Archive for the 'hidamari sketch' Category

Watch Out, Duke Togo!

Miyako has you figured out.

And I don’t know if your Golgo guile will save you from her wily clutches. After all, nothing is more dangerous than an airheaded girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

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Year-End Anime Awards for 2007

It’s that time of year again.

The air is cold, the night is swift, and Dick Clark is still alive and no one knows why.

Yes, it is the end of 2007, and that means we get the end of the year “best of” awards ceremony. Criteria: the show must have started its broadcast in 2007. So, everything from winter season to fall season is fair game. So here we go!

Best Drama About Drama: Hitohira

Refreshingly original characters, a slight hint of yuri, and some real emotional power drives this series. I kind of glossed over it, and then heard about it from a friend of mine, and then watched it, expecting it to be some kind of mild schoolhouse comedy. Instead I got an incredible and moving drama. It came from nowhere and socked me with both cute and poignancy. How many of your average moe shows get that done, tell me?

Best Space Opera That Was Based on Seventies Manga: Terra e…

A rather inauspicious start led into a flurry of emotions and an actually epic plot, something its contemporary Heroic Age could have only wished it was. Not only that, the anime actually improves on the original manga, making it much more affecting.

Best Show With Immortal Gangsters: Baccano!

I’ve already said my piece about this show, of course, but to review: incredible characterization and a very tightly scripted plot turned this show into one of the real winners of 2007. The whole series would have flopped, in my opinion, had it been 26 episodes, due to the slow pacing that would have been brought on it.

Best Comedy About Little…Things That No One Knows What They Are: Potemayo

The 4koma nature of the manga this was adapted from led to a totally nonsensical anime. And it was good that way. It’s been a while since an anime comedy made me laugh as consistently as Potemayo did, and doing it all without making references is a plus.

Best Show About Drills: Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann

I don’t think I actually have to talk about this one much. I was relatively unimpressed by the first episode for some reason (hype got to me, I think–I kind of expected it to be a hilarious episode, and not an episode of burning passion for some reason) but I quickly warmed up to the series and ended up loving it all the way through. It was, indeed, manly as all get out. And well-paced past a certain point, too.

Best Romantic Drama Wherein There are Numerous Visual Tricks Because Shinbo is Crazy: ef – a tale of memories

I just wrote a post on this since it just ended, so it’s still fresh in my mind, but it’s definitely one of the top-tier series this year. See previous posts on the topic for reminders on why it’s listed here.

Honorable Mentions

“Honorable Mentions”, in this case, usually means “this show is really good but I haven’t actually finished it yet”.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Minami-ke

We got not one, not two, but three rather clever comedies this year, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei being the funniest Shinbo Akiyuki show to date, and Minami-ke being….Minami-ke. All three of them are worthy of note, but I just haven’t finished these two. For shame.

Hidamari Sketch

Notable simply because it marked a point where Shinbo stopped being Pani Poni Dash Shinbo and became the Shinbo I can actually find amusing and interesting to watch. I was apathetic before this show; now I’m as much of a Shinbo whore as the next person. So, uh, yeah.

Lucky Star

I actually did finish this, and it was really fun to watch, and I will be buying the upcoming DVDs, so I can’t really explain why it’s down here. Notable, however, for turning a relatively mediocre manga into a huge otaku phenonmenon. Amazing what Kyoto Animation can do, isn’t it?

CLANNAD

Again, you probably know my stance on this show. The relationship dynamics between Tomoya and Nagisa are great, and the one arc I’ve seen so far has been pretty good. And I hear the Kotomi arc is great.

Moyashimon

Yes, let’s make a show about bacteria! And it will be the greatest thing ever!

Mobile Suit Gundam 00

Nothing’s changed since I last watched an episode. It’s still going strong. 30th anniversaries are wonderful things.

Sketchbook ~full color’s~

The other slice of life show about artists. It’s not as viusally clever as Hidamari Sketch is, but it’s a lot more relaxing and funny, thanks to Team Aria.

Dennou Coil

I still can’t figure out why I’m watching this so slowly. I think I’m trying to preserve the awesome as long as possible. Yeah, that’s it.

Darker than BLACK

I’m still only partway through this, but it’s been fairly good thus far. I don’t think it’ll make it into the top-tier up there, but I like the way every arc is focused around character development over action. It could just as easily have been an straightforward action show, but, instead, it’s a pretty nifty study in character.

Ghost Hound

It’s finally shaped itself up to be a good, creepy show. Even if it’s not allegedly as bizarre as Serial Experiments: Lain, I still like it.

I think that’s everything. As you can see, this year has been quite bountiful with the goods.

Stylin’ cars and hideous hairstyles

I laughed. Next month’s cover story for Car & Driver for sure.

I managed to finish Hidamari Sketch before the second series aired (a feat that I don’t think Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei will have, if Strato keeps his pace. Admittedly, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei has been termed the most untranslatable manga/anime ever, so it’s not really something that a 24-hour speedsub can do justice to.)

On Hidamari Sketch, however, the show was quite fun. I hear that the manga isn’t too terribly thrilling, although it is licensed, however, under the name Sunshine Sketch (what), so presumably I’ll get a chance to find out for myself. The real strength of the show was in Shinbo’s “I have no budget for this show and need to find some clever way to not let that show” mentality. The way that most of the backgrounds were just stipples in the SHAPE of what they were supposed to be, and episode 12 had a great moment where the stipples of an object in the foreground were covering up the characters, but you could still see the parts that were supposed to be covered up, so it was all “what”.

