Raging Rant: We Need More Attractive Mature Women

So after a whole bunch of posts bitching about pandering body types, waifu bait, the need for strong women and the like, I feel it is finally time to argue in the opposite direction for once.  Anime needs more hot milfs.  Now I’m being facetious insofar as the milf moniker is concerned, but in all seriousness I do feel that having some more hot adult women is something anime could benefit from for a variety of reasons.  Let’s start with the basics of the situation.

Anime is incredibly high school-centric, we all know this.  Hell I’ve even bitched about it before.  We need more shows that go beyond high school, and by extension we need more attractive adult women to go with them.  Anime has a habit of filling as many shows as it can with as many cute, attractive characters as it can, and on the whole that’s fair enough.  I might disagree with the methods used sometimes but I’m not against a cast full of hot women.  But like many stereotypical anime Youtubers, I’m a twenty something white guy, and I think we need more attractive female characters in the 20s-30s and even 40s range, because frankly I’m starting to outgrow the high school bullshit and with every passing year I get more removed from teenage girls.  This is not to say no attractive adult women exist, they certainly do, it’s just that there are so few of them in comparison to their 15, 16 and 17 year old counterparts.  Now I’m not so “mature” that I can’t find fanservice shows full of hot young women appealing, I’ve yet to outgrow that appeal by any stretch of the imagination.  But while some new teenage fanservice romps do catch my eye every now and then, those kinds of shows just aren’t as appealing to me as they used to be.  Part of that is on me for watching a lot of those kinds of shows, but another is just that I’m ready for something new.  In my rant about the abundance of high schools shows, I mentioned that I thought Golden Time made Toradora unwatchable to me, not because Toradora was bad, but because I could better relate to the characters in Golden Time, having been a college student myself when it first aired, and as a bonus I didn’t have to put up with Taiga’s tsundere bullshit.  Sure Koko is her own mess of crazy like Taiga was, but shes a different and much less explored kind of crazy, which would make her more interesting by itself.  And like Koko, hot adult women are relatively fresh compared to high school girls.  Part of this ties into making anime for an older crowd to enjoy but I’ve explained that before.  The problem with a many of the hot older women anime already has is that they usually aren’t focused on at all.

In To Love-Ru and Monster Musume for example, Rito’s mom and Mrs. Smith are both fairly attractive but they aren’t given much focus, or in Mrs. Smith’s case much of the focus put on her paints her in a negative light that makes the overall character less attractive despite her physical appearance.  This is not to say I want to see older women objectified or being forced into moe roles for the sake of the audience though, I was inspired to write this after watching this random Rokka no Yuusha AMV like a hundred times and thinking to myself over and over “you know I vaguely noticed this back when I was watching the series, but goddamn Maura’s hot.”  In case you never saw Rokka no Yuusha or have since forgotten it here’s a reminder.  Maura is the oldest of the Six Braves, the one who often assumes the position of authority based on her age, I think she’s in her 30s, her status as the leader of All Heavens Temple, which makes her the leader of all the Saints, and her power as the Saint of the Mountains.  The point I’m getting at here is that Maura is not some objectified girl with cartoonishly big breasts (though she does have those) and some kind of stupid moe quirk, she arguably has more agency and decision-making power than anyone else in Rokka no Yuusha and is kind of a badass to boot.  Also she’s really hot.

Anyway besides me understanding how hot one particular character is, the important thing I realized while watching that AMV was just how few characters like Maura I knew about.  Off the top of my head the women closest to Maura (by which I mean older, has agency and someone I found attractive) I could think of are, Rin from Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne, Tsuruga Meisai from Katanagatari, Kikyo from Inuyasha (she might be younger than I remember but either way she certainly seems older than Kagome or Sango so that counts in my book), Re-l from Ergo Proxy, Karula from Utawarerumono, Iga Oboro from Basilisk, Ren Hakuei from Magi, and Emma from Garo: Hono no Koukuin and that’s about all I’m coming up with at the moment, thought I’ve surely seen more.  I should also note this list is shrunken somewhat by my personal tastes, Balsa or Kusanagi fit a role similar to Mauras for example, I just don’t find those two attractive even if I love the characters because I am a flawed and shallow human being.  By comparison if I tried to list every attractive high school girl in the shows I’ve seen, even if all I did was list the name and show, that list would probably be one of the longest things I’ve ever written.  Incidentally most of those characters I just listed are the among the characters I find most interesting in their respective shows, and am interested in in general and there a few important reasons why.  Mature women have more going for them than just being fresh and new compared to the onslaught of high school moe girls.  See the thing about mature characters is that they tend to be a lot more complete, fully realized characters, hence the descriptor mature.  They also just usually have a more interesting life story by virtue of having lived longer and by having more interesting years of life to look at.

Society loves to romanticize the magic of youth and adolescence and that is totally fair, you really start to appreciate the freedom and fun of youth and adolescence after you start working 9-5, paying taxes, paying rent and dealing with all the other headaches of adulthood.  But this romantic portrayal forgets a couple of things.  For starters life before adulthood is far more uniform than life as an adult.  Sure there is a lot variety between individuals based on where they’re from, their race, religion, financial situation, interests, personalities and so on.  However, barring the difference between first and third world countries, we all follow the same basic template for the most part, we go to school from 8-3 five days a week and often do an extra-curricular activity like playing a sport or an instrument.  Within that broad generalization is plenty of potential for variety, but adulthood doesn’t even follow those same broad generalizations.  It’s expected for you to get a job in most places in the world, maybe you can still be a housewife if you’re a woman but women have been moving into the work force in growing numbers for decades, save when cultural and/or religious rules dictate otherwise.  But unlike kids, who are required to attend school or be home-schooled, adults don’t necessarily have to get a job, it just means you’ll likely end up homeless and will die sooner.  Likewise the idea of the 9-5 being the only job available is rapidly vanishing as Youtube and other internet related careers are providing people with all kinds of new job opportunities, in addition to more traditional non-9-5 jobs like self-employment and being an author.  More important than all of that though is agency.  In the real world children have limited agency in a strictly legal sense, whereas adults are allowed to do as they please within reason.  But what does all this have to do with anime?

