(Update) So about those last 2 months of posts…

Well, a new month has started and this should have been a new review. But it’s not, and I have to explain why

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Why do I keep doing this to myself?

What Happened..

Well, now that I’m back home, I’ve been working a lot. After finally getting a job, I started occupying my time with that and other IRL activities because I spent too much time in Hawai’i doing nothing. I had almost of month of time while back home where I wasn’t watching any anime. Trying to find a job was draining a lot of energy, and I had no mental energy to watch anime. This is probably the biggest reason I started missing reviews, because I rarely have inspiration to write when I’m not actively watching anything. Now that I have a job, I’ve been regularly working anime and other media into my consumption schedule.

In terms of reviews that I was writing, I lost a near-completed draft of what was supposed to be July’s review. Losing it should not have been so hard for me, but I had a hard time trying to get back to it, but then my life schedule took over and I never got back to it. Add this to some temporary internet loss, and now I’ve missed 2 Progressive Plot reviews in a row. Since this has been on the forefront of my mind in terms of creating content on here, I haven’t been writing any other content for this blog (which I have a few ideas for). Now that I’m feeling back to normal, I’ll be able to press forward with this blog.

What I’m Going to do…

Well, I’m going to write. While trying to have a set schedule for blogging has not worked, I want to continue with this Progressive Plots series for this year. I’m going to try and write the next few posts at my leisure, so that I can better pace myself, and so I can try and get shorter-form content out. I realize that if I call it quits on Progressive Plots now, I have virtually no chance of finishing a review series in the future, so I’ll see it out. But this won’t be on a monthly basis since it’s not going as smoothly for me as I wish it was.

I won’t try to worry myself about banging out a post at the end of the month, but will instead update the blog more casually. I’ll work on a few more drafts so that I can consistently post something as opposed to all these updates.

For those of you still around that are sticking to this blog despite the lack of activity, I thank you. I hope I can pump out posts worthy of your reading about this crazy world of animation.

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Aoi Hana & Wandering Son: Progressive Plots (Double Feature)

*Author’s Note: Not getting a review last month has been eating me alive for a while. I was in the middle of finals week, and then I had to move my whole life back home. This is me making it up to you readers, and for self satisfaction (more on that later).

Hello everybody, AniMo from Animated Monologues here with my first ever Double Feature review! As a way to make up for my absence last month, I’m adding a show to this review. Even though these shows have comparable elements, the point of this post is too review these shows on their individual merits.

One consistent feeling of mine as I’ve consumed media is my love for drama. It’s like normal life, except it’s spicier and (in my opinion) more interesting. Of course, not all drama is good, as I’m sure everyone will agree. Luckily for us, these two shows are made out of good drama. Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers) is a shoujo ai slice of life about two girls living their school lives after reuniting when one of them moves back in town after a long absence. Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son) is a slice of life drama about a few transgendered kids (featuring one girl wanting to become a boy, and a boy who wants to become a girl) making their way through middle school/social life. I quickly found myself enjoying both shows, with my positive feelings only escalating. This is good for me since my first, and even my latest, reviews weren’t as nice towards the shows I covered. Whether or not the rest of the shows will follow this trend is up to future me, and the shows I choose to review. But before we can speculate about that, it’s time to talk about…

Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers)

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Also, it’s another good series for tall girls!

This seemed to be one of the most well-received yuri anime I researched before I started this review series. While there weren’t as many yuri elements as I expected in the show, there were more than enough slice of life drama elements to keep me happy.

Fumi Manjoume and Akira Okudaira were best friends as kids, but had to be separated when Fumi moved out of town. At the beginning of the series, Fumi moves back to town and she meets Akira (nicknames Achan) again where they start their friendship anew. They both attend different schools, but spend time together on weekends or time out of school. The show gives both characters a lot of room to perform and develop.

One yuri aspect that comes in is when Fumi gets in a relationship with another girl from her class named Yasuko. Yasuko tries to involve Fumi in drama productions put on by their (in collaboration with Achan’s) school. This is a bit of a dramatic focal point in the middle of the series, as Yasuko’s family gives her some shit for it and it makes other main character Kyouko jealous (she has a long-time crush on Yasuko).

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I actually like their designs a lot, not totally sure why

The drama production storyline sees almost every main-ish character in the series interacting with each other to put together this production. There is a little sideplot with an elementary school production doing The Little Prince, which I will bring up later when I bring up that story again in a future post. It helps the story because we see one of the characters help out the lead performer avoid stage fright (the public performer in me loved this scene).

After the production storyline, Fumi and Yasuko have a break up, which stirs up some more drama in the whole friend group. It also causes a drift in Fumi and Yasuko’s relationship, and the tension that results from is a great showcase of the writing and development in the series. Fumi and Achan grow a lot during this because Fumi turns to her for comfort. We also watch her relationships with everyone else change as they adjust to their friends not dating anymore. Even though we learn a lot about them during this time, it’s still apparent that Fumi and Achan’s dynamic is the main and most consistent driver of the series. I couldn’t tell if the show wanted to imply any romantic tension or feelings between them. This could have been a burden on how their relationship was written, but the rest of their relationship was handled well, so it wasn’t a hinderance.

More than anything, the thing that I loved about the series was how maturely everything was handled. Too many times I’ve seen romance in anime handled between very immature characters, be it because the characters are too immature to move forward or because they just handle their relationships in an immature fashion. However, this show seemed to have no problem writing a lesbian relationship and making it feel so normal. I feel like this kind of normalcy and maturity is unnoticed and underrated in modern anime, especially ones that tackle these more progressive topics.

Speaking of which…

Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son)

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The one on the left is a guy, the right is a girl

 

When I first started this review series, this was one of the shows I knew I needed to cover. I’d never seen it before, and it fit the criteria perfectly, being the only transgender-related anime I know about (unless you count traps or genderbenders as transgender anime). I’d also heard from many people that it was a good drama series, so I was interested.

