Summer 2016 First Impressions: Part 1

ReLIFE

Summer 2016 ReLIFE

I don’t usually wear suits or take the subway at night, but I can relate to his melancholy.

ReLIFE is not the first show about NEETs (or, alternatively, people working dead-end jobs “being given a second chance”), nor is it the first show where the main character regresses in physical age (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is a recent example of a similar show). It doesn’t really do any other things in a new way either. The visuals are okay, but not the most impressive ever, and when it comes to funny faces, it’s pretty average so far. The characters’ personalities aren’t outstanding either, but considering it’s going to be a show about the main character going to high school, I didn’t expect them to be.

Somehow, however, the show managed to grab me right from the start. The main character’s struggle with finding employment, lying about it to his friends, and being generally pessimistic about the unsure future, it was all portrayed in such a way that I could immediately relate to him. And I don’t think it’s just because I’m in a similar situation right now, I think the opening scenes were really well-written and -directed. The believability naturally suffered from the part where the main character takes a pill and suddenly regresses 10 years in age overnight, but the rest of the episode actually managed to carry its weight.

Unlike in, say, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, where Satoru has to hide the fact that he’s trapped in the body of a much younger version of himself, the main character of ReLIFE, Arata, can’t help but act like he’s 27, even when he’s in a high school class. And that, with all its hilarious and cringe-worthy consequences, is what drives most of the first episode of the show. But his older personality is not treated as a purely negative thing, and that was my favourite part about the episode. At the end of the episode, there’s a pretty feel-good scene involving Arata’s teacher, who appreciates it when Arata says she’s young (she’s 25, so 2 years less than Arata’s actual age). This, combined with the fact that the show isn’t all comedy, it has a serious side as well, is something I really like.

But even if I hadn’t enjoyed the first episode as much as I did, the show still would have had a trick up its sleeve that most other shows don’t have. All 13 of the show’s episodes were released simultaneously (in practice, on Crunchyroll, this meant that the episodes were released over the course of a few hours). So, if I really wanted, I could watch all of it tonight… And this is a very tempting offer. Just like how I feel like short-format anime don’t have to be “as good” as regular-length anime because the time investment is smaller, this ability to watch the entirety of ReLIFE at exactly the pace I want makes me considerably more open to the idea of continuing it. Which I will do. I just haven’t decided at what pace yet.

Verdict: Surprisingly relatable and moving, will definitely continue. I just haven’t decided whether to binge it or not.

 


Berserk (2016)

Summer 2016 Berserk

The show is at its best (visually) during closeups of Guts’ face.

In the spirit of Berserk, I will begin by slaughtering the elephant in the room with a massive heap of raw iron. Yeah, the CG animation looks pretty bad. And not just compared to hand-drawn animation, I think it looks worse than all the other recent CG shows. The characters move unnaturally, they look like they’re made of plastic, and the faux pencil-style shading doesn’t help. Strangely, the characters actually look better in closeups than they do in faraway shots. I feel like it’s usually the other way around. In any case, yeah, it doesn’t look good. Of course, I kind of expected it, as it’s sometimes a legitimate fear when it comes to CG shows, but I have to admit that I was even more disappointed than I thought I’d be. And the main reason for that is that the action scenes look too confusing. I usually like how CG can be used to make very fast action scenes that still look very clear, but Berserk does not do this. The action scenes have occasional slow-motion and constant weird angles, which, combined with the darkness of the scenes in general, made it look like a blurry mess of bones and swords.

And that’s really unfortunate, because I instantly fell in love with the world. Sure, I’d heard good things about the series before, and I knew that it was an influence on Demon’s Souls (and probably the other Souls games as well), but I didn’t actually know anything about the world or the story. Well, now I do, or at least I think I do. There wasn’t a lot of exposition in the first episode, but I kind of like it that way with Sword and Sorcery stories, so being a bit confused (or a lot) didn’t hurt me too much. I just know that this is a world that I want to explore, and I think doing it by following Guts is a pretty good way. Whether it be by watching this anime, the 90s series or reading the manga, I really want to know more about Berserk. Also, the soundtrack kicked ass. It almost managed to carry some of the worse-looking scenes.

Verdict: Will continue watching, but I dislike how it looks. Might end up jumping over to the manga at some point.

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