One of the benefits of anime, for young people anyway, is that generally gives it’s high school characters the same kind of agency as adults and often removes adult oversight from the story by just having the kid live alone.  But even with that agency there are limits relative to adults, teenagers living on their own can’t legally walk into a bar and get wasted on sake for example.  Adults can do that kind of shit and that quite believably lends itself to character archetypes you can’t have in teenagers, like the alcoholic.  So adult characters can have a bit more variety without straining suspension of disbelief by mere virtue of being adults, this is a bonus.  However the true beauty of adult characters is the variety of life experiences I was describing in the above paragraph.  High school kids come with certain expectations that adults just don’t.  That’s why so many high school characters seem the exact fucking same, while adults can vary more.  Sure there are plenty of generic Caring Parent A type characters in anime, but get beyond those and you see a world of possibilities.  You can have literal hobos as main characters like in Tokyo Godfathers, you can have adults who feel lost and adrift despite having a normal job like the teacher from Kotonoha no Niwa (Garden of Words), you can have self-employed private detectives like Rin, you can have professional race car drivers, mad scientists, generals, fucking just about any kind of character and occupation you can think of.  This is half of what makes adult characters more interesting, their life stories can be totally different once they are out of school, hell even when they get out of school can be a difference between them.  But with high schoolers, even though they can have a lot of differences between each individual, they also have enough shared traits, activities and experiences that they can get stale faster.  And given just how many high school characters anime has already, for a lot of people, many kinds of high school kid characters are getting old and cliche.  By contrast adult characters have all the space in the world to be free and grow and we don’t have anywhere near enough of them.  But variety of characters is only half of the story.

More so than the variety of character types which adults can play, it’s the depth such characters can have that makes them truly appealing.  You can have some well realized and detailed high school kids too, but it doesn’t happen often.  But adult characters who do get a lot of focus usually are.  For example, earlier I mentioned a character called Tsuruga Meisai from Katanagatari.  Now I’m a huge fan of Katanagatari so it shouldn’t be big a surprise that I like a character from that show, but the reason I mentioned her specifically is because of her backstory.  Like many characters from Katanagatari, Tsuruga Meisai is only around for one episode but I found her to be the most interesting of Shichika’s (the main guy) opponents.  She practically radiated authority, had developed a strong philosophy that she dedicated herself to, ran a shrine that helped women who were victims of war and sexual assault, and had what I consider to be some of the most interesting conversations with Shichika in the entire show and it all came from her backstory.  Unlike the average high school character who has usually has one major event, person or hobby that defines most of their life and character, Meisai had a decades of experiences to draw from that turned into the person she is when Shichika meets her.  In fact, her story only really begins after she’s done being a “normal” teenager and starts living life with the agency and freedom of an adult.  When you put all of Meisai’s backstory under the spotlight and see how it weaves together and defines who she is in the story, what you have is a rich tapestry the likes of which a high school kid can’t really match up with.  Even the really cool and interesting teens like Layfon from Chrome Shell Regios or the Elric brothers from Full Metal Alchemist, just don’t come with the same kind of depth and detail that Meisai and characters like her have.

Look, the main reason I’m bringing this up is because to me, the ideal hot character is not someone who has a sexy design, huge boobs, moe or otherwise very feminine traits and  clothes that showcase her “assets.”  Now having any or all of those things can be a bonus and they can make a character look great, but for me the absolute priority is making the girl someone who I can appreciate as an individual, someone whose life, actions and relationships I can get invested in.  For me a truly gorgeous female character are the kind of women I was talking about in the long post about strong women, women who register to me as people first and foremost, and ideally as totally kick ass people.  Yes because I am a shallow and imperfect being (and therefore a normal human being), the trappings of big boobs, revealing outfits, and feminine traits do add to the appeal of characters.  There’s a reason I find someone like Maura a bit more attractive than someone like Balsa (you might be thinking it’s the difference in cup size and that is part of it, but it’s mainly the lips, I just can’t handle the Balsa-Kusanagi lips).  And the reason I want to talk about older women specifically in this this context is because I believe they have greater potential for being characters I can appreciate as people when compared to the average moe high school girl.  Not that high school aged characters can’t be drop dead gorgeous, I think Erza Scarlet pre-Fairy 2014 is one of the hottest anime women of all time for example.  But all the same I find myself impressed by adult women characters far more often than I do teenage girl characters despite their relative rarity.

So in conclusion, anime needs more hot milfs.  I think it would benefit the anime industry to be willing to try more original, nuanced, adult shows instead of making a SAO or AoT clone every season.  And in that same spirit I think we need attractive adult women to populate these new adult shows.  Or even if they just showed up in more traditional shows more often to shake things up, I think that would be good too.  I mean one of my favorite parts of Garo: Hono no Koukuin was when Leo and Emma hooked up after they both overcame their respective emotional traumas.  Even aside from the fact that we actually saw a show where the main character had sex, which happens way way WAY less than it should, it was just satisfying as fuck to see the two come together and heal each other’s emotional wounds.  And I think we can get more scenes and relationships like that, if we have more adult women involved.  It will be good for the medium from a creative standpoint, to work on new kinds of scenarios with a mostly untapped type of character.  It will be good for pandering fanservice too, I know I’m not the only twenty something anime fan wishing we had more hot adult women to appreciate.  And lastly, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it will be good for anime’s image.  There are a lot of non-otaku people in the world who are uncomfortable with and/or look down anime’s apparent love of little girls, made worse by merch like seuxalized full body pillows of said girls.  And while I like to have a “I don’t give a flying fuck about what other people think about me or my hobbies” attitude,  couldn’t we maybe, just maybe get some people to change their minds from “anime is weird and perverted” to “anime isn’t that weird or bad” or even “hey maybe I want to check anime out” if we had more adult women characters involved in making up anime’s image?  But whatever, having more hot adult women will be good for anime as an art form and may even contribute to sales for a certain niche audience, and in my book that’s a win.  So let’s have more milfs please.  Thank you for reading and I hope to see you in the next one.

 

 

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Season’s Greetings: Spring 2016 Follow-up

Hello everyone!  As I described in the first seasonal first impressions post this is a good season, lots of good shows to go around.  So now that almost every show has 3-4 episodes out, I’ll tell you a bit about the shows I’ve been watching.

Bakuon:  I initially didn’t pick this one up because it was just a “cute girl on motorcycles” moe show, and moe shows generally aren’t my thing.  But after being persuaded to watch it, I can wholeheartedly say that you, out there on the internet, show watch this show.  Bakuon is still a moe show and but it’s a really funny show, it’s full of wacky shit like a motocycle club senpai who just wears a helmet with a ribbon on it all the time, or how the main character’s training motorcycle straight up talks and she’s super dirty because “she’s been ridden by so many men” by her own admission.  This show will never be great but it will likely be entertaining if the current episodes are anything to go by, and I’m fine with that.  Seriously give this one a try.

