Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works – How to Make Anime Boring


I have never been a big fan of Fate, or even Type-Moon, quite the opposite. The stories tend to be overly complex, and set in a world that is potentially interesting, but ultimately ignored in favour of boring, one-dimensional characters that achieve very little. Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works is simply another in a line of Type-Moon adaptations that fail to create any sense of excitement or entertainment from a convoluted, and empty world. But, before I get onto that, let us look at some of the elements that mean watching a Fate anime will always be an exercise in endless frustration for me. Read more of this post

Behind the Façade: Hibike Euphonium and the Pressures of School Life

Hibike! Euphonium - 01

Hibike Euphonium provides us with a snapshot of school life, and the ordinary, everyday workings of an afterschool club and those who are a part of it. We are given the opportunity to look at how complicated a social group this club is, and the myriad different attitudes, ideals, and ideas that something apparently as simple as playing in a concert band can be. Like most anime, the afterschool club is a focal point for all the drama, human interactions, problems, tensions, and character growth. Rather than examination and studying – although we can assume they still exist – these characters are preoccupied with their club. Some may continue to participate out of force of habit, others may be very serious about their club, and there are also those who may simply have nothing better to do, and had to join a club anyway. The school space within anime like Hibike Euphonium remains central to character development, acting as the focal point for all of their hopes and worries, and serving as the one space where they are capable of exploring new ideas and approaches to life, seemingly without worry. Read more of this post

Show by Rock – Pure Madness

screenshot-00201Well, that was certainly an experience, one of those moments when all the collective insanity hidden deep within the anime industry is given the opportunity to see the light of day. As a concept I rather liked the episode, and even the weird CG wasn’t particularly distracting, perhaps because it was more of the ‘cute and cuddly’ variety, rather than attempting to use CG in creating realistic looking characters. Also, Tarou turned into a heart-shaped talking guitar, which was the natural career path given his many, and hilarious failings in anime production. Read more of this post

Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan) – Ignorance is Bliss


Arslan Senki got off to an interesting start – introducing us to a country resembling medieval Persia. The story deals with some interesting themes revolving around the consequences of slavery on a society, the issues that having an absolute monarch who views ordinary citizens as little more than cattle, and the problems with religious fanaticism and obsession. Through all of this we follow Arslan, the prince of Pars (the country roughly based on medieval Persia) as he tries to understand the world he lives in, and how he, as someone who is supposed to rule must deal with the intricacies of medieval politics and religious beliefs. Read more of this post

Horror, Ghost Stories, and Mischievous Spirits – Tales of The Strange and Anomalous in Anime


This post was partly influenced by comments I have seen on forums, and twitter in the past criticising horror anime for its inability to scare the viewers, alongside problems with writing and characters. Horror in Japanese culture can be both terrifying, but also seem somewhat benign – it deals with a variety of different themes, but the most important, and arguably the most used is that of spirits and the effect they have on the human world. Having said that, I also believe that the term ‘horror’ when it comes to describing Japanese ghost stories is somewhat misleading, and feeds a series of assumptions about the stories content and whether or not it might be scary. Read more of this post

Yuri Kuma Arashi – Still Rubbish, and still Beautiful


During my first impressions of Yuri Kuma Arashi I explored some of the central themes that the series appears to be dealing with, especially those surrounding the idea of women in male roles as found in a wide variety of anime and manga. Those themes remain particularly interesting to me, but this series does not, and instead of exploring such themes in an interesting manner, it is clear that the anime is a classic case of directorial indulgence. It is fairly obvious by now that Kunihiko Ikuhara does not need to justify any of his stylistic, or thematic choices. When discussing the current state of Yuri Kuma Arashi I had an interesting comment that Ikuhara is able to get away with such bland, uninspiring anime because he directed Utena. A series – albeit a rather superb one – that is getting close to two decades old has somehow given Ikuhara an aura so powerful, so impenetrable, that regardless of his abilities it seems very hard to criticise him without people claiming that you simply do not understand his deeply symbolic style. Read more of this post

Aldnoah.Zero – What was once merely stupid is now even worse


It’s hard to describe how utterly ridiculous, ludicrous, stupid, and often downright insulting Aldnoah.Zero is. As a series it has a lot of promise, with elements of the narrative, plot, characters, and setting lending themselves to an interesting story that explores themes of envy, social and cultural isolation, and a sense of superiority instilled in a population in order by the ruling elite to maintain their control. Other series such as Aquarion Evol, Yamato 2199, and to a lesser extent Rinne no Lagrange have all dealt with similar themes and they have all been entertaining, with well rounded characters, and a story that doesn’t lurch from one bizarre and unnecessary reveal to another. Read more of this post


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