The Garden of Words is the latest film by Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, 5 Centimeters per Second). Produced by CoMix Wave, this 45 minute film tells the story of love between 15-year-old boy named Takao Akizuki and 27-year-old woman named Yukari Yukino. In order to find some escape from their mundane lives, they independently decide to spend one rainy morning in a garden within a park in Shibuya, which is how they meet. After that, they begin meeting in the garden every time it rains. Takao is transfixed by the mystery of an older woman that he knows nothing about while Yukari is reminded of simpler and happier times when she was a teenager. Unfortunately, the encounters between Takao and Yukari soon end with the end of the rainy season and when Takao discovers that Yukari is a teacher at his school it plunges their relationship into doubt.
The airing of the first summer 2013 anime is only a month away and that means that it’s time to look at some new series. Since people generally don’t start watching an anime part-way through, I will not be covering sequels in this post. Instead, the focus here will be on new series that have a lot of potential.
Unless you have been living under a rock or have been without internet access for the past two months, you will no doubt have heard of Attack on Titan, the hottest anime currently airing. The story is set in a fictional world reminiscent of early Renaissance Europe. Giants called Titans appeared on the planet several hundred years ago and while they show no signs of higher intelligence, they do indulge in eating humans. Their massive strength and near-invulnerability combined with their desire to consume humans has led humanity to the brink of extinction. Humanity’s last survivors now live within three concentric walls that tower above their towns and villages. After living in peace for a hundred years, the humans became comfortable living within the walls until one day when the Titans break through the outer-most wall, threatening humanity with extinction once again.
Girls und Panzer is a popular anime that began airing in the fall of 2012 and has gained a cult following of anime and tank fans. The anime is about a girl named Miho Nizhizumi and her friends at the Oarai high school that form a martial arts team called Anko Team. They don’t practice any old martial art though; in the world of Girls und Panzer, girls traditionally practice tank fighting using actual tanks. Yes, the type with heavy armour and big guns. Their goal is to win the national Sensha-do championships and become the best high school tank operators in the country. [Read more…]
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai is a wacky anime about an unmotivated teenage girl, her faceless older brother, and the three mysterious Yagami sisters. The anime consists of 12 episodes and was based on a novel of the same title by Akira and animated by Shaft. Akiyuki Shinbou (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Bakemonogatari, Arakawa Under the Bridge) was the head director. [Read more…]
For the past couple of years, the people at IDA Entertainment along with partners Light & Shadow, and Zeppet have been working on a new children’s series called Kaiju Gomera, though there is something hardly G-rated in it. The word “Kaiju” is Japanese for monster, and Gomera is the name of a rookie monster that wants to become famous like Godzilla by rampaging through cities and destroying buildings. The problem with Gomera though, is that he can’t bring himself to intentionally destroy something although he tends to do a lot of destruction by accident.
You don’t have to watch anime for long to notice something curious about most series: they don’t use the names of actual brands. This is likely due to the legal issues surrounding the use of brand names and copyright infringement. It’s hard to create an entirely new world with its own mega corporations and brand names for everything, so anime creators have come up with a way of saving time and energy thinking about it, simply take existing brands and rename them.
One of the most well-known brands in the world is McDonald’s, which can be found in nearly every corner of the Earth and is by far the most popular fast food chain. Due to its prominence in the real world, it’s hard for it to avoid being shown in anime. Of course, the name “McDonald’s” can’t be used in anime so a lot of series have simply flipped the M upside-down to create the most popular fast-food chain in anime, WcDonald’s. Below you can see some WcDonald’s appearances as well as similar fast food chains. [Read more…]
Little Busters is the fourth visual novel from Key to get an anime adaptation. It began airing in the Fall of 2012 and consisted of 26 episodes produced by J.C. Staff.
