Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) is Naoko Yamada’s statement to the industry that she can handle feature films just as well as moeblobs. The unique storyboards and color design make of this movie a fine exhibit of technical prowess (and schoolgirl thighs).
But without story, pure artwork is just like a painting in a museum: it conveys emotion and one can use their imagination to create a story but it stops at that.
This film’s artsy is unfortunately overshadowed by a half-assed plot.
It’s a fabricated story, carefully constructed in a way that it sell to its target audience and is ultimately a “feels good” script, despite
what all the crying and suffering may lead you to believe.
Let’s not kid ourselves and be real for a moment. Would this film have the same appeal if it concerned a misfit boy instead of a cute girl? Would it still be a charming social criticism if instead of being deaf the main character had a physical deformity or mental disability?
It’s easy for society (generally) to watch this film and overstate its value because we are afraid and ashamed of our actions when faced with the real deal.
This film allows us to indulge in a world where people “do the right thing” and for that reason we are led to believe that it’s masterpiece that will show us the righteous path, but it’s not, it’s just escapism.
Philosophy aside, what is this script?
Is it an anti-bullying statement?
It certainly includes bullying as one of its main plot elements but the stakes are hilariously low for it to be a statement.
Just comparing it to other works of the same medium, e.g. Shigofumi (TV, 2008) can show how far off the mark this film truly is, and it’s not restricted to fictional drama, compared to reality it’s also quite mild. Japan has a serious issue with school bullying and depression that’s often overlooked and ignored.
Instead of going head on into the issue, the story barely pokes it with a stick and moves on to deal with identity drama.
In the end what is the message that it tells? From an outsider point of view, things ended pretty well for the perpetrators.
It’s a romance then?
It certainly would make more sense, given that the bullied little girl somehow falls for its bully boy colleague. Ah, true love which blossoms in the face of adversity, he drew blood from her flesh and tears from her eyes but he also reached her heart!
Yes it truly checks all marks for a sappy romance. How convenient also that the main girl turns out to be a fetching lass and still has feelings for our guy after all those years.
Though, if this is a romance, why is our main couple so clueless about each other’s mental state? How is it possible that they do not communicate their thoughts or have trouble even finding subjects for conversation. Isn’t love putting someone else’s happiness over yours or finding the common ground where both can be at peace? Then what does this story tells us, that things miraculously work out on their own? The least you’d expect of a romance is, well, romantic progression.
So it is not a romance, then it must be a coming-of-age story.
It’s possible. Coming-of-age slice-of-life are usually character dramas, which means that the story is controlled by, and centered at, the actions of the main character or ensemble cast. For this to work, however, the focal character must have a strong agency.
Let’s take a look at our male lead:
For (unexplained) reasons he has an (unexplored) epiphany as realizes he’s actually a bad person and therefore deserves to die. He doesn’t go through with it. No significant character development happens until the film’s climax at the end where he finally decides to take the reins of his life.
Now for the female lead:
Pushover who’s a victim of her circumstances. Tries to show some agency but is ultimately overshadowed by stronger side characters.
Now let’s take a look at Yuzuru, side character:
Takes a stand for her sister; is rebellious against her mother (reasons late explained); has influence over many of the main couple’s interactions; set in motion key events of the storyline; shows growth and maturity by the end of the story.
If this was a coming-of-age film, it misplaced the main character.
I hope by now it’s clear the point I’m trying to make. This story is all over the place.
It brings to the table heavy topics but dismisses them one after another leaving the viewer to wonder “wait, are we not going to talk about what just happened?”.
The supportive cast is actually interesting but is too lightweight to be relevant to the plot.
The only strong presence is perhaps Ueno, the supposed antagonist, but she’s too cartoony and too adorable for her own good.
While she plays the villain part quite well, her motifs are never really put to scrutiny besides a poor attempt of one-to-one time with the female lead and by the end of the film, she just decides giving up on being mean.
“wait, are we not going to talk about what just happened?”.
Maybe the source material is better written and KyoAni butchered it, who knows.
It lacks realism for it to be a real criticism,
(see Ghibli’s Omoide Poroporo, Ocean Waves, Poppy Hill).
But it also lacks pomp and circumstance for it to be an enjoyable fantasy drama
(see Mari Okada stuff).
A decent Katawa Shoujo spin-off in the end.
For those who enjoy pictures, this review was originally posted on my "blog" fakemorisummer.wordpress.com, I'm just reposting it here so I remember the numeric values I gave for each element of the film.
Did you know Hayamin voiced Shouko? That's quite the expensive seiyuu for so few lines.
Jan 2, 2017
Animated Tawawa is one of those little miracles that we must cherish in life. Here's some medium culture worth having:
Each episode is less than 5 minutes and is available online on NicoNico.
Watch it. Didn't like? Walk away. Like it? Watch the rest, it gets comfier.
What is this series?
Getsuyoubi no Tawawa, or Tawawa on Monday, is the anime adaptation of Himura Kiseki's doujinshi series with the same name. It's fundamentally a compilation of episodic short stories revolving, usually, a main average couple and a mundane event.
The purpose of Tawawa, both in its doujinshi and anime form, is to work as a healing antidote against ... Monday Blues. That's precisely why the main characters are Japanese salaryman, new episodes were released on Monday, there's Monday on the title, and the original drawings are all in monochrome blue.
The situations take unrealistic twists, the girls are unrealistically perfect?
This is an escapism series. That's the point.
But there's no plot, it's just fanservice!
Well no shit Sherlock.
The original drawings, which this series is based of, were posted on Himura's twitter (@strangestone) and were mostly without dialogue until serialization was considered. They are supposed to be cute and heartwarming, not tell the greatest love story ever told.
And yes, there's still a solid, concise and well-developed storyline. Which shows Ai-chan and Salaryman's relationship evolving as well as the other characters.
Way more than you'd expect from a 5min ONA (Original Net Animation) doujinshi-inspired short story.
What is Tawawa?
Tawawa is the name of the train station central to the story, where Ai-chan and Salaryman first met. All the stories happen somewhat near it and all the characters are living relatively close to each other, as to say, in the same prefecture.
Tawawa is also slang for "dropping", "overflowing" obvious reference to the amusingly huge racks of the girls appearing on this series.
Then why is this worth watching or special whatsoever?
It's up to you.
