Archive for the 'sayonara zetsubou sensei' Category

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.

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Vilifisaur KICK!

I forgot who this episode was about already. I don’t think it had much of a point.

That said, this episode was awesome. Criticism drills are a good idea, and I think I need some. The fact that Maria’s Vilifisaur told NicoNico “tards” to shut up was hilarious (and I guess that scene caught some flak on NicoNico itself; I’m sure the comment stream for that exact moment is full of angry NicoNico veterans complaining about Shinbo, and probably a Nice Boat or two). It’s quite clever to see a director so up-to-date with his internet references. I forget if Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei aired enough time after the Nice Boat fiasco for Shinbo to reference it, but I’m sure if it’s not in this season we can expect a cut to an appropriately pleasant boat and someone commenting on how nice the boat is in the second season.

On another note entirely, I find it absolutely hilarious that Shinbo censors every single fanservice shot (including a potential Maria pantyflash, and the scene in the first episode where all the girls are naked in the bath) unless that shot belongs to Kimura Kaere, in which case it’s the only thing on the screen. In slow motion. With budget-destroying careful, loving attention to detail. And sultry “Dame~”. As far as running gags go, this one is up there. It’s like titillating and mocking at the same time.

The characters of the show, although simple, are wonderful. Nonaka Ai is fabulous as Fuura Kafuka. Great comedies don’t need complex characters, they just need characters that play off each other well, and when the two major characters in your anime are a constantly downbeat and suicidal teacher and a constantly upbeat and perky student, well…that’s like Laurel and Hardy except with more Japanese clothes, wooden sandals, and hairclips. And anime. Or something.

Aim for Manga Koshien!

I love Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and the crew going to Comiket (for little reason) is why.

First, Itoshiki Nozomu selling STRING-BOUND NOVELS at Comiket.

Second, the hidden fifth panel of every 4koma.

Shinbo’s done gone and set the bar almost impossibly high with this anime. I think it’s his best comedy (and I think everyone else would agree with me on this) and it’s certainly a hell of a lot of fun to watch. His flair for odd visuals can only enhance the manga (I’ve read a bit of the manga raw, and it’s incredible how Shinbo’s visuals improve on those in the manga. The visual style of this anime impressed me from episode one (which had the look and feel of an old-time silent film) to things like the absolutely gorgeous OP sequence. And stick puppets. Not stick puppets like in the “whoops we ran out of budget thanks a lot Anno” episodes of Kare Kano, but they actually took the time to ANIMATE in the style of stick puppets.

I mean, it’s one thing to use physical stick puppets because that’s all you can afford at the time. It’s quite another to draw stick puppets. It’s that kind of subversion of standard animation techniques that I love in post-Hidamari Sketch Shinbo, and I hope he continues doing it.

In the meantime, aim for Manga Koshien!

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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