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Archive for the ‘Summer Season’ Category

 

♦ Occult Academy

To my delight, this turned out every bit as good as expected. There wasn’t this conventional and predictable feeling to it that almost all other anime of this season have, both episode 1 & 2 simply stood out in terms of directing and mood. I felt a whiff of old-school here and there, most likely it’s Hiroyuki Kitakubo‘s influence, just like the slapstick comedy and hyperactivity in some scenes. They also go a little more cartoonishly than in your average anime at times, might be also Kitakubo‘s doing. I’m wondering how much he’s been involved in this anime, so if he just planned out the scenario with Ito and Minakami or if he’s still something like Ito‘s consultant in the background. There are rumors (or should I say speculation?) that Kitakubo was actually supposed to be the director of ‘Occult Academy’ at first, but then replaced by Ito due to various reasons. I guess that ‘Planning Assistant’ would be an appropriate title for a director who was kicked out at an early stage, so it might as well be true. In this sense it wouldn’t be surprising if Osamu Kobayashi‘s harsh criticism of the first episode was based on frustration of being fired from the project (together with Kitakubo). Let’s hope that Kitakubo has more luck with his ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ movie adaptation, though I haven’t heard anything new about it for quite a while, a bad sign?

Either way, Ito‘s tight directing made the first episode consistently entertaining through enjoyable pacing and a high density of fun and interesting cuts. And I thought it was quite convincing how he connected the comedy parts with the more serious scenes (such as Maya’s talk with her father, the dramatic climax of the first episode) with perfect comic timing, an underlying sense of self-irony and a good feeling for accumulating momentum. Takahiro Chiba did a good job with the animation throughout the first episode with some nice bits of acting here and there, although I never really felt that it was on the level of ‘Kamichu!’ #1.

There were a good number of Madhouse animators involved in the first episode and OP/ED, most notably Tatsuzou Nishida (action animation director of ‘Summer Wars’, he did the cut in the OP where the cloud above ‘Occult Academy’ rips open) and Mieko Hosoi (character designer of the ‘Hashire Melos’ part of ‘Aoi Bungaku’). Even Mamoru Hosoda helped out (credited with his usual pseudonym ‘Katsuyo Hashimoto‘), he made the photographs that are used in the ED. The staff list of the upcoming episodes shows that some more Madhouse people are going to participate, I’m particularly thrilled that they even brought Ryosuke Nakamura (‘Mouryou no Hako) on board.

XEBEC was in charge of episode 2 which I liked almost more than the one before. The character dynamics were just perfect here, it was a real treat to watch Maya and Fumiaki interacting. Fortunately, the absurd plot was presented with enough self-irony to make it an enjoyable watch, too much seriousness would definitely hurt the unique atmosphere.

All in all, ‘Occult Academy’ could become the strongest offering of the ‘Anime no Chikara’ project so far, at least if they manage to sustain the quality of the first two episodes to some extent and make good use of the interesting scenario.

Episode Staff:

Ep

Script
Episode Director
Storyboard
Animation Director
#3
Hiroshi Ohnogi
Kei Tsunematsu
Kei Tsunematsu
Tomotaka Shibayama
#4
Hiroshi Ohnogi
Kentarou Nakamura
Kazuya Fujimori
Yuuko Sera
#5
Yuniko Ayana
Takahiro Harada
Tomohiko Ito
Masayuki Katou
#6
Yuniko Ayana
Ryosuke Nakamura
Ryosuke Nakamura
Mieko Hosoi
 
 

