Least Interesting Anime of 2014:


Now that my favourite anime of 2014 are out of the way, its time for a post on the anime I found least interesting this year. Read more of this post

Favourite Anime of 2014:

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Like previous years I wont be putting these series into any particular order, which is probably the hardest thing I can think of doing – partly because I don’t like scores, and also because I don’t really have a particularly favourite anime this year.  Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

It’s that time of the year when anime bloggers write about twelve moments in anime that were memorable during the year. And, despite not blogging much for a variety of reasons I’ve decided to take part.

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

We start off with Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, a series that I initially dismissed as fluff. After the first episode didn’t really engage me I was ready to drop this series, and said as much on twitter, however, for reasons that remain a mystery to me even now I continued with it, and thank god I did. On the surface this series bares all the hallmarks of fluffy romance with shades of a shoujo story thrown in for good measure. We have a sixteen year old suddenly discover that for a number of reasons she is in an arranged marriage with a quiet, and quite mysterious boy called Hakuya who is from the country. Based on this description I initially thought that we were going to have some shoujo fluff, perhaps entertaining, but also leading to the sort of melodrama that these romantic series tend to produce.

However, while there are elements of drama, the true heart of the show centered on the brilliant relationship between our central characters, the sisters Kobeni and Benio, along with Hakuya’s sister Mashiro. The comedy that their interactions produced was wonderful and hilarious to watch, especially Benio, the perfect older sister with a massive sister complex and an obsession with Mashiro. The story may have been fairly inconsequential, but the main casts interactions and all the whacky antics that they get up to made this series a truly enjoyable one to watch. So, it went from a series that I was initially willing to drop after episode one, to a series that became one I looked forward to watching each week.

Kill la Kill – an enjoyable, but forgettable experience

Kill la Kill 3

Kill la Kill has been one of those series that I enjoyed watching, but never really found anything remarkable about either the story or characters. It is a series that takes the madness of vintage Gainax anime, turns everything up to eleven, and simply throws it at the audience hoping that something will stick. And unfortunately for me nothing about the series ever made me look at it and think that it was a truly wonderful anime with great story and engaging characters, quite the opposite in fact. Read more of this post

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – An Empty World


Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta has a fascinating setting, a world where islands can fly, where learning to fly, and being part of a grand airforce is part of growing up, and a world that holds many mysteries about its formation, and where the people that inhabit it come from. But, the world of Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta is also empty, one devoid of life, passing us by in the night without ever being fully visible. We are provided glimpses of the world that this story takes place within, a world with revolutions, wars, fabled civilisations, and mysteries yet to be uncovered. It is a fascinating world, with the potential for fascinating characters such as Kal-el Albus, a deposed crown prince who must learn to live a relatively normal life in order to survive. His story has many fascinating facets, such as his hatred for Nina Viento, who he perceives as the perpetrator of his parents death, largely due to his young age, and lack of understanding about his countries situation and the problems that everyday citizens faced. Similarly we are given glimpses of Nina Viento’s past, discovering that she is actually Claire Cruz, a figurehead without any powers, one who is used as a symbol of the wind revolution, without any true freedom, and suffering from the guilt of putting so many to death as she perceives it.

These central characters present us with a fascinating relationship that encompasses all the important aspects of their countries current situation, but it is kept at arms length, never being fully explored or put into context or perspective. One gets the impression that there is a very important reason why Nina Viento has been positioned as the puppet governor of Isla the floating island, but at no point are we given any indication as to why this island and their quest are so important. The characters seem almost pointless, whose only goal is to learn to fly, and then die due to the ineptitude of Isla’s council and their complete lack of knowledge about the sky and the peoples who live in it. Which leads us to the empty world of Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, a world that is apparently filled with life, numerous islands and different peoples who have mastered the art of flying, and may also live on large floating islands. But this world, the world that we get to see in To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku (Recollection of a Certain Airship Pilot), through Charles’s mission to transport Fana del Moral to her fiancé in secret is ignored, and sometimes even forgotten about. Why is the search for the end of the sky so important? Why must Nina Viento be pushed into exile in order to find it? Where are all the islands that supposedly make up the world? Why does this particular kingdom know so little about the world they live in, but somehow still know about certain aspects of their journey? Also, where is this world that they live in, and why are we only seeing the inside of Isla? All such questions largely remain unanswered, or unimportant to the story, they are left hanging over our heads, tantalisingly close, but out of reach.