Let’s make one thing very clear, this is the best show I’ve seen since I first watched Ouran High School Host Club (over one year ago). I didn’t given a series a 10/10 score upon my first viewing during that entire time, and this show finally broke that streak. To say it lightly, I adored this show, and it was refreshing to finally view a show that made me remember why I spend so much time with anime. Now that my gushing is over, let’s get to the more analytical parts of the review.

The series took little time to set the tone of the show. We learn quickly that the show is about Nitori Shuuichi (a young boy who wants to become a girl), and Takatsuki Yoshino (a young girl who wants to become a boy). We see their middle school lives, and their interactions with their friends and classmates. Saori Chiba used to be a good friend of them, but they’ve had a bit of a disconnect due to some romantic drama they encountered before the events of the series. Chiba and Takatsuki both had feelings for Nitori at the same time, and this caused a huge fallout between them. These 3 are the central characters of the show, and their dynamic with each other is a great driver for the viewers.

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Back then when everything was all nice

Possibly the biggest benefit of the show is the serious tone that they approach and the subject and characters with. Takatsuki faces many internal dilemmas about comfortability in gender, and applies this by wearing boys clothes . Shu is portrayed as a boy who feels uncomfortable with himself because of his birth gender, and it’s easy to tell that he’s more comfortable when he’s dressed as a girl. When other people find out about this, we have to sit back and watch them take on a lot of punishment from the society around him. This is portrayed in the form of mass amounts of bullying and awful rumors that create problems in school. Situations like these are packed with emotional turmoil and tension, which are aided by how well this reflects on and develops the cast. Unfortunately there is a greater stigma surrounding feminine males, which meant that Shu got the bulk of the negative reactions from his classmates and contemporaries.

The other characters don’t face a lot of the same issues, but instead act well as friends to Takatsuki and Shu during the series. There is something about Chiba’s blunt/straightforward personality that I was extremely invested in, and she was my favorite character because of it. Chizuru probably would have been my favorite girl if she wasn’t so…unhelpful. Her heart is undoubtedly in the right place, but she’s just too nutty to truly shine (and her friend Momo was kind of wierd). Sasa was also peppy and eccentric enough for me to immediately love, but she didn’t get enough screentime to possibly mediate the many tense situations she was involved in. Shu has an older sister who disapproves of his lifestyle, but it’s clear that she loves him as a family member and friend.

The show overall wraps itself into a great package of drama and heart, and it reminded me why I love anime so much. It’s also boosted my motivation to treat this review series better!

This has been AniMo for Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading and have an animated day.

Subreddit and Twitter announcement

Hello, this is AniMo!

Twitter

After many hours thinking it over, I have decided that I have to cave in. I officially have a Twitter account now! Since I don’t have it on mobile yet, idk how much I’ll update while out and about, but I will try and use it as much as I can. I started it because it’s a form o social media totally new to me, and I want to try and keep in touch with the parts of the internet that Twitter loves. It will be a reflection of AniMo, and is not a personal twitter, so it’ll mostly follow pop culture people and will be posting about entertainment related things. If you would like to, you can follow me!

Reddit

One of the reasons I don’t spend too much time on here is because I am on reddit so much. Since I end up writing and talking a lot on reddit, I decided to create a subreddit for it! It isn’t just dedicated to me, or the animation I am interested in. I want it to be a space for everyone to talk about the different pop culture or entertainment interests they have, and practice writing/discussing it. It’s my first time creating a subreddit, and one of the first chances I’ve got at moderating. I hope you all stop by so I can hear from you!

That’s all for now. Mary and Max post coming soon, and possibly something related to all the anime films I have been watching.

Progressive? Plots: Himegoto

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I’d post more pictures, but I’m not about to litter this post with trap fanservice…

When I first came up with the idea of Progressive Plots, I knew it would have to come to this eventually. After a yuri series and a yaoi film, it must be time to talk about traps.

Hello everybody, this is AniMo on Animated Monologues. Today we have a short anime series to talk about, and I am very glad to finally be doing that. One day I want to have a serious discussion about the presentation of traps in a similar manner to my discussion about ecchi anime. But if you’ve seen the show we are discussing, you likely know that that’s impossible for today. Partially because it’s a short series focused on comedy over any other aspect. Here is a review of the trap comedy anime Himegoto.

The story is simple. Hime is a student council member in his school, and is a trap. This is because Hime’s parents have a lot of debt, and the council said they’ll clear it if Hime continues to crossdress. Honestly, it’s really an excuse plot to maintain’s Hime’s status as a trap though, since it’s never mentioned or developed again. Many other characters (such as Hime’s brother) crossdress too, giving the show many many chances to make jokes about all the traps they have running around in the show. There is a Disciplinary Committee that opposes the rambunctious ways of the student council (despite the DC also having mostly crossdressers in their line-up).

Most of the characters are based off of tropes and archetypes, and never really venture beyond that. None of their development (assuming they get anything) is treated seriously because of the short time limit for each episode, which means they need to make jokes instead. Still though, each character has an entertaining persona, making them at least watchable.

Himegoto knows exactly what it’s getting into, knows exactly what it wants to do, and knows exactly who they are catering to. It is a short comedy show were every joke is someone clowning around with Hime because he is a trap, and they show a lot of trap fanservice on top of it. I know it’s not a series I should be watching if I want to jumpstart a serious discussion on traps, and that it’s meant to be all for fun. However, I still have issues with Himegoto’s comedy style, (in ways that effect the rest of the anime). Most jokes are made at Hime’s expense, which on it’s own isn’t a bad thing, but it’s an issue when they run it into the ground. The council members set up embarrassing situations for Hime, Hime gets embarrassed, they show some trap fanservice, and then the episode is over. Some episodes switch it up by involving the disciplinary community, which do try and throw a wrench in the council’s plans, but it usually ends in more trap fanservice and jokes.

