Or “it’s halfway through the new season and I still can’t think of much to say about these shows.”
The final ending card of *Rage of Bahamut: Genesis’ warned us: “I’ll be back”. For a time that seemed to refer to the indefinitely delayed Manaria Friends (not to be confused with your Italian food research group: marinara friends), until that is, Virgin Soul was announced. A direct sequel to Genesis with the same director - Keiichi Satou - and a returning cast of characters, would this new two-cour series be able to capture the same kind of adventuring fun that typified its predecessor?
Picking up ten years after the sealing of the Bahamut, humanity, under the new rule of King Charioce, have enslaved demons and begun to purge angels from their midsts. The fates of both Favaro and Kaisar are unknown and instead the impossibly cheerful and unusually brawny Nina takes centre stage. Unfortunately for her, she transforms into an enormous red dragon when coming into contact with a member of the opposite sex which has a detrimental effect on the buildings and people surrounding her when she does.
Sakura Quest is the most recent series from studio P.A. Works’ “earnest girls working earnestly” genre that it started back in 2011 with Hanasaku Iroha. Sakura’s story starts charmingly enough with the cherry-blossom haired Yoshino being mistaken for a singer from the 60’s and subsequently being hired by the tourist board as a representative of the rural town, Manoyama. Thus begins twenty five episodes of Yoshino and fellow cohorts Shiori, Maki, Ririko and Sanae trying to revitalise the ailing town.
At its heart, the series is about people fighting against the depopulation of a rural town. Once it moves past its initial two-episode stories of Yoshino attempting (and failing) with quick-fire tourist pulls, there are extended arcs focusing on the aging residents on the outskirts of town, as well as the perils of using flashy media pulls, alongside an undercurrent of resigned acceptance to the situation the town finds itself in. And what ultimately awaits it should the situation continue.
It’s finally finished. It feels like I’ve been hearing about the Kizumonogatari movie since I finished watching the first TV anime, Bakemonogatari. In my reviews of past entries in its tangled timeline I was a lot more glowing in my praise than I remembered; but somewhere along the way I didn’t so much lose patience so much as lose interest in continuing with the franchise. I think it was somewhere around the first tranche of episodes for Owarimonogatari.
Kizumonogatari (Scarstory or Woundstory depending on your translator) however is narratively the first story in the now 23 light novel saga so its adaptation holds the potential for newcomers to be introduced to the franchise without its eight years of baggage. A trilogy of movies then, each around an hour long, telling the story of eternal straight man Koyomi Araragi’s first meeting with the mercurial vampire Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, class president Tsubasa Hanekawa and oddity specialist Meme Oshino.
The Sundays of prior Scotland Loves Anime events are typically slower paced affairs: the competition films have been aired, the jury has deliberated and now it’s time for films and shorts that may not always be premieres, but definitely warrant your attention.
Kicking off the day with the third and final instalment of Kizumonogatari certainly bucks that trend, excluded from competition for being a franchise film but no less visceral for it. Ostensibly Akiyuki Shinbo’s second film in the festival, Jonathan Clements’ introduction shed some light on the “Chief Director” position that many productions now have, effectively big names attached to a project, often without the onerous burden of working on it. Suffice it to say, a lot of the directorial duties may have fallen to Tatsuya Oishi, though you wouldn’t know it once Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu started. If you’ve made it to this last entry in the film series, you know what you’re getting yourself into: hard colour cuts, circuitous point making and slapstick dismemberments.