Top 5 Obi Moments From Snow White With The Red Hair

Tuesday's Top 5

Tuesday’s Top 5 this week features Obi from Snow White With The Red Hair after a conversation I had with Derek following my Up Close post last week on Zen Wisteria. There is no denying Obi has some scene stealing moments so narrowing it down to just 5 was really hard. Here we go, celebrating this great supporting character. As always, this list is made up of my choices but I’d love to know what you would choose so leave me a comment below.

Honourable Mentions:

This week I’m giving an honourable mention to the scene where Zen has come back to the castle and Shirayuki, embarrassed and not sure how to face him wants to run. Obi originally stands between them but then he turns and tells Shirayuki to run away. After she does, Obi gives Zen the blunt prompt he needs to chase after her. It’s moments like these that make you realise how well Obi is looking out for these two.

Snow White With The Red Hair - Obi

Number 5:

Now I know a lot of people would place this moment higher, and it is a good moment, but for me it doesn’t stand out as much as some of Obi’s, however number 5 is when Obi takes care of Shirayuki when she gets drunk. It is fantastic seeing him joking around with her, trying to keep his distance while still keeping her safe, and mostly just trying to get to the bottom of what was really upsetting Shirayuki. It is a really precious moment between the pair and it also leads to a fairly solid moment between Obi and Zen, so I can see why this would be a lot of people’s favourite Obi moment.

Snow White With The Red Hair - Obi looks after Shirayuki

Number 4:

I love seeing Obi in action, even if I do believe he should actually have broken his bones on multiple occasions after jumping off of walls or out of trees. He’s still cool to watch. There’s a fight early on in season two between Obi and Zen because Obi has decided he wants to accompany Shirayuki when she returns to Raj’s Kingdom. The fight is fantastic and shows off both Zen and Obi in action while also making it clear that while Obi has affection for Shirayuki and wants to keep her safe, he knows he’s keeping her safe for Zen.

Snow White With The Red Hair - Obi and Zen Fight

Number 3:

Alright, this one just made me laugh out loud. Obi is still fairly new in his whole role in the castle and he’s accompanied Shirayuki to the tower by the lake for the test with the bird. The noble guy, having thrown the whistle off the tower thinks he has won and then Shirayuki just jumps in right after it. Obi’s expression as he sees the girl he’s meant to be protecting plummet past the window is pretty priceless. It also shows that while Obi is great in combat he also provides great comic relief in this anime without being too over the top.

Snow White With The Red Hair - Obi watches Shirayuki Fall

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Number 2:

Now we get to the tricky ones where I really struggled to split one and two. That’s probably because they both come fairly close together but they are both independently important moments for Obi. At number 2 I have Obi struggling with his feelings. He likes Shirayuki. That is really obvious. And while he remains playfully affectionate around her and maintains a distance knowing she’s with Zen, there’s definitely an internal struggle. Seeing that coming to a head and seeing Obi trying to sort his feelings about Zen, about Shirayuki, about his life since joining Zen is fantastic and it is lovely to see a supporting character getting such a great amount of development. That said, I can totally see why some people ship Shirayuki and Obi, but I’m very much for Zen and Shirayuki with Obi continuing to support the both of them; I really like that dynamic.

Snow White With The Red Hair - Obi

Number 1:

I had to give number one to a combat scene. As much as Obi plays a variety of other roles, he is at his best in a fight and there’s a fight in season two where we see Obi unleashed. After Shirayuki is kidnapped Obi drops the playful persona he’s adopted while in the castle and he goes after her. Of course it isn’t as easy as fetch the girl and instead we see Obi get caught up in a fight. It is over quickly but it is an awesome fight and I absolutely love Obi’s expression during the entire sequence. We almost never see him that serious and it was fantastic.

Snow White With The Red Hair - Obi goes to fight

And that’s my list this week but as I said, I’d love to know what your favourite moments are with Obi so please leave a comment below and let’s celebrate such an amazing character.

