Hibike! Euphonium 2nd Season

REVIEW – Kyoto Animation continues the “Hibike! Euphonium” anime series with a second season. It showcases the same characters with the addition of a few ones namely Mizore and Nozomi. The season comprises of thirteen episodes and depicts the struggles of the Kitauji high school concert band as they aim to win gold for Nationals.

Hibike! Euphonium is an example of Kyoto Animation’s signature with the stories it tells in each of their adaptations – full of moe. The studio has been known to have moe in most or rather all of their series.

What got me interested in this series in the first place was the fact that it was going to revolve around people involved in music. I, myself, am a musician and like what I do. Seeing an anime series that depicts music in a much wider (though not covering it entirely) scope just warms my heart.

The first season of this series was rather the typical KyoAni moe, slice-of-life story revolving around music. It gets even deeper and in-depth, especially with the characters, in this second season.

The series shows and explains the events that happened in Kitauji’s high school concert band prior to Kumiko’s membership. In the first season, it was vaguely described as a usual club drama. The seniors and juniors had a big argument and therefore caused the club to malfunction.

We are given a general idea of the whole conflict through Mizore and Nozomi’s story. How Nozomi appeared as an angel to Mizore and how Mizore became after Nozomi left the concert band. Albeit cliche but it works for me.

We get to see more depth in Asuka and Kumiko’s character. The series shows us a side of Asuka of being human – a person who has her troubles despite appearing to be the most “perfect” student. Kumiko’s character was given even more depth as she grows to like Asuka and gives her reasons to remain in the band over her mom’s desires.

Again, a bit cliche but it works wonderfully.

This season has been a great one – we’ve seen more character development compared to the last season. It was, as if, the writers decided to take a somewhat serious tone for the story whilst keeping that moe theme in tact and it worked wonderfully.

The ending was well-done with everyone coming to terms with their problems. A new set of officers were set to lead the remaining members of the concert band as the seniors graduated. The way how Kumiko clinged to Asuka so much was a bit weird for me since I felt some Yuri tension in there but nonetheless, I cannot argue.

The animation was praiseworthy as expected from Kyoto Animation but I can’t compare anything in this season to Reina’s scene from last season.

The orchestra soundtrack was impressive as well. I found the Marine’s march rather fun to listen.

This anime series would work well for those who’ve taken a liking to the slice of life and moe genre. If you like that and music, then you’re in for a treat if you watch this show. It may not appeal to all people but it’s worth watching it when you’re a bit down.

 

 

RWBY Volume 4, Episodes 4- 7

REVIEW – RWBY’s recent episodes have been exciting for me. In the fourth episode, we have been revealed about Ozpin’s current state and his relation to the farm hand, Oscar. A good amount of depth to Oobleck, Port, and Taiyang’s character – on how they know each other and their antics at Beacon. We’ve also got a glimpse of Raven and Qrow conversing about the relic and the location of the Spring Maiden – neither got an answer.

Fifth episode, we’ve seen a good amount of the faunus’ home continent, Menagerie. It was interesting to learn about faunus being transported to the continent which resulted in overpopulation in there. We’ve also been shown Blake’s home, her mother and father. Sun was incredibly hilarious to watch in this episode as he tries to mingle with Blake’s parents.

Sixth episode, team RNJR are surprised to see an abandoned city called “Oniyuri.” Ren seems to know a lot about the place considering how he mentioned about his parents investing in the city’s construction. I hope we get to explore Ren’s past – enough for us to understand him and how he ended up with Nora.

In the same episode, we see Weiss’ performance in the charity concert her father organized for the people of Mistral. It was an incredible development of character in Weiss as she firmly expressed her disbelief in the people of Atlas’ selfishness regarding the events in Beacon. Props to General Ironwood for supporting her.

Seventh episode, we get to resume the battle starting between Team RNJR, assisted by Qrow, and Tyrion. Rooster Teeth has displayed their forte: fighting sequences. Although it may not have been the best of animation, it certainly packed a lot of action into me and most viewers. We get a reveal of Tyrion being a scorpion faunus which his tail was later cut at the end of the battle by Ruby.

Also, Rooster Teeth’s adding some profanity in the script which was an indicator of how serious the series was getting. Tyrion calling Ruby a “bitch” after cutting off his tail was just the good stuff.

These four episodes were a roller coaster ride. It was an incredible display of the improvements Rooster Teeth has done in its animation and story writing.

I am in hype as episode eight releases.

KyoAni works on “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid” anime project

NEWS – Two weeks ago, Kyoto Animation uploaded a video teaser for their upcoming anime project, “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.” The series is expected to air on January 11, 2017.