The shortness of the series makes for a hard watch because the issues that the show has with it’s comedy are increased tenfold, and the comedy aspect is bland and uninteresting. The ending tried to go for a more serious story, with drama and such, but falls flat because nothing else is developed enough to make it work. While the characters and the story are fun, they don’t do enough with them to make it fully worthwhile. It’s an easy series to forget after watching it.

If you aren’t a fan of traps, this series will not convince you. If you are a fan of traps, this show is likely made for you.

This has been Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day.

Sunshine Award + Informal Update

I got nominated for the Sunshine Award! This time with a twist, which is that I may or may not have noticed this, and therefore this post is about 3 weeks late. But more on that later.

Thank you very much to Yahari Bento for this precious shoutout! All you nice people make me feel bad that I’m not super active here. Yahari is another anime blogger with in-depth content about anime and manga, and you should all check him out.

Sun makes me happy!

Rules

  1. Display Award
  2. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  3. Answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  4. Summon Nominate 11 bloggers from the magic circle and write then 11 new questions.

Here are my questions

1. Favorite Anime this year (Series or Film)?

Easily Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, the first season was my favorite anime last year, and so far the Second Season is of the same quality. I just haven’t seen anything else that I liked as much, so Rakugo continues to be my favorite thing in modern times!

2. Favorite Genre?

This is a tough one. It’s between Slice of Life, Romance, and Drama. I love shows that incorporate all of those, however I can never pick one singular one that I like the best.

3. An Old Series I’d Like To Watch Again?

Depends on what we want to consider old. With the fast and ever-moving pace of the anime community, even 10 year old anime get labeled “old”. If we go by that metric, than I’d cop out and say Ouran High School Host Club, since it is my favorite anime. However, there are a lot of older anime I need to watch in general. One that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while is the Vision of Escaflowne, so I’d rather give this as my real answer.

4. 3 Favorite Anime/Manga Characters?

My Top 3 has been Holo the Wise Wolf (Spice and Wolf), Haruhi Suzumiya (Haruhi Franchise) and Skuld (Ah! My Goddess). I haven’t seen Spice and Wolf in a long time, so I’m not as sure about Holo anymore. If I were to remove her, Tamaki Suou (Ouran Host Club) would likely replace her.

5. Favorite anime this season?

Answered this earlier, and I still feel comfortable saying Rakugo Season 2!

6. Do I play Video Games?

Occasionally. I’ve played a lot of Pokémon in my days, but mostly the main series ones. I like watching competitive Smash Bros (Melee and Sm4sh mostly), and will gladly play anytime. I’m also a master at Mario Kart, (Double Dash, Wii, 7).

7. Which main characters from which anime do you want to descend from anime world to appear in front of you?

Issac and Miria from Baccano! is usually my go-to answer, but I wouldn’t be able to actually go on a heist with them. So I guess that leaves me with either Seo Yuzuki (Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun) or Tsukimi Kurashita (Princess Jellyfish)

8. While you are playing internet, what do you like to eat while do that?

Chips or popcorn are nice usually!

9. What do you like to drink? Coffee, Tea, Milk, or fruit juice?

Out of these 4, juice is my favorite (specifically Orange). Otherwise I enjoy me some Dr. Pepper or Root Beer.

10. If this world will not produce any anime anymore, you will…

Be very sad, but continue to watch other forms of animation from around the world. Or I just continue watching the decades worth of anime I wasn’t around to see.

11. Right now, are you sleepy, aren’t you?

Shockingly no, though usually I am when I do this!

Nominee’s for this award!

It’s at this section that I forget that I don’t network enough on this sight, so there aren’t enough people for me to nominate.

  1. Fujinsei
  2. Mage In A Barrel
  3. Frog-kun
  4. UEM (Jeko)

Questions for you

  1. Is there one specific thing you want every anime to do?
  2. Most Overrated anime?
  3. What’s an underrated anime film?
  4. Do you read manga as well?
  5. What do you think is the most obscure/under-the-radar thing you’ve watched in anime?
  6. Do you have any interest in other animation?
  7. What’s for dinner tonight?
  8. Who was the first seiyuu you could recognize by voice alone?
  9. Any anime that could have been improved with romance?
  10. Do you watch OPs and EDs? If so, what do you want them to do?
  11. What’s the wierdest thing anyone’s said to you over the internet?
Update and other small Ramblings

It was insanely difficult to get that last Progressive Plots post out in time. My motivation to watch and finish anime has been pretty shaky. Between this and other school related stuff, I’ve been severely lacking in the watching new anime department. I am nearly a month behind on all airing shows I’m watching (but that’s probably also because I only like about 4/10 that I’m watching). Though I’m trying to be a more active person IRL, in hopes that it’ll help me get focused on the anime I’m watching.

This is what’s made this blog so inactive, besides the usual. I’ll try not to miss accomplishments such as Yahari’s Award again, since it’ll get me more involved!

I was planning on making a Most Anticipated Films of 2017 list, but it’s a bit late for that, so it’s not happening. At least as a formal post, I’ll just talk about it here.

  1. Rock Dog (I want to see how a Chinese-American film will be recieved)
  2. Coco (Pixar needs to make more films that aren’t tied to existing franchises)
  3. Girl Without Hands/My Life As A Zucchini (2 GKIDS releases that made waves in the festival circuit)
  4. LEGO Batman (I liked LEGO Movie, and this looks like fun)

I can’t remember off the top of my head what the other one’s I like where. But there wasn’t too much I was really excited about this year. However, I said this last year and enjoyed 2016 in animation for the most part. There are a few other films I’m hoping to see such as A Silent Voice, or Mune but I have no idea if/when they’ll get a localization.

I’m going to get another Progressive Plots post done (now that I’ve done a yaoi and a yuri, I get to try something different), but I don’t want it to be my only formal post this month. I’ll be finishing up a piece for reddit, which I will post here, and hopefully stop sitting on this Mary and Max piece.