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Karandi James
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Snow White with the Red Hair Season 1 Series Review

Overview:

Shirayuki lives in the kingdom of Tanbarun as a herbalist until one day the Prince (having heard of her unusual hair colour) orders her to become his concubine. Rather than accepting that fate, she cuts off her hair (in a somehow perfectly straight line) and crosses the border into the Kingdom of Clarines. There her story really begins.

Review:

Alright, I’m going to admit there will be some gushing in this review. And no, I won’t argue that this is a ‘perfect’ anime or story but I am going to argue fairly passionately that this is storytelling done well.

Snow White with the Red Hair starts out very Disney. You’ve got your Princess character (though she is of low birth) and the Prince who wants her (although as a concubine so icky). She runs away and through the forest and comes across an empty house, though because she respects break and entry laws she sits outside and waits for the owner to return. We never do find out who actually owns the house, but a boy named Zen and his two attendants come by because they use the house and this is where the story really takes off. Zen is actually the Prince of Clarines but it isn’t his princliness that get’s Shirayuki’s attention. It is hs general advice about finding her own fate and the two embark on one of the most interesting relationships I’ve probably encountered in romance focussed anime.

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Ultimately, this is a love story between Shirayuki and Zen (two of the sweetest and yet well rounded romance anime couples I’ve ever encountered). Both of them have issues, particularly their tendencies to take on everything rather than ask for help, but they are both genuinely striving to improve themselves and to help others. That said, they aren’t sickly sweet to the point of having no other personality. At times Zen is quite stubborn and childish, even having a temper tantrum after losing both a sparring match and a verbal argument with the first prince of Clarines, Izana. He’s also impulsive but has enough sense to heed the words of his attendants (most of the time). Shirayuki is the strong female character done right. She doesn’t need to be a violent psychopath, she uses her words and steely determination to get through things and when all else fails she can accept the occasional rescue. Not that I have anything against female characters who fight, but I found it refreshing to have a female lead who could clearly be labelled strong entirely because of her personality. Anyway, I featured Shirayuki way back when I did my top 5 list of female red heads because she is an amazing character.

Even if the rest of the anime stank, the relationship between Zen and Shirayuki would be enough to sell this story. Fortunately, the rest of the anime is pretty good.

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Visually it does look Disney like. From the sweeping shots of the castle in Clarines, the forest sequences, to even the character designs to a point. It is a beautiful anime and has some quite bold colour choices for romance. I normally find romance anime to be a little washed out and faded looking (not all, but a lot), however Snow White goes for some fairly striking colours. The red hair for Shirayuki is obvious, and the various flowers and herbs being used are quite distinct, but even Zen’s standard blue for clothing and eyes, the forest greens, Obi’s darker brown and greens all draw your attention to whatever the current focus of the scene is. The colours work well and distinguishing mood and characters and are just visually appealing.

The music will sweep you away. While it is all pretty standard fairy-tail fare, it is so perfectly chosen to the story that you can’t help but be moved by it. Even the ending carries such a feeling of hope and a sense of moving forward that you kind of just get drawn on to the next episode before you really think about it.

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The supporting cast are standout. Kiki and Mitsuhide as Zen’s attendants aren’t just there to be there or fill the background of scenes. They are rich and interesting characters in their own right (though you’ll have to watch season 2 for some more specific details about their relationship). Kiki is a physically strong female, but she is also gentle, caring, occasionally sarcastic (particularly toward Mitsuhide), and proud. Her interactions with Zen, Izana, Mitsuhide, Obi and Shirayuki are always interesting and informative. She’s fairly laconic but her choice of words is quite deliberate  and the voice actress, Kaori Nazuka does an excellent job of conveying more meaning to the audience than just the words themselves. I haven’t watched the English dub but I really hope they managed to preserve Kiki’s character.

Mitsuhide at times comes off as a sound board for the other characters, but his is probably the most interesting relationship with Zen (other than Shirayuki) due to their history. This is hinted at several times early on and directly shown when it is revealed that Mitsuhide is the only one Zen really listens to once he’s made his mind up. Later in the series we get a flashback to Zen’s younger days which not only helps explain some of Zen’s emotional baggage but further elaborates on the relationship between Zen and Mitsuhide.

