Category Archives: Anime

Death Parade [Anime Review]

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death-parade

Airing date: January 9 to March 27, 2015

Number of Episodes: 12

Synopsis: [spoiler-free]

When two people die at the same time, they are judged as to who will be reincarnated and who will be banished to the void (the equivalent of hell). The souls are taken to a place called Quindecim (a mysterious bar run by bartenders called arbiters) without any memory of their death, and they are prompted to play a game “with their lives on the line.” These games are pre-determined based on the guests’ personalities, ranging from air hockey, to videogames, to bowling, and so on. Of course the dead cannot die again; the game is deceitfully designed to put pressure on the players to reveal the darkness in their hearts. In short, the judgment is not based on who wins or loses the game. The players’ desperate actions during the life-and-death game, as well as how they generally lived their lives–these are what the arbiters use to judge the souls.

death

parade

The interesting thing about Death Parade is that it’s not the typical title that started as a manga and eventually got its anime adaptation. The series spawned from a short film called Death Billiards, which was the winner of the Young Animator Training Project’s Anime Mirai 2013. [watch video below]

Characters:

For an anime with only 12 episodes, Death Parade surprisingly has a great range of memorable characters. From the regular guy who suspected his fiance of cheating, leading to their deaths; to a hopeless mom who feels like she is a failure as a parent because her child committed suicide–it’s difficult for the viewers not to find themselves empathizing with the characters.

Music:

The musical score for the whole series helped give off the psychological thriller vibe and gave justice to the pure beauty of the series’ premise. I incredibly liked the opening song Flyers by Bradio–I can listen to it over and over again! The upbeat OP is a stark contrast to the series’ dark theme, which isn’t a bad thing. The ending theme on the other hand, Last Theater by Noisy Cell, fits the mood.

Personal Thoughts:

Death Parade is the kind of anime that I’ve been looking for all these time. “What is the meaning of life?” “What happens after death?” “How will we be judged when we die?” These are deep topics I’ve been struggling to decipher, and the writer of Death Parade tried answering these questions in his own way.

In Death Billiards, the game is between an old man and a middle-aged guy in his 30s. In their flashbacks, the old man was a part of a gang in his younger years, and was always up to no good. However, when he got married to a kind woman, he was able to change his ways and started leading a peaceful life. The younger man on the other hand, was still in that phase where he would do anything to succeed.

By the end of the short movie, the younger man predicted that he would be sent to the void. He said that he was at an unfair disadvantage because the old man was apparently better at playing billiards than him, so he needed to turn things around, leading him to commiting violence. The arbiter then said that they were equally matched from the start. The young man simply disagreed and gave a memorable speech: “We were on equal footing when we came?…Country of birth, time period, parents, location…various factors make people’s lives unequal from the very beginning! That’s how we live! We interact with others and the society, and being here is the upshot of all that interaction! How can anyone possibly say that we are all equal when we enter this room?”

It definitely gives the audience a moment to decide as to whether the judgement process is moral and fair; is it enough to simply judge a person based on how he acts during desperate times? Surely, a single method cannot be absolute; a lot of things need to be taken into consideration.

Overall verdict:

9.5 out of 10 dolls. This anime is pure genius. The only thing I didn’t like is the vagueness of the endings, especially that of Death Billiards. The series tries its best to be deep and thought-provoking, but almost to the point of irritating the audience.

Your Lie in April [Anime Review]

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your lie in april

Japanese Title: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Airing Date: October 10, 2014 to March 20, 2015

Synopsis:

11-year-old Kousei Arima was a piano prodigy who dominated piano competitions across Japan and became very popular among fellow musicians. Trained by his own mother who had a very strict method of teaching, Kousei was able to play with such perfect accuracy that he was infamously dubbed as the “Human Metronome.” Shortly, his mother died, and the trauma resulted to Kousei developing a psychological condition wherein he couldn’t hear anymore the sound of his own piano. Hence, his stardom in the music world came to an abrupt halt.

Two years later, Kousei still couldn’t bring himself to play the piano. He was content in living his life with his two childhood friends Tsubaki (athletic and boyish, but secretly liked Kousei) and Watari (star of the soccer team; extremely popular with girls). Kousei was still depressed over his mother’s death and he viewed the world in monotone, without any touch of color.

One day, a girl named Kaori Miyazono, Tsubaki’s classmate, asked her to be introduced to Watari. Tsubaki then invited Kousei to come with them, since Kaori was a violinist (so Kousei could talk to her about music if the conversation got dull). Reluctantly, Kousei obliged.

Surprisingly, when Kousei met Kaori, his life started to take color. Her free-spirited style of playing the violin touched his heart, and he realised that music should be played freely and not so rigid like he was used to playing. Kaori joined violin competitions as well, but she did not care about winning; she simply wanted to be remembered by those who hear her music. Kaori then appointed Kousei to be her accompanist, and from there, he started to break free from his self-induced shell.

