Eva’s Spring 2016 Anime Season Thoughts

I’m not usually the type to keep up-to-date with the latest anime seasons, often watching decades-old shows way past when they were relevant. A number of shows caught my eye this season, however, and I felt compelled to write my thoughts about them.

Flying Witch

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I love a good slice of life anime, and Flying Witch is an excellent slice of life anime. Based on an ongoing manga by Chihiro Ishizuka, Flying Witch is the story of Makoto Kowata, a high school witch who moves in with her relatives in Aomori. Makoto’s magic cannot save her from her frequent bouts of airheadedness, however, or her awful sense of direction. Makoto’s relatives offer her some manner of help, but come with their own strange quirks and habits, much to the chagrin of Makoto’s friend (and straight man) Nao.

The anime adaptation of Flying Witch is significantly more subdued than the manga it’s based on, telling its jokes far more slowly and methodically. While I initially found this distracting, it grew on me quickly and I came to appreciate it in its own way. The music aided this quite a bit, with calm background music compounding the quiet and simple lives led in Aomori. The opening theme “Shanranran feat.96neko” stands in contrast to this, however. An upbeat pop song with a catchy beat set against colorful visuals, the song manages to feel thematically fitting to the show and its rather awkward cast.

I would highly suggest adding Flying Witch to your watch list if you’re looking for a good slice of life series.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the main reasons I got back into anime and manga, and I’ve since read/watched just about every single chapter and episode of every part. Keeping that in mind and knowing that Part 4 is my favorite part, I went into it with very high expectations. After watching the first episode, I became very worried that it wouldn’t meet those expectations.

The subsequent episodes proved me dead wrong.

Part 4 ditches the more subdued and realistic aesthetic of Stardust Crusaders in favor of a far more stylized approach, using low-detail backgrounds and pastel tones to evoke a soft small-town look. It also makes use of more comic-book visual effects to bring the anime a step closer to the manga, while still retaining its own unique look.

The opening and ending take these ideas to their respective extreme. The Part 4 opening ditches the rock focus of part 4 and returns to the more funk-oriented style of Part 2 with Crazy Noisy Bizarre Town by The DU. In addition, Part 4 abandons the CG used in all previous Jojo openings in favor of more traditional animation. While I liked the CG in Parts 1-3, I feel the traditional artwork better fits the style of the part 4 OP, which leans heavily on the funk/disco influences to present a psychedelic and engrossing fever dream of an opening.

The ending is a bit more subdued, presenting a long panning shot of Morioh accompanied by Savage Garden’s I Want You. While it doesn’t quite match the first season’s excellent use of Roundabout, it still acts as a fairly good closer to each episode.

Elaborating on the plot at this point seems almost pointless, as you’re either on the Jojo train or you’re not. If you haven’t started watching yet then I can’t quite recommend starting the series here, but if you’ve been keeping up with Jojo this far then you would be doing yourself a disservice by skipping this.

Space Patrol Luluco

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I am a fan of short form pieces in any medium, and anime is no exception. I was quite fond of Please Tell Me, Galko-Chan! which aired earlier this year and discussed the unmentionables of day-to-day life in a funny and interesting way. As such, I was rather interested in Space Patrol Luluco, with its colorful visuals, odd premise, and brief 7 minute episodes.

The premise of Luluco is that Luluco, a perfectly normal middle school girl, lives in a perfectly abnormal city filled with a wide variety of alien life. Luluco’s father, a member of the Space Patrol, has been frozen solid by accidentally eating evidence. Luluco must fill in for her father while investigating a series of crimes being committed at her school. A simple premise which could easily lend itself to charming and interesting episodes.

Unfortunately, Luluco is not nearly as charming as it needs to be or as clever as it thinks it is, settling into a rut of trite and tedious jokes that don’t work nearly as well as the creators hope for. The series tries to emulate the pacing and style of Trigger’s earlier work Inferno Cop, even going so far as to have a stand-in for Inferno Cop known as “Over Justice.” The comedic timing of Inferno Cop doesn’t work nearly as well in Luluco, however, and the weird half-way done animation doesn’t carry the same charm as the cut-outs from Inferno Cop.

While Inferno Cop was charmingly terrible, Luluco is just meh and uninteresting, and no amount of cute are or fun characters can change that. Give this one a pass.

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096

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A rather odd one, RE:0096 is a TV anime adaptation of Gundam Unicorn, an OVA sequel to the 1988 film Char’s Counterattack which was released between 2010 and 2014. RE: 0096 mostly edits the hour-long OVA episodes together into half-hour chunks, with an added opening and ending.

Unicorn itself is a fantastic follow-up to one of the best pieces of Gundam media, and manages to seamlessly merge goofy 80s robot designs with more modern sci-fi aesthetics. Unicorn is also wonderfully animated, with beautiful panning shots contrasting against some of the best fights this franchise has ever seen. The orchestral soundtrack is also incredible, perfectly complementing the tense struggle that permeates every episode.

Why watch this version instead of the OVA? Well, episodes of the OVA are rather expensive, with the DVDs costing about 20 bucks a pop and the Blu-Rays costing far more. In addition, the episodes are displayed on Crunchyroll at resolutions up to 1080p (assuming you have premium) which looks far better than it might on the DVD release. There’s also the advantage of not having a physical disc to keep track of (although this may be seen as a disadvantage to some). So unless you already own Blu-Ray copies of the series, this is a pretty good way to view it. Do be warned that the opening contains spoilers for later parts of the series, so it might be worth skipping them your first time watching it.

It should be noted that Unicorn is not self-contained and makes frequent references to other UC Gundam shows, so it is not a good jumping-on point for newcomers. If you’ve watched Char’s Counterattack and want to know what happened after that (or just wanna watch a good Gundam show) then I highly recommend this.

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