Sometimes a little break from reality can be nice. Especially if it's accompanied by cute soundtrack and neat VAs. Maybe it's not your thing, but the short stories are undeniably sweet and will add an extra sugar on your life.
This series in particular could be regarded as special for the future of doujinshi and ONA/OVA adaptations because it marks an accomplishment.
Himura has been growing in the doujin scenario for a while, selling a bunch of volumes on Comiket, but receiving a GOOD anime adaptation of his work like this one is opening the door for many future works to come. Be it from himself or any other author.
It's great to see a promising author get some recognition and on top of that, with a very good animation quality.
Yes, this wasn't exactly a review.
I'm not discussing artwork, sound, directing, etc. it's a bloody ONA.
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Jul 4, 2016
˙ƃuoɹʇs ʎlqɐᴉuǝpun sɐʍ sɹǝʇɹǝʌuoɔ ʇxǝʇ uʍop-ǝpᴉsdn ǝsoɥʇ ɟo ǝuo ƃuᴉsn ʍǝᴉʌǝɹ sᴉɥʇ ƃuᴉʇsod ɟo uoᴉʇɐʇdɯǝʇ ǝɥ┴
Imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from childhood.
These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves.
Behind them is a large bonfire, and between the two there's a walkway where things that get placed on it appear as shadows on the wall in front of the prisoners.
These shadows are cast from people, animals, objects, many things that constitute our reality in their wide ... variety of colors and details. However, for the prisoners who can only see their shadows, those generic dark figures are "reality" because they have never seen anything else; they do not realize that what they see are shadows of objects in front of a fire, much less that these objects are inspired by real living things outside the cave.
Suppose one prisoner is able to escape. Suppose he's dragged out from the cave by someone.
At first he will feel the pain of the sunlight hurting his eyes, he won't be able to see anything, he will hate this outside world and hate the one who dragged him out.
Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually he would realize this is the real world, these are the real things. With that notion in mind, he would try to return to the cave and share his findings with the others prisoners.
However, the returning prisoner, whose eyes have become acclimated to the light of the sun, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners would infer from the returning man's blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey, reacting with violence towards anyone who tried to drag them out of the cave.
Popularly known as the Allegory of the Cave, the short story above is a condensed version of one from the many dialogues Plato wrote in his work The Republic. It studies the effects of education in a society and how the human mind is conditioned to fear the unknown and often reject it. Today, it stands as one of the basis of modern philosophy and every graduation student will likely work with it. However, as many complex interpretations it may create, its message still can be read and understood by anyone.
That's one of the strongest points of Plato's work and that is the connection I wish to make with this anime.
If one sees many science fiction works (classic or modern, futuristic or contemporaneous) through philosophical lens, it becomes clear that they are basically allegories. Allegories of our society, our way of life and our thoughts projected into interstellar beings and steampunk technology. They start from a simple, yet strong, moral as foundation for the story-line and surround it with epic (in the true meaning of the word) Sci-Fi plot elements, immersing the audience into a distant world that yet seems so similar to ours. Finally when it's over, there's this lingering feeling that it taught you something but it's hard telling how and when did it happen.
That's Patema Inverted.
Patema's story is yet another revisit of Plato's cave, embellished by the cutest female protagonist it could possibly have, fun with physics and set in a dystopian future which sometimes seems to have advanced technology and sometimes doesn't.
Plato's allegory has a couple of main elements to it. The prisoners, the people outside the cave, those who create the shadows and the cave itself. All of these exist in this movie, it's now up to you finding who is who and which is which.
Overall, it's a great script. Minor flaws, no loose ends and a clear progression that makes for a comfy afternoon watch but nothing memorable to be reminiscent in years to come. Its strongest point is the development of the relationship between Patema and Age, two brave younglings who overcome each their own society's prejudice to help its fellow man (or girl, in this case) with the typical naive bravery of the martyr hero, making it hard not to fall for them.
This great development, however, is butchered by the most one-dimensional cardboard antagonist one could imagine. It simply feels as if the writing team just worked so hard on the setting and progression for the MC that they forgot how it integrated with their surrounding, resulting into a villain with no bigger goals or any excuse for its attitudes aside from being "a bad guy".
Was there even a need for a villain in this story? They could've worked it in some many ways without the need for a Judas, but unfortunately didn't.
On the upside though, it's very interesting how writers managed to use the now-repetitive "secluded society" theme in a refreshing setting. It deviates from the usual underground setting common on many titles such as TTGL and City of Ember and introduces a world where there's literally inverted people. Think gravity, no spoilers.
This was surprisingly well executed in the physics department with only a few acceleration flaws to be accounted for.
Story and its merits aside, the artwork is neat with some very detailed background and gorgeous sky/horizon shots. The way they worked with perspective is very curious to say the least, and there are some scenes that will definitely drive those with vertigo insane.
Utter respect for the crew responsible for particles animation as that must've been a nightmare.
This simple yet careful drawing tied with a very emotional OST does make of Patema a noteworthy experience. Michiru Oshima (same woman who did the music for Sora no Woto) delivers again with a great selection of instrumental pieces and a strong ending theme.
Reason I bring up Sora no Woto is that, those who watched it will recall that the final ending theme was somewhat peculiar. "Servante de feu", by musician Matthieu Ladouce was in french, nothing more fitting for a series that mixes up a bunch of international elements than an international song.
The same happens this time, as "Patema Inverse" by Estelle Micheau is in no other language than Esperanto. An international constructed auxiliary language, created with the objective to make easier the communication between people no matter the nationality. Perfect for a movie which teaches about solidarity and cooperation.
Likely the biggest hit by Yasuhiro Yoshiura this far, as Eve no Jikan and Pale Cocoon continue to be somewhat of underspoken series, Sakasama no Patema is definitely a solid watch be it for its philosophical undertones, creative camera perspective or simply the "love knows no borders" romance.
A bit cliché? Sure, but as fantasy mimics reality, life also can be cliché at times.
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Jun 30, 2016
One can no longer deny the literary merit of this title.
Out of the huge variety of stories that gets produced yearly for the anime/manga/VN/LN medium, there's one specific group that continue to grow both in popularity as in quality. Call it a subculture, a sub genre, new medium, 18+ pop art, deviant entertainment, whatever you wish but it all means the same thing: porn with plot.