Big Order:  This is a steaming pile of shit that I didn’t talk about in the prior first impression’s post because it hadn’t come out yet.  It has a main girl that looks like Gasai Yuno from Mirai Nikki, this show is written by the same author who did Mirai Nikki, but don’t let that fool you, it’s shit.  It has some of the worst CG I’ve ever seen, weird considering how much CG has advanced as shown last season.  The characters are boring as fuck and the main guy brings the term OP male lead to a whole new level.  And if that wasn’t bad enough the show is terrible with it’s music, like it has this upbeat shounen music during a scene that was supposed to be this big dramatic reveal, and it makes the scene look stupidly bad.  Literally the only cool thing about this show was the idea that the main guy caused the apocalypse when he was a kid and hasn’t really mentally recovered from that.  Skip this one.

Boku no Hero Academia: This already one of the biggest shows of the season and for good reason, it’s really good.  Sure, it’s a pretty typical shounen story but it’s the best kind of shounen there is.  The animation and character designs are great, and there’s tons of different super powers.  All Might is the most American anime character of all time and he’s cool, I like how he has a super skinny, sickly body when he isn’t using his powers.  And because this season is only supposed to be 13 episodes, there is no way it will run the risk of getting drawn out and boring like so many shounen shows eventually do.  Anyway, it’s been very impressive thus far and if for some reason you aren’t watching it already, start watching now.

Bungo Stray Dogs: This show is really picking up.  The first episode was fun but not all that impressive and same goes for the second episode, but episode three was a lot better.  We got to see more superpowers, met what looks like the main villain, and he’s pretty good, and we learned more character and plot details that will dictate the next few episodes and maybe even the entire show.  It’s certainly picking up and I see some major action in the show’s future, which I know I’m looking forward to.  I also love the way they animate the various superpowers and just the variety of power’s they’ve shown already.  Bungo Stray Dogs may have gotten off to weak start compared to the big name shows of the season, but it looks like it will only get better from here, you should probably watch this one.

Concrete Revolutio Season 2:  I’m honestly a little bummed by this show so far.  The first episode was fucking amazing, easily one of the best episodes of anything airing this season.  However the episodes that have followed have been a bit more middle of the road.  It’s still good, but episodes two and three felt very episodic which was weird since the first was clearly narrative driven.  In the first season the episodes started episodic and then were tied together in a larger narrative and it was awesome, so I’m a bit confused as to why episodes two and three did away with that for the most part.  The show is still good but I feel like it has a vision when it’s working on the narrative and it’s got a lot less vision, or maybe drive is the better word, when it does the episodic stuff.  I hope it gets back to the narrative and picks up again.

Endride:  This is truly god awful and for a while I didn’t know why.  See on anime charts this was categorized as an original show and it technically is, but it’s basically a tie in for some cheap, free to play iPhone game that came out at the same time.  Do Not Watch This Fucking Car Crash.

Joker Game: This has been one of major disappointments of the season.  It looked like it could been a smarter, more nuanced and more mature anime show but that’s not what we got.  What we got was a super heavy handed, bland, not at all mature or smart show about how spies are total badasses, except that they haven’t showed us how they guys are badasses at all.  I think I might give this show an episode or two more to pull itself together because I like the time period and the 1930’s look of the setting and characters, but thus far it has been boring.  I’d say skip this one, you aren’t missing much so far.

Kiznaiver: I just can’t get a read on this show at all.  The first episode was weirdly like a random Bakemonogatari OVA, the second was funnier but still a bit heavy on the drama, and the third was mostly boring until they revealed that the last guy was a masochist, which was funny considering all the characters have to share their pain.  It looks great, very good animation, decent character designs and the dialogue is pretty good too.  But the story just hasn’t coalesced into something at all so far, it just seems kind of aimless even though it clearly isn’t supposed to be.  Watch it if you want, but if it doesn’t get some direction soon I have a hard time seeing it get good.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri:  This show is one the main contenders for show of the season and boy has it earned it.  The animation is super detailed, the overall look the of show is gorgeous.  The steampunk tech combined with feudal Japan was a great idea, and add a super zombie apocalypse and it’s great.  Beyond the visuals the show has a lot going for it premise-wise, the main guy is a much better version of Shingeki no Kyojin’s Eren Jaeger, and the super zombies are scarier than most of the titans ever were.  The only thing about this show that might bug people is how it starts with the drama and tension through the fucking roof, which is stylistic choice Tetsurou Araki, the director, seems to use a lot.  In case you don’t know Tetsurou Araki has directed Shingeki no Kyojin, Death Note and High School of the Dead, and all of those were jumped started to hook everyone early, and it usually hurt the show down the road.  I’m a bit worried that trend will hurt this show too, but so far it hasn’t happened.

Maiyoiga:  Maiyoiga is one of my favorite shows of the season.  It had a bit of a slow start but as of episode four it has gotten really good.  It will likely get super violent and gory, the director tends to  do that, it’s directed by the same guy who did Another.  It has a ton of characters and some of are way more insane than they appear.  In addition the hidden village the show takes place on is fucking with people’s heads and terrorizing people with these thunderous roars.  It looks set to be an exciting and messy show, do pick this one up if you haven’t watched it yet.

Sousei no Onmyouji:  You know most people this season will say Boku no Hero Academia or Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is the best show of the season and that’s totally fair, both are great.  But for my money, Sousei no Onmyouji is set to be my favorite show of the season.  Bear with me here.  It does have more potential to suck than the shows I just mentioned, and the third episode sort of shows how that could happen, it wasn’t very good, but the first two episodes were my favorite first two episodes of the season.  It does a lot of visual tricks, maybe too many flashbacks, but it makes the show look cool.  Like the outlines of the characters are black in the normal world, but they get same kind of red outlines the characters in No Game No Life had when they go to the demon world, and then the demons, holy shit they look hideous between the grainy texturing and the scratchy, jagged outlines they have.  Plus I just love the obscure and unusual lore and powers of onmyouji, and the show delivered there.  Plus they’ve done a great job of making the main characters similar enough to understand each other, and eventually get it on as prophesied, and still opposite enough to totally hate each other at the moment, they have similar power levels, undergo similar tragedies and had similar goals.  But then they react to trauma in opposite ways, Benio gets driven while Rokuro says fuck it I’m done, they’ve got the speed vs strength dichotomy down pat, and stuff like that.  I think they did a great job with action so far and while it has plenty of weak points, what it does well, it did so well that it won me over, even though I wasn’t even going to watch it first.  Watch this show.

 

Hidden Gems: Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushi or The World is Still Beautiful in English, though I think a better translation might be “Still, the World is Beautiful” or “However the World is Still Beautiful” but whatever, I’m going to call it Soredemo from now on; is a shoujo manga adaptation from the Spring 2014 anime season.  In case you don’t know much about me, I don’t like shoujo manga adaptations very much, it’s just not my genre.  However Soredemo is one of the rare exceptions that really caught my attention, and if you’re a bit iffy on the shoujo genre or love it and just want another one to watch, this is a show I would actually recommend.

Soredemo follows the story of Livius and Nike.  Livius is the king of the Sun Country, all the countries in the show are just “insert noun” Country and there’s not much detail on the setting at the global level.  Anyway the Sun Country has conquered the lion’s share of the world since Livius took over the throne and he’s considered this big intimidating figure across the world.  Nike is the fourth princess in some poor, backwater country at the ass end of the world called the Rain Country.  Rather than conquer the Rain Country, Livius allows them to remain autonomous but in return he wants one of the princesses to be his bride.  Which is where Nike comes in, she has been forced to marry Livius after, no joke, losing a game of rock-paper-scissors with her siblings.  The show doesn’t actually tell you all this when it starts, it begins with Nike arriving in the Sun Country after having deliberately avoided the Sun Country group that was supposed to escort her to the capitol of the Sun Country.  And all of this revealed later in the episode.  The first episode starts the way it does for a few important reasons, one, it establishes that Nike is from a poor country, two, that not everyone in Sun Country is happy with Livius and his decision to marry a princess from some country in the middle of nowhere, and three, that Nike is a force of nature both figuratively and literally.  Anyway moving right along.

At the end of episode 1 we finally meet Livius and he’s a child.  According to the wiki he’s 15 in the anime, though it felt like he was portrayed as even younger than that while I was watching it, in any case he is younger than Nike.  Livius looks like a younger, shorter Lelouch, albeit with more normal and rounded face instead of Lelouch’s chin-so-sharp-it-could-cut-bread and angular face.  He has some of the same personality traits as well, though Livius is a genius at basically everything, falling firmly into the anime trope of “pretty boy who’s literally the best at everything.”  However Livius does have some major flaws, he’s amazingly arrogant, and reasonably so, but more to the point he has hard time feeling things like a normal human being and by extension struggles to trust people.  In fact the reason he only wants to marry Nike because the Sun Country is dry as fuck and he wants her to summon rain for him, which is something she and all the princesses of the Rain Country can do.

Nike is a great foil to Livius though, she’s not a perfect genius but she’s by no means stupid or weak.  Where Livius is calculating and manipulative, Nike is passionate and straightforward.  Where Livius has major influence on everyone’s mind, either by way of being worshiped for his brilliance or feared for the same, Nike sways everyone’s hearts with her passion and magic.  Where Livius has worked hard to understand international politics, Nike works hard to understand the people of any given country.  The point is that the two are designed to butt heads all the time but also to help the other grow.  So Nike flatly refuses Livius’ request for rain, telling him it’s a sacred rite to summon rain and it will require some work on both their parts.  Livius is interested by this because no has seriously refused him since he took over the world and his response is to throw Nike in a dungeon in an attempt to take some of the fire out of her, Nike’s response is to use her wind/cloud/rain magic to break out immediately and sneak up on Livius with basic intent of knocking some of the arrogance out of him, but all that really happens is that Nike ends up eating Livius’ dinner.  But while this is mostly silly slice of life comedy, albeit with a more medieval and royal slant, amounts to little action it establishes that Nike and Livius are one another’s match in many ways and this will be the basic building block of their relationship going forward.

So why is this show any good?  The main characters mostly.  There are some interesting side characters but the show is mostly all about Livius and Nike and how the two end up being the right partner for the other.  Between Livius cleverness and drive, and Nike’s passion and magic the two of them can and do overcome every obstacle that comes their way, so the plot isn’t all that important.  But watching how each of the characters grow individually, and together as a couple, to overcome each obstacle is far more important and fortunately pretty damn satisfying.  Both Livius and Nike have a lot of work to do in order to well and truly fall for the other and thanks to their various trials, they put in the effort to see that work get done.  This lends a lot more weight and believability to their romance moving forward, which is something makes the show much more enjoyable.  The other important thing about the main characters is just that they are in fact good characters.  Nike is particular is very easy to like and get invested in, which is huge.  My biggest gripe with shoujo shows is not that they are about romance more so than action, it’s that I so rarely give a shit about the main characters or main girl especially.  And because I don’t give a shit about them, I find their romantic struggles boring.  Ao Haru Ride was a fine example of this problem, the main girl just bored me to tears, she had no real personality, no interesting life struggles, no nothing except for blushing and getting worked up over her childhood friend turned high school crush.  By comparison, I am a big fan of Nike as a person and so I’m interested in watching struggle, grow and fall in love, which means I’m invested in the romance.

And the show delivers.  It has some genuinely sweet and heart-warming moments and one spot where it even brought a tear to mine eyes.  It’s also pretty funny in the down time between major story events, dramatic moments and romantic bits.  This is especially true because it’s not the usual high school fare, the humor has a lot more room to be a bit more unique and memorable because the setting is a bit more unique.  What’s more the show concludes nicely, it finishes a major dramatic arc, brings our couple quite firmly together and still leaves itself open to further story developments.  I think the biggest draw for me was Nike, so many shoujo manga shows have these quite, cutesy girls who get flustered over minor shit and just lack confidence and in many cases character.  Nike is a strong, fiercely independent leading lady, and while she too gets flustered over pretty minor romantic developments, she brings a lot more to the table than your typical shoujo heroine and I know that helped me enjoy this show a lot.  Overall Soredemo is a good show.  It’s makes for nice romance story, it has decent comedy, some very good dramatic moments and it’s still low key enough to feel like a refreshing break from all the hype and intensity of action shows.  And I want to reiterate, if you’re not into shoujo manga adaptations, I would encourage you to give this show a shot because it’s not like a lot of shoujo shows, so I think it makes a for a good way to ease into the genre.  But regardless of anyone’s tastes I do recommend this one and I hope some people go out there and enjoy it.  Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next one.

