Tag Archives: Noitamina

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni Episode 1 (Initial Impressions)

PLOT: The protagonist 17-year-old high school student Akira Tachibana is a girl who barely expresses herself. She harbors a secret crush on Masami Kondō, the 45-year-old manager of the family restaurant she works at part-time.

Animation Production: Wit Studio

Director: Ayumu Watanabe [Director on Ace AttorneyMysterious Girlfriend XSpace Brothers]

Series Composition: Deko Akao [Series Script Writer on Akagami no Shirayukihime [Snow White with Red Hair] Amanchu!, Arakawa Under the BridgeFlying WitchNoragami,

Character Designer: Yuka Shibata [Character Designer for Kimi ni Todoke, Key Animator for Shikabane Hime: Kuro, Storyboards for Little Witch Academia Episode 1]

Original Creator: Jun Mayuzuki

Music: Ryo Yoshimata [Shin Megami Tensei Devil Children TV Anime / High-profile live action TV composer and producer]

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Ayako Kawano [Storyboards for Ace Attorney’s Sequence Ending Sequence, CG Digital Artist on Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive film, Episode Director on Durarara!!x2 Ten Episode 19, Storyboard on Blend S Episode 4]

Storyboard: Ayumu Watanabe

Chief Animation Director: Yuka Shibata (worked at GAINAX in the 2000’s following much of the staff to work at TRIGGER. She left after storyboarding iDOLMASTER episode 17, then working for UFOTABLE where she was a character designer for the Majocco feature film. Now she does freelance work.)


Every once in a while a series comes along and sweeps you off your feet just by the first episode. It’s been well over a year and a few months since I have last posted anything. I will try and get at least a few posts out every once in a while.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni has a unique premise–immediately after I heard it was receiving an anime adaptation I was intrigued. A relationship between a 45-year old man and a 17-year old high school girl. First thing is first I really like how this show doesn’t focus on sexual intentions. At the moment, Ameagari delivers a strong coming-of-age romance story. If you are a fan of the manga animation director Yuka Shibata does a faithful job at keeping with the source material’s art style.

Plus, the quality of this series is about the best out there. Dare I say it’s better than Violet Evergarden? That series has the usual Kyoto Animation style to it and while it does look pretty Ameagari has a charming tone to its overall presentation.

Akira Tachibana is a shy high-school student that clicks with a few of her friends and was once on the track team. This episode calmly introduces us to its cast with a strong focus on sound effects and the choice to not heighten the music score. Tachibana works at the cafe her crush (Masami Kondo) manages at–and we quickly get the idea that she is head over heels for him. Masami Kondo on the other hand is a carefree man and we see that when he sees his old self in  how he yearns for romance.

The very first moment is spectacular because it establishes an air to how this series will handle itself in telling a love story. Framing plays a large part in this. Akira’s beginning the next chapter in her life–the sharp attention to details and incredible direction key in this idea by showing a bit of her past in a subtle way. This show masks a lot of her background on the track team while at the same time hiding her emotions about it all. The great part about this is he doesn’t show it–neither does he realize it himself. The introduction of his son plays with the charm of this show by sliding in some comedy and Akira’s interest in him. Also lying down some groundwork for the two of them to be couple material later on in this series.

That second half was directed wonderfully! Especially when Akira remembers how she first met Kondo and how this is depicted by the shirt he left on the chair! Great visuals, emotionally-charged music and a nice way to end it–with a comedic scene between the two of them!


OP: “Nostalgic Rainfall” (ノスタルジックレインフォール) by CHiCO with HoneyWorks

Directed by: Ayako Kouno

Storyboards: Ayumu Watanabe

Animation Supervisor: Akiyo Okuda

Animators:

  • Kouta Fumiaki
  • Yuka Koiso
  • Keita Nagahara
  • Masato Hagiwara
  • Takemoto Yoshiko
  • Kawazuma Tomomi
  • Maeda Kyosuke
  • Erika Nishihara
  • Sachiko Matsumoto (Chief Makeup Animator on Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)
  • Yuko Sera
  • Hideyuki Arao
  • Mayuko Kato
  • Kana Ito
  • Tetsuya Hasegawa
  • Naohiro Osugi
  • Chikashi Kubota
  • Tomoyoshi Tsuchiya
  • Hiroshi Tomioka

This opening sequence is fantastic! The very beginning represents spreading your wings and discovering your dreams. How should Akira act around him? Akira shows her personality in a big way through this entire sequence–from calm and shy to extremely expressive. The change of clothing acts as a tool of excitement for her. She wants to express her feelings towards him and this comes across nicely with the dancing animation. The use of bright colors was a strong and smart choice for this entire opening! A fun fact the scene towards the end showing heart fragments to each other was animated by Chikashi Kubota. An animator for feature film A Letter to Momo and some of the explosion sequences to Space Dandy. The heart fragments combining into one was an entirely different animator–Fumiaki Kouta. As for Kouta is known for animating a lot of sequences of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. A great animator that uses a detailed approach on effects such as fire, liquid and smoke during fight sequences.

A bit of background behind the music group Honeyworks. They first got their start on streaming service site, Niconico since 2007 using the Vocaloid system. To this day they still remain active on their channel. They’re a circle of performers consisting of composers Gom and shito and their illustrator Yamako. The guitarist Oji  (Kaizoku Ou), illustrators Mogelatte and Rocoru act as support members. The style of music is rock songs with a positive form to them. The band also writes light novels based on their songs. as part of their Confession Executive Committee Love Series. As for this song it’s particularly bright, remaining in their style from their previous works with a rock-pop sound using Chico’s voice with her fantastic vocal range!


ED: “Ref:rain” by Aimer

Directed by: Ayumu Watanabe

Storyboards: Ayumu Watanabe

Animation Supervisor: Chiaki Kumakura

This is by far one of the best songs that Aimer has ever done. I may be biased here because I don’t think there is a single song of hers that I don’t like. This song translates to this series’ story extremely well. The lyrics and piano hits a tender view on love with beautiful visuals to match it! The line art of Akira is stunning!