I've convinced myself that "porn with plot" is just a dumb meme word, used by those who want to make fun of Fate/SN fans, and that never a material written mainly for masturbation would actually have a decent, well elaborated ... story.
Well, I was wrong. This title proves the very opposite. It may be part of a new trend -and that would be quite something- or it may also be a single gem that pops up once in a while but whichever its fate may be, what it's doing now is memorable.
MAL calls it "ecchi" and "seinen". Don't fool yourself, it's still porn. Just a rare, refined, tailored kind of porn.
Netoraserare, self explanatory title, explores the lives and sexual misadventures of a newlywed couple. Shuujirou and Haruka seem like a perfectly normal and happy family to the outside observer however when taking a closer, more intimate look, one will realize things aren't that happy nor normal. They have trouble expressing their feelings, Shuujirou has a socially awkward fetish and just like every Japanese relationship, nobody knows how to be direct and clear in a verbal conversation.
Forget nakiges, Key, minori, Mari Okada, your favorite NTR doujinshi, this story pushes the DRAMA in human relationships (as in, sexual relationships) to the furthest.
We are complicated beings, it's no news, specially when interacting with others or knowing your restrains.
But where's the boundary? Who sets a line? How far can you push someone until something is broken?
This story starts with a premise, it makes crystal clear that at least someone will get hurt, there is no win-win situation when you play with people's emotions. It will get ugly, it will get violent and yet, it's arousing. There's a certain pleasure in doing and watching something that feels wrong. That's why you're reading it, isn't it?
The tension builds up to the point you forget about the primitive urge that made you start reading it in the first place and simply continue moving on, page by page, argument by argument, watching characters go through disgust-filled looks, ruined careers, bad nights of sleep, just waiting to see how it will end.
Yes, artwork is also gorgeous, honestly I started reading because of it -before finding out about the many layers of story. It definitely wouldn't be the same thing with, say, Key/Visual Arts tier of character design.
The amount of detail this mangaka puts into his scenes, yet keeping it straightly realistic is phenomenal. Not only that, Haruka's design is also an instant pick up.
It's probably good advice to check the rest of his stuff.
Perhaps it's because of the strong cultural identity Japan enforces or the huge clash between ultra-conservationism and experimental youth, either may it be, it's undeniable they provide the most "dude, that's fucked up" overly-dramatic romances.
Give this thing a try and see for yourself.
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Feb 7, 2015
"Pupa perfume and an Amati violin... That girl must be the beloved daughter of a wealthy family."
This quote, whose subject is nobody else than Henrietta and the speaker a bomb-making terrorist, is probably the best representation of this series. Its irony is not only painful but extremely clever.
As one who've read the synopsis would guess, Henrietta is not the daughter of a wealthy family, but a trained child assassin that carries her P90 automatic PDW on a violin case. The perfume is a "reward" she received from her Agency "guardian" for the successfully termination of an 8-members terrorist group.
She doesn't have a true family, and ... whenever she'd be truly loved and cherished if she ever failed on her duties is unknown.
Still, if they've met 2-3 years ago, that bomb-maker would be right on the spot. Henrietta used to be, and have, all of those things, until the day violence struck her life and killed her family. She was supposed to be dead with them, if it wasn't the Social Warfare Agency, that saved her, healed her and gave her a new reality.
A reality that protects others from the fate she had, smells like gunpowder and tastes like blood.
Should she be thankful? Regretful? Comply or rebel?
She know it not.
She can not know.
When the Agency took her in and made of her a weapon, she received "conditioning" -letter soup for brainwashing-.
So, ultimately, the question will inevitably be: Is this ethically acceptable? Isn't this fight terrorism with terror?
And still, why little girls? Couldn't they do it with grown man? Wouldn't it be more socially acceptable to do so?
Well, conditioning (brainwashing) works better with little kids.
Also, it sells more figures and merchandise.
Gunslinger Girl is a heavy and exhaustive drama, that constantly shifts through cruelty, social criticism and glimpses of hope for a better world. All in form of TV animation, and you watch it... for entertainment.
It's not something you will easily forget on the day after, and comedy lovers might stop reading right here because there's none of it.
It's filled with angst, suffering, and violence. But not graphic violence like similar titles with little assassin girls.
Wisely enough, this series' strength, instead, lies on the reflexive dialogues and the great character design provided by Madhouse.
This doesn't mean, though, that there is no beauty on it. Love, empathy and hope sprouts even on the most unlikable of the situations, and this story surely proves it.
The content of the script is close in mood of the paragraphs above. It does not have many action sequences (a shame, as they are still gorgeously animated) but rather shows the common daily life of the characters, that, on the surface won't portrait the sadness it actually carries.
It's a master of immersion, and that's what hits most of us the most. As you start to sympathize with a character and his/her actions, comes something that makes you doubt him and his morals. But this is no easy thing because as the series constantly makes you judge characters' decisions, it brings to the table whether you'd not do the same thing were you on their position.
This strongly contributes to the deep character agency, but unfortunately not so much to their development.
While these are complex characters with marvelously written personalities and the most convoluted pasts orienting their actions, Gunslinger Girl fails at delivering an actual development (alike the manga, which only focused on it after 5+ volumes). This doesn't affect much of the overall job, but leaves a huge gap on expectations.
Perhaps, though, this was intentional, as a result of the discussed bellow:
The story is organized in a floating time-line.
It does not make clear at the start of an episode if that happened after or prior to what you just watched and you'd only get such information by hints thru it. It's imaginable that some situations would be easy to set on a straight time-line but one will notice as he watches that such thing is not necessarily true for Gunslinger Girl and the reason itself is part of the story.
I understand this might sound confusing but here's the gist of it:
Director Morio Asaka's intention was to show that all of that could be happening right now/at any moment, but ultimately, it evokes a strong melancholy as it shows that no matter what happens or is done, things are prone to stay the same. It's eerie and depressing and that's exactly their goal.
Enough of story, Madhouse did used to spoil us when it came down to soundtrack and animation. This came out in 2003, had a poor budget and still got better in-betweens than currently airing stuff.
The OST fits perfectly the Italian scenario, and the ED runs smoothly with every episode. OP is fine, but also a puzzle on itself: It's a song by a Scottish indie rock band, with lyrics in English, for an anime set in Italy.
One of the reasons this series makes so much emotional impact is surely attributed to character's facial expressions and body language.