 

Understanding Characters: Resonance vs Convenience

So just a few days ago I was listening to a 3 and a half hour podcast debate about Erased, where one of the debaters gave the show a 2/10 while the other gave it a 9/10.  Anyway it’s a good debate and if you have the time it’s worth listening to, and it was what inspired me to write this post about characters.  This will not be about any specific character or archetype, it won’t even be a case of good characters versus bad characters necessarily.  Instead I want to focus on certain approaches to how characters are written and why these different approaches end up with such drastically different results.  There will be scattered spoilers ahead.

I want to stress right now that Erased is not the only show to suffer from the problems I’m about to describe, it just happens to a really popular show at the moment that highlights said problems.  Erased is not a bad anime, well sort of.  From an animation/directorial standpoint Erased is actually cool, it does some interesting stuff that you could never have done in the manga.  And in my Surly Summary of Erased I acknowledged that, hell even the guy who gave Erased a 9/10 in the debate I was talking about was mostly focused on the directing.  I think Erased is a strong show case of how to use animation creatively and arguably effectively and if I gave half a shit about using review scores that would earn Erased some points on my hypothetical scale.  However in it’s totality I consider Erased to have mostly failed.  I don’t even think this is a problem with the anime itself necessarily, it could easily have been a problem in the manga I just don’t know because I haven’t read the manga, but the characters just feel fucking dead.  Barring Satoru himself and his mom, everyone feels like they are just one thing.  Kayo is just a girl who gets beat, and that’s all she is.  Ok she does have a few scenes which showcase a bit more character depth, but by and large she exists solely to be the poor little girl you feel sorry for and feel you must protect.  Yashiro’s sole purpose it seems is to be the fucked up bad guy with no depth to him at all, yes I know there’s more to him in the manga that didn’t make it into the anime but the anime has to stand on it’s own so I don’t care.  The point is that almost all the characters didn’t really feel like people, they stuck too closely to a single persona or attribute that served a narrative purpose.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with making a character who serves a narrative purpose.  For example Hisoka from HunterxHunter serves a purpose in the show, he helps drive Gon to grow by being this looming threat that Gon has to someday break free of, which Gon can only do by getting strong enough to beat Hisoka.  But Hisoka isn’t just Gon’s antagonist, he has a life and personality that don’t relate to Gon at all but do inform his relation to Gon.  Hisoka actively seeks out all kinds of potential challengers of which Gon is one, and sure because Hisoka is this way he plays a distinct role in Gon’s story, but the point is that Hisoka is this way because that just who he is and he applies this philosophy to everyone, not just Gon.  As a result Hisoka feels like an actual character, feels like he exists as a distinct entity in the world of HunterxHunter.  By comparison Yashiro just feels like an avatar used to put a human face on a concept.  Sure there are crazy murderers and child kidnappers in the world, and yes the whole spider web thing does have a narrative/symbolic purpose, but Yashiro the person does not feel like he exists.  In the anime at least, I should stress this opinion doesn’t apply to the manga, Yashiro does not come off as a being which fits into the world the story is set in.  He exists solely to be Satoru’s enemy, the obstacle he must overcome.  Ironically the spider web power is part of what robs Yashiro of his depth, he worked better as a believable human being when he was just this smart, sadistic serial kidnapper and murderer.  But when Yashiro decided to become Satoru’s enemy and had his entire personality defined by this relationship with Satoru, he stopped being a human and became a concept with face and mouth.  The reason Erased failed to me was because none of the characters really resonated with me as people, most of the time they felt like Yashiro did, ideas with a face.  Kayo’s mom for example was just way too over the top and heavy handed in her abuse, to the point I stopped giving a shit about her by the time the show revealed she had been beaten by her husband and that may have influenced her behavior.  Now let’s divorce Erased from the discussion and talk about the concept in broader context.

As I said before, writing characters who serve a narrative purpose is not inherently bad, however there is a need for balance.  Every character who has a purpose in a story should have thought put into how he or she serves that purpose.  However there also needs to be thought put into how the character resonates with the audience, fits into the setting, fits into the lore, basically how the real the character feels, how much weight their existence has to the viewer in the context of the story.  And jumping back to Erased for a second, that is where the show trips up.  Someone, maybe the director, maybe the writer but probably both, put effort into making the characters serve a purpose in the story and how they serve that purpose and what aspects of their character make them serve the purpose effectively but that’s just about all they did.  They didn’t put enough effort into all the stuff that contributes to the weight of the characters’ existence.  To be as blunt as I possibly can about this subject, making sure your characters feel like they exist organically within the world of your story is REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT.  You can make great shows with mediocre plots and unimaginative settings if you can make organic, relatable characters which we the audience can get invested in and resonate with.  A great example of this is Monster Musume.

I loved Monster Musume for a wide variety of reasons, but the root cause of it’s success was the characters.  Besides the addition of the monster girls, the setting was the same generic modern Japanese setting that shows use all the fucking time.  Likewise the plot was pretty par for the course for harem shows, generic nice guy keeps getting hot girl after hot girl to fall for him while he drags his feet choosing a final partner because then the show would end.  There are certain details specific to Monster Musume like how the main guy can’t screw the girls by law and is being pushed to marry one of them to set the precedent for the rest of the world and improve human-monster relations, but overall the “plot” if you can even call it that is barely different from other well known harem shows like To Love-Ru and Nisekoi.  Despite the similarities of the various harem shows, Monster Musume is much better, because the characters are better.  I found the monster girls more endearing than typical harem girls, even the ones I didn’t particularly like (Cerea mostly), because they weren’t just defined by their attraction to the male lead, they had issues of their own to overcome, usually about the human perception and subsequent bullying of monsters.  And because I got to see them struggle through these kinds of issues and how the male lead helped them make it through said issues, I care more about them and their relationships.  By comparison I generally only care about To Love-Ru’s girls insofar as which ones I find most attractive (the answer is Riko, obviously) because for the most part we don’t learn as much about them, we’re too busy watching Rito fall into their panties or accidentally grope them all the time.  I admit I’m making some broad generalizations here, but understand that if I tried to bring up every minute detail this post would never end.  We need characters that we can resonate with, yes they should serve some kind of purpose in the story, but they need to have more to them than just serving their narrative purpose.