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Personally I do not mind the school life that Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta shows us, as it had the possibility to teach the audience about the world and the reasons for Isla’s current goal. If we think about it, learning through the eyes of children, or teenagers can be the most interesting as they look at the world, often without full knowledge of the politics and scheming going on behind the scenes (although as teenagers you should be learning about the politics of the society you live in). This school setting presented us with the perfect opportunity to learn more about this world, about the peoples who live in it, and about the quest to find this fabled end of the sky, and yet we learn nothing about any of this, and barely even learn much about flying, despite it being a flying school. When the world is so focused on flight, on living in the air away from the world below, mastering the necessary skills of flying airplanes of various sizes and abilities seems obvious, but we are only given brief glimpses of these lessons before the story returns to the school on Isla. In a similar fashion, the battles we have seen in recent weeks have been rather lackluster and somewhat disappointing – part of this is down to the action focusing on Isla’s new recruits, pilots who have never had to fight before and are suddenly thrust into a fight for their lives, poorly equipped to deal with the pressures of a life or death dogfight. In part this was fascinating, but once again the world of Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta seems to shrink, focussing on one or two planes, while ignoring the grand battle around them for the sake of seeing these students die.

To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku dealt with the aerial combat well, showing us intimate shots of Charles as he battles to keep himself and Fana alive through overwhelming odds, while also presenting the audience with the spectacle of dog fights and battles between fighter planes and larger battleships. These battles remind me of Yamato 2199, with the giant airships acting as ships on the ocean, as submarines suddenly appearing from the depths to catch their prey. There is a sense of foreboding, of constant danger and dread in Charles’ journey, coupled with the knowledge that regardless of what he does he will always be forgotten, a nameless half-breed who is cast aside once he outlives his usefulness. Within this context the relationship that he and Fana develop is given significance as something that encapsulates the futility of war, and the sacrifices that those who are looked down upon by society make in order to survive. It is a dramatic, thought-provoking relationship that helps to flesh out the world the film is set in, providing us with a human element for a war that seems to be never-ending. By comparison, the central relationship of Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta is empty and largely devoid of meaning and substance, one that has little impact upon out understanding of the story of the conflicts that happen within, and one that does little to bring us close to the world of this anime.

Ultimately, Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta leaves an empty feeling, and the impression that the world the story is set in, and its characters have been squandered on a compressed story that ignores the potential of its setting and the relationships between its central characters. For a world with significant populations and numerous kingdoms (or so we are lead to believe), the story limits itself by focussing on a single school on Isla, thus shrinking this expansive world, and ignoring all the interconnected elements that could make it such a wonderful thing to behold. This is as bad as a world that is too expansive, such as the one found in Toaru Majutsu no Index, a world that is as fascinating as it is vast, and one of the many flaws – the world is too vast to be truly explored in a single story, and Index attempts to do that, thus diluting its story and never really developing its characters properly. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta is the opposite of that, a world that is equally as expansive and fascinating, but one that is ignored for a human story that never seems entirely human or interesting. It is a sad state of affairs when a side story like To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku, a film set in the same world, but one that focuses on a single mission in 100 minutes can develop its characters and the world they inhabit better than a series 3 or 4 times that length. But that is the impression that this series leaves me with, one of wasted potential, a story that squanders its setting and a lack of character development, focusing on a school that could be interesting but ultimately amounts to nothing of importance.


