Arslan Senki Episode 16

Episode 16 Production Details

Episode Director: Kazuo Nogami (Episode Director on Ninku episodes 18, 28, 35 and 43 / Episode Director on Denno Coil episodes 7, 9, 11 [alongside Tomoya Takahashi], 18 and 20 [alongside Masaru Yasukawa] / Episode Director on BLEACH 284, 293, 300, 311, 320, 326, 333, 340 / Episode Director on Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon] episode 3 / Episode Director on Terra Formars 10 and 11 [assistant episode director])

Storyboards: Kazuo Nogami

Script: Aoi Shushiro [Script writer for Samurai Champloo episode 10 / Series Composition writer on Hamatora / Script writer for Galilei Donna episodes 5, 9 and 10]


We’ve seen this many times before.  Narsus outwits Arslan’s enemies and this episode wasn’t much different on that front.  There needs to be more personal dilemma for Narsus rather than an over-powered strategist, some kind of slip-up needs to happen to build his character out better. I say this because Narsus is yet again faced with overwhelming odds and still manages to come out on top.  Rajendra has 50,000 soldiers and Gadevi has 150,000 men including drugged war-elephants.

Narsus thinks ahead by misleading Gadevi, pulling  his soldiers out of Gujarat leaving behind dummy soldiers (literally) for them to square off against.  It takes a turn for the better when Rajendra, haven’t being told of the plan, is caught by surprise when his army shows up to battle Gadevi.  It’s great to see that the plan isn’t  being told to us in plain view and even, we are surprised by how Narsus’ strategic skills are put to use in a battle with two other armies.  The tactics used in this were fantastic, however, unlike the first few episodes there wasn’t too much tension developed.

This is where  I want to mention that the director on this series is Noriyuki Abe, the general director of BLEACH.   While, BLEACH was known for information drops right before a battle, revealing a plan to an enemy even way before it occurs. This was problem for this show however Arslan Senki steers (for the most part) clear from that (for now) and designs a wonderfully written set-up to its battles especially in this episode.  Too bad the tension and the animation aren’t polished–tons of heavy action scenes detracted away from the importance of this battle.

The aftermath of the battle  with Gadevi also portrays quite a vicious image of him.  He’s ready to execute Jaswant before the Vizer steps in and this alludes to how Arlsan is viewed by the company that he keeps.  Jaswant notices the difference in how Arslan treats his loyal subjects as opposed to Gadevi.  It this entire scene that explores how immature Rajendra and Gadevi’s sibling squabble is. Making matters worse is when the old king, Karikala wakes up and isn’t too pleased to hear his sons are bickering, costing thousands of soldiers’ lives. Given the situation it makes sense, during these times, that there would be a duel before the Gods. Using Daryun for this battle is just a small piece for Arslan understanding himself, his allies, and the world accepting him as the future of Pars.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6/10

91 Days Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 

Animation Production: Shuka [Durarara!!x2 Shou and KetsuNatsume Yujin-Cho Go Season 5)

Director: Hiro Kaburagi (Storyboard on Guilty Crown episode 6 / Series Director on Hozuki no Reitetsu / Episode Director on Kaze no Stigma‘s Opening Sequence / Series Director and Script on Kimi ni Todoke and 2nd Season / Director on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun / Storyboard on Rolling Girls episode 9 / Episode Director on Speed Grapher episode 19)

Series Composition: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on Gin no Saji / Series Composition and Script on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!! / Script Writer on Prince of Stride: Alternative episode 2 / Series Composition and Script on Usagi Drop)

Character Designer:  Tomohiro Kishi (Key Animator on Baccano! episode 1 / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun / Key Animator on Gunparade Ochestra‘s Opening and Ending Sequences / Animation Director on Space Dandy episode 5 / Animation Director on Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo] episodes 4 and 6)

Music: Shogo Kaida ( Music Composer on S.A.Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Hiro Kaburagi ( Director on Dededen Specials / Episode Director on Fantastic Children episodes 2, 5, 9, 11, 15, 20, 24 and 25 / Storyboard on Guilty Crown episode 6 / Director on Hozuki no Reitetsu / Episode Director on Kaze no Shoujo Emily episode 19 / Director on Kimi no Todoke / Episode Director on NHK ni Youkoso! [Welcome to the NHK!] episodes 5, 13 and 22)

Storyboards: Hiro Kaburagi (Series Composition on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED]/ Series Composition on Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon] / Series Composition on Joker Game)

Script: Taku Kishimoto


I remember how spectacular Zankyou no Terror‘s premiere was. Full of dramatic action and sequences that left me wanting so much more from a 25 minute episode run-time.  This was the case with 91 Days.  A revenge story about a young man Angelo Lagusa vows to take a revenge on the family that murdered his own. Script writer, Taku Kishimoto nailed the human relationships in this first episode wonderfully. For the first few minutes we are gently brought into the drama surrounding Angelo and his curiosity towards the Vanetti family.  He receives a picture of his younger brother claiming that the Vanetti family is in the town of Lawless.