I guess that’s it for now, I’ll try and get to writing soon as I can, and posting.

Progressive Plots: The Poem of Wind and Trees

You know, I did not plan on having this film so early in the year for this Progressive Plot series. I wanted to slowly get into more and more obscure odd stuff, but life didn’t work out that way. Still it’s not a bad thing because I liked the film overall.

Hello everybody this is AniMo on Animated Monologues! Today I continue my journey into the world of queer anime with this years first shounen ai anime, Kaze to Ki no Uta Sanctus: Sei Naru Kana, which is known in English as The Poem of Wind and Trees. I wasn’t sure how I should go about talking about this film as I started taking notes during my viewing. Very quickly though, I realized what likely is the most standout factor for anyone that watches this film, the two main characters.

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This is Serge, he’s a good guy

The central character is Serge Batouille, who attends the Laconblade Academy, a private Christian school for boys. He’s notable to the story because his father was an alumni of the school, and a few of the staff members know the legacy it carries. More importantly to the story is Serge’s roommate that he is given, a boy named Gilbert Cocteau. I say this because Gilbert is a fascinating character to watch, and I mean that in a positive manner today. The story follows some of the life of these two in their school life. In a similar manner to Sakura Trick, there isn’t much in terms of overall plot. In a different manner to Sakura Trick, there is a lot of intense drama that fills that gap, which comes in the movements and actions of characters.

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The animators must have thought Gilbert was fabulous

As we first meet Gilbert, he seems to come off as a typical mean roommate, but as the film continues this actually grows. He is nasty and ruthless to Serge throughout almost the whole runtime of the film, which is weird because of how Serge responds (we’ll get to him later). Throughout the rest of the school Gil has a terrible reputation, since being gay is against school morals and therefore Gil’s actions rub people the wrong way (pun intended).

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Such loving classmates…

Instead of translating to the rest of school being uncomfortable around him, it makes the school feverishly hate him. It’s definitely a give and take, since Gil seems to get off to his shitty reputation, and the fact that everyone treats him like shit in the same way he does with them. However, there are a few instances that felt like Gil also wants to be accepted or at least not get constantly shat on by everyone. Sometimes it’s just a small visual cue or a shot that lingers on a somber/saddened face of Gil, but there are enough of them in the film to make it noticeable. I think what makes Gil fascinating is this contrast he has, because he’ll go to such great lengths to be a shithead, but he seems to not have the best capabilities of dealing with his consequences. We likely wouldn’t get to see this if it wasn’t or the other important character, Serge.

Here’s the thing about Serge, he is a bit too nice. Upon first meeting Gilbert, he’s kind and gentle, only to be pushed back. Still, Serge seems to stubbornly try and make friends with his roommate despite overwhelming evidence that Gil doesn’t want to associate with him. Serge made friends in the school pretty easily, yet still ends up fixated on trying to be friends with Gil, or to make others friends with Gil. In a similar situation, this almost always backfires on them because Gil still has a terrible reputation. Serge’s stubbornness in the situation is where we see his character perform so well. Unfortunately, it isn’t fully rounded in the film because there seems to be no motivation for Serge to want to do this so much. There aren’t implications of romantic feelings, or any special friend feelings that feel like they justify how insistent Serge seems to be over Gil in general. Aside from this aspect, I think Serge is a fine character otherwise.

A lot of the film hinges on seeing their interactions, or at least how it also effects other people. A lot of the writing is based on building up and executing various interactions Gil and Serge have with either each other, or other characters. In a broad overview, they are pretty well done. They build up the moments, give them all the context we need, and then let the drama run wild. Please trust me on this one, because explaining any further goes into deep spoiler territory and I want to avoid that. What I can tell you is that they have a great visual way of dealing with dramatic events.

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Description of what’s happening upcoming

The animation in general has an older art style that I love, and it has a bit of a softer color palette in many general scenes. Some of the more dramatic scenes use different kinds of imagery and movement as well. For example, the picture above is taken from a scene where Gil finds out some bad news and is distraught. The scene is powerful because of how it visualizes it, specifically with twisting backgrounds that keep getting darker. The music is a fast paced piano track that comes together with the visuals to beautifully portray Gil’s downward spiral in a momentary depression. Each dramatic scene takes this kind of effort to emphasize the situation, which very much helps the film.

The big draw of this film to me is watching the character interactions, and it is so interesting to watch these two characters do their thing. If Gilbert wasn’t such a shithead, he’d probably become a favorite character of mine. A few times, the film narrates and displays a poem that the film was named after. It comes around the beginning and end to give a broader context to the relationship Serge and Gilbert have. It has a really melodic feel, these segments do, because the poem is Serge reminiscing on the times he spent with Gilbert in the school (this is a future Serge narrating this). I love the animation style, and would love to see more animation styles that utilized this kind of design. The film overall is good, and a great start to hopefully finding more older obscure anime to talk about.

This has been Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading and have an animated day!

Retrospective: Animation of 2016 (Including My Top 5’s)

Another year has gone, and I consumed a lot of animation. So let’s talk about it.

It wasn’t an amazing year for the medium, but I don’t think it was terrible. Animation did very well at the beginning of the summer box office, having 5 weeks with an animated film at the top. Zootopia became the 4th billion-dollar animated film in the world box office sphere, and Finding Dory followed soon afterwords. The only film that beat it out in world gross this year is Captain America: Civil War (we’ll see if Rogue One changes this). Box office trends have always had animation beat out almost every individual live-action genre (not that animation is a genre), and this year is no exception with Secret Life of Pets also making a lot of money. Even though Paramount dropped the Little Prince theater release, Netflix picked it up and has helped the films spread a lot. I really enjoy online streaming and video on demand as mediums of consuming entertainment, and I think the Little Prince was a helpful reminder of how cool this can be.

