Anime Editorials

Ugly anime is not bad anime

People regularly whine about “ugly” anime, complaining that if a series is ugly, then it’s not worth watching. Natsume Ono‘s style is the finest modern example. Her latest work can be seen in the new House of Five Leaves (which began only last week on noitaminA,) but you may also know her as the creator of Ristorante Paradiso.
Her trademark, polarising style lays in her character design: big, round eyes; wide, thin mouths; pointy noses; they inspire a certain sense of revulsion (with their ‘shark’ eyes and rubbery facial expressions) and would never be considered attractive in the conventional sense, but then, that’s the point; Ono is doing it on purpose, therefore, complaining that her characters are ugly is like complaining that the sky is blue; it’s just her style, so why get so hung up on it? At least it’s trying to set itself apart from the rest (originality.)

Anime Editorials Reviews

Injections of fun / Trapeze and episodic anime

"noitaminA rocks!"

At the moment, I’m probably more satisfied with the anime I’m following than I have been for a long time. Whenever a new season begins there’s always the temptation to try to see as much as possible, particularly as an anime blogger with the self-inflicted responsibility to talk about this stuff ad nauseum, but for the autumn at least, I resolved to take things at a slightly slower pace.
The truth is that I’m not good at following anime week-in, week-out anyway, and quite frankly, I’d much rather enjoy the anime I’m watching than to make some token effort just to keep up with everyone else. There’s definitely some new series that I’m really itching to see, but it can all wait until it’s finished.
Well, there is but one exception. I mentioned before that I’m watching Trapeze (also known as Kuchu Buranko.)


Hataraki Man – Entering the hard boiled wonderland

While the spring season blossoms with new anime, I’m still frozen in winter wonderland with Hataraki Man. This is another show that, for whatever superficial reasoning, I had managed to avoid until this past weekend. Fate conspired to bring us together. These are my thoughts so far, but be warned, Hataraki Man is a (rather nutritious) slice of life anime; a genre that I’m well aware inspires as much boredom as it does admiration.
Adapted from an original manga by Moyoco Anno (wife of Gunbuster’s deranged genius Hideaki Anno), the main character is 28-year-old Matsukata, a sex-starved weekly-magazine editor who devotes 99.99999% of her life to slaving away on her next big feature. Between the long hours spent writing, interviewing ungrateful celebrities and hanging around with the office crowd, her social life and relationships have faded. The conflict central to Hataraki Man is Matsukata’s constant striving for a so called “normal” home life when she desperately craves success as a writer too. She could just take it easy, turn up at the office and work a regular joe 9 to 5 shift, but she wants to create something special; something to be remembered by.
Matsukata’s lofty ambitions are nothing new (especially to us Shonen Jump enthusiasts!), but to be a fiery female in modern day Japan (where the still-prevalent gender roles for a woman of her age dictate she should be a house-wife) gifts Hataraki Man a refreshing sense of gender role reversal. Indeed, even the title is an ironic twisting of words, given the “Hataraki Man” is actually a woman.
I’m making an issue of the sex politics, but the truth is that this is simply where Matsukata as a character is either coming from or fighting against, the show itself is tightly laced with the kind of sharp tongued and bitter sweet humour that wouldn’t feel out of place in your average sitcom.
Of course, there is more than one character — in fact, most episodes are scattered glimpses into the fractured lives of Matsukata’s colourful co-workers – take for example Fumiya Sugawara, a pissed off 30 something photographer who’s job it is to track down the dirt on celebrities and capture their scandals on camera. The man hates his job, is paranoid about people looking down on him and so, in his spare time, takes to snapping beautiful sun-lit landscapes. Despite his apparently shady and hectic job, that he still has the chance to capture something so calm, natural and endless is enough to keep him going.
Since it’s inception in 2005, the noitaminA anime block in Japan has set out to push the boundaries of TV anime beyond the teenage (boy) audience. As a twenty-something male, I can confirm they have succeeded. With the likes of Honey & Clover, Paradise Kiss and now Hataraki Man, noitaminA have more than proved themselves capable of deftly producing affecting adult drama that, while occasionally romantic, raises questions relevant in a young adult’s life. I think that’s why I’m enjoying Hataraki Man— being early 20s myself, anime is mostly a visual experience, I may enjoy something like Naruto because of the action, but when I find a show with characters I can empathise with on such a tangible level, it means that much more to me.


Nodame Cantabile – Big fluffy clouds and endless blue sky

Honey & Clover was a great show, and a cherished, personal favourite of mine. That was what first attracted me to Nodame Cantabile. They share the same animation studio, director and character designer; a.k.a winning formula. I’m trying to emphasize that expectations are a bitch, and this time the benchmark was set particularly high; so I’m happy to proclaim then that against all the odds, I’ve just finished the first four episodes of Nodame Cantabile and really enjoyed them.
I like that the main character, Shin’ichi Chiaki, is at once a heartless bastard and helpful friend. He furiously berates Nodame for her poor attention to hygiene, but he still cooks her dinner and cleans out her apartment. His life and personality are somewhat frustrated, caught between his heart and brain, he can be harsh and push people away, but still recognises when they need help.
“Nodame” Noda has no brain, just a big fluffy cloud and endless blue sky. Driven by instinct, ignoring rules and following her heart, Nodame is a polar opposite to Chiaki – she leads her life and plays piano as freely as a bird, unburdened by worry, while he is often lamenting the future; his dream is to one day be a world-class Orchestra conductor, I don’t imagine Nodame’s vacant mind extends beyond a few hours day dreaming.
Nodame Cantabile frequently slips into bouts of slapstick humour but I’m not watching it to laugh. The show can be funny and the music school is an refreshing setting, but this is undeniably a slice of life anime, looking at how people in creative environments deal with talent and ambition, how friendships, rivalry and admiration can inspire confidence and breathe new life into tired hearts.