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Autumn 2014: First Impressions – Psycho-Pass 2, Shirobako and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

October 11, 2014

autumnanimeFecking hell this is the 10th post in two weeks – that’s 30 shows I’ve had word vomit about, no wonder I’m getting lazy!  Anyway some decent shows today – badass female cops taking down a mad bomber, how to make anime The Animation and quirky love interests solve emotional trauma……….Psycho-Pass 2, Shirobako and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso.

Psycho-Pass 2

Good lord, Akane got badass in the break between seasons!  This was a brilliant reintroduction to the series – it skips most of the lengthily explanations and dives right into a stand-alone story to remind us of the world Psycho-Pass is set in.  More shows should do this rather than regurgitate exposition with extensive flashbacks.  Since S1 culled quite a lot of Akane’s team we have three new characters to get to know, but this episode only really focuses on setting up Akane’s new partner, Mika, as a foil. Mika is fiery where Akane is cool, she wants to jump headlong into situations and is clearly frustrated by Akane’s more standoffish, analytical methods.

I suppose it must be hard to establish yourself as competent when your constantly under the shadow of Akane’s superior intellect and experience.  Mika doesn’t really approve of Akane’s treatment of the enforcers either, adhering to the accepted mindset that they are expendable tools – Akane prefers to treat them as valuable partners, which seems to have won her Gino’s absolute loyalty.  Gah, Akane was just too cool in this episode!  Ahem.  Anyway even though this was a stand alone episode there were enough nuggets of information sewn about to hint about what we can expect from this season.  Clearly the drugs being advertised are going to be important, as is the fact mr bomber could mask his hue while building bombs & plotting attacks.  And then there is that mysterious figure at the end who doesn’t seem to be recognised by Sybil at all – or at least I think that’s what was going on, seemed like the Dominator was only picking up the female inspector and not her attacker.  If that’s the case being invisible to the scanners is a real threat to the system.  Excited for future episodes!

Production has moved from Production IG to Tatsunoko Production but quality doesn’t seem to have suffered any.  I am a bit disappointed by the OP though, that looping effect is a bit irritating and the whole thing lacks the style the S1 OPs had.  However over all this was a very good opening episode – it’s great to have more Psycho-Pass to look forward to.

Shirobako

Well this was much more informative and dry than I was expecting.  I totally expected the first few minutes with the high school girls animation club to be the tone for the entire series, so I was surprised when we switched to actual adults taking their jobs seriously.  This is a pretty in-depth look behind the scenes of the animation industry.  For those of us with an interest in the industry it doesn’t really contain much new information, but it was interesting to have it laid out like this.  I did think it was all a bit dry though and the parade of names, job titles & faces was impossible to properly absorb in one go.  There are attempts at making things a touch more exciting (like Initial D style drag-racing for some reason and sudden fainting spells) but otherwise this is just loads of information about a newbie studio producing their first moe anime.

Shirobako is something a little different for PA Works – it takes place in the city rather than a quirky small town, has an adult cast rather than a bunch of teenagers and the characters are slightly less shiny looking (only slightly though).  However all their flawless attention to detail in the backgrounds are there – production is as solid as you’d expect…..even if there is serious same-face going on for the females.

I’m going to be giving this another few episodes, hopefully it becomes more entertaining than educational when we get a feel for the characters.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)

I wanted to like this.  It is amazingly beautiful to look at with the most gorgeous animation, but that can’t really hide the fact the story isn’t all that great.  This is another one of those ‘power of love heals deep-seated emotional issues’ kind of series that have really started to rub me the wrong way.  Maybe if our main character’s past didn’t contain physical and emotional abuse from his now deceased mother I’d be a bit more okay with things.  But since the show has gone out of it’s way to tell us about Kousei’s terrible childhood I just can’t accept that Miss quirky blonde will be able to magically fix his problems.  Once again we have a child in desperate need of a therapist, not a whimsical girlfriend.

My issues with the basic concept of the show aside, this episode did have some other issues.  The comedy didn’t really work for me, being of the slapstick violence variety coupled with “I am shouting so it must be hilarious” kind of humour that rarely works.  Also the Miss quirky blonde’s intro scene with her dancing barefoot in a playground, while somehow forming a pitch perfect impromptu quartet with some kids to summon pigeons, was just overdone and actually made me laugh at how ridiculous it was.

Now on the positive side, this is easily one of the best animated shows this season – it is pure eyecandy.  The direction is solid, the character animation expressive and fluid and the backgrounds are drool worthy – there can be no complaints about the production values.  However for all the prettiness I still can’t buy into the story and know it will piss me off sooner rather than later.  And even despite my knowing this, I’m going to watch more of Shingatsu wa Kimi no Uso, because damn is it beautiful looking.  However if your looking for a music based romance show, my advice is to go pick up Nodame Cantabile instead – its a vastly superior series.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2014 12:42 am

    My problem with Your Lie in April is that real middle schoolers are so duuuummmbbbb. I work with them most days and plenty of them have no idea how to even pay someone at a store and yet here in anime they’re portrayed like mini-adults. Just wish that the characters here were older so I wouldn’t have that issue….

    • October 11, 2014 12:45 am

      Oh that annoyed me too! Knew I left something out of my mini-rant…..

