Most people in the anime community now a days seem to only watch the new anime coming out. This is a big problem in of itself, but the worst part is that they are not even doing it correctly. The way the community generally goes about watching seasonal shows is by picking a few anime at random, as well as the ones that seem to be the most watched. The anime are usually picked based off their premise, studio, and cover art. Sometimes even their PV. The slightly better way people pick out the anime they watch is basing it off the staff team working on it or the quality of the original source material if any.
The biggest problem with this method of consuming anime is that 9/10 times these people are missing out on the great anime that maybe aren’t so popular. Fall 2016 for instance, people left and right were talking about shows like Yuri on Ice, Haikyuu, and Drifters, but great anime like Stella no Mahou and ViVid Strike were left out to rot.
The ideal way to watch seasonal anime is to watch the first episode of everything that you can get your hands on. Most would probably say that they wouldn’t have the time to watch the first episode of everything, but I feel that the people saying this go by “the three episode rule” in which they have to watch the first three episodes of everything in order to determine its quality. Blasphemy, I would argue that you could determine the quality of an anime by the first ten minutes, sometimes even less than that. If an anime failed to entice the viewer by the first half of its episode, it’s most likely a bad anime.
It took just a few hours of my day to watch the first episode of everything from Spring 2017 (not counting the children’s anime or the sequel anime). Through doing this I have ran into some real treasures such as Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism that I would not have found if it weren’t for blindly watching everything. The time investment is worth it.
Like most anime directed by Junichi Sato, Amanchu is an anime drowned in a very soothing type of atmosphere. It has long landscape shots, peaceful music, a beautiful art style, and an overall feels-good vibe. Though this does not mean that there isn’t drama. Amanchu follows the emotional internal conflict of Futaba Ooki. Who spends too much time looking back at the memories she has of her old friends. She lives in a vast city, with tons of places to go and many new memories to make. But Ooki doesn’t notice any of this due to her phone always in front of her face.
Pikari is the vehicle to getting Ooki out of her boring and mellow life. When the two meet at the new year in high school, Pikari bugs her to get into the scuba diving club. Ooki joining this club was a great method to help her become a better person since this means she would have to start socializing with other people and would have to work as a team. Throughout the run of this anime, Ooki learns to see the beauty around her and to let go of her past. Which are the strong themes that keep Amanchu afloat.
Even the most mellow episodes of Amanchu end off with me being happy and uplifted enough to start the next episode. There honestly isn’t enough for me to say about this anime other than that I was more consistently happy watching it than any other anime I could think of (maybe Flying Witch). 9/10.
The Castle of Cagliostro is a movie tied in with the Lupin the Third franchise. However, this movie does not require any knowledge of Lupin.
Even though Cagliostro is shrouded in a plot of mystery and suspension, the main appeal of it is the fun and quirky cast of characters and how all of these personalities bounce off of one another. Lupin is a carefree and wacky dude that I can’t help but want to know what situation he is going to get himself into next. The reason Cagliostro does not work as a serious suspense story for me is simply put, that it’s stupid. The way Lupin gets out of some dangerous situations are usually unrealistic and could at times feel like outright asspulls. The way he could just latch on to every cliff he falls off of with a grappling hook or how he could somehow not get hit by the dozens of bullets flying at him. But this is all okay in my eyes considering that this isn’t the appeal like I said before.
Even though the animation and overall direction has not much to look deeply into, the art direction of Cagliostro is clearly worth analyzing more than anything else visually. The art director we will be looking at is Shichiro Kobayashi, who has been working as an art director for more than 40 years now. Cagliostro is certainly not his best work in comparison to the likes of Angel’s Egg and Utena. But his involvement is still clear as day nonetheless. The art isn’t necessarily pretty at first glance, but the way it’s laid out certainly gives you a strong sense of perspective in where they are. The Castle that most of the movie takes place in never feels inconsistent in its layout nor does it look unrealistic for someone to actually live there. There are certain parts in the movie where there will be Lupin standing in one part of the castle, while you can see another part of the castle in the background that we were at earlier. This helps the castle feel very grounded within the anime’s reality.
The plot in Cagliostro is not that interesting, it is a standard damsel in distress story that took me awhile to even remember while writing this review. The main antagonist just wants the girl he has imprisoned to be his wife? (It’s unclear). The enemies do not have much in the way of nuance which is odd for a Miyazaki movie, granted he probably did not have as much creative control working on this movie than he would working on a movie at his own studio. Most of the goals that the characters in this movie were going after were all unclear in general. Who knows what Goemon was doing in Cagliostro.
The gadgets Lupin used were neat to see unfold even if they were realistically stupid. Like how his belt buckle has a knob that controls the length of the grappling hook, or how he keeps things hidden underneath the collar of his shirt. 8/10.
One element of Chihayafuru that is relatable to a considerable amount of anime fans is the idea of being passionate about a hobby that is unappreciated by the vast majority of the peers around them. Though instead of anime, Chifayafuru’s focus is on the competitive card game called Karuta. Karuta being a Japanese card game that’s meant to test your reflexes as well as your ability to remember each and every card that is laid out in front of you.
While I appreciate the sentiment about being into relatively obscure hobbies, the biggest problem with Chihayafuru is that the characters are too involved in playing karuta for me to be able to relate to them. Why does Chihaya (the main character) not have much of any life outside of playing karuta? As much as I pride myself on my own anime addiction, there are still things that go on in my life that keeps my nerdy hobbies on the back-end of my mind. There is just no way a character like Chihaya could realistically go on living and not eventually get bored of playing karuta. This makes it hard to relate to what’s happening to the characters if I am having trouble seeing them as human. Though this complaint is only most notable for the main character.
There have been excellently crafted characters through just watching how those characters play karuta. For example, there is one scene where there is a guy who always stands up whenever he gets stuck while playing karuta. You get this sense that he is only comfortable when he is looking down on others. Not necessarily in an evil way, but in more of that he is a bit of an egomaniac. On these terms, Chihayafuru is one of the best anime I have seen in being able to give strong characterization in a short amount of time.
Another problem I will bring up about the characters in Chihayafuru is that they will ball their eyes out at any given moment for little reasons. It almost seems that every time one of the main characters lose a match against someone else, they will cry non-stop until the rest of their group finally cheer them up. This is a problem that is typical of shoujo anime which is a reason why I am generally not into them.
Even though this praise is typical in what seems to be most sports anime nowadays, the animation in Chihayafuru is really solid. Even though most of the matches are just people throwing their arms out to reach a card, its done so with strong moments of sakuga that are worth looking back on at Sakugabooru. When a character reaches towards a card and pushes it away, the sound affects that go along with it are satisfying to hear. Also the art style looks gorgeous, even if it does look pretty typical.
This is my first blog post so sorry if it is pretty bad, Chihayafuru is a 7/10 I guess.