~ People have to save themselves. ~
As chronological sequel to the events of the the beloved "Bakemonogatari", and contraversial "Nisemonogatari" installments: "2nd Season", is the fourth, and longest, multiple arc addition to the "Monogatari" series. Up until this point, the various "Monogatari" installments have become increasingly specific, and consequently adopted more narrow scopes. None of them with anywhere near as much comparable coverage in terms of sheer plot development, as "Bakemonogatari". However, with the birth of Nisio's "2nd Season" in 2013, SHAFT have put an end to this trend, and provided more Monogatari-oriented substance than you could ever shake a stick at. Ladies and
gentlemen: Bakemonogatari version 2.0.
2nd Season is the resurgence of fragmented, multi-arc storytelling, and whereas Nekomonogatari was edging back towards its "Bake-" roots, It's never been more blatent than in this 26 episode season, that SHAFT wanted to create the second incarnation, of the 2009 "bit hit". So rest assured fans, that
neither the series' signature style, nor its overriding drive of "overcoming personal demons", hath been tainted...
But whereas the format is relatively unchanging, this is by no means a reflection of the content itself. 2nd Season is all about grand, and impactful leaps for each of the concerned characters. And while both vampires and people getting cut in half can be considered dark... what you're about to start
watching is considerably darker, in emotional regards.
The season is an adaptation of 5 arcs, and so; far from simplistic: 2nd Season adopts a relatively perplexing timeline. With the contrast and segmented
edginess of "Bake", and the moral glossing and fluidity of "Nise": 2nd Season is the best of both worlds in this respect. And so while returning to the
all-familiar, apparition-plagued "Monogatari" lands, these episodes extend from "Bakemonogatari's" style, with additional consideration of cohesiveness.
By comparison of atmosphere, 2nd Season feels like a somewhat nostalgic, and parralel turn of events. Even though in reality, it is an eye-opening
continuation that breaks the prior established bounds of our female protagonists at the very least; hence "Impactful leaps". It largely improves the viewer's assorted contextual knowledge, as well as bringing forth another dimension to many of the characters.
In perspective, 2nd Season is an almost incomprehensibly large-scale addition to all aspects of the series, and in my opinion, it doesn't disappoint.
~ STORY AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
2nd Season stays true to its predecessors, by fleshing out beautifully integrated, and vivid stories; primarily in the form of dialogue. Story development
is of the utmost importance for the following 624 minutes, as we're presented with a radically impactful and dramatic turn of events to say the least.
It was powerful, it was emotional, it was comprehensive, and intense. I'm in awe with how engaging, and unpredictable this show turned out to be. And whereas Bakemonogatari claimed to have it all, 2nd Second had considerably more fluidity, and read more like an engaging story, than artistic expression alone. It doesn't feel at all manufactured, and this adds a great deal more "personality" to the mix. Now this term is used loosely, but it entails that things became more plausible on an emotional level: relationships are more comprehensively documented... and perhaps all of this additional story-oriented merit is derived from the fact that everything is streamlined, and nigh-on perfectly interwoven with this 4th installment. There are even flashbacks, and confidently used time-manipulating methods: which further the comprehensiveness of the understandably fast-paced, though thoroughly worthwhile all-embracing plot.
Come decent integration of story elements, comes this explorative and "boundless" feeling story line. The integration aspect actually goes the extent that it becomes hard to distinguish character merit, from story merit. But I digress, on this front... 2nd Season treats us to a substantial and meaningful turn of events, that set the stage for us to explore Hanekawa, Hachikuji, Shinobu, Nadeko and Kaiki (primarily) in a completely different light.
The 5th and final arc being the most worthy of credit, as in addition to giving an intimate insight into the MC's perspective, it was the epitome of drama. Following the last few episodes was therefore my highlight of the show, as It posed so many questions, and went into so many levels of deception.
You could use the term "thought-provoking", and that still wouldn't do it any justice. Arc 5 just generally stood out to me as even more so immersive, with a more so severe looming suspense; like you might expect from an action-thriller.
The whole show closed off neatly, but went out with a BANG on episode 26 to say the least...
Continuing with this theme, I reiterate the relevance of the term "leap". For the primarily documented characters in 2nd Season take great leaps/bounds/strides in terms of development. Watching 2nd Season with the prior knowledge of only its predecessors, is like an epiphany...
The characters undeniably remain interesting, with their well-defined and quirky personalities. The main pull-factor here though, being the massive amount of personal development each of those featured, goes through. As the season presses on, we begin to observe the arcs changing the nature primarily of our female protagonists, alike in "Bakemonogatari". 2nd Season unlocks a whole new level and depth of understanding for a large number of characters. The viewer is able to connect emotionally, as this comprehensive character development serves as a whole new level of understanding of our casts' personalities. It builds upon the foundation almost faultlessly, and some of these "changes of heart" are pretty extreme!
Put it this way: "Bakemonogatari" is only half of the story, as far as character exposure is concerned.
There's a lot for you to find out! :)
The animation is of the familiar, love it/hate it art style of which "Monogatari" viewers should already be acquainted with. It's particularly "abstract" as an outsider might remark, but overall: this highly stylized, simplistic, and conversely vivid art allows the show to be expressive beyond compare. So gear up for more visual metaphors, more obscure illustrations, and text. 2nd Season has fortunately retained the series' immortalized signature presentation style, if not: diversified it further; with a marginally increased scene-setting quality in particular.
Dark and lamenting when it wants to be, light and cheery when it wants to be, too!
The "Monogatari" series has always prided itself in its expressive audiovisuals, and 2nd Season is no exception when it comes to the sound aspect either. While being noticeably authentic-feeling, the show's score corresponds to the type of feeling each scene is supposed to convey. It's an adaptive, and highly fitting BGM that provides a pleasant sensory experience, and subtly adds to the tone of every audible minute, nicely.
Furthermore, alike in "Bakemonogatari", we're treated to 5 brand new opening sequences, which sound great, and appropriately work exploratively to convey the nature of each character's arc (in their own way). An OP/ED sequence is never the most important thing to consider: but once again, the producers of 2nd Season have done 5 times what many franchises cannot accomplish once...
In spite of the fact that admittedly, i'm getting blood out of a stone here...
We as viewers have boundless imaginations and wild expectations corresponding to our own, illogical, and perhaps picky, personal tastes. It means that we're not likely to ever find an anime that is complete perfection, but Monogatari 2nd Season cuts it comparatively close, at least for me. Some things that hindered it include...
Most significantly, Kanbaru's character was neglected in terms of development, and barely featured at all in the show. I maintain that it was still incredible without her, but I can't help but feel that "a piece of the puzzle is missing." Furthermore, Hachikuji and Shinobu's arcs are quite misleading, as Shinobu is relatively distant in her own arc, but steals the spotlight during Hachikuji's, and vise versa. This was definitely not a deal breaker, but I'm surprised that the SHAFT perfectionists didn't rectify this imbalance. Being rather fast-paced, having to incorporate 5 arcs: character interactions slipped at times, such as during Hachikuji's highly contextual arc, and so my level of engagement fluctuated at times.
Regardless, I can emerge with my head held high, and proclaim that this anime is a masterpiece!
It adds such a vast amount to your "Monogatari pool of knowledge", and it's simply beyond what words can accurately describe.
It's dramatic, and engaging, and yadda yadda yadda I've just written an essay about it.
GO WATCH IT, BECAUSE THE ONLY BAD THING ABOUT DOING SO (If you're a "Monogatari" fan), IS THAT AT SOME POINT: It will end.
~ Once person saving another is impossible ~
Jul 10, 2015
~ Don't underestimate... ~
Terra Formars had the potential to revive the Sci-Fi/Horror genre, but indefinitely fell short of this...