I started really getting into airing anime and simulcasts this year, meaning that most of these year-end posts will likely include anime now. This year gave us a partnership between Crunchyroll and Funimation, and we are slowly seeing the effects of that, and I’m curious to continue to follow it. The anime world blew up with Kimi no Na Wa winning a massive amounts of praise and awards, bringing possibly the years biggest hypetrain. Shelter and The Red Turtle gave us a look into anime companies collaborating with international studios in ways we haven’t fully explored. Hayao “I’ll flip a coin to see if I want to retire or not” Miyazaki landed on heads, so he will be back with Ghibli to make films again later.

For feature films, I either was excited to watch them, or I was instantly put off and didn’t check them out. I have now checked out my fair share for the year on both sides and plan on talking about them. I wish that I had opportunities to watch more short films for the year, because I love how they express themselves. So, I can’t really talk about a lot of those (though I always make sure to check out Award season stuff when it gets released).

Anyway, I want to start with the anime list.

Top 5 Favorite Anime of 2016

Number 5: Space Patrol Luluco

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OVER-THE-TOP JUSTICE

I honestly didn’t have a lot of reason that I should have seen this series. By the time I started this, I had finished putting Kill la Kill on hold for my 3rd time, and still had Gurren Lagaan on hold. I had no other strong connections with Trigger (but did enjoy the first Little Witch Academia a bit), and had only seen Panty and Stocking. I still watched it and fell in love with it’s over-the-top style. This style mixed with it’s crazy story made for a truly entertaining ride. I didn’t feel the weight of the many many Trigger references, but enjoyed how they were portrayed in the story. I liked how they used it’s 8 minute episodes to make time for honest character interactions and fun…ness. It was a short series that got a lot of attention and fairly deservingly.

Number 4: 91 Days

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Anime needs more mobsters

A market like anime that lives off of source material should take a breath every once in a while and make something original. One such example was this year’s 91 Days, a revenge story about prohibition-era mobsters and the workings behind a mob family. It’s a great series, moved forward by Angelo Lagusa’s (who goes by Avilio Bruno) character and backstory. The drama and rhythm of the series immediately had my attention. More importantly, learning about the mob world and how Angelo was going to throw a wrench it had me very interested. I never lost that interest, and for that, this series became one of my favorites to watch this year.

Number 3: She and Her Cat- Everything Flows

Maybe my favorite short anime series
Maybe my favorite short anime series

I hope with all of my heart that this is not the first time you have ever heard of this series. This may be an anime that appeals to me right now because I’m inbetween adult and childhood, which the Girl (named Miyu) is as well. The premise is fine and all, but what really makes it unique is that it is told from the perspective of her cat. It’s not a direct adaptation of the original Makoto Shinkai film, but instead seems to be a reimagining with more stuff happening (not that timing was an issue for it). This connection between them allows us to see her life in a totally different way than most series end up doing. It’s never hugely played up for anything, instead using development just allow the weight of her issues to play themselves at. I may be horridly allergic to cats, but this series is nothing to sneeze at.

Number 2: Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage)

We were born to make dictionaries
We were born to make dictionaries- Gigguk

Please do not let the fact that this show is about dictionaries fool you into thinking this show is bad/boring/bland. It’s a serene slice of life drama about a man who finds his call in life as a dictionary maker and editor. We see snapshots of his life, and how his way with words effects his daily routine. We learn about the importance and art of words in ways we don’t usually get to explore. What I loved about the animation is that even the smallest scenes let the characters move. As a Slice of Life fan, I see so many stagnant bodies that never move during dialogue scenes, but this series showed how subtly we move when we do that. It was a nice touch that heightened the experience of watching the show. It was one of the best Slice of Life produced in a while, and would’ve been my Number One. But if you watch dramas and slice of life, you can likely guess what beat it out.

Number One: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

This year, the anime world learned about Rakugo
This year, the anime world learned about Rakugo

A historical drama about the art of performance is a definite plus for me. Add on some of the best character dynamics of the year, with a wonderfully immersive art style, and the show gets even better. We follow two young boys and their journey into becoming modern masters of Rakugo. They face many issues along their way, and have to find themselves and their styles the more they perform and age. The tides of society and entertainment change, and they have to balance it along with the hierarchy and tradition of the art of rakugo. Watching how they have to grow is fascinating because of everything they put into it and how it changes over time. They fall in love, and out of love, and in love again with their Rakugo lifestyle. It circles friendships and effects them in ways that always make you want to watch more. The series showcases friendship gone right and wrong beautifully, and tells the story you never knew you wanted to learn about better than you could ever expect it to. Without a shadow of a doubt, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is my pick for best anime of this year.

Top 5 Favorite Feature Films of 2016

Number 5: Sausage Party

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Let’s all go to the loooobby

This film seems like you either love it or hate it. To be more specific, it’s all the same reasoning. You can imply that I enjoyed the film a lot, if it’s here. I thought that the comedy worked very well for the story it was trying to tell, and I thought the non-subtle social commentary was integrated smoothly (despite how heavy the message was). I was kind of hoping to see more of people experiencing the outside world, but otherwise I liked how the flow of the story went. I was curious about how a theatrical adult animated film would fare, but it seems that it’s getting pretty good. Now I can hope that adult animation breaks into blockbuster territory more, and the possibilities to tell stories will expand.

Number 4: Sing

Illumination is on the right track
Illumination is on the right track

I started keeping an extraordinarily close eye on Illumination this year. Traditionally, my irrational bias against the Minions franchise makes me want to ignore the studio. But I decided I’d give them a shot this year. Secret Life of Pets looked fine, but then they kept releasing more footage, and I hated what I saw. Sing was a different story, and I decided to go for it when it came out. I loved it immediately. I loved how they prioritized the character backstory, and integrated it into the film. I thought the use of music was good too, not relying solely on modern pop music (which will help it age better, theoretically). There were so many small moments that positively helped the film, so I plan on watching it again at some point and possibly going really in-depth with it.