The void look on the girls' eyes, the horror of their butchered foes, Giuse's struggling looks, Henrietta unsteadiness while in public, all of it along extremely detailed weaponry, with clear mechanics, and no "anime magical bullets" that makes curves or doesn't have shells.
It's no surprise that many of us, myself included, shall never acknowledge the existence of a "second season" as the studio in charge of that couldn't even dream of matching the quality of this work and just fucked things up.
Finally, I don't have a TL;DR for this.
The motivation for writing this review was that, after 5 years I finally finished reading it, and felt the need to spread the word.
Gunslinger Girl (manga) is definitely not for everyone and will only be fully appreciated by tragedy theater fans.
The anime, however, shines with all its moral debate but also shades a soft light on... hope.
Yes, it manages to balance heartbreak with heart-warm and show the beauty even in the most twisted situations.
Who else did that on the history of this industry?
Gunslinger Girl is a one-in-a-lifetime watch, and a must for any drama anime appreciator.
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Jul 24, 2014
Yes, I gave the most controversial and infamous episodes of 2013 an 8/10. Care to know why before downvoting? Read the review!
It will probably piss off the absurd majority of readers and will probably get buried under page 20~30, but I'll write it anyway.
[Note that this is a review for the "specials" released as eps. 14~16 and the conclusion of the anime]
While I'm still appreciating the afterglow of this series, I get me wondering if the reason why I could fully enjoy it is because I'm not part of the fandom.
This ought to be the most reasonable conclusion, given that it successfully made the entire ... fanbase look like fools.
...well not as terrific as Haruhi's Endless Eight, though.
OreImo originally had a lot of comedy, and I'm more than pleased to see that writers kept that ideal to the very end.
Throughout the whole 2nd season there are scenes with wonderful comedy tones and really good gags. Worth mentioning the skillful performance of the voice actors and animators that managed to get the best of these moments.
Luckily enough, I was one blessed being and wasn't spoiled about the "infamous ending" beforehand so I didn't have many expectations to these final episodes, just that the comedy might loose the spotlight for a bit of drama... or some kind of dark humor.
I wasn't wrong.
However it seems this "comedy" felt like a huge bitchslap for many, given the huge amount of rage-filled reviews here in this community.
It's often said that "you shouldn't turn mad at a story just because your get-a-girl game ended up with a pairing you disliked", but I can't blame these raging reviewers. In this case writers overdid it.
There's no need to review sound, characters, artwork or either of these textbook categories. This is a 3 eps. special and most likely those who are reading it already watched both seasons and don't need someone babbling about it.
You came here for the controversial story, and I shalt deliver it.
As many of you know, the OreImo TV anime is based on both the Visual Novel and the Light Novels.
Its story's setup is the classic harem with the some of most clichés characters it can get (i.e; the childhood friend, the outcast, the pretty and popular bishoujo).
It probably broke records in terms of Tropes in a single series and producers -well aware of that- even joked about it during some episodes.
But this isn't what makes people riot neither what makes it infamous -even though it should-
The true reason is because it decides to take a different path of harems and romances and assimilates more to bittersweet dramas. Usually when a eroge/harem VN is adapted to TV animation, producers choose to animate one "route" and therefore have a clear one-sided ending.
Sometimes they even deviant from the pattern and create an original ending, but there's always a slice of the fanbase that is happy with it, justifying the choice.
That's how the market works, that's how the harem VNs industry works.
But "what if...?"
OreImo -despite this being the shovel that would dig their monetary grave- as incredible as it gets, chooses to animate one single segment of the VN.
Why? Well, you'll find out if you consider external factors to the anime.
Otherwise, you shall not get fooled by this concept. They did took action to prevent a financial failure.
Just think about why it was released as a "special" and not part of the series and how much profit was made out of VNs and LNs and "extras" selling for those who eager for MORE.
If you were spoiled beforehand of what happens in the final minutes, I cannot guarantee you'll enjoy this as much as you could, but it will sure be entertaining to some extend.
I'm too afraid of giving up spoilers if I keep writing so this will end here.
Let's just say that, as a HAREM, this series had a very distributed fanbase, with people "cheering" each one for their own waifus, so it's a rather unlikely scenario that everyone would riot like this, correct? Well, no.
They all got mad in the end.
If writers actions didn't have an explanation then people would indeed have a reason to rage, but considering how it was written, how it happened, the meaning behind it and how it closed up, I can't help but congratulate them.
They took the solution which would work the best for them socially and monetary, and performed this final troll act gloriously!
As an addendum, my apologies to formal norm-followers review writers/readers. Indeed "I" couldn't help but include first person sentences in this text.
It isn't meant to be serious anyway, so it's fine.
Now you can downvote.
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Jun 18, 2014
"A dark, brutal, psychedelic orgy of sex and violence that culminated in the mass extinction of humanity set to an optimistic J-pop song with lyrics about suicide."
-David Uzumeri; ComicsAlliance.
Now that I've driven away those who can't take others' opinions or a harsher critic, let's go for the review.
It's being on discussion for years now whatever this movie is. If it's a sequel for the original TV series, if it's just an alternative ending or if it's the "real" ending that was originally written by Anno.
Actually, it doesn't even matter because essentially these three are the same.
The most accurate description that we can give for this ... movie (not the quote above) is that it follows the continuity and timeline of the TV series, using even repeated footage to testify, and narrates what happened before and during the Intrumentalization. Precisely, the events which were skipped on eps. 25~26. As the movie itself is divided, it's the story of "Air" and "The beast that shouted..." deconstructed and expanded.
Putting in other terms, it's the ending told from a different perspective, a more in-depth perspective. While the TV ver. focused on explaining what has happening inside people's mind during Instrumentality, the movie shows us what led to that and what was happening on the surface.
Independent from the label it gets, End Of EVA gave the audience a solid conclusion for the story, leaving almost no lose ends for those who were willing -and were capable- of some interpretation.
By "capable" meaning: rewatching some episodes and researching information on the symbolism that is used.
...According, it also shed some light on those who suffered a brain meltdown after "Congratulations!".
Another polemical question is whenever this movie was "necessary" or not.
You can read a share of the critics saying it's just GAINAX milking a money cow. However, just like not every fanboy trip around the symbolism of the franchise is true, things aren't exclusively commercial like this. GAINAX and Anno sure had their income from EoE, otherwise it wouldn't even be produced, but in the same side of the coin, it bought altogether the closure this series needed.
