Tuesday’s Top 5: Appearances of Cherry Blossoms in Anime

We are finally done reflecting on the anime of 2017 and now it is time to get into some new lists. To start us off, I am look at my 5 favourite uses of cherry blossoms in anime. These flowers are just adorable and are incredibly prolific so I am absolutely certain that you all have your own favourite scene from an anime so please feel free to share in the comments below. While I started off the list with some fairly standard pretty flowers, I think the ones that stick are a little out of the ordinary.

As an added note, for those that don’t know, the Cherry Blossom symbolises how fragile and yet beautiful life is (that’s an oversimplification but you get the point). It is a fantastic flower to show transitions in one’s life which is probably why so many anime start with them.

Please Note – Some spoilers below.

Honourable mention this week goes to every high school anime ever that starts with the main character walking under cherry blossoms to get to school.

Number 5: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card

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I’d be lying if I didn’t point out that this was the moment I thought of writing this list. I probably could have picked some scenes out of the original Cardcaptor just as easily, but this scene of Sakura on her way to school was gorgeous. It perfectly captured the feel of the old Cardcaptor while showing us just how visually impressive this new series was going to be.

Number 4: Your Lie In April

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No surprise at all given the symbolic meaning and the season that cherry blossoms feature heavily early on in this show. While it doesn’t have the same magical quality as the scene in Cardcaptor, these scenes are absolutely perfect in setting up the relationship between the two main characters and the inevitable ending in Your Lie in April. It might not be subtle symbolism, but is is affective.

Number 3: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

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What to do when you want to film and it isn’t the season for cherry blossoms? Just hope your director is also a god and you’ll be just fine. While the SOS brigade are shooting their movie, in addition to causing one of the group to shoot a lazer from her eye, creating white pigeons and a talking cat, Haruhi causes the cherry blossoms to bloom out of season. It is a bizarre series of events that are all undone when Kyon gets her to declare that the film is a work of fiction but it was an interesting use of cherry blossoms.

Number 2: Nurarihyon no Mago

Nurarihyon features one cherry blossom tree very prominently in the Nura Clan’s family compound. It gets used a lot throughout the series’ run time but we’ll see it often as Riko stares at it in his human form when he is thinking and when he is in his yokai form he sits on one of the branches in the tree looking down. Nura’s grandfather is also regularly seen near the tree. Additionally, there’s also a ‘secret’ technique used by the family that includes using saki and a sakura petal and ends with all the enemies incinerated.

Number 1: Bleach

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I came to the conclusion fairly early on that there is really no way to show just how impressive Byakuya’s bankai really is so if you have never watched Bleach you really should just for this attack. The first time we see it is when Ichigo pretty much goads Byakuya into releasing his bankai  and after the usual condescending remarks Byakuya literally lets go of his sword and in its place, after a very impressive entrance, we have thousands of blades scattered that Byakuya controls (and yes, they look just like cherry blossoms). What makes this technique particularly brilliant, other than looking gorgeous, is that it can be used for attack and defense and when he uses his hands he can increase the speed of the blades. Basically, anyone besides the protagonist is going down fast once Byakuya brings out this move.

Time for you to share your favourite appearance of cherry blossoms in an anime.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

 

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 5: Flower Viewing and Capturing a Card

Review:

I had forgotten that Sakura didn’t know about her brother giving Yukito his power and that only really occurred to me when Sakura was probing Toya about how much Yukito was or wasn’t eating. I wonder if she’ll find out this season. I also wonder why everyone in this show insists on keeping secrets. Sakura hides her magic from her family (even though her brother clearly knows), Toya and Yukito keep a lot of things to themselves, Syaoran is endlessly hiding things. About the only person who doesn’t keep a secret is Kuro and that is because he’s incapable of keeping anything to himself for longer than about a minute.

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Anyway, I probably got caught up on that point because the rest of the episode is simple friends eating under cherry blossoms and then a card drags Sakura a way, she captures it without too much fuss, and the friends shift the party to under the tree she found where Syaoran finally catches up with them and then Tomoyo sings a song.

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It isn’t exactly thrilling but neither is it bad and the flower viewing scenes are at least really pretty. Besides, I was distracted in the first few minutes by trying to remember the details of who knows what from the original Cardcaptor Sakura so I didn’t manage to get bored during this. I would like a bit more to happen plot-wise next week though.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

 

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 4: Was Anyone Surprised By That Ending?

Review:

Well, at least we know now why Syaoran is being all avoidy (though not any details, just that he’s doing that usual lie to the girl in order to protect her thing anime the males in magical girl shows tend to do even though it usually fails miserably – see Darien season two of Sailor Moon for further evidence). However, that the end of the episode, and I don’t think it caught anyone by surprise but was more a matter of wondering when they will tell us exactly what is going on.

