this two-episode OVA released in 1994 during the middle of its run. Neither manga nor OVA were ever officially released outside Japan, and even within Japan both of them are long out of print. The OVA, however, was widely available in the North American VHS fansub/tape-trading community in the late 90s, and nowadays it’s pretty easy to find on the web.

The story of the OVA, which I presume is adapting the first arc or two of the manga, is pretty straightforward. In episode 1, Natsuki meets a new transfer student named Rina. Natsuki is her school’s best karateka while Rina is a skilled judoka and wrestler. They start forming a sort of half-friendship/half good-natured rivalry, until some thugs from Rina’s previous school show up and start harassing her, eventually trashing her motorcycle and framing Natsuki for it. Episode 2 digs further into Rina’s past, and introduces more people from her old school who seem determined to bring her back there for some reason, by force if necessary. Each episode was overseen by a different director, and episode 1 (helmed by Full Metal Panic! director Kouichi Chigira) is the better of the two, with superior pacing and character development and some surprisingly good comedy too. But if you’re picking up this OVA, you’re probably more interested in the action and the visuals, and on that front, as long as you’re okay with 90s animation, both episodes offer plenty of battles in a mix of fighting styles that should satisfy your craving. The storyboarding and choreography of the fights is well done, and the character animation and the blows exchanged have the appropriate amount of weight in them to make everything feel sufficiently realistic.

That said, Natsuki Crisis through a 2016 lens is one of those anime that really feels like a product of its time. It’s not just because of the old-school Madhouse animation and character designs, either (comparable to Battle Angel Alita and Ninja Scroll, which Madhouse also animated at around the same time). It’s the entire package, including the guitar-driven soundtrack, some fighting moves that were clearly inspired by Street Fighter II and the other head-to-head brawlers that dominated the video game market in 1994, and (unfortunately) an ending that stops right when the series is really just getting started, which was an all-too-common problem with these 90s OVAs. So yes, the whole thing is a dated experience in many ways, but for an older fan like me who cut my teeth on this kind of anime way back when, it also evokes some strong feelings of nostalgia to watch something like Natsuki Crisis again. Even if you’re just in the mood for a dose of action and fighting, though, it’ll give you a worthwhile hour of entertainment.

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Apr 10, 2016 10:14 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #18: 4/10/16

Tengu Taiji (1934)
Comedy, 8 mins.
Directed by Noburo Ofuji



Noburo Ofuji is one of the most important and influential directors in the history of Japanese animation. One of the prizes given at the Mainichi Film Awards is even named after him – the Ofuji Noburo Award, which honors innovation and excellence in Japanese animation and is usually given to one of the year’s outstanding short films. He is virtually unknown to most western anime fans, however, since the bulk of his work was produced in the first half of the 20th century and he died in 1961, ironically the same year that Tezuka founded Mushi Pro, the studio that pioneered the modern style of TV anime. Ofuji himself was actually most famous for his work with cutout and silhouette animation, but he also worked in traditional cel animation too. Tengu Taiji (Defeat of the Tengu) falls in the latter category.

The story begins with a pair of mischievous tengu (yokai spirits with both human and birdlike features) who abduct a geisha and make their getaway. Heibei, a vaguely dog-like creature who was a witness to the abduction, alerts Hyoei, a samurai who lives nearby, and the two give chase. A pursuit and an all-out battle ensue, followed by one final showdown with the chief tengu, before Heibei ultimately saves the day (and Hyoei and the woman, too).

Anyone familiar with American cartoons of the 1930s will immediately recognize the influence of Fleischer Studios cartoons on this short, especially Betty Boop. The character design of Hyoei, in particular, with his wide face and big round eyes, was clearly drawn as a masculinized Japanese version of Fleischer’s famous character – Betty Boop in a top-knot, if you will. It isn’t just in the character designs, though, but also the animation, which makes liberal use of classic cartoon sight gags and also borrows stylistically from Fleischer animator Myron Waldman. What makes it cool to watch, though, is seeing this familiar visual language wedded to a thoroughly Japanese story. Tengu are prominent creatures in Japanese folklore, and Tengu Taiji has fun playing with their familiar characteristics like their extra-long noses and propensity for abducting people, while the second half turns into a comedic send-up of samurai and period dramas, including a grand mock battle with characters repeatedly getting sliced in half and putting themselves back together again. The animation overall is well done, and shows a lot of cleverness and imagination – even if Ofuji was drawing on his inspirations here, the finished short still distinctly comes across as his own unique work.

