Three out, change!

Posted by Matte on November 28th, 2007

I’ve been watching a lot of Major recently, or rather, I’ve pretty much only been watching Major except for about three shows of the current season and I’ve developed some kind of love-hate relationship with the show. It’s good, very good since it managed to keep my attention for the 78 episodes that have aired so far but it is a shounen sports anime and comes with many of the frustrating elements you commonly see in any shounen anime. One of the major (no pun intended) disappointments is the lack of progression. Everything stays the same, the characters, the challenges and the relationships. The only thing that seems to be moving forward is the age of everyone, but they all still act pretty much the same.

That’s not a completely fair statement though, but pretty much all of the character development is given to the side characters leaving the protagonist Goro nothing more than a shounen stereotype. This is a real shame because when he is allowed to shine you can’t help but stare excitedly with wide open eyes if only for a moment before he does something typical and predictable. His fighting spirit is very inspiring, especially from a fictional one dimensional character, and it feels great whenever he manages to do the impossible with that smug arrogance he has. The backside is that you just feel annoyed whenever he fails and acts all surprised time and time again without changing his attitude, or realizing that noone is invincible. Despite this he has his moments when he takes a step forward but it is always set up to happen, and always with the help of someone else. I don’t think he ever opened his eyes himself.

This is not my biggest gripe however. It’s no big secret I’m a rather avid fan of romance and this is by far my biggest disappointment with the show. The canon pairing of the show has not only not progressed at all, it has actually regressed to being less than from the very beginning! There has been much gnashing of teeth as Goro has shown no interest in his would be love, if anything they have only drifted further away from each other. Now, you’re probably thinking “what did you expect?” and I know there can be no love-relationships in an anime that’s supposed to go on forever. Still, I can’t help myself!

If I have one fault it is being too critical, and this applies to Major as everything else. Taking everything in consideration I have watched 78 episodes in about two weeks, not feeling turned off by it at all and I’m totally looking forward to the fourth season in the beginning of 2008. Hell, I could count the shows that held my interest (or would have if they didn’t end, for that matter) for that long on one hand and still have a pair of fingers to spare. For what it is and what it sets out to do Major is extremely good. Watching the teams Goro is in grow and overcome obstacles on the way is like I said earlier is really inspirational and despite them overcoming impossible odds doesn’t feel contrived even once.

I think the reason why I like Major so much is because its obvious selling point, the games themselves, are as exciting as they are. Everything from the batting to the slides and dives are all very well animated but only are they nice to look at, each game is deep with lots of tactics and strategies that don’t feel all that far fetched from reality. Granted, I know nothing at all about baseball, having not seen a game even once but most things seen in the show seems plausible and I think I would actually understand what was going on should I watch a game of baseball one day. Effects are also used sparingly which helps keeping things realistic. The most appearant one is the turbulence created around Goro’s pitches to emphasize the speed of the ball and this really only helps the animation that otherwise would easily look pretty stale.

All in all Major is the best sports anime I’ve watched to date and if the fourth season manages to add more depth to Goro it is a hall of famer in the making.

This Saimoe thingie..

Posted by Matte on October 29th, 2007

I haven’t really been paying attention to the Saimoe tournament at all, but I randomly decided to check a post from Moetron and saw something outrageous! Yuno losing to some bitch from Higurashi? My Yuno, losing!? From now on I’ll actively discourage anyone from taking part in this tournament as it’s clearly detrimental to your moereceptors. To top it off Suseiseki also lost, although it was to Tsukasa which is clearly a less controversial decision.

Claymore - The end and Raki

Posted by Matte on September 27th, 2007

Claymore was one of those very rare shounen series that I actually enjoyed on a higher basis than “I’m watching it because I’m bored”. It had all powerups and predictable fights that you can expect from a shounen show but yet it was somehow different from the usual fare. Despite the fights following the predictable three step pattern with the usual powerup at the last stage they were still exciting.

There was one large shadow looming over the whole series however, that would ruin every second of the show when it appeared. I’m talking about Raki of course. He was the most annoying character I’ve ever come across in anime hands down. I was seriously cringing through every single scene he appeared in and an episode that was completely enjoyable before could turn into a torture to watch. His whiny voice together with being completely useless made him a completely unsympathetic character for me.

It came as no surprise that he played a major part in the crappy ending Claymore had. The underlying story throughout the whole show was Clare’s search for revenge; it was the very reason why she struggled and strained to become faster, stronger and more powerful. Right at the end Raki enters her life again after being away for so long only to spit on her very raison d’être, trying to take away the glorious and sweet moment of victory from her, and for what? He pities the demon because it has had a sad past. I’m sure someone somewhere came up with a saying for this very way of acting. It’s a small victory that in the end he had little impact on Clare’s awakening, instead it was Jeane that stole the show.

Why must all good action series have these contrived happy endings. Was it too much to ask for some anger and some determination to finish that last chop of the sword, not only ridding the world of a great danger but also fulfilling her promise to herself and to Theresa. Instead her misplaced mercy will probably cost hundreds of lives in the future.

Despite my bitter tone I really did enjoy Claymore and the one screaming weakness it had, Raki, was absent for a large portion of the show letting me enjoy the nice animation and adrenaline pumping powerups to their fullest. The ending had all the makings of a second season, but people that read the manga say the anime deviates in the last few episodes, making the probabilities of a followup season smaller.

Nodame Cantabile - The Conclusion

Posted by Matte on July 4th, 2007

Nodame Cantabile has ended and for once I’m feeling content with an ending. Not disappointed, but not overly excited either and I think that pretty much sums up my overall feeling for the show too. Even though I’m happy with the show in general it took some getting used to because of skewed expectations as I expected something romantic, but after accepting that there would be very little of that I started enjoying the show for a completely different reason; I actually started looking forward to seeing Chiaki progress in his music career.

To be completely honest I felt that Nodame was a very one dimensional character and I had a hard time thinking of her as a real person, and because of this I couldn’t really feel any romance between her and Chiaki. The exception might be the last episode, and the ending which I felt was pretty fitting and nicely done. It didn’t feel like it came out of the blue either, despite how I felt about deepness of Nodame’s character. For most of the other episodes however she felt lacking in substance and only had gag or slapstick moments, and generally just used for comedic relief and I felt this if anything was a bit of a disappointment. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the comedy parts she brought forward, but I think for her prominent role in the show it wouldn’t have hurt to flesh her character out more and earlier. Despite this disappointment I learned to appreciate the show for other reasons as mentioned above.

Now Chiaki on the other hand was a really interesting character that I think they really succeeded with. They even managed to avoid being trite with his constant successes that is a danger in every show where the protagonist succeeds in almost everything he does by showing how extremely hard working he was. Every waken moment was spent practicing or thinking of music and how to improve himself. They didn’t attribute his success to him being some kind of fantasy genius and this is what really clicked with me. No matter how natural something comes to you, you always have to practice to be the best.

So is Nodame Cantabile among the best shows I’ve ever seen? Not really, but even if it’s not it’s close enough to the hall of fame to be considered a must see if you enjoy slice of life kind of shows. It managed to deliver with almost all episodes and was always among the first shows on my too-see list for the season plus it managed to have a pretty good ending for a slice of life show.