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Of course, my favourite character is Obi. He’s so funny and he’s a little bit darker than the other characters so regularly makes fun at their expense. He is also the outside of the group, having first tried to scare off Shirayuki before becoming one of Zen’s attendants. This gives him an outsiders perspective on the group and his insights are usually amusing. His fighting style is also pretty impressive, as is his general agility. Possibly my favourite moment from the series (outside of a Zen and Shirayuki scene) came from the scene where Obi was looking after the drunk Shirayuki.

I’d love to write more about the cast (the other herbalists, the first prince, the prince of Tanbarun, the various villains who show up throughout the series, the couple of nobles we meet) but in honesty it would take too long. Basically, the cast works brilliantly and while no one detracts from the central characters, they all have their moment to shine.

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Beyond that, the story itself is always interesting. Yes, this is a romance, but at the same time Shirayuki and Zen are both pursuing their own goals and the romance fits around that. There are episodes focussing on illness and Shirayuki working as a herbalist, episodes that deal with Zen’s childhood, episodes looking at the social status of the Prince and how he is seen by others, and all of this works really well to create a sense of moving forward and makes the moments where Zen and Shirayuki can have a quiet moment together and we see the progress of their relationship even sweeter.

I will say that I’m really glad there was a second season (season 3 where are you) and I will review that separately at some point.

Also, before I wrap this up I do need to add some criticisms.

  1. Why does Shirayuki’s hair not grow at all during the months after she moves to Clarines? Are they trying to suggest she’s cutting it off like that regularly because otherwise there’s no reason for it to still be that short.
  2. How did Shirayuki support herself after moving to Clarines before she passed the test to become a herbalist? She mentions once that she’s going to look for a job but when she finds out about the test she then studies for what seems like it must be weeks but doesn’t work. She has to be paying her rent somehow.

Yeah, they were petty criticisms but they bother me every time I watch this series through.

Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend  this anime to people who only like action or darker anime, but for everyone else, this is a must watch.

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Questions I’d Like To Ask While Watching Snow White with the Red Hair

Tuesday's Top 5

There’s a mouthful of a list name and I know I recently did my top 5 Zen and Shirayuki moments from season 1 after doing a rewatch of the show. However, while watching I also came up with a lot of questions for the characters that I’d just love to ask so I finally decided to put them in a top 5 list.

Any question you want to ask of this show? Or is there another anime that’s just left you with a whole bunch of questions you would like answered?

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week: Why is every sunset picturesque? Seriously, every single one. Secondly, where is the king of Clarines? Izana is a Prince and Zen is the second prince, but where is the King and why isn’t he having any say in the goings on in the palace?

Number 5: Why does Shirayuki’s hair never get any longer?

Shirayuki

I get that she cuts her hair in episode 1 (through the extremely silly method of tying it up, pulling it over her shoulder and then snipping it – does she know how uneven and lopsided that would make the cut) but after that her hair never grows an inch. I’m never entirely sure of the time frame for the events in this anime but realistically she should either have to keep trimming her hair to keep it that length or it should be growing back. Yet, nothing. Magic hair.

Number 4: Why is Obi never injured after jumping and or falling so far?

Obi2.png

Given this show fairly realistically limits the character actions to things humans are actually capable of, and injures them appropriately for even minor falls and scrapes, how does Obi not have multiple broken bones. Is it like he’s the only character who gets to apply standard anime physics to his actions? Because, more than once, he is either knocked off of or jumps off of a roof, castle wall, balcony, etc and he pretty much never sustains an injury from the landing. As much as I love Obi, a few times I just kind of wanted to see him at least sprain an ankle.

Number 3: What happens to the other apprentice herbalist?

HerbalistWhen Shirayuki did the exam there were two apprentices taken on. Shrayuki got assigned to Ryu and the other one… Do we ever even see him again? Possibly he just works in another wing of the medical building but as far as I can tell we just literally never see him again. Why even have a second person pass the exam if they aren’t going to do anything in the story?