Much like Key’s previous anime adaptations (Kanon, AIR, and Clannad), Little Busters follows the format of having one arc (1 to 3 episodes) devoted to each major female character in the series. The story starts with the Little Busters, a group of five friends decide to start a baseball team. Unfortunately, they need some more members in order to have a full team so Riki Naoe is chosen to recruit new teammates. As he goes in search of new members, he ends up helping many of the girls he encounters with their problems. In the meantime, him and Rin Natsume, another member of the Little Busters, are getting secret messages that send them off to complete missions in order to discover the secret of the world.
Little Busters can be thought of as a series of short stories that are loosely connected. Once one of these stories is complete, it has little to do with the following stories. While this has been successful with Kanon, AIR, and Clannad, there was just something that felt missing in Little Busters: love. All of Key’s anime adaptations up to this point have had a strong emphasis on romance between the main male character and each of the girls with a story arc. Little Busters does away with that completely so Riki is always friend-zoned. In place of romance, Riki has his own problem, being a victim of narcolepsy. Unfortunately, this was never resolved in the series and you’re left wondering what the point was of even including it.
As for the story arcs of each of the girls, there were some good and not so good ones. One of my favourites was the one for Haruka, who was beaten and detested by her own family simply for existing. I was less impressed with arcs like that for Komari, who became depressed when she remembered that her brother passed away long ago. As with all Key stories, there is always an element of magic around them and they usually end on a good note or end up being bittersweet.
Many people were concerned about how the animation quality of Little Busters would turn out before it began airing. With the exception of Kanon 2002, Key’s anime adaptations have been done by Kyoto Animation and have been of the highest quality, but Little Busters was done by J.C. Staff. Fortunately, they managed to keep up with the high quality that Key fans have come to expect. The character designs were consistent with the visual novel and the settings were beautifully animated.
Little Busters may not be on the same level as Kanon, AIR, or Clannad in terms of story, but it’s still a nice feel-good series that will appeal to fans who aren’t concerned with a lack of romance. Watch it if you’re looking for an innocent series with a bit of drama, but if you want a bit more excitement then it’s best to look elsewhere.
Having read a lot of anime reviews and general opinions on anime, I’ve come to notice that a lot of people tend to describe animation or production quality as “good” or “bad” without going into any specifics. In order to help make reviews and opinions on animation quality less confusing, here are just some examples of what constitutes good and bad quality.
Most people have a good grasp of what really bad quality looks like, but if you don’t, this page goes through it thoroughly. Poor quality generally consists of other, more subtle problems though, such as disfigured characters, unintentional changes in colour, shifting objects, blank backgrounds, and lack or repetition of frames.
This example from Mirai Nikki shows a minor instance of disfigured characters. If you take a look at everyone’s hands, most of them look nothing like hands. Except for the security guard and the lady in pink, no one has real fingers.
Sudden changes in colour aren’t very common, even in low-budget anime so I can’t think of an example, but it’s pretty straightforward. If you see a non-magical red book turn into a blue book and back to red between scenes, that’s a clear sign of poor quality.
This above screenshots come from an anime called Dragon Crisis. While the production quality in this anime was good, there were a few slipups, such as with the teacups shown. In the top screenshot the teacups look rather large in comparison to the characters’ faces, but in the bottom one you can see that they are in fact smaller. Also note, based on the handle, that Rose’s (the blonde girl) teacup has turned around in the bottom screenshot. She left the room immediately after the top screenshot so it should’ve stayed in the same position. This is an example of shifting objects.
One anime notorious for blank backgrounds is Pandora Hearts. This is pretty self-explanatory; either due to a low budget, laziness, or lack of time, the animators don’t fill in part of the background. In the above screenshot you can see part of a building and some trees were left completely black.
Frame repetition was a common technique employed by classic cartoons such as The Flintstones, but is generally frowned upon in the anime world and is seen as a sign of a low quality anime. Senki Zesshou Symphogear is guilty of using frame repetition as you can see from the above video.
Now that we’ve cleared up what poor quality is, let’s consider good quality. In general, if you don’t see any of the problems previously mentioned, the animation quality can be considered good. I know that’s not good enough of an explanation for some of you so here are a few examples of anime that take their animation quality to the highest levels.