This is a perilous and action-packed journey into uncharted land, Inhabited by a particularly formidable alien race. An apocalyptic epidemic-like fate looms over the shoulders of humanity, and metaphorical titans are sure to fall. It is an unpredictable, and fast-paced sci-fi/horror series of epic proportions. And whilst touching on the subjects of both sentience, and betrayal, I cannot deny that it's certainly a story with substance.
A slightly-cliche, though appropriate, isolated-feeling, and otherworldly Martian landscape sets the stage for this 13 episode series. Invading both the sci-fi and ... horror realms with an integration of strong violence, into an alien world: It shouldn't come as a shock that its audience will need to be appreciative of unending action sequences. As for the chronological
progression, this is in fact quite a fitting description. With the concept of scale being used often to emphasize severity and intensify the viewers' perception of the events here... It bodes well that the interplanetary premise: a scientifically accurate and vast wasteland, really helps to invoke curiosity. We are after all made both curious, and afraid of the unknown. This is of course decent substance to make even the most far-fetched of concepts seem real, and immersive.
~ Story and Character development ~
If you were to ask me "What's behind this show?", then I would relay: "a boundless "red planet" premise, to stage an interspecies war". The underlying problem with this (as I will elaborate), is that it's simply too extensive and substantial for 13 episode production to make full use of. It's malnourished, and full of gaping holes particularly in the character department - that will likely throw many off course.
Besides having a story that wouldn't ever necessarily "run dry" from a content-observant perspective... Everything operates on a large scale with Terra Formars: So expect to see chains of events, all of which have some impact, and make some kind of dent in the overriding plot. Debatably devoid of intricacies: this anime can't afford to expend time on small, and technically irrelevant, but highly praise-able quirks/details that can be used to further the familiar sense of immersion... giving the anime a one-of-a-kind presence. With Terra Formars on the other hand, we only got the barebones of the story... again... time is of the essence.
It falls into a trap that many action-based adventures have been known to in the past... The story is one-dimensional. Everything that goes on during 312 minutes of running time, does so in what I like to call: an immediate-scope. What this entails, is that everything happens on a whim. There's little in the way of "establishment" or goals beyond the first 2 or 3 episodes, and this makes things seem too spontaneous. Almost, "done without thought", which is ironic because I'm sure the manga was well thought out, and would clear all of this up. As for this anime: it becomes tiring how EVERYTHING has to be relevant to the same overriding plotline, and so not enough happens besides dealing with Terra Formars, to add that other "dimension".
Now what I will give it, is unpredictability. The show has an effectively unending suspense that compliments the event-based story, and really brings out this sense of struggle that reminds you "this is a journey fraught with dire consequences". Violence plus unpredictability equals death, so expect the unexpected! The show itself really is a thrill ride, and if you were to watch it rather casually or on a whim: then its cinematic qualities would nevertheless shine through and keep you engaged for the most part. Now there's a really distinct sense of camaraderie and mutual respect for one-another in Terra Formars. Combined with the evident struggle of humanity against the alien race, and it becomes a pretty interesting story of survival in spite of its blatant flaws.
The word "interesting" is used rather loosely nowadays, and it's regrettably not the term I would use to describe this story's cast of characters. The show blatantly tries to build upon them, with long and almost unconsented flashbacks that kill the show's pacing, and leave little room for more substantial events. As an anime, Terra Formars tries so hard to meet every objective, but doesn't admit to its identity as an action-oriented story, and instead ends up sub-par in the areas where it counts.
It tries to forge some sort of emotional connection between the viewers and cast, but there are simply too many actively involved personalities to make extensive character development even an option. With the elongated flashbacks that let us in on various character backgrounds, if you're not still angry that a fight was just called off to make way for a blast-from-the-past, then you can start to appreciate some of our protagonists. But not for long. There's just so much always going on, and too many time constraints to adhere to with this anime: It means that even if we're going to be "investing" into a character, it doesn't make up for the fact that a fair number of faces are still strangers by the last episode.
~ Audiovisuals ~
Regarding the score: It's simple, and a tad "rinse and reuse", but effective. Terra Formars treats us to a highly appropriate and intense-sounding OP and ED which pertains to the anime's "power" in being such a thriller. It compliments the themes well.
Regarding animation, we've got a strange mix to contend with. For the most part we get a rather drab colour palette which is both appropriate for the barren landscaping, and the dark nature of the show. The animation is generally of a considerable quality: with fine detail shining through, and an emphasis on lighting physics which adds to that sense of realism and immersion. Whereas some of the animation is frighteningly fluid, other parts are less impressive. Overall: I won't deny that it's a feast for the eyes for the most part.
~ Final thoughts ~
The vast story of Terra Formars was doomed as soon as it was given just 13 episodes to develop everything. But it did evidently put some effort into it: with a strong start that set the scene well, with unfortunately trails off into mindless combat and unexplained character relations. With the character aspect being a hindrance because too many will remain almost like strangers. Tough credit where credit is due: It is a visually pleasing and unpredictable thrill-ride, with some charm to it.
There's too much "manufactured" feeling of sentiment infused into this short series, and so as far as "long term seriousness" goes, it's not worth the watch. It's strength is in its immediate-scope presentation, chock full of action, and it would honestly be naïve to watch Terra Formars for anything besides a cinematic "shock-value" thriller set of qualities.
~ When they say there's one, there's thirty... ~
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Jul 4, 2015
~ Do you live in the country? ~
Intense action anime getting you too heated up? Then look no further for a relaxing cooldown...
Another heartwarming, moe-infused anime, documenting the lighthearted antics of 4 cute and quirky female protagonists. This is undoubtedly the definition of "cute girls doing cute things", and should be considered a staple of the "moe fan" diet.
Uplifting, charming, casual, and humerus from start to finish. This is another prime example of a dedicated Slice of Life presentation, which relishes in its simplicity. Now it goes without saying that the Slice of Life genre is met with mixed responses. Some are appreciative of these ... carefree stories and lighthearted character insights, whereas others cannot deal with such accused "uneventfulness". Wherever in this spectrum you are: Non Non Biyori is a "feel-good" anime beyond measure. It's down-to-earth and presents a realistic, yet skewed life perspective. "Escapism into an optimistic mindset", you might say.
Now the premise is really what gives Non Non Biyori its flavor... Arriving in a rural countryside setting, the surrounding landscape is beautifully picturesque, and the relatively "deserted" nature of this place means that our cast really are in a world of their own. Devoid of big city skyscrapers and streams of headlights, everything is so serene and peaceful: pertaining to the relaxing and heartwarming tone of the show very well. Non Non Biyori's "plot" takes us on a journey: documenting the various antics and activities that our main characters get up to, in their secluded little village. The storytelling is fragmented, like picking out exerts of a person's life, and the pacing is both leisurely enough to feel relaxing, and hastened enough to create an appreciable sense of passing time. This is some feat for a 13 episode show, but as is expected of a Slice of Life dedicated anime,
it is the character development as opposed to story complexity that really shines through.
During the show, we get to meet with a healthy spectrum of differing personalities...
Introducing our main group of 4: from Renge's nonsensical and humerus monotone observations, to Horatu's over-idolization, to Komari's "maturity plight", and Natsumi's dominating energy... The "colours" of our quartet are fortunately quite distinct, likable, and most importantly: this diversity creates a rather convincing, while intriguing and entertaining character chemistry. On the rare occasion that they aren't all together, we get an insight into a character's thought process: one of the most intimate, and appreciation-boosting connections that can be established. Its true that their identity is more rightfully as a group of friends, and so there really is an emphasis on chemistry, and chatter, over pure backstory-depth etc.