The series will be adapted from Kyoushinsha Cool’s “Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon.” The North American publisher, Seven Seas Entertainment, describes the story as:

Miss Kobayashi is your average office worker who lives a boring life, alone in her small apartment–until she saves the life of a female dragon in distress. The dragon, named Tohru, has the ability to magically transform into an adorable human girl (albeit with horns and a long tail!), who will do anything to pay off her debt of gratitude, whether Miss Kobayashi likes it or not. With a very persistent and amorous dragon as a roommate, nothing comes easy, and Miss Kobayashi’s normal life is about to go off the deep end!

 The following is the staff for the anime project, “Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon”:

Original: Kyoushinsha Cool (Futabasha “Monthly Action” in the series)
Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto (Haruhi Suzumiya, Amagi Brilliant Park)
Series configuration: Yuka Yamada (Samurai Warriors)
Character Design: Miku Kadowaki (Amagi Brilliant Park, Beyond the Boundary)
Art Director: Mikiko Watanabe
Color design: Yuka Yoneda
Small setting: Shuchiku Uniformitarian
Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka
Music: Masumi Ito
Music Production: Lantis
Opening theme song: fhana
Ending Theme: female leads as Choro-gonzu

via crunchyroll

RWBY Vol. 4 Episode 3

REVIEW – Rooster Teeth’s animated series, “RWBY” has come a long way ever since it’s first volume. The gradual shift of tone from happy-go-lucky school life to absolute chaos was well-executed in the series’ third volume.

In the third episode, we get to see where Blake has ended up after the Fall of Beacon. She’s somewhat on a “journey” to find herself as she goes home to Menagerie. It was quite depressing to see Blake’s guard up after the chaotic events. In the previous volumes, she slowly opened up to everyone but now, she’s confused on who to trust and who not to.

It was quite hilarious and expected to find Sun following Blake – to her annoyance. I am quite optimistic for a Sun and Blake pairing since that is where the series is going for. Also, the fight scene against the “water dragon” Grimm was epic. Blake and Sun helping each other out and displaying their strengths to bring it down was just exhilarating to watch.

I have to point out the wondrous addition of sunset colors during the entire fight. Rooster Teeth’s animation team has definitely improved. Can’t forget about the water too, they did that quite well.

On the other side of things, Yang has received a mechanical robot arm from General Ironwood – a gift she is quite hesitant to accept. In the episode, we can see how she’s condescended from a strong woman into a helpless and scarred girl. The confrontation with Adam and the lost of her arm really took a toll on her. She’s gotten nightmares and shows little to no enthusiasm at all.

In the enemy’s viewpoint, Salem and Cinder have a discussion about a “relic” of some sort – something Ozpin had. I’ve heard that they might be referring to Ozpin’s staff but I don’t recall any mention in the series about it. Another thing to note, Salem asked Cinder if she killed Ozpin to which she said yes. We still can’t say anything regarding Ozpin since we haven’t seen any body or concrete proof that he was actually dead.

Over-all, the episode shed light to a few things about Blake’s whereabouts, Salem’s concerns and Yang’s recovery.

A review of the fifth episode will be up soon. I’ve decided not to review episode 1 – 2 since I’ve basically talked about it in the article, “End of RWBY’s fairy tale.”

Credits to Koyorin for the feature image.

KyoAni’s upcoming “Violet Evergarden”

NEWS – Six months ago, Kyoto Animation uploaded a teaser for their upcoming adaptation of the award-winning novel “Violet Evergarden.” The novel is authored by Kana Akatsuki and illustrated by Akiko Takase.

The teaser showcases Kyoto Animation’s trademark of lively and fluid animation. It is, by itself, a work of art and I am very excited for the series to come out. There is no statement about when it will be out other than “the anime project is in the works.”

 

Kyoto Animation has released the description for this anime project:

Auto Memories Doll.

It’s been quite a while since that name caused a fuss. Originally invented by Professor Orland solely for his beloved wife, Auto Memories Dolls eventually spread out into the world, and a machine that allows people to rent out the dolls was also created.

“I will run as fast as I can to wherever my customer desires. I am the Auto Memories Doll, Violet Evergarden.”

A girl who almost appears to have popped out of a fairy tale with her blonde hair and blue eyes said this with her inorganic beauty and sweet voice.

“Violet Evergarden” is the first-ever entry to win the grand prize in Kyoto Animation’s competition for novels. In the past few years, they would’ve given entries recognition and do an anime adaptation for it but never have they given a grand prize. Examples of these recognized entries were Kyoukai no Kanata, Free! (originally called High Speed!) and Chuunibiyou. All of which were fairly respectable.

However, this series has a lot of expectation to live up to. It is the first-ever grand prize winner and therefore should be a great series hopefully.

Personally, I’m expecting it to be similar with Plastic Memories but it’d had to focus on discovering emotions whilst the android main female lead is tasked to write letters by her customers.

The anime series will probably be up early or mid 2017. Until then, we are in the dark.

 

A look at Kimi no Na wa.

