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Posts Tagged ‘Kami Sama no Inai Nichiyoubi’

Welcome to my third end of the year post. I felt this year might have been lacking in ground-breaking series, but instead offered us many solid and consistently enjoyable works.

Without further ado, here is my personal top 12 of the year.

 

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#12 Log Horizon

This series is weird. Really, really weird. People expected this to be a SAO clone, but SAO played its tropes mostly straight, while Log Horizon does not seem to care about meeting anyone’s expectations. It rejects obvious sources of tension, like actually letting the characters die or face mortal peril. It rejects obvious sources of progression, like letting the characters grow in strength. It is flippant to the extreme, and I can only be curious where it goes from here.

 

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#11 The World God Only Knows Goddess Arc

I will not be be particularly original in elevating the third series of this franchise above its predecessors. It is a series which came this far parodying other titles of the genre, but it has now matured enough to subvert its own premises. If nothing else, this is probably the series with the most thematically fitting ending of the year. I have a hard time imagining a better ending than Keima throwing away the responsibility for the carnage of a hell-and-heaven war left behind him, only to face the smoldering remains of a more personal battlefield. Great stuff.

 

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#10 Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya

I initially dropped this after watching the first episode, but giving the series a second chance was fully worth it. Prisma Illya is a curious series in that it does not even pretend to have any kind of story and rides entirely on its two characters and action sequences.  The action is superb. Miyu is cute and easy to empathize with. It is a very straightforward series, and successful for it.

 

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#9 Hidamari Sketch – Sae-Hiro Sotsugyou-hen

Two episodes presenting a (possible) conclusion to a four season franchise. More than anything else, this OVA is notable among other SoL shows for how it resists the temptation of overwrought drama and manages to remain true to its usual atmosphere while also doing justice to the storm of emotion wreaking havoc in Yuno’s heart. Hidamari-sou forever!

 

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#8 Monogatari – Second Season

I could never call myself a true fan of the Monogatari franchise, but this second season did much to win me over. The lessened focus on Araragi finally allowed other characters to come alive and add variety while retaining the strengths the series has gotten us used to. And Kaiki. Mostly Kaiki.

 

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#7 Chihayafuru 2

The second season was not always as well-paced and directed as the first, but it does not fall far behind either. I am still left holding my breath over the outcome of poem-smacking matches and in awe of the voice performances – including what are possibly my favorite roles by Miyano Mamoru and Kayano Ai.

I did not think we would be getting a second season, but now I hope I can be proven wrong once more. Hoping for a third meeting with this wonderful cast!

 

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#6 Kami sama no Inai Nichiyoubi

It is rare for me to be at a complete loss how to approach a show in terms of its messages and values, but Kami Inai makes a habit of subverting any expectations it builds up in this field. When you think the series is right about to make one moral point or another, the characters throw in the towel and admit they do not actually know what is right and wrong. But then again, that is fitting for a world where the rules are in constant flux and reality, both physical and spiritual, is not as consistent as one would expect it to be.

 

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#5 Kyousougiga

This is like Uchouten Kazoku, except it works. It is whimsical all around, straightforward where it counts. The kind of anime you can show to anyone. And there are gods and buddhas and other divine beings all over the place, so obviously I will have a soft spot for it xD.

 

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#4 Love Lab

Most reviewers agree that with its title and premise, Love Lab has no right to be as good as it is. The key to the show’s greatness is that it combines the strengths of a yonkoma/four-panel comedy with a strong central storyline and constant character and storyline development. This year saw plenty of great slice of life series, but the ability to hook the viewer on the story sets Love Lab apart from its peers and guarantees that even an unfunny gag (and no comedy can please all viewers all the time) is never completely useless.

 

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#3 Railgun S

The Sisters arc was carefully and beautifully executed, but truth be told, it was also something I have seen and read several times over in different incarnations of the franchise. Which means that yes, what really had me smiling fondly at the screen was the Silent Party anime-original arc. I am absolutely in love with the stuff they write for Railgun – the “filler” content for this series has a consistent theme in exploring Academy city and its society, makes full use of all available characters and is full of tongue-in-cheek fun. The final episode of this season is easily one of my favorite episodes of the entire year.

 

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#2 AKB0048

What can I say? There were some pacing issues, inconsistent episodes and funny CG, yes, but the emotional highs of the series left little time to think about such things. With its unique mix of sci-fi technology, creepy spirituality, conspiracy theories and tough idol business, AKB0048 stands as one of the most unusual anime series of recent years, even as it covers what seems to be familiar ground. Half the cast are either selfish or misguided, and yet it is difficult not to love them for their faults. After all, they are risking their lives and identities for our right to listen to pop music. Yeah.

