Scum’s Wish is a tough show to talk about. Airing in the Winter 2017 season through Amazon’s Anime Strike service, this 12 episode series has become extremely contentious among anime fans. It took me writing the first two paragraphs of this review, watching the show again, and then rewriting this review for my opinions to really solidify. On one side are fans who love the series for its use of paneling, visuals, and display of sex in a normalized lens. On the other are people who see the characters as flat, only interested in their love problems, or as, in one instance, extreme caricatures with no believable substance or backstory. On this side, the paneling and directing create an almost oppressive atmosphere that can make each episode a slog to get through. In a way, I think I’ve found myself in the middle of this argument somewhere, though as I’ve thought more and more, I’ve slipped further into the latter side of things.
The story of Scum’s Wish follows the struggles of Mugi and Hanabi who have both fallen for different teachers at their high school. Hanabi wishes for her “big brother” from childhood to return her feelings, while Mugi longs for the attention of his former tutor-turned-teacher. When they both notice the other’s love interests becoming closer to one another, Mugi and Hanabi look to each other for comfort. Through a pinky-swear, they agree to be the fill-in for each other’s unrequited love, acting as a replacement until the time when one of them manages to succeed at gaining their love interest’s affection.
The Great Passage is, I would have to say, one of the biggest dark horses of the Winter 2017 anime season. Simulcast through Amazon’s new anime streaming service, Anime Strike, it definitely didn’t get the attention it deserved. I also think this is one of the few anime to be adapted from a full novel, not light novel or manga. Originally written by Shion Miura, it has gone through one live action drama adaption before being picked up by Studio Zexcs for the animation, and boy does the medium lend well to the overall story. The skill shown in the visual storytelling of this anime is breathtaking at times, really showcasing how an adaptation to a new medium can breath new life into a story.
The story of The Great Passage follows the life of a man named Majime who is currently working in sales at a major publisher in Japan. The only problem is that he has trouble finding the right words to use when communicating with people, especially clients. When the dictionary department needs a new editor to complete their most ambitious work yet, Majime somehow gets recruited into their ranks. But this proves to be the perfect fit for him as he is fascinated by the multiple connotations behind words, always searching for the best way to communicate and connect with people. The department’s dictionary steadily becomes his ship across a sea of words.
Your Name has to be one of the most hyped up anime movies of all time. It grossed about 23 Billion Yen (190 Million USD) in Japan, coming in second behind Spirited Away on the charts for most popular domestic movie. This is a first for a movie not directed by Miyazaki to top the charts in any meaningful way. But that was last August. The hype has been growing ever since leading up to the much-publicized US release which would feature both dubbed and subtitled versions in choice theaters around the country.
My Facebook feed has been inundated with both Funimation news about the upcoming release as well as fans and critics adding their excitement and opinions (if they managed to see it early). Finally, that energy crested this weekend with the official release on Friday, and I found myself the following day staring at a crowded theater in Boston wondering if I was ever going to find a seat that wouldn’t eventually hurt my neck. Honestly, even with all the hype behind the movie, I was a little surprised at the large turnout even in a fairly sized city like Boston. But, armed with an oversized popcorn and soda — the smallest size you can get — I managed to a find a relatively good seat and settled in for my second viewing on Your Name.
[There will be spoilers ahead]
Daytripper is a comic that melds discussion about death, friendship, and love into a story with so many twists and turns that you almost can’t keep up. Created by the famous twin-team of comic artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon — who you may recognize from a previous review — and published by Vertigo in 2011. This comic has been on my list to read for awhile ever since I saw samples of their art in passing, and even more so after I read How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I finally got the chance to borrow it out of my local library, and I was not disappointed. Both the story and the art are finely crafted to emphasize themes of living life to its fullest and appreciating the time you have with people.
The story of Daytripper follows the life of a man named Bras who works as an obituary editor at his local paper. He spends most of his time writing about the lives of people who have recently passed while trying to make a name for himself as a novelist. In each chapter, Bras takes us through a different segment of his life, whether it be his childhood playing with his cousins on a farm or the time he first met his future wife. However, each event inevitably ends in his death, highlighting the inescapable nature of death and cycle of life itself.