In Case You Missed it 2019 #4

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 2 Cute Moment

Here we are at the end of week 4 and things couldn’t be hotter (both for the Winter anime season and the general weather in Australia). As always, here is my weekly round up of anime related content from the community and from my blog this week. Please send me a link if you find a post that you feel needs a shout out, I always love finding new content to read.

Posts from the Community

Ya Boy Jack has an interesting post this week about politics in anime. This one isn’t preaching but is more just looking at why everything is political and yet why that shouldn’t stop people from enjoying what they enjoy or being part of the anime community. Definitely one to check out this week.

LynLynSays takes a look at how Goblin Slayer addresses trauma, specifically in episode 9 with the Sword Maiden. There’s definitely spoilers for the episode if you haven’t watched it and are concerned about it, but it is a great look at one of the more grounded fears in Goblin Slayer and the idea of living with trauma.

Goblin Slayer Episode 9 Goblin Slayer and Sword Maiden

Sakura Sunrise has a review of the first couple in a series of short anime films by Bones that I’ve never even heard of but after reading this review I’m certainly going to try and find it to watch. Towa no Quon’s first two stories are reviewed here and while the review isn’t glowing this certainly made me interested in finding out more about these stories.

Arthifis is starting to run out his impressions posts for the season as episode 3’s are watched. Here we have his thoughts on Boogiepop wa Warawanai. If you are still picking a watch list or were waiting to see what was worth the effort, Arthifis is doing an excellent job of taste testing and I’m certain his season guide when he finishes it will be well worth the read.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 1 Boogiepop

LofZOdyssey reviewed Skeleton Bookseller Honda San from last season and looks at the context and pace of jokes as well as character designs and voice acting. For a brief review it hits the needed points and clearly they had fun with this anime. If you were curious about Honda San last season this one might be a post to check out.

Lyn Sheridan shares their thoughts on Conception with a series review. Conveniently this came out the same day as my own review of Conception and now I’m wondering who enjoyed the show less. If you want to know what went wrong with Conception check out the reviews.

Conception Episode 9 Itsuki mad at Mana

Irina gives us 5 life lessons learned from blogging. A fun little list of things to remember when blogging that can be applied to your everyday life. Who doesn’t like a post that makes them feel good about themselves and also potentially gives them a pointer they can use?

From Atelier Emily we have a nice breakdown of the use of camera in The Promised Neverland over the first three episodes. Yes there are some spoilers here if you’ve not started watching it, but for those who have it is a really great post to read to sink your teeth into just why it feels so nicely put together at times.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

PeregrinePrincess has another fantastic Natsume post, this week looking at Natori’s introduction and the relationship that forms between Natsume and Natori during Natori’s first appearance. It’s a really great discussion about the episode and the motives behind the characters though it does spoil the episode if you’ve never seen it and want to go in cold. Still, a definite read for Natsume fans and if you are just curious about what makes the show great this series of posts have been a pretty fantastic in highlighting why the series speaks to so many people.

Pick of the Week

There Goes My Kokoro managed to really get my attention this week when they revisited and finished Re:Zero but amazingly found Subaru still an unlikable idiot. The number of people who have told me I should go back and give that anime more time because it gets better is more or less uncountable at this point in time and yet no matter what the plot might do later, the main reason I’ve never made it beyond the double opening episode is a deep seated irritation with every single thing Subaru does. After reading this post I’m finally crossing Re:Zero off my watch list for good because clearly I will not like watching any more. This post does a great job of breaking down Subaru’s flaws as a character and even though I didn’t watch far this post really did speak to me.

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Karandi James
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Studios

Tuesday's Top 5

While I’ve counted down favourite anime from particularly studios before, I have never just done a list of my top 5 studios. That’s probably because as much as there are some studios that consistently produce enjoyable anime, they all miss the mark at some point, so it isn’t as though I watch everything by any particular studio. Still, there are certainly some studios that I’m more likely to give a go to their work than others even if it doesn’t seem like it will be something I’ll end up loving. As always I’d love to know your choices for the list so please share your favourite anime studios (and your favourite shows by them) in the comments below.

Please note, there will be no spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Toei Animation (Sailor Moon) and Madhouse (lots of great stuff but just as many shows that miss the mark for me so just seeing Madhouse attached to a project isn’t enough to get me really excited).

