Initial Review: Your Name

Your NameMakoto Shinkai’s 2016 film Your Name has probably been one of, if not the single, most hyped anime series/film to come out in recent memory. And after having seen the film in theaters, the film lives up to that hype in almost every single aspect. To begin, this film—like all other Shinkai films—looks absolutely breathtaking and that’s not just for a few key scenes, but the level of clarity and detail stays at that awing level for the films entirety; it is simply mind-blowing. The story is also very well orchestrated, and the sheer level of symbolism and foreshadowing are outstanding: every little conversation, word, and background has importance and relevance to the story, and if you’ve ever tried to write a story, you know how difficult that is to include and still have your story make sense. The two character’s troubles, barring the obvious, are certainly relatable and add to drama of the narrative. And while this review has been mostly praise of the film, there are still a few things that I disliked about it, such as some of the character actions being a little bit less than believable, and a couple of moments that kind of, though not entirely, feel a little deus ex machina. These few flaws however, are simply minor grievances, and don’t really take all that much away from the film as a whole. If you’re wondering whether or not the film is good, I would say it certainly passes that margin by a mile, now if you’re wanting to know whether or not the film is number one on MAL good, then I’d say no: I don’t believe Your Name to be the best anime I have ever seen, but nonetheless, the film is truly a fantastic masterpiece that you should absolutely see. This is a Must Watch film that you do not want to miss, and I also award Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 miracle, a Certificate of Excellence. You will not regret checking this film out, and I highly encourage you to seek it out whenever you get the chance.

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Initial Review: Oshiete! Galko-chan

Galko-chanA short, fun little series that’s just a fun time to watch: Oshiete! Galko-chan is quite entertaining. Since this is a short series, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about, not only that, but the episodes are also mostly divided up quite a bit, and while it doesn’t quite have the same feel as a 4-koma adaptation would, if you’ve seen any of those this is similar to how those are. The series mostly is about the interactions between the three main characters: Galko, Otako, and Ojou, all of whom are supposed to be representative of a specific clique or archetype, as are all of the other characters. The names are also pretty telling as to who each character is supposed to represent. The series is also unlike a lot of other series and talks about subjects that most other series stray far away from, and that is one of the reasons it was a little refreshing. It’s a nice fun comedy that was enjoyable the whole way through, not to mention that it was easy to digest since the episodes are short, at only 8 minutes in length. Overall, while not being particularly outstanding, it was certainly entertaining to watch. As such, I would give this series that recommendation that you watch it, as I’m sure you’ll at least find it enjoyable. While it isn’t particularly amazing, it is definitely worth checking out, and since it’s so short, there isn’t much of a reason not to.

Initial Review: Pale Cocoon & Harmonie

pale-cocoonharmonie

This one’s a little bit of a special review, since this time I’ll be taking a look at 2 short films by Studio Rikka, each only being about 25 minutes long, and to start off with I’ll start off with Pale Cocoon. Seeming to take place in the far future, this film is an interesting one that deals with environmental issues about Earth. While the animation is outdated, and the video quality isn’t that great, it still manages to look decent enough to tell the story it needs to, and the CG used in large amounts actually looks pretty good. Since it’s so short, there isn’t much to talk about without spoiling anything, but I would say that while not very gripping, was certainly able to at least hold my attention all the way through, and its portrayal of its characters was at least pretty interesting. I’d give it a:

7 out of 10.

Now, on to the next short film, Harmonie. This film I found to be more compelling and had some nice character dynamics, and some well don “show don’t tell” story telling methods. You could tell what social group each character was apart of even though it wasn’t stated, while also being able to see what each of the characters cared about. I also felt the story was slightly more compelling and had me wanting more by the time it ended so I could see where each of the characters ended up later in the story. As for this film, I’d give it an:

8 out of 10.

Initial Review: 5 Centimters Per Second

5-centimeters-per-secondIf you wanna feel completely crushed after watching a film, then you might wanna check out 5 Centimeters Per Second. Certainly not a happy story, but one that will leave you in awe of the breathtaking visuals throughout its run, and vacate your mind of every thought but “wow” at the end. The film is broken up into 3 parts, each dealing with a different part of our main character, Takaki’s, life. Each part is a compelling piece in it of itself, with the final part leaving you at a loss for words. A sad story it is, and one I would definitely recommend to anyone, and if your someone who’s been in a long distance relationship before, this film might strike an even bigger chord with you. While the film may be short, it has a lot of emotion in it, and is certainly worth the watch, and is a film that will almost certainly leave you feeling dead on the inside. With all that though, some moments feel a little out of place, and I feel that the ending didn’t hit me as hard as it could have. I feel like this film could certainly have been more than it was, but even so, the film is still great, and one you should definitely check out; I give it an:

8 out of 10.

