Archive for the 'sketchbook ~full color’s~' Category

Sketchbook ~full color’s~: Be Wary of That Which is Cute (namely, the dog)

Daichi is quite terrified of this demonic Satan-beast. As should you be, dear reader, as should you be.

So I’m behind on Sketchbook ~full color’s~ and quite rapidly rectifying that situation. After staring at homework for hours, a dose of relaxing, soothing, and clever light comedy is just what the doctor ordered. What I really like about this series is the clever comic direction. Every gag is impeccably timed. The gags themselves are quite clever, and, although in my long hiatus from the series I had forgotten about the specifics of the characters, I remember pretty fast. That means that Sketchbook has what a comedy truly needs: strong characterization. What drives a good comedy is not necessarily the wacky antics, but the characters; put another way, you could say that a good comedy is created by creating a bunch of outlandish characters, winding them up, and setting them loose to bounce and prey off each other for hilarious results. Which is exactly what Sketchbook has done, created a set of mostly two-dimensional characters, each with their own wacky personality (in this case, “two-dimensional character” isn’t a negative attribute; indeed, in a straight-up no-holds-barred comedy, the flatter the character, the funnier the results usually are), and set them loose.

The results are, needless to say, quite fun to watch. The series isn’t laugh-out-loud, oh-god-my-sides-hurt like, say, Potemayo was, but that’s not what it’s set out to do, which means it succeeds. It’s gently, heartwarmingly silly, and that is a good thing. It’s the perfect endcap to a busy, frantic, hectic day: twenty-four minutes of tranquility. And it’s well-done to boot, so watching it means you can exercise your brain somewhat, if you choose to=–but I don’t recommend engaging your brain while watching. But you, of course, already knew that, having already finished the series far sooner than I did.

The exception to the “wacky personality” rule is Sora herself, although she’s definitely not your everyday schoolgirl. I think she’s a fine “protagonist”, in that she has a pleasant, if quirky, personality. She is most definitely about stopping every so often to smell the roses (or, being Sora, drawing a picture of them), a philosophy which I believe firmly in. The overall message of the series is a simple one, so simple that it gets overlooked: why rush through life? Today only comes once, so take a break and enjoy it. It’s a common message, and certainly the sort of audience for Sketchbook will already know this particular philosophy, but I think Sketchbook, through Sora, does a good job of communicating this message. It’s not about the big contests to get more money or save the world or do something important to be remembered by. It’s about living. Which we all do. So, uh, get out there and live some more! 生きろ! Yeah, that works.

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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.

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.


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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