Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anime 2014: Second Quarter Season Roundup

Best Animation - Spring 2014
Soft and easy on the eyes. Pastel like pallette. An animation that looks like it was drawn with colored pencils. Characters are cute and adorable but not overboard on the moe. The character design and background translates that relaxing and youthful feeling carried by the story.

Runner-ups: Mushishi Zoku Shou, Captain Earth 

Best Opening Song/Sequence - Winter 2014

I was having a hard time about whether or not I'll be giving this to Mushishi Zoku Shou. First off, Shiver by Lucy Rose was released prior to the animation, which wouldn't be fair to the other anime's with original materials. However, I'm so in love with this song and the sequence created by Artland - that although it's grounded on simplicity (a close-up shot of misty tree branches, the earth etc.,) I would have to say it's my favorite for the season. The song has now become synonymous with the series rather than the other way around. It's a close fight between Tada Hitori but I have to stick to my guns and follow my heart with this one.

Runner-ups: Tada Hitori by Bakudan Johnny (Ping Pong: The Animation); Imagination by Spyair (Haikyuu!!); Knights of Sidonia by Angela (Sidonia no Kishi) 


Bokura ni Tsuite by Merengue (Ping Pong the Animation)

Favorite MC (Male Character) - Spring 2014
Nomadic Shounen characters in anime is nothing new, but what makes Ginko special is the way each episodes focuses on the guest characters while he acts mainly as the viewers proxy, seeing things on our behalf. In spite of his expertise as a mushishi and his knowledge about those living organisms - it is the unpredictable nature of human beings that provides a real challenge to his ability every time. Mushi's follow certain sets of behavior, which can be anticipated before worst comes to worst. Humans on the other hand, act based on their emotions, sometimes he can help them but there are instances that everything is beyond his control, especially when they have to make their own decision. Ginko learns about the mushi's of the world, their importance to co-exist, but it's our free-will that teaches Ginko the essential things in this life and how it moves everything.

Runner-up: Juugo Yama (Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin) 

Best Girl - Winter 2014
She's bloody brilliant and can never be outsmarted by anybody. Who wouldn't love her? She can be a cutesy tsundere at times but in my opinion that's just a first impression stereotype because her character is all about brain power and being in control. The extraordinary things that she does, that girl power "you can't fool me" attitude she exudes in every episodes has made her a standout among the rest and that's why she deserves to be this season's best girl. 

Runner-up: Kazumi Schlierenzauer (Gokukoku no Bryndhildr) 

Best Supporting Character - Spring 2014
The best wingman of Spring season. Yuki is a lucky guy because he has Shogo - as a best friend - to rely on. Shogo appears to be typical, he looks cold and distant to others, but apparently he is actually very attentive, mindful, straightforward, reliable and anything but oblivious, which is quite surprising given that's what you can assume about him on the onset. He gives good advice to his best friend, acts as his sounding board and is always there for him when he needed him the most (although he pretends to be irritated at times). 

Runner-up: Neil (Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushi) 

Favorite Recurring Character - Spring 2014
Netero is a cool old guy, someone the younger generations can chill out with because you know...he is cool. The matter of fact is, he is a badass, a twisted guy when he was at his prime. He's like your grandfather, you can play with him and he is nice to you, but he wasn't always like that. The Chimera Ant Arc gave us a glimpse of the real Netero, back in the day when he was still mastering his craft as a Hunter. And I mean he was one scary guy to deal with, like Gokou in Super Saiyan mode. I like how this arc showed us the old man's skill, his resolved, his composure even when he's under pressure and all of the wisdom he learned through his age and experience. So respect for the master. After all, he earned it more than anybody else. 

Runner-up: You Shunshin (Diamond no Ace) 

Best Villain - Spring 2014
This is hands down going to this guy. Nobody else could hold the candle for best villain other than Kyoto Fushimi's very own, Midosouji-kun. I hate him to the bones. He has no concept of teamwork, doesn't even consider the feelings of his teammates, does cycling only for the sake of winning, and bullies other teams by pushing their buttons just because he thinks it's the best way to gain the lead. He is the complete opposite of all the characters in YowaPeda, and I'm including the Hakone side as well. He gets on my nerves in the worst possible way, that alone means he played effectively as a villain. I rest my case. I don't even want to put a picture of him here but I have to for blogging purposes. 