 

Initial Review: Children Who Chase Lost Voices

children-who-chase-lost-voicesIt’s been awhile since I’ve watched something about a grand adventure and so Children Who Chase Lost Voices was a nice little adventure for me to indulge in. To start off, the film was directed by Makoto Shinkai, and so the visuals are flat out phenomenal and with that in mind, you should watch the film at the very least for the feast it has for your eyes; it’s like 2 full hours of non-stop amazing backgrounds and animation. That said, the story isn’t the most well put together one I’ve seen, but it does seem to suffice for an adventure story, especially with the world feeling so alive, and looking so beautiful as it is; the world of Agartha is breathtaking to behold, and in an adventure story, the place being adventured through means a whole lot in terms of enjoyment. While the plot can seem a little odd some of the time, those parts are quickly forgotten as it takes us back to the adventure at hand. The romance in the film is largely to blame for some of the awkwardness in the film because it feels very off, out of place, and forced most of the time, causing some of the characters motivations to feel weak, and not fleshed out well. The film is very good at making you feel a certain way, and is the only film that has gotten me to feel frightened or disturbed with the introduction of the Izoku,  genuinely terrifying creatures, framed with the perfect soundtrack and visuals to make them even more frightening. The film isn’t anything spectacular as a whole, but it does have moments that stand out as being great and a  world that is just fantastic to look at and one I’d like to know more about, and so I give the film an:

8 out of 10.

Initial Review: Black Lagoon

black-lagoonTons of action, plenty of gunpowder and smoke, and a whole lot of attitude, that’s what Black Lagoon seems to be. As I noted in my first impressions post, the actions and escapades created by the rule of cool are certainly a driving factor to ones enjoyment of the series. Those who enjoy tons of action and over the top nonsense will most likely have a fantastic time watching this series, and while it does have its deeper and more meaningful moments, those points haven’t been explored all too heavily in this first season. One moment though that really made me feel like this series will certainly have something to offer in that department was a moment between the main male protagonist, Rock, and the female protagonist, Revy; the moment being during episode 7 in which the two seem to have a semi heart-to-heart screaming match about the reasoning behind each of their actions and about their pasts. This scene really stood out to me as being a fantastic way for its characters to not only develop themselves, but also by furthering their relationship as squad mates. I’m very interested to see if the second season delves further into these territories and further emphasizes this dynamic between its characters. Where the show seems to fall short, however, is that a main focus of the series itself is the action element, and for me, action isn’t enough on its own to make me feel very highly of a series. While I certainly enjoyed it, there were a lot of moments that felt very, much like it was just showing off the coolness of the characters with little thought being put in to the believe-ability of it, and that’s why I’d say the rule of cool is a major factor. If you can just marvel at how awesome it is, the shots and actions probably won’t bother you all that much, but for me, that wasn’t the case. I was constantly bothered by several of the scenes presented, and so I had to resign myself to simply watch the spectacle, even though I couldn’t buy into it. If your someone that can overlook those things, you will most likely enjoy this show more than I did, and in that case I would highly suggest you watch it. If you’re not however, and are more like me, I would still give it a recommendation, but just an average one. While the series does have its dramatic and really interesting moments, this season seemed to mostly focus on the action as awesomeness aspects of the series, with some nice dramatic moments sprinkled in here and there. I hope the second season will deal more and more with the lives and troubles of working as a band of pirates. As such, I would give it a:

7 out of 10.

Initial Review: Spice and Wolf (Season 1)

spice-and-wolfThe first season of Spice and Wolf went by so fast, the whole season felt like one episode. I can say I really enjoyed this little series quite a lot, even with the few things that bothered me. To start off with, the delve into medieval was very fascinating to me, and it felt as if the series really knew something about economics during that period. The understanding of currency exchange and the ways in which different currencies have and change value was very interesting to listen to. The only real problems I had with the series were that on occasion Holo, while for the most part was a very interesting character, got annoying at times, and some of the character interactions and reactions felt a little bit odd to me, but other than that I think the series was very well done. As I said earlier, the series really flew by as I kept watching episode after episode, not wanting it to end, but luckily for me, there’s a second season now that I’ve finished this first one, although I do hear gripes about the non-existence of a third. Anyway, since the story is mostly unfinished as of the end of this first season and there isn’t much for me to talk about, I’d like to at least say that I would definitely recommend this series to you; I’m sure it’ll keep your interesting just as it did mine, especially if you like the medieval/Renaissance Europe aesthetic or are into how merchant life worked during that period. I can safely say that this series, while it had a few weird nuances, was very good, and kept me wanting to watch more, and as such, I give it an:

8 out of 10.

Initial Review: Spirited Away

spirited-awayI’ve finally done it. I’ve finally gotten to renowned Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki, and while I unfortunately can’t say it is the fantastical masterpiece that most people believe it to be, I can say that I still feel the film is very good, and kept me entertained throughout, and left me feeling satisfied with the movie as a whole. While I wasn’t one who thought the story was something fantastic, or amazing, I still felt it was a very strong narrative with some very rich (haha) ideas thrown in there for me to think about; I especially loved that the animal of choice for Chihiro’s parents was a pig, symbolizing gluttony in a very nice manner. I also liked the presentation of No Face and how the light he was shown in changed rapidly throughout the film’s run as we saw him through different perspectives. It really was a very well done idea, having a character with no real identity, (no face) be seen as something that was up to the interpretation of whoever was looking at or seeing him; very well done, in my opinion. While I do feel the film is very strong and has a lot to offer not to mention that it is accessible to all ages, I still did not feel gripped by the story as a whole and I feel that limited some of my enjoyment. The story did not grab me and force my eyes against the screen, but just kind of held my attention as the pictures (very pretty and fantastic, if I might add) flew by. This is certainly a film I am happy to have experienced, and would certainly recommend to others, but isn’t one of my favorites, nor something I believe is a masterpiece. It is with that, that I give this film an:

8 out of 10.