♦ Seitokai Yakuindomo

Hardly the most original anime this season, but overall a through and through well-produced and fun comedy series nevertheless (the dirty humor may not be to everyone’s taste, though). The first episode was nothing out of this world yet directed with enough technical proficiency to make it watchable. What really stood out was the very good animation quality (for this kind of anime), you can literally feel the animators’ eagerness to make the animation interesting in the way the shots are framed and the characters and camera move. Studio GoHands is an assemblage of lots of great animators, so it’s a pity that they produce anime which don’t make use of their real prowess (but there’s Mardock Scramble, of course). Opening and ending were the actual highlights for me, it’s where you feel the animators’ power strongest. The opening features animation by Hiroshi Ookubo (he did the long camera motion at the end), Kouichi Kikuta (fight scene), Tatsuya Yoshiara (not too sure what he did, but probably the beginning) and Shingo Suzuki. Kouichi Kikuta directed, storyboarded, supervised the animation and created the color concept of the ending, plus he even did some key animation. Incidentally, Kikuta was the animation/layout director for episode 2 and he drew all the layouts himself (the same was the case with ‘Princess Lover!’ #2), so the volume of work he’s already done on this series is quite amazing.

Episode Staff:

Ep
Script
Episode Director
Storyboard
Animation Director
#3
Tomoko Koyama,
Makoto Nakamura
Yuuichi Sugio
Hiromitsu Kanazawa
Yuki Terano
#4
Tomoko Koyama
Hiromitsu Kanazawa
Masaru Yasukawa,
Hiromitsu Kanazawa
Haruo Ogawara
#5
Tomoko Koyama
unknown
unknown
Hiroharu Nagasaka
#6
Tomoko Koyama,
Makoto Nakamura
Yuuichi Sugio
Hiromitsu Kanazawa
Makoto Furuta
 
 

♦ Shiki

A notch better than I expected, both on a visual level and script-wise. The dense atmosphere, setting and use of sound reminds me of ‘Ghost Hound’, but without really matching that show’s quality in terms of directing and execution. I like how the writing doesn’t give too much away and has a good sense of mystery to it, so ‘Shiki’ could well be the first horror/mystery anime in a long time that works how it’s supposed to work. The first episode was handled by Yasuro Tsuchiya (director), a name I’m not familiar with, Yasunori Ide (storyboard) and Yasushi Shingou (animation director). The animation was solid with a few scenes of better quality sprinkled throughout (particularly Seiya Numata‘s parts had some nice linework), but overall nothing to be excited about. I was pleased with the designs, though, and the director was competent enough to leave an impression on me (the screen’s texture looked surprisingly good here and there). Seiya Numata directed and storyboarded the rather low-key ending, his close companion Kyuuta Sakai animated it. I hope for another treat similar to their maniacal Needless #13. The ending animation of ‘Needless’ was also a joint effort of those two after all, hence I can well imagine that Numata and Sakai might pop up on the actual show as (animation) directors sooner or later.

‘Shiki’ is certainly not the best thing out there right now, but the first episode was enchanting enough to make me want to check out some more, hopefully the decline in quality in the coming episodes won’t be too significant.

Episode Staff:

Ep

Script
Episode Director
Storyboard
Animation Director
#2
Kenji Sugihara
Takashi Kobayashi
Kazuhiro Ozawa
Ken’ichiro Yamamoto,
Naoyuki Owada,
Yumiko Kinoshita
#3
Asami Ishikawa
Kiyoshi Fukumoto
Takashi Yamazaki
Natsuki Watanabe
#4
Hirabayashi Sawako
Masahiro Okamura
Yasunori Ide
Akatsuki Koshiishi
#5
Shintaku Jun’ichi
Shinsuke Terasawa
Kazuhiro Ozawa
Mariko Ishikawa,
Shinsuke Terasawa
 
 