Stretching for 22 episodes, Your Lie in April is a very colorful and mellow anime. Each episode is immersed in a soft, colorful ambience, thanks to the pastel-colored style of animation and the consistent classical music in the background.

First Impression: Well when I first heard of the title, I was intrigued. And when I watched the first episode, I immediately guessed what the deal is. (Hint: Kaori and Kousei’s meeting is not a coincidence. It was all planned by Kaori.) Cliche, but still very effective.

Plots/subplots that I loved:

[Warning: spoilers ahead]

Kousei and his mom’s love-hate relationship. In earlier episodes, it was repeatedly shown that Kousei’s mom often physically abused Kousei during their piano lessons. She was always striving for perfection, and she would beat him up for the most trivial mistakes; but Kousei didn’t mind. His mom was very sick, was in a wheelchair, and oxygen inhaler was always up in her nostrils. Young Kousei was always saying, “I will always get first place in competitions if it will make you better, mom.” However, in one unfortunate event, Kousei was beaten up by his mom in front of a crowd after a piano recital (for letting his emotions flow during the performance, and not strictly following the music sheet), and a bitter fight broke between them. Right after that, his mom died, and Kousei blamed himself for it. He kept thinking it was his punishment that he could no longer hear his piano.

It was later revealed that the only reason his mom had been training him so harshly is because she felt like she was “running out of time.” Being terminally ill, she had nothing else to leave to Kousei but the gift of music. She was scared that in the future, Kousei might not be able to make a living as a musician, so the least she could do was teach him to be perfect at it.

Tsubaki’s love for Kousei. This I think, is the first time that I did root for a non-canon pairing. Tsubaki is this reliable girl bestfriend who never left Kousei’s side especially during his period of depression. All she wanted was for him to move on and make him realize that life is more colorful than how he sees it. She was like, “I want him to go back to playing piano, but I don’t want him to suffer,” whereas Kaori was like, “I want you to be my accompanist. I don’t care how you’d do it–we can make a fool of ourselves during the recital for all I care.”

The reason behind the title. The moment Kaori was introduced in the series, I knew at once that she really wasn’t interested in Watari (hence, making it the “lie she made in April”). It was revealed in the end that Kaori was originally a pianist, and she was an audience in a recital where young Kousei first performed. After that, Kaori changed her mind and wanted to become a violinist, aiming to have Kousei as her accompanist someday. From there, she started to stalk him, only watching him from afar.

Kaori’s illness. A lot of viewers are reminded of Clannad: After Story due to its tragic, melodramatic plot. For me however, this reminded me so much of YUI’s 2006 movie “Midnight Sun.” Musicians who had medical conditions rendering them paralyzed, and only wanted to be remembered by those who hear them–that movie was so dear to me that this anime strikes so much nostalgic feels. It is also a gentle reminder that we should live our lives to the fullest and pursue what we truly love (and stop trying to please others. ehem)–we’d never know how much more time we have.

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10 cookies

Well, it really did hit home for me. 🙂

The only thing I didn’t like about it is the pacing–it can be very slow at some episodes, and the monologue can be quite boring. Aside from that though, everything is perfect.

Wolf Girl and Black Prince [Anime Review]

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[Image Credits: crunchyroll.com]

Alternative Title: Okami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji
Number of Episodes: 12
[Warning: Contains spoilers.]

Series Synopsis:

Erika worried that she wouldn't find friends in her new class, so she thought lying about having a boyfriend would make her fit in with the two girls she first saw (who couldn't stop talking about their respective boyfriends).

16-year-old Erika Shinohara got separated from her best friend as soon as they started high school. She worried that she wouldn’t find new friends in her class, so as soon as she saw two cool-looking girls (who couldn’t stop talking about their respective boyfriends) she thought lying about having a boyfriend would make her fit in with them.

This is how Erika looks like whenever she lies (wolf ears sprout from her head)

This is how Erika looked like whenever she lied (wolf ears sprout from her head) (reference: The Boy who Cried Wolf)

Erika's friends start to get suspicious because her boyfriend seemed inexistent (which is true). Erika thought her problem would be solved if she could just take a picture of some random guy she'd see across the road.

Erika’s friends started to get suspicious that her boyfriend might’ve been nonexistent because she never showed them his pictures. Erika thought her problem would be solved if she could just take a picture of some random stranger. Determined, she stole a snapshot of a handsome guy she spotted across the street, and made a run for it.

Erika found out that the guy is actually her schoolmate named Kyoya who is notoriously popular, and goes by the title "Prince". She shared with him her situation, and he agreed to play along.