Look I’m not just bringing this up to point out the obvious to people who will never read this, I have an agenda here.  I’m getting worried because I keep seeing more shows where the villains in particular are suffering from writing/directing where the characters serve a purpose more so than exist naturally in the setting.  Arguably even more alarming, a lot of these badly damaged villains are coming from the shows of A-1 Pictures.  Erased makes for a good example but there are others as well, Gate and SAO are some of the other well known A-1 shows that fall victim to this trend too.  This bothers me for two reasons, one A-1 Pictures has done a handful of shows I love and I would hate for people to write those off because they get buried under all these shitty shows A-1 makes, and two, bad villains are even worse for a story than bad heroes.  In an older post about villains, I said villains are often the most interesting characters in their shows because anyone can understand wanting to be the big, brave hero or the best (insert profession/hobby here, for example Pokemon trainer, swordsman, gamer, etc.) among your peers or indeed in the world.  By comparison it takes a much more unique, nuanced and interesting kind of mind and/or life to end up a powerful villain and getting us the audience to understand how the villain became the villain is usually one my favorite parts of any show.  For example in Psycho Pass, I found myself agreeing with Makishima Shouko, the villain, from a purely ideological standpoint when he revealed his philosophy, even as I sympathized with Shinya Kogami and his desire to kill Makishima, thus avenging the death of his partner and punishing Makishima for his unquestionably irredeemable crimes.  That could never have happened if Makishima ended up like Yashiro, who I stopped understanding as a human being when he got around to explaining his supernatural power, philosophy and backstory, because of how tactless and edgythe delivery of those details was in its attempt to impress on us how evil Yashiro is.  And this sort of thing frustrates me a lot.

This problem, the writing of inorganic but functional characters and their attendant headaches, is what convinces me that what some call the Hayao Miyazaki problem has serious merit.  For those who don’t know, the Hayao Miyazaki problem is an observation , made by Miyazaki, that otaku are ruining anime because the industry is full of otaku authors and animators who don’t spend enough time paying attention to or trying to understand real people, which has a negative effect on their art.  Whether you agree or disagree with Miyazaki’s observation is up to you, I don’t agree with him all the way but the last several years in particular have convinced me he was onto something.  This is not to say I think an inability to write organic, relatable characters is necessarily only an otaku problem, but I can understand why it might be more pronounced in otaku authors than it would be among more “normal” authors, because it’s in a lot of the generic light novel adaptations where this problem pops up and most light novel authors are otaku.

In any case this can’t keep happening.  I know Erased was hyped up and a lot of people did end up loving it, but think of how much better it could have been if the characters where more organic, more real.  And don’t forget that a lot of people ended up being disappointed by Erased, and while I can’t speak for everyone, I think the characters are what really killed it for me.  I didn’t much like the writing either but good characters could have feasibly salvaged the show.  The same goes for any other show with a similar problem, it doesn’t matter how interesting the premise is, how cool the animation is, even how good the directing is, a show full of hollow characters is going to be hollow, because so much of the story’s emotional impact comes by way of the characters, be it their backstories, their actions, their relationships or their dialogue.  As anime Youtuber DemolitionD+ aptly put it “when it comes to building an atmosphere in a work of fiction, the characters that inhabit that setting are a lot more pivotal than you’d imagine.  You can have the most believable, living, breathing world of death and decay as possible but if the players in the field are hollow the whole machine ceases to function as well as it should.” And like I mentioned above, you can have shows with much more generic premises and plots as well as equally predictable writing, and still have them be good if the characters feel real, and can be related to.  Monster Musume was better than Erased to me, and I don’t doubt that that seems inconceivable to some people.  Like how could a slice of life, romcom, harem show be better than a more unique show with an interesting premise like Erased?  Hell writing it out like that makes it seem like a contradiction of many things I’ve been saying since I started blogging.  But it’s true and the characters are the reason why.

There are many different aspects of storytelling I love to analyze, love to see brought to life.  In fact I think worldbuilding, especially in fantasy shows where the world doesn’t resemble ours, is the coolest part of storytelling.  However, in my opinion, characters are by far the most important part of storytelling, and because I think that I’m ok with generic shows that put a lot of effort into their characters, while I bitch about more inventive shows that neglect their characters like Erased did.  For instance I’m in the middle of watching Hibike Euphonium after putting it off for several months.  I’m not a KyoAni fanboy, I didn’t do band at any point in my life, hell I can’t even read music, and I’m a dude.  On the surface nothing about Hibike Euphonium relates to me beyond me having been a high school student once, and it certainly doesn’t lie in my typical genres of interest like fantasy, action or historical.  But I have not binged a show with the kind of relentless speed with which I’m tearing through Hibike Euphonium in a long time.  It’s like a book that I just can’t put down no matter how late it gets and how sleep derived I’ll be at work tomorrow, the only reason I didn’t finish it all in one sitting is because my computer decided to quit on me at 2 in the morning.  And Hibike Euphonium brought this out of me because the characters are so damn human, so easy to relate to, to want to root for and come to understand.  There’s a scene where the one of the main girl’s friends blurts out a confession to a guy who likes the main girl so she gets rejected, and it was perhaps the most personally relatable scene in any anime I’ve ever come across, because I been the guy who was confessed to out of the blue and said no because I was going after someone else, and I’ve been the one to blurt out a confess and get rejected.

What I’m trying to say is organic, relatable characters who fit naturally into the setting of a story are paramount.  I like cool premises, I dig elaborate plots, I love creative new worlds to explore, and I’m impressed by good writing and directing.  And in an ideal world I would find a show that has it all.  But if you give me great characters that I want to understand and relate to, then I can put up with not having any or all of those other things, that’s just how much good characters are worth.  I hope you enjoyed this post, and I’ll see you in the next one.

Surly Summaries: Ajin

Ajin was the opposite of most shows from the Winter 2016 anime season.  Where many shows started strong and ended up falling flat, Ajin got off to weak start but ended up getting a lot better over the course of the season.  From here on there will be spoilers, you have been warned.

I’m guessing a lot of people who were excited for Ajin ended up dropping it pretty quickly and I can’t say I blame them.  Between the all CG animation (which was good by CG standards but failed to match more traditional animation) and the extremely poorly made first episode, I would expect many to have lost interest in Ajin.  Hell I would have lost interest in Ajin, if not for the fact I wasn’t watching a whole lot else.  However the story does improve, just not right away.  The first three or four episodes are by far the least interesting in the series, off the top of my head the only scenes which were really memorable was the introduction of the IBM monsters, the reveal of Tosaki’s assistant as an Ajin and Kei’s sister describing the lack of humanity in her brother.

