It’s been 17 years, SEVENTEEN YEARS, since I graduated high school and prepared the way to music school, a time of excitement and fear and a million lessons learned that I wouldn’t ever take back no matter how painful or embarrassing some of them were. There have also only been a handful of anime to capture the memories and emotions from that time, shows centered on college and some of them even targeting art and music. But very few shows of this style seem to be produced into anime; a few I can name off the top of my head include Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover, and, to a lesser extent, Remake Our Life!
Blue Period joins these shows in its joyful display of the arts, as well as the agony in attempting to survive among high competition and far too few open spots. All that passion, all that hard work, can still amount to nothing in the end if there just aren’t any positions available to take. But that’s the question, isn’t it? What about these disciplines encourages people to repeatedly sign up for insecure futures?
I still have a hard time believing I actually sat down and watched this show, much less finished it given my initial impressions. You can backtrack to the two podcast episodes Draggle and I recorded on it: in one, I lambast the series‘ not-so-subtle rape, and in the other I marvel at the character development and metaphors of online versus offline connectivity. That 180 in attitude towards the show occurred through much of the season while it aired, and I would not in good conscience recommend the anime to someone without fully knowing their tastes. Regardless, Sarazanmai was one of the most memorable shows of the year and with high rewatchability.
I can feel the flames of the 12 Days of Anime licking at my heels as I write this from the east coast and it’s already past midnight. I tell myself were I back home in Seattle, I’d still be a few hours within the safety lines. The holiday activities are ramping up!
Today I bring you Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life, a series that started airing in the spring and already is on a second season as we enter into the winter. The first episode had me teetering on the edge of dropping this show despite my interest in the subject, and I have my stubbornness to thank for sticking with it and finding one of my favorite stories of 2019.
It was with great surprise and pleasure that I learned about the anime adaptation of Dororo, an Osamu Tezuka’s late 1960s manga which I encountered first in its 2007 live action format. Back then, I didn’t have the understanding yet that many Japanese live action films and series were adaptations of manga and anime, and so didn’t try to pursue beyond the movie I loved. Now that I have seen the 2019 anime, I’d like to go back and read the manga as well as watch the 1969 anime to find out for myself just how much material was changed. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy what we received; on the contrary, I thought the story one of the most interesting of the year due to its style and and characters.
Book like Ender’s Game and anime series like Stellvia of the Universe had a younger me dreaming of an alternate reality where I, too, could enroll in a student space program and head out into the stars. Unfortunately, the settings in those two specific works were products of alien invasions threatening the very existence of humanity. Then I was exposed to works like Star Trek and Cowboy Bebop, where exploration for the sake of exploration drove the directions of their stories. I loved both styles, and continued to dream of a future where travel between planets was as normal as a flight to another country. ASTRA fills that craving with its colorful cast and varied environments, mixing an exhilarating sense of adventure with a persistent feeling of danger.
Fire Force made it to my 12 Days of Anime for a number of reasons, and not all positive. While it certainly presents itself well on a visual front, other areas like timing and characters are memorable for more distasteful aspects. Regardless, I do consider the show among some of the most artistic presentations of the year with its cinematography and use of sound effects.
2019 brought with it plenty of stories new to the screen, both adaptations and original works, many of which I’ll mention later on in the 12 Days of Anime. But I don’t want to overlook some of the sequels that I found just as enjoyable, partly due to their unexpected arrival.
It’s that time of year again where we look back at the previous year of anime and reflect on 12 powerful moments–great or terrible, that’s up to the rememberer.
This year, I start with After School Dice Club, a choice I’m sure will surprise many of you. It is neither extraordinary nor ill-written. Some might even describe it as forgettable fluff. Yet the moment this show was announced and the first game made its appearance, I knew I had to watch it.
We’ve finally arrived at the end of the series, and I’ve chosen Sakura Quest to lead us into the next year—not because it was the best of 2017, or even necessarily my favorite. Sakura Quest had its ups and downs. There was a time where I was worried the plot wasn’t going anywhere. With enough failures, and never ending communication, Yoshino grew along with Manoyama and found a new purpose in life. That’s the message I want to take to heart and relay to you now: learn from the mistakes of this past year, speak openly with the people around you, and strive to improve in the future. Whatever your belief, I wish you a wonderful holiday season and new year.