Please make yourself at home with Chef Fango! His brilliant cuisine will finally make your life complete…such genius! Summer seems to have bore the most top quality fruit of the year so far, and arguably one of the worst anime in recent memory. It truly is a rollercoaster and for once we have slowed down yet again. But this is like one of those repeating rollercoasters as I will be coming back season after season.
The most tightly directed thing in the entire season, Planetarian uses all of its five episodes to create a very compelling character drama. I am not a fan of Key animations, as I often find them more melodramatic than anything but in the wrong way that makes it feel more soap opera-ish. Planetarian on the other hand, has a more condensed story that maintains a sense of intrigue throughout with both its world and its two characters. You really connect with the loneliness of the Junker and kind of fall in love with the naivety and straightforwardness of the robot Yumemi. Allowing the focus to solely be on these two allowed them to really flesh out despite the small runtime making for some heartwarming scenes with beautiful imagery.
I have several problems with the ending of Planetarian, since the decision they went with was quite obvious and clichéd. The schmaltzy dialogue at times made me cringe and it didn’t feel like the writing quality of its previous episodes. Taking it away from the centralized drama may not have been the best way to handle the ending in my opinion, but they had to end it some way. Just don’t be surprised if the dialogue gets a little heavy-handed. That being said, I do really enjoy the story they built and kind of thanked it for the short runtime. If this was dragged out to twelve episodes it would have quickly become boring as they were running out of things to do with a runtime of five episodes that were about twenty minutes each. Tautly directed and a small self-contained story allowed this series to breathe in a way I never thought it would and allowed it to be a short and sentimental ride.
I and some others I know, don’t know why this is so high up on my list if I’m being honest. It didn’t hit ground-breaking ideas or even truly impress me to a degree. No instead it struck a chord with me, and I’ll tell you why. There is a beauty to the shot composition and animation style in Amanchu that is both calming and at times sincere with its characters’ feelings. It is hard to strike a realistic chord with people and connect to a character so intrinsically, but Amanchu manages to do so quite often if you let it take you for a ride. The beautiful, but terrifying depths of scuba-diving only highlights the fears and insecurities of Futaba to a key as she learns to yet again open up to people. Not only do we get insight into her, but every other major character has a moment in the story where you can truly see their side of life. Where their insecurities come from, where their ideas of the future develop into, how although they may be given a single chibi face in moments their individuality has a sense of complexity behind it.
If there is one moment that I could say “Amanchu left an impression on me” would have to be episode three with one shot in particular. The still beauty of the water and the two new found friends laying on top of it. How they grow from that moment on and how they learn about each other through Futaba’s desire to want to learn something her friend Hikari loves. Sometimes simplicity manages to make the biggest impact in a season, and sometimes subtle stories that take their time to transform truly bear the most fruit. Amanchu is an entrancing journey into the depths of Futaba’s life and how we as an audience can truly understand her plights.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
Kira Yoshikage is the saviour of Jojo’s second cour. Brilliantly creating a compelling antagonist that I would argue is more chilling than Dio and more resourceful. Now is the catch, most of this cour has been the characters idling away. The episodes have been interesting and it was fun to see a return of one of my favourites in the series, but I found myself missing that drive the first one had after the first few episodes. They kill some over powered rats, fight over money, deal with love, yet there was never a focal point and thus often came off either as lacking focus or just resting on its laurels to create episodic content. Some of the episodic content was fabulous as the Cinderella beauty parlour and the manga artist were two of the best episodes by far in the series behind some stuff regarding past members of the series.
That is where Kira Yoshikage came in, a sociopathic serial killer with a hand fetish that is beyond disturbing. Cruel and calculating, he is both intelligent and resourceful with his stand allowing him both range and quite an array of strategies. The moment he enters the screen the series stops being episodic and all of the focus is on the now ensuing battle against arguably one of the most chilling villains I have watched in recent years. In the first cour I loved how more personal the situations became, but just as the series was slowing down in comes one of the most compelling characters I have seen in Jojo’s. I believe that this part of the Jojo lore could eventually be my favourite, but only time can tell as we still have one more season.
