I’ve been keeping up with Noragami (Stray God) this season and got to thinking about the colour palette used in the show. To my eyes it has a cold, wintery palette without being obnoxiously colour graded (looking at you here GoHands). This is different from other shows set during winter (Mikakunin et. al.) that still manage to stay bright and cheerful, perhaps thanks to luminous hair colouring but that’s an aside. I idly wondered if there was a way to get a high-level view of a series’ colour palette without resorting to wooly adjectives?
If you haven’t been hardened by the “singing” of idol groups like AKB48 then you’ll likely be clawing at your ears within seconds of the opening to Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko (The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat or, charmingly, just Stony Cat). So cloying and reprehensibly saccharine is the track that writing the whole series off as sycophantic fluff within minutes of the first episode would be easy. But like Sakurasou no Pet, Stony Cat’s worth is measured many episodes in rather than from gut reactions.
This isn’t to say that you need to wade through episode after episode of dross just to glimpse entertainment - there are plenty of madcap antics and brightly coloured shenanigans to go around. But the emotional and thematic heart of the series doesn’t come until several wishes in to the titular stone cat of the title.
The Dangan Ronpa anime accrues a lot of pop-culture debt during its thirteen episode run. The most obvious being to Phoenix Wright (Gyakuten Saiban) with its near carbon copy of the hyperactive trials, only the iconic “Objection!” being replaced with a bizarre ammunition mechanic. More surreptitiously is its desire to be even a fraction as stylish as Persona 4 with a funky-smooth Engrish opening and questionably bold style. Tertiary influences seem to include the torturous logic diatribes from Death Note as well as the “children versus children” storyline from Battle Royale (and by extension the recent BTOOOM among others).
Combine these with a day-glo colour palette, retro video-game motifs and a cast of charicatures rather than characters and the final presentation is a muddled hodge-podge that, somewhat ironically, barely has an identity of its own.
“Ugh, nothing happens!” is one of the oft uttered arguments against contemporary, character-led light comedies or, more colloquially, “slice of life” series. In a sense it is largely true; nothing burns, dies, transforms, flies, barrel rolls, crashes, magically disappears, is chased or otherwise suddenly explodes in slice of life series. It’s an argument that’s largely missing the point though, for as mercurial as the definition of “slice of life” is, the focus is largely on presenting an exaggerated take on the mundanity of everyday life. This is to say nothing of the contentiousness of the phrase and its taxonomic convention, carrying as it does agingvolumes of discussion, regardless of the term’s demotic usage.
just a peaceful amble [...] with copious hair brushing and peculiar banter
Three recent (ish) anime which typify the spirit, if not the minutiae, of the term include Acchi Kocchi (Place to Place), GJ-bu (GJ club) - both of which peer into the lives of middle/high-school students - and Servant × Service (or to give it its full title Servant × Service ☑) which deals with the rarely seen world of an entry level Japanese government employee. It is perhaps fair to say though that the success of such a series largely relies upon the personalities of the characters and the ability to keep either the comedy or the drama fresh enough across its run.
“Hmmmm.” That was the noise I made as the post-credits scene in Makoto Shinkai’s Kotonoha no Niwa (Garden of Words) faded to black. It wasn’t so much a question or even a measure of concern but more a noncommittal sound that seemed to fit with the rather woolly way the petite forty five minute film ends. Ordinarily at the end of Shinkai film, even one as short as Dareka no Manazashi (Someone’s Gaze), there’s a satisfied silence, pregnant with the weight of the story just told and the characters just glimpsed.
Pluviophiles rejoice for much attention is lavished on the rain
A lot of the discomfort with the ending will likely come from what expectations you had going into it - in short whether you’re familiar with Shinkai’s films or not. Certainly you should take each work on its own merits, but the sharing of motifs and style and tone is enough to sink you back into the amber sunsets and cloudscapes first set out in Hoshi no Koe (Voices of a Distant Star).