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Anime Is an Art Piece

Friday, November 26, 2021 / No Comments

Art, as we all know, plays a huge part in making a good anime. And to be very frank, I’ve avoided some shows because the art wasn’t to my fancy. But for some shows, the visuals are absolutely breathtaking and make up a huge part of why they rank so high on my anime list. Here’s some of them: 



  1. Howl’s Moving Castle


Roses, cosy cottages, the smell of berry pies ─ these are things that remind me of this anime, Howl's Moving Castle. This 2004 Japanese fantasy film has captivated the hearts of many, including mine and I hope, yours too. 




This anime follows the story of Sophie, a diligent and warm-hearted girl, who is taken on a little peculiar trip in a moving castle. How did that happen? Well, it starts off with her encounter with a mysterious figure, Howl - who’s rumoured to be a wicked magician who’s incredibly powerful. After their brief encounter, she got turned into an old woman through unforeseen circumstances (don’t ask), and goes on a bizarre journey with the most unique creatures. 


So anime plots don’t make a lot of sense. If you’re an avid watcher of anime, you should already know that. But that’s what makes anime unique, right? To add on, what makes this show pop is its absolutely gorgeous animation. For example, just take a look at Howl’s room: 




The decorations framing this room is nothing short of stunning. Just a glimpse of it showcases the dangling bronze crystals, blooming fauna and intricate masks. 




This anime also paints sceneries that radiate a calm and soothing atmosphere as Sophie embarks on her journey. Paired with none other than Joe Hisaishi’s Merry-Go-Round of Life whimsical tune, this is one of Studio Ghibli’s most iconic anime ever created.  



  1. Your Name


If you haven’t watched Your Name, you’re seriously missing out. Released in 2016, this anime is the highest-grossing Japanese film of the year and the third highest-grossing anime of all time. It has also won various awards for best-animated feature film, with an ongoing live-action remake by Paramount Pictures. 




In a nutshell, Your Name is about two students who wake up one day to realise that they have swapped bodies. Intriguing premise? Check. Captivating animation? Check. Music with incredible depth and fits right into the equation? Check. 




This show brings forth quite a tunnel of emotions. In a span of thirty minutes, you can go from a ball of giggles to a sniffling, swivelling mess. Every element of this anime plays a part in the emotions and thoughts the audience has. 


The story itself, while containing supernatural elements, is not difficult to understand. But that doesn’t make it boring. In fact, as you continue watching, you’ll get to see its depth and meaning slowly unravel. Every word and action by the characters (even the sides) contain a certain purpose. Themes like compassion and empathy are reflected by the characters and their motivations for what they do. 




Being your typical high school students, they are quite simple-minded and relatable. The way they interact with each other does get bonus points, though. There’s no over-the-top, dramatic and unbelievable expressions - simply the natural, normal reactions you can see yourself making in their situation. 




The animation and sound are what makes this show for me. Every scene, from the traditional village to the city life, is unique and speaks volumes of the way the characters each view the world. What’s the norm to one is something completely different to another. This fascinating contrast, paired with mesmerising visuals, really make this film stand out. The clever use of light flares really makes each scene radiate with emotions and creates an immersive experience, along with its splendid sound design. The voice actors are good at their jobs, and the music flows into the scenarios oh-so-smoothly. 


So if you haven’t given Your Name a try, I would highly recommend you to. It’s an absolute delight to watch. 



  1. The Garden of Words 


Alas, we have come to the last masterpiece in this article. The Garden of Words is a drama film consisting of a student who’s an aspiring shoemaker, a mysterious older woman with her own baggage, and of course, a beautiful garden. 




There are many layers to peel off this anime. The way the story is executed is mainly through the dialogue between the two characters, under a roof in the garden, as raindrops drizzle around them. One of them is a 15-year-old boy who feels lost in life and wishes to pursue his passion of creating the most beautiful shoes. The other is a 27-year-old woman who struggles with her acceptance into society. When the two meet, they find a safe space to confide in each other and form a deep connection they have never felt with others. 




The words exchanged between them are simple, yet refreshing. There are no character traits or story plot points stuffed into your face, only genuine conversations. The characters feel like real people with real troubles, not just an element to drive the plot along. Every word and every expression exposes something about the character subtly but never shoves it down your throat. 




