Anime! Who's watching what?

  • I started watching Haikyu!! , and I can say with absolute certainty that it is one of my favorite anime of all time. I'm already almost done with the first season, and if I could inject it into my veins I would. Every character has incredible depth, to the point where even the douchebag characters like Tsukishima are likeable in some capacity. They all have their own story, their own goals, and in the process of achieving them, they grow with each other. Even the adversarial characters are likeable because they are more than just "mean dudes." They have their own insecurities, goals and flaws that give them more life than many anime antagonists. I hesitate to call them antagonists though, because this show makes a point to emphasize that even though they are against Karasuno, everyone is ultimately looking for the same thing: success in the sport of volleyball.

    It's rare for there to be an anime as sweet as this one without feeling at least a little contrived, but in Haikyuu this feeling is organic and earned. I think the reason it works so well is because while incredibly sweet, it also has moments of hardship and strife, and unfortunately things don't always work out. The show handles these moments beautifully, giving them the potency they deserve without compromising the tone of it all.

    I think the reason the whole thing works so well is because volleyball is more than a means for competition and comradery. It is treated with incredible care and respect. It's not a setting, it's a character. There's a beautiful moment late in season one dedicated to showcasing the difficulty of the sport, and the dedication the players all have to it. It shows that Haikyuu, while rightfully lauded for its wonderful characters, is much larger than said characters. It's about the sport and the trials and tribulations of it. I don't think it would work as well if it weren't.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to think about what from the show I want tattooed on my leg.

  • Re:Zero is back. So many people tried to watch it when it premiered that Crunchroll was having trouble handling the load.

    And that's all I need to say about it.

  • Watched the first episode of Japan Sinks. I'm gonna keep going for now, but I'm not really sure if it'll be worth it. It really lacks the charm and style present in all of Yuasa's other works. It just gets straight to the gruesome darkness that made parts of Devilman so unpleasant to watch, but without any of the character development or subversiveness that made that series feel worthwhile. Probably doesn't help that Kyuushuu is experiencing historic flooding right now, so some of the imagery is pretty raw. We'll see how things go from here, but I'm tempering my expectations.

  • Finally finished Japan Sinks: 2020. I don't think it's very good, which is disappointing given how much I've like all of Yuasa's other work. The show wallows in its own misery far too much and settles into an predictable cadence that is never particularly enjoyable. The way each "shocking" death is accompanied by an overly-humanizing voice-over only served to highlight the show's greatest shortcoming: the show never gives us enough time to actually care about any of these characters. That said, I did think the ending was solid, and served to highlight why they insisted on using the subtitle, "2020:" the release of this show was very clearly meant to align with the Tokyo Olympics. I think if you watch it with this perspective, you can appreciate some of the subtext that Yuasa weaved throughout the series, ultimately culminating in the final ten minutes. His commentary on Japanese culture and society has been present in some of his other works before, but in a way I think it shines through better in Japan Sinks: 2020 than anywhere else. Without spoiling anything, he does a great job at presenting what he believes to be the major shortcomings of Japanese culture while highlighting what makes the country so unique and resilient, ultimately hinting at a possible path forward. I think it's very intentional that he's centered mixed-race and multicultural characters in much of his recent work, which I appreciate for very personal (and perhaps obvious) reasons. Either that or I'm just reading way too far into things again. Not sure if this is actually worth a watch, but it's also pretty short so you can maybe just try out a couple episodes and see what sticks. C

  • Youtube Video

    Sadly, that's all for that. Was great while it lasted.

  • Not so much watched, but I finished reading my deluxe edition set of Battle Angel. Fun read that has alternate, what if ending for the original series. Now I have to start ordering Last Order, and then finally, Mars Chronicles.

  • Futari Wa Pretty Cure Splash Star is in a really weird place with the franchise since they clearly still weren't sure what to do with it after the runaway success of the original series and at a glance it looks like a blatant retread. However if you actually watch the season it's got a lot more going on and the similarities are mostly skin deep. I'd actually go so far to say it's one of the best seasons, owing to its strong characters, beautiful setting of a seaside town, and a lot of very resonant emotional moments.

    Speaking of great seasons, after that I watched Go! Princess Precure. The show focuses a lot on dreams and working hard to achieve them. The main character's dream of becoming a princess might feel childish at first but I don't think a lot of the show's strongest moments would have worked as well if her dream wasn't something so easy to understand (and relate to for the core demographic) yet impossible to achieve. It's probably the most blatantly girly season of the lot but there's some very strong writing and action hidden underneath.

  • Been catching up on lots of stuff, but nothing to really recommend. Felt kind of burnt after stuff people raved about like Tower of God and BNA ended up being really mediocre, so been checking out stuff I heard no hype for like Kakushigoto, which was alright but the ending didn't match the build up to it and Gleipnir, which didn't end at all, because apparently the manga isn't done yet and the end of the first season of the anime had to kind of wing it. Anyways, hoping the next season is a little better. The one after it looks loaded with great stuff.

  • I went through the entirety of Keep Your Hands of Eizouken a couple weeks ago. That show is an utter delight and a love letter to animation as a whole. I love how it explains the philosophy behind the decisions creators make and bakes those ideas into the foundation of the show. For example. one of the first thing Asakusa tells you is how strange the construction of the town is, cuing you in to pay attention to the setting. Each area is fantastical but grounded in enough reality that you can easily infer what happened there (if you're not straight up told) based on some of the design concepts the characters discussed at some point in the episode. It's a really beautiful, cyclical piece of work that's simultaneously entertaining and informative. Also, it's got some great Yuasa moments, and feels like a distant cousin of The Tatami Galaxy at times, which I love to death. Definitely check it out if you haven't yet - it's on HBO Max, so you might already have access.