Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Five – The Trap on All Sides  


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This episode offers a first look at the tactical approach to combat found in Yamato 2199. Instead of lots of lasers flying across the screen, or a visual overload of fighters, battleships, and rockets moving across one another in a complex, and ever changing pattern, we see deliberate, and tactical combat.  Read more of this post

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – The Captivated Audience


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To be successful, rakugo must captivate the audience, taking them to a time and place that has long since passed, and one that often deals with mannerisms, etiquette, and social issues that are largely irrelevant to modern society. The majority of these stories are set in the Edo period, and are therefore bound up in older traditions, ones that may well be passed on in other art forms such as kabuki, noh, and tea ceremony, but have long since disappeared from everyday life. As such, central to a rakugo performance is the ability of the rakugo-ka to successfully conjure up these periods, twisting space and transporting the audience into his world. Read more of this post

Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Four – Gravestone on a Frozen Field


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With the fourth episode a number of subtle little shifts occur regarding character development, while also offering a reminder of the price paid by those who have come before. At the same time the series maintains its classic sci-fi feel, with more meetings, disagreements, and little moments that point to something more complex than a story simply about saving earth. Read more of this post

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – Different Worlds


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I briefly touched upon the conflict between periods in my first post on Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, pointing to the tension between the new, modern period of economic success, and the traditional, even old fashioned image of Rakugo, complete with kimono and classical architecture. These moments are brief, but important, representing a split within the culture and society of Japan. Read more of this post

Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Three – Escape from the Jupiter Sphere


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Now this was an interesting episode, introducing a number of new themes, while also building upon existing elements of the story. But first, let us talk about techno-babble, glorious, glorious techno-babble. So many sci-fi anime have a horrible tendency to try and explain absolutely everything, often using overly complex language and silly semi-philosophical phrases and ideas to explain their world’s technology and society. They can spend so much time explaining with heaps upon heaps of exposition that there is little time for any major character or story progression. Yamato 2199 does something a little different, there is still the ridiculous amount of explanation, but its all wrapped up in techno-babble, explaining how the ships engine creates black holes to warp, or to fire its main gun, without ever fully explaining how. And that doesn’t matter, we’ve had the explanation, we know that this ship has lots of technology and strange systems on board, and that’s fine. We are also treated to lots of nonsensical dialogue regarding angles, degrees, speed, and all sorts of other systems that clearly make the ship work but we are neither told, or expected know exactly how. Read more of this post

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – The Simpleton and The Master


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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu represents one of the few times when anime have explored the post-war period in Japan, presenting it’s audience with a glimpse into a period of immense change and modernisation, where old is replaced by new, and traditions are either pushed to one side, or forgotten. It is a series about Rakugo, a very Japanese, and highly distinctive genre of comic monologue that can be described as Japan’s ‘talking art’. Read more of this post

Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Two – Toward a Sea of Stars


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Yamato 2199 has a delightful 1970s aesthetic, complete with flared uniforms, jump suits, big collars, and cravats. Compared to other space opera anime that go for a very modern, futuristic aesthetic, complete with curious fashion, hover vehicles, and all sorts of gadgetry, this is an almost old fashioned looking anime. In doing so the series has a distinctive look that sets it apart from other, similarly themes series. It is an old-fashioned series set in the future, and puts me in mind of Blake 7 (I’m not actually old enough to have watched it, but remember seeing reruns at some point on TV), or the much earlier Lost in Space. It is a curious mix of futuristic elements, and approach to fighters, but with an older aesthetic, that represents a direct link to Matsumoto Leiji’s original work. Read more of this post

Shoujo-tachi wa Kyoua wo Mezasu – Choosing Your Path in Life


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I’ve always had a soft spot for anime that focus on school life, its just one aspect of the anime medium that fascinates me. Many may complain about its almost never ending presence, perhaps justifiably so, given the numerous generic, even poorly constructed series that have been released over the years. But even then, the actual school setting remains one that interests me; it is arguably one of the most important aspects of anime, and the stories that anime portray. Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu uses this familiar setting to explore ideas of careers, and what one wants to do after high school, and important question in Japanese society where success is expected, but conformity remains central to its social fabric. The careers form that we briefly glimpse, and the importance placed on choosing a path after high school are very important aspects of school focussed anime. Read more of this post

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi – The Memories of a Ten Year Old


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Now this was an interesting first episode, with some interesting little details, and all the elements of a thriller. But, I couldn’t necessarily approach it as a thriller, or even a murder mystery, rather it starts off as a story that deals with memories and the effect they can have on our current lives. As the series central character, Satoru is clearly controlled by his past in one way or another, and is largely incapable of delving deeper into his memories, thus resulting in failed manga projects. I wouldn’t call him apathetic, or emotionally stunted, but he is certainly a very closed individual who keeps to himself. Read more of this post

Musaigen no Phantom World – The Ghostbusters go to High School:


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I do love Kyoto Animation – they have produced many of my favourite anime over the years (although I’ve never been a big fan of Haruhi), and may well continue to create series I enjoy watching for many more years. Saying that, Musaigen no Phantom World is a step back when compared to recent series like Hibike Euphonium, and yet, I still rather enjoyed the first episode. As setups go it’s a fairly standard Light Novel story, with a school, phantoms or ‘youkai’, and a plot that allows our central characters to interact with these phantoms, and even capture them. Read more of this post