Tengu Taiji is available to watch on YouTube. There are no subtitles, but the visuals are strong enough to communicate the gist of the story. It’s a very interesting time capsule piece, seeing this early development of Japanese animation when the medium was still in its infancy in Japan. The Heibei character also appeared in at least one other Ofuji short that I know of, Chinkoro Heibei Tamatebako from 1936.

Rating:


(Thanks to WeirdHeather for suggesting this short!)
Modified by WingKing, Apr 17, 2016 4:09 PM
 
Apr 17, 2016 2:56 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #19: 4/17/16

COSSETTE NO SHOUZOU (2004)
Supernatural/Romance, 3 eps. @ 36 mins. each
Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo (Bakemonogatari, Madoka Magca)
Written by Mayori Sekijima (Moonphase, Skip Beat)



Cossette no Shouzou (titled Le Portrait de Petit Cossette for its western release) is a supernatural romance/horror anime, produced as an original OVA by Aniplex and animated by Studio Daume. The story centers around Eishi, a college art student who works at an antique shop. He’s also obsessed with a beautiful Gothic Lolita girl named Cossette. Too bad he’s also the only person who can see her, because she’s been dead for 250 years! Cossette hopes he’s the one who can finally set her soul to rest…if he’s willing to pay the necessary price.

Visually, Cossette is a feast for the eyes. Most of the animation is gorgeous, especially for its time, while the 2D and 3D elements blend almost seamlessly. Frankly, the 3D animation in this OVA looks better than what I’ve seen in several recent TV series, even though it’s over ten years old now. Shinbo’s direction also shows the same careful attention to detail in its storyboarding and cinematography that carried over to his biggest works like Madoka Magica. Many of his stylistic trademarks are here, too: the canted camera angles, the use of shadows, and even a few head-tilts. The art and animation combined with the gloomy music (courtesy of another strong soundtrack from Yuki Kajiura) create a very ominous, foreboding atmosphere. It’s really hard to share in words just how striking this OVA is to watch as a total audiovisual experience, though – you have to see it to fully appreciate how much it brings to the table.

The story, unfortunately, is where Cossette stumbles a bit. The beginning, especially, left me very confused at first, because it drops you right into things with no explanations at all of who the characters are or why this guy seems to be in love with a wine glass. It’s not until later that it goes back to set the stage for how Eishi met Cossette. Another issue is that none of the other characters get much development at all; Eishi’s friends are mostly there just to worry about him and talk about how distant he’s becoming. The structure isn’t unusual for a gothic story, but in this case, partly because of the short running time, it leaves the viewer stumbling around in the dark a bit too long before it starts putting the pieces together. That said, the plot does ultimately come together in the last episode if you’re willing to be patient with it. Once you’re given some vital info near the end, everything suddenly makes perfect sense, and I found the ending very satisfying. That’s why this short actually benefits from re-watching. I had trouble engaging with it the first time because I had so many questions it wasn’t answering, and that distracted me from getting immersed in its world. On the second viewing, already knowing the story, it left me free to just enjoy the raw experience of it.

Cossette no Shouzou is licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks and available on DVD with both dub and sub, though no legal streams are currently available. I highly recommend Cossette for Shinbo fans, and you should also consider checking it out if you enjoy supernatural romances or psychological horror (some scenes are quite bloody, but overall it’s more creepy/disturbing than scary). On the other hand, if you’re squeamish about blood or get impatient with stories that take their sweet time getting to the point, then you might want to try something else on my Spotlight list instead.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, May 8, 2016 5:05 PM
 
Apr 24, 2016 4:16 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #20: 4/24/16

MUDAI (2015)
Music, 7 mins.
Music Written and Performed by Amazarashi



How does an artist balance the innate need for honest self-expression and artistic freedom with the need to make a living by producing work that appeals to the broader public? Painters and musicians have grappled with that question for centuries, and there is no single correct answer; it’s a dilemma that each artist has to reconcile in their own way. Mudai follows the journey of a young painter through his successes and failures, as he tries to find his own balance in his life between staying true to his artistic vision versus his emotional need for praise and recognition.

