Fall 2011 Final Review

Back for a final review of the Fall 2011 season. For simplicity sake, I’m dividing this post into “finished” and “continuing” series. Series that have reached a definitive end (even if just for now) and don’t have any rumor of possible continuation, are deemed “finished”, and series like Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon and Guilty Crown, which are most definitely going to be continued, are deemed “continuing”.

For “finished” series, this season I followed Shinryaku!? Ika Musume, Working’!!, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Ben-to, and Tamayura~hitotose.  Shinryaku!?, Working’!!, and Tamayura are all continuations from previous seasons or OAVs, while Boku wa, Ben-to, and  are original premiers.  The more comedic series, Shinryaku!?, Boku wa, and Working’!!, offered a refreshing break in-between more action or character-driven series like Ben-to, and Tamayura.  But that’s not to say the comedies didn’t offer their own substance in way of character development or excitement.  In general, the series I would like to see more of, and think there’s a chance of a continuation are Boku wa Tomodachi ga SukunaiC³and Working’!! (I feel like there’s still room for fresh material to continue the story of the Wagnaria crew).  Ben-to and Tamayura~hitotose both reached logical, definite conclusions, and I’m satisfied with their endings. I’m almost apprehensive of asking for another season of Ben-to, as this may not live up the enjoyment of the first season (but I’m all for more Asebi, so I’d be willing to try it if it did get a second season).  Shinryaku! Ika Musume, while amusing to me, is really a hit-and-miss sort of comedy style, and it’s quite fortunate to have gotten this second season.  I’m not hopeful for a third season, but if the hit-and-miss hits enough people to generate good revenue, enough to justify a third season, more power to them.

(I’m not used to giving ratings, but I’ll see how this goes.) Overall, for “finished” series this Fall 2011 season, I’d give an 8.7 out of 10.  A lot of the series, as stated, are continuations from previous seasons or OAVs, so they bank on previous success.  But there was quite a good bit of excellent new material to give a nice blend of old favorites and fresh series to keep me thoroughly entertained.

 

On to the “continuing” series, Guilty Crown, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, and Gundam AGE.  Ultimately, the only two I’m eager to see continue are Guilty Crown and Kyoukai Senjou, as they are the only ones to truly not make me cringe 90% of the time.  Guilty Crown was poised to become the next Code Geass, but, as many other blogs will quickly remark, this just wasn’t the case. Ohma Shu is no Lelouch Lamperouge.  But I do admire the unique premise, drawing voids that take on form depending on the owner’s heart is very interesting and I’ve been surprised to the individuality and applications of the voids Shu has so far drawn.  While the main protagonist leaves much to be desired, the 11th episode, marking the halfway point of the series, shows him finally acting the part of the hero. My fingers are crossed that this will continue into the Winter 2012 season.  Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon also broke it’s pre-determined impressions, as many, including myself, spent much of the series wondering what was going on.  While normally this would be considered a minus for a series, Kyoukai Senjou pulls it off in such a fashion that makes me overlook the confusion and enjoy it more so now that everything just seems to be happening in a way that makes me happy to understand.  While this is a confusing idea to some (trust me, I’m still wrapping my head around it), I’m still looking forward to the second season, announced to air in 2012.  Finally, there’s Gundam AGE, my most disappointing series this season.  Not that there’s inherently anything wrong with it, but if you’ve seen other Gundam series such as Gundam 00, Gundam AGE seems to spit in the face of previous success. The character designs are very childish, as is the dialogue, and I’ve never found myself rooting for the bad guys because I can’t stand what they did to the Gundam design.  I’ve really only continued watching because, steadily, AGE is recovering ground inch-by-inch. Supposedly this series is going to span three generations, i.e. Flit’s son and grandchild eventually become the focus. I’m hoping for Flit to leave the cockpit soon, I honestly can’t stand the thought of someone as generally annoying as that child piloting (what is, in my opinion) one of the greatest machines ever imagined.

