Friday’s Feature: What Genre Is That?

As kids, when we first start watching anime, we kind of get the impression it is all giant robots and lots and lots of fighting (or magical girls, which are much the same except that they’ll hit you with sparkly hearts instead of a sword and the results will be more or less identical). For me, growing up with Sailor Moon and the like, that is what anime was and while it was cool and all, I probably wouldn’t have become the obsessed anime fan I am today except that there is so much more to anime than that.

As the internet actually became functional for watching videos (believe me if you didn’t grow up being introduced to dial up where waiting for even a single page of text to load was torture you have no idea how painful it was to try to watch or access anything else and even after dial up was a thing of the past slow internet speeds continued to be a major problem for access in Australia) there came the realisation that there were all these other types of anime out there. Suddenly, anime wasn’t just the beat ’em up amusement for when you felt like turning your brain off but was something that could be explored and where stories of all sorts could be found.

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Genre list from AnimeLab.

And that’s where this feature actually gets started because realising that anime wasn’t just about kids beating monsters meant that you then had to say more than just watching anime. You were watching a shounen or a mecha or a romance or a myriad of other types of anime. And then you get those series that you just can’t explain what genre they are at all.

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Let’s look at Angel Beats. I love this anime even if it makes me cry every single time I watch it; even if it is deliberately contrived to pull on your heart strings. So it’s a drama then? Not really. Certainly there are dramatic elements and the conclusion of the series would have you believe it is a drama or a romance but the show itself deals out healthy doses of comedy, action, slice of life, and fantasy. To simply call it a drama would not really get the point across at all and anyone who started watching it expecting a drama would probably hate it by episode 2 because the first two episodes deal very much with the comedy and fantasy elements of the show.

Now mixed genres are certainly not exclusive to anime stories. Many movies and books cross several genres particularly romances. The number of hybrid genres that have become mainstream such as romantic-comedy, historical-romance, and supernatural-romance are clear indicators that while romance is indeed a big genre people tend to prefer their romance paired with something else these days. It helps keep things interesting and moving.

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If we were to look at a show like Full Metal Alchemist defining genre becomes really difficult. MAL lists it as an action, adventure, comedy, drama, fantasy, magic, military, shounen. And yes, all of those genre elements are there. But what genre is Full Metal Alchemist? If we were going to file it somewhere under a genre title which one would we choose? I’d probably go with adventure given the whole thing follows the journey of the main characters but you could legitimately choose any of the other genres listed there and justify why FMA should be there.

So the question becomes, does genre matter? Why classify things if they are going to cross between genres and incorporate other elements?

From my point of view I think it is because regardless of the window dressing, stories tend to follow set patterns and that pattern is embedded within a genre. That is why Angel Beats ultimately is a drama and Full Metal Alchemist ultimately is an adventure story at least from my point of view and I fully accept that other people will classify them differently. Despite the comedy and all the other elements that come in to create subplots, excitement, or just fill time, these stories when broken down follow patterns that we are very familiar with. It is this adherence to basic story patterns that makes something mixed genre rather than just a mess of ideas that may or may not come together into something comprehensible.

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One thing I’m fairly certain of is that we’re going to see more and more stories (anime or otherwise) that will push the boundary of the genre they are in and draw on elements of other genres. Whether they do this well will remain to be seen.

What are your thoughts on genre in anime?


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30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 7

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Here we are at Day 7 and we are looking at my favourite animation studio. Given I’ve done two top 5 lists on specific studios it is probably pretty clear who I’m going to pick. Definitely Studio Bones. If you missed my top 5 fun series from Bones you should definitely check out that post.

But why do I like them so much?

Mostly I’m fairly indifferent to the studio that produced something (or at least I used to be), however I noticed that there are certain studios that come up over and over again when I look at some of my favourite titles. Bones just happens to have produced a large number of my absolute favourite anime ever. As a direct result, if someone tells me Bones is involved in something, I’ll at least give it a look. That isn’t a guarantee I’ll like it. There are definitely titles from Bones that have fallen kind of flat for me.

But with titles like Darker Than Black, Soul Eater, Wolf’s Rain, Snow White with the Red Hair, My Hero Academia, Ouran High School Host Club, Noragami, and so many others, Bones was an easy choice for this question.

Which studio would you have chosen?


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Brave 10 Episode 4

Review:

We start this episode with random new character who is clearly after whatever the widget is at the shrine (and based on previous anime I was guessing he was going to turn out to be Masamune and that’s confirmed by the end of the episode).

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We don’t spend a lot of time with him because you know, he’s kind of stuck in transit, and meanwhile we have a Priestess to mourn over the loss of the shrine, a slider puzzle to solve, another confrontation with a previous villain, and then the return of the wind guy who for some reason has now changed sides.

