Spring 2018 Season Wrap: Megalo Box, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, & Piano no Mori

We’re hitting hard and heavy with these next three shows:

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

Megalo Box

From start to finish, Megalo Box was one hell of a stylish presentation, with main characters as strong as the punches thrown in the ring. The setting, art, and music set from the beginning permeates every aspect of this world and carries us through to the final match, somehow building in intensity every step of the way. Even if you are not a boxing fan, or sports fan in general, it’s hard not to cheer for the underdog in this dressed down classic.

If Joe was our only in-depth character, Megalo Box might not stand so well given his firm conviction not changing at all over the course of the season. Thankfully, almost every other major character builds an interesting study in history and development. Take, for instance, Coach Nanbu. When we first meet him, he’s a low-life who has no qualms with squashing dreams with gold in his sights. As we get to know him, we start to see a man fallen from grace, one who once had the ability and desire to stand on his own and motivate others. His growth pushes all the way to the penultimate episode, and makes for one of the most satisfying climaxes of the show.

One character I struggled to understand was Yukiko, the head of the Shirato Group. Her affection for Yuri is buried beneath layers of obligation and ambition–but what ambition? If her goal is to simply push the company to greater heights and secure its relationship with government contracts, then perhaps she’s the most successful out of all of our characters. Yet that end seems hollow in the face of Joe and Yuri’s face off. I still know almost nothing about her, and it seems we never will.

Rating: 2 dango

Legend of the Galactic Heroes

I’m glad I went into the Legend of the Galactic Heroes remake with carefully controlled expectations, because as much as I enjoyed the series, the reality didn’t quite live up to the hype. The original film and long-running OVAs date back to the 80s and carry with them this reputation of the end all, be all of space opera. The title itself declares the work’s legend of its characters and arguably among others of its kind. As I have yet to actually watch the original episodes, I can’t say whether or not this reputation is warranted. What I know stems solely from this remake.

At only twelve episodes in length, Die Neue These attempts to present this stage encompassing the vast regions of space with three main parties vying for control. While the set-up is simple to understand, the presentation felt a bit rushed in execution. We meet Reinhard and Yang, respectively of the Galactic Empire and Free Planets Alliance Star Fleet, in a matter of a couple of episodes, and are supposed to accept their genius among nations governed by idiots and criminals. But, fine, I’m used to assuming the protagonist is special. Then there are the battles themselves, in which classic field strategies win or lose the day. I had hoped for conflicts on a more complicated and grander scale. Die Neue These instead wraps up each battle as neatly and quickly as it introduced our characters. The updated CG ships do look great, though.

My main draw to this series was Yang’s character, and his continued struggle to retire early from the alliance and live out the rest of his life in comfort and surrounded by books. His patience goes above and beyond anything I know I’d be able to handle, and I’m afraid to see where his future takes him. There are a few films scheduled for the future, each encompassing roughly four episodes’ worth of material.

Rating: 1 dango

Piano no Mori

When I first heard about this television series adaptation, I was overjoyed. I remember loving the 2007 film. For the most part, that anticipation was richly rewarded, character and music-wise. Animation and art–not so much.

Part of what struck me so much about Kai as a main character was his background: growing up in a single-parent-household in a rough part of the city, working from a very young age in an establishment no minor should set foot in, and without many luxuries afforded by his peers. In my own experience as a musician, almost everyone I knew came from a fairly well off family. They owned their own instruments, paid for private instructors and transportation to competitions, and spent their free time practicing instead of working. Kai’s instrument is a grand piano in the forest no one else can play but him. He receives lessons paying nothing but his own hard work. He also balances piano with school and work, even as a grade school student. Despite all of this, he perseveres with his unbridled love for the piano, and it rewards him in kind. We see him as both a child, and as a young man, and through it all he remains steadfast in his kindness and determination.

There are other strong characters to note, like Kai’s former classmate and self-proclaimed rival, Shuhei. His history feels much more familiar to me: he shoulders heavy expectations from his parents and reputation. Perfection is character in his music. His respect for Kai is only eclipsed by his fear of a monster who threatens everything he’s worked his whole life for. Their friendship and rivalry is fascinating.

I highly encourage viewers to watch this show if they enjoy classical music, as there are whole sections of uninterrupted piano performance. The show does a wonderful job of displaying the various pianists’ styles despite sharing some of the same songs in the Chopin competition. The main downside I have with the anime is its heavy reliance on CG, particularly of the musicians’ bodies and faces. We see simple, though pleasant, hand drawn faces suddenly cut to their CG versions, and the contrast is startling in a bad way. The one aspect where this animation shines is in the capture of fingering, which is impressive in its accuracy. Note: a second season has been scheduled for January.

Rating: 1 dango

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