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Anyway, the episode has Sakura going about her usual day including her usual fight with her older brother before she meets a transfer student and the flower effects people go a bit crazy (for most of the episode).

Yes, they are having a lot of fun this episode with floral filled scenes. New girl seems nice and totally not suspicious which probably means she is up to something (but maybe she’s just the red-herring to distract us from whatever Syaoran is up to – though given Sakura pointed out the similarities in their names I’m guessing there’s something going on).

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Anyway, we get another dramatic card capture moment and that about wraps it up for the episode. Much like last week, this was quite fun and moving along at a reasonable pace, even if it was a little predictable. I was surprised by the card itself being ‘action’ given I expected it to be ‘wood’ but I’m also really surprised by how small scale Sakura was being when she was wondering what to use it for. Anyway, another week, another card captured and more cute costumes for Sakura.


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Karandi James.

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 3: Did We Want To See Some Magic In Our Magical Girl Show?

Review:

While I will admit I liked this a great deal more than episode 2, I also have to admit this one isn’t a must watch for me this season. While the nostalgia is still there to an extent and I could happily watch Sakura and Syaoran blush at each other all day, if I missed an episode of this I’d be fairly fine with that.

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While last week the focus was on the normal everyday before a card showed up at the end, this episode hits us hard and fast with weird things as the school day starts and rain appears out of nowhere. It continues until the afternoon and Sakura is attacked by water on her way home from school. Fortunately, Tomoyo once again packed necessities including a new outfit for the capture.

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Toya and Yukito get a brief moment before we get back to Sakura cheerleading at school and then yet another card appears.

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There’s a few things that are going to need answers such as what is Syaoran actually doing after school that he never seems to be around and what is Toya up to? Also, does the fact that the cloaked figure is the same height as Sakura mean it’s just Sakura projecting herself or was I reading too much into that comment?

So yes, plenty of fun to be had here even if I’m not quite as caught up in it as I may have been once upon a time.


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Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun Series Review: He’s Just Never Going To Get It

Overview:

Sakura Chiyo has a crush on Nozaki but when she tries to confess she mistakenly tells him she is his fan. To her surprise he gives her an autograph. It isn’t until later she realises that Nozaki is actually a famous shoujo manga artist and she’s just been recruited as an assistant. Surrounded by a cast of zany characters this show follows Sakura’s quest to get Nozaki’s attention and Nozaki’s ongoing search for manga inspiration.

Review:

Previously, Nozaki landed himself a place on the list of boring title characters. The guy is seriously dull as an individual having almost no variation in his expression or tone at any point and essentially just being the rock around which all the other characters interact in this anime. However, just because I find the title character a little bit lacking doesn’t mean this isn’t a fun anime. The support cast are phenomenal and even Nozaki and Sakura’s interactions stay pretty fun even if they are repetitive with her making puppy dog eyes at him and Nozaki completely missing the point.

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However, the show seems to acknowledge that its set up isn’t very original and often links the events in the character’s lives to the events Nozaki is using as inspiration in his manga. The reversal of gender roles from characters in reality to the manga works well as a point of humour with the Mikoshiba (Mikorin) being the unknowing model for the heroine of the manga he assists Nozaki to produce.

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As a main character, Mikoshiba would annoy me. However, in the support role and with Sakura and Nozaki’s fairly deadpan reactions to his silliness, he works quite well at injecting some needed colour and energy into the series and doesn’t overstay his welcome.

The same is true of the rest of the cast who slowly get introduced as the story goes on. When on the search for a Prince type character, Mikoshiba introduces Sakura and Nozaki to Kashima, star of the drama department and super annoying human being to the director even as it is clear he has quite the crush on her. Their antics deliver physical humour and liven up the screen with short bursts of action.

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When looking for a side story, Sakura introduces Nozaki to Seo, a classmate where the gap between her angelic voice and her personality couldn’t be wider. Through a series of events that could only happen in a manga or an anime, Seo ends up on a date with Wakamatsu, a stressed out guy who can only sleep when listening to a tape of Seo’s voice even though Seo is actually the cause of his stress.

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For a comedy anime that really is just a series of set ups and punch lines and repetition of its core jokes over and over, Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun manages to keep things fresh enough through the slow introduction of new cast members and comedic elements, and through its overall set up of Nozaki being a manga artist which allows for discussions about the nature of some of the set ups which gives them slightly more impact.

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While this one isn’t going to win my heart over for best anime ever or anything like that, it is a pleasant watch and while it might be a bit silly it never crosses a line into just ridiculous. The support cast each have their charming and annoying points but because of the range of characters the focus never lingers to long on any one of them and overall it is quite an enjoyable viewing experience.