The song was written and performed by Amazarashi, an alternative rock band probably best known among anime fans from their songs for the Tokyo Ghoul √A ED (“Kisetsu wa Tsugitsugi Shindeiku”) and the Ranpo Kitan OP (“Speed to Masatsu”). Mudai is closer in tone to the former; it's a rather low-key ballad for piano and acoustic guitar that almost feels like a folk song. The lyrics are largely narrative, telling the story of the highs and lows of the artist’s life and career without a lot of emotional embellishment, except towards the end when they abruptly switch to first-person and the artist expressing his own thoughts, which does create a more intimate feeling at the climax.

The animation for this video was handled by two studios that I’ve never heard of before (PH Studio and Yapiko Animation), but they combined to create a very striking set of visuals that successfully elevate and enhance the mood of the entire song. Some parts, especially the ones focusing on the artist’s hands at work, look like they were rotoscoped, because the movements seem too precise and natural to be hand-drawn. Colors also change to reflect the shifting moods of the story, from the warm pastel sunrise and sunset colors of the artist’s quiet moments in the studio with his girlfriend, to angry reds and heavy blacks when the public rejects his work and the stress takes its toll on his relationship, to a palette of deep blues and browns during his subsequent depression and creative funk. My favorite animation sequence is during the part where the artist is creating the “masterpiece” painting, as he takes a large brush and paints thick, heavy lines and splashes of color all around him and directly over the camera lens. There’s a controlled aggression coming from the artist during this scene, but there’s also a certain joy in it too, as his facial expression is of someone who is completely happy in his work and caught up in the sheer pleasure of creation.

Mudai is one of the better animated music videos I've watched, in part because the song and visuals marry so well, as if the song was intended to be animated from the start. Assuming you don’t speak Japanese, I strongly recommend watching a version with subtitled lyrics. With many other music videos, like the previously spotlighted Universe, for instance, you can watch it raw and still more-or-less enjoy the full experience, but with this one it’s like watching an anime raw that you’ve never seen before. It's easy to appreciate the artistic presentation on its own, but without the lyrics you won’t get the full story.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, May 8, 2016 5:05 PM
 
May 8, 2016 4:48 PM

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Short Anime Spotlight #21: 5/8/16

RAIN TOWN (2011)
ONA, 10 mins.
Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida (Fumiko’s Confession, Poulette’s Chair)



Once upon a time, there was a town where it never stopped raining. Eventually all the people moved away, and the only inhabitants left were a few old robots. One day, a little girl went for a walk in the town, and met one of the robots…

This is the second Hiroyasu Ishida anime spotlighted here, after Poulette’s Chair. He made Rain Town several years earlier, as his college graduation project in 2011, and it’s quite different from a lot of his other work. Its art style is very distinctive and beautiful, for one thing. While his other shorts have obvious popular animation influences, from Tex Avery to Ghibli, Rain Town looks more like a Raymond Briggs or Chris Van Allsburg picture book brought to life. It’s very different from any “typical” anime style, but it goes well with the story. Also, in contrast to the whimsical Poulette or the manic Fumiko’s Confession, the mood of this short feels more melancholy. Right from the start, where the woman is sitting inside her house as the rain falls outside, it works hard to establish a certain atmosphere. The color palette of the town itself is heavy and dark, full of industrial greys, muted blues, and rusty browns; the only real swatch of bright color in the whole place is the little girl’s yellow raincoat. Couple that with a somber musical score and the constant sounds of falling rain, and it’s easy as a viewer to get caught up in this setting, imagining yourself wandering alone through these rainy streets just like the girl. That said, the robot and its responses to the girl add just the right amount of sweetness and playfulness to the film, keeping it from ever getting too heavy or depressing. The robot itself is a very expressive character, despite having no facial features except a pair of eyes.

On a side note, be sure that you watch this all the way through. The credits start rolling when there's still over three minutes left in the film, and you don't want to miss the ending.

Rain Town tells a good story, but it’s mainly a mood piece that just wants to immerse the viewer in its damp little world; it’s very deliberately paced and there’s no dialogue at all, nor does it need any. It’s a unique and memorable short to watch, and would be a great choice for a time when you’re in a relaxed, meditative, or even nostalgic kind of mood.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, May 30, 2016 9:15 PM
 
May 10, 2016 12:14 PM

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@WingKing
I watched "Rain Town" only because I haven't heard about it before :-P

And when it ended (and yes, I watched the scene after the credits :-)) my reaction was:


There are still some unanswered questions :-)
 
May 10, 2016 7:19 PM

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@mozgow

Good questions! Hopefully I can answer a couple of those.