Number 3: The Red Turtle

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Still a great image

This film nearly landed on my anticipated films list for 2017, but then I found it was coming to my local film festival. I saw it and loved it! A gentle dialogueless film with a gorgeous art style that managed to live up to all the hype it was getting. It may not have been the best film of the festival, but it certainly was one of the better films. I said most of what I want to say in that post, so I ask that you check it out. It will get a wide-release in North America soon, so please check it out. It is a film that absolutely hits all the marks that any international animation fan is looking for, and I hope that more people get a chance to see such a fascinating movie.

Number 2: Kubo and the Two Strings

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I love Laika

If you must blink, do it now. Laika did it again, after the disappointment that was the Boxtrolls, they have come back in style. I wrote about why I was looking forward to this film, and luckily it was good enough to soothe any worries I had about the current state of stop-motion. I am worried that this film didn’t make enough money in the box office despite being one of the most critically praised animated features this year. The characters were fun to watch, and the journey was even more fun to watch. With a beautiful atmosphere and an ever-evolving (but never unfocused) story, the film continually proves that it is worth the price of the ticket. I am very glad that Travis Knight’s vision was able to come alive as it did. I hope Laika can maintain their high quality films, if this is any indication of what they’re capable of.

Number 1: The Little Prince

Maybe I should write my follow up soon
Maybe I should write my follow up soon

Not my most anticipated film of the year, but easily the one I was most excited to watch. I was sad that I couldn’t see it in theaters due to Paramount almost silently dropping the license, but it was truly great to see Netflix pick it up. It finally got released and fulfilled my expectations because it was a good film. But the aspects that made it a good film weren’t something I expected. I first saw it without knowing the source material, so I was honestly just looking for a sweet animated spectacle. I got a sweet spectacle about rediscovering childhood and creativity via the Little Prince story. With beautiful color choices and subtle visual cues to truly create worlds and settings that fit the tone of the story and rocked while doing it. It is a story that can reach everyone with great universal theming and overall sweetness. The film took little time to impress me, and it kept getting better. I feel just as happy with it did as I did with my initial first impression. My initial reaction wanted to call it the year’s best film, and so does my current impression after thinking about it for a bit.

LGBTQ OverReviews and More! 2017 Goals and Plans

Happy New Year Everyone!

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This may or may not have been me over the holidays

I was pretty busy over New Years, so my usual year-end posts aren’t done. Once I am done with this, I will be getting those finished (these include Best of 2016 Anime and Films, as well as my anticipated 2017 films). I also have another analysis about Mary and Max that I plan on publishing sometimes after that.

Anyway, the main thing I am here to post is my challenge for the year.

I am going to review at least one LGBTQ+ Anime every month

I may just post the reviews at the end of the month, or before depending on the anime and when I finish it. I am doing this as an exercise to explore how romance is portrayed in many different ways across anime (since most shows I plan on checking out are romance focused), or even to see how anime wants to portray this. I know many shows, films, or OVA’s that I can use to do this. There are such a large amount of anime out there that use yaoi and yuri, but I want to try and find the best examples in the medium. Though, I also admit that a lot of this is just artistic curiosity, and I’ve been curious about trying many of these anime for a while now.

Here is how I plan on doing this. I am watching most of these for the first time, which is because I haven’t seen a heck of a lot of yuri/yaoi/other anime, and only plan on rewatching and reviewing maybe 2 or 3 anime I have already seen. I will not choose anime that have small undertones of yuri or yaoi, but will if there are enough undertones and they actually matter to the focus of the anime. As long as the focus is on someone identifying with LGBTQ+, it counts. This means I can’t choose a show like Free! which has more undertones and fanservice than anything. But I can choose a show like Sakura Trick since it focuses on lesbians. I will come up with a witty-sounding name for them before the first one comes up. Unfortunately, I can’t speak on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community and don’t know a lot of politics behind it, so I will be analyzing every anime as anime and their artistic presence as I do with every other anime.

Be on the lookout for when these pop up, I hope I can complete this.

In terms of other personal goals, I just plan on clearing up my large watchlist and many o my on-holds. I also have never finished an anime longer than 52 episodes, so I am going to try and commit to longer shows this year here and there. I was watching Cardcaptor Sakura and Fushigi Yugi a while ago, and will hopeully finish Yu Yu Hakusho soon. Also Gintama may be officially ending it’s anime run after this new patch of episodes, so I may try and catch up in time even though I am 300 episodes behind.

This is about all I have right now, I will be recapping 2016 in later posts, and they will be happening soon.

I Got Nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

sunshine-blogger

Kapodaco has nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award this year, and I am very happy to see that. I feel honored that someone liked my content enough to nominate me for any kind of award or acknowledgement. Kapodaco is an anime blogger who posts a lot of critical thoughts about anime or other such media. The blog also has other interesting posts about internet and blog culture.

Rules

  1. Display Award
  2. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  3. Answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  4. Summon Nominate 11 bloggers from the magic circle and write then 11 new questions.

(I just copied the rules from his post. I will go along with said summoning.)

1. How are you today

I’m doing fine, considering that I’m doing this in the middle of a finals week study break. Though I didn’t have a final today so I got to sleep in. It’s nice, I’m excited to eat lunch later.

2. What is your favorite genre of music?

Classic 70’s/80’s Rock and Roll. The Eagles were my musical gateway, I fell in love with other groups like The Police, The Cars, Styx, Journey. I’ve been expanding my tastes more these days, listening to stuff like Bastille, Stromae, Prince Royce, and producers like Dash Berlin and Kygo. My favorite music artists are Yes, Journey, Lady Gaga, and The Eagles.

3. Do you have any pets? If not, why do you hate animals to the point where you wouldn’t consider adopting one?

I had two dogs before I moved out of my parents house. A Shiba Inu and a Blue Healer/Corgi mix, they are adorable, but hard to care for at times. I still love them, and I hope the dog I own in the future is a mix between them.

