Tag Archives: Comedy

Sangatsu no Lion Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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PLOT: The protagonist Rei is a 17-year-old professional shōgi player, who lives by himself, not having a real family, and has scarcely any friends. Among his acquaintances is a family, which consists of a young woman, Akari Kawamoto, and her younger sisters, Hinata and Momo, who also keep several cats. As the story progreses, Rei deals with his maturing as a player and as a person, while developing his relationships with others, specially the Kawamoto sisters.

Animation Production: SHAFT

Directors: 

  • Akiyuki Shinbo
  • Kenjiro Okada

Series Composition: 

  • Akiyuki Shinbo
  • Fuyashi Tou

Character Designer: Nobuhiro Sugiyama

Original Creator: Chika Umino [ Honey & Clover]

Music: Yukari Hashimoto

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Kenjiro Okada

Storyboard: Shinsaku Sasaki

Script: Yukito Kizawa


I decided to change things up a bit and not post so much information on production staff regarding previous anime they’ve worked on.  Hope you all enjoy it!

One of the most anticipated series of the season finally arrives! This adaptation is quite different than what I expected from when it was first announced. This turned out to be quite a solid piece of work.

An incredible use of sound and SHAFT uses creator Chika Umino’s slow-paced story to its advantage with director Akiyuki Shinbo at the helm!  Per Umino’s request! From the trailers and now this first episode I can tell that SHAFT put a lot of restraint on how they typically animate their shows like the Monogatari series.  The first half is a beautifully animated and very subdued long morning for the protagonist Rei Kiriyama.  SHAFT certainly was the right choice in this because they were able to breathe life into Rei’s dark objectified view of the world and flip it with a superb second half.  The animation is simply designed–using a solid palette structure for its backgrounds.  At first glance this isn’t an anime with a large budget like what we’ve been seeing with Yuri!!! on Ice! , but when you see this episode you can clearly get a clear indication that a lot of time was spent on the direction of the animation.  Closeup shots of objects (especially the drinks) and facial expression techniques.  The most important develop of this show is through its use of sound effects!  From the very first scene it’s clear that there is a certain level of discomfort in Rei’s home. He’s internalized all of his emotions (if he has any) and through a very smart stylistic choice in visuals and sound direction that Rei is suffering.  Without the addition of music until the shogi match illustrates a larger picture that Rei enjoys his isolation.

I think it says a lot when a series chooses little dialogue to capture an audience into its narrative. We don’t know the man he’s playing is his father until he sees a news report later on from a tragic unrelated event. Sound was crucial here–the report established Rei’s disconnect from his own circumstances perfectly!

This transitioned nicely into the Kawamoto family’s introduction. Bubbly music score and strikingly bright animation.  Hues of pinks and yellows represents how lively the family is–the antics with the younger children remind me of 7-year old Naru from Barakamon.  The animation in the second half of this episode reverts from the dismal and dark tone that Sangatsu no Lion originally went for!  You either like the style or you don’t. 3-Gatsu no Lion is different than what we’re used to seeing with shows like Honey & Clover.

Akari Kawamoto, the oldest of the three sisters notices Rei’s disconnect from society–it is seen when she, right after Hinata had texted him, requests that he pick up vegetables for the dinner. I like how this show doesn’t force the interpersonal relationships down our throats–we given small details in doses.  The news report, the text messages, even by the end of this episode we see that Rei is gradually crawling out of his shell through the use of shadow effects and dream-state imagery.

I’m actually quite glad that this premiere didn’t shove Shogi matches to explain his character in-depth.  Using a visual narrative and a down-to-earth family to establish his grounding in the world succeeds wonderfully!  Posters of the manga on the train, Sangatsu logo on the grocery store sign. Perhaps SHAFT was taking the source material advertising a bit too literal.  Although, it certainly is one way to do it.


OP: “Answer (アンサー)” by BUMP OF CHICKEN

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Directed by: Naoyuki Asano

Storyboards: Naoyuki Asano

Animation Supervisor: Naoyuki Asano

Key Animators:

  • Hironori Tanaka
  • Tsutomu Shibuya
  • Shintaro Douge
  • Kazuki Ito
  • Atsushi Saito
  • Nozomu Abe
  • You Yamamoto
  • Naoko Masui
  • Tomohiro Shinoda
  • Naoto Nakamura

Notable Key Animator: 

  • Hironori Tanaka [ BLEACH #166 (specifically Ichigo and Grimmjow fight sequence)
    • Known for character acting and expressive animation particularly with line-work animation and hair animations.