 
May 10, 2016 10:49 PM

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@WingKing

Yes, you did answer some of them.

 
May 30, 2016 9:14 PM

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This week, the Short Anime Spotlight is on...

FURIKO (2012)
Drama/Music, 3 mins.
Directed by Takefumi “Tekken” Kurashina
Music by Muse (that’s the English alt rock band - not μ's from Love Live, and not the soap)



Furiko means “pendulum,” and the theme of the short is the inexorable movement of time as the pendulum swings away. The story follows a couple on their journey together, from their earliest dates into old age, through all of the joys and hardships of their lives.

The animation is very simple, but very effective. The whole thing is done in black pen-and-ink drawings, and the art style is pretty good, with enough detail to get the gist of each scene across. The real inspiration, though, was the idea of showing nearly all the key scenes for the main couple through the frame of a swinging pendulum, and utilizing the beats of its steady rhythm to shift scenes and propel the story forward. It perfectly captures that feeling of time constantly marching on for these people, and that time and life can never be stopped, no matter how hard they try. In only three minutes, Furiko successfully creates a simple, complete, and deeply moving story.

The concept and animation for this short were created Takefumi Kurashina, who is normally a comedian by trade, working under the stage name Tekken (after the video game). The entire short was hand-drawn by him as a flip book, and filmed originally for a Japanese variety show, set to music from the third movement ("Redemption") of Muse’s song "Exogenesis: Symphony." When the band found out about it, they liked it so much that they asked Tekken to turn it into an official music video for the song. The "director’s cut" music video version runs an extra 1:20 longer than the original, with Tekken drawing extra animation to fill out the full length of the third movement. The YouTube version embedded above is the original 3-minute short. If you want to watch the extended version too, you can find it here on Muse’s Vimeo channel.

I have to warn people who are prone to motion sickness that you’re going to watch a rocking pendulum for the majority of this video, so use your judgment if you think that might bother you. Otherwise, this is an emotional and evocative short that's very much worth watching for anyone who doesn’t have a complete brick for a heart.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, May 30, 2016 9:59 PM
 
May 31, 2016 1:09 AM

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LOL :D
I saw this years ago but didn't know it was an anime :-)

Time to add it to my completed list.
 
May 31, 2016 1:32 AM

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I watched Furiko as it's considered one of those short anime that show how much can be done with very little screen. I didn't realize how few members it had. I also didn't know there was an extended version.
 
May 31, 2016 9:18 PM

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I stumbled across Furiko a number of months back but never got around to watching it, so thanks @WingKing for bringing it to my attention again.

I enjoyed the short, particularly the use of space and time as well as the ending message. I think its ability to evoke emotions in the viewer is remarkable. However, I personally would have preferred the music to be fully instrumental throughout. While it does work fine as is, the vocals towards the end distracted me from the visuals at a key point of the animation. I also didn't particularly care for the characters. The woman falling for the man because he protected her from a couple guys is pretty cliche, and the man acted like a jerk to her for much of their lives despite giving in to marry her and having a child together. Their relationship reminded me a bit of the one in Itazura na Kiss. However, his character does finally grow when he almost lost her and realized he had been taking her for granted. While this is also fairly cliche, it's at least nice to see. All in all, it was definitely worth watching.
 
Jun 27, 2016 8:21 PM

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This week, the Short Anime Spotlight is on...

SAINT ONII-SAN (2012)
Comedy, 2 episodes, 40 mins. total
Directed by Noriko Takao (Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls)


So Jesus, Buddha, and their Landlady walk into a bar...

What if Jesus and Buddha visited the modern world together, and ended up sharing an apartment in Japan? That’s the idea behind Saint Onii-san (Saint Young Men), a clever comedy OVA adapted from an ongoing manga by Hikaru Nakamura, the author of Arakawa Under the Bridge. Like Arakawa, Saint Onii-san builds its comedy around outsiders clashing with the norms of "ordinary" Japanese society, but while Arakawa inserts a normal Japanese man into a group of homeless misfits living on the margins, Jesus and Buddha are foreigners just trying to scrape by in a regular Tokyo neighborhood. They’re already objects of scrutiny just for not being Japanese – especially by their super-strict and distrusting landlady – and the fact that accidental miracles tend to happen wherever they go makes things even harder for them (and funnier for us).

