Reveries and the search for hope

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I realize this is the first time I’m actually writing an essay regarding my thoughts on an Anime. For a site named Anima & Anime, it’s a bit embarrassing that all I’ve ever turned up are rants and rankings of currently airing shows — all the while looking like a half-decapitated chicken trying to pass off as a full-time writer. But essay writing really is something different in that I don’t necessarily have a point to prove. Instead, all I do is simply talk about something that has piqued my interest, case-in-point summer 2016’s understated star: Planetarian ~Reverie of a Little Planet~.

For a show that is only five episodes long, there is a gracefulness to its execution that is both simple yet deliberate. As a part of Visual Art’s/Key’s visual novel line up, it is probably not as dramatically verbose as stories like CLANNAD or Kanon. Regardless, it still makes a solid attempt at yanking the emotional feels of any casual viewer. It’s quite obvious, given the themes, that the story will end in tragedy, but tragedies work precisely because they do not brood over the obvious demise of a member of its cast. Instead, tragedies elevate and emphasize the emotional toils of its characters, allowing their sacrifices to serve as living messages for those left behind (and those watching, as well). A good tragedy, therefore, transcends beyond the explicit experience of sorrow in order to depict a greater message of truth and hope. And this is why Planetarian gets everything right when it comes to depicting sensitive topics such as death and despair. It’s not enough that you punch people in the emotional gut just for the sake of it; this show is far more sincere than that, and yet still deliberately poignant.

Planetarian starts off with the “birth” of Yumemi — the “bargain bin” robot girl tasked to serve as the tour guide at the Hanabishi department store planetarium. We see the world for the first time through Yumemi’s eyes, complete with cryptic-looking, holographic cyphers whizzing about her HUD. It identifies her world as warm and inviting, but at the same time clearly delineates her cold and artificial nature. We are then suddenly shifted to a parting scene where her human counterparts explain to her that they “cannot stay” and request that she “stay strong” under the pretext that “they’ll be back”.

But of course they won’t be back. The world has fallen into chaos. Biological warfare has plunged the world of Yumemi into darkness, and the bustling city she once knew is now a disintegrating maze of decrepit buildings doomed to the ravages of time and neglect. Devoid of humans, the city is now host to weaponized robots that scout the grounds for any signs of life, effectively eliminating anything that breaths or moves. It is in this post-apocalyptic setting that the story of Planetarian takes place. Continue reading

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Summer 2016 – season end ranking

I disappeared this season. Yeah, I know. But I was still watching animu. You can never stop watching animu. But regardless of how dedicated you are to watching (or undedicated to writing), this season felt like a chore to get through. Not really because the shows weren’t any good to begin with, but because their best moments really only took place in the last few episodes. That said, anyone who lacked the patience might have skipped out on a legitimately good show had it not been for a mix of odd pacing, boring plot flows, and wishy-washy animation. For whatever reason you had in dropping a show mid-season, you might want to think about picking it up again after reading the season end ranking. Because frankly, quite a number of shows I would have dropped out of frustration (or boredom) actually turned out pretty well. Good things come to those who wait, apparently, and that was no different for this season’s batch of misfits. So how did they do? Let’s run ’em down, from worst to best!

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Summer 2016 – Initial Impressions

Okay, so let’s go through what we’ve got this Summer. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited for this season. Perhaps the only thing that really caught my attention was Food Wars! since it’s a manga that I’m actually following. Everything else is pretty much a wild card – even the “venerable” Psycho Mob 100 which is, apparently, the show “to look out for” (most likely because of its OPM roots). Times like these are pretty much shooting in the dark, and though I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the results, there weren’t that many shows that I could honestly say weren’t very good save for a few. And these shows were probably just formulaic and, well, not very engaging. I’ve wondered for a while if it’s because I’m getting older (one of the shows I decided to drop was a Visual Art’s/KEY work, which used to be a non-negotiable probably 10 years back), but either way it’s been a steady first week, but really just one wild card after another.

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But before everything else, I’d like to apologize for disappearing last season. I mentioned in my previous Spring impressions that I was utterly floored at how writers are able to do the things that they do every season — and that still holds today. The difference is that I’m not a professional writer — I just like to rant about anime and share my thoughts. With that put into perspective, I’m a little more pragmatic as far as how frequently I can update the site. Either way, all that matters is the anime — so enough talk, and let’s do this! Continue reading

Summer 2016 – Previews (Part 3)

The shows just keep coming! For this preview, two Visual Art’s/Key shows, more OP teens, and dancing puppets. Yes, that sounds very weird, but that’s exactly what this season is shaping up to be — weird and markedly divisive. Oh well, let’s break it down!

Rewrite

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It’s been a while since I’ve watched anything that was based off of a Visual Art’s/KEY visual novel, but I don’t recall them ever being this kooky. The brand has seen better days with memorable titles like CLANNAD and Kanon. The more recent titles like Angel Beats and Little Busters were either divisive or overly esoteric. Rewrite seems to continue that trend of eccentric storytelling that makes me wonder if it’s just me growing out of stories like this or just the brand being its good ‘ole self. For one, it plays off like Continue reading