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In the previous episodes there have certainly been a number of innuendoes (and some just outright obvious sexual references) but this episode took it up a notch with the snake lady straddling the prude followed by the wind guy’s obvious fascination with Saizo (pretty much any character that refers to another as a toy isn’t exactly being subtle). While I’m not finding it intrusive, I’m thinking there’s a few people that might not be thrilled with some of the dialogue.

Brave 10 is available on Crunchyroll.


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30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 6

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Day 6 is tricky because I actually don’t have a favourite ending theme song. I am going to pick an anime that I really liked what they did with the ending theme and that is Inu x Boku SS. Each episode had an ending theme that featured a different character and some of these songs were quite entertaining and they all revealed or consolidated points about the character.

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Of these my favourite would have to go to Karuta’s Sweets Parade. It isn’t the most insightful song but it just highlights her absolute love of eating and it was kind of fun to listen to. Plus the pastel visuals were a nice contrast to the usual colour scheme the show delivered.

Over to you. What is your favourite ending theme?


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KADO Episode 11

Review:

After episodes 9 and 10, I was starting to really worry about where this show was going for a conclusion. I’m still not 100% sold that this is going to end well, but episode 11 definitely made me hopeful that I should have high expectations.

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Part of what helped was Shindo’s approach in this episode. He is still very much thinking through his options, considering the other party, considering what resources he has at his disposal, and generally doing his job and being quite competent. I really worried that with the introduction of Tsukai that humans would get sidelined during some final smack down that would not fit the tone or nature of the show. Admittedly, zaShunina and Tsukai did have a fight, but its done and Tsukai’s already lost. She’s taking a definite support role (or rather an advisory role) as Shindo puts his plans together.

The other part that made this episode far more promising than the previous two was that we started to put things together from much earlier in the series. Shindo goes back to the metal company he helped in episode 0 for assistance and also calls on crazy science girl for a new device. His plan is simple: surprise zaShinina. While most of those helping him think he is making a weapon, Shindo sees it very differently.

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That said, I kind of thought of a much easier way to deal with zaShunina. He wants to take a human; I’m pretty sure we found a volunteer.

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But that wouldn’t work if he wants to take all people or whatever and they’ve never really clarified given it seemed earlier that zaShunina would have been happy just taking Shindo.

On that note, favourite part of the episode was the ongoing development of emotions for zaShunina. Apparently even he realises that clone Shindo isn’t really Shindo. He never seems overly happy or satisfied when talking to Shindo and his treatment of the clones this episode just kind of makes it clear that zaShunina doesn’t see them as anything but cheap knock-offs.

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I’m really looking forward to how this story will end. It may not end up being brilliant, but I know this anime has really been great fun to follow this season and I’ve loved thinking it through each week and waiting for the next episode.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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Haikyuu Episode 50

Review Episode 50:

Haikyuu has this issue with season endings. Season 1 ended on a low note for the team and a point that would have driven me crazy if season 2 wasn’t sitting ready to go. Season 2 has ended on a high note for the team but we didn’t get to the end of the tournament and the last episode was called ‘Declaration of War’. You can’t declare war and then end the season. Okay, apparently you can but it isn’t nice for the audience.

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Anyway, other than that, this was a good transition episode as we wrapped up the match with Aoba, saw the fallout, the celebration, the pep talks and the resolve and we walked in for the next match with the guy everyone seems to think is all that but mostly I just think he’s a jerk. I’ll do a full review of season 2 directly and then get to season 3, only I have to change from watching on AnimeLab to Crunchyroll because AnimeLab does not have the third season. Little bit sad about that because the streaming works much better for me on AnimeLab.


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30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 5

30-day-anime-challenge

Right, day 5: Favourite anime opening theme song. I’m going to cheat and give two answers to this. Mostly because there’s the opening theme I’ve been in love with for a fairly long time and then there is a more recent one which I really love but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it in a few years time (it could just be the novelty factor working in its favour but I doubt it).

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Long time favourite anime opening is My Soul, Your Beats from Angel Beats. This is a truly beautiful opening and I love the visuals that go with it. Okay, I just love Angel Beats, but I was hooked from the very first few notes on the piano when this song started and every time I hear it I just get completely swept away. If you haven’t heard the song you should go check it out because it is amazing.

The more recent love comes in the form of History Maker from Yuri on Ice. This opening as I mentioned while the show was airing really just got me excited for the show and swept me up in its emotions. I like that it is a little bit different in style to a lot of anime openings, it is catchy and gets stuck in your head like crazy (just mentioning History Maker can get it going again), and visually it was really interesting. Plus, the changes to the visuals as the series progressed were kind of fun to track.

Your choice now. What is your favourite opening?


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