Water can be a very difficult thing to animate: it’s constantly moving, is clear, and refracts light. Most anime stick with blue opaque water, but Sankarea takes water to a whole new level. Using computer graphics, they have managed to make water that looks and moves almost like real water, allowing for some stunning scenes.
Another anime with some high quality scenes is Red Data Girl. The above screenshot is an example of how anime with high production quality are able to show transparency. Izumiko’s outer robe is slightly transparent since it’s wet, allowing you to see her outfit behind it. The mist in the background is also transparent, allowing you to see the foliage. Generally, most anime do not take the effort to allow viewers to see through mist.
The last example I want to look at is from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai. Take a good look at all of the characters above. Note how each of them has a unique face. Only three of them are actually a part of the story, the rest are nameless background characters. Putting in the effort to actually make every single character unique is an indicator of the high level of quality of an anime.
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the difference between good and bad quality animation. If you write or talk about anime and don’t already go into detail regarding why the animation in an anime is good or bad, then I recommend talking about some of the things I’ve mentioned here to better get your point across.
It’s the start of a new year and that means it’s time again for some more April Fools’ Day pranks. Anime and Japanese Game companies love to get in on the action and here are just some of the pranks that have been spotted this year.
Type-Moon is a game company famous for titles including Kara no Kyoukai and the Fate/ series. If you visit their homepage ( or http://www.typemoon.com/e9ac12e65f6d88823bafda443f186417/index.html) you will find a few details about Rojiura Satsuki Chapter Heroine Sanctuary, a visual novel featuring some familiar characters. Type-Moon has gone far beyond just changing their homepage though, clicking on the red button at the bottom will allow you to play through part of the series.
Fate/Zero is at the center of Ufotable’s April Fools’ joke again this year, which you can see at http://www.ufotable.com/f_zerocafe/index.html. Fans of Assassin will no doubt enjoy a new spin-off series featuring dozens of chibi assassins doing random cute things. Ufotable has even created a little promo video featuring all of the little assassins doing a funky dance with caster joining in on the fun:
While au is a phone company and not an anime company, I found their prank to be fitting. You can now purchase a zzzPhoneBed, a humungous phone that acts as a mattress. What does this have to do with anime? Well now you can sleep with your favourite anime characters, including Kirino from Oreimo. http://www.au.kddi.com/zzz/
Are you looking for a reliable web host run by cute anime girls? Look no further than Sakura Internet. They have now hired the girls of A Certain Scientific Railgun to help operate their servers. You know your server will never be down with biribiri helping out. http://sakuraha-ai.sakura.ne.jp/2013/
Fans of Gintama and Dragon Ball Z will be happy to see a crossover between the two series at http://wwws.warnerbros.co.jp/gintama/
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru
OreShura may have just ended, but fear not, there is a new series in the works: Ore no Kanojo ga Deredere Sugiru, also known as OreDere. People who watched episode 11 of OreShura will remember Eita’s aunt talking about developing OreDere.You can check out the characters of this new series at the OreShura main page: http://www.oreshura.net/
Navel is famous among many people for the Shuffle series which was adapted into an anime. Every year Navel has a new game announcement and this year they’re featuring 月に寄りそう乙女の作法 衣遠兄様の華麗なる一日. You can head over to Nevel’s website (http://www.project-navel.com/) to get more details or see a clip of the actual gameplay on Youtube:
Nitroplus is another game maker that has gotten several anime adaptations for their work. This year they’ve announced a new game called 渾沌大殲 – Thousand Confusion Wars. The title features prominent characters from previous series and is coming out for the Nitoro 3DreamStation. http://www.nitroplus.co.jp/game/konton-taisen/
In addition to their “new” game, Nitroplus also created a new site for their busty mascot, Sonico. She will be starring in a new game that is looking at taking a piece of the fanbase away from BioShock Infinity. You can check out details on the new SonicoShock Inifnity here: http://supersonico.jp/sonicoshock_infinity/