Number 5: J.C. Staff

There are so many great anime that have come from J.C. Staff, though I’ll admit a lot of these titles are ones I don’t mind but I’m not nuts over (with the exception of DanMachi which I am totally in love with). This studio is prolific  and the vast majority of their titles I end up at least trying even if I don’t end up super into them. What is great is that they cover such a huge range of genres and styles so unlike some studios their anime haven’t all kind of blended into being much the same.

Number 4: White Fox

Unlike J.C Staff, White Fox doesn’t have quite the anime catalogue behind them. But what they lack in quantity they certainly make up for in quality. There are some truly impressive titles out by this studio including Steins;Gate. They also brought out Goblin Slayer and that was kind of fun. While not every anime on their line up has struck gold (Grimoire of Zero I’m looking right at you), I’m still at least tempted to check out a show with this studio’s name attached to it.

Number 3: P.A Works

While it’s kind of tempting to say that P.A Works lack variety in their small line up, there’s certainly some fun to be had going through their titles. While mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for high school settings and adolescent drama, there’s still plenty to enjoy. I think what I love most about the anime from P.A Works is that there’s a lot of work put into the aesthetics of the anime. Whether its the visuals or the music, everything kind of builds whatever tone the anime or that scene is trying to accomplish. While it might seem a little overwrought emotionally at times, I really enjoy the look and feel of these anime.

Number 2: Brain’s Base

They gave us Natsume Yuujinchou… Do I need to elaborate further as to why I love this studio?

Actually, I don’t think Brain’s Base gets enough discussion. We regularly here about Madhouse, A1, P.A Works, etc, but Brain’s Base is like this incredibly hard work quiet achiever that puts out anime that don’t reach everyone, but fans of each of their show’s are fiercely loyal fans. There’s something about the stories here that grab whoever the core audience is and makes them really feel something for the work. Again, not saying they are flawless (Endride anyone?), but I’ll certainly take the time to read about shows coming out from this studio and would go so far as to give most of them at least a go.

Number 1: Bones

There’s absolutely no way it was not going to be Bones. Sure, Bones has its less amazing moments, but between having created almost all of my favourite anime of all time, and consistently putting out titles that are just great fun and have great animation, I have to really love this studio. It also takes on a range of genres and nails them whether it is romance (Snow White With the Red Hair), comedy (Ouran High School Host Club), action (My Hero Academia), sci-fi (Darker Than Black), or even recreations of Shakespeare (Zetsuen no Tempest). So there is something for nearly everyone somewhere in their catalogue.

That’s it from me but I’d love to know your favourite studios and why so feel free to leave a comment below.

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Noragami Aragoto Series Review: This Hero is Worthy of Respect

Before I get into the review I just want to have a minor celebration as this is officially my 200th anime series review. It seems incredibly that I’ve reviewed that many shows and my list of anime that I want to review never seems to get any shorter. While it isn’t quite up to date, you can always check out my list of previously reviewed series here and if I haven’t reviewed something feel free to contact me with a suggestion.

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Overview:

A few weeks ago I reviewed season one of Noragami, and now I am back reviewing season 2. Season 2 begins by refocusing on Bishamon’s grudge against Yato and that carries us through the first half of the season before we transition into a story involving Yato’s past and Ebisu, a god of fortune. Incidentally, I looked up what Aragoto meant and found a few explanations but MAL actually had an interview with the director and kind of directly explained why that was the title of this second season:

What does “ARAGOTO” mean?

Because it’s written in English, “Aragoto” stands for both 荒事(theatrical fighting scene), and 新事 (something new). Season 2 will be more serious, and we wanted that to come across in the title. Also, Noragami is about old Shinto gods fitting in with modern Japan, so we felt that using the alphabet fit that theme better.

There’s also a pretty good explanation of the different gods in the show and Shinto as a whole (brief but informative) so if you want some background it might be worth checking it out (not that any of it is needed to understand the show it just helped satisfy some of my curiosity).

Review:

I know I’ve said it before, but I really love this series. The first season is so energetic and fun with just enough action and drama to off-set the somewhat silly comedic moments and the characters really just draw me in. Well, season 2 is better. In every single way it could be better, season 2 is better.

Starting with the opening theme, while there is nothing wrong at all with the opening of season 1, season 2’s opening has the perfect mix of energy and drama with some really well-chosen visuals to get you ready for the show you are about to watch. More importantly, you know from the beginning that the focus is moving away from the comedy, daily life of a stray god to a heavier action focus in this second series. There’s no doubt what this opening is setting you up for, but you also know that this show hasn’t forgotten about fun in its bid to become more serious and dramatic.