♦ Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi

Basically, J.C. ‘copy & paste’ standard stuff, so you should already be familiar with the characters and most situations if you’ve watched a few other anime of their lineup. However, there was actually something new and I even liked the idea, namely breaking the fourth wall. Compared to the lackluster dialogue between the characters, some of the narrator’s comments were actually witty, e.g. the scene in the bathroom where she apologizes for the ‘bad’ fanservice. The scene direction and animation weren’t as polished as in Tatsuyuki Nagai‘s anime (Toradora, Railgun), yet good enough to keep me watching. I was surprised to see Gainax animator Megumi Kouno on the first episode, even though I knew that she had been involved with J.C. before (‘Nodame Cantabile’). She did the only real stand-out scene – both in terms of style and animation – in the first episode (the whole pumpkin-bicycle-carriage chase scene). As far as episode 2 is concerned, the directing was still nothing to speak of, yet the animation throughout made a better impression than in the episode before. It was a solo (1st) key animation work by Hiroshi Tomioka, who is famous for his extravagant depiction of hair, though his trademark isn’t that striking here, maybe there wasn’t enough time for extra polish. Tomioka has probably been influenced by Hironori Tanaka‘s way of animating hair, who incidentally happens to be the storyboarder and animation director of episode 3. Up to now, Tanaka‘s only storyboard work on TV anime have been his solo key animation efforts (Saki #20, School Days #6, Akasaka #3), so I can well imagine that he also did the key animation for episode 3 all alone. By the way, Noriaki Akitaya (co-director of the upcoming ‘Bakuman’ anime) is directing, I wouldn’t be surprised if episode 3 outclassed #1 and #2 by far.

Episode Staff:

Ep

Script
Episode Director
Storyboard
Animation Director
#3
Michiko Itou
Noriaki Akitaya
Hironori Tanaka
Hironori Tanaka
#4
Hideki Shirane
Tomoyuki Kawamura
Yuuichi Nihei
Masahiro Fujii
#5
Michiko Itou
Ken’ichi Matsuzawa
Masato Suma
Shigenori Taniguchi,
Emiko Kobayashi
#6
Michiko Itou
Yutaka Hirata
Youhei Suzuki
Noriko Tsutsumiya,
Daisuke Endou
 
 

♦ Highschool of the Dead

The first episode was basically what I expected: gory action, lots of zombies, excessive fanservice and nothing much inbetween. Usually not a series I’d watch, but one can’t deny that the quality is fairly high. Arakaki‘s direction really shines in the action scenes, particularly the framing and camera work left an impression. Araki is quite good at this (or Madhouse in general), I mean making up for the insufficient presence of talented animators by strong compositions and such. Not that the animation is bad or something, there are doubtlessly some moments of superbness here and there. The directing and storyboarding are reminiscent of Takayuki Hirao‘s style, even more so than in Araki‘s previous works. Not really surprising since Araki and Hirao have had a largely similar career up to now, which goes as far as even starting out on the same show and in the same capacity. While Araki has been exclusively working for Madhouse since the very beginning, Hirao changed over to ufotable after some years, though. Hirao directed episodes for Araki’s previous works, maybe he’ll show up on this one, too.
On the plot side of things, there’s not much to say, I guess. However, judging by a recent interview, Araki seems to be well aware that most people don’t care much about the story, but come for the breasts instead. Admittedly, it wasn’t really the blunt fanservice that bothered me, but rather the attempt to include some more serious drama scenes. Didn’t really work for me.

Overall, HotD is a mixed bag for me, on the one hand its technical quality surpasses most similar anime, on the other hand there aren’t many other aspects worth appreciating. I’ll keep watching for now, if only to find out whether there’s more to it than slaughter and fanservice.

Episode Staff:

Ep

Script
Episode Director
Storyboard
Animation Director
#3
Yousuke Kuroda
Yasushi Muroya
Shigeyuki Miya
Hideki Inoue
#4
Tatsuya Takahashi
Tetsuo Ichimura
Tetsuro Araki
Kyoko Kotani
#5
Yousuke Kuroda
Yuuji Kumazawa
Yuuji Kumazawa
Junko Watanabe
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July is just a few weeks away so it’s time for some preliminary words on the upcoming anime, or at least those worth mentioning (which aren’t that many, sadly). Sequels are excluded as well.