Given the final episodes of the TV version, it was clear that the story wasn't finished. In fact, at the time the TV series was about to end, the production of this movie was already being considered.
Hints of this fact are all over the place. AS for an example, the preview for episode 25 that aired at the end of episode 24 didn't contain scenes from ep. 25, those were sketches from this movie and the off-vocal description of it was also about the events from the movie.
This wasn't by accident, neither someone had the idea to "hey, let's retell this ending in case people don't get it" it was indeed planned before.
Hideaki's original script was way bigger and and more complex than the one produced. It originally had 28 Angels, 8 complete EVA units and the chapters about the Instrumentalization composed almost 1/4 of the final piece. Moreover, not only it was longer but also way more brutal and dark, holding Hideaki's original purpose of addressing the violence, indifference and the alienation of the audience itself.
Obviously, this wasn't possible.
Not only because of the censorship restrictions that would affect a TV series but also for the lack of time and budget to produce all this in 26 episodes. So, in order to give this closure and for the series finally show its "true colors" this movie was made.
Right at the start, they make sure to advise you that the approach won't be as behaved as the TV series, with Shinji's line "I'm so fucked up" being the most accurate and memorable description of it.
An easy and clear example of it, the "Prog Knife" of Unit-02 is actually a cutter (craft knife), did you know? Those used to cut paper that works better than a scissors? Isn't something extremely brutal killing something with that?
This is pretty interesting, not only because it conflicts with the (surface) innocent setting of the beginning of the story, where Shinji was just a boy and EVA was just a giant robot, but because it pictures the theme of the franchise itself: The conflict between the artificial, divine serenity and the crude, ugly, HUMAN truth.
Now, it's not an easy task make people feel uncomfortable but also accomplish it role as entertainment and "art".
EoE succeeded at it. The most solid prof if it is that after so many years people like me are still writing about it, and somewhere there's someone still reading about it.
It sure led into a completely polar and mixed reception but endured, recognized, through it.
The key to this success was on the manner, the elements, that were used to provoke feelings on the audience. This was, without a doubt, when Hideaki's talent as a direction and screenplay writer stood out.
Be prepared for a audio-visual assault, with sequences of shots and images rapidly being thrown at your screen, some at an absurd 1 frame/second timing along with a complete mayhem of sound, voices, dialogue, speeches.
The color pallet as well, shifts abruptly from deep calm colors to a berserk of exposure and high contrast.
-Seriously, it should be strongly enforced that people with epilepsy carefully watch this movie close to medical support. It surprises me the lack of warnings.-
In case you didn't get what I mean, this will become very clear near the ending but not before we listen to one of the reasons the OST for this franchise is outstanding.
NGE had "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" as a symbol of how important and cool the soundtrack can be. Analogically, EoE introduced us to "Komm, Susser Tod" which is German (as you probably guessed) for "Come, sweet death".
When it's played and why it means so much to the plot will be left as a surprise for the reader to find out.
Actually, since I'm already on the topic. A lot of names, text, symbology from this franchise are in German. It's worth google'ing it out. SEELE, NERV... EVA.
End of Evangelion did what it said it would. They couldn't find a better self-explanatory title for this movie than this one.
As a theatrical production, it had more freedom and a bigger space to spread its wings and show the crew and the story's full potential. To the point, nowadays it stands as a landmark and reference anime from the golden 90's with all it could offer. Giant robots, psychedelic shots, HIDEAKI! and to not be forgotten, the character design. Which set the pattern for many others, and not only this, but above all, its focus wasn't on being MOE or "cute" but SEXY.
Anime is entertainment, entertainment is art, Evangelion is art. And just like some paintings in museums, not everybody will appreciate it and some people need to take lots of steps back in order to understand it.
Who wants some Tang?
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Jun 13, 2014
"Essentially a 'Power Rangers' episode writ large: i.e., super-teens piloting big, powerful machines and saving the world from monsters. We've seen it all before [...]"
- Mark Schilling; Contemporary Japanese Film 1999.
When talking about Evangelion, it's imperative -and inevitable- to also digress about the people and elements involved with the production of the anime. It's already inserted in the common sense the idea that this series isn't a "regular" one, however most people don't know why is it neither what makes it different.
That said, the objective here is expose a bit of it, starting with its director/creator. The name: Anno Hideaki.
Hideaki is one of the ... most notorious and referenced names in post-modern anime, being one of the strongest names into mecha/SciFi series and the precursor in the use of surreal/psychedelic elements as a tool to tell the story in the major anime industry.
He became famous undeniably because of Evangelion, but sure had other great works before and after it, being Gunbuster and KareKano wonderful examples. However, besides being personal favorites of mine, for the general masses "what the hell is KareKano?".
This success with EVA, putting in simple terms, can be explained as a series of factors that (by luck perhaps) came together. First, in 1996 we were living the "era of the mecha" so an anime about giant robots was absurdly popular. At the same time it content was a epic about Japanese people fighting to protect the humanity against the forces of evil, an (nationalist) trump card that always works. This mixed with bearable animation, with interesting scenarios and a gorgeous OST was enough to catch a decent audience.
Still, it wouldn't turn out as the phenomenon EVA is today. What made it grow in audience and in "importance" was the perfect symmetric balance between these elements mentioned above and a pretentious -and well played- christian/jewish symbolism, which concealed a metaphorical meaning for the entire story.
Anno sure did his homework and most of this symbolism is placed and act at perfect continuity and follows the same school of thought during the entire series, but at the same time, by being eccentric it also got the attention of the people who weren't interested -or didn't even get- this symbolism using it as an excuse to push the story to deeper and deeper levels of complexity that anime as an entertainment usually didn't/don't have.
We've all seen things fail at this before. It's easy to cite series that tried to bring this complexity to the story and failed to it or didn't succeed at commercial (profitable) areas. EVA did it, and continue to do it throughout the years as we see the re-popularization of it now in 2014 with the "Rebuild" series and its conclusion coming up soon.
Other key factor at this scenario is GAINAX. Perhaps if EVA was produced by any other anime studio we wouldn't see the same results and -I dare to say- it (maybe) wouldn't reach the same levels of popularity.