Hironori Tanaka animated many of the opening scenes for this, notably, Rei’s drowning and the majority of sections featuring water sequences.  A bit of history about this animator. He’s well-known in the world of sakuga having worked on some very popular series including School DaysFate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade WorksGurren LagannBakemonogatari and one of my favorites The Tatami Galaxy.   I believe what stands out best as his best work as a key animator is on director Kou Matsuo’s Kure–nai.  Episode six to be exact–featuring a musical sequence.  Sometimes there doesn’t need to be -in-between frames when there are many key frames used.  Typically TV Anime do not produce this level of quality, however, there are times when this style of animation is utilized. This seems to be Tanaka’s style resulting in a very smooth flow to his sequences. He’s one of a few animators to be experienced and designs scenes with a purity to them . I say pure because he is able to draw 50 to 80 frames just to get a sequence nailed down properly.

Sangatsu‘s opening has very beautiful animation with varying shades of blues and other dark tonal colors that mesh together with a powered pigment influence.  BUMP OF CHICKEN are back for the anime adaptation reprising their role in 3-Gatsu no Lion material with both a well-designed opening and ending sequence.  They definitely delivered an emotionally-charged and well-written indie-styled rock song that matches these visuals beautifully.  Rei is drowning without a pathway to follow in life–the visual cues with the doorways represents that he has many choices in life but doesn’t have a grasp on his own life yet. I really like how the song gives an uplift with the chorus and suddenly the animation changes to firefly visuals and the family that has taken a chance on him might just give him the push he needs to figure out his life goal.

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Yuri!! on Ice Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

Yuri!! on Ice effortlessly ignites an engaging story about figure skating with fluid animation, a compelling soundtrack, and a creative charm that works perfectly.

PLOT: Yūri Katsuki carried all of Japan’s hopes on his shoulders to win at the Gran Prix Finale ice skating competition, but suffered a crushing defeat. He returns home to Kyushu and half feels like he wants to retire, and half feels like he wants to continue ice skating. Suddenly the five-time consecutive world championship ice skater Victor Nikiforov appears before him with Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian figure skater who is already defeating his seniors. Victor and both Yuris take up the challenge on an unprecedented Gran Prix series.

Animation Production: Studio MAPPA [Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope]TeekyuZankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo], Garo: Honoo no Kokuin, Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS, PunchLine, Ushio and Tora, In This Corner of the World, Days, Hajime no Ippo: Rising [co-produced with MADHOUSE])

Director: Sayo Yamamoto [Storyboard and Episode Director on Samurai Champloo Episodes 5,11, 18, 22 and 26 / Storyboard on Death Note episode 22 / Series Director and Storyboards on Michiko e Hatchin / Storyboard on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Episode 11 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Space Dandy episodes 2 and 7 / Director and Storyboard on PSYCHO-PASS‘ first opening sequence / Director and Storyboard on Shingeki no Kyojin [Attack on Titan]’s first ending sequence / Director and Storyboard on Space Dandy‘s ending sequence / Director and Storyboard on Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS‘ ending sequence)

Series Composition: Sayo Yamamoto

Character Designer: Tadashi Hiramatsu (Animation Character Design and Animation Director on Cutie Honey [Live-Action Film] / Director, Storyboard, Animation Director [OP; episode 1] on Re: Cutie Honey OAV / Key Animator on Darkside Blues film / Key Animator on Master Keaton episode 28 / Key Animator on Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes 15,19, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 26 / Storyboard and Assistant Animation Supervisor on Mushishi episode 8 / Key Animator on Mushishi episodes 16 and 20 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Denno Coil episode 10 / Key Animator on Kimi ni Todoke episode 5 / Key Animator on Space Dandy episodes 2 and 17 / Animation Supervisor and Character Designer on Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakkuritsu / Storyboard on Kuromukuro episode 5)

Music: 

  • Taku Matsushiba (Composer for the following advertisements and animation projects: Asahi The Dream, Oono he Kaerou, Yokai-Watch “puni puni”, Toyota Vitz, JR Toukai, Nissin Cisco, Mix Channel)
  • Taro Umebayashi (Composer for the following works: Space Dandy [credited as ‘milk’]

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Jun Shishido (Storyboard and Episode Director on Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope] episode 6 / Storyboard on Kingdom episode 32 / Series Director and Storyboard on Hajime no Ippo: Rising episodes 1,2, 21 and 25 / Storyboard on Kiseiju: Sei no Kakuritsu episode 11 / Episode Director on Death Parade episodes 1, 6 and 11 / Storyboard on Death Parade episodes 3,6 and 11 / Director on Ushio and Tora‘s first and second opening sequences /