The first ten minutes of this episode as beautifully written, incredibly drawn and the camera angles were a stylistic choice that comes off like you’re watching a high-budget 1920’s crime film.  Angelo’s brother Luce Lagusa and his friend Corteo playing with the candle are a small piece of what makes 91 Days a step up above many shows that are airing this summer season.  Shogo Kaida handles the music in this anime and I’ve got to say I’m impressed.  The use of strings during the murder scene weaves together nicely between shots of the kids looking through the crack of the closet doors witnessing the traumatic event unfolding. I also love the slow-motion effects the creators decided on using–Testa slashing at Vincente Vanetti to Luce running out of the closet to a well-lit room to save his mother.  The framing in this was spectacular!  Three Vanetti members were involved in the killing of his mother, father and brother and it creates potential in developing these characters further when (or if) we are introduced to them in some way or another.

An original story and I’m glad to see a newer studio tackle it too–they produced the previous Durararax2 Shou and Ketsu seasons so I can clearly see where their budget was being used on. It was for this. The lighting between many dark scenes of the house and landscape of the woods fit together.  I’m glad they decided on a TV route for this rather than a feature-length film.  So much story is involved!  Hopefully, they will make this longer than 1-cour (91 episodes is wishful thinking).

After the murder scene we are treated to an introduction reminiscent of the Godfather films that sets the tone and atmosphere of a 1920’s world.  Also this acts as a gradual build in time jump that begins Angelo’s revenge on the Vanetti’s. Creteo being a moonshiner was a nice choice.  It reminds us of the time this series is set in and opens up a door for Angelo to get involved with a ragtag team of bootleggers that turn out to be none other than Nero Vanetti himself, one of the men that helped with murdering the Lagusa family!

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 12 [END]

Episode 12 Production Details

Episode Director: Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)

Storyboards: Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


After that cliffhanger I would not have expected such a long wait on the finale.  Three and half months later (October 3rd) the conclusion to this incredible supernatural series finally airs!  The cause for the delay was because BONES originally intended on this finale to be longer than a thirty minute time-slot permits.  Finding a broadcaster to air it can be problematic due to other series and programs signing for a specific time-slot, from weeks prior to even months ahead of air time.  Typically, anime studios will delay an episode due to not finishing the animation in time.  I would imagine that would cost them an additional fee or a recap episode.  Now I can see why a recap episode was paramount to production. The question is does this long hiatus bode well for Kekkai Sensen‘s ending or does this tone down the excitement?

This had to be one of the best endings of 2015–BONES utilizing all of that extra time certainly paid off. Six animation supervisors, four assistant episode directors, 58 key animators, and 24 2nd key animators.  Delivering jaw-dropping visuals throughout the entire 46 minute runtime!  There wasn’t a single frame that contained a drop in quality! Terrific music including classical music references throughout. On a delivery front, the music was chosen wisely.  The build up is strong from the first half!  Showcasing at least the first five minutes or so of “Polovtsian Dances” from Alexander Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor”. Providing an emotionally-charged collection of scenes in order to build up Libra’s fight throughout the city and Klaus’ battle against the King of Despair.

Kekkai Sensen blew my expectations out of the water with this episode!  Instead of adding in extraneous sub-plots to re-introduce Hellsalem’s Lot after a near 4-month absence the creators committed to the ending they intended on from the get-go.  A story about love and peace [an honest homage to Trigun].

Mary and William were loved by their parents, that when the Great Collapse occurred they set up a barrier inside of White (Mary).  Tragically we know now that she had actually died from the collapse and explains why throughout this series she can’t ever go outside Hellsalem’s Lot.  This is where William comes in; why he wanted to keep her close inside the hospital at all times. The King of Despair’s presence explains why White betray’s Leonardo, offers the all-seeing Eyes of the Gods.  Despair [inside of Black] shooting White in the chest removes any barrier that is left protecting the city is further indication that White knew exactly what and who she was from the very beginning that she met Leonardo. A nice tie-in to the first episode’s conclusion!

I wish they’d have given an episode focused solely on Chain Sumeragi.  Her interactions with the rest of the cast are humors and it’d be great to see her backstory.