The OVA is officially two episodes, but it’s really more like three. The first episode is 26 minutes with two separate stories, while the second episode is 13 minutes with one story. My favorite of the three stories was the first one, which focuses on their interactions with the aforementioned landlady and their attempts to stay on her good side without being evicted or giving away their identities. This part is comedy gold and takes the best advantage of the premise, especially if you’re already familiar enough with the stories of Jesus and Buddha to recognize the many references to various events in their lives. The other two parts also have some good jokes, but less narrative energy; they feel like mellower slice-of-life vignettes. Which leads to my biggest criticism of this OVA: as a stand-alone adaptation, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. The first part sets everything up, but there’s no payoff before it ends. On the other hand, if you just want to enjoy a funny gag comedy with a rather unique premise, then Saint Onii-san definitely delivers. And if you like the OVA, there’s also a 90-minute movie with lots more great new comedy bits.

The art and animation for this short are good overall. The animation was done by A-1 Pictures, and it’s mostly up to their usual quality, with some excellent visual gags and facial expressions that really sell the jokes well. Jesus and Buddha are also drawn in a slightly different style from the other characters, a nice touch that emphasizes their “outsider” status.

Also, it’s worth noting that there’s no South Park-style irreverence in this series, either – while it has plenty of fun playing with its core idea, it’s very careful to be respectful to both religions at all times.

Rating:
Modified by WingKing, Jun 27, 2016 8:41 PM
 
Jun 28, 2016 5:58 AM

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Saint Onii-san. Oh boy that is one the best short and stand alone OVA among new anime. Btw, it also has a movie but it is more like "another OVA episode" since their is no real change between the OVA and the movie when it comes to what it tries to do.
 
Jul 12, 2016 8:32 PM

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This week, the Short Anime Spotlight is on...

EGOMAMA (2011)
Music, 4 mins.
Music and lyrics written by DECO*27
Performed by Marina (Angel Beats, Charlotte)



English translation of the lyrics here.

At some point in our lives, we’ve probably all heard that famous little verse about infatuation vs. love, and about how one is selfish and wants what’s best for you, while the other is selfless and wants what’s best for the other person. "Egomama" is a song about a girl who’s wrestling with that conflict between love and selfishness. Here's my own summary and interpretation of the video, spoiler-tagged in case you want to watch it first without being influenced by how I saw it.



DECO*27 is a well-known vocaloid composer, having written a number of Hatsune Miku songs in particular. The psychology of love seems to be a regular theme in his songs; while researching his work, I found several more that had lyrics about uncertain feelings and conflicting impulses. Unlike most of his work, though, "Egomama" isn’t sung by vocaloid. The singer is Marina, best known to anime fans as the singing voice of Masami Iwasawa from Angel Beats. While her performance here doesn’t have the raw emotional power of something like “My Song,” it’s still a piece that’s well suited for her natural vocal range, and her performance has the right amount of energy to keep up with the music. I think I understand why DECO*27 chose her to sing it over a vocaloid, too; this is a human song, and the emotional impact it’s trying to capture is probably more effective for having a real human singing it. I also like the art style of this video, with the saturated colors and the interplay of light and dark elements nicely underscoring the conflict in the song. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any available information on which studio or individuals drew and animated it.

I originally found "Egomama" when I was hunting for anime inspired by Alice in Wonderland. It turned out to be a bit of a hidden gem, even though I don't think it really fits in the "Alice-inspired" category beyond maybe a few superficial references. I had to watch it several times and really study the visuals to feel like I had a firm grasp on it, though, and the very badly translated caption subs available on the YouTube video don’t help – that’s why I posted a link to a much better translation. This isn’t a song or a video that everyone’s going to like, but if your curiosity is piqued then definitely give it a try. It’s well-crafted, conceptually interesting, and offers a bit more to chew on in four minutes than your average J-Pop or vocaloid song.

Rating:


Next time in the Spotlight: Dragon Half
Modified by WingKing, Jul 12, 2016 8:38 PM
 
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