The spotlight is quite evenly distributed, and this stress on synergy over individuality (though of course, they are clearly made to be different), means that the group conveys a wholesome aura of camaraderie. They are quite convincingly: a tightly-knit group of friends, which is furthered by their situation, remember? "Isolated in the countryside, but they have each other". Now that may sound like the cheesiest line you've heard all day, but as a result: this "majoring" in character chemistry, means that we're treated to a lot of dialogue exchange of both pointlessness and substance, simultaneously. The chatter is imbued with both personality and comedy. It is the author's vent of each character's essence and identity, as we learn of our protagonists through their own words, as opposed to being told, or simply introduced.
It's simple, infinitely heartwarming, and provides a bunch of likable protagonists: enjoying their own disconnected world, and engaging in rather
entertaining outbursts of spontaneity and conversation.
In terms of animation, Non Non Biyori is a "Starry Night" of its own... With lots of serene and beautifully picturesque backgrounds, drowned in vivid colour, superb lighting, and detail. The characters are well-defined and not blatantly overlayed atall. They move freely, and expressively, with some integration of comedy into their emotions. Everything has a genuinely notable sense of personality to it in this show. In terms of audio, Non Non Biyori delivers a very friendly, calming, and simplistic, xylophone and accordion oriented score which favors the emphasis of personality and a carefree vibe, over atmosphere. It's highly appropriate, and paired with an excellent OP which summarizes the whole thing perfectly.
Finishing up now...
Non Non Biyori is a greatly escapist Slice of Life styled experience, with a very distinct personality, flavor, and an appreciably small, likable set of country-dwelling characters. It is a feast for both the eyes, and ears... Which will inevitably leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. So why stop at 8? Well i'm a fan of this minimalism, and this is undoubtedly one of the most charming SoL setups i've seen to date. I'm stopping at 8 though (from a critical perspective), because while there is a start to our "story", direction is lacking, and the conclusion is too abrupt. At times the characters become too predictable, which leaves a weaker spot towards the middle of the season... Though it picks up character and sentimentality value nicely particularly at my favourite episode: 10. The characters themselves, are developed to a degree for VERY enjoyable chemistry, but besides Renge: hide behind facades to an extent... And it would have been nice to see some more personal growth to suffice as a more hearty conclusion.
Maybe i'm over thinking it, or maybe you enjoyed this analysis...
Non Non Biyori is exactly what you think it as, and a little bit better.
Heartwarming, uplifting and beautiful: I'd recommend it to any SoL supporter, seeking out for something uplifting, humerus, and above all: chock full of personality!
~ 'Cause it's fun over here! ~
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Jul 2, 2015
~ Let's have a discussion about love. ~
As a chronological prequel to the events of "Bakemonogatari": Nekomogatari (as I will slightly abbreviate), is the first short, fast-paced, single arc installation of the "Monogatari" series. Some may be skeptical at first about the franchise's storytelling prowess, following the fanservice ridden antics of "Nisemonogatari" (that tilted many heads to say the least). But fans following the series up until now will be pleased to know that Nekomonogatari very much reverts back to its highly praised, "Bakemonogatari" inspired roots.
Taking on the task of presenting the "Curse Cat" arc alone, Nekomonogatari brandishes a relatively simplistic, and more so romance-oriented ... story line than in previous seasons. As usual, we are plunged into the very "Monogatari", occult-influenced world, riddled with hidden dangers, and home to our main protagonist: Araragi. Nekomonogatari is clearly oriented about the relationship between Araragi and the heroine elaborated upon in "Bakemonogatari"'s 5th arc: Hanekawa.
An arc, a plight, and a problem-solving protagonist. It's become a somewhat consistent and charming formula throughout the series, but Nekomonogatari proves that each time: It works, and is always appreciable in a slightly differing manor.
To an extent, disregarding "Nisemonogatari"'s tangent of documenting "Evil and Justice", these 4 episodes bear an uncanny resemblance to our masterfully crafted "Bakemonogatari" (aka: Ghostory). Nekomonogatari IS a nostalgic taste of that memorable concept we had previously kept
referring back to: "Overcoming personal demons". It's an inherently engaging plot line that emphasizes a familiar sense of struggle. It's another hurdle for us to watch Araragi overcome, which means that from the start... Nekomonogatari outlines the context, introduces the problem, introduces the goal, trials some methods, and we get a result. It's direct, trialed and tested, and here we see ample "(Bake)Monogatari" elements shining through.
So while staying away from confusion tactics, the story line itself: about Araragi's perception of love and overcoming obstacles to perhaps develop his first romantic experience... is debatably the most simple, and simultaneously the most complex conceivable plot line. This is dependent ironically on YOUR perception of love, but I found the story aspect pretty easy to follow.
While slower to begin with and set the scene, Nekomonogatari follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, by continuing to incorporate a lot of substance into the show's dialogue. It plays a big part in the Monogatari series' signature presentation style, and allows us to gain an intimate insight into the thought processes of the main characters. It gives the viewer an omnipresent eye, and diversifies the dialogue: making it expressive, highly descriptive, somewhat poetic, metaphorical, and even humorous. Above all, it's more than just speech. It is the epitome of well-crafted expression. It has meaning, doesn't become dry, and strays from being conclusive, which means that viewer interpretation becomes an increasingly important factor.
Introducing the context, and returning us to Araragi's POV (nearing 2013) is done rather casually. The beginning of this short season is above all: fresh, charming, and enticing. It certainly doesn't hint at the rapid, and imminent escalation of severity and situational struggle that is to come. This adds impact and a strong sense of development from "situation A to situation B", and really does introduce the viewer quite thoroughly, to this new state of affairs.
Being a mere 4 episode season, is obviously a cap on potential development. But in spite of this fact, Nekomonogatari "does do" what it sets out to in the way of character development, on top of this rather familiar plot development "stance".
Now to start off, there aren't any new faces to note within Nekomonogatari.
Again... 4 episodes: A wise move, don't you think?
The "Character front" of the show is simply an extension to our prior knowledge of the Monogatari series' characters. Suprise suprise, it's Hanekawa who (besides our obvious primary character: Araragi), steals the spotlight.
Hanekawa's "evolution" adds to our understanding of her stresses. Her perspective (as opposed to Araragi's) is given more attention, and therefore she blossoms to life rather well as characters go. It's far from an epiphany of understanding and sympathy, but Nekomonogatari will at the very least, suffice as a season to reveal more personal traits, of our beloved "class rep".
Besides that, Shinobu is actually fairly involved, but only in terms of the plot. She's merely used, but doesn't even speak properly until the last episode. Following her considerable development in "Nisemonogatari", we got a lot more of her (arguably too much), and gained quite a satisfying insight into her life. Here however, nothing is added.
With the themes of "Bakemonogatari", and a similar balance of development: this time spread fairly equally between plot and character, there's not really much new substance that Nekomonogatari has to offer.
Animation-wise: we are once again subjected to Monogatari's masterful and unique visual representation style. Highly stylized Patterns, vibrant, simplistic, and yet vivid art is abundant. Visual metaphors, and text: they are again used boldly to maximize the show's expressive potential. It's a familiar art style that should've already grown on you if you made it to this 3rd Monogatari installment. And while it's not new anymore, it's always going to remain, as one of the series' immortalized strong suits.
Sound-wise: A notable lovely opening sequence in particular. More highly fitting and appropriate BGM to set the tone of any scene. As part of a series that prides itself on audiovisual prowess, it's undoubtedly a pleasant sensory experience to say the least. There's nothing that I would change in this department.
Nekomonogatari ultimately takes a strangely simplified approach. The complexity and extent of the plot and character aspects, are unavoidably limited by this season's duration, and its subject. It covers one arc quite comprehensively, and adds some more contextual information to the last story we witnessed in "Bakemonogatari". While this is the reason for the story making sense in the first place, it's safe to say that we pretty much knew, of could quite easily have guessed everything that these 4 episodes attempt to "add" to Hanekawa's plight.