Storyboards: Sayo Yamamoto

Script: Sayo Yamamoto


From the director of Michiko e Hatchin and Lupin the Third: Fujiko Mine comes a story about competitive figure skating.  Originally this project by Sayo Yamamoto was created as a music video entitled “Endless Night” for the Japan Animator’s Exhibition project from Studio Khara [Neon Genesis Evangelion] and Dwango last year.  The visuals are stunning and some of the best this year has to offer. I knew this season would be huge considering that my favorite genre Josei [Sangatsu no Lion and Fune wo Amu] would be getting the spotlight but this knocked out just about every show that’s aired so far out of the water!  Yūri Katsuki is a timid 23-year old skater admiring the talents of skating legend Victor Nikiforov.  This episode does a fine job in establishing Yūri Katsuki as someone with much to learn.  He’s more relatable than many male protagonists and adding to this realism are a few qualities that outlines director Yamamoto’s attention to characterization–he has problems managing his weight. Not to mention the effects of his dog’s death weighing on him too. Which I’m sure the anime will explore this avenue later on.  His issues can clearly be seen as we see him crying in the bathroom and during the childhood segment alongside Yuko–he’s emotional and hasn’t quite come to terms with his loss at Gran Prix. Russian figure skater Yuri Plisetsky didn’t help the situation either. However, it does set up a nice rivalry between the two of them.  We also see how affected Yūri is after losing at the competition through the episode’s stylistic direction affixed on Yūri’s own physical appearance.  This is highlighted in his face perfectly.  From a downward spiral to an ultimately uplifting skating performance that turns out very rewarding in the second half.  As the story progresses we see that Yūri still has passion for figure skating.   Spending the remainder of this episode at the Hasetsu skating rink and an unexpected encounter at the hot springs provides a solid start to the story.

The visual quality is superb–the cast is attractive and this comes across during the skating scene as well.  Transitioning from Yūri and Victor Nikiforov’s skating performances.   MAPPA and Yamamoto didn’t mess around with staffing for this anime.  Picking  two time Japanese national ice skating champion (now retired) Kenji Miyamoto to choreograph all of the skating scenes and the visual appeal is breathtaking.  This isn’t the first time Miyamoto has choreographed either as he’s choreographed show programs for Japanese figure skaters Shizuka Arakawa, Daisuke Takahashi, Akiko Suzuki and Yuzuru Hanyu.  Working as a coach and choreographer gives him a chance to shine on projects like Yuri!! on Ice!

The ice skaters move freely across the screen–extremely life-like.  From hand gestures to flowing hair, Yūri and Victor’s curvatures and clothing embellish a style that’s physically charming and sensually engaging. In other words this is a fine example at what animation can achieve–a physical style that comes off more beautifully than to sexualize its characters through fanservice framing. What’s interesting is how artistic the entire sequence is–you can see his passion through his skating and this is depicted in his slimmer figure on the rink and top-notch performance.  The animation choice during this scene was beautiful on purpose.

Off the ice, this show explores body language in a variety of ways–closeup shots of expressive facial animation and quick comedic caricatures capture ballet teacher Minako-sensei and Yūri perfectly. Hopefully, we will get to see a ballet performance from Minako in a later episode accompanied by a originally-composed Taku Matsushiba piece.  This show couldn’t be all pretty like the previews let on. The goofy animations were done by famous Ranma 1/2 and FLCL animator Hiramatsu Tadashi.  Reminding us that we’re still watching a Japanese anime.  The background designs are a pencil-sketch style and very colorful. Object are highly detailed as well.  These characteristics in animation transitioned nicely to the natural movements of the characters giving off the idea that there is beauty outside of ice skating.

Overall this was a beautiful piece of work that is an extension to “Endless Night”.  One that I highly recommend checking out.  A charming additional to the Fall 2016 Anime lineup!


 

OP: “History Maker” by Dean Fujioka

Directed by: Sayo Yamamoto

Storyboards: Sayo Yamamoto

Animation Supervisor: Sunghoo Park

Absolutely incredible. This is one of the coolest openings I have ever seen. Beautifully animated and on-point with the song by Dean Fujioka!  I love his voice it’s very smooth sounding and his English is amazing. The song was written in cooperation with Taku Matsushiba.  His style is astounding–this song is heavily inspired by classical and contemporary pop music. Providing a nice introduction in the anime’s backdrop–a modern day skating story.  Very inspiring lyrics and visuals that are filled with huge amount of artistic passion!