Rather disappointing “continuing” series, compared what I expected going into Fall 2011.  My rating is a 7.0 out of 10.  Passable because the tail-end of the season sees some remnants of what I hoped for going in.  For Guilty Crowns sake, Shu better man up or shut up, take a lesson from Dan the Man and use some “GUTS!”.   Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon needs to do nothing but continue the great plot movement of the last 4 or so episodes in the first season (I fear the first episode of the second season will be a recap of the first season, if anyone involved with this show is reading, please don’t do this, just jump right back into the story).  Gundam AGE…*sigh* just, stop ruining what I like about the Gundams. If Flit is going to lose, don’t let it be because of something so simple as type-disadvantage.  If Flit is going to whine, let someone else b**** slap him. And if the UE is an alien force, give them a good reason for attacking human colonies (may I suggest reading the Ender’s Game series? very good example of extraterrestrial misunderstanding).

Next season has less in store (for me, anyway) than Fall 2011. I plan on following Kill Me, Baby! and Another for sure. As well as continuing Guilty Crown and Gundam AGE.  There’s a high possibility that I’ll pick up others perhaps a few episodes in if I get good impressions and have the time.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Additional note, just finished Azusa Nakano’s Speed Draw :3, you can check them out here. Enjoy, and Happy New Year.

Tamayura~hitotose: A Brand New Year/Final Review

Hey minna,
back with my favorite slice of life for the season, for the final episode of Tamayura~hitotose.  Fu and friends’s exhibition finally begins, with Momoneko-sama as their first customer… Their show brings in all of their friends and family, from near and far, as Fu showcases her photography, Kaoru her aromas, Norie’s sweets, and Maon’s original recital of “The Fairy of Takenoko; Noko-chan”.

Fu’s photos instill all the emotions she sought to capture into everyone who viewed them.  Kaoru finally gets to properly display her talents for her father.  Everyone can’t get enough of Norie’s sweet confections.  And Maon thrills the audience with her daring tale of Noko-chan (played by Kou).  Even Shihomi compliments their hard work, and points out that, without knowing it, Fu has grasped something very important.  It’s that very important lesson that Fu finally realizes, on a cold mountain road New Year’s Day (after Sayomi took a “wrong” turn) as the sun begins to rise over the city and lighting the mountain view.  It’s through using her father’s camera, and continuing to take pictures of the things she enjoys, that she remains connected with him.  She has the ability to continue making memories with her father when she takes pictures, no matter what the circumstances.  And with a very heart-warming ending, one that ties together all the lessons Fu has learned as well as what Norie, Kaoru, Maon, and all of her friends and family have learned as well.

A very pleasing, and thoughtful, slice of life series that, admittedly, is more plot-driven than your usual slice of life.  Fu’s unfolding life leading up the exhibition are lined with experiences and people who, along the way, show her just what life has in store, and who can be there with you to help you through the hard parts.  But the story wasn’t singularly centered around Fu, many episodes explored the backstory and maturing of her friends as they discover their own potentials.

The animation stayed great throughout the entire series and I really liked how multiple backgrounds, character designs, and intricate side items really improved the overall visual quality to something beyond your typical anime series.  The music was almost criminal how they picked just the right time to let loose some touching melody just as I fear I can’t hold in my joy/anxiety/tears any longer.  Highly recommended to any slice of life fan, and also recommended as a first-view to any one new to the slice of life genre.

Tamayura~hitotose will dearly missed, but I feel like this was a great place to leave the series.  Fu and her friends have their whole lives standing before them, just as they close a chapter in their lives, they begin a new one (as denoted quite well by the New Year).

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku 

Tamayura~hitotose: A Christmas Eve Story

Hey minna,
back with another tearjerking episode of Tamayura~hitotose.  The girls are getting closer to putting on their exhibition showcasing their unique talents.  Fu’s photography, Norie’s cooking, Kaoru’s aromas, and Maon’s….recital?

Maon tells the others that, when she traveled to a book signing, afterword, she went to a play recital, and now feels inspired to do so herself.   She feels drawn to try it, because this might be her career, true to style and her calling for the performing arts.  Fu, Norie, and Kaoru are all behind her as she prepares to try her first recital at her family’s inn in Mitarai. As Maon struggles to write her recital, the other girls get the word out, soon, everyone is excited for the recital as well.  Takehara residents, as well as friends in Mitarai start to gather for the occassion. Only one problem, the inn’s hall is too small.

 

Now, Maon stands in the Virgo theater, the same theater she hoped to one day perform in.  In a few hours, Maon would stand on that stage, in front of all their friends and family, to recite her own story. Thankfully, Maon has all her friends behind her, ready to support her and give her the encouragement she needed to go on stage, even though her story still didn’t have an ending.