I don’t think I have to spend much time talking about the animation - the pictures speak for themselves. Give it a watch and you’ll find yourself unable to tear your eyes away from the scenic shots. 


And that’s it for now! If art is an important part of the anime to you, then I hope you’ll love these pieces as much as I do : ) 



Written by Potato.


Recent Anime to Look Out For

Friday, November 12, 2021 / No Comments

Do you find yourself watching the same anime over and over again? Is it because you've gotten lazier and lazier to determine which new anime are good and which aren't? Well, fret not, here are some shows that I think are promising and worth a watch. 


1. Komi Can't Communicate


Introducing the new hype of the season: Komi Can't Communicate. It's a comedy, slice-of-life show that's currently airing on Netflix. So what's it about?



The school's most popular girl, Komi, struggles with social interaction. In a sense where she freezes up whenever she has to speak to someone. This is discovered by our protagonist, your average guy classmate, and he decides to help Komi with her quest - make friends with a hundred people in her high school days.


Aside from Komi being a sweet, soft and extremely shy girl who makes you want to take her under your wing and shower her with some warmth, this show has elements of humour that often sterns from how socially awkward she can get. 



This show has the most gorgeous animation I've seen in a while. The music's also pretty solid in the bite-sized episodes. So if you've some time to spare, why not give this a try? Although the story may be simple, you might find yourself relating to Komi more than you'd think. 



2. Blue Period 


I'm sure that many of us, at some point in our lives, have been unsure of the path we want to take in the future. Well, that's high school student Yatora Yaguchi, who planned to breeze through life until he finds out that he has a hidden passion - art. 



As someone who displays a casual, "delinquent-like" demeanour, Yaguchi is surprisingly determined when it comes to pursuing his dreams. When he decides to take a leap of faith and actually put in effort in his art class, he was pleasantly surprised when he realised how much he liked doing art. And the next step? He joins the art club.



In this anime, we follow Yaguchi on his artistic journey and along with him, get inspired by the fascinating beauty of art. The animation is glorious, and accompanied by soul-touching music, you can really feel how much thought was put into every scene, and understand the messages they contain. That's, I feel, what makes this anime so meaningful and worth a watch. 



What does art mean to you? What do you want to express but can't? What has art made you discover? Find the answers along with Yaguchi as you embark on this new path with him, and hopefully, you may find the answers to your own questions as well. 



3. The World's Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as Aristocrat 


Long title, I know. But you know, it kinda speaks for the show pretty well. This anime starts off with our protagonist, a highly-skilled assassin, who dies, but is then given a chance to live again, in a new body and a new world. And in this new world, it's bustling with magic and sorcery. 



To me, what makes this anime a level up is the character or our protagonist. He's highly intelligent, with a more or less "deadpan" personality that surprisingly chalks up to his charm. With his talent to manipulate and calm demeanour, you'll find yourself fascinated with the interactions between him and the other characters. 



The visuals are great, and so is the music. The magical elements are pretty cool, and the theme song comes with a catchy beat. I'd say that going by what makes an anime good: the art, music, plot, characters - this anime scores decently for all areas. 


And that's what I have this time round. Hopefully they suit your tastes but if not, don't worry - I'll be looking out for more. 



Written by Potato.


 


Here’s Some Chill Romance Anime for You

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / No Comments

Hmm, romance anime. There are hundreds and hundreds of those out there, some with little twists and turns that bring out quite bizarre premises. But what about some good old, “ah, that hits the spot” shows? Here are some cute, light-hearted watches if you’re just looking to chill and enjoy. 


  1. Wotaku: Love Is Hard for Otaku 


A romance anime revolving around an adult couple in a workplace environment. And guess what? They’re both otakus! 






Despite being a show with grown-up characters in an office setting, its playful demeanour makes this anime a good watch. The concerns these characters face regarding otaku culture, romance and work-life are relatable to me, despite the fact that I’m a student. 


Our female protagonist, Narumi, is a preppy and cute lady who tries to hide her “true identity” of being an otaku in her new workplace. However, to her surprise, her childhood friend is also there 一 Nifuji, a stoic and down-to-earth gamer. As they bond over their connections with the otaku culture, they also find themselves in a relationship with each other. 