      Yeah having the characters a few years older would have been a bit easier to swallow.

  2. October 11, 2014 12:46 am

    Akane came off more of a dead fish to me in Psycho-Pass 2. I want to enjoy this second season but I did feel it fell a little flat. It seems Akane must have made a decision on how to deal with Sybil so that I am interested in watching. She definitely is no longer naive but her partner is and seems likely to get people killed.

    • October 11, 2014 1:13 am

      She came across as very driven and a bit jaded to me – she was getting this way towards the end of S1 so I’m not surprised she’s so closed off and year & a half later. Will be interesting to see how she and her new partner get on when not on active duty.

  3. October 11, 2014 12:53 am

    In terms of musical aspects Your lie in April actually gets better than Nodame in many ways. I’m also a big fan of Nodame, but I’m just saying it has the potential to do as well or if not better.

    • October 11, 2014 1:15 am

      The animation for the music scenes is certainly better in KimiUso, but it remains to be seen if they get the artistic side of musicians – Nodame got that spot on. KimiUso is a prettier show, but I don’t think it can hope to match Nodame’s brilliant writing and characters.

      • October 11, 2014 2:21 am

        When I said many ways, I don’t mean the musical animation. As a reader of the source material, music plays a bigger role in this as compared to the drama/romance (as far as I’ve read). You’ll be surprised at the direction this takes. As a musician myself I felt it easier to relate to the musical aspect of Shigatsu as compared to Nodame. Though I would have to say Nodame was also awesome in many ways and I still love that series.

        • October 11, 2014 1:31 pm

          Well if music ends up being the central focus I’d be marginally happier. These kids are much too young to support a serious romance/drama story.

  4. October 11, 2014 1:48 am

    Most anime fall apart when they try to have too much drama. KimiUso’s main problem is that despite the overdramatic setup, it ironically doesn’t have enough drama.

    Middle ground is tough to find in anime-land.

    • October 11, 2014 1:34 pm

      Yeah it’s a really odd feeling – the detailed animation and abusive background awarded the main character all suggest that this should have been a serious story, but then we get terrible shouty comedy & standard anime fanservice……..meh.

  5. October 11, 2014 2:30 am

    I likewise wanted to like the opening episode of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso more than I did. My main issue with it right now is that I just find it so completely unbelievable for these characters to exist in a middle-school setting. Granted, anime as a medium isn’t exactly known for its realism, but I’d find the whole story much easier to swallow if had been set in high school or university.

    • October 11, 2014 2:49 am

      I don’t exactly get this whole “middle school/high school” thing because my country doesn’t have this system.

      But anyway they’re 14. For romance and anything to happen at 14 is not unbelievable? Most anime have characters around 15/16 anyway, I think 1 or 2 years younger doesn’t really make a difference?

      My only rationale was the whole timeline thing regarding music. If they were in high school or university, it will probably be too late for Kousei to return to music or to accomplish anything.

      It was also mentioned that he was a child prodigy and he has to be young. 10/11 is a good age and a 2 years hiatus would make him 14.

      Try scaling that up. Imagine if he was 18, and he had a hiatus of 7 years. It would be almost impossible to make a comeback. Consider another situation where he is 18 and he took a 2 years hiatus. This would mean his mum dies at 16. Which means he took abuse till he was 16 and then usually by 16 he would have already accomplished a career in music. That doesn’t make sense in this story either.

      I don’t know how 14 year old kids behaviour in different countries, but from how I see this anime going the behaviour seems totally coherent with what I observe in my daily life.

      • October 11, 2014 3:49 am

        14-year old romance in Japan? Sure, I’ll buy that. 14-year kids in Japan really into picking up chicks, as main character’s best friend seems to be into? Er, no. I live in Japan and work at several schools here, including junior highs, and while I’m sure there are examples of this actually happening in real life, I can’t see anyone treating that kind of behavior as normal here. By and large, these are kids who still think holding hands is a super bold and/or wildly embarrassing move. One or two years, on the other hand, tends to make a BIG difference, if the students at high schools here are anything to go by.

        • October 11, 2014 4:01 am

          Alright then. Based on the romance part I’ll give it to you. I can’t really argue with that. In this sense they might be acting a little too matured for their ages.

    • October 11, 2014 1:37 pm

      Yes the age of the kids is not appropriate if this is going to be straight romance. Fair enough if the focus is only going to be on advancing in the world of music with only platonic relationships, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. These characters are being portrayed as much older than 14 and that doesn’t really sit well – if the romance aspect is going to be an important part of the show, the characters really should have been at least 16-17 if not older.

  6. October 12, 2014 4:11 pm

    I’ve only had a chance to watch Shirobako so far and found it quite enjoyable. Like you, I anticipated this being CGDCS, and was surprised to see they have actual adults in the cast and faced challenges that were credible within the context of a real job. It did seem that beginning was a promise to re-introduce the rest of the girls, so we’ll have to see if they keep this serious tone up, or if it becomes all donuts all the time.

    • October 14, 2014 9:02 pm

      Still slightly shocked that PA Works decided to go with a full cast of disillusioned adults trying to scrape a living – still time for them to bottle it though.

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