Trends are emerging…
What was looking like a dogfight is starting to resemble a rout, as the same series (with increasing margins) has now led the polls for four straight weeks. But this season is a long way from over and I suspect the current runner-up has yet to play its most impressive cards. And the third show in the pecking order seems to be solidifying it’s hold on that spot.
This week’s “Ask the Writers” focuses on the positive, with an interesting mix of anime that can turn our team’s frowns upside-down. And Takaii weighs in with this week’s Dark Horse, which I’ll leave to him to describe…
Here are this week’s God (of manga)-like results:
Weekly Staff Poll
Takaii’s Dark Horse
- Takaii’s Dark Horse Series: BanG Dream! 2nd Season
- As someone who was deep into idol culture and managed to pull out before the point of no return, I was looking for something to fill the void that Love Live and other similar IPs left behind. Around this time a little game called BANDORI or BANG DREAM Girls Band Party! appeared and I found myself sucked into playing another rhythm game that drew me in with the lure of anime-covers and kept me playing because of the unique dynamic that each band had. Months later the first season of BANDORI the anime comes out and I’m stoked — who wouldn’t want to see their favorite characters finally appear in anime form? Unfortunately (or fortunately for me) the first season took a more traditional approach of focusing on one band and how they came to be. While not a bad decision, it definitely left me hungry for more since the show runners were literally only using a quarter of the available content. Then comes the announcement of BANDORI S2 with the promise that the other bands would be featured — it would have been an understatement to say that I was excited for it. With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s actually talk about the show. BANDORI S2 is literally everything you could ask for from a show that’s based off of a mobile rhythm game. Besides giving every band more than enough time, there’s just something amazing about watching them perform all their trademark songs without also needing to tap a screen. For the non-BANDORI fan though, the show does a good job at explaining the characters through unique performances rather than word vomiting exposition. Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and going, “What really makes this worth watching Takaii?” And my answer to you is have you ever wondered what it’d be like for a show to say fuck it and just embrace its story and characters wholeheartedly? If you want to find out what that’s like, give this one a watch 🙂
- Here’s an awesome, unexplained clip of why I love this show. (Please watch it in its entirety)
Show Spoiler ▼
Ask The Writers
You’re having the worst week of your life. You’re totally bummed. You get to marathon one anime (series or movie) to lift your spirits. Which do you choose – and why?
- Enzo: “Duck-U!” It would be hard for me to pick any other series besides Tsuritama for this purpose. One of the most criminally underrated series of the 2010’s, it stood out even in an ultra-strong year like 2012 (I ranked it as my #1 series). I can’t sum up my feelings about it any better than I did in my series review post: “If you distilled pure happiness into 22 weekly minutes of sight and sound, you’d have something a lot like Tsuritama.” Writer Oono Toshiya said that he wrote it as a kind of letter of encouragement to his teenage self, who was unhappy most of the time, and that really shows through. So does the tremendous love the staff and cast felt towards the series, which they gave everything they had. For me it’s director Nakamura Kenji’s best series and by far his most emotionally compelling. Great work is put in by the cast, include a knockout debut performance by Ohsaka Ryouta as main character Yuki, and Miyu Irino giving his take on a modern-day “Little Prince”. Also not to be overlooked is the impossibly winning soundtrack by Kuricorder Quintet, which fits the material like a glove. 2012 was really a golden age for anime, and Spring was its pinnacle. Paired with Sakamichi no Apollon, Tsuritama was part of probably NoitaminA’s best season (yes, it used to be an hour). Everything about this series was a win, and if I had to pick one anime to elevate my mood, I don’t think there’s any question this would be the one. Eno-shima DON!
- Choya: I would choose Azumanga Daioh. I’ve got the manga omnibus so I’d probably read through that, but I also got the anime pack back when I was a young lad, and it really helped me deal with all that standard high school teen angst. I remember buying the series on a whim and absolutely loving it from start to finish. Sometimes I’d jump to the middle where Kagura starts showing up more often and watch/read it all the way through from there, but Sakaki and Yomi really help the first half come together too and make a full marathon entirely worth it. You also can’t go wrong with any of the episodes that focus on culture festivals, summer vacations, or holiday festivities. But there have been so many times it’s perked me up throughout the years that it’s been my go-to when I need to sit back, relax, and laugh a little.
- Zaiden: Let me tell you about Aqua, the planet of water, and how it serves as the iconic setting for Aria. I could be having the most terrible of weeks. Yet I’m certain my spirits would be lifted in ways that no other series could achieve. On Aqua, there exists a city called Neo-Venezia, saturated by a myriad of interconnected waterways. After enjoying a delicious lunch under the shade of a clocktower, I am taken on an excursion down one of the canals, by a carefree girl emanating serenity and wisdom far beyond her years. She is an Undine, a tour guide specialist who dedicates her life to mastering her aquatic craft. The gondola glides, gracefully guided by the precise strokes of an oar. I glance upwards and downwards. The skies and the waters both exhibit a shimmering azure that cleanses your soul, while the lull of streaming waves instils inner harmony, as you can barely hear the faint sound of hustle and bustle from the nearby town. The cherry blossoms whirling around the gondola creates a lovely sensation. Basking in the sun’s warmth while a gentle breeze caresses my face, I am able to truly appreciate this wonderful spring. The four seasons each come with their own set of sights, and I particularly recommend autumn. The fall sky of Neo-Venezia glows like an amber haze of burnished leaves, and you can occasionally see meteor showers flying past the atmosphere, leaving behind trails of sparkling stardust. So that the fantastic view can remain unimpeded throughout the city, there is a law that forbids the construction of buildings above a certain height. When sitting on a rooftop, you can be guaranteed one of the most delightful spectacles. What’s more, once darkness falls over the floating islands, you can enjoy sceneries of the moon dancing across rippling waters. And that is what I love about this city and by extension, what I love about the Aria franchise. An indescribable beauty can be found in even the most mundane of things, provided you choose to seek it out. Please, do visit Neo-Venezia when you have the time. You will be most welcome here, in a city born from wishes. A city that people wanted to build on a world without water or air. A city filled with wonderful miracles.
- Stilts-han: I’d go one of two ways: Acchi Kocchi, because it’s funny, romantic, fluffy, and oh so sweet, or: a tie between Carnival Phantasm and Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan, for the same reason: there’s something supremely relaxing about seeing characters I know were so tortured in the original timeline, just relaxing and goofing off in the alternate ones. It’s healing, albeit of wounds its predecessors inflicted. Hm.
- Passerby: This is not a hypothetical for me. I do actually hold a strategic anime reserve. When I’ve been having a particularly bad week I, like any an eccentric bachelor, retreat to my study. There, on the back wall, hangs a 12 x 15 Rembrandt. If you tap van Ruytenburch’s hat thrice the painting will slide aside to reveal a secret passageway. After navigating its myriad booby traps (don’t step on the dark tiles) I’ll come to a private chamber that houses a shelf stocked with a full collection of Studio Ghibli films. Ah, but that’s just a decoy; glued between two pages of the artbook that came with the 10th anniversary edition of Porco Rosso is a small silver key. With that key and a combination known only to myself (great-aunt’s birthday + number of dead pets – cube root of the most recent leap year of the Hebrew calendar) I open a hidden safe in which lies nothing but three seasons of ARIA. I won’t bore you with my love for ARIA — I wrote a three part treatise on the subject. It’s catharsis without tragedy, which is the best kind. Suffice it to say if ARIA can inspire optimism and goodwill even in grouches like me there must be some magic in it somewhere.
- Takkun: I watch Clannad ~After Story~ episode 18 to make myself cry even more.