On a strictly technical front, besides duration limitation of development: Nekomonogatari doesn't exactly do anything wrong, but it is simply far too much of a simple iteration of the "Curse Cat" arc we experienced in "Bakemonogatari". There's just not much of a purpose in this season. We've experienced the story (or a variant at least) before, and so it becomes predictable, not particularly intense, or great at adding new substance. There is the appreciable novelty of an elevated contextual understanding, and with 4 episodes, it's worth watching for this reason alone.
Just don't expect Nekomonogatari to be that big-a landmark within the series' timeline.
~ Is it love, or lust? ~
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Jul 1, 2015
~ Is it not natural to want to escape such a fate? ~
There are many things that the evolution of humanity can tell us.
From the fact that power exists to be corrupted...
To the fact that war is a self-inflicted bitter end...
To watch Shinsekai yori means to have a vividly depicted world of secrecy and deception built up, and broken down before your eyes. In spite of the significant supernatural influence of the show, this "New World" is essentially a model of our own. It's a highly politically and morality engaged mystery series that exposes the tragedy behind a social infrastructure striving for power. Indeed ... a great deal more could be read into the way that humans are presented in Shinsekai, but I'm not here to ramble; i'm here to review.
1000 years down the line, and yet: this is a very different reality to the one crammed down our throats by 90's Sci-Fi movies. Devoid of technology, and instead solving our problems with telekinetic-like powers: Shinsekai takes place in a notably disconnected and eerie feeling village. Ridden with mystery, and plagued by a dark history of covert operations: we're certainly oblivious to everything initially, and this is what really invokes curiosity. Not in the cheap confusion-tactic way either: as it's a genuinely thought-provoking, one-of-a-kind initiation. From the first episode, the subtle integration of supernatural elements, set the tone well for the journey to come. While the myths and mystery elements added a tasteful sense of darkness; pertaining to the fact that some form of escalation or "happening" was imminent.
Enticed by the mysterious setting; I had to delve deeper...
It is a powerful and thorough documentation of a dark and morally questionable history.
A history of deception. A history of oppression. A history of conflict. A reflection of our thirst for power, and our "perfect" society. In essence, Shinsekai yori is nothing less than the animated representation of the renowned "War and Peace" article. While a little slow to begin, the story meticulously detailed. And while initializing with nothing more than a nagging sense of injustice, this story line evolves and blossoms into life beautifully. From an awkward "bud" to rose of the deepest crimson red: Shinsekai yori is a highly philosophical, eye-opening, and yet gripping tale of evolution itself. Its difficult to comprehend even the scale of its implications.
While a little reliant of the viewer's ability to pay attention, it's not a preachy story, made with the aim to confuse; as it would never sacrifice the clarity of the overriding message. If it's even possible, the story makes even the grayest lines of morality: clear as day.
Now I know what you're thinking: "How can something you described as "philosophical" engage me at all? (sounds boring)".
Well, not that I can believe it myself really either, but Shinsekai manages to create a perfect harmony of intensity and depth. Particularly near the beginning, it incorporates a lot of horror elements to promote suspense and draw you in, while we see ample engaging action sequences throughout as well.
"Drawing you in. Closer and closer", seems like a perfect quote to elaborate upon HOW you will experience the show. Opening with the aforementioned element of supernatural mystery and horror (though admittedly rather slowly), more questions are posed, as EVERYTHING escalates. Continually: the action intensifies (as conflicts grow larger), drama heightens (as we near answers), the element of morality becomes overwhelming (as countless philosophical concepts and reflections of society are made more prominent). From the beginning, I had no idea that that things would escalate and culminate in the way that they did by the final episode.
The show takes many turns, and indeed has many levels. There is a genuine sense of enthrallment to note about the action sequences if you have doubts. From start to finish, it feels like you're going against a larger, invisible force. It's ceaselessly engaging: a story of corruption and forbidden knowledge told from a dangerous first had perspective, while incorporating elements of morality and such, in a way that does not dry out one's "lake of interest". Know that i'm not exaggerating, but somehow the show managed to become both a thrill ride, and on top of that: a completely perspective-shifting lesson of morality.
What struck me most at the particularly impactful conclusion, was the way that every little detail was relevant, and ended up being integrated into a very well-rounded and unexpected (to say the least) turn of events - comparing to the comparative tranquility of the first few episodes.
On top of this almost inconceivably ideal and engaging storytelling, we do also get an insight into the perspectives most prominently, of our main characters. They mature (literally) as the show persists; making the anime a worthwhile "bildungsroman". With the most notable protagonists being Saki and Satoru, (Saki the main heroine): we see them evolve subtly from a relatively clueless perspective, to one that ends up shaping the story's conclusion. Particularly with Saki, we get a very intimate insight into her thought processes, which works very well in allowing us to associate ourselves with her given situations. Shinsekai allows you to forge this sort of connection with Saki in particular, while Satoru is somewhat more straightforward. The integrity of this emotional connection is by no means especially extensive, but nevertheless: enough to make you fear when she fears, and root for her protection to the bitter end. The development on this front is very personal, and somewhat reliant upon sentiment from prior episodes.
The main point of praise in the character department is the effortless and almost unnoticeable evolution of our protagonists, as they become strengthened in the face of the countless injustices, conflicts, and trials to come - as is expected of course, of those who obtain forbidden knowledge of their village's dark history.
The animation is frustratingly fought by two sides.
On the one hand, the scenery is immaculately detailed and artistic. The show isn't afraid to be quite abstract, at times with a somewhat dream-like, and Utopian feel. It's impossible not to be somewhat enthralled by the depth and detail of the beautifully crafted landscapes - as they do prove to be particularly immersive and "real".
On the other hand, the animation of the characters themselves is simplistic, and utterly contradicts the detail of the scenery. The characters blatantly walk like overlays between the foreground and background, and the quality of their movements (such as mouth movement) is jepordised heavily by this conflicting simplicity, and notable choppiness even of the animation.
I have no qualms about the finished, animated product (as it still looks great): as pros still significantly outweigh the cons. At times I remember remarking that the landscapes are simply breathtaking, but I simply can't say that the animation is without fault, given the choppiness of the characters.
The sound aspect is incredibly appropriate. Filling silences with atmospheric audio, and conveying the impact of even the most minute of audible details. The soundtrack too, is very immersive. It greatly enhances the otherworldly sense of wonderment of the landscapes, and the ever-increasing scale of events is helped by this often operatic and moody BGM.
Admittedly, I did tire from the overused "operatic choir boy" music especially nearer the start; as it became annoying more than anything else.
In every other sub department though, the audio was of a very high standard, and it really added to the sense of scale of the story line as it took form. While a little short of "perfect", The sense of wonderment in the audiovisual department is simply unending...
I may be getting blood out of a stone here, but perhaps my watching experience would have been even more enjoyable if there was a more extensive and personal background development of more of the protagonists. I could however say this about any anime, so ultimately: Shinsekai yori is nothing short of a masterpiece.
The evolution of the characters, unexpectedly dramatic, deception-oriented story line, stellar storytelling and great pacing... undoubtedly equates to a brilliantly gripping show of substance and depth. It incorporates a wide spectrum of genres, and so I don't believe that anyone is exempt from my suggestion to you, the reader... to check it out :)
~ I don't know what's right or what's wrong anymore ~
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Jun 21, 2015
~ Just poke her breast already! - Dragon ~
[Pure Review: Anime Only]
The prior seasons have been a "big hit" to say the least; drawing viewers from both the fantasy, and ecchi realms. "Dragon of Dragon" has always been a franchise in my eyes with more storytelling and character development talent than the marketing lets off. Do I even have to quote FUNimation's introduction to "New"? ("more outrageous Oppai Battle Entertainment"). The series has always retained a curious mixture of action, intensity, suspense, realism, and of course: Oppai... It's a combination that in theory should drown out any seriousness, and while it's by no means a ... show to be taken deadly seriously; there are indeed some thrilling and suspenseful, passionately fought battles. Like a signature style for the show, DxD is one of the very few "Lewd productions" that actually gets you to care somewhat about the characters and outcomes.