Most romance anime I’ve witnessed are full of melodramas and misunderstandings. This is not one of them. The main couple, Narumi and Nifiji, have striking chemistry with each other and demonstrate the essence of a healthy relationship. The side couple, Hanahko and Tarou, make for an adorable sight as a cosplayer girlfriend and a straight cis man. 


With a pretty small group of characters, you’ll quickly adapt to each of their traits and quirks and grow attached to them. 



  1. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun


The behind-the-scenes of a manga 一 all that’s reflected in this show. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun is about a cheerful student named Sakura, who has a massive crush on her schoolmate Nozaki. And guess what? He turns out to be the creator behind a famous shoujo manga. 




When Sakura musters up all her courage to finally confess to the stoic Nozaki, he mistakes her as one of his fans. And somehow, along the way, Sakura ends up as his manga assistant. 


The anime delves into the characters’ school life and the manga scene. Each character has their own unique quirky character 一 like Nozaki and his obliviousness that’s often mistaken for stoicism, and his friend Mikoshiba, whom Nozaki takes as a character inspiration due to his frivolous and yet shy, tsundere-like personality. 






Naomi constantly tries her very best to get closer to Nozaki. She floods her mind with romantic daydreams and is hit with the reality of her crush’s impassiveness, making for a bunch of comedic moments. Her interactions with the other characters also make for an entertaining watch due to the bickers and laughs they have with each other. 


With all that said, if you’re looking for some angsty slow-burn, this is not the show for that. But running gags and little specks of that first love you feel blooming for your first crush? This anime has just that. 



  1. Kimi ni Todoke


Are you a fan of the loner girl and popular boy trope? Well, fret no more, I’ve just the thing for you. Introducing Kimi ni Todoke: the story of a girl who’s avoided by others because of her scary appearance, and her undying crush on the extroverted, golden-retriever popular boy who’s loved by everyone.






In this show, you won’t find yourself trying to resist the urge to throw eggs at the guy for being an absolute jerk, or the girl for “not being like other girls”. Instead, you’ll get characters who are sweet and genuinely care for each other 一 the epitome of a healthy relationship, which is unfortunately not a common find in recent romance anime. 


This is a perfect watch for those who want to relieve some raw, pure romance with genuine relationship development. At the start, our female protagonist, Sawako, was greatly feared by other students due to her seemingly ghastly demeanour. But underneath all that lies a naive, gentle girl with a kind soul, someone who you can’t help but grow to adore. As people get the chance to interact with Sawako, they get to know her real character and open up to her. 






And Kazehaya is, well, your typical sunshine boy. Nothing about him is over-exaggerated, and it makes sense that he’s a character many girls would have a crush on. That’s the essence of this show 一 the people are realistic and can be found in your everyday life. 


So what are you waiting for? Get comfy and ready to delve into the world of some heartwarming, cosy scenes that you wish would happen to you. Have fun : )




Written by Potato.

Anime That Will Change the Way You Look at Life

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 / No Comments

 I think the title already spoils what this article is about, so let's hop right into it! 



  1. ReLIFE


Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in life and don’t know what to do? Same. Oh, not for me, luckily 一 but for the main character in ReLIFE.


Kaizaki Arata is a 27-year-old man who doesn’t know where he’s heading in life. He was working at a convenience store when a mysterious man approaches him and gives him the opportunity to relive his teenage years. 




So what does he do? He takes it, duh. 


There he meets the aloof and socially awkward Hishiro Chizuru, the naive but good-hearted Ooga Kazuomi, and hardworking and strong-hearted Kariu Rena. Under the guidance of the mystery man, also known as his support who goes by the name Yoake Ryou, Kaizaki navigates through his youthful days once again. That sounds breezy, right?


Wrong.


Being young again isn’t as easy as you’d think. Kaizaki is behind the times with grades, slang and trends. But he isn’t one to give up. So step by step, he immerses himself into this strange world that he had a taste of in the past. And like I said, it’s tiny steps, so expect this show to be a slow burn. 




As you watch episode by episode, you’ll get to see character developments and insightful lessons being learnt. From trying to make friends to feeling incompetent as compared to your classmates, this show portrays struggles that students face all the time. 