Remember the God of Chow back in episode 10?  If you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice how Leo can perceive the dead.  The finale, here, highlights this point and puts it right in front of us to understand that he’s more than just an ordinary guy.  He’s something special and more a part of Libra than he ever has been before!

While this episode concludes White and Black’s story it does a fine job establishing that Leo’s story within Hellsalem’s Lot isn’t over.  It is only just beginning. Both Leo and Black have confronted reality due to the choices they’ve made.  A city that is between two worlds  with varied aliens and humans living amongst the main cast shows how important the characterization in these series needed to be.  As devastating it was to lose White for both of these men; this moment in the final scenes of Kekkai Sensen allows for them to become more human than they ever have before.

Rie Matsumoto is a spectacular director.  She clearly is a fan of the old days of Japanese anime–Kyousougiga was loaded with a variety of colorful visual elements!  The direction she chooses is spastic and very inventive. She came up with the story of White and Black for Kekkai Sensen and original creator Nightow oversaw the project! Her style has a similar fashion to GAINAX’s first few animated works especially Gurren Lagann.  Also, I’d say that Kekkai Sensen is very reminiscent of Cutie Honey’s three-episode OAV opening sequence, how characters are introduced on-screen and how they interact with the world around them!

I believe this is one of the best anime narratives in recent years.  They took an original adaptation and created a faithful interpretation based on Yasuhiro Nightow’s original manga. After seeing this, I’d like to see her adapt either Warainaku’s Keyman-The Hand of Judgment or re-adapt Atsushi Ōkubo’s Soul Eater.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 11

Episode 11 Production Details

Episode Director: Masashi Abe (Director on Kekkai Sensen‘s Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Blue Dragon episodes 12, 26, 30 [alongside Matsushita Yukihiro), 37 and 46 / Episode Director and Storyboard on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure episodes 4 and 19 / Episode Director on Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis episodes 6 (alongside Shinichi Matsumi) and 10 (alongside Atsushi Wakabayashi and Tomoyuki Kurokawa) / Episode Director on Noragami Aragoto episodes 2, 5 and 12)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Tomohiko Ito ( Director on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / Director on Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) / Director on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin / Director on Sword Art Online / Storyboard and Episode Director on MONSTER episodes 42, 55 and 70 / Episode Director on Death Note episodes 2,7, 14, 23, 26, 29 and 35 / Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4,12, and 19 [alongside Yasuji] / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 8)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


I will admit I do not like recap episodes.  However, Episode 10.5 tackles Kekkai Sensen’s story thus far in a rather inventive way. A radio show with the cast making detailed changes along the way.  I will take no time in the recap and jump right into the story with episode 11.

One of the biggest points that Kekkai Sensen has with its success is how unpredictable it can be.  Dancing along the setting of the manga’s storyline we get an entire series focused on a bombastic group (Libra) and the situations they encounter with other people and aliens throughout a fictional New York City.

This episode manages to do the impossible. An entire 25 minutes dedicated to William (Black) and Mary (White) Macbeth.  Not a single member of Libra has a shred of dialogue! And yet we get details bit by bit from previous episodes finally coming together here in order to explain the twins’ backstory.  They’re children of casters, which is why the LOHOS group was prevalent in the previous episode, and marks a return in a big way here.

Throughout this show we’ve seen how devious Black is and the power that comes with his alternate persona. This penultimate episode filled in all the questions without shoving the information down our throats needlessly.  William inherited cast powers and Mary did not. This explains why Mary is sold brash, bold and whimsically charming towards Leonardo.  As for Black he’s the timid and shy twin.  That is until the King of Despair takes hold of his personality. The imagery is superb in this episode.  Delivering a heartwarming effect on its audience.  Filled with visually warm childhood scenes between sibling fights and touching scenes between child and parents.  Parents that are shepherds in a sense.  The father reminds me a lot of Maes Hughes from FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD— especially with his comedic moments with Mary and his wife.  A beautiful collection of memories that are torn apart in the second half of this episode.  Containing some of the darkest moments out of this entire series!

This episode’s intention was to establish the main manga’s world elements but more importantly acts as a parallel between the Macbeths and the Watches.  Both older siblings giving up something precious for their younger siblings presents two motifs: hope and despair.  This is represented nicely when we learn what the twin’s parents had done in order to keep Mary alive.

I really like how Femt has been overseeing Black’s plan. That scene towards the end felt as though it was original creator, NIGHTOW, seeing this anime original arc unfold! Sitting at the sidelines teasing us that the main story hasn’t even begun!

