Winter 2017: mid-season update

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It’s already been a month since my what I’m watching in Winter 2017 post and many of this season’s anime are at their 9th episode by the end of this week. It’s crazy to think that I’ve only started to watch anime regularly since last September, and this season is the first time I’m taking part to watch anime as they air and talk about it with the community.

Much of my views and perspectives have shifted since the beginning of the season. Although this was probably expected, I think I now have a better understanding of the culture around anime and what I can expect to enjoy in the future. Moreover, I think I have a better sense of what’s normal and what’s exceptional.

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I had mentioned that Urara was my favourite at the time. While it’s definitely what I look forward to on Friday mornings, its quirky blend of cute, spiritual, dark, and sexual themes are not exactly what I had expected. While there are still heartfelt moments and is enjoyable to watch, the driving narrative can be rather stagnant at times. A casual 7/10 (previously a strong 7/10).

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Konosuba is going so strong. The humor has become more character based and it works so well. It never takes itself seriously and is often outrageously funny. Not much more needs to be said. A very strong 7/10 (a solid 7/10).

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For a while, my favourite from this season has been Dropout. The character combinations of lazy deadpan, troll, nice and dependable, and hopelessly inept has been one of the best things I’ve ever seen. And its portrayal of Christianity as a religion from a non-Western perspective has been surprisingly thought provoking. A solid 8/10 (a solid 7/10).

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What kept surprising me in terms of enjoyment was Maid Dragon. I guess it’s the KyoAni slice of life magic. It always manages to highlight the struggles and the joys of life in a way you don’t expect. And it’s heartwarming. The characters feel very real after establishing who they are as characters. A solid 7/10 (no change).

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I dropped Seiren after its 2nd arc which was episode 8. It just got worse and worse as it went on. There was absolutely no realism in the characters and there was nothing to feel or enjoy from watching them. The first arc was okay. A light 6/10 (a light 7/10).

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I’m not exactly sure what’s happening in Chaos;Child, but it works pretty well as a thriller. Even though the pacing is the same episode to episode, it never fails to get me when its tone shifts from casual to anxious. Apart from its thriller component, the characters are quite generic and boring. a strong 6/10 (a strong 6 to a light 7/10).

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From just the first few episodes, I had agreed that Little Witch Academia was superb. Right now, not so much. Perhaps it’s the expectations. While certainly not a bad anime, it doesn’t follow up to the thrill and the pacing of the first few episodes. An 8/10 (a solid 8/10).

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Although perhaps undignified, I started watching One Room. But I don’t think I can really call this action ‘watching’ (at least in the same context as the other anime) when it’s only 3 minutes per episode (w/o the ED). It’s kind of interesting that this the first POV style anime. It’s certainly pandering to a certain male audience, and it’s transparently indicative of how anime culture likes to portray girls. First arc was about your simple and airheaded girl next door who thinks you’re super nice the second arc was about your cute little sister who deeply cares for you. No rating.

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Lastly, I had also started watching Masamune-kun no Revenge. I did a fairly lengthy analysis on the first 4 episodes because I felt strongly compelled to express the dichotomy of my enjoyment and frustration with the series. The anime has since changed direction a little bit, proving to be less of a harem anime, but it still keeping trope traits such as having the main heroin be underdeveloped and have a bad personality. The Pedantic Romantic has a fantastic mid-series review (albeit having a lot of filler rant), and articulates my frustrations succinctly: lot of artificial conflict and characters are actually socially inept.

Well, that’s it for now, maybe I’ll see you at the season end review.


[Source]

Screenshot is from 3-gatsu no Lion

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Aesthetics: colour palette

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Note: I am not an expert on this topic, but I thought the information I came across was worth sharing.

Before we get started, we need to understand what hue, hint, shade, and tone means:

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I found this webpage (source of image above) to be helpful in understanding the differences. Basically, hue is the basic colour wheel. Add white and you get tint, add black and you get shade, and add grey (black and white) and you get tone. Now let’s actually take a look at some of the current seasons’ anime:

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First up is Maid Dragon from Kyoto Animation, which mostly uses hues and tints. I noticed that this series is extremely colourful, as almost every scene contains ROYGBIV (colours of the rainbow). If you look at the scene below, the background is actually a rainbow gradient that complements with the characters’ hair colours.

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As you can see, this is a huge contrast to Urara Meirochou, from J.C.Staff, which mostly uses tones. On top this, there’s a certain filter on the colours that tones down the lighting (I said before that the series has an “earthy” feel). Urara also uses a lot of patterns (not pictured) which makes for a nice presentation.

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Now let’s take a look at Demi-chan, from A-1 Pictures. This series is a mix of hue and shade (maroon and deep green), apart from the tint for the blue flame. This along with that fact that the show has minimal use of gradients gives the series a certain flatness.

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The last example is from Gabriel Dropout, from Doga Kobo. The colours might look similar to Demi-chan but Dropout uses tints (especially in the hair) which makes it noticeably brighter.

I found the following breakdown on the internet somewhere. All the anime are from Kyoto Animation:

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Although this is all pretty interesting, this is about all that I can offer on the subject. If you want to learn more, here is a Pinterest board that has a lot of inforgraphics on colour, such as ones on the psychology of colour.