It's well known that GAINAX likes surreal scenarios and eccentric angles/settings in their series. An easy to spot characteristic of their productions is definitely the deconstruction of the linearity of a storyline. It shifts from past to present, with flashbacks and memories introducing new characters and explaining past events thru monologues and -strongly in EVA's case- imagery.
Another characteristic of the studio, which also fits Hideaki's style is the extensive use of black screens with huge text. Sometimes part of the dialogue, sometimes just words.
The use of this resource at the time when EVA aired can as well be related to the financial issues the studio was going through. Simply, right during the conclusion of the series eps 16 onwards, they were running out of money.
But what does it means? It means that they had to cut production value and with that reduce the effects, the rendering and the expenses with intricate battle scenes or editing/coloring and probably the most dangerous part of it, deviate from the original script in order to shrink and compact it.
This resulted in longer static scenes, repeated footage and more black screens with text, however -an this is were the "magic" exists- due to the series' extensively explored symbology, it didn't feel awkward, it just fit perfectly the whole piece and the mood of those last episodes in a way one could hardly tell the company was bad at their financial sector just by watching it.
It's definitely a question without an answer what would be of NGE if it wasn't produced under those specific circumstances.
The story is simple and the quote at the beginning of the review explains most of it. The pacing of the beginning of the story is typical of a battle shounen and there's nothing exceptional to it.
things will get interesting middle on.
First of all, there are no biblical undertones in this series, those are OVERtones. So if you find something in the series "similar" or that "might" be a reference to a real object, happening, history, whatever you can bet it is.
It's extremely hard to "review" this story without getting into the badlands of the spoilers section, so let's just leave pieces of advice.
Anno wrote Evangelion after recovering from clinical depression, that's why the story has this feeling of self-discovering and self-analysis. Some of the struggles the characters face during the development of the plot are reflections of things he went through himself.
Besides other things, EVA strongly addresses violence of all kinds and intensities. Mostly shown through symbolism but also graphically. It's not "inappropriate" but I personally wouldn't recommend for children or anyone PG-13.
The show indeed leads to a psychoanalysis towards the ending. No need to question of you missed something or is watching the wrong sequence of episodes, that's how it works.
If the ending isn't satisfying, try the End Of Evangelion (movie, 1997). It's not allegedly a sequel, but could be considered one.
Characters are also "spoilerful". To be honest, the series itself will review them for you. Every single aspect of them, even more than you'd be interested to know.
There are some reasons why people come to NGE's page or get interested in the anime. One, is the already mentioned GIANT FREAKING ROBOTS. Another reason -more hilarious than the first- would be because you encountered an Ikari Shinji MEME, joke or even a "hate-thread". Things like "Get in the f**king robot, Shinji!!" could be considered anime pop culture.
Shinji is our male protagonist and as will be shown in the very first episode have some issues that will conflict with his "duty" that is riding the giant mecha. He ends up as the Christ for all the mocking and jest, but the point of the story is show that every single character have issues, after all, we're all humans but at the same time we can all deal with it and move forward and sometimes...
-"Shounen become a legend!"
The third reason why people get interested in this anime, the opening.
It's addictive, it's beautiful, the instrumental is wonderful and those first 17 seconds are priceless. Even the harsher critics I've read this far all agreed with one thing about the series: The opening was great. You watch it 26 times and it never gets boring.
Not only the audio segment but also the animation and editing of it. As the review have been suggesting 'till this far, you might imagine that the OP also holds a symbolism to itself. Well, guess what, it does. It's interesting that you will get it piece by piece as the series progress, just like completing a puzzle.
Shin Seiki Evangelion, literally "Message/gospel of a new century/age" translated to 'Neon Genesis Evangelion' basically because it sounds "cool and complicated" set a cultural landmark to 90's anime and a new anchor point to many drama and mecha series that would come after it.
Its references and symbolism requires at least one rewatch for fully comprehension and if one is interested in the franchise should catch up with End Of EVA as well.
This is not something everyone will enjoy, but if you're at least curious, it's worth checking it out. Not as a series that will be forever remembered by you, but as an experiment. Likewise, anyone who takes his/hers animu "seriously" should have it marked on its list.
...what a horrible conclusion for a review.
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Mar 9, 2014
"The heartbreak and triumph of the masterful conclusion to one of the most beloved anime series ever."
Clannad ~After Story~ is a charming roller-coaster of emotions ...and you certainly have heard that before.
Using figures of speech isn't the best way to describe something in detail. However, for this franchise the rule does not apply, because the focus of Clannad's story is on people, their relationships and their feelings. The story itself acts like a living being, suffering changes and progressing step by step alongside characters, creating something curious, because this symbiosis develops so well and so smoothy that saying it is charming, beautiful, endearing, heartbreaking and ... all these adjectives become the most accurate way to describe it.
It's a story that is easy to get attached to, something that's hard to find in some generic romance/drama anime where, most of the time, characters seem patterned or act in unnatural ways. Clannad brings such realistic situations that most of the people who watch can really put themselves in the characters' shoes. Maybe because they've been through situations like that in their lives before or just because the story becomes endearing to a point anyone could feel sympathetic with it.
The following is mostly focused on story and characters. If you want a quick resume, jump to the Final Considerations;
"Clannad" is an old Irish word for "family" and, of course, it's no coincidence. This series' theme and focus, besides all those mentioned above, is indeed the importance of family. But not only the orthodox definition of family, composed of parents and a child, what is beautiful in Clannad is that it expands this idea to all the circles of people's lives and all kinds of "families". The circle of friends you're in, your work, college and even the community you're inserted in, just like a whole city is a large family of people who interact with each other.
Doesn't it remind you of the Dango Daikazoku? While paying attention to the lyrics, one can get an accurate view of the story.
Just like that, the After Story manages to go beyond the first season, where it appeared that the moral of the story was limited to expressing the importance of friends and relationships in general.
Considering that you, reader, have already watched the first season, you might have heard that it was based on a Visual Novel and that both seasons were originally part of the same game. However, in Nagisa's route, the story became too deep and emotionally charged, so the production staff decided to divide it. When the animation came out, the same happened, leaving for the first series a more easygoing mood in a school slice-of-life scenario, but giving the After Story a chance to sacrifice a bit of this atmosphere and the comedy side of the show in order to effectively build up its emotional appeal, reinforcing the series' central theme and spicing it with a bittersweet drama/romance.
Because, in the end, After Story's focus is, in fact, telling the bittersweetness of Tomoya's life.