I sure hope there is a season two because this has been a fantastic ride!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 10

Episode 10 Production Details

Episode Director: Ikuro Sato ( Director on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s Second Ending Sequence and Third Opening Sequence / Director on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Director on No. 6‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Captain Earth‘s First Ending Sequence / Episode Director on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 14 and 23 / Episode Director on Space Dandy episode 4 / Episode Director on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 5 and 11 / Episode Director on Soul Eater episodes 4, 8, 18, 24, 31, 40, 41, 48 and 51 [alongside Takuya Igarashi)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Tomohiko Ito ( Director on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / Director on Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) / Director on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin / Director on Sword Art Online / Storyboard and Episode Director on MONSTER episodes 42, 55 and 70 / Episode Director on Death Note episodes 2,7, 14, 23, 26, 29 and 35 / Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4,12, and 19 [alongside Yasuji] / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 8)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


In the last episode we were treated to the White/Black subplot, anime original, and finally becoming the heart of this show.  As dramatic as this was, learning about White’s tragic past we’re now getting to a climax. This episode was different.  A fun-filled antics adventure featuring Leonardo, Zapp, and Zed on a journey for lunch.  The comedy is spot-on with this show–Zapp is his usual obnoxious self, Leonardo is the worrywart of the group and Zed puts up a front that is non-confrontational and yet still finds a way to get into Zapp’s head.

The first place that go into is a Sushi restaurant–exploring Zapp and Zed’s relationship as a semi-brotherly love.  I like how its Zapp that picks this place, ultimately backfiring on him.  Zed being perfectly fine with cannibalism highlights his reptilian appearance wonderfully!  Amidst their lunching adventure is Klaus, Steven, and Abrams aiding the city’s cops into fighting 1,000 brothers (literally).  This is one of the charm’s of Kekkai Sensen it doesn’t hold back!  Libra’s relationship with organization LOHOS is complex.  A philanthropic group of humans with super powers that had been awakened by their encounter with Beyond.  Known as Casters, referring to the same casters that created the barrier in Hellsalem’s Lot–unifying a peace treaty between humans and the otherworldly creatures known as Beyondians.  The organization is very much like Libra, keeping an interest in self-sufficiency, the natural order of things (in other words maintaining a “balance”) and a unyielding rule to sacrifice the powerful in order to protect the citizens of Hellsalem’s Lot.  This is where Black’s story converges with the cast.   A few finely detailed action sequences tied in with some strong exposition clarify how bizarrely crafted this episode is.  Strange restaurants (including an Italian restaurant that’s an obvious nod to the Sopranos) from a chef regurgitating the food they serve, chowder eating its own customers and food establishment serving brains and other body parts.  It is no wonder why Leonardo is seen freaking out (speaking in tongues) and has it out with the God of Chow.

The biggest highlight of this episode, however, is the small attention to detail.  The sign at Diane’s “Send a Salami to your boy in the army” is a reference to Katz’s Delicatessen.  A kosher style restaurant established in the lower east side of Manhattan, New York City.  During World War II the slogan was used to encourage parents to support their children that had joined the army.

I think this was a smart move to use this because everything up to this point had been absolutely bizarre and now the story has calmed down and grounded back into reality.  It isn’t until the last five minutes that the story really sets in with White’s demand of Leonardo.

Once again this show continues to amaze me!

Animator Spotlight:

Hidetsugu Ito

[Previous Works Include]

  • Bounen no X’amd Episode 2 [Key Animator]
  • Zetsuen no Tempest Episode 24 – debris, fire and lighting effects during Megumu Hanemura’s flame technique against the Tree of Genesis. [Key Animator]
  • Space Dandy Episode 10 – mecha, smoke explosions. [Key Animator]

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Yuki Hayashi

[Previous Works Include]

Notable Styles: yutapon cubes, smearing animation techniques and debris effects.

  • Toriko Episode 5 – cave fight sequence. [Key Animator]
  • Yuyushiki Episode 7 – leg grabbing sequence [Key Animator]
  • Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta Episode 2 – Kotoha Isone’s fight with Hime Yarizakura.