 
High Expectations
 

♦ Occult Academy

The third work in the joint TV Tokyo/Aniplex ‘Anime no Chikara’ project, produced by A-1 Pictures/Xebec and directed by promising director Tomohiko Ito. I already wrote a detailed preview of Occult Academy recently, check it out for more information.

 
 
Medium Expectations
 

♦ Highschool of the Dead

An adaptation of the same-named manga by director Tetsuro Araki (Death Note, Kurozuka), scriptwriter Yousuke Kuroda and studio Madhouse. While I don’t think that Madhouse will summon any high-profile episode directors and animators for this project, I’m still positive that quality will be on a decent level since I assume that character designer Masayoshi Tanaka (Toradora!, Hitman Reborn!) also serves as the chief animation director. Tanaka usually invests a fair share of effort into the drawings, even though he’s not really keen on trying out new things with his designs. The PV indeed proves that there’s reasonable quality to it from an animation perspective and Araki’s directing seems to be solid as well. I’m not familiar with the manga so I don’t know what to expect story-wise, yet it’s hard to imagine that the plot is its major selling point. The focus probably lies more on brutal action and pointless fanservice à la ‘Ikki Tousen’, hence I fear that it will be a show in the vein of Gonzo‘s ‘Dragonaut’ – technically strong but with unappealing content.

 

♦ Seitokai Yakuindomo

I certainly wouldn’t expect anything of this 4-koma manga adaptation if it wasn’t produced by GoHands, a relatively new studio known for the generic but cunningly realized series ‘Princess Lover!’. Director Hiromitsu Kanazawa helms the project, Makoto Nakamura oversees the scripts and Makoto Furuta is in charge of character design and animation direction. As evidenced by the PV, they are again doing some interesting stuff with the animation and the approach to directing is a bit more original than in your average bishoujo comedy series. I find it quite promising that Makoto Furuta supervises the animation, an animator whom I still hold in high esteem for his great work on ‘Princess Lover!’ #4 (he drew all the key animation himself!). This episode embodies most things I appreciate about ‘Princess Lover!’: freer drawings, versatile animation, exciting framing and interesting camerawork. These are aspects that really add to the overall feeling and enjoyment of a show, it just feels good to see the characters move and express themselves in fun and inventive ways. I’m pretty sure that GoHands‘ top animators (Hiroshi Okubo, Koichi Kikuta, Shingo Suzuki, Tomoyuki Niho, etc.) will be involved as well, even though most resources are probably flowing into ‘Mardock Scramble’ right now. Speaking of ‘Mardock Scramble’, its art director (Masanobu Nomura) also works on ‘Seitokai Yakuindomo’, which means that there’s going to be a lot of background art worth appreciating. The first impressions of those who attended last week’s preview screening are by and large positive, so it seems to be a fun watch after all.

 
 
Low Expectations
 

♦ Shiki

This is doubtlessly material that would have had tremendous potential in the hands of a talented staff, therefore I’m quite disappointed that a studio like Daume – which isn’t exactly known for new emerging talent or high quality work – handles the animation production. The only major effort of Daume I really liked was Shinbou‘s ‘Petite Cossette’, otherwise they have a pretty poor line-up of past works. The main creators involved in ‘Shiki’ are nothing to be excited about either, even if Tetsuro Amino is admittedly a veteran director with a long record of works. The few times I had the chance to examine his work failed to make an impression on me, his style striked me as rather faceless and dull at that. On the script side, a relatively unknown face – namely Kenji Sugihara – is responsible for the series composition, it seems like this is even his first job of that kind. The same goes for art director Ichirou Tatsuta of Studio Fuga, who isn’t particularly experienced either. I can’t say that I’m fond of the character designs, albeit it’s noticeable that designer Shinji Ochi made an effort to give the characters some unique touches through the hairstyle. I found the trailer only mildly impressive in terms of production quality (especially the art direction is underwhelming), they have to try a bit harder in order to intrigue me. Hopefully Amino calls in some good directors and animators from elsewhere (maybe from Xebec‘s ‘Break Blade’ movie project?), it would be too bad if the interesting source material was realized in a way that keeps the audience at a distance. Moreover, it’s going to occupy one of the noitaminA slots for two cours (22 episodes), so I hope the actual show will turn out more convincing than the trailer indicates.

