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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Spice and Wolf

Perhaps I'm ranting about this, and with the score I'm giving I be expecting a lot of disagreements here. To be honest, I was sorely disappointed in Spice and Wolf (S&W), not because it was plain bad, but I cannot see anything worth remembering at all. Oh and I got my first death threat from this!



Character-wise, the arc Holo and Lawrence went through hardly develops the characters. While we know they are in a sort of romantic-partner sort of relationship, both characters come out as rather empty. In the case of Lawrence, it seemed like he's lost in how he views his relationship with Holo and his 'merchant' character. And that is how most of the conflict in this anime began.

Lawrence's relationship to Holo is even more confusing. In the start of Season 2, the Amarty-Pyrite Arc was the most captivating arc yet, and it ended so, so badly. It was when the tension was the greatest, and yet it was resolved so damn easily. The most disgusting part is that Lawrence seems to have learnt nothing from the ordeal. Slow pacing with the already awkward ending in Season 1 made this a turn-off.

The characterisation of Holo herself was a mess as well. I cannot fathom a centuries old demigod to be, of all things, a tsundere. Despite being the Wise Wolf, Holo has not shown her wisdom, instead turning into the most gullible character in the series, that even a stranger's comment can affect her that much in the last episode. For a character whose whole idea was to be an immortal sick of solitude, the 'solitude part' wasn't played well enough. I question how Holo views Lawrence again and again, and question what is the whole point of making the relationship and its development so ambiguous, and that made Holo resembles a tsundere more than anything. Similar to Lawrence, its seems that Holo has learnt nothing from all the ordeals she faced, and her ever-changing mood made me question whether she is bipolar.

The music itself was extremely refreshing at first, with the Openings and Endings to be rather good and fitting to the setting of those times. Then comes the OST, which almost sounded like a broken radio being all to similar, or that they played they same one over and over again.

The significance of the ending was what made me so disappointed by this alleged masterpiece. To have Holo being sold off by Lawrence, regardless of the circumstances, hurts the development of the characters through seasons 1 and 2. So how does it end? What was the meaning of all the development that Holo and Lawrence went through, through thick and thin? It got thrown out of the window.

Overall, I acknowledge I might be 6 years late for this anime. But considering the fact this anime is so highly rated confuses me. To me, S&W is a mess, that tries to add the intelligent elements of trade and romance with a hardly decent storyline but was wasted at the very end.

It boils down to the fact that somewhere between watching S&W, I stopped enjoying myself because I can no longer see it as coherent story. While I understand that anime serves mainly as advertisement to the source material, I strongly believe that as a storytelling medium, an anime should still have  a storyline and conclusion that is able to stand on its own, without reference to the source material to be able to understand what is happening in the anime itself.

While I know that S&W is charming, and a favorite to many out there, at least I hope it is not a blind love of the questionable adaptation of a popular LN series.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Orange

Orange is underwhelming not really because of bad adaptation or source material, but due to the hype it was riding on.



When the announcement and trailer of Orange came out, many are impressed: elements of time travel, romance, and tragedy is enough to garner a good following for the upcoming anime.  In a sense, it supposedly share similarities with the anime that started the crazed hyped over time-travel,  Boku dake ga Inai Machi, two seasons ago.

Here comes my pet peeve: supposed MCs look like clones of Kou and Futuba from Ao Haru Ride, the most successful romance-shoujo-"drama" yet. Also, Orange seems to share this same genre.

The thing about such a genre is that there's little variance to work with, and many works and adaptations out there simply became clones of each other. I can provide you a list of recent similarities but its very easy to search that up.

So here comes Orange, which promised us something new from the old and beaten genre, with an additional niche of time-travelling included. The end result of which is utter disappointment, for Orange fails to be out-of-the norm, and the niche is gimmicky.

Orange's Characters fall into the generic characters of this genre. The plotline is also generic, broken to down into mere phases of lovey-dovey and mistrust. Anyone hoping Orange would be different would be left disappointed.

Though, that is not to say there is no merit to Orange. For one, it is the best of its genre in my opinion, beating Ao Haru Ride in terms of enjoyment, with the time travel and impending fate of a certain character somewhat driving the slow plot progression.

With the announced extra episode, I hope many of the pitfalls to the generic Orange fell into can be remedied, one mainly is the development of the other characters. Unlike the other, I would say Orange's supporting cast is a huge untouched potential that could be (and should have BEEN) developed.

There is, in my opinion, two camps in viewing Orange. One, not having been exposed to this genre before, would enjoy Orange greatly. The other camp, realising what Orange is, becomes bored, and the only reason they watch the show was to see the conclusion (aka the time-travel gimmick).

Whether Orange is your cup of tea or not, one consensus we can share that at least visuals and audio is impressive enough to give it a shot.

Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name)

Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name) in some sense touches on a Japanese concept called Mono no Aware, which can roughly mean to be in resignation of the flow of things, that things that have happened have changed lives in ways that are irreversible.

It is also why many 'drama' anime you have seen emphasise the tragedy, with a conclusion of either living with the tragedy (e.g Your Lie in April) or regrets (e.g 5cm/s ) . Reason why you hardly see 'good' endings nowadays. Instead, Your Name tells a story about clinging on to hope, and looking forward towards the uncertain future.

The anime features intermingling time-lines and body-swapping. Manipulating time as a form on its own has many issue, for one it break your suspension of disbelief (aka how 'into' the anime you are) due to loopholes. Like many anime that have the distortion of time, Your Name has times which time confuses the audience.

Unlike many anime however, where the usage of time is the center focus, Your Name is personal for it touched dissatisfaction with our lives, where we believe that 'The grass is greener on the other side'.

In fact, the idea of 'Change' plays the main role in this touching film, where our characters experience change, question change, overcome change and in the overarching sense, defy the expectation of resignation to fate.

My personal part of Your name was the meeting of our characters on the crater, when the scene where the timeline returns to normal and they are separated again, it creates the notion that the characters will never remember what happened in the mountain and the lingering feeling of loss that they cannot explain will perhaps never be explained. This is our expectation, and it did not turn out that way, for the better. After all, this anime is about change for the better.

Let me clear some confusions that people may have about this anime
1. Mizuha is 3 years older than Taki
2. The reason why they evacuated in the end, was because the father realised that Mizuha is experience what his wife (Mizuha's mother) has faced. And, the fact that Taki warned dad about the splitting of the comet.
3. Taki is not happy with his city life, it shows in his attitude as stated by his peers to be short-tempered and quick to anger, the typical presentation of frustration.

One weak point I found was that the ending was dragged rather long, and it became flat. However, in retrospect, it is the prolonging to the conclusion that we play into  Mono no Aware, and have an expectation about the end. And then break that expectation. Also, it might be difficult to buy into this 'time distortion' that is essential in the plot, but there's no going around that.

Kini no Na wa is an anime that one should not miss, regardless of being exposed to anime culture or not. It is a story many can relate to, and is refreshing in its own ways, defying a predetermined fate prevalent in many forms of medium and how we see our own lives.