It’s never too late to try something new, and I thought this would be a good time to experiment with my end-of-season reviews. Usually, I bundle up all of the final thoughts into one or two gigantic posts. This means that the posts include shows that finished two or even three weeks apart in the season. Because of that, and the ridiculous length of some of the season wraps, I thought I’d try a weekly approach with, at most, three or four titles. Please let me know what you think of this format, along with your thoughts on the shows discussed in my posts!
Tales of Zestiria the X is finally finished after a five-week delay on the last episode, “The Legend.” The series was split into two parts with a season break in between. You can read my thoughts on the first part here, where my overall opinion of the beginning was one of dissatisfaction; the work felt disjointed in plot and flow. I still enjoyed the world and its idea of humans, seraphim, and Malevolence, but wish certain areas were expanded upon, cut, or rearranged. The second season of Zestiria the X improved upon the weaknesses of the first and I finally felt invested in the actions of Sorey, Alisha, and Rose.
When I first heard that Seattle’s Cinerama would be holding an Anime Movie Festival, I knew immediately that I wanted to go. Not only were there films included in the line-up that I had never seen, but I had also never visited the acclaimed theater. Cinerama is a single-screen venue boasting the “most epic movie experience.” Having first opened in 1963 after the World’s Fair’s appearance in the city it was one of the hottest locations until its decline in popularity in the mid 80s and 90s. Thanks to the purchase and renovation of philanthropist Paul Allen, the theater was reborn in 1999 with advanced screen and sound technology. The theater was again upgraded more recently in 2014.
Cinerama hosts many types of events, including 70mm festivals, Science Fiction, and more. This year’s Anime Film Festival is the first of its kind, and I hope to see more of it in the coming years. Perhaps they may even expand to include multi-episode original video animation series. The movies I viewed were:
While the last is actually my favorite Ghibli film and one I’ve seen countless times, I still could not resist the chance to see it on the big screen for the first time. Below are my brief thoughts on the movies and my viewing experience at Seattle Cinerama.
“If you have a choice, why not try something you’ve never had before?”
-Takeshi Shizuko, “Anniversary Oden,” Samurai Gourmet
Having just finished another J-drama food series, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, Netflix rightly suggested I try Samurai Gourmet, a television series with a lighter spirit and distinct sense of humor. In addition to the food and individual stories, I was drawn to the series by its main actor, Naoto Takenaka, who I loved in the live action music series, Nodame Cantabile.
Gourmet Samurai is an episodic series spanning 12, 25-minute episodes. Played by Takenaka, Takeshi Kasumi is a retired salaryman unsure of how to fill his now free days. Thanks to the suggestion of his wife, Kasumi steps out in search of a hobby and stumbles across the joy of dining out. His food discoveries are always accompanied by a hallucination (or is it?) of a wandering samurai. This samurai, played by the very handsome Tamayama Tetsuji, helps Kasumi overcome his misgivings, like drinking in the middle of the day, eating properly in a formal setting, and even dealing with grouchy chefs. The more Kasumi learns from the samurai, the more he is able to appreciate his new found hobby.
In the hopes of shedding my winter gear and moving into the spring, I’ve decided to continue on with this second part of my season wrap. I may or may not give my final thoughts on Tales of Zestiria the X after the last episode airs at the end of the month (05.13.17 edit: Zestiria review can be read here).
Overall, this winter season treated me remarkably well, with a couple of gems I would include in a top-30-of-all-time list. It’s not often that a series comes along I can definitively say exemplifies the possibilities of anime as a medium for storytelling, or that transcends its art style in such a way that anime skeptics can still appreciate. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka are two such titles.
In addition to these pillars, there are also several shows that have already become cult classics, such as Kemono Friends and Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon. These anime understood and executed their roles perfectly, capturing the hearts and loyalty of their audience almost from the beginning. Maybe I can’t provide a synopsis about either to a non-anime viewer without raising some eyebrows, but that doesn’t change the fact that these characters had a powerful impact on me. Shows like Kemono Friends remind me to see the best in myself and others no matter how bleak the surroundings. That’s a particularly important reminder these days.
- ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
- Gabriel DropOut
- Kemono Friends
- Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
- Kuzu no Honkai
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season
- Youjo Senki
I stumbled across yet another Netflix gem in the form of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, a continuation of a popular Japanese live action series with three earlier seasons and two movies. I had actually seen a bit of the first season, Shinya Shokudo, several years ago with FoxyLadyAyame, but I cannot recall if we ever finished it. This realization didn’t hit me until I started watching Tokyo Stories and many of the setting and character details felt familiar. You do not actually need to watch any of the prequels to appreciate the 4th-season Netflix original, as the stories are episodic in nature. You can even watch them out of order if you like, though I do think the last episode perfectly wraps up the sentiment of the show and the bar where everyone intersects.
I’ve started to notice blossoms along the path I take when walking my dog, and I haven’t had to adjust the heater for a few weeks now, so I guess winter is finally coming to an end. As much as I detest being cold, I hate heat even more, so it is with mixed emotions that I say farewell to the winter season. There were a number of gems this time around that I am sad to see end, namely 3-gatsu no Lion, Demi-chan, and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. They each impacted me in unique ways and left me thoughtful of my own relationships and contributions.
This anime season seemed to fly by even more quickly than usual, perhaps due to me actually keeping on schedule for the first time in a long while. I have decided to split my season review into a couple of posts, largely because Tales of Zestiria the X announced a delayed final episode. If you don’t see one of your favorite shows listed immediately below, see if it is included in my list at the end of this review.
- 3-gatsu no Lion
- Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen
- Demi-chan wa Kataritai
- Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2
- Masamune-kun no Revenge
- Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu
- Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu S2
- Urara Meirochou
As promised in my 12 Days post on playing Tales of Graces f and Symphonia, I picked up another Tales of game and finished it within a few weeks. Tales of Xillia is a 2011 title that came to America in 2013 on the PS3 and, like most of the titles in the series, includes combat co-op. The story runs along a clear line, battle allows for interesting combinations, and many dated and irritating qualities of older titles are removed. Long-time fans, however, will likely knock Xillia in several fields: story, setting, combat, and missing elements that are signatures of the franchise. On the whole, I enjoyed the game and would recommend it as a possible entrance point for new players to the franchise.