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

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Top Ten Anime Series I’ve Seen

Ten: Toradora!
The ultimate tsundere romance, Toradora! portrays high school odd-couple Taiga, a short statured and short tempered student, and Ryuuji, a young man with the appearance of a Yakuza member and a borderline obsessive-compulsive need to clean and organize things. Although nominally set in high school, the relationship dynamic between Taiga and Ryuuji is more like that of a married couple than teenagers, which extends the appeal of the story.
Toradora! is based off of a light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya, who also wrote Golden Time. What is interesting is that even though Golden Time is set in university and Toradora! Is set in high school, the characters and relationships in Toradora! seem more mature.
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Contrasting characters Taiga and Minori in an early episode.
Nine: Silver Spoon
Silver Spoon is the story of Yugo Hachiken, a somewhat stilted young man who has failed the entrance exam to the most prestigious high school in Sapporo. Unable to face his classmates and his family, he takes the best out he can find by attending an agricultural boarding school in the hinterland. Knowing literally nothing about farming, and surrounded by teens whose families have been farming for generations, he discovers that here, too he is completely out of his depth.Fortunately for everyone, he gamely steps up to these new challenges.
As an audience stand-in, Hachiken learns about both the technical and economic aspects of farming in Japan, often facing some dour truths about the state of family farms and rural life in general.Based on an on-going manga,I hope that there will be a third season at some point.
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Hachiken and Mikage go to the temple to write down their dreams.
Eight: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
The anime revolves around the relationship between Nozaki, a teenage boy who somehow is a famous author of girls’ romance manga, and his classmate Sakura, who is in love with him, but has through a series of misunderstandings been roped into working as his assistant.A great show to write a college paper on, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun overturns every accepted trope in anime and manga; whether this is done in order to deconstruct received notions about entrenched social structures, or just because it’s funny, is left as an exercise for the reader.
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Yuzuki Seo, the series’ kūki o yomanai (“oblivious”) character.
Seven: Genshiken
Genshiken’s main draw is that it lets fans of the manga to see it come to life; as a stand-alone work, it is fantastic as a mature slice-of-life story, but newcomers might not see what the big deal is, especially as neither of the two seasons manages to finish the manga’s overall story arc, and without the background information from the manga the individual episodes feel somewhat disconnected from one another.
Casual viewers also might not even be aware that there is a second season (not to be confused with Genshiken: Second Season, the series’ sequel), making the anime seem even more truncated.A similar series, Princess Jellyfish, has an even more pronounced version of this problem; the series ends right in the middle of a story arc.
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Chica Oguie, my second favorite tsundere character.
Six: Welcome to the NHK
Welcome to the NHK is not for everybody, which is why it isn’t higher on this list. I don’t mean that it can only be appreciated by a true connoisseur, I just mean to enjoy it you need to have either gone through a similar situation, or else be willing to be a very sympathetic witness to the foibles of the young.It does take a charitable viewer to deal with the series’ protagonist.
Tatsuhiro Sato’s problem is outwardly simple: he needs to go out and get a job. All discussion of hikikomori or social anxiety disorder or what-have-you aside, the basic fact is he wouldn’t be able to sit alone in his room all day hating himself if it wasn’t subsidized. This can make Sato a difficult character to empathize with, particularly for very self-directed individuals, or those whose personal narrative, however rightly so, centers around overcoming of adversity.
But patience is rewarded, and Sato is neither undeserving of our attention, nor is he alone in the story: The series is filled with people who, for whatever reason, have become disassociated from society: a failed business person, an office worker who depends on pills to get through the day, a cult member, a young man fleeing attempting to flee his hometown, it goes on and on. These are people whose alienation is universally comprehensible; their degree of isolation in a society that emphasizes positive group dynamics can only be guessed at.The light novel the show is based on is well worth a read if you can find it.
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Life isn’t over in your early 20s. Or is it?
Five: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
A strong example of the recent trend towards irony-infused dramedies staring quirky, precocious teens, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is a surprisingly good watch for anyone who has ever been an adolescent. The only drawback is that at certain points the plot seems to jump the tracks; I suspect that certain cultural cues and assumptions are lost on western viewers. Or maybe I just don’t get today’s youth. It would be hard to fault the translation, which does an amazing job of delivering the series’ deadpan, borderline cynical humor.

