I’ve been trepidatious about writing about the second series of Mushishi. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but because when I write a review of an anime series it puts a mental full stop on it. And of all the series that I’ve watched, Mushishi is the last one I want to do that to.
meddling with the unknown, the unknowable, rarely ends well when the hubris, obstinance or folly of people is involved
It’s difficult to overstate exactly how important the first, and now this second, series is to me. It’s the series that I turn off my phone for. Turn down the lights, turn up the volume until my skin tingles with anticipation and the drawl of Ally Kerr, and now Lucy Rose fills my ears. I clutch pillows close when I watch it and dare not move until each episode is finished, letting out a contented sigh as it does. It’s the series I reach for when under the weather, that I put on during bouts of insomnia, and memories of it often come drifting back to me when I least expect it. I can name nearly every episode from the first series and tell you offhand which ones my favourites are. The story of Ginko, the mushi and everyone in between is a story that I don’t want to end, despite knowing that the upcoming movie marks the end of the manga source material.
I went through a very specific cycle with episodes of Golden Time: “1. What happened last episode? 2. Why am I watching this again? 3. Banri/Koukou/Mitsuo you clods, get it together. 4. Okay that wasn’t bad.” Rinse, repeat. The series has the same kind of moreish, ludicrous mentality that soap operas do, even going as far as leaving each episode on a cliffhanger regardless of how incongruous doing so is. It came as some surprise to me then that Golden Time is penned by the same author as Toradora, arguably one of the finest straight-faced campus romance series. Both have the same kind of unyielding outlook on relationships - romantic or otherwise - and a core pairing that drives the plot, yet Toradora never raised the question of its chosen medium like Golden Time does.
it’s a good idea to try and raze their relationships to the ground with some ill timed emotional savagery
Both started as light novels by Yuyuko Takemiya and both have commendable anime adaptations yet Toradora’s cast of characters - the “palmtop tiger” Taiga and the faux delinquent Ryuuji et. al. - slotted right in with standard anime archetypes. After all, we’ve had boatloads of contemporary school romance stories both before and after. Golden Time though, with it’s inner-city University setting and the amnesiac Banri Tada and lion like Koukou Kaga, is something we’ve seen very little of before and it raises the question of: why an anime?
Tokyo Ravens is a lot of things, but one thing it definitely isn’t is predictable. At a macro level at least, on a micro level varying tropes come into play with the characters that are hit and miss in terms of their effectiveness. It’s perhaps not even fair to say its plot is unpredictable; it is insofar as that if you are not paying attention and wholly invested in the story, character titles and lineages then a lot of the series bigger reveals will creep up on you. That investment doesn’t just reward you with predetermination about who is the reincarnation of whom but generally a better understanding of what the devil is going on.
when she isn’t whipping down her hakama pants only for Natsume to walk in right then. Oh how unexpected
It starts out with a love triangle, followed by a death, followed by a “must get stronger” subplot and then a fox girl appears. Harutora’s ascension (and the audience’s initiation) into the super-charged spirit world of eastern mysticism is similar in approach to the underappreciated Tokyo Majin but the blend of old-world chants, talismans and spells with humvees, mobile phones and the Tokyo skyline is distinctly its own. Weave in some psuedo-political intrigue, sedition and the stalwart campus love comedy and you get at least an impression of what Tokyo Ravens has to offer.
There’s something to be said for actually missing a show when you’ve finished watching it. Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) left a small, peculiarly shaped hole where it once occupied my regular viewing. There’s nothing outwardly distinguished about the show - Kyoto is very pleasantly rendered, every character is well drawn and the story is quietly unique - but something about its structure and pacing lends itself to the same familiarity that lies at the heart of the titular eccentric family.
she conceals a profound sadness behind an abundance of courtesy and muted charisma
Focusing on the triumvirate of tanuki, tengu and human society - the lead is taken by Yasaburo, a teenage tanuki layabout who splits his time between transforming into various human guises and looking after the curmudgeonly old tengu, Yakushibou. It transpires that shortly before the events of the series, the father of Yasaburo and his three other sons passed away via, what is for tanuki, natural circumstances.
When you adore something, it’s hard not to slip into superlatives when describing it. So strong is that swell of emotion that it almost feels like words aren’t enough to encompass just how much something personally means to you. I adore Kyousougiga. It’s beautiful and flawed and moving and stunning in ways that little else is. It’s telling that those who talk about the series gush like crumbling dams, desperately trying to hold back a torrent of enthusiasm.
absent parents, self-loathing gods and finding meaning in a life twice abandoned
The obvious question though is what Kyousogiga (Capital Craze) is about? It would be disingenuous to the series to just enumerate its many themes and storylines, and the simplest answer is reiterated at the beginning of each episode: it’s a story about love and rebirth in a family across time and dimensions. It’s a grand claim not entirely borne out by the first episode - confusingly numbered 00 - which is a maelstrom of technicolour bedlam set to the sounds of children laughing and adult scorn.