Number 2: How does Shirayuki pay for her room and board while in Clarines?

Shirayuki2

Shirayuki arrives in Clarines and she’s boarding in a room. She says herself she needs to find work so that she can afford to eat and goes to the local herbalist. There she finds out about the exam and we know she then studies for that. In the meantime, what is her source of income? We only really see her going with Zen to various places and studying herbs. Is she working? If not, how is she eating?

Number 1: Why doesn’t Prince Izana understand how sleeves work?

Seriously, if Izana wants a cloak or a cape, why not just wear one?  I don’t think he ever wears his jacket as a jacket in the entire first season. The sleeves are just hanging off the side, completely ignored and useless. This is really impractical and fairly silly when you think about it. Okay, I got a little distracted by this particular choice in fashion by the first prince. But really, why?

Your turn. What questions would you like to ask of Snow White with the Red Hair, or any anime?


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Zen and Shirayuki Moments

Tuesday's Top 5

I promised this one on Twitter and I kind of had to do this list anyway because while rewatching the first season of Snow White with the Red Hair I fell in love with this couple all over again. I also realised just how many good moments they had together on screen. Which is kind of odd in a romance because normally you get like one good moment early on and then nothing with both characters except awkwardness and misunderstandings until about half-way and so on. Zen and Shirayuki are adorable from the get-go and continue to be pretty adorable in nearly every episode. My conditions this week are simple: Zen and Shirayuki had to both be actively involved in the scene and it had to come from season 1 (because I didn’t rewatch season 2 yet and I already had way too many moments to think about for this list).

Over on my patreon site I will be counting down my lesser 5 moments of this anime. Those moments that just made me cringe. This one is just for patrons, though there are other posts and reviews for non-patrons to check out.

Please Note – Plenty of spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched this romance.

Honourable mentions go to: Episode 7 when Shirayuki climbed up the tree to reach Zen on the balcony and Episode 11 when Shirayuki ran away into the forest and Zen had to chase her.

Number 5: Episode 1, the forest walk

ZenXShirayuki5.JPG

I loved this scene. Watching these two talk so naturally, Zen refusing to help Shirayuki until she came clean, his outrage that she’d been asked to become a concubine. It really is the start of something great between these two characters.

Number 4: Episode 4, the medical records

ZenXShirayuki4.JPG

There are a lot of adorable moments in episode 4 (and not all of them are from Zen and Shirayuki) but I loved this moment where Zen comes to Shirayuki after hearing she’s crying and comforts her as she reads through his medical records. I always love in movies where a character says off-hand they’ve developed an immunity to a poison and I just wonder if they realise how painful that would actually be to do. This show tackles the off-hand remark from episode 1 head-on and deals with Shirayuki’s understanding of what Zen has gone through to be who he is in a fairly solid manner.

Number 3: Episode 10, the kiss in the tower

zenxshirayuki3

Alright, a lot of people would have put this at number 1 and it is a great moment. Shirayuki has admitted that she wasn’t going to be stubborn this time and she’s fully thrown her support behind Zen. Zen on the other hand has just been scared she got hurt because of his decision and he’s relieved and proud and just overwhelmed. It’s an adorable scene. Still not my number 1 choice for Zen and Shirayuki moments even though it is definitely a welcome addition.

Number 2: Episode 4, the greenhouse

zenxshirayuki2

This one is one of my favourite moments and comes from what is arguably my favourite episode of the show. I loved Zen sneaking into the greenhouse to check up on Shirayuki during the exam and then his annoyance at being trapped with her. I love her absolute  indifference to that issue when she’s fixated on the plants that aren’t blooming right. And I think it is truly fantastic watching the two of them work together to fix the garden. Plus, Shirayuki is still all chipper and ready to go come morning whereas Zen is looking a little worse for wear.

