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I’m coming back

I think Summer 2013 will force me to return to watching anime.

I’ve ignored anime for too long.

But with the coming of Tsukihime, and even a new season of Spice and Wolf and the last season of Full Metal Panic, plus great manga adaptations such as Otoyomegatari, Yankee-kun to Megane-chan, and Yotsubato, I don’t think I can hold myself off any longer. Of course there’s also a new series helmed by Shinichiro Watanabe, and a new season of Sailor Moon.

OMG IT’S JUST LIKE 2010!!!

Sakamichi no Apollon – 01: two words – WATCH IT.

There’s always something in a first episode that insinuates greatness in an anime. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s akin to a sliver of pain and happiness that touches the heart. I felt that from the very first minute I tuned in to Sakamichi no Apollon. Perhaps it’s because it’s been years since I heard YUKI in an anime series; perhaps because it’s been years since I’ve seen Shinichiro Watanabe direct an anime, or perhaps it is because of a multitude of factors combined.

I had been touting Sakamichi no Apollon as probably going to be the year’s best even before I saw one episode of it because of its staff, and after the first episode, it seems that I’m not wrong. Although quite unlike Watanabe’s previous two series in that it’s not rooted in action and violence, the characters and the dialogue remain to be sparkling yet minimalistic at the same time, approximating Hemingway’s works. It’s beautiful, in every sense of the word, from its fluid ‘action’ scenes to its character build-up.

It’s so good that to even attempt to summarize it would be to do it a disservice as words cannot, at least for me, express how beautiful it coalesced the characters and the plot together. But if one were to watch only one series this year, I suggest one watch this. I doubt that Watanabe would let up with his excellence, as he had never done so with his two previous masterpieces.

Occult Academy: one of 2010’s best

I’ve read somewhere that Occult Academy was the last project of Anime no Chikara. I’m not certain about the veracity of this claim, but if it were the last series under the block, then at least the block ended beautifully: I just watched the final two episodes of the series, and it has more than made up the weak episodes in the middle. The series also has the cohesion and the integrity that I found wanting in the previous two projects.

Maya does not approve.

Maya does not approve.

It’s already too late to do a summary, but I admired Bunmei’s transformation from a wuss into the hero of their time: it was a great sacrifice on his part. I loved the fact that there were no obvious confessions in the show. The romance between Fumiaki and Maya developed without any explosive event between them specifically: one just saw the growing discomfort Maya had whenever he and Mikaze were together, and after Maya’s catharsis in the tenth episode it was really only him who was there to console her when she realized she made a mistake about her father. One could see the culmination of their relationship in the later episodes, but one could never expect what Bunmei did to restore the integrity of the future world. After finally deciding by himself and for himself, he regained the self-confidence and responsibility that he gradually lost through his own weaknesses of character, and decided to battle the aliens with his regained powers. While he died in the process, he was able to restore the world back into its normal state: it was his crowning moment of awesome, and while it was only short, it was a joy to watch.

Although the series is not a masterpiece (the weaker middle episodes attest to that), it was a well-made and very good series. I absolutely loved how they were able to develop Maya and paint her as a character that wasn’t really tsundere, but just someone who tried to be in grips with her guilt and sense of loss. Her anger towards the occult was her reaction towards what consumed her father and dissipated his love for her, and her hatred towards Bunmei was (justfiably) due to his incompetence and weakness. Once she discovered the reasons to their status, however, she loosened up and slowly became like who she was before: she loved the occult, and showed the caring and concerned person she always was.

Aside from her subtle progression as a character, I loved the dynamism of her facial expressions in general. I have never seen a character evince so much emotion as Maya. From her anger and disdain to her joy and happiness, the uniqueness of her expressions were also one of the reasons the show was good: it clearly showed effort from the creators. While I would have liked to seen her as an adult, I found solace in the quality of her feelings for Bunmei: she was faithful to his memory and to her promise to the future him to take care of the present him. What a great show.

Seikimatsu Occult Gakuen 11 – wow

I’ve been busy for the previous week, so I’ve only watched the most recent episode now. That was awesome, even if I was forewarned by /a/’s denizens of transformation sequences. I’m sure that the mediocre episodes in the middle of the show were to build up this final arc, and its beginning was awesome.

I don't know why, but she reminds me of Gambit.

I don't know why, but she reminds me of Gambit.

One of the few reasons that I kept watching Occult Academy was Maya. She is very multidimensional. It’s hard even pegging her as a tsundere, because she’s too complicated to be limited to that archetype. She despised Bunmei because he was an idiot and a coward, and that’s a normal reaction among most people. When she slowly got to know him, she also realized that he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. It was great seeing her good side towards Bunmei this episode with her trying to cheer him up after what he did for her in the previous episode. As much as I hate to admit it, they’re probably going to end up as a couple by the end of the series, with Maya being the more masculine between them.

While this episode wasn’t exactly original, it was well-executed and had good twists in it to keep me grinning until the episode’s end: the lechery of Mikaze, Maya’s kinder side, the vice-principal’s transformation, Mikaze as dark mage – these were all brilliant. The series suffered through its mediocre middle part, but if it will end as well or even better than its beginning, it’s probably going to be one of the better shows this 2010. I’m also glad that Anime no Chikara will finally have a keeper on their hands after the previous busts: it was great seeing the true colors of two of the show’s more recognizable characters and the explosive start to the finale of the series.

For those who haven’t started watching this series yet, watch it! It will pick up eventually. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) – 11: the best anime of 2010

I woke up at three in the morning in the hope of finding a subbed translation of the final episode. I was actually weighing for and against procurement of its raw: while I would know how it would end grossly, I wouldn’t understand what would occur in the first place and the element of surprise would no longer be present when I would finally be watching it with translations. I actually relented a little bit, but stopped when I saw how beautifully they transformed the ED into the OP. I had to be watching while understanding it, because by that point (when I realized that the ED was just that important) my body just felt electric. This show deserved to be watched with full understanding and concentration, and I wasn’t going to disrespect that.

How they probably looked as freshmen

How they probably looked as freshmen

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