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] [93/100]

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A show that masterfully created suspenseful drama. Productions were top notch–visuals by A-1 Pictures put this towards the top of my list as some of the best animation including its wonderful cinematography!  Yuki Kajiura scored a dramatic soundtrack and it pays off!  Especially with Kayo’s scenes between her mother and the incredible detail on object framing throughout the kids conversations at school!

We get a realistic perspective on how Satoru grows up through the eyes of a child.  If it weren’t for Satoru’s mother, Sachiko, being such a strong parental figure (supporting Satoru’s decision on not abandoning Kayo) in this series I would not have rated this in the 90’s.  It’s because of her we understand Akemi’s treatment of her own child, Kayo, and that Boku Machi is more than just a chilling murder mystery series.  It is clearly seen by the first half of this anime that the director chose to highlight the friendships (Kayo x Satoru) rather than focusing on Satoru finding out who killed his mom [until towards the end of the anime].  We get a concurring theme of murder mystery that helps him get closer to Kayo–the animation and cinematography were important in getting this across.  We see realistic scenes between the two of them from hand holding to birthday parties and while being in his 10-year old self it’s Satoru’s job to protect Kayo it also rewarding that he is learning new things about himself and why he couldn’t connect with his mom and friends before.  His revival ability gives him the chance at a “do-over” and it’s amazing to watch it pan out.  Offering us well-written inner dialogue scenes from heartfelt moments to comedic scenes.

Director Tomohiko Ito [Sword Art Online] cut out a lot from the manga and still managed to give us an ending that is satisfying.  The manga explains that Satoru can rerun moments of time backwards sometimes of his choosing.  In the anime, his ability is known as revival where it occurs through a situation that leads to tragedy.   In the manga, chapter 3 explores this in detail when Katagiri Airi and he discover a building getting torn down and Satoru has a rerun.  He knows something is off and discovers a child stuck in an elevator shaft.  After saving the child’s life he discovers that Katagiri’s first name is Airi and they call each other on a first name basis after the incident.  In the anime this entire scene is completely removed resulting in a lack of characterization for Airi. And still the anime captured even Airi’s moments nicely.  Using her as Satoru’s push forward in the middle of this story worked–Satoru can lean on his friends for help.  IF it wasn’t for her punch scene with the manager and the entire fire sequence I don’t think Satoru would have leaned on his friends, especially Kenya, as much as he did in the second half of Boku Machi.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 93/100


 

On a side note I thought I’d share some upcoming events my anime club is having. If anyone is interested in helping out with my events please contact me.

Anime Nights’ Facebook Events

Harmony [Theatrical Edition] [76/100]

Animation Production: Studio 4°C ( Beyond OAV, Amazing Nuts! OAV, Baby Blue [from Genius Party Collection], Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Films, Deathtic 4, Detective Story [from the Animatrix Collection], Eikyuu Kazoku, Higan OAVKid’s Story OAV, Mahou ShoujotaiMoondriveShanghai DragonSprigganTekkonkinkreetThundercats 2011Transformers: Animated U.S. VersionUrarochi DiamondTojin Kit [from the Genius Party Collection])

Directors:  

  • Michael Arias ( CGI Supervisor for title and newsreel sequences on American film The Hudsucker Proxy / Motion Control Camera Work on The Abyss and Total Recall / Episode Director on Ani-Kuri episode 13 / Producer on The Animatrix / Associate Producer on Mind Game / Translator for the English Diary and notes sequence on Patema Inverted / Director, Storyboard, CGI Animator and Story Editor on Tekkonkinkreet)
  • Takashi Nakamura ( Character Designer and Animation Director on Akira / Director, Screenplay, Original Story, Character Designer and Animation Director on Catnapped! The Movie / Director, Script, Storyboard, Original Creator on Fantastic Children / Character Designer, Animation Director on Manga Nihon Emaki / Key Animator on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind / Director, Script, Character Designer on segment “Nightmare” from Robot Carnival / Storyboard on Thundercats 2011 / Original Character Designer on Tears to Tiara)

Sceenplay: Koji Yamamoto ( Fuji TV Producer and help establish Noitamina / Chief Producer on every Noitamina series and film / Producer for programming block NOISE–ultimately becoming Chief Producer for the three works in that time block before Noitamina took over it’s timeslot– Michiko e HatchinAoi HanaRistorante Paradiso)

Original Creators: 

  • Project Itoh ( Original Creator on Genocidal Organ / Original Creator on Empire of Corpses)

Original Character Designer: redjuice ( Ending Illustration on Shingeki no Kyojin episode 19 / Original Character Designer on Genocidal Organ / Original Character Designer, Designer of the Steiner A9 from episodes 21 and 22, Ending card Illustration and Illustration on Guilty Crown‘s Ending Sequence / Conceptual Design on Vividred Operation / Ending Card Illustration on Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life / Ending Card Illustration on Haganai episode 6)

Character Designer: Takahiro Tanaka ( Storyboard, Unit Director, Character Designer, Animation Director on Doorbell film / Assistant Animation Director on Excel Saga Episode 3 / Storyboard and Key Animator on GANTZ episode 23 / CG Modeling Designer on Kantai Collection / Key Animator on Momo e no Tegami [A Letter to Momo] / Key Animator on Kare Kano episode 16 / Key Animator on Mezzo Forte OAV / Key Animator on Paranoia Agent Episode 5 / Opening Animation on The Prince of Tennis TV / Key Animator on Shojo Kakumei Utena‘s Opening Sequence / Character Designer on Thundercats 2011 / Animation Director on Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil)

Music: Yoshihiro Ike ( Music Composer on Armored Trooper Votoms Case;Irvine OAV, Asura film, Blood: The Last VampireCobra: The AnimationDead Leaves OAV, Shisha no Teikoku [Empire of Corpses]Ergo ProxyFlagFreedom OAV, Genocidal OrganKaras OAV, Kuroko’s Basketball Seasons 2 and 3Noblesse: Awakening / Shingeki no Bahamut: GenesisReideenTiger & Bunny series and compilation films)


In future period called “Maelstrom”, nuclear war and disease have plagued and destroyed even the United States. To prevent new horrors, the state was divided into smaller states, with a deeper ethic and solidary society through social pressure and health is controlled by “admedicstration”, facilities where nanotechnology is used for medical purposes, to allow better living. But in Japan, the young Tuan Kirie and her friends Miach Mihie and Cian Reikado give life to an incredible protest against this kind of company and control over their lives, refusing food and medication and get up to suicide but Tuan and Cian fail to protest.