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Hachiman’s rationalizations are a high point of the series.
Four: Steins;gate
Steins;gate’s chief strength, besides its memorable and immensely likeable characters, is the way in which the tone of the show completely alters depending on whether it is a first or second viewing. Following the series’ theme of time travel, the semi-circular plot forms a moebius strip that encourages and rewards a second viewing. So engrossing is the story that viewers may not notice the harem slowly building around the protagonist, nor the few moments of oddly timed fan-service.
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Mayuri Shiina, a longtime observer of Rintarō Okabe’s social faux pas
Three: Psycho-Pass
Equal parts Orwell, Huxley, and Judge Dredd, Psycho-Pass presents a seemingly bright and shiny cyberpunk future, where mental health is the key determinant of social status. As such, the population is constantly being monitored by an ambiguous, networked system that continually tracks and evaluates the mental fitness of every citizen. Those that don’t pass muster are forced to attend therapy, imprisoned in mental health facilities, or even summarily executed on the street or in their homes.The depth of thought presented is stellar for a work of popular culture – characters discuss topics as varied as Titus Andonicus, Phillip K. Dick, Proust, and the Marquis de Sade, as well as quote Spinoza and Pascal, all without skipping a beat. The first season presents enough ideas in an episode to fill a season of a normal series; the only drawback is the somewhat lukewarm second season, which was, however, redeemed by the follow-up film.
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Mandatory Happiness
Two: From the New World
From the New World represents the most cohesive story on this list, having a clear and internally consistent dramatic arc with a satisfying resolution. It is an odd science fiction tale where technology is almost absent; instead, the driving force is human beings’ ESP powers, and the (very) ambiguous utopian society they have constructed for themselves. It is also a coming of age tale that follows the protagonists from early childhood well into adulthood, realistically depicting multiple stages of life in a context both familiar and yet also vastly different from contemporary society.Underpinning the story is a very subtle idea: if our minds were able to conjure up our heart’s desire in an instant, our own thoughts, particularly our subconscious, would be a constant source of potential danger to ourselves and those around us.
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Saki Watanabe discusses school problems with her mother.
One: Attack on Titan
First place goes to Attack on Titan, which would be considered a stellar work in any medium, and would entertain and engross even the most diehard anime skeptic. The show has everything: memorable characters, an engaging and believable story, fantastic animation, particularly the action scenes, and great voice acting.The series defies easy labeling. More mature than a typical shonen anime, it is a science fiction story that features archaic technology with some fantasy elements, a conspiracy that so far is mostly just hinted at, and a coming of age tale in which the characters mature almost immediately.
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We lived in fear of the titans, and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls.

Kekkai Sensen Episode 9

Episode 9 Production Details

Episode Director: Masashi Abe (Director on Kekkai Sensen‘s Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Blue Dragon episodes 12, 26, 30 [alongside Matsushita Yukihiro), 37 and 46 / Episode Director and Storyboard on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure episodes 4 and 19 / Episode Director on Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis episodes 6 (alongside Shinichi Matsumi) and 10 (alongside Atsushi Wakabayashi and Tomoyuki Kurokawa) / Episode Director on Noragami Aragoto episodes 2, 5 and 12)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Michio Fukuda (Storyboard on Death Note episodes 9,13, 19 and 28 / Storyboard on Dennou Coil episode 17 (alongside Mitsuo Iso) / Storyboard on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD episodes 13 and 21 / Storyboard on STAR DRIVER episodes 5, 9, 14, 17, 20 and 24 / Storyboard on Galilei Donna episode 8 / Key Animator on Summer Wars film / Key Animator on REDLINE film / Director, Storyboard and Animation Supervisor on Terra Formars: Revenge first Ending Sequence / Director on Terra Formars: Revenge / Key Animator on One Piece Film 6: Omatsuri Danshaku to Himitsu no Shima)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


Series like Space Dandy and Kekkai Sensen reminds me why I love watching Japanese anime. Animation can be free form without any constraints. Fueled by relentless, imaginative storytelling and visuals.  Combine that with Japanese traditions and American pop culture and you can get some incredibly diverse, risky, and fresh shows. Both Space Dandy and Kekkai Sensen excel at this, giving us a fantasized perspective of world culture with spectacular BONES quality! In a conventional sense Kekkai Sensen’s manga would have been quite difficult to adapt. I’ve got to hand it to Matsumoto and her ability to craft together an original-anime story, Black and White, and weave this into the world of Kekkai Sensen flawlessly. Both Kyousogiga and this series nails down how incredible Matsumoto is at pacing.

The beginning spans in the matter of minutes–introducing us to Zed, Raju’s other disciple, giving a feel of what his relationship with Zapp is like and how they learned their techniques under Raju. The teacher giving a finishing blow to the blood breed spells out how well trained all of them really are too. This allows Leonardo to use his all seeing eye ability so that Klaus can seal him. A team effort that delivered a very fun ride of action!

The reveal with White and Black alludes to how this show might end. Leonardo can sense something is going on with White.  With that said, it is proof enough that his ability will be the crux of this series (hopefully, season). A bad heart is what White has. The Ming of Despair can only save White’s body if he can receive Leo’s all seeing eyes. A trade off that I’m sure will result in casualties is a a strong way to build up Kekkai Sensen’s finale. Setting up White as the sacrificial character of this show.

The flashback of William (Black) and Mary’s (White) homeland is absolutely gorgeous. Super bright tones that mixes a beautifully drawn blue sky and nicely bright greenery. Illustrating how happy their family was before the King of Depravity entered the picture and changed their lives forever.