 

♦ Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi

Another one of the countless series that feel like you’ve already watched them. Of course, the character design looks strangely familiar for everyone who knows ‘Toradora!’ and there’s the typical J.C. Staff constellation of characters, too. Both director Yoshiaki Iwasaki and character designer/chief animation director Haruko Iizuka make for a solid foundation on the staff side of things, though due to the generic scenario I can’t say that it’s something I look forward to.

 

♦ Nurarihyon no Mago

I think it’s generally known that Deen and action don’t mix very well, yet I’m curious what such an experienced director as Junji Nishimura can achieve with this shounen manga adaptation. Sadly, the trailer suggests that it’s another Deen slide-show, too bad because I kind of like the designs.

 

♦ Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

As with last year’s ‘Chrome Shelled Regios’, this is another ZEXCS show helmed by Itsuro Kawasaki. ‘Regios’ was anything but good, so I don’t expect much of their most recent effort either.

 

♦ Asobi ni Ikuyo!

Certainly nowhere near the top of my anticipated list, but since it’s Youichi Ueda‘s directorial debut I’m inclined to check it out (despite its dull story description). In his 20+ years career in this business, he has gotten into directing episodes only very recently (with ‘Asu no Yoichi!’ #6 in 2009) and one year later he already helms a whole series. Of course, Ueda has made himself a name over the course of his career with his great animation and character design work so he is by no means a ‘nobody’. Scriptwriter Katsuhiko Takayama is somebody I remember for his good work on Shin Oonuma‘s shows (ef, Natsu no Arashi, Bakatest). One of AIC‘s younger independent studios, namely AIC PLUS+ (GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class), produces the animation and Noriko Morishima is in charge of the character designs and overall animation direction. Unfortunately, the designs look just as generic as with ‘Asu no Yoichi!’, her character designing debut. I assume the animation won’t be any good either…

 

♦ Mitsudomoe

I don’t have much an opinion on this one. Masahiko Ohta directed ‘Minami-ke’ at Daume a few years ago and Takaharu Okuma is known as the character designer of ‘Macademi Wasshoi!’. Bridge is a relatively unknown studio that has only done subcontract work so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be watchable.

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To put it bluntly, I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the first two ‘Anime no Chikara‘ series as the first one (So-ra-no-wo-to) was technically well-made yet didn’t make any mentionable effort to break out of generic anime patterns and the currently airing ‘Senkou no Night Raid’ is extremely dry and a bore to watch despite its interesting setting. So I am earnestly hoping that, as the saying goes, “The third time’s the charm” and A-1 Pictures will finally present something worthy of the projects’ ambitious name. Considering the staff of the third attempt – “Occult Academy” – it has at least a solid grounding and starting point with some really talented people in key positions. First, there’s director Tomohiko Ito who has an impressive record of works for all that he’s never directed a series or movie before. Recently I had an ‘aha moment’ when I found out that Tokiichi Kagurazaka is his pen name as suddenly everything began to make sense. I had always wondered who was behind the laid-back feeling and Hosoda-like elaborate framing of ‘Michiko to Hatchin’ #4, so it makes perfect sense that Tomohiko Ito had been in charge since he was the assistant director of “Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo” and “Summer Wars”.
(more…)

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Needless

 

I actually haven’t paid much attention to Needless so far since it’s pretty much standard fare by Madhouse as they tend to outsource “low priority” shows (usually manga adaptions) to their Korean affiliates, but recently there were two episodes which caught my interest, to be exact #13 and #15.

