Month: November 2014

Candy Boy

Candy Boy

13663l

  • Trailer: No trailer
  • What it’s about: The story follows Kanade and Yukino, a pair of sisters in a boarding school, and their daily lives. A romance blooms between the two of them, despite the intrusions of an obsessive first-year student named Sakuya who has designs of her own upon Kanade.
  • Why you should watch it: Forget the incest part, since the show itself does absolutely nothing with it. What Candy Boy offers is a wonderful slice-of-life romance that treats a relationship between two girls as being as normal as one between a straight couple. The pair are adorable and affectionate, and completely devoted to one another. It’s also relatively short, with each of the seven episodes taking only 15 minutes. If you’re in the mood for a sweet bit of relaxing nothingness, Candy Boy is perfect for you.
  • Caveats: Most of the caveats I can think of are mostly to do with the type of show that it is. If you’re looking for boobs and ass and long make-out sessions, you’re not going to find them here. PDAs are limited to handholding and quick pecks and the pair are more likely to complain about the other’s cold feet in bed than get up to anything raunchy. Perhaps the oddest thing is that the relationship isn’t treated as abnormal – while turning it into a full-on drama wouldn’t be necessary, it’s a little odd that nobody points out that an incestuous homosexual pairing between high school girls living in the same dorm room is in any way out of the ordinary for Japan.
  • Themes: Relationships, commitment and the non-flashy side of love. Family, and not just in the obvious sense.
  • Similar works: Inugami-san to Nekoyama-sanIf you want more actual kissing action, Sakura Trick

My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro

42085l

  • Trailer: English subtitled version
  • What it’s about: Satsuki and Mei have moved to the a new home with their father while their mother recovers in hospital from a chronic illness. It doesn’t take them long to begin exploring the surrounding countryside. Mei soon runs into a series of odd creatures, including a bus-sized cat and a monstrously-sized but friendly spirit she names Totoro.
  • Why you should watch it: This is a classic Ghibli film in the truest sense. Totoro manages to capture that sense of wonder, innocence, and the beauty of childhood with no apparent effort. There’s no fighting, no evil villain or manipulative stepmother, but the narrative flows from one beat to another without losing your interest for a moment or employing any of the cliches of the medium. It’s widely regarded as one of the greatest family films of all time even outside of the anime community, as well it should be.
  • Caveats: While I quite like the 80s animation aesthetic, I acknowledge that it’s not for everyone. This is also the lightest and most ‘fluffy’ of Miyazaki’s films. It’s deeper than it looks, but it’s still at its heart a children’s movie.
  • Themes: The beauty and wonder of nature. Childhood and family.
  • Similar works: Howl’s Moving Castle or Castle in the Sky within Ghibli canon.

Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

mnemosyne

  • Trailer: English dubbed trailer
  • What it’s about: The fruits of Yggdrasil float unseen on the winds across Tokyo. Most have no effect, but on rare occasions a person can unknowingly absorb one, becoming immortal. Rin was one such person, and in the years since, she has set up a private detective agency looking to help people with unusual problems. But many seek the immortality that she has gained by accident, and are willing to use any means – technological, biological or otherwise – to achieve their goal.
  • Why you should watch it: Mnemosyne is a thoroughly mature thriller series. Comprising six 45-minute episodes, it’s packed with levels of violence, sex, and gore that would make even HBO proud. The show has a rich and vibrant mythology and its storytelling style is ambitious, refreshingly different. I also quite enjoyed the way that the story spanned over sixty years. It was a nice touch to have the characters age, move on, and die, giving room for the next generation. All except for Rin herself, of course. The English dubbing for the show isn’t half-bad either.
  • Caveats: The soundtrack and fight choreography don’t really do the show much justice. They honestly seem kind of phoned in. The show is unabashedly erotic at parts – don’t watch it with anyone you’d be uncomfortable watching, say, Game of Thrones’ more raunchy scenes by your side. Finally, the violence is used well for shock value to begin with, but it starts edging uncomfortably into “torture porn” at some points.
  • Themes: The search for immortality, contrasted against people wasting their lives or dying early.
  • Similar works: Speed Grapher, Canaan, Kara no Kyoukai

Shigofumi

Shigofumi

shigofumi

  • Trailer: English subtitled trailer
  • What it’s about: On rare and special occasions, the dead can contact the living. Fumika is one of those responsible for delivering these post-mortem letters, these “Shigofumi” to their recipients on Earth. The contents vary from person to person – some express hope, others forgiveness, still others hatred or warnings. They are all, however, the true final feelings of the departed.
  • Why you should watch it: Shigofumi is an unusual series. While more or less entirely episodic, there is still an overarching narrative that follows Fumika’s development and interactions with an expanding cast of characters, from talking staffs to workmates to a select few living people who stumble upon her while she’s performing her duties. The show is quite deliberate in its pacing, with a sombre, almost eerie soundtrack. More importantly it manages to tell each episode’s story in full, without stretching out or condensing it beyond its limits. Each arc addresses different issues, but there’s a continuity of theme and tone and the show remains compelling throughout.
  • Caveats: As mentioned above, this is an episodic series. While Fumika herself receives a good deal of character development, the secondary cast isn’t all that interesting.
  • Themes: The primary theme is death, and the way people waste their lives over trivial things. There’s also a recurring focus on abuse and the way it damages the soul – the show is relatively hopeful in its message about recovery and moving on from it, though.
  • Similar works: Angel Beats!

Buta

Buta

Buta

  • Trailer: There isn’t one for Buta alone, but here is the general trailer for the four collected shorts.
  • What it’s about: A family of foxes harbours a secret treasure: a map passed down through generations. But just as it’s being handed to our unnamed protagonist, a young fox eager to prove himself, pirates break in and take it for themselves. When the ronin pig samurai Buta hired by the pirates runs into the protagonist, it sets off a chain of events that offers the promise of regaining the family’s treasure
  • Why you should watch it: Buta is a fairly standard “odd couple” show, with the personalities of the two protagonists rubbing up against one another in fairly funny ways. This isn’t an overly serious piece – it’s pretty much perfect as a short movie to sit down and watch with your kids. The larger-than-life characters, bright animation, goofy humour and simple storyline make it a fun family adventure.
  • Caveats: The writer seems to forget that they only have twenty minutes to work with, leading to a rather abrupt cut-off.
  • Themes: Living up to expectations placed upon you.
  • Similar works: Buta would fit in well with the early Disney canon. All it needs is a few musical numbers thrown in. In terms of anime, perhaps Spirited Away is closest.

Delays

I am currently in the middle of writing my Master’s Thesis (as well as several additional essays associated with the course), so I do not have a great deal of time left over for watching or reviewing anime. Hopefully this will change in a month or two.