Posts from February 2014

Cut my life into pieces

Thoughts on "slice of life" shows

“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 aging volumes 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.

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A Garden of Words review

“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).

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Fate's shadow

A review of the Fate/Zero anime

First released: October 2011
Version reviewed: BluRay

I will never be ready to talk about Type-Moon’s works with any kind of certainty. I only have to glance at a page on the relevant Wikia to realise that what I know is but a sliver of what is, somehow, established lore. I’ve even forgone calling it the “Nasuverse”; even that term seems questionable when you consider Fate/Zero was originally a light novel written by Gen Urobuchi (he of Madoka and Psycho Pass heritage) and turned into an anime series in 2011.

breaking the spirit and bodies of those he faces before gifting them an ignominious death

It is with some certainty that I can say Fate/Zero is a prequel to Fate/stay night (surely dividing “Fate” by zero would be undefined…) and is, in every regard, immeasurably better than it. Well, better than 2006 Studio Deen produced series at least, the recently announced "new chapter" is still an unknown quantity. Sumptuously produced by UFOTable (see also: Kara no Kyoukai) and with a plot that bares its mettle from the outset, the story of the fourth Holy Grail war is dark, vicious, and mind-bogglingly spectacular.

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