Thirteen years later, Tuan works for the World Health Organization in international medical police forces, still faithful to her ideas: the meeting after years with Cian gives the start to an investigation in which discover the truths and threats behind the “perfect” world.

This was supposed to be the final film in the Project Itoh trilogy.  When Manglobe went under the theatrical release of these films in Japan got shuffled around.  With Shisha no Teikoku being released first then Harmony.  I guess we will have to wait and see how Genocidal Organ is handled and if anything was changed from the initial previews of it.

Shisha was quite a train wreck of a film–containing an overly abundant use of European references and nods to classic literature that was gradually losing my interest in the film after thirty minutes.  While its initial idea of using zombies to channel the grief humans carry and how that speaks about the human soul was engrossing, Harmony chooses a different path.

After Toh Enjoe took over the writing of the original novel and its animated adaptation we get a chance to see a novel that was fully written by Itoh. A fascinating perspective on free will, with Harmony we’ve got an entirely different story, set in a different timeframe, and a completely new cast of characters.  Studio 4C handles production of this film and have been known to be an arthouse animation studio–developing projects from Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game and Tekkonkinkreet to one of the coolest cyberpunk OVAs I have ever seen–Eikyuu Kazoku, which translates to Eternal Family in English. Check that out if you like unique animation!  While the animation is visually stunning in the background panning scenes, and subdued monologue parts, the action segments are messy and choppy.

Harmony‘s main lead is Tuan Kirie, an inspector for the World Health Organization. After a nuclear war, (we get to see some of the conflict throughout this film) the WHO has taken charge of running a perfect society via a system called Watch Me, a program that monitors and controls people’s health and happiness to ensure a peaceful co-existence.  PSYCHO-PASS had a similar system where health was monitored and people were divided into categories–humans and latent criminals.

With Harmony the conceptual design place a large emphasis on Watch Me’s impact on the world and the government that controls it–bright cityscapes and rich green gardens are softly blurred with a blend of 2D and 3D art.  Looking spectacularly pleasing to the eye! The background visuals and diminished melancholic music score create an eerie feeling in the film’s first half.  Illustrating that there is no warmth to the humans that live in this world–especially Tuan.  There isn’t a single lively character in this film and for good reason.  The long monologues Tuan has about Watch Me being a system that robs others of their own individuality and freedom couldn’t have been spared as it reminds us that individuality is crucial to the human spirit or human soul.  To be reminded is to rekindle what makes us human and I felt that the series composition focusing on that sparks the journey Tuan takes in finding Miach and discovering her own “self”.  This idea caters to the sluggish pacing of the film exploring a hellacious vision of a utopian society as we see people getting killed in extreme brutal ways.  The film’s most engaging scenes were the quick cuts to Tuan’s high-school days.  Beautifully animated we are gradually introduced to the trio (Tuan, Cian and Miach) delivering the most humanistic emotions ever to appear in the film. Tuan’s high-school friend, Miach represents the inevitable breakdown of the ideal system Watch Me. She’s a charismatic girl that rejected the view that the body and soul belonged to anyone else.  Through a pact the girls decide that suicide would be the only way to cleanse them and give them the freedom that they yearned for. For them (mostly Miach’s point of view) suicide was the only way to attain a spirit full of individuality. Spelling out a lot of the film’s deaths in this as Tuan is discovering mass suicides throughout the city.

Something to note is how she is the only character (aside from WHO Agents) that wear red.  In a city filled with calm colors and a calm demeanor she is the only one warranting fear in a perfect utopian society.  This was to highlight her connection to Miach and the end result is amazing.

Harmony proposes that the ego is unnecessary because in a “perfect” society like this one, ensures that individuality is a hindrance in society’s progress towards a harmonic evolution.  That to attain perfect harmony “I” could not exist.

At the end of it all Harmony made me realize what a frightening concept that would be.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 76/100

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Shisha no Teikoku [Empire of Corpses] [Theatrical Edition] [41/100]

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Animation Production: WIT STUDIO ( Shingeki no KyojinHalHozuki no ReitetsuKabaneri of the Iron FortressMaho Tsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito OAV, Owari no SeraphThe Rolling Girls / In-Between Animation on Subete ga F Ni Naru: The Perfect Insider / Production Assistance on PSYCHO-PASS 2‘s Opening Sequence)

Director:  Ryotaro Makihara ( Key Animator on Monster episode 12 / Episode Director, Storyboard and Key Animator on Guilty Crown episodes 4, 11 and 21 / Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin episodes 17, 18 and 24 / Key Animator on Summer Wars / Key Animator on Colorful / Storyboard, Director and Production on Hal)

Sceenplay: 

  • Hiroshi Seko ( Script on Shingeki no Kyojin OVA “Iise’s Notebook” / Series Composition on Owari no Seraph and Nagoya Kessen-hen / Script alongside Kazuki Nakashima on Kill la Kill episodes 5 / Script on Garo: Honoo no Kokuin episode 4)
  • Koji Yamamoto ( Chief Producer at Fuji TV [the company that established Noitamina] / Assistant Producer on hentai Countdown / Screenplay on Harmony / Chief Producer on many of Noitamina’s works since Hataraki Man in 2006 / Chief Producer on the three NOISE broadcasting company works Ristorante ParadisoAoi Hana and Michiko e Hatchin)
  • Midori Gotou ( Series Composition on Hozuki no Reitetsu / Script on Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san episodes 2, 5, 6, 9 and 10 / Script on Hozuki no Reitetsu episodes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 13)d