All of the characters have grown since season 1 and are continuing to grow and change (which is a real theme of this second season). We aren’t getting introduced to the world of gods and regalia anymore as we are now fully immersed in it. This leaves Hiyori out during a lot of the early part of the series but her presence as a connection to the near shore (or living world) remains a crucial anchor for both Yato and Yukine and while Hiyori’s screen time may be diminished, she makes every second she is on screen count.

Noragami2g

Yukine has also fared well from his growth in season 1. Here he is more determined and committed to his path as a regalia. Yato doesn’t always make it easy to have faith in him but Yukine manages (with some encouragement from Kazume and Hiyori) to stick with it and to stand by his god with some fairly impressive growth both in strength and personality as a result. His evolution as a weapon is one thing and the most literal way you can see Yukine has changed but it is more his mind-set that has really transitioned in this season. No more do we see the jealous and petulant child who died too early or the reluctantly dragged along side-kick. We see someone who has chosen to stay with Yato even knowing that it won’t always be easy.

Noragami2c

But it is Yato who will steal the show as the second half of the season delves into his complex back story (and yet still manages to leave us wanting so much more from this). Season 1 gave us a glimpse of the calamity god that Yato is often accused of being and here we see Yato struggling to cut ties with his past and to find what he actually wants for his future. There are so many fantastic moments for Yato during this second season, though by far my favourites include his reaction when Hiyori presents him with his own shrine (which was part of the mid-season transition between the two main story arcs and was far better than the usual mid-season filler shows throw up) and then a very touching sequence (also involving Hiyori) toward the end of the anime. Mostly I loved the imagery of the child Yato reaching out to take Hiyori’s metaphorical hand. It was kind of perfect.

Noragami2e

Still, while the three main characters all have their shining moments the support cast this season are truly exceptional. Kazuma and Bishamon are fantastic in the first half of this series. Though this conflict was introduced and set up in season 1, seeing it play out and seeing the relationship between Kazuma and Bishamon in this season is fantastic. Finally learning the truth behind the grudge and seeing Yato and Bishamon face off is everything you could want. It is also an intriguing glance at the lives of other gods as season 1 really only showed us Yato and Tenjin with Bishamon being a source of conflict. Now we see her life behind the scenes and understand her a great deal more because of it. Even after this conflict is resolved it isn’t as though Bishamon is now going to be best friends with Yato as some resentments run deep.

Noragami2d

And as that conflict is tied up we see Ebisu enter the story. He’s an intentionally ambiguous character and you won’t really get a fix on his motives until nearly the end of the series, but he makes for a fascinating character. He also shows us yet another relationship between god and regalia and gives us more insight into the concept of what death means for a god and reincarnation.

Noragami2f

We also have more of Nora and Yato’s father (who still remains suspiciously out of sight until the very end – and where is season 3 because I really want more of this story). Nora was a scene stealer back in season 1 and what I realised watching season 2 is that a little Nora goes a long way. During the second half of the series, Yato goes on an extended trip to the underworld with Nora and her ongoing presence makes her less enigmatic. She still works very well in her assigned character role but her impact is a little diminished by the quality of every other character and by her extended screen time this season.

Both of the two main plots we get in this second season are rewarding and both have some very decent action sequences. The show hasn’t forgotten those comedic moments but they are timed well and don’t interfere with the flow of the final episodes of either narrative arc, finding their place earlier in the story arcs or in the build up to the climax rather than during.

Noragami2b

Visually the show maintains its great animation and the character designs remain interesting and diverse despite the increase in characters. Bones have done a phenomenal job with this show and while it isn’t unique looking by any means, it is easy on the eyes and the colours are quite striking. I particularly enjoyed the underworld sequences and how those were put together. I might criticise the diminished number and design of the phantoms in this season though it makes sense given for the majority of the season Yato isn’t aimlessly taking out lone phantoms but is embroiled in larger narratives now.

All and all, Noragami Aragoto is exactly what you would want from a sequel of Noragami. It maintains the energetic and fun feel of the first season while delving deeper into the characters and the established world. It is a little bit darker and the stakes seem much higher at times in this sequel but it avoids feeling like a repeat of a story we’ve already seen or like something completely alien. A fantastic follow up and this is a series that certainly deserves to continue so I’ll ask again, where is season 3?


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