Everyone came for the oppai (but some will try to convince you otherwise), and while many continue for the same reason, another would be that Issei is such a decent POV into this highly supernatural world. He's almost always in an enviable situation, but being naive, courageous, believable, and just downright hilarious at times - he's a very likable protagonist regardless.
As the chronological continuation of High School DxD: New, High School DxD's third installment: BorN serves purely as additional anime content. It elaborates on the story from where we left off, introducing us to some new faces, developing existing faces, and creating an overriding sense of both progress and advancement. Following a similar formula as is shown in the previous seasons: Issei is once again battling alongside our beloved members of the Gremory household. He continues to deal with his devil career as the legendary red dragon, and we get front row seats!
DxD fans will be pleased to know that BorN continues to integrate the signature style/charm (explained above): incorporating passion and intensity into a very mature natured (*wink wink*) product. It should be safe to say then, regardless of my upcoming judgement, that DxD fans will at the very least be able to connect with the continuation of our story.
The conclusion of "New" was relatively open-ended, and BorN delves straight back into the grand-scaled religious warfare. It wastes little time, and pretty much uses a shock tactic: a burst of contextual information regarding the complexities of what's to come - in order to immerse the viewer in this particular section of the story. From a dragon's destiny, to a comrade's fate: BorN factors in a lot of important content into these 12 episodes. New individuals make their presence and roles in the war known, and we get more documentation of how the Gremory household's members are growing as a result of experience.
There are some perilous situations in which death looms over an ally, to invoke suspense and prove that character attachment values are in fact "a thing" in DxD. There are epiphany-like milestones and other key events in BorN's plot that really do make and impact and shift your perception to a degree of the entire series. We get development for previously underdeveloped members such as Koneko, and even talk more about our protagonist's destiny.
Clearly, you can't argue that there isn't enough SUBSTANCE to this third installment.
As the first DxD season to achieve a transformation of 3 whole volumes into anime form, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that this is also BorN's greatest downfall. Now if non-stop action is your forte, then congratulations: you can disregard this review and get to watching right away. The rest of us can pick up on the fact that we have some blatent pacing issues to note here...
With such an amount of substantial story content being squeezed into a mere 240 (or so) minutes, things aren't covered quite as comprehensively as in the first two seasons. Operating on a smaller scale gave a greater sense of understanding and personality to "DxD" and "New", whereas "BorN" quite literally operates through time and space. It's generally a very broad and more documentative rather than POV feeling interpretation of events. This documentation of the religious war lacks, but does not completely disregard:
Explanation - While a little slower to begin with, BorN quickly escalates through a series of events that shape the overriding plot. Whereas manga readers will not have problems with this, the sudden introduction of many characters - into the limelight for the first time, will somewhat live to confuse anime viewers. Besides "That's X, and they do Y", there's little answering the simple question of "What's going on?". For obvious reasons, this may reduce the viewers' ability to feel connected or passion toward the current happenings.
Suspense - In spite of the highly perilous plot that DxD was covering this time around, another demerit of the "rushing" many have noted, is that there's a very limited amount of suspense that can be offered. In the prior seasons, there would a definite build up to an unexpected calamity - which left visible scars. The fast pace of BorN however doesn't allow for enough prolonging of these "low-points", to make them believable.
The presented obstacles were overcome too easily. Simply-put, it's like brushing off losing a limb... At no point did I really "feel" the suspense of the fact that i'm never going to walk again...
Picking it back up though, and brushing it off... The show, not my leg...
It did exist to significantly further my contextual understanding of the DxD-verse, and I was even able to enjoy the enhancement of characters both new and old. The chemistry is still great, the dialogue is still very enjoyable, the battles (particularly the earlier ones) were still very heated, and it is of course upholding its cheeky ecchi aspect alongside a lot of classic innuendo humor. Typical DxD 101 you might say.
The audiovisuals? If you insist...
I'd say that BorN retains a similarly high art standard: well-defined characters on atmospheric backgrounds. The character shading has room for improvement, as does one of the weaker elements - depth... But casual DxD fans are likely to just say "Yeah, it's still pretty..."
The score is a little "flip-over-and-reuse" from prior seasons, but I can't argue with the fact that it's both sentimental-feeling where appropriate, and intense where appropriate. With the addition of 2 AWESOME new sequences (OP & ED), i'd say that the audio aspect has become a strong suit.
Accepting and willing DxD fans have nothing to lose by giving BorN a try. The story vividness is a little overly jeopardized for an anime - as a result of the pacing, but it brings forth a lot of relevant milestones and development to the table. While a little less impactual than the prior seasons, it's still an exhilarating and enjoyable thrill ride worth taking, brandishing that renowned DxD charm.
~ Why don't you just poke both simultaneously?! - Rias ~
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Jun 18, 2015
~ Makoto: I'm the worst ~
The most accurate quote in the entire show
An example of great artistic intent - that isn't fully supported by technical merit.
It's probably the most infuriating show I've come across. But this aspect in itself does NOT rub off negatively on the quality. To summarize: It is a dark and powerful production oriented about deception, desperation, love and betrayal. Make no mistake: it seems to hide behind an uninspiring "Slice of Life/Romance" facade to begin with; but soon you'll start to see its true colours (about at the halfway mark).
School days is a frighteningly effective and manipulative anime that will ... destroy everything you've come to know of conventional "protagonists". Now there are reasons as i'll come to discuss why School Days isn't the best in some areas, but it GENUINELY BAFFLES ME why so many people DO NOT UNDERSTAND that passionate feelings of "hatred" and "I can't comprehend X character's stupidity" are not demerits. Is it not obvious that If a show can invoke such feelings in the viewer and cause such a stir, that it has SUCCEEDED at being a psychological anime?!
If you're still unsure of what a "Psycho-Manipulative" production entails, It basically means that it breaks the "4th Wall". An example could be an extremely emotional anime that makes you cry.
Now that's out of the way, onto the analysis...
School days plunges you into a highly unoriginal and predictable school setting. There's no unique selling point to the premise alone, so i'll keep it brief. It's an appropriately "ordinary" setting that enhances the realism of
the real-world drama to come - But is difficult to credit in this area.
Wait! Don't Go! There's more...
While slow to begin with, School Days is an impactful story of lust and deception; a crescendo of unforeseen misery. Its fraught with passion on one end, and ignorance on the other. To begin with, it may deceivingly appear to be a "boy sees girl" tale of bland romance, but it is FAR from that.
"Okay", "How nice" are words I came into the anime saying. "Wow", "Jesus...", are the words I left with.
School Days is a show that makes great use of dramatic irony; empowering the viewer with an all-seeing eye that even foreshadows some of the controversies to come. FAR from a romance story, or even more accurately: a story of infatuation... School Days is incredibly dramatic, and at the same time: very frustrating to watch. It plays off the general concept of "love and loss" through a seemingly unending string of bad decisions on the main character's part. Starting off as lust, and then a lust-triangle, followed by a lust-hexagon: School Days' plot escalates in complexity exponentially, and a great deal of uneasiness and weight is added with every expansion to our polygon.
As is mostly evident from the female characters, as opposed to our "protagonist" who appears to retain the same naivety throughout... emotional struggle becomes an overriding theme; from many directions. The decisions of the characters surrounding Makoto become increasingly unpredictable, and all of the drama just stacks and stacks relentlessly; culminating in a brilliant explosion of action at the show's conclusion. The event-driven plot, and the way that everything initially goes in favour of Makoto's stupidity, exists to annoy. The story itself is certainly more complex than you likely think it may be, and its great at enhancing the sheer awkwardness, and frustration of the developingly "taboo" situations that continually arise throughout.