Original Creators: 

  • Project Itoh ( Original Creator on Genocidal Organ / Original Creator on Harmony)
  • Toh Enjoe ( Script on Space Dandy episode 11 / Guest Character Draft Designer and Script on Space Dandy 24)

Original Character Designer: redjuice ( Ending Illustration on Shingeki no Kyojin episode 19 / Original Character Designer on Genocidal Organ / Original Character Designer, Designer of the Steiner A9 from episodes 21 and 22, Ending card Illustration and Illustration on Guilty Crown‘s Ending Sequence / Conceptual Design on Vividred Operation / Ending Card Illustration on Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life / Ending Card Illustration on Haganai episode 6)

Character Designer: Takaaki Chiba ( Chief Animation Director on Shingeki no Kyojin episode 3 / Titan Animation Director on Shingeki no Kyojin OVA episode “Iise’s Notebook” / Animation Director assistant on Le Chevalier D’Eon episode 12 / Animation Director and Key Animator on Le Chevalier D’Eon‘s Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Hyouge Mono episode 1 / Key Animation on Ghost Hound episode 7 / In-Between Check on Noir episodes 15, 18 and 26 / Key Animator on Noir episodes 1, 5, 14, 16, 22 and 26 / Animation Director, Design and Key Animator on Sengoku Basara The Movie)

Music: Yoshihiro Ike ( Music Composer on Armored Trooper Votoms Case;Irvine OAV, Asura film, Blood: The Last VampireCobra: The AnimationDead Leaves OAV, Ergo ProxyFlagFreedom OAV, Genocidal OrganKaras OAV, Kuroko’s Basketball Seasons 2 and 3Noblesse: AwakeningShingeki no Bahamut: GenesisReideenTiger & Bunny series and compilation films)


A Noitamina produced film based on the late Project Itoh writer, who died in 2009 of cancer.  Toh Enjoe, the physicist and writer of Space Dandy‘s incredible Episode 11 and wacky love romance Episode 24 vowed to complete his novel before Itoh’s death.  At first, I was excited to hear his works receiving any sort of adaptation. Shisha no Teikoku has similar ties to WIT STUDIO’s current work Kōtetsujō no Kabaneri and the acclaimed Shingeki no Kyojin. If you are looking for an entertaining film, I highly recommend this as it is set in an alternate timeline of the renaissance period mixed with a somewhat familar narrative around scientific reanimating of corpses.  The corpses in this act similarly in the treatment of the zombie threat in this season’s Kabaneri.  There are many action sequences and you can tell that WIT STUDIO polished this up nicely with a balance of body horror and steampunk.  

The first 25 minutes are fantastic as it slowly introduces John Watson (yes that John Watson of Sherlock) in the lead role in discovering how to bridge the gap between bringing a soul back to a dead body, Herbert West style. [If you don’t know Herbert West: Reanimator, it’s a short story created by H.P. Lovecraft in 1922]  John Watson’s companion, who turns out is a corpse, is the body of his old friend, Friday–a heavy nod to Robinson Crusoe’s companion  Friday. The idea to use Friday at the center of this story is a pointed reference to British literature. Completing a corpse with a soul is obvious and traces back to the history behind the Robinson Crusoe novel.  In Trieste, Italy (1912), Irish Novelist James Joyce gave lectures on how Robinson Crusoe embodies the English mindset:

The true symbol of the British conquest is Robinson Crusoe, cast away on a deserted island, in his pocket a knife and a pipe, becomes an architect, a knife-grinder, an astronomer, a baker, a shipwright, a potter, a saddler, a farmer, a tailor, an umbrella-maker and a clergyman.  He is the true prototype of the British colonist, as Friday (the trusty savage who arrives on an unlucky day) is the symbol of the subject races. The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit is in Crusoe.” ~ James Joyce

It is this quote that translate many Shisha‘s themes.  Britain’s way of life with corpses living in the streets, doing daily chores, and in some sense this film set a firm beginning in establishing a Victorian world that welcomes death instead of fearing it.  This is the strong segment of Shisha‘s story.  According to history around this time, there was an obsession with the dead being able to speak with spirits and even entering death themselves. Many loved ones passed way before their time from wars both close to home and from afar.  This idea to communicate with spirits were common among the British because to converse with the ones they lost would ultimately give them closure.  It’s a shame that this wasn’t further explored during John Watson’s research regarding corpses.  

Once the first 25 minutes pass and the Russian scientist and corpse engineer Nikolai Krasotkin enter the picture I felt this film was starting to get flimsy.  Shoving references that seemed unfitting to be in this turn-of-the-20th-century piece.  Using Paul Bunyan as an instrument of evil? Doesn’t make too much sense to use an American historical figure for this unless it was to depict their evil nature.Onboard the Richmond that’s heading for America, Ulysses S. Grant relays information about the Writing Ball that was found in the Osoto Chemical Facility in Japan as a way to convince John Watson to analyze the First.  The First is the only corpse with a soul and as it turns out is the bride to the One, the villain in this film.  Rather he’s one of them out of a few of the leaders of the countries the main cast travel to.  

Speaking of the cast, most of the characters seem to work together pretty well except for one.  Hadaly.  She’s completely out of context for this dark film–her character design is purely for fanservice reasons.  Perhaps it’s because she’s a robot either way this was a mistake on lead designer Takaaki Chiba’s part.  Given how visually grim (and stunning) this film’s backgrounds  were this choice in her visual appearance makes most of her scenes less serious even when they tried to dress her up in Victorian clothing in the later half of this film.  

