Thursday, October 10, 2013

Summer Anime Season 2013 Pt. 1

This summer I continued on my journey into the world of anime seasons and built up a larger group of shows then my previous endeavors. In all I watched a total of seven shows, Watamote, Kinmoza, Silver Spoon, Stella Women's Academy High School Division C3 (which I will shorten as C3bu because that's a hell of a title), Servant x Service, Gatchaman Crowds, and Danganronpa: The Animation. There are some shows I passed on that ended up getting a lot of positive reception (The Eccentric Family, The World God Only Knows) but overall I think I chose pretty well, and will try my best to check out the shows I skipped some other time. But for now, I'm going to take a look at each show I watched and score the, though some may have more seasons on the way. Speaking of which, I did watch the second season of Attack On Titan but not much has changed quality-wise from last season, so I won't touch on it.


Oh yeah, this show also has a huge title so I'll be referring to it by it's more commonly used name, "Watamote".

Watamote is the story of Tomoko Kuroki, a girl who prior to starting high school was convinced that her time playing visual novels would provide her the social skills to be the most popular girl in school. The guys would want her, the girls would want to be her. A month of high school later she realizes she hasn't made a single friend, let alone participated in a normal conversation, as a result to her being completely unsociable. Each episode Tomoko desperately tries to fix this, and, spoiler, nearly always fails.

The show's primary focus is cringe humor, so for the most part you'll never find yourself laughing out loud, instead biting your fingers trying to contain the pure concentrated embarrassment and awkwardness being felt by the main character. It's not for everyone, I've experienced multiple accounts of people telling me they just "don't get" Watamote, but I enjoyed it. In addition, the cringe humor isn't the only thing Watamote has going for it. Tomoko doesn't exacly exibit a whole lot of likable traits. She's selfish, spiteful, and inconsiderate, all along with being completely oblivious to her faults, often blaming others. But at the same time, I always ended up feeling sympathy towards her. Why?

You see, Watamote is a very genuine and often very relatable look at social anxiety. To someone who's been through times similar to Tomoko, whether it be having trouble making friends, or being sociable, it can hit really hard. The way she acts as though she despises all her classmates, while secretly being envious of what they have. Spending the last night of her summer staring at the stars alone. Through all it's kinda mean-spirited cringe humor, there's a lot of heart in how it handles the serious subject matter. It makes you feel so bad for what should be such a flawed person, and Watamote does so without it feeling corny or forced. That along with it's great cringe humor results in a great show.



Kiniro Mosaic, commonly shortened as Kinmoza DAMN IT, you know what, from now on this is "Shortened Title Season" I mean this one isn't even that long of a title, I mean, are there any shows this season called by their full name?

But I digress. Kinmoza starts out strong. Despite being an adaptation of a 4-panel manga, the first episode is almost entirely devoted to a well paced, character driven, and absolutely adorable story of a Japanese girl named Shinobu becoming friends with a girl named Alice during a visit to England. Due to the language gap between the two the story is driven not so much by dialogue, but the interactions of the two girls. With no real sentences exchanged as you watch their friendship grow, and it's very well executed and touching. And then, just when I was sold on the show, the last 5 minutes reveal the ugly truth, as the now fluent-in-Japanese Alice moves to Japan years later to go through high-school with Shinobu and her friends.

That's right, it's another cute high school girls slice of life comedy. Once the massive wave of disappointment had finished washing over me, I still decided to stick with it. After all, with such an impressive start maybe it'll be a really good slice of life show, and the idea of an English girl being a character could add an interesting dynamic.

It wasn't, and it doesn't. It isn't terrible by any means, it's just painfully mundane and typical, there's nothing unique or interesting about the show whatsoever. Sure it's harmless, and it'll get a chuckle out of you once in a while, but the lack of anything standing out about it is such a disappointment when I consider the exceptional beginning.

Actually, there is one thing that one could argue makes it stand out. Engrish. Lots and lots of engrish. Yes, whenever characters supposed to have english as a first language speak english, hilarity ensues. So I guess I could recommend it if you enjoy laughing hilarious pronunciations and broken english. But the show itself is boringly average.



I will admit, I probably wouldn't have taken any interest in farming school slice of life show Silver Spoon if not for the fact that the author of the manga it's an adaptation of, Hiromu Arakawa, is also known for writing a little manga you may have heard of called Fullmetal Alchemist. And considering Fullmetal Alchemist and it's anime adaptation (the one that followed the manga at least) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are favorites of mine when it comes to manga and anime, I couldn't pass this new show up.

Silver Spoon introduces us to Hachiken Yugo, who's enrolled in Yezo Agricultural High School,for the sole reason of getting away from his parents, though he soon learns this new school may not be as easy to get through as he hoped, as he labors tirelessly learning about the ins and outs of farm work along with making new friends along the way.

No matter which way I look at it, Silver Spoon is an exceptional show. It's characters are all likable and interesting, as not only the main character develops and has conflicts to deal with, but a large portion of them. Hachiken is trying to find a purpose in life in addition to dealing with how little he thinks of himself, Mikage is dealing with being lead down a one track life when she has other dreams, Aikawa wants to be a veterinarian but isn't sure if he can deal with the concept of taking an animal's life, the list goes on and on. But despite so many of the characters having their lives and problems delved into it never feels too convoluted, or busy. In addition the main character's arc doesn't suffer as a result of focusing on the other characters, thanks to how all their conflicts intertwine with each other in different ways.

The show is also educational through all the information it gives on farming, animals, and so on (and since Arakawa actually grew up on a farm you know it's most likely all accurate) but the informative stuff never feels forced, or gets in the way of the story, as a matter of fact, it deepens the story. The things Hachiken (and the audience) learns is constantly used as symbols and metaphors for things going on in the story, always in really cool ways. It adds a whole new level of depth to the story and gives purpose to what makes this different than any other slice of life show.

All in all, at least by the end of it's first season, I couldn't find myself disliking anything about Silver Spoon. Likable characters with interesting conflicts all wrapped up in a brilliant use of it's topic and setting, left me wishing I didn't have to wait until winter to get a second season.


Well, that's all for this entry, stay tuned for Part 2 featuring my thoughts on Gatchaman Crowds, Danganronpa, and more!
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