There's not really much else to say about a story revolving so closely to the rather commonly documented themes of romance and greed, but its a bleak and disturbingly plausible chain of events that leave you with an appreciable message: "Cherish what you have, and do not be a slave to temptation". Therefore, while far from innovative or unique, the story compliments the characters and realistic setting.
Character development is a significant area generally for any show that can't rely on relentless action sequences, so lets get straight to the good stuff... Makoto, also known as our main character...
Simply put, School Days doesn't have a protagonist... Makoto is the antagonistic, parasitic, narcissistic, manipulative, borderline sociopathic, and infinitely detestable face of the show. He is to an extent the POV character, and this gives the viewer a very intimate insight into his never-ending, selfish, naive, and uncaring personality. During these 12 episodes, you will watch as while he is undeservedly presented with ample opportunity for a meaningful relationship; he simply ruins everything he touches. I mean this quite literally.
My hate for this character is completely off the scale, as his naivety: selfish, and inconsiderate personality couldn't possibly be more prominent or blatent. Yet as much as I uphold my desire to see him suffer as a result of his purely callous acts, the show wouldn't be the same without him. "Makoto" brings to light a disturbingly plausible and selfish, sexually-driven male attitude that makes you more aware of the barbaric implications and effects of harems, because at the end of the day: we have to fight our most primitive of desires. School Days certainly reflects this often barbaric behavior in an deceivingly "mature" and "civilized" society. Or as you may prefer to see it: there are simply a lot of dick-ish men out there, who don't really care for anything beyond lust, or themselves.
School Days utilities a range of colorful personalities, who for some reason, can't get enough of our ridiculously stupid MC. Its a deliberately convenient setup of hidden feelings, clinginess, and fantasy up taken by the range of surprisingly illogical female characters. From the rather air-headed and naive (for the most part) Kotonoha, to the awkward and suppressed feelings of Sekai... It wouldn't be wrong to say that they're all practically slaves to Makoto's unexplained influence. This obviously works in favour for presenting such a frustrating story consisting of so much ruined opportunity.
While the setup is appropriate, if not a little "too appropriate" to a cringy and shallow extent. There is an interesting degree of development on top of these thoroughly incomprehensible female thought processes. I've got to give credit to the way in which School Days very vividly conveys the emotional struggle and plights of the developing, fragile female personalities - which gradually become thoroughly battered as a result of Makoto's interactions. They bring with them, complex feelings of sympathy and "maybe THEY'RE the real victim" here to the mix. The evolving and damaged female characters continually posing the question: who is in the wrong?
In hindsight, I can honestly say that NOBODY in this show has a moral high-ground. With the exception of the overly accepting Sawanaga (who's basically just a novelty supporting fall-guy), none of the characters can really be described as "reasonable people". Undeniably then, School Days is a dark show indeed...
Things are a little sub-par here. With the exception of the last 2 episodes, School Days has a tendency to overuse still frames. The detail is pretty low, and so it could have been greatly improved.
A notably lazy animation style.
Delicate, beautiful, and worthwhile. The music is phenomenal, which conflicts a lot with the expanse of flaws in many other departments, as i'll get to right now...
While the psychological aspect of the show, the drama, and topics are striking. It is on the other hand quite cheap: the way in which such devices: foreshadowing and flashbacks included, are used in an attempt to cover up a significant amount of flaws. While I could argue that impact on the viewer can scale with quality, School Days is as said initially - an example of great artistic merit and abstract approach (ie: the psychological aspect), that isn't executed to its best ability.
Setting Makoto aside, the female characters are all undeniable completely irrational. Perhaps the biggest flaw with the anime is that... it never really explained WHY all these girls are falling "in love" so easily. They're all complete tools: some of which are barely elaborated upon atall. When you pair this with the painfully unimaginative, SoL styled love story to begin with - one can see why the technical merit, is just not on par with the artistic intent.
School Days looks polished as a package, and as a whole: the story is quite dramatic, breaks the fourth wall, develops the characters, and even comes with a message. With everything together, I can accept it as a successful psychological, unpredictable show; with a genuinely hard-hitting aspect of emotional struggle.
I loved the ending, and want to be able to give a mark that scales with the passion I felt while watching. Its just that I can't deny the very noticeable gaps in logic when you start to deconstruct things...
~ Am I not good enough? ~
[+] Hard-hitting reflection of adultery in the modern world
[+] Good message of cherishing what you have, and the destructive potential of infatuation
[+] Main female characters develop quite well, as a lot of "struggle" is conveyed
[+] Story gets heavy and interesting beyond episode 6, and takes some unpredictable twists
[+] Good ending
[-] Lazy animation quality
[-] Boring and slow story prior episode 6
[-] The females are all completely devoid of logic
[-] Generally un-innovative
Had the technical aspect better supported my liking for the edginess of this show: 9/10
Reality, as a reviewer: 5.5/10
Reality as myself, with a liking for the psychological power, and dark twists: 7/10
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Jun 12, 2015
~ I don't think it will be for nothing if I still remember... ~
Not the best in technical terms, but offers a BEAUTIFUL personality and flavour...
In a world where artificial life can comprehend abstraction, have free will, walk, talk, and act like you or I, it becomes harder to distinguish between man and machine. Though we must remember that they are devoid of sentience and feelings...
Or is emotion more subjective than that?
Chobits is a rather cutesy, heart warming and delicate depiction of this fine grey line between brains and Motherboards. It's leisurely-paced (to say the least), and for the most part: a light-hearted slice of ... life styled
presentation. This contrasts with the highly philosophical subject matter, which opens the gates to a multitude of hard-hitting emotional struggles. From love and loss, to divorce and death; Chobits is both the salt and the pepper... A balanced anime that subdues pain with a realistic, intimate, and uplifting stance. Some may call it 2-faced, or under powered, but I can appreciate the happy medium that Madhouse have established here.
Chobits brings future technology to the familiar present. With a simple and vividly explained premise of
seemingly ordinary urban living; alongside an abundance of highly technologically advanced and life-like
AI personal assistants: personocoms. This remains as a constant throughout, and so the integration here of realism and fantasy technology is sure to keep viewers both engaged, and immersed in the world surrounding our protagonist. Though to reiterate, the slow pacing may deter some viewers...
Bearing in mind that context and story are not where Chobits primarily invests its efforts, the anime still
upholds a decent plot. While starting out relatively predictable, the scope of the show is broadens significantly after just a few episodes. It shows us an early transformation from a slice of life rom-com, to a much more flavorsome and emotive drama/romance. The show is a rather curious cohesion between lighthearted SoL aspects, and even the integration of suspense, tragedy, and mystery too. There are therefore plenty of twists of fate stirred into an otherwise uneventful setting. Not to the extent that I would recommend such a show to SoL haters, but there's definitely more to Chobits than first meets the eye.
This mix of genres is integrated and streamlined efficiently: lots of little story aspects come together during
the generally episodic progression and make the show emanate conflicting messages... Though the overriding tone and charming signature style is always retained of course. The story is so subtle and "belonging" in the context, that it's easy to underestimate how substantial it really is, or forget that there is actually an event-based progression AS WELL as a character-based progression. Not to hot, nor too cold, viewers can expect to go from carefree to suspenseful in a heartbeat, and so you could say that there's a certain degree of unpredictability always looming about to keep things fresh: very important alongside such a leisurely progression rate.
