chaostangent

Posts with the “school” tag

Storm warning

A review of the Yurikuma Arashi anime series

Lesbian Bear Storm (Yurikuma Arashi). Let that title sink in for a bit because as titles go, it’s particularly on the nose. Especially so for director and writer Kunihiko Ikuhara whose previous directorial works - Utena and Penguindrum - relied on a slightly less blatant approach to themes and tone.

represents only the visible part of this Ikuhara iceberg

Blunt force is the order of the day here though because from the repeated character refrains through to the imagery and structure of each episode, this is a series that will bludgeon you with its message rather than hide it subtext and inference. What it lacks in subtlety then, as has become a trait of the director’s anime series, it makes up for in layers and symbolism.

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April’s fools

A review of the Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso anime series

I felt like a monster after the final episode of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April). The ending was always going to go one of two ways and I was braced for either one: agonising tears or delirious happiness. I certainly didn’t expect to feel nothing. All these other people gushing tears, drowning in hyperbole, and there I was, indifferent. I had cheered Kousei Arima on through the bright lights of stage performances and honey-lit afternoon walks home but in the denouement I realised that all the individual things that irked me about the series had gathered like so much detritus on a beach and was now spoiled.

he is lionised, an indestructible prodigy and a mountain that must be conquered

I knew what I was getting in to of course. Awash with pastel shades and misty eyed teenagers this was a romance series first and foremost with the “musician’s heart” narrative the tempo to the love story melody. Kousei starts out unable to play the piano, supposedly a prodigy from a young age, he is invited on a date by his best friend and serial flirt Ryouta where he meets the series’ poster child, Kaori Miyazono.

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Girls and boys

A review of the Hourou Musuko anime series

In what is surely a common refrain of my generation, I don’t believe in a lot of things. One thing I do believe is that anime can be more than consumerist drivel or jail baiting deviance. That’s obviously a privileged position to take and separated both geographically and ideologically from the day-to-day reality of producing it (and the cyclical market forces that engender that production) but it takes a series like Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son) to remind me that “something more” does exist with anime.

a situation that plays out like a watercolour car crash

And for once it’s not buried in the story where I usually go ferreting around for meaning and nuance, it’s right there in the topic. Shuichi Nitori who was born male but identifies as female is friends with Yoshino Takatsuki who, conversely, was born female but identifies as male; Hourou Musuko is the story of these two and their journey through junior high school.

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Regicide

A review of the K Project anime series

First released: October 2012
Version reviewed: BluRay

The first scene of the first episode of K is an animated slideshow of cast names in English, each set with a different font. It’s definitely an odd way to start the series, given that as a fresh viewer, the names mean nothing, but the lingering sentiment is that, as with the clash of different fonts, this is a series that is fighting desperately for a personality of its own. There’s no question it has style, but rather than having too much of it, it has too many.

eternally trapped building its world rather than getting on with telling a story within it

There’s the main story, for instance, of Yashiro Isana, a mysterious boy who has been framed for murder. Then there’s the other main story of Mikoto Suoh, the Red King, and his street gang battling against the Blue King, Reisi Munakata. Or the other main story about Kuroh Yatogami attempting to hunt down the Colourless King before he ascends to power, and the relationship he may have with the all powerful Silver King. There’s an awful lot going on but in spite of this, the series manages to be almost unceasingly boring.

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Dance girl dance

A review of the Hanayamata anime

You know how Hanayamata ends. You probably know how the majority of the individual episodes end as well. Cliche is both the strongest and weakest thing that Hanayamata has going for it, because on the one hand you can be safe in the knowledge that the quintet of girls will make it through with smiles on their faces and fireworks in their eyes and that everything will be all right. On the other hand though, there’s not a lot else going on. It’s a solid, visually arresting but cacophonous twelve episode series that starts with trepidation and ends with a dance number.

the series feels like its trapped in a swarm of disgruntled sparrows

It’s set in Kamakura though which, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of going there, is one of those places where you can travel in a rickshaw and see horse archery and a bronze buddha statue all in an afternoon. Setting Hanayamata there gifts it with a kind of ethereal magic that the first episode, with its pint-sized dancing blonde girl, captures brilliantly, making it seem that a school club for yosakoi isn’t so outlandish.

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