In other news:

The subtitles are lying through their teeth.

Blue Drop seems to make zero sense, but Mari is so lovable that I can’t help but watch. Each episode, taken by itself, makes sense, and tells a nice story decently well, with killer music; the whole just seems kind of nonsensical. The school days aspect makes much, much more sense than Hagino trying to rebel against lesbian extradimensional beings for God knows why (theory: the reason is “I like Mari a lot can I please stay with her” to which the answer was “no”). The main reason I like Blue Drop is because the characters, on an episode by episode basis, feel kind of, well, real. Not “realistic” in that sense, but real in the sense that they’re reacting in a way that makes sense out of their own internal logic. Mari puts out a tough front but gets hurt easily–it’s a simple character, but she’s got a reason to be so vulnerable, and so it makes sense. It’s not the most fantastic anime ever, but it’s entertaining and fairly fun to watch.

Nekota Jouji

It is Nakata Jouji.

He is a cat.

Therefore, Nekota Jouji.

Is there any anime that he can’t make about a gazillion times better just by being in it? Dai Mahou Touge’s most brilliant moment was having Saito Chiwa and Nakata Jouji voice the cutesy mascot. You cannot get more diametrically opposed than that.

Having just seen up to episode 5, Sketchbook ~full color’s~ is a very solid show. It’s got the iyashi-kei charm of Aria (justified since both anime share quite a few important staff members in various positions) with an extra dose of comedy. And Nakata Jouji.

I’m not one to compare things very often, so I don’t really think Sketchbook and Hidamari Sketch can be compared without simplifying something along the way. Part of the charm of Hidamari is Shinbo’s wacky budget-saving directorial tricks; if it had been animated by a more conventional studio, it probably wouldn’t have been quite as much fun. As such, it appeals more to people who like and can appreciate such trickery. Sketchbook, on the other hand, is much more conventional is approach, and appeals more to people searching for a light, airy show. The difference can probably be best summed up as it’s moe for two different sets of people–people searching for more conventional sexy-cute moe fare will watch Hidamari; those wanting less visual stimulation and more of a lack of mental stimulation will enjoy Sketchbook.

Granted, the fanbase for both shows probably bleeds into each other quite a lot, but there’s always going to be the few people who call Sketchbook an inferior Hidamari (or Hidamari an inferior Sketchbook) but that’s just because their tastes don’t overlap. The targeted audience is similar, but it’s ever so slightly different.

At any rate, Sketchbook is a fun, clever anime. It’s fun to watch, and doesn’t tax the mind too much. A perfect antidote to upcoming finals.

Hidamari Sketch: Turning Point for Shinbo?

Okay, this one might take some explaining.

First, I think we all know by now that Shinbo Akiyuki is nuts. He did SoulTaker, which I’ve heard is a very bad show, but it certainly bears his directorial imprint. He did Tsukuyomi ~Moon Phase~, which I kind of like, and kind of don’t (haven’t finished it yet, though). He did Pani Poni Dash, which I’m equally ambivalent about–I find the episodes pleasant to watch, yet I didn’t find it uproariously hilarious like many other people seemed to. Negima!? was basically Pani Poni Dash Part the Second.

And then Hidamari Sketch aired.

It was like he’d finally found his footing. Hidamari Sketch had a tiny budget, but you don’t give a shit because Shinbo is just having a grand ol’ time cutting corners and turning it into art. From the “stair-climbing animation” to the “door opening animation” to the cuts to “X” when Yuno is talking to the almost total lack of backgrounds, it’s very delightfully abstract. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that while watching episode 5, when Yuno is down with fever and sleeping all day in her room (having crazy fever dreams, of course) I actually sat there and thought about how nice it would be to be sick.

I’m not kidding.

The whole show is a pure pleasure to watch, a drastic upset from the tedium experienced in Pani Poni Dash. Rather than trying to force comedy, as Pani Poni Dash seemed to do for me, Hidamari Sketch is less trying to be a wacky comedy and more trying to be a cute, fun slice-of-life series with some light humor thrown in, which it succeeds at adeptly.

And hot on the heels of Hidamari Sketch we have Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, a quality manga (it won a Kodansha manga award for shounen) turned into a quality Shinbo anime. Here, Shinbo’s visual antics can only enhance the experience, including what is probably the best Shinbo OP sequence ever (lesbians, anyone?). I said it in an earlier post, but Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is one of the most consistently hilarious anime I’ve seen (“I am a MASTER at avoiding eye contact!”)

And, finally, there’s ef – a tale of memories. I’m not very far into the series yet, and Shinbo isn’t directing so much as supervising (I prefer to think of it as “instructing fresh blood in the fine art of being totally insane”), but, again, he’s bringing his distinctive visual flair into the mix, a fitting way to approach an anime based on a visual novel that used the talents of Shinkai Makoto to animate the OP sequence.

In short, I feel Hidamari Sketch was a true turning point for Shinbo, at least in my eyes. I think it just goes to show you shouldn’t write off any one director on a permanent basis.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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