4. Have you ever tried to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop just by licking?

No, I am a casual who likes chewing the Tootsie Roll center with the rest of the Tootsie Pop. I always tell myself “Today will be the day”, and it never is.

5. If anime became more widespread in its popularity, much in the sense that video games have in the last ten years or so, what anime do you think would take the crown as the general public’s favorite?

Isn’t Fullmetal Alchemist or Brotherhood already the default answer? It seems that Code Geass, Death Note, and the old Big 3 Shonen don’t even have the same universal acclaim. Granted I’ve only seen a bit of One Piece (out of everything I’ve listed), so I may be wrong.

6. Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon? Or Stardew Valley? Or anything like them?

Never played any of them

7. Finances aside, would you rather travel by plane, train, or boat?

This is hard. I’m thinking train would be my choice, if only because I’ve traveled less by train than anything else. Even though I’ve seen Baccano! almost 3 times, trains still sound fun for me. Also, the Galaxy Express 999 and Night on the Galactic Railroad films made it look awesome in space.

8. Do you think the “Eww, gross! Weeaboo!” stigma of anime and manga would translate to that of a standard light novel enthusiast?

I’d imagine that any fan of Japanese media that goes to any societally-deemed uncomfortable extent would get that treatment, no matter how innocent or tame it may actually be.

9. Watch any sports?

I started Yuri!!! on Ice a few days ago as my first sports anime, which is the most sports I’ve watched in a while. Otherwise, I don’t.

10. What is a story you’d like to see adapted into anime form? (Whether it be from a novel, movie, video game, or otherwise.)

Honestly, I’m still saddened that Nozoki Ana only has one dumb OVA animated. It’s such a well done story, not the kind I ever expected to come out of an erotica manga. If it was fully and faithfully adapted into an anime, I have little doubt that it’d join or outrank Ouran Host Club, Baccano!, and Madoka Magica as my favorite anime.

11. Average hours of sleep you get in a night?

Probably about 5.5 hours on a weekday. On the weekends I usually make it to about 8 or 9 if I have no plans in the mornings.

Nominations:

I unfortunately do not have a large amount of blogs I follow, so I’ll nominate a few of my favorites.

Fantastic Memes: A freelance translator and writer’s blog. Frogkun has a lot of great posts on anime culture with bits of insider prospective on LN’s and Manga, as translation is his specialty. Frogkun’s insight is very interesting, and his commentary on anime is also great. He’s one of the main reasons I started Cardcaptor Sakura, which I am not far in yet (but am enjoying).

Fujinsei: An otaku blogger that traditionally comments a lot on blogging and other internet culture. There is also a lot of fandom related content always published on the site. The blog also hosts a ‘blogger carnival’ where her comment section showcases many bloggers interested in a little more traffic. (Has helped me alot personally)

The Chuuni Corner: A review blog run by the biggest Chuunibyo fan you’re likely to find on the internet. There are many long-form analytical posts about shows like Konosuba, Yuri Kuma Arashi, and Hibike! Euphonium which I love. Mostly, though we see great reviews of current anime.

Unnecessary Exclamation Mark!: Started out as an atypical blog about airing anime seasons, but has lately become much more. Defending academia as a legitimate form of anime criticism is the main focus, which I think is doing wonders for the blog. Very detailed, the posts never cease to make me think outside the box or consider other viewpoints.

Questions:

  1. Do you have a least favorite anime? If so, what is it and why?
  2. What’s your favorite color?
  3. Do you consume other animation besides anime? If so, what are some favorites?
  4. What popular food do you dislike?
  5. Have a favorite theater experience with an animated film?
  6. What made you want to get into blogging?
  7. What is the wierdest film/TV show you’ve seen?
  8. Skydiving or Bungee Jumping?
  9. What song is stuck in your head right now?
  10. What anime sequel do you think is unnecessary?
  11. Any anime or films do you think should get a sequel, if any?

 

Thanks again to Kapodaco for the nomination. I hope my posts keep impressing people, and that I can continue to write as well as I’d like to.

This has been Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day.

Tamaki Suou: Applying C.A.T. (Ouran Spoilers)

I’ve confessed my love for Ouran Host Club. I’ve praised it for its comedy and characters like many others have. I think it’s been overlooked at just how tight the characters are, and their dynamics between others should be acknowledged. There are layers of communication needed for the many characters to interact in a friendly way. Since many of the characters are also very rich, they have to balance that along with a normal high school life. In fact, even Tamaki (my personal favorite character) and his communication style is a great representation of Communication Accommodation Theory.

tamaki-cute

The C.A.T. Theory Itself

Howard Giles came up with Communication Accommodation Theory (called C.A.T. for short), which argues that we change what we talk about and how we talk about it depending on the person we talk to. The theory describes that people have to change their mannerisms to fit the people or group of people they are a part of. It argues that a group’s context and the dynamic of everyone involved also plays a large role in this form of communication. To be more specific, it even details multiple factors that change our communication. A person had to fit their style to match themselves, but still be normal every single time they are in a different situation. It’s a theory that you can see anywhere in fictional stories, but I don’t know if I know an example that’s better than Ouran Host Club.

