Like many recent two-season anime series, Nagi no Asukara (lit. From The Calm Tomorrow, alt. A Lull in the Sea) is bifurcated neatly at the thirteen episode mark. You could, in theory, leave the series at that point and be content with a competent if unresolved story story of early teenage angst. It would be a huge disservice to how spectacular the series is a whole though, and though you can spend the former half playing “count how many times girls cry” each episode, the latter half exceeds an already beautiful production with a thematically rich and emotionally charged tale of adolescent love in all its forms.
Your eyes are so blue, and your tears look like waves
It’s an unlikely recommendation for a series whose director’s previous productions have included the Inuyasha movies and the woefully unremarkable Gunparade Orchestra. Perhaps not so unlikely though for the writer who is right at home after penning The Pet Girl of Sakurasou and the similarly P.A. Works produced Hanasaku Iroha. It’s also odd to hear myself recommending it when the pseudo-contemporary setting and laser focus on romance and juvenile relationships isn’t my usual fare. But rare is a series that is afforded such startling production values that match a capable story and confident delivery.
Please note: the remainder of this review contains spoilers from throughout the anime series.
Steins;Gate is a story of a broken, haunted man. It's not about time-travel as any summary of the plot would imply, that's just a vehicle for asking the question at its heart: how far would you go to save the ones you love? This isn't some tag-line stolen from the latest silver-screen offering from Hollywood but a measure of what is perhaps one of the most potently affecting and consistently brilliant series of recent memory.
he alone understands what transpired while everyone else is left only with echoes and phantoms
Eleven episodes in and you may be unconvinced as events have progressed in a solid if humdrum fashion. Lanky protagonist Rintarou is at first intensely difficult to like with his moronic fixation on being a "mad scientist" and frequent soliloquies about a shadowy "Organisation" stalking him from the shadows. Megalomania, check. But as he begins to gather females ("lab assistants") quicker than a trainer does Pokemon the banter between him, teen prodigy Makise, eternal do-gooder Mayuri and rotund hacker Taru begins to take on an endearing, familial tone.
Accel World owes a lot to Serial Experiments Lain. The script may not be penned by Chiaki J. Konaka and has yet to deal with digital deities but a great many of this new series' ideas can be traced back to it.
there is a fundamental stumbling block to the kind of time-stoppage seen in Accel World: biology
Lain itself is of course based on volumes of, what was then considered fringe, research on the unstoppable onset of the Internet and digital devices - Project Xanadu and Memex are just a couple of its mentioned inspirations. When Lain was released mobile phones weren't remotely close to the technological marvels they are today and the concept of wireless access to the Internet (ne. The Wired) was still far fetched. The beating heart of the series though was the eponymous Lain's attempts to be subsumed into the digital world by pursuing a "deviceless" way to access the network.
I am abjectly terrible at fighting games. This didn't stop me from seeking out arcades in Japan to hamfistedly fondle the seductive BlazBlue machines, or importing the US version when it was released, or venturing online to be emasculated in short order. I may appreciate their focus and purity but a lack of innate talent and free time means I'll never be as good as I desire. Talent is not in question, but is my ineptitude really an issue of time?
waiting for a time when I've run out of series to review and ideas to explore
Certainly a nine to five job blocks out close to ten hours of the day, but leaving a modest six hours for sleep that still leaves eight hours for hobbies and the minutiae of life. Pondering the issue more, I could only conclude it is still fundamentally a time issue, but it would be more apt to brand it as a lack of dedication. When that invisible plateau is reached where the time to become better encroaches on the ability to enjoy other games and anime, that dastardly analytical part of my brain takes over.
Even when I'm waist deep in Noel's story and practically giddy from her soundset when facing Litchi, a mental flag pops up. There's new anime to be watched! New games to be played! Things to do. Sometimes very good games can override this, dragging me under for weeks at a time, however all it takes one slow section to send me gasping back to the shoreline. This sounded like a good enough reason: essentially a free time defence mechanism; and it certainly fit with my habits, but it doesn't explain why the balance between video games and anime I used to maintain had been broken, marginalising former in favour of the latter.
This is the movie that Kara no Kyoukai has been building up to. This is the movie that propels the series from brilliant to astounding. This is one of the best anime movies ever created. It starts with a stark black and white divided screen, the name of the film emblazoned across it, and is followed by a chaotic medley of scenes before settling in with, what seems at first blush, a more traditional narrative. However nothing about Paradox Spiral (Paradox Paradigm the officially translated title) is traditional as it twists different threads together in a story that covers time, death, family, gender and the perception of self in a way that is enchantingly cohesive and utterly enthralling.
it permeates the fibre of the film defining its structure, guiding its antagonists and adorning incidental but important props throughout
Set chronologically after the first film, Overlooking View, it is roughly divided into three interwoven stories. The first has Shiki meet up with Tomoe, a teenager who believes he has murdered his parents despite mounting evidence to the contrary. The second focuses on Mikiya and Touko as they investigate an apartment building that Touko apparently had a hand in constructing. The third and final arc binds the previous two together with a face-off against two powerful sorcerers that play fast and loose with the sanctity of human life and the governing laws of the universe. Surpassing even the previous film's fantasy quotient, Paradox Spiral is the most involved and unfettered indulgence in the fundamentals of the Kara no Kyoukai universe yet and manages to weave them flawlessly into a greater exploration of some less travelled topics.