REVIEW – A film that was deemed number one on it’s first opening weekend in the Japanese box office and earned 17.92 billion yen as of November 7, 2016 (www.en.wikipedia.org). Kimi no Na wa is one of the five highest-grossing anime films in history – what could be the reason for its overwhelming popularity?

Kimi no Na wa. is a fantasy anime film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai (5 centimeters per second, Garden of Words), and animated by CoMix Wave Films.

It depicts the story of Mitsuha, a high school girl who is fed up of living in the countryside and wishes to be a “handsome young boy living in Tokyo”. She then wakes up in the body of Taki, a high school boy living in Tokyo. The two realize that they’ve switched bodies and try all sorts of communication to keep their lives in check, ultimately helping one another in their own life problems. However, as time passes on, they’ve lost the ability to contact each other and swap bodies. Taki goes and looks for town of Itomori, in hopes of seeing Mitsuha again.

The film does a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life. It shows a lot of humor and the slice-of-life aspect as the main characters live in each other’s lives. I was particularly amused as how Mitsuha, a girl, would act in Taki’s body – the clumsiness, the polite and feminine way of speaking distinguishes each character cleanly. Taki would act tough while living Mitsuha’s life, committing some rowdy acts here and there – to the surprise of Mitsuha’s friends. Mitsuha would struggle to hide her feminine side as she talks to Taki’s friends in his body. It’s just great humor and fun to see people swap bodies and how they react.

Animation-wise, the film was splendid and very detailed. The animators spared no effort in creating each and every frame for this film.

As for the soundtrack, the film’s theme “Zenzense” by Japanese rock band RADWIMPS was catchy and upbeat to hear. “Nademoniya” fit the emotions of sadness and desperation as Taki and Mitsuha try to meet despite the impossibility to do so.

The only confusing aspect of the film that I found was how religion and fantasy was connected. It explained the concept of “musubi” and how everyone was connected but not how it got Mitsuha and Taki to meet. But I can get past that.

Kimi no Na wa. is a wonderful and visually-appealing film. It deserves its popularity and is worth your time and money should you go and view it in a movie theater. It’s probably best if you do since you’d be giving money to the creators rather than just torrenting it from the net.

“Why does the scenery of a town that no longer exists wring my heart so?”

– Taki Tachibana, Kimi no Na wa.

End of RWBY’s fairy tale

DISCUSSION – Rooster Teeth’s animated series, RWBY, returns with a fourth volume. The volume’s plot will revolve around the events after the fall of Beacon as the entire world of Remnant slowly descends into chaos and how the main characters are coping up with this.

Volumes 1 to 3 have been about school, friendship and good things that have happened to the characters so far. They have developed so much as characters and we’ve come to relate with them very well.

In Volume 4, however, we’ve seen a huge chaos and destruction to what the characters have developed – these relationships and self-discoveries they’ve made. Volume 4 is the end of the fairy tale. Reality has hit hard for all of these characters.

To start off, Ruby, Jaune, Nora, and Ren, have teamed up and are on a journey to possibly defeating the people behind the attacks at Beacon? I have not fully understood what is actual goal set for Team JNRR or RNJR but this is the only logical thing that they should be doing.

Along the journey, we get to see how each character has been affected by the events in the Fall of Beacon.

Nora and Ren are somewhat coping with it. Ruby, however, has changed ever since the events at Beacon. She’s somewhat got a sense of seriousness and maturity in her – but the quirkiness is there, just toned down a bit.

Jaune, however, had been most affected by the Fall of Beacon after Phyra’s death. I am not quite sure if the somewhat romantic air around the two was canon or not but without a doubt, Jaune regarded Phyra highly. The scene in episode two where Jaune trained under the supervision of Phyra’s recorded video was very emotional. Rooster Teeth was stellar at orchestrating that scene. They showed that Jaune “was tired of losing everything” and how deep his sorrow is for Phyra’s death.

Yang still hasn’t come to terms with losing her arm. She is showing this depressed side of her which is very opposite to the lock-and-load attitude she’s displayed for the past three volumes.

Blake had reverted to her loner shell and is constantly pushing all friends away from her. Her character development in the previous volumes seem for naught. She is still afraid of getting hurt and her ties to the White Fang.

Rooster Teeth’s work on RWBY’s fourth volume has been stellar. The animations are smoother than ever. I would like to point the use of shadows and gorgeous lighting from the sunset in episode three. Gotta give props to Rooster Teeth for the new stuff in RWBY.

Looking forward to the rest of the episodes.

A civilization to stand the test of time

NEWS – Not too long ago, Sid Meir’s Civilization VI was released. It is the sixth of the ever-evolving and entertaining Civilization franchise. The game still operates the same with its predecessor, Civilization V, but with major changes to the mechanics and victory conditions.