I’m not sure if it was Project Itoh that tied in most of these references or Toh Enjoe but it didn’t try to be original in the characterization.  According to history, Charles Babbage was the grandfather of computing but in this film he builds the analytical engine and Victor Frankenstein turns out to be this stereotypical take over the world old man villain. A trope that has been overused since the ’80s.

This film in some ways is a sequel to Marry Shelly’s work Frankenstein set in an alternate world.  Perhaps both Project Itoh and Toh Enjoe didn’t fully understand Frankenstein as a monster.  Watching this, I felt, that the soulless and empty Friday represented the classic monster more than this film’s suggested villain.  We this emphasis with his friendship to John as we see a flashback depicting a promise they made in order to understand one another.  Simiilar Even though we see Burnaby fighting a strikingly similar looking Frankenstein in the engine room–Shisha‘s long and drawn out conclusion was poorly written and poorly executed.  The final arc was written by Toh Enjoe and even without reading the knowing the source material at heart I felt as though the story was losing focus on its characters especially with a lackluster and somewhat confusing ending.  That is, if you don’t see the post-credits scene.  It’s a shame that Project Itoh passed away when he did because I would have loved to have seen what ending he was set on writing. 

I know that overusing references is a tiresome point of this film, the biggest highlight for me, surprisingly enough, was the post-credits scene. I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and I certainly enjoyed his appearance and getting a glimpse of a Sherlockian adventure in this film was quite the treat!  

All in all this film points out WIT STUDIO’s flaw as an animation studio.  They are afraid of taking risks. They know how to make series that sell by sticking with what they know on how to produce.  WIT lacks creativity.  Using dead people as a way to channel an emotional impact on the audience has been oversold in the anime industry. Especially when you take into consideration how this film and Kabaneri are riding on the coattails of Shingeki no Kyojin‘s success.  Whether its Titans, zombies, or vampires– much of it is the same; they rely heavily on one trope–Nightmare Fuel.  A disturbing idea [zombies] that play up on a primal fear (which in this case is humanity losing itself to mindless beings) in order to capitalize on a compelling (and hopefully rewarding) dramatic story.  It’s a collection of themes and tropes that have been recycled within the past 5 years! Let’s see something entirely different WIT!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [41/100]

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 12 [END]

Episode 12 Production Details

Episode Director: Toshimasa Ishii ( Episode Director on Nanatsu no Taizai episodes 6, 14 and 24 / Episode Director and Storyboard on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso episode 18)

Storyboards: Toshimasa Ishii

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


Originally, Tomohiko Ito had been wanting to do an anime for Boku Dake ga Inai Machi ever since he started reading the manga.  As for Kei Sanbe, Boku Machi‘s original creator, he grew up reading Ranpo Edogawa’s Boy Detectives Club Series which make sense as to why Kenya’s surname is Kobayashi.  Referring to Yoshio Kobayashi, the leader of the Boy Detectives Club and lives with who we know of from last year’s Game of Laplace Kogoro Akechi.  Love seeing how influential series can be for other artists and mangaka to add in small tributes to other works!  Speaking of other works, I wonder if anyone caught the Guilty Crown reference on the poster of Satoru’s anime poster in the epilogue.  Plus there’s a poster of Senkō no Night Raid and Seikimatsu Okaruto Gakuin both are A-1 Pictures titles with Seikimatsu directed by Tomohiko Ito!

As for this episode I believe this is a prime example of how an ending can completely change one’s perception of a series.  Either you really like this series or you don’t.

Honestly, I didn’t really have many problems with how this episode turned out.  If you think about it they did the best job they could with only 12 episodes to work with.

The fact that there can’t be much of a confrontation if you consider the state Satoru is in from his coma allows for the mystery aspect of this series to work in a solid manner.  All in all, I like how realistic it is.   There were a lot of assumptions made on Satoru’s part from what would guarantee that Gaku would push him off the roof, saving Kumi, how did Kenya and the others even know that they needed to save her from the poison?  But when push comes to shove illustrates how much of a coward Gaku is.  Relying on Satoru’s survival because it’s the game of chase that gave him a thrill of a lifetime.

Going into this series I started reading the manga alongside to find differences.  These past two episodes were vastly different in general setting and content especially with how Satoru’s confrontation is with Gaku Yashiro.  The manga builds the scene up by moving forward a few years later–giving Satoru a chance to recover and for the author Sanbe to further develop the ill Kumi into a deeper role.  The anime barely touches on her friendship with Satoru but I felt that this was much better because it sticks with what director Tomohiko Ito originally wanted–a human drama between school children.  And that’s exactly what we received! Kids that have turned into adults catching up on lost time so to speak!

Overall though I’d say that the presentation of this was nicely done.  Satoru beats Gaku because he’s held on to his connection with others.  At the start of this series, Satoru was very much a loner, his revival ability has changed that for him as Boku Machi progresses through its narrative.  It’s an ultimate test to what they shared over the course of this series as teacher and student trying to resolve a classmate’s home life. A satisfying ending. The later half of this episode is very much where Boku Dake ga Inai Machi shines.  It’s genuinely affectionate moments in framing the best times of childhood that deliver solid dramatic scenes that feel painfully sincere even when you become an adult.