I’d love to know your thoughts on it is you’ve given it a watch.


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Karandi James.

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Friday’s Feature – On Magical Girls (3/3)

Let’s wrap up this mini-series of posts (though I am definitely going to revisit the subject matter at some point because really nowhere near enough has been said). This week I want to look at exceptions within the magical girl genre and discuss the lack of an equivalent magical boy genre.

While there are a few modern exceptions, I actually want to look at a more classic ‘magical girl’ that kind of does things her own way, and that’s Sakura from Card Captor. And already I hear people saying she defines magical girl, what do you mean she’s an exception?

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True, she becomes a Card Captor after Kero recruits her to recapture the cards she let loose and it was more or less her destiny to release the cards in the first place and she fights an array of silly villains while wearing fairly ridiculous outfits using a magical wand to summon cards to fight for her, so it all seems fairly normal for the magical girl genre. However, there are a few distinctions.

Firstly, while her friends are most definitely dragged into the magical encounters Sakura has after becoming a Card Captor, with the exception of Syaoran Li, most of her friends do not have any power and don’t end up joining her back-up group. In fact, Sakura pretty much fights solo for most of the series, occasionally assisted/hindered by Li and offered moral support by her best friend Tomoyo. Furthermore, Tomoyo doesn’t end up being the victim of the week every other episode, unlike Molly (the magic free friend of Sailor Moon).

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Secondly, Sakura doesn’t transform into a magical girl. She always has her magic powers whether she’s in her school uniform or one of Tomoyo’s creations. Every single ridiculous outfit Sakura ends up in she changes into willingly (or at least because her best friend is trying to help in her own way and Sakura doesn’t want to hurt her feelings). So no magical girl outfit (and this right here could throw Card Captor’s right out of the genre entirely given how important transformation sequences are in other shows).

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Thirdly, Sakura defeats the escaped cards and then uses them to fight and capture other cards. These villains have no grand plan to take over the world. They’re magic cards that have escaped and are running wild. Mostly they aren’t working together or plotting anything. So no gloating villain sneering about how they will beat them next time. Instead, this is a fetch quest that got out of hand but serves as the background for Sakura’s growth as a human (even as her increased stash of cards makes her stronger).

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The last point I want to make is that Syaoran is both a rival and a love interest. He battles with Sakura to be the Card Captor, though eventually is forced to bow out of the fight which is when he takes on a far more traditional role. This is a refreshing role for a male character in a magical girl genre because he has his own strengths and agenda outside of saving the girl so she can save the world.

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I’d love to know your favourite exception in the magical girl genre so please share below.

Onto the lack of an equivalent magical boys genre. While there are definitely anime boys out there with magic (think Fairy Tail etc) these aren’t magical boy anime. Generally they are actions or dramas. They are fast paced and usually full of a large number of characters who the protagonists can fight with and support.

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Of course, if magical boys was a thing you would have to wonder who the audience would be? As Cute High Earth Defence shows, just putting boys in silly outfits and making them go through the motions of a magical girl anime isn’t exactly compelling viewing, and even if they played it straight it would be hard to take it seriously.

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As stated in part 2, a large part of the magical girl genre is about imparting messages about qualities that the audience should admire and work toward. These messages are already presented by male characters in shonen anime and a range of other avenues. One could almost argue that the magical girl genre exists only to fill the void that existed for strong female characters who fight villains. They used magic as a way to overcome the traditional stereotype of weaker female and then gave the protagonists admirable personality traits (even if these only developed throughout the series).

So do magical girl series still have a place for modern audiences when there are now plenty of other shows and media that present stronger females?

Definitely. This is a genre that filled a gap but also carved out its own niche and will continue to develop and grow with the modern audience. The success of shows like Madoka Magica clearly show that there is still a large market for the magical girl, even if she has evolved a bit from the shiny and sparkly days when all she had to do was spin around occasionally and wave a wand.

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That concludes this run of magical girl posts and I know I’ve barely touched the surface. Feel free to leave your comments, thoughts and suggestions below.

Rinne Episode 30

An overview of this series can be found on the previous episode review.

Review:

Episode 30 is actually three short stories. One focussed on Rokudo’s grandmother cleaning house, one on his father doing his usual scummy act, and one on Masato doing his thing. Each story is amusing in its own way but this episode doesn’t break any new ground. I would like to ask what is with the new opening and why is Mamiya Sakura singing? That seems really out of character for her. I’m still enjoying this show but it is becoming increasingly ordinary and forgettable.

Rin-ne is available on Crunchyroll and AnimeLab.