 

I checked out episode 13 mainly because of Seiya Numata‘s participation as he’s one of my favorite animators, his very obvious style with much exaggeration, energetic distortions, fancy effect work and somewhat simplified drawings is very appealing and stands out from the otherwise so powerless movement which dominates anime these days. This style is of course not Numata‘s very own creation since he’s a follower of late animator Yoshinori Kanada and adapted this special approach from Kanada like many other animators before and after him, who are the so-called “Kanada school”.
This episode is basically a two-man work, Numata directed and storyboarded the episode and did key animation, while Kyuuta Sakai is animation director and the only other key animator on this episode. It’s no secret that they tend to work together as happend in many cases in the past, especially when Sakai did the character designs (Zoids, Ichigo Mashimaro, Higurashi). They did also the fanservice-y ending for Needless, which has consequently the same kind of drawing style and feeling as #13.

 

Needless #13

 

The episode itself is nothing less than a great piece of animation crafted with a good sense for interesting and fun styling and is a very enjoyable watch from the very first second thanks to Numata‘s directing, particularly the mix of blood, gags, action and fanservice works exceptionally well, not to forget the amusing character interactions. Animation-wise it’s very appealing because of the more expressive animation style and varying thickness of the (out)lines as well as interesting morphing of shapes and lines, and most movements feel very refreshing due to their rather unrestrained nature. The framing and use of perspective is also pretty impressive, but things like bending space and so on isn’t that uncommon among Kanada school animators. Following a video showing an excerpt by way of illustration (seems to be mostly Numata’s work):

 
 

Episode 15 isn’t quite on par with that, but still has its share of strong points especially concerning the animation. The key animation credits include Hiroshi Ishiyama, Shin’ichi Kurita and Tamotsu Ogawa among others, latter did probably these nice sketchy parts:

 

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Princess Lover

 

Some words about series I completed recently:

 
Princess Lover

Princess Lover
If there was any surprise this summer season, then it’s certainly Princess Lover. It’s the debut project of studio GoHands as main animation producer, and despite being a generic H-Game adaption it has its share of strong points. GoHands originated from the former Osaka branch of Studio Satelight (which was involved in projects like Arjuna, Noein, Aquarion and many episodes of Shugo Chara) and thus has some very talented people under contract, from veteran Torapezoid animator Hiroshi Okubo to former gif animator Kouichi Kikuta. I was especially impressed by the work of those two animators, in particular the first and the last episode feature lots of interesting layout work and excellent animation thanks to both of them. But also most other episodes showcase unexpected good work, particularly the nice compositions and use of background animation here and there make it visually more appealing than the usual standard fare of this genre, not forgetting the loose animation direction which gives the animators more freedom in expressing and creating interesting movement and drawings.

 

Noteworthy (besides #1 and #12) are especially episode 4 and 9, former is a solo (key animation) work by Makoto Furuta and latter was done by three extraordinary animators, namely Tomoyuki Niho, Norio Matsumoto and Kenichi Kutsuna. Niho in particular has a similar approach as Hiroshi Okubo (especially concerning framing/camera work) as they are in some kind of master-student relationship. Here he finds also the possibilty to create more individual and interesting animation, though not to the same extent as in the case of his notorious work on Birdy the Mighty Decode:02 #7. The other two animators of Princess Lover #9 worked also on that Birdy episode, though this doesn’t mean that the animation is equally good. As usual still pictures can’t show the actual animation quality, but at least they give some information about the different drawing styles (I would provide a video if the good parts were one chunk, but they are spread all over the episode):

 

Princess Lover 9
Princess Lover 9
Princess Lover 9
Princess Lover 9
Princess Lover 9

 