That ending scene was incredible! Well-acted on White and Black’s parts!  The soundtrack really stood out this episode too!

Animator Spotlight:

Yutaka Nakamura

[Previous Works Include]

  • Sword of the Stranger film- fight sequences
  • STAR DRIVER‘s second ending sequence
  • Escaflowne‘s opening sequence [specifically, Nakamura animate the slow motion mecha fight]

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Arslan Senki Episode 15

Episode 15 Production Details

Episode Director: Fumio Maezono (Storyboard on Diamond no Ace episodes 5 and 15 / Episode Director on Photo Kano episodes 2 and 8)

Storyboards: Hiroshi Hara [Key Animator on Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta episode 11 / Storyboard on Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episode 9 / Storyboard on Blade & Soul episode 9)

Script: Aoi Shushiro [Script writer for Samurai Champloo episode 10 / Series Composition writer on Hamatora / Script writer for Galilei Donna episodes 5, 9 and 10]


This show continues to have trouble with animation.  Especially when it comes to action scenes–Jaswant fighting Gieve had some poor facial animation and choppy hand movements.  Putting that aside, Arslan Senki‘s soundtrack is one of the best of 2015.  Incredibly moving pieces that enhance the less detailed visuals at times!  Can’t wait to hear more from Taro Iwashiro!

Narsus continues to be a driving force into the story of Arslan Senki.  He’s thwarted Kharlan’s assassination attempts towards Arslan and company, recruited many followers and last episode pincer attacked Rajendra into an inevitable alliance that would prove even this time around that the journey isn’t just about Arslan taking claim to the throne.  Gadevi sends the spy Jaswant into Rajendra’s ranks in order to turn the tables on the young prince Arslan.  It isn’t until Jaswant is recruited to the Sindhuran fortress where we see his true nature.

I believe what makes this show truly spectacular, as a whole, is how Narsus becomes so focused aiding Arslan one step ahead of everyone else.  Yet he’s unable to wrap his head around the constant bickering between Elam and Alfreed.  It just goes to show how trusted Arslan is having these soldiers and advisers follow him.  This also relates on how peaceful Arslan will be going further.

An easy success for Arslan with the battle gainst Guavin.  Deciding to release Jaswant rather than execute him goes to show his respect for human life and an impact on Jaswant it will be later.  It will make a huge impact on him because he was an orphan and loyal to his vizier–freedom is something he doesn’t know all too well of.

This episode gradually shows us Arslan’s resolve and how he will use peace to bring neighboring nations together.  The truce between Pars and Rajendra using the war elephants should prove to be interesting because it will be a test of adversity for Arslan.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Arslan Senki Episode 14

Episode 14 Production Details

Episode Director: Koji Aritomi [Assistant Director on Princess Mononoke / Episode Director for Kill la Kill’s episode 8 / Assistant Animation Director on Patlabor WXIII]

Storyboards: Takashi Yamazaki [storyboard writer for Shokugeki no Soma‘s episode 6 / key animator for Yu Yu Hakusho‘s episode 79]

Script: Makoto Uezu ( Script on D-Frag! episodes 1, 3, 4, 8 and 12 / Series Composition on Akame ga Kill! / Script on Arslan Senki episodes 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 13, 17, 24 and 25)


The animation took a drop in quality this time around. Lots of CG Animation.  And if I’ve mentioned before the CG is awkward in Arslan Senki.  It doesn’t fit and in the first few episodes had used the same character models for its Persian soldiers. When this aired the previous week took a break–giving us a recap episode of the story so far.

This new episode features a new dynamic with the addition of a new opening and ending sequence. Previously we learned that Sindhuran Prince Rajendra is an opportunist. In order to put himself in a good position as a general and eventual claim to the throne of the country he takes advantage of the chaos within Pars.  He’s fearless and bold, however, this episode quickly points to the notion that he’s a bit of a fool.  Going after Arslan and not noticing Narsus’ suspicions makes light of this.  It also foreshadows the ending of this episode as well.  Not to mention his own general seeing this mistake will be a downfall for Rajendra.

Cleverly, it isn’t until now that we see Arslan viewed as a symbol of the rebirth of Pars instead of a military commander. I really like how Narsus spins the 10,000 Peshawar army to Arslan’s advantage. Splitting their forces, creating a ploy using Gadevi’s men by using the terrain to create a pincer attack around the enemy. Ultimately trapping Rajendra in a situation that forces the two in an alliance and by the end seals the deal using alcohol and blackmail.

