There was a period of time where I wasn’t a big fan of anime anymore. I mean I was, I enjoyed the medium, but there weren’t really any new series I actually liked. I mean I still liked more serious or artful anime films that would pop up and catch my attention but in general most shows that were suddenly popular with a lot of people never appealed to me much. Or I just didn’t tune in. I found myself returning to past favorites if I wanted my fix. Things slowly started to change a bit while I was in college when I enjoyed Gainax’s 2010 series Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt with it’s twisted take on anime tropes via vulgar 90s Western cartoons. I then tuned in to Madoka about a year late.
Current hot-button series Shingeki no Kyojin while I know all about it, know the characters, plots and have watched a few episodes, and is visually stunning in a lot of ways it’s just not my cup of tea. I may revisit but in general the tone is just a tad too intense for my liking. I may revisit that stance eventually since hey, I really like Evangelion.
Lately within the past few months I have tuned in to Free! and have tuned in to two new fall anime that had more or less debuts this past week; Kill la Kill, and finally Kyoukai no Kanata.
I tuned in to Free! to see what the fuss was about more or less as a joke, because a show about swimmers how sophisticated could this be I mean let’s be real, but it turned out to be a pleasant if not frothy (understatement?) surprise. It was actually pretty well done and a bunch of the characters surprised me in terms of personality and how they treated the female characters (which was generally, well). A lot of the characters while they followed some tropes of their percieved “type” a lot of the characters subverted what you’d expect from them which made it fresh and a bit different. It’s bait-y in the intentional HoYay and fan-service filled manner catering to women and homosexual-men but it never really crossed the line over a certain boundary and overall the series showed a great example of strong platonic relationships between male characters who actively and aren’t afraid to show emotions regarding their appreciation for said friendships between each other. In fact a lot of the main plot is making particular characters admit and realize that. You may want to give this one a second look if you thought it was going to be really gratuitous. I mean it is, but not really in the way you think it would be, and it most certainly caught a lot of people off guard.
The new school-rumble quest for vengeance narrative in Kill la Kill from studio Trigger (also known for the short film Little Witch Academia) is on the surface super fun. The series does prove the new studio (as if Little Witch Academia wasn’t evidence enough) Trigger is more than “official” and is a studio that can stand on it’s own feet. It’s visuals are stylized both old school and new, more or less a spiritual successor to Dead Leaves, Gurren Lagann, Panty and Stocking (they share the same director and I think animators or designers). The content was however was a bit well, okay really over the top and certain elements were pretty off putting. There are moments in this that made me feel rather uncomfortable. This wasn’t just toilet humor or even the crude sexual humor of Panty and Stocking. It sort of took it too far with somewhat rape-y scenes and because of that I am cautious about continuing the series because it crossed the line a bit too much. The unconventional opening and intense set-up is also rather jarring; I thought P&SwG was a bit more solid since it was outrageous but it still held itself within some parameters. We’ll see. I’ll give it one more episode.
Kyoukai no Kanata from KyoAni who also produced Free! is pretty much on the opposite of the spectrum. A dark-fantasy supernatural romantic (I’m going to assume) drama Kyoukai seems slightly more or less your standard anime fare; you have the demon hunters, the half-demons. A club with low attendence and members (a literature club though, which is rather neat). However something about it does feels fresh and I am a bit curious to see how they play the genre. Some things make me concerned (a love-triangle would be obnoxious) but there is a lot here to like.
A big difference than other series which could be or are very similar in terms of content is the animation. From the get go it’s gosh darn pretty with very conscious palettes and lighting. KyoAni has been producing very nice work and as in Free! they don’t skimp on good animation.
Character designs likewise are very…safe following more or less KyoAni’s “house” style albeit a bit more individualized. The lead dusky-pink-haired, pigeon-toed scaredy-cat of a demon hunter Kuriyama Mirai and the lax blonde haired literature club member and immortal half demon Kanbara Akihito are more or less your very attractive “ordinary” high school students. Except ya know. They’re not normal.
This fact sort of bugs me a little, style wise I would love things with a more variety than the usual .God forbid they give people different builds. Blood wielding and passive-aggressive Mirai is currently a giant “moe-blob” and her ineptitude at… most everything while cute to a degree skids the line (okay it crosses it) of just being too much. I have a feeling “I killed a bucket” may become something of a meme. Her fear of killing however is a very real and valid one no doubt rooted in something in her past and it will be interesting to see where the story takes her and to see how she grows or how her character may grow throughout the series. The same with Akihito; there have been some signs but I hope additional episodes make him a bit more of a complex or nuanced person. If not I might check out.
So yeah, this week is short and sweet. As far as anime these days I’m a bit open. I’ll watch em so you don’t have to so if you have any suggestions I should check out, let me know in the comments! Most anime lovers will probably love all of the above but in terms of Kill la Kill tread lightly. It’s a bit…much and problematic. Just a disclaimer for those who may feel inclined to watch!
See you next week!
Staff Writer/The Doctor