There are also some love arcs sprinkled here and there! Nothing illegal, don’t worry. You’ll get what I mean when you’re near the end of the anime. 


So for those looking for a simple but thoughtful show, here you go. And who knows? You might just start reliving your own life after watching. 



  1. Oregairu


School life anime - there's tons and tons of them. But for one to stand out among the rest and leave an impression? That’s the real deal.


For me, one such anime is, take a deep breath ㅡ Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteriru, also known as My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (actually in short, just call it Oregairu). Adapted from a light novel series by Wataru Watari, this anime has since branched out into more than one animation, and hopefully more to come.




So you may be thinking: what makes this anime different and unique from the rest? Well, what makes it so refreshing to me is undoubtedly the writing and character developments throughout the show, and how authentic it feels. Oregairu follows the main protagonist, an apathetic and antisocial guy named Hachiman and his interactions in his school days. Sounds simple, right? But it’s so much more than that. 


Have you ever experienced times when you felt left out, not just by people you aren’t familiar with, but even with your close friends? Have you ever felt like you needed to act like someone you’re not in order to fit in? I believe all of us, at some point in our lives, would have said yes to the questions above. And that’s what Oregairu is about. It addresses the unspoken issues we all face in our society today. Things like knowing you’re a people pleaser and hating it; wanting to isolate yourself because you’re afraid of getting hurt ㅡ  you get perspectives of people from all walks of life, with different personalities and different mindsets. 




Hachiman is someone who doesn’t want to keep up a facade to socialize with people because to him, that’s hypocrisy. So he keeps to himself and judges the interactions between people to justify his own behaviour. Though deep down, he secretly wishes someone would reach out to him to listen and understand. With his crude sense of humour and the way he sees things, this anime is undoubtedly an interesting take from the rest. Under all the pretty faces and comedic moments, this show touches on the most sensitive and deep troubles people face on a daily basis. 


Oregairu is not your typical romance, school life anime. It is philosophical and delves deep into one’s heart and tugs at its heartstrings. You will feel for each character as though they are you and you are them. And that’s what makes it so real. 



  1. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai


Interesting title, right? Well, the show’s even more interesting. 


It starts off with a guy spotting a girl in a bunny costume at the library… and other people not noticing. Turns out, girls in this anime are going through this phrase called the “Puberty Syndrome”, where they inhabit some strange ability related to an issue they’re going through. 




Viewers follow the protagonist male, Sakuta, through his journey handling victims of Puberty Syndrome. With an essence of the supernatural, brace yourself for some strange scenarios including the same day repeating, a victim’s twin sprouting out of nowhere, scars that appear from hate comments, and many more. And with each story, you learn to care and empathize with a new character. 


The character interactions in this show are what sold it for me. Every character has their own quirk and individuality, and the connections formed between them feel natural and genuine. Sakuta himself is a bold-faced and kind-hearted guy with his own weird (and pretty twisted) sense of humour. There’s also our main heroine, Mai, who rose to fame from a young age and has a sensitive and pure soul. Comparing someone who runs his mouth however he likes it and someone who keeps things serious and professional, the interactions between Sakuta and Mai are both entertaining and endearing. 


A slice-of-life that holds the most meaningful messages, this is not a show to be missed.



Written by Potato.
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Anime Review: Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (First Ep)

Thursday, September 2, 2021 / No Comments

Hi everyone! I hope that all of you are having a lovely September ahead. 


It's been a while since I have actually sat down and watched a proper anime series in a long time, and after scrolling through some anime to watch, I was pleasantly delighted to stumble upon Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (The Aquatope on White Sand). What makes it even better is the fact that its a recently produced animation from P.A Works! If you haven't known, P.A Works is my favourite animation studio, and I even wrote an article on it before here so check it out if you want to get familiarised with this animation studio first!  


Shiroi Suna no Aquatope is still an ongoing series, with only about 9 out of 24 episodes so far that has been released. As such, I will keep this review limited to my viewing of the first episode.

 

Shiroi Suna no Aquatope presents itself as a slice-of-life piece, with two girls as the main leads. This comes as no surprise as an avid P.A Works fan, as they have always been consistent in their slice-of-life genres. It is even more consistent with the fact that this, as mentioned, is a 24-episode series. Hence, we can all be ready for the slow paced, yet relaxing atmosphere this show will bring us. 