Number 1: Episode 5, Zen helps Shirayuki sleep

zenxshirayuki1

This moment is so incredibly sweet. Zen’s just realised the strain Shirayuki has put herself under and feels incredibly guilty given he asked for her help. Rather than force a confrontation he simply gets her to sit down and then proceeds to get her to fall asleep in a fairly calm manner and for someone as exhausted as Shirayuki was that’s more or less all it would have taken. Its incredibly sweet and shows that Zen isn’t flawless as the Prince (something that we may have questioned up to this point) and also shows that Shirayuki is not indestructible, no matter what she might believe. It’s a great moment for both characters. What drives it above the kiss and the greenhouse is that it is a true show of mutual respect and care for one another without needing anything as showy as a kiss and without the ‘are they still just friends’ vibe of the greenhouse.

What are your favourite Zen and Shirayuki moments from season 1?


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Characters from 2016

Tuesday's Top 5

Last week I looked at the female characters from 2016 that left an impression. This week I turn my attention to the guys. I’m going to be honest; this was a much harder list to write. The reason being that female characters still tend to play a lot of support roles and still tend to have very generic personalities (with some exceptions). There are more leading male characters and more personality types (though still some basic archetypes) out there to choose from.

So how did I choose my top 5 male characters? Pretty much they played a significant role in their anime, were entertaining to watch, and, for whatever reason, memorable. They also had to be in an anime that aired at some point during 2016 (either continuing on from 2015, completely in 2016, or at least started before the end of 2016).

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Natsume (Natsume Yuujinchou Go), Mikleo (Tales of Zestiria the X), and weirdly to Matsumi Asuma (Kiss Him, Not Me).

Number 5: Dazai (Bungo Stray Dogs Season 2)

Dazai.jpg

There were times in season 1 when Dazai drove me absolutely crazy. He was hilarious and intriguing for the first 2 episodes and then his character went into one note comedy mode for most the rest of the season. Season 2 Dazai became a much more interesting character. First we spent four episodes getting his back story and then even after that while we still had the odd goofy moment and suicide joke, Dazai kind of left the playful facade behind and started actually being a character. It made him far more intriguing and made me far more interested in him. Is Dazai the best character? Not really, but I certainly remember him.

Number 4: Karma Akabane (Assassination Classroom Season 2)

karma3.jpg

Okay, this one should come as no surprise given he topped out my list of favourite red haired male characters last year. I find Karma fantastic value as a character. Why isn’t he higher up my list? Because season 1 of Assassination Classroom did not air in 2016 and looking at Karma’s contributions to season 2, I just couldn’t justify it. His character decidely takes a back seat with the exception of the conflict between him and Nagisa and even that plays out relatively quickly. He is still one scary teenager and what I like is that he isn’t just a hoodlum, he is smart, manipulative and motivated.

Number 3: Yuuri Katsuki (Yuri on Ice)

Yuri.jpg

It would have surprised me more if I hadn’t added a character from Yuri on Ice and it had to be Yuri himself. The character transformation he underwent and how natural it felt was one of the highlights of the whole year for me. I liked that this wasn’t a show about someone who was bad at skating getting suddenly amazing. Yuri was always good but lacked confidence. This story really just focussed on him overcoming himself rather than a skills deficit and it was a much stronger character story because of it.

Number 2: Obi (Snow White with the Red Hair)

Obi.png

Obi was always my favourite character from Show White with the Red Hair and season 2 we got more Obi. When Shirayuki leaves the kingdom to visit Prince Raj it is Obi who goes with her as a bodyguard so when she get’s kidnapped, Obi kind of loses it in the best possible way. It’s probably the first time we ever see Obi anything less than laid back and completely in control and that he then spends the rest of the season working to save her and then in ensuring that Zen and Shirayuki are going to get their happily ever after (despite the fact it’s pretty clear he’d really like Shirayuki to look at him) just makes Obi an even better character. He’s still stealing every scene he shows up in and I would love more of this character. Note to self: Do not get on Obi’s bad side.

Number 1: Allen Walker (D Gray Man Hallow)

Allen.gif

Okay, I know a lot of this placement is due my overall love of this franchise but Hallow did an amazing job of progressing Allen’s story as the fourteenth is slowly but surely taking over. Allen has come along way from the naive want to be exorcist we met back in episode 1 of D Gray Man and is now a very competent exorcist however he is continuously doubted and mistreated by the Order and ultimately is forced to make the decision to leave (which gave us an incredibly heartbreaking farewell between Allen and Lenalee). Allen is a character I always want more of because he is incredibly interesting and I would love for him to eventually find out everything and be able to make his own informed choices about his life. Seems unlikely and far more likely he will continue to flounder along, but he does keep moving. Not even certain death keeps him out of the action.

That’s my list so now its time to share yours. Who were your favourite male characters in 2016?

Tuesday’s Top 5: Female Characters from 2016

Tuesday's Top 5

2016 was a great year for anime and while I don’t really ever intend just to do a list of top 5 characters ever I kind of feel I can pick a favourite from a single year. Much like my reflections post, this one is entirely my own opinion so feel free to add your favourite females from 2016 in the comments below.

So how did I choose my top 5 female characters? Pretty much they played a significant role in their anime, were entertaining to watch, and, for whatever reason, memorable. They also had to be in an anime that aired at some point during 2016 (either continuing on from 2015, completely in 2016, or at least started before the end of 2016).

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Izetta (Izetta: The Last Witch) and Manami Okuda (Assassination Classroom Season 2).

Number 5: Ubukata Chikako (Days)

Ubukata.png

And before you ask ‘who’ she’s the female manager in Days who comes on board after first trying to convince Tsukamoto that it’s hopeless and he should just give up. While her screen time is fairly limited and she plays very much the angry girl (a lot), she’s actually a pivotal character for Tsukamoto when he’s at his lowest and is also the one who quietly assists when Kazuma and Tsukamoto have their near falling out. It’s what I like about her character. She’s there is most episodes doing what she needs to do and she doesn’t intrude on screen time for the same of it. Plus I like how we see her change from angry with the world and fairly pessimistic, to grudgingly accepting that hard work will work out for some, to genuinely hopeful even as she still holds on to her basic cynicism. I also love her ongoing relationship with Tsukamoto. She kind of takes on the tough older sister role and it works really well.

Number 4: Edna (Tales of Zestiria the X)

Edna.png

Even before this character ever made an appearance, fans of the game were going on and on about her. It kind of made me think she couldn’t possibly live up to that hype and then we met her. Admittedly her screen time in the anime is low but she was certainly one of the more interesting characters. Okay, I just love sarcasm and Edna nails a good sarcastic comment. She’s also one of the more interesting characters in the previews at the ends of episodes. All and all, definitely a fun character to watch and one I think Sorey needed given Alicia and Mikleo don’t exactly push him out of his comfort zone.

Number 3: Shirayuki (Snow White with the Red Hair Season 2)

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This one should have been an obvious choice. I was already in love with this character after season 1 and season 2 just continued to show how amazing she is. Unlike season 1, Shirayuki faces some real danger in season 2 and she really manages to hold it together even while they show us her inner turmoil. Throw in progress in her friendship with Raj, her romance with Zen, and a bit of back story with her father and season 2 really helps round out her character and the world.

Number 2: Tomoe Hotaru (Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3)

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It was hard narrowing down which of the Sailor Moon Crystal cast really left the largest impression. It came down to Chibi-Usa and Hotaru and when all is said and done Hotaru was the more interesting character. The tragic and frail girl that is befriended by Chibi-Usa we see a genuine friendship form between the pair before Hotaru’s body is forcibly overtaken. If that wasn’t enough, turns out she’s also Sailor Saturn and may very well destroy the world so the Outer Guardians are aiming to kill her before she gets the chance. A very memorable character and an awesomely powered one as well. Would have loved more of her in the series.