However once Satou gets more heavily involved and they bring in the Ajin expert, things really begin to pick up, because there’s more action between characters that actually matter and not thugs trying to get a bounty or random cop A, and because the Ajin expert can finally dispense some much needed exposition on what Ajin are and how their powers work exactly.  Tension mounts in later episodes as Tosaki is put under pressure from his superiors, while Satou puts together his terrorism plan.  Meanwhile Kei does a good job keeping the low key scenes in the village he escapes to interesting by exploring his powers, making preparations to flee, and interacting with a more idealistic Ajin, Nakano.  Towards the end we get to see major events taking place, elaborate battle plans, brutal action and then it’s all tied back to Kei who surprises everyone by being to use powers beyond what Tosaki and the Ajin expert understood about the Ajin, throwing their whole plan in disarray.  Point being the series ends on a high note, and I definitely would like to see more, which is more than I can say for most of the Winter 2016 season.  If you can hand the all CG animation then this show is worth checking out.  I hope you all enjoyed this and I’ll see you in the next one

Seasons Greetings: The Spring of Hope 2016

Hello and welcome to the Spring 2016 season of anime first impressions post of some random guy on the internet.  You see before the season started  I was looking at the seasonal chart and thought, “shit there isn’t much here that looks good.”  However after watching some of the shows I was iffy on, I can happily say this will probably be the one of the best anime seasons we’ve had in a while.  Rejoice my readers, for this is a season of hope and joy.  And shit, never forget the shitty anime coming out alongside the all the goodness, I certainly haven’t and with that in mind let’s start with bashing the shit shows before returning to positivity.

This may be a season of hope but there’s still plenty of shit to watch out for.  Terra Formars returned in a spectacular fashion this season, as in spectacularly bad.  Where the original was a gritty, edgy show that was followed in Attack on Titan’s footsteps, season two is a brighter shounen style story that totally kills what little Terra Formars had going for it in season one.  In other shitty sequel news, the Asterisk War season 2 is out and barring literal divine intervention will be the same generic piece of shit the first season was. Also a show called Hundred s out and it looks just like the Asterisk war, so you can watch two shitty generic teenage power fantasies at once.  The Ace Attorney anime adaptation is here as well and while it could be good, I have hard time trusting most game adaptations, there are a few really good ones but most flop.  The same applies to the Onigiri show which is also coming out this season.  Other notably bad shows to look out for are Seisen Cerberus which looks hilariously bad, Pan de Peace which appears to basically be Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka but focused on bread instead of rabbits, and Re:Zero something or other, which sounds like it could have been interesting if not for the fact it sounds suspiciously like Erased (which I didn’t like very much) and came out the season after Erased, which gives it the unfortunate appearance of being a cheap Erased knock off, to me at least.  Now onto the good stuff, or at least the stuff I watched/want to watch.

Boku no Hero Academia:  This is basically reverse X-men with way more style and teenage shenanigans.  The first episode got off to a very promising start and considering all the hype behind the show already I would imagine it’s going to be one of the biggest hits of the season.  Let’s hope it lives up to those expectations.

Bungo Stray Dogs:  I was a little concerned that this show was going to end up edgy as fuck and while the flashback scenes the main character has about being told to die in a ditch qualify as edgy, overall the series had a lot more life and humor to it than I was expecting.  The first episode was not great, but it was pretty good, good enough to convince me to keep watching.  Honestly it only felt like a relatively weak opening episode because we got a lot more strong starts than normal.  Overall though I think this one will end up being pretty good and is worth paying attention to.

Concrete Revolutio Season 2:  I was a big fan of Concrete Revolutio and the first episode of season two did not disappoint.  Unlike the first episode from the first season, which was a clusterfuck, this episode neatly tied a bunch of the flashforward scenes from season one together and showcased the character story that laid the foundation for those flashforward scenes.  Concrete Revolutio season 2 is off to a great start and I’m ready for more wacky, colorful goodness to come.

Endride:  This honestly isn’t very good.  It’s basically Arata Kangatari but with a weirdly rock/gem specific focus.  It will probably suck but I’m planning on watching a little longer, if only because the bad guy has the same ridiculous eyebrows as the dad character from Luck and Logic and fights with what is basically a giant clothespin with spear tips on one end.

Joker Game:  I’m a bit torn on this one.  One the one hand I like setting, 1930’s Japan, and I dig the Baccano-esque character designs.  Unfortunately the show also came off way heavy handed in a few scenes which hurt that first episode.  I do like the dynamic between the patriotic main guy and all the jaded spies and I think this has a lot of potential to be good, I’m just a bit worried that if the heavy handed shit continues a lot of that potential will be wasted.  Either way it certainly has my attention for now and I do hope it turns out well.

Kiznaiver:  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one.  The first episode certainly flew by and the concept is interesting but because the first episode had so many establishing details to get through not much really happened that gave me an idea of how good the narrative would be or how much I would like the characters.  Speaking of the characters some are Kill la Kill-style teens, while others feel more like they walked out of the Monogatari franchise instead.  In fact the first episode felt surprisingly like a Shaft show in comparison to Trigger’s other work, which I view mostly as a positive because I like a lot of Shaft’s stuff.  I think this will be good but so far the first episode just hasn’t given us much to go on.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri:  Welcome to Attack on Zombie: Steampunk Smackdown.  In all seriousness this had one of the strongest first episodes of the season.  A few things did bother me, like why would the people be super thorough in investigating a train during the day and then drop the drawbridge for one at night no questions asked just because one was expected and the other wasn’t?  That doesn’t seem reasonable to me.  Also the melodrama is already being played up a lot and that doesn’t work as well during an opening episode than it would had it occurred later in the season.  The artstyle is also a little weird to  me, like if some took the super-realistic Attack on Titan designs, dropped all the shading and borders and then tried to copy Ufotable’s God Eater.  This isn’t to say the art is bad, it works for the most part, it’s just that  every now and them people sort of move in ways that make them look funny or just look wrong.  Aside from all that the show does look like it’ll be good.  The main character is a more interesting take on Eren Jager and I’m glad that zombificaton disease can be thwarted.  Also we have a steampunk feudal Japan, which is cool.  This is definitely looking good so far.

Magi: Sinbad no Bouken: This hasn’t come out yet and that annoys me.  However I’m a big fan of Magi so I’m looking forward to it.

Mayoiga:  This is one the stranger shows out this season.  The first two episodes are out but I still don’t know exactly what to make of it.  Some people are saying it’s going to be another Another and to some extent I get that vibe but it also feels like end up going in a totally different direction.  I just don’t really know what to make of it so far but I kind of love how everyone has ridiculous names and a smattering of stupid over the top personalities.  This one has a lot of potential to be bad but I’m not ready to condemn it just yet.  If you like weird, mystery shows this is probably for you.  Otherwise maybe steer clear of this one unless you hear good things about it.