Speaking of colours, though, I’m going to mention some of my favourite music videos. I’ve always liked cmyk (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) used in music videos because it makes the scenes look dazzling and surreal at the same time:

Big Sean – Bounce Back

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Big Sean – Moves

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Rae Sremmurd – By Chance

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Next, Tyler, The Creator is known for his bright and saturated pastel colours in his music videos:

Tyler, The Creator – IFHY

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Tyler, The Creator – Tamale

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And although I don’t really know how to describe the colours for this one but I really like the colour palette on Kanye West’s Runaway as well:

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And of course, Drake’s Hotline Bling has some really pretty colours too:

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Lights and sounds are so interesting. The fact that they both behave as waves, the fact that this property allows them to interact with our physical environments in predictable yet beautiful ways, the fact that our bodies have organs that can detect these vibrations in meaningful ways, and the fact that we use this as a medium to create art… it’s mind-blowing. Just how cool is that this is the world that we exist in? And we associate and express our emotions through lights and sounds, even thought we only have access to a fraction of the whole spectrum. I wonder just how much unseen and unheard things are out there. I wonder what God can see and hear.


[Sources]

Image is of Kosaki Onodera from Nisekoi by Co1onel

Credit goes to /u/Chariotwheel and /u/Takana_no_Hana for providing the discussion on r/anime.

Winter 2017: what I’m watching

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Now that it’s February, I thought I talk about this season’s anime series that I’ve been watching!

I already mentioned that I’m watching Urara Meirochou (from J.C.Staff) in a short review, and I think that it’s my favourite from this season simply due to how pretty the aesthetics are. It’s about the energetic adventures of 4 girls who aspire to be fortune-tellers (similar to how in Pokemon, boys set out to become a Pokemon trainers at a certain age). It’s cute, adorable, and never has a dull moment. A strong 7/10.

The next series I check out from this season was Konosuba S2 (from Studio Deen). It’s probably the crowd favourite, as it was a lot of people’s favourite comedy series last year. This new season feels like a good continuation from its original, and the humour is consistent from the last season. A solid 7/10.

These two were the series I had planned to watch these two series since last year. But as a frequenter of r/anime_irl, I found myself introduced to other CGDCT (cute girls doing cute things) shows as well.

First, Gabriel Dropout (Doga Kobo). The first episode was stellar. It’s kind of edgy in that the characters are angels and demons, with one character even called Satania. The joke here is that the personalities of the angels and demons characters are swithced, and the demons end up looking like angels in comparison. It’s actually pretty funny and easy to watch. A solid 7/10.

Second, Demi-chan wa Kataritai (A-1 Pictures). The story is set in a modern society where demi-humans (ex. vampires and succubi) are in the process of being integrated and being accepted into the society. One high school teacher wants to interview them for his master’s thesis. Although many people are enjoying this series, I dropped it after watching the first episode. Maybe I’m being picky but I thought the show lacked heart, as the characters’ personalities seemed to be derived directly from their demi-human types, and thus the characters seem less important than the plot. This might be just me but there is a certain generic-ness to A-1 Pictures’ character design of cuteness that I couldn’t stand. Finally, I thought that compared to the other CGDCT shows from this season, there was no reason for me to watch it. A Light 6/10.

Third, I decided to check out Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon (Kyoto Animation) after seeing lots of gifs of it floating around. I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy it, because the main character looked stereotypically cute with big boobs. I mean she’s a dragon who wants to be a maid for this typical office worker because she’s in love with her. It doesn’t really make sense but what the show had was heart. You can definitely feel a certain warmth from watching the relationships between the characters. I found it easy to watch episode after episode. A solid 7/10.

Seiren is not a CGDCT show, but a slightly ecchi (so far) romance show. And the MC seems like a rather agreeable person, compared to the completely perverted or completely shy characteristics that MC of ecchi series have. So far into the series (ep. 4), it’s not too bad. Nothing too emotional or heart-breaking. A light 7/10.

My roommate wanted to watch something darker and with mystery, and he suggested that we watch Chaos;Child. Certainly not my preferred genre, but after watching an episode or two, I began to understand why people enjoy the thriller genre — it’s very engaging in a different way. But to be fair, I don’t think I would have enjoying watching it by myself. Although the dramatic tension of the series is inconsistent at times, it hasn’t been a chore to watch it. Strong 6 to a light 7/10.

The last series I checked out was Little Witch Academia. I was reluctant to watch it because I didn’t think the movie/OVA was very interesting at all. But it caught my attention because I kept hearing good things about it. And after checking it out, I understand why. The narrative is very engaging, and the Western influence (this show is more Harry Potter than a magical girl) is a nice change of tone. I’m excited to continue watching the series and I definitely recommend it. A solid 8/10.

Oh, one more series. I checked out Akiba’s Trip The Animation at some point. It’s about hanging around Akihabara and doing stuff. A rather indulgent series for the otaku audience. I thought I would enjoy it, but I dropped it after the first episode because it just wasn’t very interesting to me. But it doesn’t seem like a terrible show either. 5/10.

So, this is what I’ve been watching from this season. If I’m going to add anymore, it would be Fuuka and Masamune-kun no Revenge.


[Source]

Screenshot is from The Witness