After a series of events, Erika found out that the guy is actually her schoolmate. He is Kyoya, a notoriously popular guy in her year and went by the title “Prince”. She shared with him her situation, and he agreed to play along and keep her secret, but with a catch.

..but with a catch.

Kyoya acted like a prince at school: gentlemanly and a total charmer. Every girl swooned over him and he was more than happy to entertain most of them. However, he showed his true colors whenever he was with Erika. Thus the title, black prince.

Kyoya being sweet despite their faux relationship.

A lot of people showed disgust in the relationship (especially Kyoya’s fangirls) as Erika was too ‘average’ for the perfect prince. She got bullied a number of times, and he came to the rescue each time.

More acting like a real couple in the next episodes until Erika realized she was falling for Kyoya.

Kyoya was occassionally sweet to Erika despite their faux relationship. She realized she was slowly falling for him.

Erika crying all the time because of unrequited love.

Erika cried all the time because of unrequited love (with Kyoya only treating her like a dog, but still being awfully nice to her at times, making it impossible for her to move on).

A third wheel appears. His name is Kusakabe, a pessimistic, introverted cutie who caught Erika's eye. He instantly falls for Erika and got angry at Kyoya for not treating her the way she deserves.

A third wheel appeared by the name of Kusakabe. He instantly fell for Erika and got angry at Kyoya for not treating her the way she deserved. Finding out that her relationship with Kyoya was fake, he confessed to Erika and promised that he’d be a better boyfriend to her if she gave him the chance.

Of course, the good old confession scene.

Kyoya realized his feelings for Erika after she tried to move on with Kusakabe.

Woot~

Of course, the good old confession scene~ (Although this one was a trick  and she fell for it) :p

Priceless confrontation scene. :)

The REAL confession scene. 🙂

A good, satisfying ending.

A few episodes later, Erika finally met Kyoya’s family, and they lived happily ever after. A good, satisfying ending.

Characters:
Other than Erika and Kyoya, there are only a few other characters.

Takeru – Kyoya’s best friend who helped him realize his feelings for Erika (but failed countless times)
Kamiya – Red-haired bishie who shared the same traits as Kyoya (princely and overly popular with girls) and was so hell-bent on making Kyoya get back to his old ways (being a womanizer and not settling for just one girl)
Reika – Kyoya’s sister who very much enjoyed bullying him. At first, she was not convinced that Kyoya had changed his ways and settled to having a serious relationship with Erika. Later, Erika proved her wrong.
Kyoya’s mom – The latter part of the series focused on her broken relationship with Kyoya. Erika played a big part on mending it.
Sanda – Erika’s best friend.
Kusakabe – The clumsy and pessimistic introvert who caught Erika’s eye. He was the third wheel who got in between Erika and Kyoya. After dating him for a while, she realized that no one else can replace Kyoya in her heart.
Marin and Aki – Erika’s classmates who were so obsessed about their boyfriends. Their characters became less prominent after their first year, as the group got in the same class as Sanda and Kyoya.

Review:

For a while I had only been watching and reading titles with a heavy, mostly dystopian setting (Shingeki no Kyojin, Psycho Pass, Divergent series) and I thought to myself, “Why not go for a lighter theme this time?” I stumbled upon this series, and was not disappointed.

Stretching for only 12 episodes long, Wolf Girl and Black Prince is a delightful mix of comedy and romance. The original manga was written by Ayuko Hatta. The series began airing on October 5, 2014, and ended on December 21 in the same year.

Despite the annoying tendencies of the characters in the beginning, they slowly transformed by the end, and I must say that the character development (for Kyoya and Kamiya) is effective and emotional. I like how the flashbacks of Kyoya’s childhood memory of a destroyed snowman served as his motivation on staying unattached to people, knowing that they might leave him one day. The pacing of the series is pretty good and kept me glued to my seat as I watched one episode after another.

While the character development for Kyoya is good, I felt like Erika’s was lacking. She started off as an annoying character who got into a lot of trouble for lying just to be able to fit in, and my feelings for her character only slightly changed as the series concluded. I wish she had a back story that would at least explain why she acts that way, why she’s so afraid of not making friends and failing to fit in.

The series lost a bit of spark and slowed its pace after Erika and Kyoya finally got together (which is the climax of the series). There were still hilarious moments, but the only main conflicts remaining were: “Will Kyoya give in to Kamiya’s traps?” and “Will Kyoya reconcile with his mom?” which are interesting plot devices, but not quite at par with the earlier episodes in my opinion.

Overall, I would recommend it. The 12 episodes is enough to distract you off the stress of real life and remind you of that bittersweet, unrequited love you had back in your teenage years. Give it a shot and it will surely give you a good time and leave a smile on your face.

Rating:
8 out of 10 snowmen 🙂