While many people may be upset by this ending due to its quick pacing or how little detail there had been throughout this series on Satoru’s revivals. Why do they occur?  What caused them in the first place?  That’s not what Boku Machi is about.  It’s about how he’s fixed his future for the better and not just his.  The epilogue is a nice view of how everyone has been living out their lives without Satoru around and what an ending it was!  Glad to see that the kids, now as adults, get together at a restaurant and catch up on old times!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 11

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Episode 11 Production Details

Episode Director: Makoto Hoshino ( Episode Director on Sword Art Online episodes 7 and 20 / Episode Director on Sword Art Online II episode 10 / Storyboard on Rail Wars! episodes 2 and 4)

Storyboards: Shinpei Ezaki ( Director on Sengoku Basara Ni‘s Opening Sequence / Storyboard, Director and Producer on Guilty Crown OVA Lost Christmas / Episode Director on Kimi no Todoke episodes 8, 18 and 24 (alongside Norhihiro Naganuma) / Storyboard alongside Tsuyoshi Yoshioka and Tomoki Kyoda on Eureka Seven AO episode 13)

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


I was very shocked that Gaku Yashiro’s backstory would be the part they would cut out. His interest or ‘spice’ as he calls it and referring to Satoru as his new ‘spice’ makes sense in giving anime-viewers an understanding of his spider’s string that he sees from his victims and his appreciate for Satoru’s deduction.

Very creative to omit Satoru from every scene of the opening sequence! Love how this brings mystery to those that don’t know what happens to him.

We are in a new timeline, 2003 with a large change in character dynamics and narrative. This episode focuses on Satoru regaining his now scrambled up memory rather than having a long set of intense moments building up to an ending cliffhanger.  I really like how the creators decided on using his child’s voice as his inner monologue. A small detail that illustrates how he hasn’t truly grown up in his mind yet. Satoru saved the lives of Hiromi Sugita, Aya Nakanishi and Kayo Hinazuki at the cost of losing 15 years of his life.

When I read that the director would be following the manga’s ending I was ecstatic to finally see how they would animate all this content in 12 episodes.  I guess I was wrong.  As there were a ton of instances this episode diverged from the manga.

The opening is nice because we get to see how determined Sachiko is at reuniting with her son.  She truly is the best mom ever!  Reuniting with Kenya and Hiromi but most importantly the scene that will probably upset a lot of anime fans of this show.  Kayo Hinazuki is married to Hiromi and has a baby.  Boku Machi built up relentless attempts to ensure the audience believes that Satoru’s relationship with Kayo would become much more than just friends.  Airi was the initial love interest of this series and I feel that this series including the manga is trying to come full circle to that.  It’s a nice way to establish closure between Satoru and Kayo as they’re older.  Catching up on lost time so to speak. The last time we saw Hinazuki she was staying with a relative and hadn’t been at Satoru’s school since her mother’s situation had been taken over by Social Services.  This was a huge change from the manga as she’s in just about every scene during the Aya Nakanishi arc in the manga.  The impact is what makes this episode strong.  Seeing Kayo after so long reminds him that he saved her and was able to give her a life that makes her happy.  The tears he has during that scene visually intensifies this.

There are issues I have with this episode however.  While the Satoru and Kayo segment is neatly wrapped up.  The story goes back into the mystery of this show at full force. Perhaps too fast actually.  At the end of this we’re seeing a final confrontation between Yashiro and Satoru on the rooftop of the hospital.  I felt this was somewhat anti-climatic because he is sticking around the hospital waiting for the right time to catch his spice, Satoru.  All the pieces of the puzzle regarding the killer fall into place so conveniently this time around.

It was nice to see Sachiko remember the train to Ueno that Satoru had mentioned back around episode 2.

An ending can make or break a series I just hope this one doesn’t disappoint considering how much they’ve cut out and altered.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10

 

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 10

Episode 10 Production Details

Episode Director: Takahiro Shikama ( Key Animator on STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto episodes 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 12, 23 and 25 / Layout Animation Supervisor on STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto Opening Sequence’s 1 and 2 / Key Animator on Garo: Honoo no Kokuin episode 18 / Action Animation Supervisor and Storyboard on Sword Art Online episode 2 / Episode Director on Sword Art Online episode 20 / Key Animator on Zankyou no Terror episodes 1, 3, 7 and 11)

Storyboards: Takahiro Shikama

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


 

Contrary to a lot of what manga readers felt about this huge episode, I didn’t hate this.  I really enjoyed it. Up until now I’ve gotten used to the visual appeal this show runs with–the color red means imminent danger (we see a lot of in the car segment), sound effects and Kajiura’s music score raise the bar in building dramatic tension.  Now I can see why Tomohiko Ito didn’t want to direct the big reveal episode.  I feel that his focus was somewhat different than Kei Sanbe’s.  Boku Machi has been leading us on this trail in trying to discover whom the killer might be from his 2006 timeline and the three missing children’s abductor.  It was a bold move for this show to cut out a lot but every episode I’ve enjoyed immensely.  Tomohiko Ito’s intentions were to get across the relationship between Satoru and Kayo–mostly that their relationship as adorable as it has been would wind up being the framework for this series rather than a full-fledged mystery anime.  It works in many ways as an solid drama piece focused on children.  IF they wanted to faithfully adapt this manga this show seriously needed another cour or at least another 4 episodes.  This is what happens when you try to adapt a 45-chapter manga into 12 episodes.  Previously there have been scenes trimmed down for the sake of time and with it comes episodes that will by the end of this series result in rushed pacing.  The problem was fixed quickly (with small changes along the way like replacing Kayo with Hiromi talking to Gaku) and the only major difference here is that Kayo doesn’t come back to school—she stays with her aunt. This makes a huge impact and bears importance of the previous episode’s main story– getting Protective Child Services to act on Kayo’s mother finally freeing her from all the torment she has caused in her life.

Satoru is aware that taking away the targets doesn’t solve the issue he has to pick up all the pieces he has done in previous timelines to understand that there’s a brand new target for the killer.  One thing is certain though.  He hasn’t lost his resolve.  After saving Kayo, ensuring Hiromi Sugita is safe with Kenya and now gets Aya Nakanishi, whose story was a few chapters long in the manga is saved by joining their hideout in under a few minutes. Trimming of the manga was necessary for the 2nd half of this episode to come off smoothly.