It resumes old plot questions that were left open when the 1st season ended and shows Tomoya and Nagisa's relationship progressing, while their friends move on with their lives. It goes all the way from finishing high-school to entering the “adult world” and facing new adversities and challenges, finally giving a solid conclusion, different from the “They lived happy after ever” we're used to.
That's also why most of the “plot holes” and flaws stayed behind in the first season, leaving few and small issues for this one in a way that isn't even worth mentioning.
But, saying that a 24 episode series tells the story of a person's life isn't too much?
That's why I mean it in the symbolic way, the philosophical meaning of the beginning of a world, of a life, not in the biological sense. After all, doesn't a life start when it is given a meaning, an objective?
Especially that first encounter between Tomoya and Nagisa. It holds a meaning beyond the “boy meets girl” setup, but is only revealed in After Story.
The division of episodes into "arcs" is the same, even though, since the focus in now on the couple, we barely see Yohei, Kyou or Kotomi, for example, in the later episodes.
Still on the matter of characters, Fuko fans will rejoice to know she has some appearances this season -although more as a tension reliever than anything- which becomes pretty obvious when you notice her arc in the story ended long ago and that her scenes are now just a manner producers found to break the melodramatic mood. The downside of this is that a character who used to have depth becomes flat and somewhat of an outcast in the middle of all the serious events. Those who didn't notice this probably stayed confused and annoyed by her suddenly and completely random appearances.
The same thing happens with some episodes between arcs. Have you ever heard of breather episodes? That's what people like to call the episodes placed between or after heavy emotional sections of the story, letting the viewer relax a bit. However, with Clannad, it was a bit different. The responsibility for those moments was placed on Fuko's character, and the breather episode took a completely different setting. This quote from TvTropes explains it:
"It's odd to consider the first episode of a season as a breather episode, but episode 1 of ~After Story~ certainly qualifies. After the power of the end of the first season, and before all of the nuclear powered emotional scenes later in ~After Story~, it starts with the cast... playing baseball."
That's why Clannad doesn't work for everybody.
-It's worth leaving a warning here rather than regret not doing it later.-
Fans of action packed thrillers or strong dramas where everybody dies and there's a bunch of gore or bloodshed won't be entertained by Clannad, and probably will drop it right away. Clannad is a psychological drama, that requires some interpretation and a lot of attention, but at the same time it is CUTE, filled with CUTE characters in a charming and calm environment. There are no bad words, no FANSERVICE, no fights, no bankruptcy, no thieves, it's indeed an utopia, a "Lovely Drama" after all ...if that is even possible.
Can't the skeptics appreciate the beauty of it?
It's kind of useless saying it in the 2nd season review, but considering that some people might read this before watching the first season, keep in mind that this is a romance, that develops into a very emotional packed drama, and it has a lot of references to Japanese culture, habits, and especially relationships in the sense of "interaction". And this is something that always appears in discussion forums, the physical interaction between characters, most notorious between Nagisa and Tomoya, questions such as "why can't they kiss?" or "wth? not even a hug?" are common complaints.
Actually, it's supposed to be like that. This is one of the series' objectives, showing that people can express their love with passion in different and meaningful ways that aren't restricted to hugs, kisses and some other R+ rated things...
This is one of the main reasons it's also easily recommended as “family entertainment”, meaning, it's a series you won't feel awkward if someone steps in while you're watching. Kids could watch it, and even though they wouldn't get the undertones, would still be able to appreciate it.
Yes! As you probably noticed so far, it's filled with subtext and symbolism.
It's a Key/Visual Arts anime after all, what were you expecting?
I said it is charming in many ways, didn't I?
First of all, the artwork is astonishingly beautiful and character design doesn't stray behind. KyoAni makes sure to -again- prove why they are one of the companies with the best illustration artist of the industry.
Clannad has been considered before to be one of the best "bishoujo animes" ever released, meaning, you won't find a female character that looks "ugly" (even beauty being a relative thread). Actually, not even a single cat could be considered ugly in this series.
Some scenery look like they were removed from a painting and even some dishes look delicious to eat when zoomed in. Particle effects animation for things such as rain and cherry blossom-gales was carefully conduced creating really astonishing scenes and effects. One will surely recall the first scene of the anime on the school hill when talking about visual effects. The amount of color, brightness, highlights and undertones in some scenes really helped to bring feelings up and set the environment.
As for the soundtrack, the OST is majestic just like the one for the first season was. With calm and gentle pieces for the sadder moments but also funky and happy synthetic compositions for the easygoing moments.
The seiyuus chosen for the main characters were also perfect choices. Nagisa's seiyuu, Mai Nakahara, with her calm and gentle voice, really helped creating comforting and relaxing dialogues together with Yuuichi Nakamura's strong and more serious voice of Tomoya. It was a perfect match.
Nice to mention, the English version licensed by Sentai which contains the dubbed ver. is also great. The voice actors chosen have similar vocal characteristics from the originals, the only thing that (for me) is a downside of dubbed versions is the loss of the honorifics after the names (e.g: Tomoya-kun).
Regarding sound and artwork, it's impossible to forget the opening sequence. Not just for the music, but also for the way the scenes were organized and which ones were selected. That OP by itself is a masterpiece.
An interesting thing about it is that it spoils the entire series. However, it does it in a way you will only notice after you finish watching. Then, if you aren't surprised enough, watch again the first opening for the first season and behold more hidden heavy plot spoilers!
Still, in an imperfect world not everything is perfect, and the Ending theme was sure a miscast. Its lively and happy nature fit the first episodes pretty well, but from the middle of the series onwards it was a horrible mood killer. Unlike Dango Daikazoku that was a "neutral" ending theme, this one couldn't possibly look good after a strong dramatic scene. It almost seems like somebody is making fun of you for getting emotional with the episode.
It completely demolishes all the melodramatic atmosphere the last scenes created to a way that after a while, it becomes healthier to stop the playback before it starts if you don't want to get mad with it. Any other song with a slower pace, or even a calm and gentle vocal piece, would be a better ED for the series than this one.
That said, this completely removes one point from the "Sound" rating of the series.
If you're planning on skipping the first season and only watching this one, don't do it. You'll lose so many things that nothing of the After Story will make sense. After all, it's the AFTER story, you need the STORY in order to properly interpret things. Duh.
What is great about Clannad is that it doesn't force emotions on you.
