The Place Promised in our Early Days is something I saw years ago but completely forgot about until I was rewatching it earlier. I also completely forgot it is a Makoto Shinkai piece, which is fairly embarrassing, and watching it again — after seeing his most recent work Your Name — has given me a much better idea of the kinds of films Shinkai likes to create. Produced in 2004, this film was Shinkai’s directorial debut and was the first time he worked with a full team and large-scale funding. Compared to Voices of a Distant Star, his other major work before this one, you can tell just how much just having a team and adequate funding can mean for a project. With high-quality animation, a great sci-fi mixed story, and skilled direction The Place Promised in Our Early Days becomes a breathtaking movie about friendship, promises, and tragedy.
The film begins with a look at a Japan split in two after Hokkaido was taken over by the Soviet Union. A large, mysterious tower in the center of the northern island looms over the rest of Japan, making the rest of the world question its purpose. Is it a weapon or some sort of machine used to study something? Three friends, Hiroki, Takuya, and Sayuri, are drawn to this tower and make a promise to fly there one day on the plane they are secretly building. But when Sayuri suddenly disappears and war begins edging ever closer, their promise is soon forgotten. That is until the area around the tower begins to disappear. Continue reading
So far Summer 2017 has had some great romances and some pretty trash ones. Below are the shows from this season that I think you should both watch and avoid for various reasons. I’ve included series that you can find on Crunchyroll and Anime Strike if you have those services. If there’s anything I missed that may not be on either of those, let me know! Also let me know in the comments below what you thought about any of these. If you’d like to talk about non-romance anime I’m watching this season, you can head over to my Facebook page and drop a message there. Without further ado, here are the new romance animes of the Summer 2017 season. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to check out A Silent Voice ever since I heard it was coming to the States this year. It looked like it could be a fantastic movie that could rival Your Name for the top spot in the box office, and it wound up being that both of those things came true. A Silent Voice hit theaters in Japan in September of 2016 to a very positive reception, and hit number two in the box office, right behind Your Name. By the end of 2016, it became the 10th highest grossing Japanese film of the year, with Makoto Shinkai — Director of Your Name — calling it a “fantastic piece of work.” However, what drew me to this movie was the concept, the story of a former bully and the young deaf girl he used to bully coming to forgive each other, both seeking redemption for how they’ve changed each other’s lives. And, after I learned that the director of this movie is none other than Naoko Yamada, Director of K-ON, a lot of aspects of this movie fell into place.
Shoya Ishida walks along a bridge as he contemplates suicide, flashing back to the time he was in elementary school. His teacher had just introduced a new student to the class, Shoko Nishimiya, who they found out soon after is deaf. And so the bullying started, led my Shoya and helped along by the general willingness of the rest of the class to ignore them. But after Shoko’s mother finds that all her hearing aids have gone missing, Shoya and his mother are made to pay nearly 1,700,000 Yen to replace them. From then on, his class turns against him and he’s left by himself to wallow in regret and anxiety all the way into High school. But when Shoya works up the nerve to return Shoko’s lost notebook to her in an effort of redemption, he comes to find out that all she wants is to put the past behind her. Continue reading
There were a lot of anime that were considered for this list and, in the end, didn’t make it on. In the process of choosing my top five romance anime, I looked for series that I’ve found myself going back to and those that have done something unique with their stories. I ultimately decided not to include OVA’s, movies, or feature films if only to make sure this list wasn’t full of Ghibli movies. I have enough reviews covering my opinions of most of his movies already. Below are five series and two honorable mentions that I thought encapsulated all of the different facets of a good romance anime. Whether it be great characters, an interesting setting, the ability to parody shoujo anime to perfection, great animation, or a combination of all of these, a series has to be more than just great romance to make it onto this list. I hope you enjoy this last top 5 list and I encourage you to check out the other three that I’ve posted this week. So starting at number one, here are my top five romance anime. Continue reading
Yaoi anime and manga are not for everyone, but I think it’s important to examine all kinds of love stories when searching for the best romances. However, it can be hard to weed through the smut and less serious works to find the stories that really have something great to tell. Below are my top five picks for best yaoi anime and manga, starting at number one. I will admit that this specific area is one that I need to experience more, so in the next couple years this list will most likely be changing. But so far, the series below are ones that I find myself coming back to or have displayed a unique art or story that has managed to stick in my memory. Before we get into it, I want to preface this review by saying that I will not be making a top five yuri list, more for the fact that I have not found many I like than an overall dislike of the series. This is also something that will change in the future. But enough of that, almost all of the series below have full reviews of their own, so be sure to visit those if you find a series interesting. Continue reading
Tsuki Ga Kirei was one of those shows that I needed to try watching twice before I actually finished it. This anime has quite a few problems, but is held together by the relative strength of the story behind it. I definitely don’t think this will be a series I ever rewatch again. However, I won’t deny the fact that there were a few scenes that did move me through the course of the series. As part of Crunchyroll’s Spring 2017 anime season, I’ve seen some praise from reviewers for this series, while ignoring some of the glaring flaws that almost made me completely dismiss it. A lot of these might have to do with the relative inexperience of Studio Feel who were in charge of its production.
The story of Tsuki Ga Kirei follows the growing relationship between Mizuki and Azumi who are students in the same middle school class. Mizuki has a passion for track, finding joy from running. Meanwhile, Azumi aspires to be a writer, joins the literature club, and participates in the town’s cultural festivities. When the sports festival comes around, Mizuki and Azumi are put on equipment duty together, allowing them a chance to get to know each other better. Through the messaging app LINE, they become closer and eventually start dating to the surprise of many of their friends. Continue reading
As you probably guessed from my review of Season 1, I’m not a huge fan of this series, so it was with much procrastination that I finally decided to sit down and binge through all of the episodes. And, I have to say, my opinion hasn’t changed that much. I was kind of hoping that season two would at least be a little better, but I’m still seeing a lot of the same problems as I saw in the last season. The major problem being that Haru, one of the major characters, is boring and flat. This does not mean, however that the show doesn’t touch on some interesting subjects and display some pretty good animation, but these good points seem only skin-deep to me.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the first season yet, I highly recommend watching it or at least reading my season one review before continuing. There was a huge point of contention among anime and yaoi fandom with this series that I touch on there that I won’t be returning to in this review. For those who need a refresher on plot, Super Lovers follows the life of Haru who goes to visit his mother in Canada only to find that he has a new adopted brother named Ren. While he prefers the company of dogs over people, Ren quickly becomes attached to Haru, vowing to follow him to Japan once he is older. However, when Haru returns to Japan, he is involved in a serious accident that takes the lives of his father and step-mother as well as wiping all his memories of Ren. So when Ren shows up at his door, he must figure out how to live and relate to his family again. Continue reading
Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was one of those animes last season that it took me a couple tries to get into, but when I finally did, I could see why so many people were gushing about it. Written and illustrated by Coolkyoushinja — with a spin-off manga by Mitsuhiro Kimura — the series was picked up by Kyoto Animation for the anime adaptation. Most famous for Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyoto Animation manages to implement a distinctly moe style that enhances the moments of action through contrast. But its animation isn’t the only going for it. Kobayashi also creates empathy and moments of relatability through some truly heartwarming moments.
The story behind Kobayashi follows the life of computer programmer Kobayashi who suddenly finds herself face-to-face with a dragon one morning after a long night of drinking. Taking the shape of a young woman, Touru informs Kobayashi that she is her new maid. Touru quickly integrates herself into her new master’s life, taking care of day-to-day concerns as well as introducing Kobayashi to a few new dragons friends who are both curious and wary of humans. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading