No matter How I Look at It, Watamote is Brilliant and Terrible

-An Anime review by Miasma

The term recluse gets thrown around playfully these days. Agoraphobia and social anxiety are known conditions and are very serious. But how can a series make light of such serious social problems? Make it a black comedy of course! Enter the anime Watamote or Watashi ga Motenai no wa do Kangaetemo Omaeru ga Warui or “No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m NotPopular.”

 

 

Watamote follows Tomoko Kuroki a high school first year who has dreams of being a popular girl boys drool over and girls envy. She wants to be adored and respected. One big problem though, she has crazy overpowering social anxiety. She cannot hold conversations with strangers and has a tendency to obsess over anime and video games instead of bettering her appearance.

 

Every episode chronicles Tomoko’s recluse lifestyle while she tries and miserably fails to become popular. The show summarizes itself at the start by saying it is about a girl whose story doesn’t really matter. And as such some out there will hete this show. I can see that something so episodic and trivial can be boring and at times I myself was bored but nonetheless I adore this show.

 

On a personal level I empathize with Tomoko. I did not have dreams of being a popular girl but I was always the oddball in school and it was not until late high school and early college in which I was able to make friends. This series holds true catharsis for me especially when Tomoko is forced to eat alone as I did this same thing in high school. It is truly never easy being the weirdo of your class, and while some may argue that responsibility lies within oneself for social status, I would say that if Tomoko actually had people from her early days including her in a social environment,she would have likely been different as a teen.  

 

Relatability aside, Tomoko is nuts. She is intentionally the absolute personification of how bad social anxiety can be and how otaku/gaming lifestyles are an escape from such reality. Any progression she makes in this show is minimal and it does get repetitive.

 

Tomoko’s best qualities are her determination and reliance on her brother Tomoki. She is always thinking about the future and avoids crying most of the time but her anchor is her brother who thinks of her as a pest yet truly cares about her. I have a sibling I can relate to in this manner so once again Watamote hits close to home for me.

This show is animated well by studio Silver Link. It has its drops but when it wants to look sharp it does. I particularly like how they portray people’s faces or lack thereof when Tomoko is in contact with them. She has major social issues so she’d never try to look at faces and so they don’t bother to animate them on purpose. I also liked the designs of the characters especially Tomoko.

The opening is my favorite of all time. Its loud proud and a kickstart to what are actually very mundane episodes. It will hsve you headbaging then relaxing as you watch a girl play hentai games in her room all summer.

The dub was okay, Monica Rial does a good job of being the zany Tomoko but for some reason I preferred her Japanese actress. The opening song and animation is amazing and my number one of all time, but many may disagree for sure as it is rather brash.  

Be warned. This show doesn’t really go far in terms of plot. But that’s not the point. It is a black comedy about very real problems just pushed to a high degree. And the series does not cover the entire manga so it is possible Tomoko ends up a success story. I know I will read it to find out. One thing that the anime also did not delve enough into were its side characters.  

Tomoko’s only friend Yuu is an interesting character having gone to a different school and found a normal life where she is much more popular than Tomoko.  This contrast is hilarious but she could have been in the anime a bit more in my opinion.  Another character I wanted more of was Tomoki, the main character’s brother who shares hilarious scenes with his sister while he’s there but that does not happen quite enough.  

For many I’d say try an episode of Watamote. You can stream it for free on crunchyroll. Just try it  as an experiment then you can decide to drop it if you do desire. I know some people causes splits of love and hate and while i can see the hate I connect with the series so much I had to buy it. But let me know what you thought maybe my opinion is…dare i say it….UNPOPULAR!

Shin Sekai Yori- The Evolution and Devolution of The Anime World

An Anime Review by Miasma

The ability to pop people like water balloons.  Pyrokinesis. Telekinesis. Barrier creation. It is not just caped crusaders that carry these powers in comic books, but in this anime, it is all of society.  And it gets ruined by whiny children.  Just kidding. No t quote ruined, but at least it may hinder your initial enjoyment of the experience of watching Shin Sekai Yori, or from the new world.  

Shin Sekai Yori follows the lives of children in a village known as Kamisu 66 set over 1000 years in the future. Humans have evolved to have powerful psychic abilities, basically making them demi gods. such as the aforementioned power to kill all things,but this doesn’t really happen. You may think such power world spiral the world into chaos, but it is quite the opposite, There is peace and, you cannot use this power on another human being. The story follows a girl named Saki Watanabe as she grows up in this world, who stumbles upon some information she was not supposed to hear, and she begins to unravel the dark secrets the world around her contains. The world around her is not what it seems, lies have been told, and the truth may not be bearable.  It is hard to talk about the plot without spoiling it, but there is action suspense, romance and social commentary abound in this anime.

This anime is adapted from a series of light novels by Yusuke Kishi.  And be warned,before I piss off anyone out there I will say this I HAVE NOT READ THE NOVELS. I ONLY SAW THE ANIME.  There. I said it, and you have to deal with it.  

