Most people have been praising Made in Abyss since its finished airing and all of it is well deserved. To me this is a show that offers a very realistic take on what a fantasy story should be, never unflinching in its depictions of the fierce Abyss and its inhabitants. To offer us a touching story of friendship between Reg and Riko and those they meet along the way. Made in Abyss could easily be called one of my favourite shows in recent memory, easily capturing me and admitting me to a rollercoaster ride I was not prepared for and needed off to finally fall asleep. The last thing we leave off on is nothing short of an impressive 48 minute showing off everything this show does well. Many of the characters were terrific in this show, but there was one character that I felt was well executed and almost a masterclass in introducing a villain. How does Bondrewd work as an antagonist with merely one episode of relevance?
It is about time I return to this feature, but I always have a hard time deciding which antagonist to focus on. Most times you believe you have a clear candidate because of the noticeable complexity, much like Char Aznable from Mobile Suit Gundam, but for reasons of not doing the character enough justice in simply a one-off post I pass over some of the greats. I have dabbled in figures like Hisoka, Gilgamesh, and King Bradley, yet I enjoy the thrill of delving deeper into antagonists often disregarded for the standouts. This is a hunt after all, and how exciting can a hunt be if you only focus on the easiest of targets? Instead today we will be looking into one of the more undiscovered antagonists of 2016. Juzo Sakakura was a secondary antagonist in the entirety of Danganronpa 3’s air time with small roles in both Mirai-hen and Zetsubou-hen. His tone was brutish, his actions often despised and his reality torn by a sense of loathing. Juzo’s short time on the trilogy’s final arc is marked by an interesting tale of tragedy that leaves a mixed taste in the viewer’s mouth. Yet at the end of the day does Juzo’s tough exterior and emotional problems create a complex antagonist worth investing into, or is he merely another brutish henchman?
The Hunt for the Great Antagonist is a series that will spoil elements from the series surrounding the antagonist and most likely key points within the series itself. You have been warned.
Hatred towards a character, usually the weasel type of character, is common. Most often this character creates hate watching much like one of the previous antagonists I made a post about this year, Iok Kujan from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. The weasel doesn’t necessarily need to garner a lot of hate, but often in a series it is quite easy to point to a singular point and say that they are the main cause of so many problems within it. Often these characters, because of a spike of emotional outrage over either a very daring (sometimes stupid) choice of the writer, make a decision that changes the landscape of the anime. Alessand from Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul is purely another example of this, but often the hatred of his character comes from both his actions and how people saw him being built up. This post isn’t to excuse Alessand for his actions nor for how he was used in Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul, but rather to offer another interpretation or viewpoint to just the blanket hate that pervades him now. To see Alessand as potentially one of the bigger missed opportunities in Virgin Soul because of the lack of focus on him.
This post will spoil a lot that happens in Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul. You have been warned.
Commercial anime are not uncommon in the history of the medium. Many games try to sell themselves through anime adaptations to varying results (looking at you Vampire Holmes!). I mean no modern day medium of cinematic entertainment these days can be devoid of it. Blockbuster films receive numerous ads for products that then must be placed within the film and sometimes it is more obvious than others (like Man of Steel). That isn’t a bad thing per se as these are more or less a necessity to help get these films and television shows made, yet that doesn’t hold them back from being fun pieces of entertainment for the most part. They don’t hinder our enjoyment regarding the work and while they may be noticeable in moments shouldn’t detract from the overall quality or come into play regarding the reception it should have.
That being said, some series or films are created for the sole purpose of selling merchandise with little to no merit to them at all. Look at what people are saying about the Emoji Movie that has recently come out. Yet I feel as if the Emoji Movie will fill up the public eye for a while so I decided to tackle the same idea with yet another piece of commercial entertainment (also I don’t want to put myself through that film). Gundam has become a phenomena over the years, and a lot of its sales comes from the gunpla kits it still produces with Bandai Namco. I mean it helped save the franchise from potential failure and is quite the intricate hobby, well models are intricate in general. All in all one does expect an anime or something along those lines to be made off the sport, and in fact three anime have. I know most people know about Gundam Build Fighters which was given a sequel only a year after its release in 2013, yet I am here to talk about the third work based off the Gunpla craze. The forgotten sibling known only as Gunpla Builders Beginning G, and we will see potentially if it manages to escape the crevasse that the Emoji Movie has sunken into or simply already be at the bottom waiting for the emojis to arrive.
So starting off this Mega Man X marathon is the anime special that supposedly details the events prior to the first game. Aptly named The Day of Sigma, this special was a warm welcome for a fan of the franchise like me. I mean we get to see the events that led us onto that bridge with the burning landscape behind us in the opening stage of Mega Man X. They are going to give us well needed background to Sigma and X’s battle and why it happens in the first place! This is all so exciting! Then I realized that it was the only thing like it, only one episode. There is no sequel series, nothing after it to give a fan more to bite into and it leaves us on a rooftop overlooking the mayhem below while Sigma laughs triumphantly. I began to wonder whether or not a special like this is really necessary to have if its brief existence can be explained in a few sentences.
There is something to be said for Miyazaki as a filmmaker and as a director. That for all his works that feel distinctly Miyazaki, there has never been that one work where you could say “His soul beats off the screen!” His whimsy or feelings regarding flight and nature can be present, but never a sense of himself. That is not to say he doesn’t put every inch of his being into his work, his countless years of filmmaking is a testament to the man’s passion, yet this one film seems to be his poetry to the world of animation. His work of pure cinema in a sense, well more of a lax usage of the term, where visuals and storytelling go hand to hand. This is the one film that I can honestly say, “Miyazaki has finally made the film he has always wanted to make.” Every director has that one project that speaks to them as a master of their craft, no matter the director. Yet that very passion project some try to accomplish can fall along the wayside and they can be lost within their immense desire to tell the story they have always wanted to tell. Does The Wind Rises fall prey to Miyazaki’s very passion, or does it have enough lift to carry us to the clouds with him?
The one and only rewatch I am forced to do during the Ghibli Week I have been doing, which is unfortunately going on longer than expected. I mean when you are watching anime with your family, sometimes not everything can go as planned. So I decided to personally rewatch one of the early works that I had fallen in love with when I was younger. The Cat Returns was my third foray into the magical world of Ghibli after My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away and the first Ghibli film I bought for my personal collection. The Cat Returns will always hold a special place in my heart, yet I decided when I was going to look at all the Ghibli films at some point to see them from a more critical lens. Hopefully it still holds up today about 10 years later, and yes it has been that long…and the more I dwell on that the older I feel. So does the Baron still have that kick in his step or will the endless swarm of cats put a damper on his dapper dandy deeds?