The first episode was also done by only three key animators (Hiroshi Okubo, Shingo Suzuki and Koichi Kikuta), former two with Satelight background and latter of Xebec origins. It’s pretty easy to identify the individual work in this episode, Okubo relies as usal heavily on much camera motion and interesting layout work, Shingo Suzuki‘s parts have strong Shugo Chara vibes as he did lots of work on that series, the influence is also very obvious in the character designs. And Koichi Kikuta‘s drawings are pretty rough and not very refined during movements (rather typical for a former gif animator), but the movement itself is very sharp and interesting.
I uploaded the impressive chase scene by Hiroshi Okubo from episode 1 as it’s undoubtedly worth watching:

 
 

Next the nicely animated magical girl parody from the beginning of episode 6, key animation by Okubo and Takayuki Uchida:

 
 

The last episode features Okubo‘s great dance sequence from the opening in its full version and glory, the superbness of the camera work and animation speaks for itself:

 
 

Okubo had a special place in the credits for the last episode (alone on the top), which pretty much describes his work as there are cuts by him all over the place, though alone the above dance scene would justifiy that position in my opinion.

 

And concluding some words about the overall direction, script and content of Princess Lover: The rather good production quality certainly can’t cover the flaws and triteness of the plot as it’s basically nothing more than a generic H-Game storyline with the usual character stereotypes and ridiculous scenes, but fortunately the director didn’t make the mistake to strive for a serious undertone. His approach is more self-ironic and parody-esque, especially in the episodes he directed himself like the very exaggerated but actually funny #6. I think that Princess Lover takes the right path and doesn’t fall into the same trap as so many similar anime, and despite not having any noteworthy character or plot development it was enjoyable in its own way.

 
 
Aoi Hana

Aoi Hana
I haven’t come across any good or watchable ‘yuri’ anime before, but Aoi Hana certainly falls in that category thanks to Kenichi Kasai‘s directing and some decent writing. I won’t deny that it has its share of rather ridiculous scenes, however, overall the show is pretty much plausible and establishes some convincingly acting characters, which isn’t a given these days. It’s the composed pacing as well as the laid-back storytelling that give the whole series a very natural feel which is quite different from most similar anime. Visually it’s also convincing thanks to the nice art direction by Shichiro Kobayashi and decent animation in the crucial parts, Hiroki Tanaka did some work on nearly every episode so there are some bits with good acting here and there.
For everyone who wants to check out a more mature and slice of life-ish approach to love between girls, Aoi Hana is a good point to start.

 
 
Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water

Nadia - The Secret of Blue Water
Haven’t (re)watched it since its airing on German TV in 2001, so I decided to check it out once more… and it still holds up its quality and charm even to this day. Hideaki Anno managed to create a fantastic series with lots of memorable characters, good animation quality (for the most part) and a rich story based on an outline by Miyazaki dating back to the ’70s, which was inspired by Jules Verne‘s novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”. Anno‘s hand is clearly visible in the overly detailed mechanical designs and an emphasis on science (fiction) as well as the believable characterization and nice balance of dramatic and funny sequences. Lots of things that make Evangelion so outstanding are basically also present in Nadia, at least in the parts of the show directed by Anno. The notorious “Island Arc” (23-34) which was directed by Shinji Higuchi is clearly worse than everything before, as Higuchi had a very different approach and conception which destroyed many things (especially regarding the characterization) that had been achieved to this point. The animation in that episodes is likewise not as good as in the rest of the show, but here and there you can find some nice bits by skilled animators like Masayuki‘s parts in episode 30. Nadia features lots of work by many talented people like Mahiro Maeda, Takeshi Honda, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Tadashi Hiramatsu, etc., that and Anno‘s great sense for strong visuals make it truly interesting on the animation side of things. He’s really good at depicting huge scales on the screen, in particular the gigantic explosions are presented in a very powerful and seemingly realistic way, which isn’t surprising since he has the same kind of approach as animator.

 

All in all, Nadia is one of the great classics of anime and undoubtedly worth a (re)watch, it’s the kind of anime that I’m missing in today’s line-up.

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