If you are still reading congrats on having great patience, and as a reward here is my bottom line with this show.  I hated half of it, and the ranged from decent to somewhat enjoyable. Episodes 1-11 I could barely stand, and I didn’t find myself caring about what was going on.  This is not really the fault of the story as I think that the story is this series’ strongest aspect, but even that was knocked over like a bowling pin by its worst aspect. The terrible characters.  

I eventually started to like Saki, our protagonist a little bit towards the end, but everyone else in this series I hated. Even guys in the background.  The main group of classmates Saki is friends with experience much of the journey along with Saki, but none of them were memorable to me in a good way.  I remember them, but for their predictability and shallowness.  There is cliche melodrama when they were kids and this blossomed into episode 8, which includes the most shoehorned romance scenes I have ever seen in Image result for shin sekai yorianime. It literally comes out of nowhere.  All of a sudden people are in love with one person, then onto the next. I was confused, then annoyed then bored.  

The first 11 episodes are very slow, and it builds the world up, but it felt like a roller coaster that was built on a track far too high in the sky for me to get thrilled by.  Yes this world has its uniqueness, but that only goes so far for me personally when your characters are about as interesting as a wet carrot.  Shoutout to South Park.  

Early on Saki (besides these powers that everyone has) is a typical schoolgirl who at first had some growth in terms of coming to terms with her powers, but this aspect of her character goes by the wayside when she gets interested in Sasuke Uchiha, or in this case Image result for shun shin sekai yoriShun. Shun is that popular guy who is good at everything, and while he does go through some turmoil himself in this anime, I just could not care about him. Call it jealousy if you’d like but characters like him and people like him in real life just annoy me.

Next we have Satoru, voiced in the dub by my man Greg Ayres. I met Greg at a convention, he’s a great guy but I digress.  Satoru goes through crazy out of nowhere changes in this anime and he is kind of all over the place. He is brash, loud and adds to the melodrama early on. However, like this anime he too get better with a lot of time.  

There are two more main classmates here but I just remember them as whiny and Yuri bait.  That is all their characters really have.  They have a really forced “role” by series end but many many important things with them happen off screen, which made me cringe.  I like my characters to have certain traits and this motley crew tried its hardest to get me to drop the series.

Now that I have gotten all of that out, I have to say this anime is not terrible. It is sort of a mixed bag.  In fact I think you should check it out in all honesty. But be warned because nobody warned me. The latter half of the series hits you with much more information about the story is revealed and it becomes a far better series.  No longer is it bound by these crappy stereotypes, it is now about action and philosophies involving human nature and our relationship with those both superior and inferior to us.  

The animation was pretty good done by A-1 Pictures, there were scenes where they cheated a little bit and it dipped in terms of visual quality but there were pretty moments as well to counter this.  I know I mentioned Greg Ayres, but I watched the sub.  I prefer japanese voice actors portraying characters this young.  Image result for shun shin sekai yori

The story is this series saving grace by a country mile.  After that lull at the beginning, the show had me on the edge of my seat, especially at the very end. It was interesting in concept to grow up with a set of characters and it made a fantasy story a bit more relatable, but once again this was inconsistent. The character actions were a bit too all over the place and just didn’t feel real to me.   The story has somewhat of a solid ending, and a reveal at the end that in my opinion wasn’t that much of a surprise, but for others it might be.  

There are a few things omitted from the story i would have liked to see such as (spoilers) when Mamoru the whiny baby and Maria, Yuri fanservice incarnate live their own life in the wild, have a kid and are killed off screen.

Is Shin Sekai Yori a great anime? Not in my opinion. It had its moments but I enjoy actual characters over stereotypes, and it took far too long for me to care. The series is on a lower echelon for me, I’d say it’s alright, borderline mediocre. Maybe stream it and give it a chance. It is a memorable experience for sure but not always in a good sense.

I find it funny how a show about human evolution had some of the most mundane traits anime has to offer.

Image result for shin sekai yori ogre

SPOILERS AHEAD

My biggest complaint with Shin Sekai Yori is its characters and how they act in the crazy world around them.  This concept is amazing, and the mental ability could happen someday way down the line, but I’d like to think we would take ulterior options to killing children.

Kamisu 66 has a dark past, and I get that but my biggest question that remained unanswered was that why can’t we just seal off powers like they did early in the series? It is made very clear that power can be stopped with seals, so why doesn’t the village chief in all of her immortal wisdom (another cliche character btw) create seals to stop ogres or alter this crazy rule that people can’t attack people. I am all for a peaceful world but safety within such a society was poorly handled in this show. We shouldn’t feed children to cats, just saying. Why not create prisons of psychic barriers?

Also the Karmic Demon thing with Shun bored me to tears as I did not like him and to be honest, was happy to see him go. Except he didn’t really go, he is in Saki’s mind when it’s convenient, much like Naruto’s parents but at least I cared about them.

Squealer, leader of a clan of monster rats seems to be a fan favorite, but I did not trust him from the start and saw his actions coming. In the end, he is not even that bad a guy, but I was glad to see.

This anime was too often predictable and stereotypical. And in the few times it wasn’t I wished it followed a standard. We don’t need random episode 8 yaoi and yuri fanservice, but it is shoe horned in there for what reason? It even turns out that our top two main characters love each other! They aren’t even gay! I would not have an issue with the characters being homosexual, but don’t tease it then drop it.