Number 1: Igsem Yatorishino (Alderamin on the Sky)

Yatori.gif

Fiery red haired beauty dual wielding swords on a battle field and able to keep a hopeless womanizer in check? Yatorishino is all kinds of impressive and the fact that she also has a personality and isn’t just a stoic yes-man soldier girl (though she can certainly play that role when needed) just makes her even more interesting. The best parts of Alderamin on the Sky came when Ikta and Yatori were on screen together as they perfectly complement each other and yet each of these characters has a personality by themselves. Besides, none of Ikta’s plans would have ever worked without her skill. He could do what he did because he knew that Yatori would have his back and he knew just how dangerous she could be.

That’s my list of top 5 female characters from 2016. Who were yours?

Friday’s Feature – Comparing Apples and Oranges

Erased Title Image

With the new season of anime starting, I’ve found myself doing a lot of episode 1 impressions and trying to write a basic overview of a lot of different shows. The number of times I found myself falling back on the “it’s like …. with a bit of ….” in order to describe a show kind of got me thinking. Is it fair to compare one show to another?

In honesty, when I write a review of a full series, I generally avoid comparing one anime to another. Occasionally it seems necessary to make a point about one particularly aspect. Whether it be a character, a bit of music, or a particular plot point, sometimes drawing a comparison can be really helpful in order to explain where you are coming from. However, I avoid falling back on this as my main form of review for the simple reason that I feel things should be taken for what they are and not what other things are that might be better.

erased

Erased is a good anime to look at when we think about whether or not we should compare anime. If we look at Erased as a mystery, even taken by itself you can see that the mystery itself is flawed due to the lack of viable suspects. This makes the guessing who the culprit is pretty easy and takes away any dramatic reveal that might occur later in the series. So even without a comparison Erased isn’t going to stand up very well as a mystery. But if we then played it against a mystery (something like Blood C or Paranoia Agent which leave you guessing until the reveal) Erased starts looking even worse.

paranoia-agent

Is that fair? Admittedly, if I were doing a Top 5 list of best mystery anime, Erased wouldn’t be on it, but when I reviewed Erased I was looking at more than just the mystery component. So comparing it to something else only as a mystery takes away from what Erased actually is as an anime.

My review of Erased focussed very much on the characters within Erased and their reactions to the situations. I looked at the characters I liked and didn’t and the events that shaped them. Are the characters perfect? Not really. If I compared Erased to other character driven dramas would Erased be the best? Probably not. But Erased is a character driven drama with mystery and supernatural elements thrown in. It is the combination of all of these things (working together) that make watching Erased a reasonably entertaining experience.

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But if we start classifying things like that I may as well say that Taboo Tattoo was the most interesting anime about princesses trying to rewrite the world via the power of sentient tattoos. I’d be right (at least I hope there aren’t any others), but that doesn’t make it a good anime either.

Alderamin7a

Another anime that I really liked recently was Alderamin on the Sky. I really enjoyed each episode and getting to know the characters, however I found myself regularly pointing out that this anime wasn’t trying to be the most exciting thing in the world. Looking back at my weekly thoughts, I said this a lot. Why? Because when you do a surface comparison of Alderamin to any of the big anime, Alderamin is going to come off second best. Not because it isn’t a good story with good characters but because it just doesn’t have any of the flash of some of the big names. Any kind of comparison is going to go badly for Alderamin but I would still say you should watch Alderamin.

I also remember a lot of people comparing Shirayuki (from Snow White with the Red Hair) to Yona (Akatsuki no Yona). Yeah they were both red-haired heroines who appeared at around the same time and both ended up being quite independent, female leads. It seems natural to compare them. Except that does it matter if Yona is more active than Shirayuki and learns to shoot a bow? Does that make Shirayuki any less of a positive, female character in an anime? Does it matter that Shirayuki has far more self-determination right from the start of the series than Yona does in hers? Does that make Yona less of a heroine because her direction was chosen for her by destiny at first?

I’m not actually criticising comparisons. They do work well at highlighting similarities and differences and make you really consider stories and characters. I just wonder what the purpose of some comparisons are and whether there has to be a better or a worse option when things are compared?

What is your view on using comparisons as part of a review?