ED: “You Only Live Once” by Wataru Hatano

Directed by: Yoichiro Hayashi

Storyboards: Yoichiro Hayashi

Animation Supervisor: Tadashi Hiramatsu

This was a surprisingly good ending.  Really good. Coming off from the modern day musical styled opening sequence this one focuses on life outside of the ice skating element.  An entire sequence of instagram posts of the famous figure skaters featured in Yuri!! on Ice! Looks like a sequence taken from  FREE! but with a lot more heart to it.  This ending comes off super smooth with the addition of an electro-pop sound for the ending song and seiyu Wataru Hatano’s singing. Enjoyed this ending a lot. Anyone notice the “bae” acronym? Very funny.

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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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

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

Kekkai Sensen Episode 7

Episode 7 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: 

  • Yoshikazu Miyao ( Storyboard on Soul Eater Not! Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Pocket Monsters XY film / Storyboard on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 7 / Storyboard on Sakura Trick episode 9 / Storyboard on Haikyuu!! episode 12)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


This has got to be one of the best anime original subplots I have ever seen. It’s obvious with this episode how interconnected the Black and White plot is to the main story.  Black’s friendliness is a bit off-key compared to his moments with Femt–something is off about the guy. Either he has a split personality or he’s putting on an act in front of his sister, White and Leonardo Watch.  The references don’t let up either.  I mentioned in a previous post about Empire of Corpses throwing references in just for dramatic appeal but this show uses them in the background to develop the large cast better than before!

Leonardo confides to Black the nickname given–Tortoise Knight. A reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ main character Leonardo. This ties together nicely with Kekkai Sensen‘s love affair for American pop culture. Then we’ve got the other section of the story taking form–Klaus.  Zapp’s feeble attempts at gaining the upperhand against Libra’s leader is downright amusing and reflects both of their personalities extremely well.  The fight between Klaus and Ozmaldo is a brilliant idea to build up how Zapp is going to finally defeat Klaus.  We also get a few tidbits of information that Ozmaldo was taken over by a dead Elder and even when Zapp didn’t know about that gives a bit more depth to Libra’s fight against the unknown wonderfully.  I like how the dead Elder that pops out of Ozmaldo’s head looks strikingly similar to that of Deldro Brody’s appearance.

After seven episodes the story isn’t set into stone yet but I have to admit this has been an entertaining and visually freakish series. I only say this because of the ridiculous actions going on in the backgrounds of Kekkai Sensen–the diner scene of this episode.  What a ride this has been!  Glad to see this series has a solid director with Rie Matsumoto at the helm to maintain this style throughout every episode!

Was that announcer the talking toaster from Space Dandy episode 13?!  I’d like to think so!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 6

Episode 6 Production Details

Episode Director: Tomoyuki Kurokawa ( Director and Storyboard on Seikoku no Dragonar Ending Sequence / Director on Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou The Last Song Opening Sequence / Storyboard and Episode Director on Un-Go episode 8 / Assistant Director on Naruto Shippuuden episodes 290 and 293 / Episode Director on Seikoku no Dragonar episodes 1, 5, 8, 9 and 12 / Episode Director on Baby Steps episodes 15 and 24 / Storyboard on Kuroko no Basket episode 20)

Storyboards: Kenji Nagasaki (Episode Director and Storyboard on Monster episodes 14 and 45 / Storyboard on Robotics;Notes episode 5 / Storyboard on No. 6 Ending Sequence / Director and Storyboard on No. 6 Opening Sequence / Director and Storyboard on Zetsuen no Tempest Second Opening Sequence)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


Kekkai Sensen is a unique style of storytelling.  In the same way that Space Dandy told its collection of stories on different planets and aliens this one chooses aliens as an outlet for entertainment.  And a wild one at that!  This series just keeps getting better and better every episode!

This time around Leonardo befriends Nej – Amagranoff Luozontam Ouv Lee Nej.  Wow that is some name!  A mushroom alien with a love for hamburgers and not just any burgers.  Jack & Rockets’ burgers.  This anime, like Space Dandy, did with its creative humor doesn’t shy away from amalgams and in this episode we see that the popular restaurant chain is a combination of U.S. company’s Jack in the Box and Johnny Rockets.  This is a good way to tie in previous episodes with Leonardo and Zapp eating hamburgers giving us a familiar look at a setting and putting a different spin on it.  This episode held a very different tone than previous ones.  Leonardo’s friendship with Nej is heartwarming and this illustrates our main character’s personality and characteristics firmly to the story.  He’s a good guy with an intolerance for injustice.  Even if that injustice stems from the smallest of actions.  Small actions lead to larger consequences and Kekkai Sensen narrative is a first of its kind to show us how these aliens experience discrimination.