Unlike other series where every single little thing is an excuse to bring up sad violin pieces and show characters crying all over the place, Clannad kind of "warns" you when a sad moment is coming. You can feel it approaching but end up playing along without even noticing because even though you know it's heartbreaking you also know it will get a conclusion and that this is part of the path, not just a random tear-jerking scene.
This anime isn't like a summer story. We've accompanied these characters through a whole part of their lives and it's sad to say goodbye. It's sad to let go. This is the kind of series that someone will always cherish, with characters that make you want to look after them, wish them a happy life. If the first season made you tear up, then After Story will too. With such a beautiful ending, even the most cynical would shed a tear.
It is a masterpiece not only on the numeric score, on the drama topic or the romance side, but as a complex symphony of story, sound, voice acting, subtext, art, design, with all instruments together, resonating in a pattern of vibration even Kotomi's parents couldn't predict in their theory.
Story: 10 | Artwork: 10 | Sound: 8 | Characters: 9 | Enjoyment: 10 | Overall: 10.
In the end, few shows rise to the levels this one does.
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Mar 7, 2014
"Can you promise me?"
These are dangerous words, and the answer that may follow them is even more dangerous. Sometimes people say it carelessly and wont be able to keep that promise, specially kids, since they still don't know the impact some words might have.
This is the main focus of Kanon. Things that happened on the past and haven't been forgotten. Promises that were done, and haven't been kept.
It's a unusual but still very interesting theme, that fits perfectly with the style of drama-romance Key/Visual Art's have. For those who aren't familiar with their visual novels and anime adaptations yet, Kanon would be a nice start. ... It's above the average VisualNovel adaptations you usually find. Of course, just like any other anime adapted from a VN, it does follow that concept of dividing the story into "arcs" one for each character, however, Kanon did this is such a unique way that the story flows naturally making the storyline clean and easy to follow. It isn't slow paced neither rushed, and may be a little depressing but nothing like a roller-coaster of emotions. A soft and beautiful tale, that may move some to tears and others not.
This time, MAL did a really nice job in the summary for this series, I don't have much to add. It's concise and leaves that curiosity on the air. In order to not be repetitive I'll just do a brief introduction of it.
Yuiichi is an average high-school boy who just arrived at a countryside town where always snows. He used to go there a lot when he was little, and he would always stay in his cousin's house. However, due to some issues that he doesn't remember very well himself, he stopped going there. Now, after these long years he returned to this city, and while the days go by he will start to remember some things and some people from his past.
Being Key's 'winter' project it is interesting to find the symbolism into some elements of the story. Why a city where it is always snowing? What emotions can we attach to winter, sadness maybe? Melancholy? Nostalgia? Those metaphors are all around the series, mixes in light "supernatural" and "fantasy" elements.
Just like that, each of the characters also have an symbolism attached to them. Most of them represent stereotypes of common anime series. The shy girl, the tsundere, the funny and friendly guy... Even though, as many may thing, they are not plain characters. These stereotypes are attached to them but what the anime wants to show is that people can, and will, eventually change. Along the series, lots of episodes are focused solely on character development and this is one of the strongest points of Kanon. It differs from most of the romance series, where only the main characters actually have some development.
Something nice to point out, is that this series from KyoAni is already a remake from an anime of 2002. Then, you might ask, "why should I watch this one rather then the first?".
The answer I'd give is pretty simple:
Both are based on the same VisualNovel so, despite minor differences and some changes on the ending, the story is the same. KyoAni could learn from the mistakes Toei Animation did, and improved the script, just like with a higher budget and a new technology they could go further on the animation, sound and artwork.
This wasn't the first time they did an anime adaptation of a Key's VN, and the previously projects turned out really well, so, If I were you, I'd bet my chips on this one.
Like that, the artwork and the soundtrack were a joy of sidekicks.
All the light/filters effects KyoAni have in their arsenal made of artwork one of the strongest supporters for the story. This, allied with a diverse selection of piano pieces -sometimes in a cheerful mood and sometimes in a dark and sadder tone- with also a strong opening increases the emotional factor the story carries.
Being I one of those people who gives a lot of value for this two topics, it is great when I can say honestly in a review that the anime managed to blend all of them very well.
No complains here.
Even though, Kanon does have some broken strings and loose ends.
One of the biggest problems studios face while adapting a VN to anime is how will they write the ending. In the Visual Novel you have lots of alternative endings, each for a character or situation. During the anime producers could choose into animating all routes but when it comes to an end it needs to be decided which one will be "the one". They could select one or merge them all but always considering the pace of the story.
Here is where Kanon messes up a bit with the great story that was developed so far. Close to the end it becomes really slow paced, in a way someone with a small attention spam would soon find it boring. Just for in the last couple of episodes, finish in a incredibly fast mood. It suddenly switch from a calm pace to a very rushed final episode, making all that storyline that was elaborated throughout the whole series be obfuscated by an predicable ending. Leaving for you just that bad taste of "what? Oh. It's over."
Besides, Kanon do strikes again even in that messed ending.
It doesn't try to impose emotions or feels on you like some other dramas when it comes to emotional scenes. The scenes flows naturally with a clear OST that isn't forceful which is great because this way you don't loose the focus.
Sometimes, people like refer to Kanon as "Clannad's OVA" or "Clannad little sister".
While it is funny to say that, you must be very careful if you will make an assumption like that. It is not something nice to say for someone who is new to anime, because that person won't get what you're trying to say and will loose his/her interest in this series.
Both animes do share some characteristics. The setting of the story is similar and also some characters. As you would expect from two stories that share the same author. However, I would say Clannad is a romance with drama, while Kanon is a drama with romance. Both for those with strong hearts!
Overall, it is a story everyone should watch. And watch open minded, appreciating the ideals the story is trying to share.
Just a end-of-review curiosity, The series name comes from the title of an composition by a german baroque composer called Pachelbel. Pachelbel's Kanon. ("Canon/Kanon" stands for a style, where a main melody is followed by several "imitations" of it, like if it is being repeated, just with crescendos and tempo variations).
Reminds the series opening?
Coincidentally or not, another famous baroque arrangement is named "-Air- on the G string" another Key's title.
As always, thank you for your time! ...And yes. We all agree this kind of eroge-adapted harem is kinda cliché. But what can you do? They are also addicting as fuck!
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