Filling the screen with vibrant colours, as well as eye-catching nightscapes... Chobits brandishes a particularly
emotive and detailed set of visuals. As an older anime, don't expect crystal clear quality; but the artistic intent behind the show is quite prominent. It promotes scale, and goes hand in hand with Chobits' identity as a warm, "90's feeling" production.
In the way of sound, similar audio methods are used to further the conveyance of emotion as well. The soundtrack is upbeat particularly during the first few episodes, and evolves into a varied score that adds more atmosphere and passion particularly to more emotional scenes. Even during the highs, there's a very noticeable and fitting sense of fragility and mystery within the audiovisuals: some foreshadowing and abstract presentation methods too at times to invoke the viewer's curiosity... Because I always found myself anticipating "what's going to break this merry facade?". There was always this slight sense of delicate uneasiness that kept me glued to the screen to make sure that Chii was going to be ok...
This brings me swiftly onto the characters...
As a heavily SoL influenced production, the character department is particularly substantial; because it's difficult after all to appreciate an anime where the main characters are boring or unlikable.
Chii is the iconic face of the show. She brings forth phenomenal amounts of attachment value, and this is then utilized to invoke certain feelings in the viewer that allow them to forge personal connections. Without Chii, there would simply be no charm, or substance for that matter. Chii is undoubtedly a moeblob: innocent, considerate, cute, happy, kind, you name it... But that's what you'll come to love her for. On the topic of personal connections, it's this very understandable attachment that makes the viewer genuinely care for and want to protect the untainted purity and light that is Chii; from the darkness and corruption of the surrounding world.
Hideki's typical protagonist build to serve as a blank slate POV was appropriate during the first-person stages, though at times he was also viewed as a personality: obviously a very uninspired one; devoid of anything unique. And so at times the blandness of both Hideki and Shinbo: with a similarly substance-less build, was a bit of a hindrance.
In spite of the emotional and slice of life styling, Chobits operates in an "immediate scope", so character besides Chii herself weren't that comprehensive. Most of them being a little grey, but If you watch to the end... you'll find that nearly everyone has a really INTERESTING connection to the mysterious overriding story, which has quite a dramatic impact when revealed. To give credit where credit is due, Yumi is one of the better-crafted faces. In my mind at least: she's the only human with an easily attachable personality, that brings (similarly to Chii) some power to her emotions.
Chobits does have some identity issues: It's not entirely a carefree SoL, though the romance and drama is quite long winded and therefore will likely only be appreciated by such an audience. Chii is the mainstay of the entire production, and nearly all of the emotive power within Chobits originates from her. Chobits has a very set-in-stone moral argument to propel it, and while this does add substance, it's covered in a rather preachy and wishy-washy way... The philosophical aspect adding very "serious" morals, to a production that initially starts out as a rom-com?
It's a very awkwardly made show, and on paper it's flawed: by being too invested into Chii's attachment value compared to the rest of the cast for example...
But I love it.
It was a really enjoyable anime for me, from the first episode to the last. Forgetting technicalities, Chobits is just overwhelmingly charming and delicately presented in a way that sucks you in without even realizing. It's difficult to explain why the show is so good at tugging on your heartstrings, and just allowing you to enjoy the mystery and concepts of personocoms, and the comparative irrelevance of Sumomo's lively presence for example. Undoubtedly we're dealing with a unique and mixed styling here, a series of technically flawed methods that come together to create a thoroughly immersive world... Potentially... A very real future.
~ He found me... ~
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May 31, 2015
~ I am Not a Friend of Justice... ~
The cryptic occult mysteries plaguing Araragi and those around him, continue into this second installment of the highly reputable "Monogatari" series...
As a chronological continuation of Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari is the controversial follow-up to significantly alter the production's overriding tone and focus. In the books of many "Monogatari" fans, there was little "wrong" with the first season; and so we turn to Nisemonogatari with hopes that it would principally further our knowledge, understanding, and in turn our admiration for the vivid and supernatural world that Bakemonogatari presented us with. While it appears to have retained the distinct presentation style ... and curious atmosphere that the initial season adopted and shaped... Nisemonogatari seems to have upstaged (but by no means removed) the focus of "overcoming personal demons", to touch more on the delicate topic of morality: the concepts of evil and justice.
Fortunately, Nisemonogatari has stayed true to its branding by gracing us again with the brilliantly expressive and abstract presentation methods; exclusive to the "Monogatari" series. We are again plunged into a clean, colourful, well-defined, vivid, and yet minimalist-styled landscape. An establishment of atmospheric and otherworldly virtual lands; the epitome of surrealism. In this sense, Nisemonogatari retains the signature charm of the prior season: the entirety of the presentation is still very expressive, and it continues to make great use of text-based presentation, visual metaphors, and colours. A bold presentation style, with an overwhelming attention to detail; all while straying from being pretentious or preachy. I would in fact go as far as saying that presentation methods have actually improved on Bakemonogatari's high standards. You could say that the atmospheric and depth-inducing cinematic lighting, in combination with the interesting visual representations of the dialogue goes a step beyond; to really vividly and confidently bring meaning to the visuals.
While finishing up interestingly beginning with the presentation methods; as they are of critical importance to the "Monogatari" franchise... I should also factor in Nisemonogatari's audio: a highly appropriate cinematic score that proves its ability to be delicate when necessary, mysterious and curiosity-invoking when necessary, and even intense towards the climax. I can therefore conclude that Nisemonogatari is pretty much flawless in the audiovisual department, and "Monogatari" fans will already be accustomed to these methods.
Contrasting however with the first season's nearer-balance between an engaging plot, and character development: the stand alone story behind Nisemonogatari is rather simplistic. We arrive again at the "Monogatari" scene of a realistic, and yet occult-influenced world, devoid of certainty. Alike in Bakemonogatari, this season also avoids directly explaining the plot elements: in a way that continuously taunts the viewer with distorted and/or metaphorical elaborations to keep them very curious and engaged.
It revolves around Araragi's sisters: 2 sisters, 2 arcs, 2 plights, 1 problem-solving brother. I could explain each of these arcs in a single sentence, because Nisemonogatari biases quite noticeably away from story-telling complexity.
Similarly to the previous season, a lot of the substance behind the show is imbued into the dialogue. This means that once again we're subjected to a large amount of expressive, intimate, intellectual, and sometimes witty and charming dialogue. It's used throughout to indirectly refer to supernatural plot context and explanations, expression of the characters' feelings, and expression of Araragi's inner-thoughts. Therefore, we're revisiting Bakemongatari's well-crafted style of story-telling and development in which a symphony of vivid documentation and meaning in the dialogue is crucial.
This brings me onto something that's accomplished quite well by Nisemonogatari's dialogue script: Character development. As is typical of an anime like this one where story isn't given the utmost priority, character development is more prominent ingredient. This is evident from the extent of crafting and development of Nisemonogatari's newly developed characters.
Throughout these 11 episodes, we're familiarized with a few new faces. From Araragi's sisters: the often frustrated Tsukihi, and the energetic Karen. We even get some development of Shinobu, and her fluctuations between being quirky and playful, to knowledgeable and confident. There is still some building upon previously developed personalities, primarily Hachikuji; to an underwhelming extent if you were looking to build upon the entire cast of Bakemonogatari. There are indeed enough familiar faces to have "Monogatari" fans stick about, though Nisemonogatari is most definitely a separated-feeling addition of arcs.
The introduction of new characters has its benefits though. Kaiki is an antagonist among others, and he receives some particularly interesting development. He's a genuinely interesting new personality, whose logical, honest, and upfront to an overwhelming extent. Quite publicly he makes his richly corrupt, money-obsessed personality quite prominent, and this conflicts with how reasonable and humanly relatable he is; having been given an antagonistic role.
Nisemonogatari is an example of slow pacing which builds up a variety of richly developed characters: Kaiki, Karen and Tsukihi being prime examples. While it's not the most extensive it or the plot could be, an interesting dialogue floods the limelight to keep things fresh.