At first, Nej is run over by two Jack & Rockets’ drivers but as the events unfold his situation only becomes more grim.  Things seem to settle down when the two decide to give him a bag of hamburgers for the trouble but when they encounter him again is where things take a turn for the worst.  One of the drivers, Roger, beats Nej in brutal fashion in order to cover up their accident.  Martin wearing a mask reveals Nej’s hidden ability–when he becomes stressed he turns red, loses spores resulting in an amnesia event for anyone around him.

The second beating of Nej turns out to be disturbing visually.  Illustrating a dark side to humans in this fictional New York.  People that hate aliens just because they do. And at this point has Martin (the other driver) desiring this amnesia power Nej holds.

The aftermath has a Space Dandy style written all over it–ridiculous yet relatable.  Leo’s friendship with Nej shows the care he has for others.  He’s in some ways carefree even though just about every episode he’s attacked by Zapp or other episodic villains.

After Leo and Nej are kidnapped and Nej is beaten up (for a second time), he explodes again showing us a recurring storyline until we get to the final few minutes of the episode where more of the main story unfolds.  This was a fantastic episode full of feels!  There is also the Trigun reference “Love and Peace” from White towards the beginning of this episode speaks levels about Leo’s relentless compassion!

The music score in this was amazing!

Animator Spotlight: 

Takashi Hashimoto

Style: CGI, Mecha animation, smearing animation motion, Smoke effects and liquid effects.

[Previous Works Include]

  • Kyousogiga Episode 0 [Key Animator]
  • Mononoke Episode 12 [Key Animator on Close up cat sequence during the Bakeneko Arc]
  • Casshern SINS Episode 7 [Key Animator on tower building crashing down]
  • Bastard!! Episode 3 [Key Animator on fight sequence especially his work during the demon morphing scene]
  • Gatchaman CROWDS Opening Sequence [Key Animator on the final segment before episode starts up in Part A]
  • Kemonozume Episode 13 [Key Animator on fight sequence between Yuka and Toshihiko right after the Opening Sequence]

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OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 5

Episode 5 Production Details

Episode Director: Sueng-hee Son ( Episode Director on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann episode 3 / Episode Director on Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou / Episode Director on Gundam Build Fighters episodes 5, 10, 15 and 20)

Storyboards: Rie Matsumoto ( Assistant Director on Yes! Precure Movie 5 / Director and Storyboards on Kyousogiga / Storyboards and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya ( Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


Abrhams still in Hellsalem’s Lot helps Klaus in protecting Dog Hummer.  A pretty boy that’s reminiscent of Vash the Stampede from TRIGUN an earlier work (1995) of Yasuhiro NIGHTOW’s. Since Kekkai Sensen premiered every episode has been a sensory experience–between stunning visuals, a killer soundtrack and the vast amount of talented seiyuu taking part in this BONES animation production.  Add to this list Miyano Mamoru (the voice of Dog Hummer and Steins;Gate‘s Rintarou Okabe!)  and Keiji Fujiwara (the voice of Deldro Brody and Karas‘ Nue).  The fact they share the same character builds on the foundation of what this episode is really about.  A crazy girl in love with two men and how far she goes with her obsession with the two of them.

Grinding up Deldro Brody and injecting him inside of Dog Hummer re-establishes just how creatively wild Kekkai Sensen can shape into!  Koorogi Satomi was a perfect choice for Aligura–a risky and well versatile seiyu with a lot of range between deep low voice acting to extremely high-pitched voice work!  Aligura was the spotlight of this entire episode because she can barely contain her lunacy in that she’s willing to destroy an entire city to be with Brody & Hammer!

This episode dives even further into anime original material as we learn more about White’s brother. I really like how this show is jumping between original manga material with Femt and filling it up with brand new content just for the anime!  This was the first time seeing Femt meeting White’s brother leaves a lot to guess as to how this show will end and what role Femt will play throughout the rest of this.  Mystery surrounding this series possible villains is a good way for this show to highlight it’s minor cast and build up an even large supernatural fictional New York setting!

Klaus’ role in this was interesting because he ends up stealing Deldro’s composite from the crash site–Aligura was quite anxious to get it back.  Makes me wonder if she is an Elder 13.  In any case, it’s implied strongly that she is by the end of this episode.

As for the rest of this episode it’s mostly anime original content between White and Leonardo’s budding romance–can’t believe the film they are watching is a goofy spoof of the American film “Twins”!  Haha!  Fantastic!  It’s episodes like this one that remind me that anime with source material can work together nicely with deviations using original content.  Aligura capturing Leonardo and asking him all sorts of questions about romance and if he has a girl that he cares about built up Leonardo to ask White out on a date wonderfully.  He’s become even more courageous in taking her out of her hospital bed to see a film and it pays off! Amazing ending!

I’d like to see more of Aligura she was hilarious in this episode!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10