(Originally written around June-July 2014)
Aoi Hana(Sweet Blue Flowers)
Another show based on a manga by Takako Shimura, the author of Hourou Musuko(the show I gushed about last week). This show, however, is about girls’ love instead of complex gender identities. Aoi Hana doesn’t sport a cast of characters as amazingly mature as the one of Hourou Musuko, but that might be a strength. However, it’s not exceptionally novel in other ways either. It’s occasionally very shoujo in its characters and their interactions: The main character is a shy girl and then there’s the tall short-haired girl whom everyone is attracted to. There is a slight divergence in that there is a second main character who seems very out of place, though. And that serves to keep things interesting. In addition, the show alludes to classical works of literature in some interesting ways and it looks extremely nice(some of JC Staff’s best work in my opinion). Worthwhile show for anyone who likes yuri.
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku(Now and Then, Here and There)
Last week I had only seen one episode of this, but I was already digging it. Well, after that, it only got better. This show turned into one of the best post-apocalypse stories I’ve seen to date, and not just in anime. The world-building is done in a very “show, don’t tell” kind of way, and while there is exposition, it’s not overused. Characters rarely explain their thoughts in detail. Basically, the show dodges all of the stuff that annoys me about more recent story-driven shows. The reason for this is probably that the show is 15 years old, but this also has it drawbacks. Namely, the main character is the most generic run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter hero I’ve ever seen. However, as this is not that common anymore(nowadays characters are more self-aware and gloomy), it didn’t bother me that much. All in all, a very enjoyable show from a time when anime was done in a slightly different way.
Bonus: Natsume Yuujinchou Seasons 2, 3 and 4
Yeah, I pretty much fell in love with this series back while watching S1 and have been watching nothing else since. I think this show defines the recent “fantasy slice of life” subgenre, which has become so popular with shows like Gingitsune and Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. In fact, Gingitsune is very similar to Natsume Yuujinchou. In both shows, the main character is one of only a few people who can see the fantasy creatures and in both shows, the main character has a lovable sidekick. Even the personalities of the sidekicks are fairly similar. In any case, I like this subgenre because of its possibilities. For Natsume Yuujinchou, that means that the episodes can be vastly different in terms of story. Some episodes are unbearably cute, others are nail-bitingly thrilling, with all of this being possible because there are very few rules you need to follow when creating supernatural creatures that are invisible to normal humans.
I don’t really know what more to say about this show, since I covered a lot of it in my previous post, and the show doesn’t change that much from Season 1 to Season 4. If I had to mention anything, it’s that the later seasons focus more on people(more specifically, Natsume’s relationships with other people) and less on the monsters.