However, I haven't accounted for all of the ultimately rather short expanse of episode-time...
Sexual themes were not unheard of in Bakemonogatari, but Nisemonogatari as you might of heard takes this to a somewhat unreasonable and distracting extent. There's no doubt that the argument of "fanservice or not?" is fought by personal opinion, and i'm definitely not deterred by it... But when it comes to sacrificing the overall vividness of a great story and characters, I start to think otherwise.
Nisemonogatari undoubtedly made the fanservice a little too blatant, and I found that besides still enjoying it, it detracted from the show's delicate themes of evil and justice. In this sense, it came across to me as two-faced, and to put it bluntly, this was an ultimately pointless aspect that consumed too much episode time for what it was worth.
As a result of this time-wasting, comes a few flaws that put this second installment, a little below the prior...
First off: "Struggle". Unlike in Bakemonogatari, I continuously found myself a little disconnected from the severity of the sisters' plights. They were for the most part poorly elaborated upon, and as a result, there was no real sense of urgency or tragedy regarding the infliction of the supernatural beasts. In the first season, I can remember sympathizing with the supernatural victims, and I can recall a weighty atmosphere that mirrored the weight, urgency, and severity of their plights. Needless to say that Nisemonogatari was comparatively lacking in this department, and so it didn't bring about as much of a "thriller" or "drama" aspect.
The other main point: Pacing. As a Slice of Life fan myself, i'm accustomed to slow pacing, and this didn't bother me. I happily accept the slow building and vivid development of the characters and context in Nisemonogatari, but it fluctuates and becomes uneven towards the conclusion. In the last 2 to 3 episodes, there is a notable upwards shift in speed that rushes through the interaction of 2 additional key antagonists, with an interestingly unclear sense of morality themselves.
Primarily for the subtle added development of both character and context, Nisemonogatari is a genuinely interesting sequel to Bakemonogatari. Given the extra time, and subduing the fanservice, it could have brought forth a lot more qualitative weight. I felt that it was a bit impersonal and lacked passionate expression, though it did bring about a lot of interesting new and substantial dialogue, which in turn aided my admiration of some of the characters through development.
It probably shouldn't have tried to cover such broad themes in the given time-scale, but Nisemonogatari is nevertheless another result of masterful presentation, and a great build up of spread development. Fans of Bakemonogatari should enjoy this expansion of context, even if they're divided by the initially mentioned shift in focus, and reallocation of ingredients.
~ I am an Enemy of Evil... ~
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May 28, 2015
~ Never Change, Senpai! ~
The everyday antics and documentation of life at Wagnaria continue into this sequel installment to the first season of Working...
Introduction / Context...
As a direct continuation, "Working'!!" or "Season 2" as i will refer to it to avoid confusion, picks up where "Working!!" left off. The prior season of 13 relaxing episodes, was a "minimalist-styled" depiction of everyday life within our favourite family restaurant. It embraced its identity as a heavily slice of life oriented production, and so favored character development, over complicated plot development; hence the "no story, no good" argument used by those who generally dislike the SoL genre. Prior ... to Season 2, the "Working" franchise has indeed proven itself to be: "escapism into an optimistic life perspective" in my books; as you can read up in my corresponding review. And while being such a carefree and often comedic show, I've always felt that its emitted a unique, cosy, warm and "family-like" character chemistry, that's not only entertaining to observe, but sets the overriding tone beautifully. "Working!!" set the series up rather well by injecting a lot of personality into what has become a particularly memorable cast. It under-toned some dramatic situations, and conversely broke up any heaviness with plentiful laughs to stay true to its strengths. Most importantly, it allowed us to get a decent sense of each character's quirky personalities, and get to know them personally from the intimacy of their thought processes. Except one...
Aoi Yamada, has always seemed a little distanced from the rest of the cast as viewers of the prior season should be familiar; given her rather mysterious and late appearance.
There's only so much you can do with 13 episodes, and while I maintain that the "Working" series is a well crafted one, the development of this purple-haired, "Otoo-crazed"
employee is perhaps the single hole in the prior season's development; given the required comprehensiveness of the character development, contrasting with the seemingly non-existent story line. Interestingly enough, I initially failed to pick up on the fact that this was indeed a hole, and i'm sure i'm not alone in this, but the awesome people at Aniplex blessed us
with a second season anyway...
Far from "improving", Season 2 fills the hole of Yamada's development with ease, and then quickly goes above and beyond the call of duty to further almost every aspect of the show.
Season 2 is essentially the refinement: an advancement of the prior, that goes to the lengths of polishing up and adding to already near-faultless piece of work - in regards to the way the franchise "intends" to be received.
First and foremost, allow me to put fans at ease by mentioning that this sequel season retains the entirety of the signature "Working!!" charm of the prior. Unlike some other anime franchises, it hasn't tried to change itself in order to appeal to a new audience, and instead has stayed loyal to its methods, therefore its branding. It's still casually presented, and down-to-earth with none other than an "everyday" plot to keep up the relatability aspect. It still brings forth a lot of depth when it comes to expanding on the personalities of the characters; and so it continues to give the viewer an intimate insight into the working lives of the people who make up Wagnaria. It still documents the subtle growth of the characters, as they surpass (or not) an array of appropriately plausible plights, which is sure to withhold the realism of the show, and in turn keep the audience connected; losing themselves in the vivid picture of the family restaurant "painted" in front.
As I mentioned, Yamada's presence becomes more prominent in Season 2, and we learn more not only about her, but the rest of the cast through the mysteries her background proposes as well; a sort of ongoing development "arc" if you will. Nevertheless, she is no longer a stranger come Season 2, and so it's great that the character development of the original cast reaches a point of complete coverage during these 13 additional episodes.
Aniplex could have stopped there, and had the show come to summit of its success, a flat line from which it can only fall. Fortunately they persisted though in adding new content...
Season 2 brings about some new faces: from the bizarre antics of the Mashiba siblings, to a long lost relative of Yamada. There's evidently never a dull moment in Wagnaria, which in my opinion is the reason for its success. It refuses to be "the lake that dries up", and instead retains the refreshing vibe it started out with; never running out of new revelations, and instead having our admiration of the cast mature, as opposed to stagnate...
There's more "maturing" than you would think going on in the "Staff-only" area, as Season 2 brings about: new challenges to test the resolve of Inami. New things for Yamada to help fix. New heights for our "Senpai" to reach, and even fears for Takanashi to overcome. Everywhere... The awkward relationships are maturing (with no help from Souma), and Kyouko is hungrier than ever. So yes, life at Wagnaria continues to blossom seamlessly following the previous season, and progress steadily as if the " " to " ' " transition never occurred.
Season 2 also seems to work on controlling the visuals better...
capping the expressive cliche/abstract/chibi presentation, if not just a bit: to make the emotive and comedy scenes more punchy, which in turn had me laughing considerably more.
No longer does Aniplex accompany every emotion with "frustration lines", like in the first season it fortunately seems.
Some drama, a healthy helping of comedy, and a tonne of character-based charm...
Which is confirmed to be leading towards a third installment, and so I won't criticize the extremely late formal introduction of Mayu as of yet...
These are for the most part: the same, high, colourful and uplifting standards, as can be seen in the original season. We get a new OP (which i love), and a new ED (which is also very appropriate), the show is throughout still accompanied by a carefree piano-based score...
Asides from the limiting factors of the "everyday" premise and branding, from a technical perspective (at least in my mind): I don't see anything fundamentally wrong about this follow up season. It is therefore, ultimately, a straight-up elaboration/advancement to the "Working!!" of which you're familiar, and so i have no doubt that fans of the franchise will enjoy...
~ Yama-Dash! ~
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