In the first few minutes of the episode, we are greeted by a few shots of an idyllic countryside, along with mellow, folk-like sounds in the soundtrack.




Another thing about P.A Works: their attention to the more quiet, yet picturesque setting in the more tucked away corners of the country. It reminds me of Manoyama, the town in Sakura Quest, another of their 24-episodic series they have produced (which I love a lot).

Next, we see a blue-haired girl, Misakino Kukuru, praying by the mini shrine, with a fish head as an offering. She seems desperate for help, and we will know why in time to come. 


We see a bit of Kukuru's life, though not a lot is revealed just yet. 

Kukuru lives with her grandparents, making us wonder... Where are her parents?

This gives a small clue, but its not enough to know her backstory yet.

Okay but one thing we know about her is she rides a scooter to school, as opposed to the usual bicycles we see in other anime. How cool is that?!

The slow, folk-like soundtrack starts to fade out, as incessant horns from traffic punctuates the atmosphere. We then find ourselves in Tokyo now, as we are introduced to the other half of the likely duo, Miyazawa Fuuka. 

After giving up her idol dreams for reasons yet unknown, Fuuka has to move back home to Morioka. It is interesting to note that Fuuka is voiced by Rikako Aida, the voice actress of Riko from Love Live! Sunshine. Hence, it is probably one of the most fitting castings because in Love Live! Sunshine, Riko had to move from the city to a more rural part of the country as well. Another thing about Fuuka: she reminds me of Hitomi from Iroduku: The World in Colours, which is also one of P.A Works creation.


Hitomi from Iroduku

Clearly, Fuuka doesn't want to head home yet. As she glances upon a poster of Okinawa, she decides to maybe take a detour. 



Thereafter, she stumbles upon a fortune teller who gives her advice on what to do next. 


And so, that's what she did. 


Unfortunately, the heat becomes too unbearable for Fuuka, and she collapses. Thankfully, she meets the help of a local, who is actually from a tourism association.



She then introduces Fuuka to a few places, and one of it captures her attention. 

The Gama Gama Aquarium

Fuuka doesn't hesitate to make her journey there. Turning off her cellphone to reduce contact with anyone she knows, she decides to take an extended trip instead of heading home.


The Gama Gama Aquarium gives me the same vibes as the Kingdom of Chupakabura. Although they look old and tucked away, it seems like there is still beauty within its compound, and all it needs is for someone to "save" it to ensure a better future for the building.

Kingdom of Chupakabura in Sakura Quest

And of course, what's inside the aquarium is breathtaking. It almost feels like we are in the same waters as the fishes. 


It's nice to see that Fuuka also takes note of fishes that may be hidden, feeling a sense of similarity with it. This might be a clue on what has happened to her idol career. Maybe she wasn't seen enough to fulfil her dreams, and that's sadly common in the idol industry.


Suddenly, Fuuka starts to enter a dream-like sequence. She gets engulfed into the same environment as the fishes, almost as if she is breathing through it.



It's a beautiful scene, and I can't help but once again strike a similarity with another of P.A Works work, Nagi no Asakura, where the characters literally live under the sea. It is a visual delight. 

Kakichan the boy oyster playing hide-and-seek with Hammerhead


A still from Nagi no Asakura

And then Fuuka is brought back to reality. There, she is then approached by a friendly Kukuru, who explains that the phenomenon can only happen to some people who see it. Although maybe, it might have just been a rumour by her grandfather. 

She then introduces herself as the Director of the aquarium, which is an interesting feat for a young high-schooler. This then sets up more things between the two girls, and we are left with the excitement of seeing where this will go in the next few episodes. 

Overall, the first episode of Shiroi Suna no Aquatope has been wonderfully paced. With backstories that are still withheld from us, we are geared into knowing more about the aquarium in the next few episodes. The soundtrack is calm and beautiful, much like its visuals. Coming back to a P.A Works series is always amazing, and I am not left disappointed. Although the series isn't complete yet, I am willing to wait for more episodes to release so that I can binge it all at one go. If you like warm slice-of-life series like this with interesting main leads, you should try this out!


Written by: kimizomi 

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