Background on Ouran Host Club, and Tamaki as a Character

The story is about a girl named Haruhi Fujioka, a poor girl who is accepted into a very elite private school called Ouran Academy. In the school she gets involved with their very eccentric ‘Host Club’. It’s a group of rich boys who entertain young girls via fun activities, relaxing conversations, and a wide variety of settings for everyone to fantasize themselves in (such as the Host Club decorating their room to look like Fiji). The group is lead by a boy named Tamaki Suou, who is also the heir to a very large corporate conglomerate. He has to

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It’s easy to tell why the female appeal is so high, which is okay with me

balance being a leader of a very flamboyant school club and being a very professional, very proper business manager. This gives him a few side to his personality, and how is forced to treat other people. One on hand, he leads a lifestyle of the average rich and famous man, and on the other he leads a high school life. Over his lifetime, he has to become a master at balancing these two crazy lives, and absolutely has to accommodate his communication for every different situation he finds himself in. The biggest example of how Tamaki communicates is shown in how he treats Haruhi vs. how he treats his grandmother (who currently runs the conglomerate he is set to inherit)

Tamaki with Haruhi

Haruhi is a fellow club-mate, and because she is a girl Tamaki takes special care of her. Throughout most of the show, it’s heavily implied that he has a crush on her and it really affects their interactions. He is always overprotective and careful to make sure she is healthy and safe, even jumping off a cliff to catch her after she is shoved off by some rude boys on a beach. His movement and mannerisms are lively and overdramatized. He also tries to be culturally sensitive of the very large social-class gap that exists between them.

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They almost always look cute

More than anything, he is a very over-the-top and eccentric guy always making an extravagant show out of the events he creates for the host club. He even went as far as to transport everyone to a beach after one of the club members comments on preferring beaches to a standard water park (part of the episode mentioned above). Tamaki created the club for the sole purpose of having fun, and thus treats everyone in a way to guarantee they’ll have a good time in his company. His clubmates and customers are treated with the same levels of respect because Tamaki wants people to know that they are in a comfortable environment every time they visit the Host Club. Being a rich kid he can do this kind of stuff, but we don’t always see him act like he would around a proper or upper-class environment. When he does, he becomes a different persona. He’s still Tamaki, but he’s not the same goofball that the Host Club knows and loves.

Tamaki vs. Grandma Shizue

It’s not as big of a factor that his grandmother Shizue is running the Suou conglomerate that makes Tamaki’s behavior towards her so different

Instead is because Shizue hates Tamaki with a passion

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If Honey hates her, something is wrong

To keep the backstory short, Tamaki is the son of his father’s love affair, and thus Shizue harbors a very large resentment towards him. The love affair was seen as an act of betrayal, which caused Tamaki’s dad to lose the position of the Suou’s heir. However, Tamaki became the only person in position to inherit the conglomerate, and Shizue hates that. It’s bad to the point that Shizue doesn’t even let Tamaki stay in their main mansion because she doesn’t want to live with him. For someone like Tamaki to have such a “useless” school activity like the Host Club is blasphemous in Shizue’s eyes.

Knowing all of this, Tamaki is forced to be extra careful around her and bow to her every whim until the second she no longer runs the Suou’s unless he wants to risk a bad standing in the company or fall into a different unfavorable position. In the scenes where we see Tamaki greeting Shizue he becomes a true gentleman, offering her tea, or trying to clear pathways just to make her comfortable. The pitch and volume of his voice are toned down quite a bit, while his body movements become more smooth than the over-exaggeration of his goofy self. He calms down and really focuses on trying to make her happy, and even though that’s what he does for the Host Club, his mindset for trying to pamper Shizue is that his career and overall lifestyle is on the line. He was thrusted into a lifestyle where the odds are turned against him, and all he can do is try to make his grandmother’s opinion lighter on him so he can live his life comfortably. Despite the adversity he constantly faces, he follows every motion set in front of him and keeps hope that Shizue will one day accept him as the person he is set to become. I would imagine that many high class families would have this kind of dynamic surrounding them, with a proper and elegant type of communication contrasting a more personable style of communication that they use in the situations that fit them.

Applying and Analyzing CAT Theory

The real-life theory actually applies itself very well in the case of Tamaki Suou and Ouran Host Club. Dynamics between the Host Club and the Suou conglomerate are a great reflection of the intergroup cultures that the Communication Accommodation Theory talk would differentiate. They are very different, so communicating between them takes some adjustment. From the goals of interaction, social norms/values, communicator characteristics, and intergroup history; we see every aspect of how Tamaki’s interactions should be changing. Adding in verbal and nonverbal mannerisms to the situation only makes Tamaki’s grasp of C.A.T. stronger. The one big thing that the theory doesn’t seem to cover in this case study is the opposing parties predetermined biases. No matter how well Tamaki balances these many characteristics, it loses a lot of value because Shizue is so biased against him that she is unaffected by every essence of communication that Tamaki uses. This has nothing to do with Tamaki’s failure to adjust or communicate, because it is solely driven by Shizue’s uncaring attitude and predisposed hatred. CAT has a great understanding of how someone personally changes to try and create a different impression or influence, but it lacks effect in the case of Tamaki trying to communicate with Shizue.

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Her first line was “Don’t Touch Me”

Even though this isn’t necessarily CAT’s fault, it does raise the idea that maybe CAT should not assume that an opposing party can bend to how someone communicates. While an opposing party is implied in the theory, it doesn’t explore it to the fullest. Besides this idea, the theory overall has a lot of great practical use and explains many differences is communication very well. It is very difficult for most people to keep a consistent communication style across every situation they find themselves in. There are many layers to how people need to fix or change their communication for an appropriate situation, and CAT was found as a way to explain them.

Conclusion

Many aspects of real-life communication have to be adapted well to fictional storytelling to make the story interesting to viewers. To see a goofy character like Tamaki Suou instantly adjust to a high-class style of communication helps make a show like Ouran Host Club seem realistic or allow viewers to connect with the characters involved. Communication Accommodation Theory is a widely used style of communication anyone has to use if they interact with different groups of people. A show like Ouran Host Club has to balance funny group dynamics with a high-class proper lifestyle. It makes sense that the series would have such a great grasp on CAT, and how people would change to cater to their differing lifestyles. It is because of these characters, and how they change with every situation, that the Ouran series is so widely beloved by so many fans across the world. The series continues to charm people even 10 years after it finished airing, and will continue to for the known future.

This has been AniMo on Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day!