「美瑛より」 (Biei Yori)
So my theory is that HAL Film Maker‘s goal with Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~ is to leave us in visual awe with backdrops near the level of Byousoku 5 Centimeter (a.k.a. 5 Centimeters per Second), in conjunction with high definition sharpness and fluidic animation on par with Dennou Coil. I mean, if that’s really their goal, they’re doing a pretty damn good job in my opinion. While I realize a lot of the backgrounds are rendered in CG (update: or edited from photographs), the coloring and shading make everything blend seemlessly into the anime-type scenes. However, the backdrops look almost real at the same time, to the point where it almost doesn’t seem like an anime anymore, so it’s like we have the best of both worlds. Simply put, I’m very, very impressed and found myself speechless quite often when I was watching this episode. My internal reaction basically went, “Wow… just wow”, followed by, “I wonder if they’ll be able to keep this level of quality up for all twelve episodes.”
With that said, my other concern is that a lot of scenes were distant shots that didn’t show the characters very well (or at all), which left me wondering if HAL spent all their time on the backgrounds and skimped on the characters and animation. When there were close-up character scenes, they looked simple, but clean and smooth (animation-wise), so it’s not like the team’s incapable in that department. I just hope the series doesn’t end up being a stunning, visual, picture book more than an anime.
As for the cast, the very pleasant sounding Hanazawa Kana portrays the female lead, Shizuku Sora, a country girl who’s moving to Tokyo for mage training. This is actually Kana’s second time playing a lead character named Sora, having been cast last fall as Kajiwara Sora in Sketchbook ~full color’S~. This series also features Koyama Rikiya (Shinigami-sama in SOUL EATER, Yamato in Naruto Shippuuden) as Hara Seiichirou of the Hara Magic Office (as seen in this episode), plus Inoue Marina (Yoko in Gurren Laggen, Minami Kana in Minami-ke) and Takahashi Mikako (Adilicia len Mathers in Rental Magica), and Namikawa Daisuke (Kumohira Thobari Durandal in Nabari no Ou), who will all make appearances later on.
Given the amazing production quality by HAL Film Maker (who also worked on the ARIA franchise), Hanazawa Kana in a starring role, and the somewhat simple yet intriguing premise, I’m pretty inclined to follow this twelve episode series. However, given that there are several other shows I’m considering covering, I’m just not sure if I’ll have time to blog this or not, even though I plan to watch it. Nothing is set in stone at this point, but I should have a better idea of what I plan to do this season in the upcoming weeks. For now though, I recommend checking out the first episode even if it’s just for the visuals alone.
For those of you wondering, “Mahou Tsukai ni Taitsetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~” translates to “Important Things to a Mage ~Summer Sky~”. Also, I’ve hedged my statement above about the use of rendered CG for the backgrounds as I originally suspected that they were edited from photographs as well. While some people commented on filtering, I kind of looped that into the “rendering” part of the statement, but I agree there’s some confusion there as they’re clearly different things, hence the rewording you see above.
Regarding the requests for the OP/ED, I’ve been having a bit of trouble re-encoding the x264 raw I have using my notebook here in Japan, and I haven’t had time to figure out the exact problem yet. Speaking of which, lack of time from packing and last minute shopping are also the reasons why I don’t have posts up for Allison & Lillia 14, Strike Witches 01, To LOVE-RU 14, and possibly Hidamari Sketch x 365 01 yet (although I did happen to watch the last two on TV here).
I’m heading back home tomorrow (Sunday) though, so I should be able to upload the OP/ED for this series then, catch up on the current backlog, and be back to timely blogging. As a side, I’ve also been working on another post unrelated to the shows that I’m currently covering, so that’s something to look forward to too (for some people anyway). ^_^
Finally, I asked Omni to add my e-mail to the Contact Me page last week, so if anyone should want to talk to me about anything (or pass on some information), feel free to shoot me a mail.
– Suzuki Sora (鈴木 ソラ) / Hanazawa Kana (花澤 香菜)
– Hara Seiichirou (原 誠一郎) / Koyama Rikiya (小山 力也)
– Shiraishi Saori (白石 沙織) / Takano Urara (高乃 麗)
– Suzuki Seiko (鈴木 聖子) / Takamori Yoshino (鷹森 淑乃)
– Satou Michiru (佐藤 みちる) / Ooura Fuyuka (大浦 冬華)
– Tooyama Tetsuya (遠山 哲也) / Nara Toora (奈良 徹)
– Satou Tsuneyoshi (佐藤 恒良) / Aono Takeshi (青野 武)
– Satou Yoshiko (佐藤 芳子) / Matsushima Eriko (松島 栄利子)
– Yuusaka (優作) / Okabe Masaaki (岡部 政明)
– Woman (おばさん) / Ono Yooko (小野 洋子)
– Passerby’s father (通行人の父親) / Miyazaki Hiromu (宮崎 寛務)
– Cabit attendant (キャビンアテンダント) / Hibi Aiko (日比 愛子)
– Airport announcer (空港アナウンス) / Takagi Akihiro (高木 章裕)
– Airport announcer (空港アナウンス) / Yamana Eriko (山名 枝里子)
– Radio personality (ラジオパーソナリティー) / Ono Yuuko (小野 優子)
– Radio personality (ラジオパーソナリティー) / Satou Mami (佐藤 麻美)