Exceeded Expectations - Spring 2014

Exceeded Expectations/ Most Under-Appreciated - Spring 2014
When the story is written very well it can always trumped the animation, no matter how ugly it look like. That's the case for Ping Pong. It is easy to stay away from it if you have seen the trailer but if you gave it a chance the story will hook and reel you right in. It's a classic shounen sport series, however, there is no clear protagonist or antagonist here, everybody has their own thing. Rather than focus on the plot it's all about the characters and their point of view, what drives them to play and be good at their sport. It's one of those series that's so enjoyable because their experiences are very realistic and relatable. By the time it ended the only thing on my mind is I wished it had 10 more episodes. I see it as an under-appreciated series because a lot of people dropped this show immediately because of the animation quality. I know it's their lost but it's regretful for it to be overlooked and not get the recognition it deserves. I mean if they can watch crap, why not look for something good, you know what I'm saying. 

Disappointment - Spring 2014
I realized one thing after completing this series: harem never works for me. I've seen a lot of them before and I've made up my mind that I would never watch any series with women pining for one male character or whatever. If I have an idea or two about its harem nature I could have dropped this show right away. Then I saw the trailer for Brynhildr and it looks interesting, completely different from the show that it had became today. Girls with supernatural abilities made their appearances one episode after the next and the main guy just keep on protecting them for some humanitarian reason or because one of them looks like his childhood friend. I ignored the harem-side, even the absurdities thinking that it's nonsense shit will make this series good in the long run. Then the final episode came, all the explanation I was waiting for regarding the villain and the laboratory that experimented on the girls was abandoned completely. Characters died, the lead girl got back her powers but lost her memories again, and for some weird reason those who perished during the battle is back to live for another day again without even providing a coherent explanation. That's it. So in the end, it sucked. I wasn't expecting too much from it, but at least the delivery could have been better by not swamping all the necessary plots in one episode. I understand that it's at its best when being crazy but the last episode is the reason for my disappointment, so I hope that the OVA could rectify that. 

Best Anime - Spring 2014
I am thankful for all the effort that Artland studios did to make the second season of Mushishi possible in spite of the financial demands that it requires in order for them to pull it through. It is best anime for the spring season not only for its attempt to be brilliant regardless of their budget but considering the many wonderful achievements they were able to accomplish within their ten episode run. Mushishi Zoku Shou is a testament to the playful imagination of mangaka, Yuki Urushibara and the creative geniuses behind Artland. 9 years is a long time for a sequel and yet, aside from the changes and improvements in doing animation, we were able to get the same series, like the first one just happened yesterday. The episodic treatment doesn't prevent us from seeing through the nature of the main character's personal destination; each journey means something to him and it leads to a new discovery. The further he goes, the darker it gets. And I can't wait to explore the next chapters of this hauntingly strange but beautiful Japan with Ginko when a new chapter is confirmed to be in the works. Hopefully there will be one, and I'm already crossing my fingers to that. 

Runner-ups: No. 2 - Ping Pong: The Animation, No. 3 - Sidonia no Kishi, No. 4 - Haikyuu 2, No. 5 - Yowamushi Pedal

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ida (Impression)

A road trip movie. A coming-of-age story of a young novitiate discovering her real identity: her actual name and parental background before she can take her vows as a nun. As she embarks on this journey she experiences things she has not known before. Confused with this unfamiliar and tempting territory she tread on water to solve her confusion, only to realize in the end what her true calling in life is. This black and white tinted motion picture is Pawlikoski's best yet. The gorgeous cinematography by Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski captures the haunting mood of post-war Poland akin to the melancholic meanderings of Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries and the eeriness of Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon. An artful piece of European cinema that has all the makings of a true classic. This will go down as one of my favorites of the year. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Impression)

I Am Sam meets The Green Mile meets The Shawshank Redemption, and what else. The plot of the movie has "Hollywood" written all over its forehead so it's not surprising if audiences find this movie lovable, for some touchy-feely reasons. This is a movie that you can sit down together with your entire family. Even some people I know of has admitted to shedding bucketful of tears for this film, especially during the last sequences - but I would refrain myself from giving away any spoilers. I find it enjoyable, heartwarming and funny, but there are no Kleenex moments here on my part (I'm sorry). I was waiting for those "it" or "oomph" scenes - that they were talking about - but I guess I've seen so many melodramatic Korean movies in this lifetime, who successfully made me bawl and drool (no questions asked it is "Secret Sunshine" and "Maundy Thursday"), that it will take a heavy hitter before I cry again on a Korean movie, so there. Filipinos, especially those who gravitates towards watching ABS-CBN shows, loves their cheesy lines and waterworks, something that we have in common with Koreans, except that they make better movies than us and they are not "baduy". The only thing that frustrated me about "Miracle in Cell No. 7" is how the writers got away with putting Lee Yong-gu behind bars. Because you cannot incarcerate a mentally challenged individual or an insane person no matter what. Duh? Where's WHO or Amnesty International in Korea? It's like the strongest fighting chance of Lee Yong-gu, even if he's up against a commissioner. Just saying. Know your facts before you accept what you see. 

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