The introduction of Gadvei’s spy here also proves Narsus talents as a strategic advisor as he even sees this alliance opportunity with Rajendra too enticing to pass up.


OP: “Uzu to Uzu” (渦と渦) by NICO Touches the Walls

 

Directed by: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Storyboards: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Such a better song to use!  I like how subtle the movements are in the animation until it builds up into the chorus and action sequences!  Mitsumura Tamura’s voice has an amazing range! Overall it does a great job in depoicting the large cast this anime has shown us so far!

ED: “One Light” by Kalafina

 

Directed by: Naomi Nakayama

Storyboards: Naomi Nakayama

Not as good as the first ending but still pretty decent.  It’s emotionally inviting using Kalafina’s popular orchestra mixed with a slight edgy rock sound.  Only issue though is that it sounds like your generic Kalafina song.  It has a similar visual feel to it (Nakayama directed the first ending too!) that the cast is progressing on a grand adventure to reclaim the country.

Animator Spotlight:

Satoshi Kimura

[Previous Works Include)

  • Terra Formars character designer

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 8

Episode 8 Production Details

Episode Director: Ikuro Sato ( Director on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s Second Ending Sequence and Third Opening Sequence / Director on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Director on No. 6‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Captain Earth‘s First Ending Sequence / Episode Director on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 14 and 23 / Episode Director on Space Dandy episode 4 / Episode Director on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 5 and 11 / Episode Director on Soul Eater episodes 4, 8, 18, 24, 31, 40, 41, 48 and 51 [alongside Takuya Igarashi)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Miyao Yoshikazu (Series Director on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken / Storyboard on Soul Eater NOT!‘s First Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Sakura Trick episode 9 / Storyboard on Haikyuu! 12 / Storyboard on Magi: The Kingdom of Magic episode 6)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


How is it possible that this show keeps getting better every episode?!  This episode turns back to its genuine comedy from when the series began by using Zapp as the butt of every joke.  Especially when it comes to seeing Chain interact with him!  The chemistry between the two of them is pure gold!  There’s some obvious relationship tension there, with jealousy biting from both sides.  Zapp fending off against a Blood Breed was only a teaser for part two in the next episode!  Incredibly detailed fight scenes coupled with Zapp’s Master (Raju Jugei Shizuyoshi) makes for some solid character development.

Jugei’s appearance is somewhat ghastly, having lost limbs at some point in time, his choice of words to Zapp that he doesn’t care if he lost limbs speaks a lot about how serious this master really is and how little he cares for Zapp as a person and more as his best disciple. Much like Space Dandy did in building the world to its audience Kekkai Sensen highlights the supernatural aspect of this series by introducing a diverse cast of side-characters that become a bridge in further explaining the main casts’ personalities and endeavors!  This especially works with a 1-cour series like this one!  Fat Zapp was some sight to see!

What makes this episode particularly amazing is how this was just a small bit of fun added to this episode–the main treat ends up being about White and Black.  Their real names are revealed (Mary and William) and we finally get an explanation behind the mystic aura surrounding these two siblings.  They never had their powers to begin with.  Which if you recall from the first episode is similar to Leonardo’s situation with his all-seeing eye and his sister.

What the creators did here was very smart–they showed us Zapp’s day to day life and framed it inside Black’s backstory of how he became the King of Despair. Which also explains his ties to the King of Depravity, Femt.  The significance of seeing his watch all throughout this episode seemed to illustrate that Despair can only control William’s body for a short amount of time.  Especially since at the end of this episode we see the King of Despair in a mirror image talking to Black and then taking over his body.  The blue-hued past sequence was animated nicely.  If I hadn’t been reading the manga I wouldn’t have guessed that he was an anime-only character as he’s so well-developed and fits right into the cast exceptionally well!

Another amazing episode of Kekkai Sensen!  I hope Matsumoto makes another season of this because this has been a fun ride!  I believe to be one of the best parts about this show is that it doesn’t spoon-feed the story to you.

Animator Spotlight:

Yutaka Nakamura

[Previous Works Include]

  • Soul Eater episode 11 (Key Animator)
  • Soul Eater Fight Sequence during Second Opening (Key Animator)
  • Cowboy Bebop The Movie – Spike Spiegel’s fight scene in the train with Vincent (Key Animator)

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Yuki Hayashi

[Previous Works Include]

  • Toriko episode 6 [Key Animator]
  • Summer Wars film – creature fight sequence inside virtual reality space.
  • Kurage no Shokudou OVA – running sequence where the camera pans backwards revealing a wide shot of night time against the ocean and very fluid character acting scenes through the water.

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10