Shounen Maid:  This show is stupid and it’s aware of that.  It reminds me of Hayate no Gotoku minus the tsundere and plus more fujoshi influences.  The first episode wasn’t all that good but I’m willing to see if this show becomes something entertaining or funny, or if it falls by the wayside.

Sousei Onmyouji:  This show kicked ass in the first episode.  I was going to skip this one because it sounded dumb and to be honest as much as I like the lore surrounding onmyouji, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a really good show focused on them.  The only shows I can think which feature onmyouji heavily are Tokyo Raven, which was alright, , and Nurarhiyon no Mago season 2, which was good but was more about the youkai than the onmyouji. The show’s description does not do it justice at all, it sounds boring and run of the mill, and to be fair it could end up that way.  However the first episode was like a great mashup of Kill la Kill and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magicka, in other words it was awesome.  Rarely has a show that looked like something I would normally skip shown itself to be something I can get hyped for, I think the last time that happened for me was when Cross Ange came out and that kicked ass, so I’m really looking forward to this one.

 

Hidden Gems: Hakkenden – Touhou Hakken Ibun

If you like spirits, ghosts, gods and demons, well this show is certainly a treat for you.  I happen to be a nearly fanatical lover of myth, legend and all forms of spiritual lore.  I adore the supernatural, the surreal and the bizarre.  And with that in mind I recommend this show to everyone who feels remotely the same.

Hakkenden – Touhou Hakken Ibun focuses mainly on a thirteen year old boy named Shino and his family/associates.  The show opens with a flashback and we see a village covered in flames as the two male leads of the show lay on the ground dying, filleted by the sword of persons unknown.  As Shino’s conscious fades a stranger asks him if he wants to live and offers him a sword… and then we cut back to the present where Shino’s playing in a river with some spirits, very much alive and missing any kind of wound or scar where the cut from the flashback ought to be.  It’s quickly established that five years have passed in since the flashback, a time during which Shino has not aged at all.  This is because of the sword given to him as he lay dying, Murasame, which as an aside is one of the more famous mythical blades in Japanese folklore.  It is explained in no uncertain terms that Murasame is monstrously powerful and many factions in the world want to control it’s power.  The story really begins when Shino’s adopted sister is kidnapped by one member of the major factions vying for Murasame’s power, and Shino and company are forced to abandon their quiet life in a backwater village and travel to the capital, though it’s unclear whether they mean Edo or Kyoto.  Which is as good a segue into the setting as I can provide.

The setting appears to be a historical replication of Japan, presumably during the industrial revolution and prior to WWII, albeit with plenty of fantasy elements in play.  It’s annoyingly unclear as to exactly when and where everything takes place.  Certain elements also make it harder to tell if this is a fictional retelling of the setting or a reasonable recreation of history with spirits tacked on.  For example the Catholic church plays a major role in the story and is the single largest faction involved, but as far as I can remember Catholicism never attained power resembling the kind they show in the anime (though it’s been a few years since I’ve learned about Japanese history in any real depth).  Anyway the setting is not overly important, the fact that the Church plays a big role is more important than any period accurate details or lack thereof.  Which brings us to the story.

The story blurs the line between episodic adventure and linear narrative.  Each arc is mostly handled as it’s own story, though characters from previous arcs do periodically get involved in new arcs.  And it’s not until much much later the various stories are threaded together into a more cohesive narrative.  This works out beautifully I feel, because each new arc has the fresh sense of adventure that good episodic shows often have and combines that with a story that does feel like it’s advancing, like it will reach a good conclusion.  Sadly after 26 episodes no final conclusion has appeared, though the main antagonists have been revealed and all the good guys have been assembled by season 2’s end.  If it ever gets a third season it would likely wrap up then, but that’s besides the point.  In each arc Shino and some of his companions have to solve some kind of spiritual problem, like demons rampaging in cities, local gods going berserk, freak occurrences, disappearances, and the like.  While Shino deals with these various issues his ultimate goal is to find these eight glowing beads which belong to the reincarnations of the Eight Dog Warriors, of which Shino is one.  This overarching task comes from the guy who gave Shino Murasame during that flashback scene the show opens with.  He so happens to come from a clan that protects a prophecy about the Eight Dog Warriors and he has issued Shino the task to find the other Eight Dog Warriors while his savior remains an important Church fixture.  Let’s move onto characters.

The characters are an interesting patchwork to say the least.  A bunch of the guys look like they jumped straight out of an otome-game and walked into an anime, though that may just be a side effect of the fantastic visuals of the show overall.  Some of the characters are powerless mortals, while the others have connections to the supernatural and have a wide array of abilities.  Hell some of the recurring characters are gods themselves, though these characters interact mostly with Shino who is by far the most deeply immersed in the supernatural out of the main cast.  Shino himself is kind of fascinating because he spends a lot of time acting like a bratty thirteen year old, some times he acts more the like eighteen year old he actually he is, and he occasionally acts with wisdom and grace far beyond his years, especially when he’s talking to major spirits or gods.  In fact one of my favorite pairings in the show is Shino and a white snake goddess, who’s the most powerful deity shown in the show.  The two have an odd chemistry because they are both monstrously powerful and the two of them experience the flow of time differently.  That’s actually one of the recurring if underlying concerns of the other characters, what will happen to Shino when he outlives all his friends and is left alone.  On the whole the characters have stupid anime quirks and they can appear shallow and archetypal, but they usually have more to them and end up being more interesting if you stick with the show. Let’s wrap this up.

Overall Hakkenden – Touhou Hakken Ibun is an enjoyable show.  I should warn potential viewers that it is light on action, but action is hardly a focal point of the series.  The supernatural, character struggles and relations, and the mystery of the prophecy and who exactly killed Shino in the very beginning are far more important.  As a result  many of the characters are quite interesting, especially when their connections to the supernatural come into play.  The episodic-esque arcs are interesting and varied, obviously some are better than others but overall I can say the show rarely left me bored.  Visually the show is gorgeous with high quality animation, vibrant colors and detailed character designs.  The soundtrack will not hype anyone up like many famous anime OSTs do, but it’s full of melodic atmospheric tracks that do a great job conveying the emotion and tone of a scene and the series overall.  It is a shame that the show has not concluded, and won’t until we get a third season, if we get a third season, but what we have so far is good.  If I had to describe the show in one word it would be enchanting, between the atmospheric music, good visuals and cool spirits and folklore, this is a show I can just lose myself in.  I think this is a great show, and a must-watch if you’re a fan of spirits, folklore and the like.  I hope you enjoyed this and I’ll see you in the next one.