March comes in like a Lion – Episode 1

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“Some shows are simply meant to be in the animé format.”

Whether or not you agree with the production values of recent film adaptations like Full Metal Alchemist is one thing, but it can be said that certain tonal qualities are best conveyed through animation alone. Director Akiyuki Shinbo is perhaps a good example of how best to convey emotional head spaces through the use of a wide gamut of animation spectacles. In ef: a tale of memories, for example, the use of light and shadow helps convey the duality of perceptions (i.e. there are always two sides to a story), and the means by which stories have varied interpretations depending on the characters telling them. Arakawa Under the Bridge juxtaposes its nonsensical comedy with questions of metaphysical unease  by utilizing various types of animation styles aligned with the supposed seriousness of a given sketch. This same style of “serious humor” juxtaposed with inconsequential gags is even seen in Sayonara Zetsubô Sensei. And when he isn’t dealing with humorous themes, his varied use of space, facial close ups, and camera swings help to elevate dramatic sequences, as is seen in the more serious moments of the Bakemonogatari Series; even thematically focused shows like Puella Magi Madoka Magica are elevated to a level of seriousness that perhaps is not initially expected based on the appearances of its characters alone.

In fact, there are a lot of shows under the director’s belt that show a distinct style of animation and direction, perhaps not unlike an auteur. Indeed, there is a certain deliberateness to the director’s selection of themes to portray, which for many reasons makes it feel appropriate that Akiyuki Shinbo should pick up a series as nuanced as March comes in like a Lion. And in no small way is such a happenstance more meaningful than in the realm of animation. I will say this once, and probably several times more — but March comes in like a Lion was simply meant to be graced by such a skillful director in the animated format. It seems that whatever advantages there are to be gained through animation — be it in the visualization of mental concepts that simply cannot be fathomed through live-action cinematography alone — all of it was consolidated and brought to life through the artistic methods of Akiyuki Shinbo. And no less are the words “Some shows are simply meant to be in the animé format” any less true in the first episode of this remarkable show.  Continue reading

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Lost in Translation #19 – March Comes in Like a Lion

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Wow, I’ve been gone for a long time.

That’s a separate post for a separate day, but for now, I’m gonna try and ease myself back into the groove of writing something by doing some Lost in Translation, this time coming from Episode 35 of March Comes in Like a Lion. Continue reading

[Side B] Fall 2017 – Week 3 in Review

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I finally re-hooked up my streaming server at home, as well as my pre-amp setup connected to my headphone and box speaker setup… and it’s beautiful. I swear, nothing beats watching animu on a 40-inch HD-TV.

Anyway, side-projects aside, this is a little late because one title airs every Sunday, but I’m kinda wondering if it’s worth keeping it around given it isn’t really doing much for me, to be honest. Of course, I’m talking about a certain show that’s going up on Netflix next year, which seems to be a common theme with regard to western-sponsored anime projects. I don’t know if it’s because people have weird tastes, or if I’m just being a little too pretentious. Probably both.

Anyway, [Side B] is decidedly more jam-packed with heavy hitters, which seems to be the case with most of the seasons I’ve written about. There always seems to be one side that’s a bit more engaging than the other — and without a doubt, this season’s bias lies heavily towards [Side B]. So yeah, without further ado, let’s run down just what happened last week! Continue reading

Winter 2017 – Season Ending Ranking

Whew, that was a hectic season.

The latter half had me leaving on a trip, and even these last few weeks had me rushing to clear up the backlog, only to find myself in Edinburgh for a week for yet another conference. That and the fact that the Nintendo Switch came out and basically ruined the lives of many a gamer with what could perhaps be regarded as “one of the best video games of all time”.

Regardless of whatever obstacles there were to be had for me this season, I was finally able to get it over and done with. Nine shows neatly tucked away — save for two that will be carried over to the next season — and for this season-ending post, I decided to go ahead and include on-going series to the listing.

Overall, I think this season was pretty ho-hum. It wasn’t really strong to begin with, and most of the shows pretty much stayed within the general spectrum of expectations. Nothing to flashy and nothing too dull, either. Just… mediocre, I guess. So sit back and relax as we run down the shows I watched this season! Continue reading

Lost in Translation #9 – March comes in like a Lion

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Hey guys! It’s been a while, but time for another Lost in Translation! This entry comes from episode 21 of March comes in like a Lion, where we see Rei reacting to a seemingly innocent jingle resounding through the passageways of an empty train station. Continue reading

[Side A] Winter 2017 – Thoughts on March comes in like a Lion

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First off, I’d like to apologize for the sudden change in format. I figured that given the huge backlog I have of things to watch, I might as well just watch all of the episodes of a particular show until I’m up to speed, and comment from there. If I can complete all of them before week 12 rolls in, then good for me. Otherwise — yeah, I’ll try to make the title of each post as brainless to follow as possible.

And with that out of the way, we finally come to the close of March comes in like a Lion. It’s a strange feeling, really, after having been so accustomed to its presence. Its composition and flow actually mirrored the seasons in which it aired in real-time throughout most of its run, granting it some sort of metaphysical companionship on top of its already wonderfully composed characters. It truly is something special; despite having ended, there’s still so much that can be said about its touching story. Continue reading

[Side A] Winter 2017 – Thoughts on Week 7

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That screen shot probably needs no explanation.

But to be honest, I’ve lived a big chunk of my life experiencing sleep deprivation, probably due to my training as a doctor back during my residency training days. On average, I sleep 3-4 hours a day, but I can sometimes knock out 30 minutes while sitting on a chair during the day. It’s an odd phenomenon to the point that my colleagues have found some amusement in taking random pictures of me in all sorts of bizarre sleeping “configurations”.

So seeing a sleep-deprived Shimada is pretty much the story of my life, at the moment. But yeah, I’m so glad there’s always Animu to help me unwind. There are only so many times that Anime as actually lulled me to sleep — and thankfully, none of the titles this season save for a few are capable of doing that.

So how were things this week in Side A? Well, I’ll be honest and say that this wasn’t the best of weeks. Things were, how should I put it… noisy? Yeah, noisy works. So enough talk and let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN! Continue reading