Glancing Upstream: Fall 2015 Retrospective and Review

The autumn colors were certainly on display, I’ll give Fall that, at least.

hiq3-1

This was a slim season for me in terms of overall series completed, and would have been a pretty disappointing one if not for a couple happy surprises and a pair of standout shows from the ever-reliable Studio BONES. Still, there’s good variety here, with a strong focus on action/adventure titles, so there’s a pretty good chance something out there will speak to everyone’s tastes.

One thing Fall did have in droves was plenty of style. From the jaw-droppingly dynamic animation of One Punch Man, to the ’60s comic book-inspired design of Concrete Revolutio, to the painted landscapes of Seraph, the glowing monsters of Noragami, and even the washed-out color scheme and bursts of acid-trip weirdness in Perfect Insider, a lot of creative teams threw themselves into making the shows this season visually striking, and they by-and-large succeeded.

While ultimately I’m the kind of viewer who needs a developed set of characters and a meaningful (or at least entertaining) narrative to keep me invested in a story, that should by no means take away from the sheer amount of hard work and talent on display this Fall. Animation is art, and (narrative content notwithstanding), these creators have made that abundantly clear.

Continue reading

Season Review: Concrete Revolutio, Part 1

Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.

conc-ed

“Those who do the right thing, not for themselves or their country, but for a single…”

“A single what? Justice? Peace? Freedom? Defending my freedom disturbs the peace! Pursuing your justice violates my freedom! There is no single answer!”

—Jiro and Jin; Concrete Revolutio

Concrete Revolutio is an alternate reality, a blending of pop art and fiction with historical events to create a sensationalized truth. It’s an attempt to make sense of history through fantasy, to find causality in the real world the way we would in a fantastical one. And, in so doing, it reminds us that history itself is written like a fiction, and that (much like fiction) the same general narratives and tropes continue to play out in multiple times and places, despite our best (or perhaps worst) efforts.

Continue reading

Noragami Aragoto – Episode 13 (Season Finale & Review)

Yes, I’ll have one order of Season Three, please?
Screenshot_2015-12-25-18-49-02

Noragami gets back to basics as it returns the focus to its central cast and wraps up its second (but hopefully not final) season with an emotionally satisfying finale and a big teaser for what comes next.

As usual, I’ll spend the first part of this post providing a specifics-free review and the second part discussing the episode itself. I’ll be sure to let any newcomers know when to close the window to avoid spoilers, so don’t hesitate to hit that link and read on for more.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!

Noragami Aragoto – Episode 12: “Your Voice Calls Out”

A god by any other name…

Screenshot_2015-12-18-14-22-45

After last week’s bumpy ride, Noragami is back to doing what it does best: Character-driven storytelling, slick-looking battles, and moments of simple yet profound emotional resonance. And if there appears to be a little mist in my eyes, I assure you it’s just from the dust our battling gods kicked up this week. Definitely just that.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!

Noragami Aragoto – Episode 11: “Revival”

A God of Fortune always pays her debts.

Screenshot_2015-12-11-16-21-18

I spent a lot of the Bishamon Arc praising Noragami for its tightly woven, character-driven narrative, where every scene fed into the next and every plot point developed naturally out of individuals acting in ways true to their (limited) perspectives and experiences. This—I guess we’ll call it the Ebisu Arc—hasn’t been as strong structurally: There are gaps in the cause-effect between one event and the next, unexplained motivations, and sometimes people behave in ways that seem designed solely to move the plot or another character’s development forward rather than out of an organic extension of their own personality, desires, or what have you.

The hodgepodge plotting has been mitigated and at times hidden entirely thanks to great production values, strong emotional beats, a good sense of comedic timing, and some fascinating character details (particularly where Yato is concerned), but it really comes to the forefront during the first half of this episode, which I can only describe as a nonsensical way to mark time before the finale.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!

Noragami Aragoto – Episode 10: “A Certain Desire”

A little wishing goes a long way.

Screenshot_2015-12-04-17-08-20

Aaaand we’re back! Last week was fraught with emotional turmoil for our heroes and filled with pineapple beers and basketball games for yours truly, but now it’s time to put all that behind us and focus on getting everyone’s favorite trio back together again. Massive thanks to Setsuken for covering for me last week! I was with you all in spirit (and Feels) if not in blog posts, and am now rested, rejuvenated, and ready to take us all through the final stretch of Noragami, however tense, amusing, or painful it may be.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!

Noragami Aragoto – Episode 9: “The Sound of a Thread Snapping”

BONES is punishing me for taking a week off from blogging, aren’t they?

Screenshot_2015-11-27-08-45-39

I was on break this week (although my Feels sure weren’t), but Setsuken was kind enough to cover the episode for me. Click here for his full post on Anime Evo!

I did provide some livetweet commentary for this one, so just for funsies, I thought I’d chuck that up here for your enjoyment. Hit the jump and grab some syrup to put on these hottakes.

Continue reading