Gin no Saji and the many worries of Hachiken


Hachiken has gradually grown and matured as a character during the first, and now second seasons of Gin no Saji, he has taken a proactive approach to his life by attending Yezo Agricultural High School, despite having no knowledge or experience of working in agriculture. Watching Hachiken come to terms with the idea of killing animals for food – an obvious fact, but one that is kept at a distance by most consumers who appear to take the various cuts of meat, and other meat products for granted – thus beginning to understand the realities of working on a farm. Furthermore, we see Hachiken change the way he views school work, as he may be very good at studying within the rigid, and predictable Japanese exam system, but he has little, and in some cases no real knowledge of the physical labour required to keep a farm running. These discoveries are all part of his growth as a character, and provide the audience with an insight into the inner workings of farms and broader agriculture. But, Hachiken remains a flawed, and at times very foolish individual who is his own worst enemy. Read more of this post

The Spirit World of Noragami


Like many anime or manga that focus on the spirit world as found in Japanese belief systems and religions, Noragami presents us with a representation of how the lives of humans constantly intersect with spirits. The spirits, or ‘Youkai’ in Noragami are far from good, but are instead the metaphysical accumulations of humanities pain, sadness, and hatred. Throughout the series we have seen how easily they can cause the death of humans, as they are attracted to negative feelings, possessing the individuals body and pushing them over the edge. It would however be unfair to call them ‘evil’, at least in the conventional meaning of the word, as they are not acting out of malice or hatred, but are instead acting based on what they are, in an unthinking fashion. Read more of this post

The Unjust system in Wizard Barristers – Benmashi Cecil


It should be obvious to anyone who has watched Wizard Barristers so far that the justice system created to deal with crimes involving wizards is inherently unjust. Rather than trying to find the cause of problems and deal with them in the correct manner, what we have seen suggests that this system was created for the sole purpose of punishing those with special powers and abilities. The first time we see the magic courtroom and the systems put in place to deal with magical crime at work it is strikingly obvious how unfair the whole thing is. The attitudes displayed in episode one with regards to magicians are reminiscent of the American justice system where defendants are considered guilty and must demonstrate their innocence. Wizards brought before this special court are assumed to be guilty – and some of them are – but instead of taking a balanced view on the issue, it is up to the Wizard Barristers to provide conclusive evidence of innocence, often against overwhelming odds. Read more of this post

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai Ren 02/03 – Different kinds of relationships


Throughout Chuunibyou’s first series the central relationship between Rikka and Yuuta was always highly unorthodox. Rikka’s wild delusions played an obvious role in their relationship, making it difficult for them to have the sort of relationship that we would consider to be normal. However, it was a wonderful relationship to watch, switching between slapstick comedy and cute teen romance, with a hint of the imaginary thrown in for good measure. The notion of a ‘normal’ romance isn’t even discussed, or mentioned in this first series, as it arguably doesn’t matter what sort of relationship they have. But, Yuuta was, and remains an important part of Rikka life, not least because he was able to help her come to terms with the death of her father, and realise that despite everything, her Chuunibyou was not a disease, or mental problem, but was merely a part of her childhood and one of the main ways she approaches the world.  And by accepting these simple facts we can see why Rikka’s Chuunibyou personality has remained even after the facts about her fathers death have come to light and been acknowledged. Read more of this post

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha – Inari meets, Inari


Inari Konkon is a fascinating little series that introduces popular ideas of belief surrounding the Kami called Inari into a relatively light-hearted romantic comedy set in Kyoto’s Fushimi ward. There are certain elements of the series that are of note, mostly related to the deity Inari and the various symbols and symbolism found within the series. Like a lot of anime there are aspects of Japanese society and culture that may be unfamiliar to people from other countries. These can come in the form of language used in certain situations, social, or cultural norms, and religious beliefs that may seem strange to visitors, but carry with them important meanings to those who take part. This is not unique to Japan of course, but is worth pointing out when watching, and exploring an anime that specifically focuses on a particular deity and the symbolism and beliefs that surround it. Read more of this post