As she takes the stage, Maon’s story unfolds.  A tale of one young bird, on an island of birds that loved chirping and singing to one another. Though unable to sing herself, this young bird decided to travel to another town, where she met new birds.  There, the bird was able to sing, maybe because the trip made her bolder, but with her friends she became more confident. But the birds back on the island didn’t believe she could sing, so she went back, and everyone was so proud of her song, though she still found it difficult. Maon ended her unfinished story by thanking her mother and father for believing in her, and for the help everyone’s giving to her.  A very touching episode to say the least (I’m being modest, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t almost cry).

 

The episode ends with the girls standing atop the hill where they unsuspectingly met back in 1999, just as snow starts to fall and they look forward to the oncoming exhibition.  I believe this brings Maon’s personal growth full circle.  I imagine the next episode will wrap up Kaoru’s development as well, and bring a big final thoughts to Fu’s overall story.  I should remember to stock up on tissues…

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Tamayura~hitotose: What Will the Me of Tomorrow be like?

Hey minna,
back with half a week’s worth of anime to catch up on, so I’m getting started with Tamayura~hitotose, my slice of life series for the Fall 2011 season.   Continuing with its themes of growing up and matriculation, this episode focuses on Kao-tan, who, unlike the others, isn’t as confident in her desires or what she wants to do in life.

After noticing she’s been in a bit of a slump and somewhat distant when it comes to what’s bothering her, Fu, Maon, and Norie become worried.  Kaoru, who’s only true individual talent seems to be herbs and aromatics, suffers from doubt as to whether or not that’s what she wants to do, and even if she’s suited for it.  She sees Fu with her photography and being mentored by a professional photographer, Maon, with all of her hobbies has only to choose which one, and Norie is well on her way to becoming a great sweets confectionary. Meanwhile, she can’t erase her own about doubt what to do with her life.

After receiving messages from all her friends during their experiences, Kaoru realizes what she wants to do with her life, she wants to share it with her friends, and be together no matter what they choose to do.  In doing so, Kaoru also has an idea for a joint-exhibition, to show the talents of all four girls.  Fu’s photos, Maon’s whistling, Norie’s sweets, and Kaoru’s fragrances would all be on display for everyone to experience. Kaoru even has the venue set up for the 30th of December.

As the series starts to wind down, next episode seems to take place on Christmas, just a few days before the date of the exhibition.  Tamayura is set up to leave me in tears, though it comes as no surprise.  I love the growth that all the girls have each individually undergone, meanwhile, Fu, the main character, is taking lessons for herself each step along the way.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Tamayura~hitotose: The Melancholy of Momoneko-sama/Heartbreak Camera

“This is yet another one of the wonders of the camera”

 

 

Hey minna,

back with another episode of the Fall 2011 slice of life series, Tamayura~hitotose~. This week, a two-parter. Starting off with a day in the life of Momoneko-sama, as he cleans the streets of litter, tells off the bad cats, and even fights a boar, with the help of Kou. A nice little side story into one of the more interesting side characters of the Tamayura~hitotose.

The second part of the story picks up a storyline left back on the “Road of Aspiration”, as Shimako Tobita, who confesses to her crush, returns to drown her rejection in a food binge.  To bring her out of it, Sayomi takes Shimako for death-defying car ride and to an outlook where can let her feelings out. To show her resolve to getting over the heartbreak, Shimako deletes all the photos of the guy from her camera, and asks her friend Manami to take a picture of the new Shimako…Manami knows better, and that Shimako is just putting on a strong face, that deep down, she’s still hurting. Instead of a smile, Manami takes a picture of Shimako finally letting her feelings out in the form of tears.

Fu sees this and it makes her think of how cameras can not only capture the face we put on, but also the face we have on the inside.  Camera let us capture so much more than what we see, and Fu wants to capture more as well.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Tamayura~hitotose: Unchanging People in Ever-changing Times

Hey minna,
back with a new episode of Tamayura~hitotose, my slice of life for the Fall 2011 season. The Road of Aspiration has come and past, now Fu is left dwelling on feelings left over from that special night, as well as new experiences since then, like the revelation that Shihomi-san is now residing in Takehara with Hoboro-san.  Along with Hoboro-san’s full name (Chimo Yakusa), we also learn that they are friends from years ago, and they invite Fu to tag along with them to visit another friend in Kure, and her restaurant, Casablanca.

