Gosick’s premiere was promising, but didn’t feel quite good enough to guarantee that this would be a successful show. Having seen the following two episodes, which bring some form of conclusion to the larger mystery surrounding the fortune teller murdered in the opening act, I can now say with confidence that Gosick is promising, although I can’t guarantee it will be a successful show. Isn’t that an improvement?
Seriously, Gosick doesn’t do all that bad of a job with its first major arc. Despite being set in the 1920s for reasons which will soon be obvious, it maintains the backdrop of a Victorian-era mystery throughout, particularly in its suggestion of supernatural menaces which are then debunked through proper sleuthing. And while I am increasingly convinced the mystery elements are not Gosick’s main draw, the show does succeed on its own terms.
This season, we thought it would be best to give everybody a rundown of what we’re going to cover. I’m actually really excited about every show I’m going to be covering, and I know our other two writers are, too.
That’s right, we have a new writer joining us for this season. Clarity is a dear friend of mine and, while not as devoted a fan of anime as 3HM or I, fell in love with the manga Wandering Son is based on. So, when I offered her the chance to write about the anime adaptation, she jumped at it. She’s a talented writer, and brings a very different perspective on anime and anime culture. I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I do.
So, here’s what everyone will be writing about:
Bear – Fractale and Puella Magi Madoka Magica
3HM – Gosick, Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season and Bakuman (continuing)
Clarity – Wandering Son
This is really shaping up to be a great season, so stay tuned for more quality anime writing.
About a month ago, 3HM and I met in person for the first time in years. As usually happens, we started talking about anime. This time, though, I had a microphone with me, so we decided to record a podcast talking about the year’s best anime. You can listen to it here.
I’ll apologize in advance for the recording quality. We didn’t have a microphone stand, so we just laid the thing on a table, so it picked up a bunch of ambient noise. But, I hope you’ll enjoy listening to us talk for an hour and a half. If people like this, we might do more (shorter) episodes, talking about things we don’t get a chance to talk about in the review format.
Those of you who don’t want to listen can find our picks after the jump.
I’ve written—raved, actually—about the first season of Kimi ni Todoke, so it’s only natural that antiotaku would pick up the second season. My expectation was that the same team would take up the material as if they had never stopped, providing the same wistfulness and emotional honesty that made the original show such a great watch. And that’s exactly what I got.
In fact, the problem with this premiere might be that it hews too closely to the formula of the first season. In the month and a half after their fateful New Year’s Eve date (which neither of the two can quite acknowledge as a date), Sawako and Kazehaya are still dancing around each other. Both are desperately in love with the other, but neither quite knows how to express it.
As a child part of what drew me to anime was its seeming willingness to cover a subject that western shows (animated or otherwise) never acknowledged—gender identity. And it was something I needed acknowledged and discussed because it was a confusion inside of me and I didn’t much know how to deal with it or what to do with it. I didn’t have the understanding of Japanese culture then that I do now. I didn’t understand the glass closet that Japan tries to keep its LGBT community in, or the difference between portraying a man in women’s clothes (or transported in some way into a female body), and portraying a woman born male.
Though the idea of gender identity was approached, I discovered the various hand-waves that are in place to assure that the character’s actual internal gender identity aligned comfortably with birth genitalia. So yes, Ranma ½, Sailor Moon, Fushigi Yuugi and others peppered my childhood as I watched my own very real concerns ret-conned out of existence, or worse, saw villains without real gender issues characterized as crossdressing out of nothing other than incredible narcissism (which, really, is more insulting to women than crossdressers or the transgender community).
I may have to correct myself: Just last week, I explained how Bakuman still didn’t know what to do with its female characters, and that its various attempts to give them independent motivation and purpose aside from their relation to the (male) protagonists just didn’t quite work. Their identity is contingent. Now I think I have to revise that statement to only cover Azuki. This is the episode where Miyoshi comes into her own.
Miyoshi’s primary reason for existing until now is to give Azuki a female friend and Takagi a girl. Most of her screen time has involved the animators showing off her legs, her chest, or something in between (but mostly the first two). Her attraction to Takagi, while explainable, seemed forced and unnecessary. She’s a character in search of a purpose.
Oddly enough, she seems to know that, in an in-universe sort of way. And this episode, which shows her making some faltering steps in that direction, also calls into question the purposes and goals of the protagonists, and their own identities as authors and in relation to each other.
I was a big fan of director Yutaka Yamamoto’s last show, Kannagi. It was the rare high school comedy that had enough heart and energy to be worth recommending to a wider group of people than die-hard anime fans, something I attribute as much to Yamamoto’s fluid direction and sharp comedic timing as the excellent manga it was adapted from.
So when I heard that Yamamoto’s Studio Ordet and frequent collaborators A-1 Pictures would be creating the next show for noitaminA, a programming block devoted to broadcasting anime that would be of interest to people who aren’t young males and which frequently makes a strong showing in our end of season awards, I was incredibly excited. Hearing that the story would be social science fiction based on an original story from Japanese cultural critic Hiroki Azuma (whom I had never heard of but had to be more interesting of a writer than most anime writers), I was even more excited.