I recently got my hands of a copy and been playing it for the past two days. It was a very exciting thing for me, being a fan of strategy games, to play this. The game was a little bit confusing at first but I got used to it fairly quickly. I’ll be tackling on the things that piqued my interest as I played the game.

First off, the main theme for the game was just spectacular. Every time I loaded up a new game, the song “Sogno di Volare” would just give me chills everywhere. It set up the premise of the game which was to “build a civilization that will stand the test of time”.

Secondly, Sean Bean as narrator was stunning to hear. The way his accent sets the mood when he dishes out a quote related to a newly discovered tech, civic, or wonder – it just gave me a realistic vibe of the game.

Lastly, the new victory condition -Religious Victory, is a new thing for the Civilization franchise. This is, personally, an enjoyable yet head-boggling goal to achieve. The victory condition requires you to convert the majority of the world to your religion. This can be time-consuming and can end up slowing you down if you don’t chart your course right. I’ll leave that up to your own personal experience.

While I may have left out some other new things like continents, new resources, and others – I’m leaving all of that to your own personal enjoyment. You can only enjoy something fully once you go in blind.

Civilization VI is the first base game of the series that is well-developed and feels complete. It is definitely worth your money and gaming time.

Will Sword Art Online’s Ordinal Scale be better?

DISCUSSION – On October 4, 2015, it was announced that the light novel would be turned into an anime film adaptation, with the main staff returning from the anime series. The voice actors and actresses from the anime series will return to reprise their roles in the anime film. This anime film adaptation would be called “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, and is scheduled to release in Japan on February 18, 2017. Australia and New Zealand will see the film in their theaters some time in 2017, courtesy of Madman Entertainment.

The plot for the new anime film is as follows:

The film is set after the events of the anime’s second season, in which Kirito, Asuna and their friends start playing a new game known as OS (short for “Ordinal Scale”) that, contrary to the previous ones they played, doesn’t have a full-dive function and is based on a new augmented reality device instead called “Augma”. In this game, players are ranked according to their achievements and players with lower ranks have serious disadvantages in duels against their higher ranked peers. However, Kirito and co. discover that something is wrong when they come across monsters from Aincrad, the world from the same game they were trapped inside for two years while fighting for their lives.

(source: en.wikipedia.org)

sword_art_online_the_movie_-_ordinal_scale_visual
Key Visual

The thing that interests me about this new anime film adaptation for Sword Art Online is the augmented reality aspect. For those who don’t know, augmented reality is an indirect view of the environment around us. An example of a game that uses the augmented reality concept would be Pokemon GO.

Now imagine, the mechanics of Pokemon GO right now but merging the MMORPG genre. It would be a different situation entirely than playing virtual reality. The film is set on a game that uses augmented reality and (judging from the trailers) the main characters are somehow trapped in that game.

This certainly piques my interest as being “trapped” in an augmented reality seems too confusing to me since if such game would exist in real life, we would be playing through either a smartphone screen or a pair of goggles that use the elements of the environments in your local area. That idea would be cool but it is quite interesting how the characters would be “trapped” in such a game. Maybe the same conditions with the first game, Sword Art Online, where if they remove the device connecting them to the game then it would end their lives.

As far as success is concerned, I’m very “iffy” on how the plot would be written – will it be good or just as plain and illogical as the anime series? The concept of augmented reality is indeed a new thing in anime (or maybe not) but the success of Sword Art Online’s new animated film “Ordinal Scale” will basically be in the hands of the writer. I do hope that Reki Kawahara has improved his writing for this film, otherwise, it would be a huge downer for me and other people who are expecting the film. That being said, people are already expressing their dislike for the whole series. I hope that the film becomes the “saving grace” for the whole franchise.

Nisekoi author publishes heart-wrecking one-shot

FIRST LOOK – Komi Naoshi, author of “Nisekoi” manga, has published his new one-shot manga entitled “Toki Doki”. The one-shot revolves around a teenage boy and girl spending the rest of their youth before their time runs out.

Nisekoi ended not too long ago and was, according to Komi Naoshi, “the longest manga” he’s ever worked on. Naoshi published a number of one-shot manga prior to Nisekoi. Shortly after the manga’s success, an anime adaptation was produced by studio SHAFT.

Komi Naoshi’s new one-shot “Toki Doki” was heartbreaking to read. It had the same vibe with the film “The Bucket List” where, instead of old age, both characters are under a terrible disease and have few years to live.

The protagonist tries to make the heroine live her life to the fullest. But unknown to the girl, he risks his own life in the process since he suffers the same disease.

It is a touching and emotional story of how life can seem infinite and never-ending. You never realize the importance of life unless you’re nearing death’s door.

Komi Naoshi has done wonderfully in his new one-shot “Toki Doki”. This short one-shot is worth your reading time.

Think, write, discuss, repeat.