Satoru notices Misato, the girl who caused all the ruckus in an earlier episode about Kayo stealing is the girl left alone and the perfect target.  The setup is nicely woven in to this because there is lots of foreshadow with two particularly big scenes—Satoru saying goodbye to his mother as he leaves for school.  The long wide-panning shot of him leaving and waving goodbye represents this.  They could’ve left it out because it’s making Satoru’s situation more obvious he won’t make it out alive.  “See you” has been a catchphrase of the series throughout—but now it’s too obvious and perhaps a little to late to show the relevance in it.  That scene with Kenya and the others mentioning how they’d see him tomorrow pushes the fact that he definitely won’t make it to the next day with a revival or not.

In order to save Misato he enlists the help of Gaku Yashiro, his homeroom teacher.  It’s obvious if you’ve paid attention that Gaku is in fact the killer.  The big reveal.  This big moment in the series where Gaku tells Satoru that he’s always had his plans set in motion may have been the ultimate villain trope. It’s overused in anime but I really like how simplistic it is.  Most of what the manga had portrayed for this scene, even with the cliche villain lines it ransitions nicely into animated format.  I just hope his backstory is shown.

Satoru realizing he’s been fooled and trusted Gaku too much just goes to show how much he has lost himself in his 10-year old body.  In the first few episodes of Boku Machi when Satoru revivals back to 1988 you’ll notice how much narration he does as an adult but once the story progresses you’ll see little by little he loses that narration.  Nice effect to illustrate his naivety and his childlike view of Gaku.  A father-like figure that when he saw Gaku take action on Kayo’s mother embellishes the car scene in this episode perfectly.

As ominous as it felt through the entire car ride between Gaku’s nervous tapping on the steering wheel and his increasingly worrisome statements getting more extreme the reveal was only a matter of time. The use of red was amazing this time around.  Between the shots of the red bag in the backseat and the red car ahead of them pointing to Gaku this reveal was monumentally built up nicely.

As much as this show likes to “reward” and “take away” precious moments this episode was no different.  Satoru having gained the identity that Gaku is the killer and having saved his friends from being abducted he ends up drowning in a river not before he tells Gaku that he knows his future!  As cliche as it might have been this episode’s sole purpose was to leave the audience from the eyes of 10-year old Satoru and venture into reality.  And that reality is that the man Satoru looked up to all this time, asked for advice about Kayo and her situation completely breaks down!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 9

Episode 9 Production Details

Episode Director: Tomohiko Ito ( Assistant Director on Summer Wars film / Storyboard on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Opening Sequence / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 8 / Episode Director and Storyboard on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard alongside Yasuji on Michiko e Hatchin episode 19)

Storyboards: Tomohiko Ito

Script: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on  Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!!)


Just as the title of this episode suggests this closes Kayo’s arc and just in time because we finally get to see what’s coming to Kayo’s mother.  She’s an abusive parent whose abusive because she is.  Someone like this is unaware that their actions are wrong and I’m glad the show’s creators didn’t make her into a difficult person to understand.  She’s far away from being sympathetic as she doesn’t even understand the kindness she’s being shown from Satoru and Sachiko in earlier episodes.  This show delivers in strides—the mystery game that Satoru and his friends are playing is very much in line with Satoru’s reality.  That there is an actual killer out there.

Boku Machi’s efforts shine when the human drama that has been wonderfully woven together puts on multiple facades from the aesthetic mystery and supernatural time travel elements to deliver a simple story.  Kayo’s mother is abusive because she couldn’t handle being a single parent and that Kayo is a reminder of her abusive relationship with her husband.  It’s great that their is another side to this—Sachiko.  They at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to parenting.  We see that when Sachiko stands in front of her son as Kayo’s mother grabs a shovel and swings it at her head!  This is an apathetic ending for Kayo’s mother seeing her own mom distraught at the sight of how her daughter has turned out to be a parent.

After episode 7 this series is trying everything it can in removing suspicions from the teacher being the killer and it makes us question his motives.  It’s a smart gamble to make him questionable that he is coming off as a red herring.  The biggest part of this is how he’s revealed to have tons of candy stashed in his car not to mention the obvious quick cuts between his initial impression on his eyes that Satoru has discovered his secret stash, the finger tapping on the steering wheel and covering the top portion of his face.

While this series killer is still on the loose, providing a few clues along the way, visually, this episode firmly establishes that this show will be focusing on the thriller narrative of Boku Machi for the rest.  Keeping that in mind where this series true commitment lies is in the bond between Kayo and Satoru—it’s been a strong realistic emotional core of the show that makes me question whether or not that the story can stand on its own without it.  I say this because it looks like the Aya Nakanishi arc will get rushed.  Curious how the creators decide to adapt the rest of the manga in just three episodes.

Want to point out how incredible Akemi Okamura is.  She’s so versatile!  I can see that she was a good fit for Kayo’s abusive mother–Akemi Hinazuki.   She can be cool-headed but at times terrifyingly ferocious!  Reminds me of the antics she delivered with her role of Mayaya from Kuragehime!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 8

Episode 8 Production Details

Episode Director: Kosaya ( Episode Director and Storyboard on Sword Art Online II episode 18 / Episode Director alongside Tomotaka Shibayama and Tsuyoshi Tobita on Hai to Gensou no Grimgar episode 11 / Episode Director and Key Animator on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso episode 19)

Storyboards: Kosaya

Script: Yutaka Yasunaga ( Script Writer on  Prince of Stride: Alternative episodes 4 and 9)


Whoa!  That pre-opening segment was intense!  While Boku Machi might layer on the melodrama a little too much it at times creates incredible well-edited scenes like the mysterious person entering the bus while Kayo is inside.  I got chills!

This was probably one of the strongest episodes of Boku Machi yet!  I mentioned previously how this series focus should be on Kayo Hinazuki’s homelife and this episode nails it!  Giving a more sensitive side to this series that is both touching and heartbreaking.  This episode really knows how to balance the mystery aspect of this show and it’s tender moments.  The pre-opening sequence is terrifying because it isn’t Sachiko’s mother inside the bus but the killer and it’s chilling even later in this episode when the kids find out that the killer has been hiding his tools there including ropes, masks and tape!  So Satoru the only one that knows his mystery game is real decides to lean on the one person I thought he should have trusted in the previous episode.  His mother.