 

And I did not feel any sympathy for the chief of the village, Tomiko.  Over the years, who knows how many children she has killed, and when she stays behind when chaos enuses towards the climax of the story, the anime tries to make you feel bad for her? No way.  

 

Not the worst anime ever, but one of the more predictable ones I have seen. Maybe I’m psychic.    -Miasma

Check out my YouTube channel, Gyre Media for more anime and manga content.

War is Hell. Now and Then, Here and There

 

Anime can convey a lot of different emotions. So can war, at least in the entertainment realm. Anime can make us both laugh and cry and when you can attach yourself to a certain character or situation it can really get under your skin, keeping you enthralled in that world.  War films and shows depict what is easily one of mankind’s largest flaws. Our ability to kill each other so easily.

I realize that aspects of war and an ability to advocate for peace separate us from animals but the bare bones fact remains that most of humanity will fight and do awful things to survive.

Saving Private Ryan is a war film that showcases the irony of combat. One looks to end conflict when on the battlefield by battling. We hope to save lives by taking them. There are no negotiation tables with treaties in the trenches, and as such the reality of war is that it pits human against human to see who has the stronger will to live regardless of the cost.  You fight for your family, and that entails killing those who may also have families. You bomb as to not be remnants of a man scattered on the rubble, but to transform the enemy into such remnants.

Now and then here and there is an anime that accurately portrays, as far as citizens can project, the horrors of war. This anime came out in 1999 and it largely fell by the wayside of larger shows of that era such as DBZ, One Piece, and Evangelion. One thing it does far better than all three of those put together is the sense of despair in it’s characters. The series is not afraid to go toward unforgettable avenues to convey discord, and there are scenes here I will never forget.

Our plot is about a boy named Shu who meets a mysterious girl named Lala-Ru who is hunted down by mechs from a dystopian future. Shu tries to save Lala-Ru and is dragged back to her time with her. Shu is then kept as a prisoner and later a child soldier serving Hellywood, a power led by the evil King Hamdo.

The world where Hellywood reigns is very bleak and water has become a rarity. Those who have it have power and those who don’t get crushed by the will of Hellywood. King will do whatever it takes and I mean whatever…to get water, especially from Lalaru who has the ability to create water from a magic pendant she wears.  in their scuffle the pendant is lost and the rest of the show is about various levels of imprisonment and torture. Shu is beaten down and forces into the military as are many children in this world. Lala-Ru is kept as personal prisoner of the King, and is forced to submit to terrible things.

 

 

Young girls in this world seem to get it the worst. They are seen as tools to breed more soldiers, and along the way Shu meets an American girl named Sara, who is new to this realm as well. Just as Shu is taken into the military, Sara is brought into her role in this life and while we are thankfully not shown too much, we see enough to indicate the horrors she experienced.

The anime delves into the minds of some of the child soldiers as well as the surrounding villages who fear Hellywood.  It truly shows how the desire to end war can easily spark flames to continue it.

It is within its characters than Now and then here and there most reminds me of Saving Private Ryan. Soldiers are often given missions they do not wish to partake in yet they do so to serve the country and most importantly get home. Now while the Saving Private Ryan soldiers are a bit more noble than those in this anime, The child soldiers  want just that, to get home. And they will do terrible things to return to normalcy.

 

Can things really return to normalcy postbellum? What parts of your personality will be left on the battlefield? How will you recover from the sacrifices made and the treachery you and many others had to endure or inflict upon other human beings? These questions I cannot answer, and I bet few can, but Now and Then Here and There asks these questions vividly, and like in most war films the viewer is left pondering if they could navigate themselves emotionally to the their own answers.

The animation of this anime was alright, especially for 1999. It won’t blow you away, but I’ve seen way worse. The music of the series was hit or miss for me, as the opening and ending themes were something i rushed to skip to keep the story going. But some of the background music was great especially in one scene where a character makes a traumatic escape. I watched the dub and its casting was great, but the mouth flaps were off quite often which distracted me. We see Dan Green from Yugioh and a much younger Crispin Freeman. I was most impressed with the performance of Lisa Ortiz as Lalaru, as she is a stoic Rei Ayanami like character, yet I feel she nailed the delivery of every line and was able to convey emotion heavily despite having few lines. The anime never really explains a lot of its loose ends such as how they are able to time travel, why the world is in drought, and I wish it had gone deeper into Lala-Ru’s background.

Now and then, here and there was an incredible experience. There are several scenes I will never forget and it will make you feel sorry for these characters and fill you with hatred for the King. No other anime I have ever seen recognizes the complexities of humanity like this series did. At times it can show the toxicity of human nature but within the same world show the power of peace. It wraps up rather nicely and has one of the more fitting endings I’ve seen in awhile, besides my few unanswered questions, which aren’t entirely necessary to enjoy the experience. Please buy this anime it is well worth it and very underrated. But be warned it is heavy on its mature themes of rape, torture, and murder.

 

– Miasma