 

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#1 Symphogear G

There was no way to predict how Symphogear would transform so much in its second season, but here it is. The series threw away all unnecessary weight and just went from one crazy cliffhanger to another. Great music, smart scripting and Yuuki Aoi with an incredible performance as the lead of the series.

If I have any complaints, it is that it is obvious that the creators were ready to end things with this season, and so put in a lot of effort to conclude plot points and deliver messages in the final episodes, which is perfectly fine for almost all series, but not something Symphogear needed that badly. At least not at the expense of its great speed and not with the now-announced season 3 ahead of us. But things ended with Miku saving everyone again, so I can forgive a lot.

Now I am seriously looking forward to S3. It is time to start guessing what crazy title the writers have in store…


2014 is right ahead of us, and there are already tons of things to look forward to! The newest Saki season starts airing January 5th, and I will probably end up posting about the series one way or another.

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教えてくれ、仏の慈悲で、神の俺にも!

Tell me! Share Buddha’s compassion with me, a god!

Hajime of Gatchaman Crowds’ fame went down to meet a god as an equal, but the same show would later present a “God is dead” speech through Sugane. Scenes like that always remind of the feelings of betrayal and disillusionment still deep in the Japanese psyche – how many nations were forced to hear their god announce himself to be human?

And yet, there were as many as two series this year which called for compassion for god. Both of them present god as something of a prick and somebody who messed up plenty along the way, which is very telling, but both also stand up for the divine being: he did the best he could.

Kyousougiga and Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi, are the two shows just a coincidence, or do they signify a slow change in the Japanese approach to god?

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Straight from reading Japesland’s views on Sunday Without God – I see some anime fans (Japesland included) dissatisfied with the relative lack of God discussed straight out in the show. But while Sunday Without God was definitely designed to be unfinished and its themes unresolved – it is but the beginning of the story, and it is crucial that Ai not know the answers to her questions at this point in time – I thought it offered plenty regarding theological musings.

The first arc opens up with the long fought question: is God’s world indeed the best world possible? Humans get an opportunity to replace some of God’s rules with those of their own… and the result is not exactly pretty. But the personal story of Humpnie is more striking here. Only when his wish gets granted does he realize it was not what he wanted to begin with. Unlike God, man does not even have a perfect understanding of what is good for him or his own true desires. It is telling that at the end of the arc, Humpnie gives himself up to the original (God’s) order of things, even if it requires him to part with his long-lost daughter.

The second arc explores a society where the undead are kept stable and coexisting harmoniously thanks to science. Is death infinitesimally similar to life through science equal to life, or can something man-made never equal a divine miracle? Real-life parallels range from anything like in vitro technology to prospective cloning tech. At the same time, we see that God’s “absence” brings about the decay of morality as a whole – Ulla asks “Is death evil? Am I evil?” and that is indeed a question without an answer in that world, because with the values of life and death in flux, concepts such as murder and manslaughter likewise lose their moral meaning.

The third arc is all about perspective. The confrontation between Ai and her blind friend stands at the core here, with Ai wanting to save her, but the girl not wanting to be saved. Sounds familiar? Before the night of the escape, Ai takes the same position God does – waiting on the other side of the door with her arms open, but unable (unwilling) to take away the free will of those inside the room, and therefore forever waiting for them to extend their own hands. The girl being blind, and Ai becoming her guiding light is not likely a coincidence, and neither is the fact that the girl considers voluntarily remaining a prisoner of the school, like man remains prisoner of his sin. That her explanation for her actions is that “she is not worthy of her parents’ love, because she only causes them trouble” is just icing on the cake – “I’m a sinner anyway, so it’s not like God could love me”, anyone?

The fourth arc is a rejection of peaceful eternity, and therefore a call for the necessity of tears, death and despair in our lives as potentially building experiences that allow us to move forward. Rejecting all of those could only come with rejecting all change and progress – like Alice’s class living unaware in their eternal loop merely to turn their eyes away from the loss of a classmate.

Again, the show intentionally choses not to give straight answers to many of the issues raised above, which us understandable. Not only is this the opening act of the story, but admitting there are no clear answers to some of those fundamental questions is a sign of worthy humility on the author’s part. Will Ai find her own answers to those questions further along her way? I certainly want to find out, which is why I hope to get my hands on the novels at some point in the future.

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