It is about time we get another solid mafia series in anime! The last time I found a mafia series this compelling was Baccano and even then it didn’t have the same tense feel but rather relied on comedic tones and light-hearted character moments to sell its cast initially. 91 Days on the other hand is an unpredictable ride of a mobster homage, which essentially becomes a tale of revenge akin to something along the lines of the Count of Monte Cristo. You root for the protagonist despite him essentially being an anti-hero, Avilio is someone who exhumes charisma yet lacks a moral center. His family was killed by the Vanetti family and we watch as in 91 Days he manages to attempt to tear down their empire and take revenge on those who specifically killed his family. This is where it can get a bit dull as a lot of characters lack a sense of attachment from the viewer’s perspective. While I found some absolutely compelling to watch like the sociopathic Fango and his off the wall tactics, others had me more bored than anything much like the Vanetti’s boss Vincent.
There is an undeniable factor that comes across though in 91 Days, the passion of its director Hiro Kaburaki. Only being well known for Kimi ni Todoke, a romcom, he manages to create some very memorable and captivating sequences that feel like it came from a gangster film. The animation quality kind of took away a bit of its flair in moments, but for the most part I found myself blown away by the sequencing of some scenes. There are some problems with its pacing in the middle, and some elements confused me as the Mexican assassin seemed more Cowboy Bebop than mafia film like the rest of the series. I found myself full-heartedly loving this series and yes I even found myself on good terms with the ending so many do not like. 91 Days feels like more of a personal pick since it is a more niche show within the medium of anime, not many mafia shows that show up in conversation these days. It won’t tickle everyone’s fancy, but it certainly kept me and those who watched with me entertained throughout most of its runtime.
Mob Psycho 100
To me, simple concepts and design schemes can bear the most fruit. I wasn’t particularly a fan of One Punch Man and found myself easily skeptical about Mob Psycho. I found One Punch Man shallow in both its parody and it as a reflection of the shounen battle genre and superhero genre in general. There were moments where you can see it soar and others where it is hard to find anything worth watching. The comedy was mostly flat in my opinion often rehashing the same jokes over and over again, despite the physical comedy really being on point for the most part. Prior experience with the author had me uninterested, but I still managed to give it a shot. That is where I found myself eating my own words. Mob Psycho manages to go a mile with an inch and takes it’s simple premise of finding what it means to use power to the nth degree with some surprisingly tense moments and sequences along with well-executed comedy.
Essentially the show boils down to how Mob perceives his immense power in one of two ways. His master Reigen, the conman who pretends to be a psychic, teaches him the importance of moderation and how kindness can be the strongest point in life. Then life continues to throw him curveballs with all the other psychics that he comes in contact with, each believing in using their own powers for their own means. The relationship between Mob and Reigen is arguably one of the most heart-warming I have seen in a long time, despite most of it coming down to comedy. We watch a kid essentially go through understanding who he is and how he should use the ultimate power he is given. This is a story that remains resonant in society today with such stories as Superman and Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”. The animation in some moments is so on point that it is fabulous with how flawless it moves. Though the style of animation is more in tune with the original mangaka’s style, and has shown to put some people off, I love its verve and individuality allowing for more free flowing images to take place. Mob Psycho 100 is simply a great ride with great characters.
And so I finally bid ado to the Summer Season of 2016 and the year starts to wind down. I’ll probably tackle Fall and start with my yearly round up of my favourites of various things. Like film, television, maybe video games, anime and stuff of the like. Should be fun recounting some of the best and worst the year has given me to bask in. That being said, it should come as no surprise that this is my last post for a while as I will be going on a hiatus from making new content for at least a bit. I may make one every once in a while but until Christmas Day rolls around I will be on a minimum post spree to finish up some of my papers. With that being said, what did you think of my top five of the season? Leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a great day!