Keeping in line with this anime’s central theme of trust.  After Satoru reveals to her mother that they’ve been hiding Kayo in hopes of getting the Child Services to act against Kayo’s mother, Sachiko does everything she can to make Kayo feel comfortable and most importantly safe.  When she is brought to Satoru’s home and upon seeing her mother’s initial reaction she flinches from her extended hand—a small yet effective scene that outright says Kayo doesn’t trust anyone except that she’s slowly warming up to the idea of being friends with Satoru.

I enjoyed the pacing of this episode because it’s gradually closing Kayo’s relationship with her mother it introduces the next possible arc and the killer’s next target: Aya Nakanishi in one single close shot of her face and her backpack.  This episode points strongly that the killer might be the teacher Gaku Yashiro.  Kenya mentions how the bus was being used by the school and insinuates that the killer knew it was abandoned and uses it simply because it is related to the school.  Yashiro jumps on the decision to call social services on Kayo’s mother possibly proving that he’s keeping his true appearance hidden from everyone.  His knowledge that Satoru had hidden Kayo is extremely suspicious.  He sounds certain when he tells social services he knows where Kayo is hidden.

While the story’s plot moved at a snails pace this was an episode that was much needed because without telling us in a film reel narrative (the film reel in this episode really worked because it helps explain how Satoru is trying to solve remove Jun Shiratori’s involvement in the case) it helped solidify the emotional realities children go through giving us a rich and graceful perspective of this series most important segment: childhood and making friends.

Want to point out that closeup shot of the bento box featuring Wonderguy on it.  The hero Satoru idolizes.  Sachiko gave the meal to Kayo representing that she has friends that care about her. Seeing Kayo cry broke my heart because you catch a glimpse of what the mother that she’s always wanted to have in her life never gave her.  When she’s finally treated with kindness she doesn’t know what to do but cry.  This blew me away!  Incredible scene!

The dinner along with the bath scene is adorable because you see a mother trying to undo the violence that had put a huge impact on Kayo’s emotional and physical state.  Especially during her big scene this episode—a bittersweet scene that show’s the rewards of her efforts from living a harsh life!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 11/10

(Nope. Not a typo)

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 7

Episode 7 Production Details

Episode Director: Toshimasa Ishii ( Episode Director on Nanatsu no Taizai episodes 6, 14 and 24 / Episode Director and Storyboard on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso episode 18)

Storyboards: Shinpei Ezaki ( Episode Director on Kimi ni Todoke episodes 8, 18 and 24 / Episode Director on Ao No Exorcist episodes 17 and 22 / Director, Production and Storyboard on Guilty Crown OVA: Lost Christmas / Director on Sengoku Basara Ni Opening Sequence)

Script: Yutaka Yasunaga ( Script Writer on  Prince of Stride: Alternative episodes 4 and 9)


The abandoned bus from the second key visual of Boku Machi finally shows up in this episode.  I really enjoyed this episode.

Satoru arrives back in 1988, his third time at the science center and four days before Hinazuki is supposed to disappear. Taking Hinazuki away from her mother is a smart move but choosing an abandoned location makes Kayo a bigger target in the eyes of the killers.  Satoru wouldn’t be in the best position if she ends up getting killed right in the spot that the kids decide on hiding her.  This took me two viewings to notice how expressive Satoru is.  The surprise birthday party that we’ve seen about three times now—his reaction to it is more forced than the first time around.

For the longest time now I’ve been thinking that Kenya might be working together with the killer in luring his victims considering his rather unusual level of maturity.  Trusting Kenya this episode, was clearly a mistake on Satoru’s part because as we’ve seen before he’s got some strange relationship to their homeroom teacher Gaku Yashiro.

If there was anyone Satoru needs to put faith in and ask for help it’s his mom—Sachiko.  She’s trusted him before when they’ve faced off against Kayo’s mother so I think that she would be right behind him in his decision to abduct Kayo for safety reasons.  It’s interesting to see how the dynamic of their relationship has changed since episode 1.

Sachiko wants to be involved in her son’s life and before he was embarrassed by her even mention Airi as potential marriage material.  Now that we’ve seen more heart through Satoru having seen the loss of his mother in the 2006 timeline he’s grown to understand that she’s always been there for him.  This episode points this out when she sees him leaving in the middle of the night.  It makes me wonder if that person at the end of this episode showing up at the abandoned bus is her instead of the killer.  I hope it’s the former as it would be heartbreaking to see the death of Kayo again.  It would be rough to go through that again under different circumstances and also see Satoru realizing he hadn’t changed much of anything.

From story to visuals this episode shined.  Especially with all of the aesthetic tricks up its sleeve!  The past few episodes embellished Yuki Kajiura’s soundtrack to establish the drama and more often than not melodrama.  But this episode was different.  Every scene was for purpose, the dialogue was graceful and the visuals were stunning.  Since Satoru was in a timeline that didn’t have his mother in it, seeing her once again from the eyes of his child-self reveals his joy to see her rather than display the tears he had the first time he had his revival back to 1988.  The music didn’t hammer out suspense after suspense (except for the cliffhanger) rather we get a collection of very tight close angle shots between Kenya and Satoru’s conversation on the stairs,  the atmospheric paranoia Jun Shiratori has, the walk home to the bus with Kayo and Yashiro’s phone call was certainly an interesting creative choice visually.  Most importantly is right after the phone call sequence that pans from his eyes straight to a pair of street lights reflects that he’s keeping a watchful eye on his students.  This worked effectively.  It wouldn’t mean much but considering how this series has been covering his face as he’s entering the classroom and now this, Yashiro might indeed be the killer or one of them.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10