Initial Review: Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex

ghost-in-the-shell-stand-alone-complexIt’s rare to find a series as carefully crafted and made as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and it was a pleasure to watch the whole story unfold. As I mentioned in my First Impressions post, the series is divided into 2 different types of episodes, Stand Alone episodes, and Complex episodes; the latter dealing with one very specific plotline known as the Laughing Man Case, and the other just being individual episodes that tie into eachother in a loose, yet coherent fashion. The large enjoyment I got from the series was mostly through the Complex episodes, and seeing the whole mystery of the case, and intricacies play out. While I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the Stand Alone episodes, I was so enamored and encapsulated with the main case that I just wanted to watch more of that. I’ll probably end up watching the compilation film that deals solely with the Laughing Man Case, but that film happens to be almost 3 hours long, and that’s quite a bit of time to be watching a movie. To give a quick briefing on what the case is about, I’ll say that it involves the efforts and trials of an unknown hacker society has dubbed, The Laughing Man; the case also has some nice J. D. Salinger thrown in there if you like your literature references. The Stand Alone episodes deal with different cases that Section 9 (the organization the main cast is apart of) partakes in. The main members of Section 9 that the story deals with and revolves around would be: Batou, who is a lot more jovial here than in the films, The Major/Motoko Kusanagi, the lead squad member of Section 9, Daisuke Aramaki, the chief of Section 9 who is a master at pulling strings, and Togusa, the least cyberized member of Section 9. I also need to mention the little robotic tanks that accompany this crew, the Tachikomas. The Tachikomas add a nice bit of comic relief to the series, as well as being philosophically important during the later parts of the series, they even have an episode dedicated to them, and I remember that episode being a great watch. Every episode seems to mesh with the series almost perfectly, and the actions of characters in prior episodes come back to be impactful in later ones; the world building for this series is some of the best I’ve seen. Minor characters from earlier episodes come back to be impactful in later episodes, and that even happens across episode types. The whole world feels alive and everything seems to have an impact somewhere and nothing feels out of place. The depth the show goes into its characters and setting is phenomenal, and it’s great to see them interact with the world around them. I am excited to watch the next season, and if I can sit through the whole thing, I’ll definitely be watching the compilation film; the Laughing Man Case was incredibly interesting, and the I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. If you are at all interested in sci-fi, or if you enjoy yourself a little bit of philosophy, this series is certainly a must watch. While this series might not be one of my personal favorites, it is still a stand out classic that you should definitely check out and something I think anyone can enjoy. This is one of those series that makes you think and get your mind turning. After all of that, I would give this series a:

9 out of 10.

Initial Review: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

ghost-in-the-shell-innocenceGhost in the Shell 2: Innocence, had some shoes to fill after the success and greatness of the original film. While it does do its best, I feel that it falls slightly short of filling the shoes the original left for it. The film was made almost ten years after the original, and this can certainly be seen in the animation quality; the only problem is that they used an incredible amount of CG in it, and while CG isn’t necessarily bad, the CG at the time was not all the great. This left a lot of things looking sub par, although the CG backgrounds were actually very well done. The film’s soundtrack was great, which make sense since it was done by the same guy that did the original film’s music, Kenji Kawai. Now with all that stuff out of the way, I can get into why I feel this sequel doesn’t quite cross the line set by the 1995 film. To start off with, the philosophical backing of the original, has been turned way up, and is basically shoved in your face at an insane rate. While I do enjoy my philosophy in  entertainment, I felt like it was way too forced in this movie. Quotes are flying everywhere, and every character seems to have gone to college and gotten a doctorate in philosophy, and while enjoyable, still feels forced, and takes away from the actual experience of the film; to ask a question on its own. The second thing that took me off guard, in the sense that I didn’t think it would actually be as impactful as it was, is the absence of Motoko Kusanagi, The Major. I didn’t really realize how much of a role she played in the original film until I watched this one. She really is a fantastic character that adds to the experience of watching the movie, and when she’s taken out of the equation, her absence is really felt. And while I’ve been talking about all the things that make this film less than the original, I would now like take the time to say that even though these are some large factors, they still do not keep the film from being good. The movie has a lot to say, and presents what it wants to present well. It brings up some very interesting questions, and poses some very intriguing circumstances. It is also very interesting to see the world viewed from the perspective of Batou as well. After considering all this, I still think the film is something you should watch after having seen the first; while not being as quite good, it still certainly enhances the experience. I give the film a:

7 out of 10.