This episode focuses on the relationships photographs can build between people. Like the link between Shihomi-san’s photos and Fu, then Fu’s photos with Komachi, who is using her grandfather’s film camera to take photos of her own.  Now Fu is afraid that Shihomi is no longer going to take pictures and be photographer, which brings about a sense of loneliness.

Once in Kure, Fu, Shihomi, and Chimo watch as Misano-san, Shihomi’s sempai and owner of the cafe Casablanca, test out her “Bitter-gourd cream matcha chilled noodles” on two of her daring customers.  Misano used to be an illustrator, until she gave it up to become the cafe owner.  This leaves Fu even lonelier, as she believes this to be the path Shihomi is about to take, after both Hoboro-san and Misano both gave up their artistic careers in lieu of opening restaurants. Shihomi even mentioned wanting to open her own sweets shop.

Meanwhile, the artistic trio talk about how it seemed the only way to stay with the places they loved to be in and draw/photograph was to settle down as Hoboro and Misano-san have.  Regardless of what she chooses to do with her life, Shihomi assures Fu that the only one in control of what she does, is Fu herself. She’s free to write her own life story and, just as the blank train ticket symbolized, her own destination.

Another great episode full of themes of growing up and lessons learned through feelings, sometimes hurtful, that teach what life can hold in store.  I also appreciate the animation Tamayura is keeping on par with, all the differing backgrounds and character designs that a typical anime wouldn’t do, usually due to expense of having to design new outfits and frame sets for the characters and backgrounds.  It really inspires me to be an animator capable of handling such varying characteristic episode-to-episode. Another reason I enjoy Tamayura~hitotose, Fu’s story seems to be applicable to a lot of people who watch it, regardless of their life situation.  Fu uses photography as her medium of growth and inspiration, as well as a means of dealing with and understanding the life she lives.

 

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Tamayura~hitotose~: Promise of the Bamboo Lights

Tamayura~hitotose~ PV

Hey minna,
back with another touching episode of the Fall 2011 slice of life, Tamayura~hitotose.  Up until now, it seems everyone except Fu has had their emotional time concerning her father’s passing and Fu growing more and more.  Now, with the return of the “Road of Aspiration”, a yearly festival celebrated in Takehara, Fu finally gets to return to the place her father had promised to go back with her, so long ago.

As the townspeople busy themselves, getting ready for the night’s festival. Fu and friends met up at Kao-tan’s house…TO FIND HER STRANGLING A MAN WITH HER BARE HANDS!!! 0_0 (jk). Kaoru and her sister were making a giant teruterubouzo, wishing for the weather to clear up for Fu’s first “Road of Aspiration”.

After running into Shihomi in town, the group goes to Hoboro’s restaurant to find Dougo-sensei helping her in hopes of confessing to her later that night during the festival (which he enlists the help of the girls to do so). This brings up many feelings of different experiences and expectations from all the people, and how Fu is comforted that she isn’t the only one looking for something special tonight.  From confessions to long-awaited promises, everyone has their own reasons to coming to the festival tonight, and Fu hopes that everyone will have a smile during such a special night.

Though the threat of rain still hangs over the festival, the girls still hold out hope that the weather will clear up for Fu’s special night.  More than just Fu’s expectations, it seems everyone’s desires for the evening seem at jeopardy.  Even Kao-tan seems chocked up at the thought of Funyon missing this special occasion because of rain.

Fu, in her daze, feels reunited with her dad, and confesses how, even though she hasn’t cried, she’s happy of how far she’s come. She feels as if returning to Takehara, and the Road of Aspiration, is somehow making up for the broken promise, so many years ago. Full of candle-lit bamboo lamps, the town is full of the hopes and experiences of many people from different places. Some less fortunate in their endeavors than others, Dougo’s confession doesn’t exactly go as planned, but still, the night is full of magic. As Fu is thankful to everyone, friends and people who prepared the festival alike, for helping making her day such a special experience. Perhaps her father’s promise goes unbroken after all…

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku