When the sky turned blue

Gone a bit quiet around here, ain’t it? Last update was a couple of weeks ago, so I figured I’d pop-in a quick “Hello, not dead yet”. The truth is that, since finishing Ghost Hound, I’ve not been watching nearly enough (good) anime, so, aside from a few sarcastic paragraphs, I don’t have much to say about anything.

Being an anime blogger and all, that’s kind of a problem. May be it’s that I’ve committed myself to watching so much that I’d rather not watch anything. There’s still 8 series, including Soul Eater and Kurenai, which I’ve totally avoided just because I’ve also wanted to take fair shots at, for example, Allison and Lillia. It’s hard watching all this stuff (especially when it’s so bland), but I’d be disappointed to miss out on series like 2007’s Toward the Terra just because it’s not the flippin’ otaku du jour.

That’s only half of it, though. Macross Frontier is a good example of what I’m feeling; we have the same old teenage characters, the same old dumb romances, the same old mecha and the same old artificial JPOP music (my apologies to Yoko Kanno). There is nothing there for me any more. The same goes for Code Geass, too. I’m pretty much done with this whole ‘sexy’ high school vibe. It might be fun on a transient, superficial level, but 25 minutes later, I’m not interested in these characters or excited by their stories. I graduated in 2005.

The thing is, I really thrive on that emotional connection. All my enthusiasm for writing about anime stems from this strong sense of empathy. That’s why, despite seeing the likes of Naruto constantly mocked by others, I’ll always adore (and defend) it. I’m on a journey with those characters and it’s beyond objectively saying whether it’s good or bad, it simply is. To that end, as long as Masashi Kishimoto continues writing, I’ll always be his reader. The same goes for Eiichiro Oda and One Piece. I’ll never give up on them, they might not be the most subtle, well animated or original stories, but most important of all, the characters have soul, and, to put it bluntly, that’s more than I can say for their contemporaries.

Thank god for Kaiba, right? Think on this for a moment: in the spring season of 2007, the following anime premiered.

  • Claymore, Darker than Black, Dennou Coil, Ookiku Furikabutte, Seirei no Moribito, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann and Toward the Terra.

For me, that’s almost a renaissance, and comparing these series to my reaction to 2008’s generation is a bit, well, underwhelming. Being optimistic and all, hopefully I’ll see something (Soul Eater, I hope) that changes my mind. Until then, I guess.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

27 thoughts on “When the sky turned blue”

  1. so, aside from a few sarcastic paragraphs, I don’t have much to say about anything.

    OH. I get it now. I think I can digest what you said a lot better with that clause. Thanks. Your satire’s so sharp it dealt me a killing blow, and I didn’t realise I was dead till afterwards. Ow.

    So tell me, how much did you pay to get your hands on that legendary Shigurui sword that kills you seven (or was that ten? five?) paces away? I never thought such a thing was possible, but I know better now.

  2. Sorry to ruin your digestion, but nothing in this post is satire. I know you knew that. Also, I don’t remember any of this sword business in Shigurui, maybe you’re thinking of the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique” from Kill Bill? It explodes your heart.

  3. Hey its nice to finally hear from you again. This season isn’t as drab as you make it sound. Soul eater and Kurenai are definitely up your alley, I think. Real Drive is pretty intriguing and its a little under appreciated, you should give it a try, btw Shirow-san is on it again after his work on Ghost Hound. It should be worthwhile, at least I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The first few episodes are quite promising. NijÅ«-Mensō no Musume (blatantly copied from ANN hee) is THE sleeper hit of the season I don’t care what others say this show is lovely and is a breath of fresh air, give it a spin really. Library Wars has a slightly silly (using the term “slightly” here loosely since anime is a creative medium it shouldn’t be bound by stupid boundaries such as realism) premise but once you go beyond that you’ll find that its quite the fun show and oddly enough I see a little bit of Full Metal Panic (Love FMP to bits) in it which is a plus. Vampire Knight is very solid which is saying a lot when it comes to the shoujo adaptations we’ve been getting lately which have been underwhelming. Once you get used to the bishie fanservice you’ll learn to enjoy the character and various plot threads within the show..I think lol thats how its worked so far with me. Personally speaking my favourite shows of the season are Code geass, Macross Frontier, Soul Eater, Kurenai, Niju Musume, Vampire Knight. Most of these shows are relatively mainstream in Japan but I think one needs to just sit and enjoy each show for what it is and keep expectations to a minimum. That way you’ll learn to accept and enjoy each show on its own way, easier said than done I know lol but its not impossible :P

  4. Good to see you post again. And I agree with Ivy: this is quite a good season, but you need to know where you’re looking.

    Kurenai has been surprisingly genuine. It’s by the director of Red Garden, if that says something to you. Amatsuki has also been a real surprise, and it has so far shown to be much more than your average “teen ends up in strange world”-concept. Himitsu ~ The Revelation is another thought-provoking gem this season. If you liked Kaiba, then you’ll probably like Himitsu as well. Real Drive is also leaps away from your average series (it’s probably the only series with a main character of older than eighty), and Crystal Blaze is also really enjoyable, though I seem to be the only one who likes it.

  5. After feeling a bit burnt out and seeing that even Jeff Lawson has suffered from a similar experience recently I was getting a bit worried that this blog had gone down with Hiatus Disease! Is Afterimage your ‘side project’ rather than replacement for this blog?

    I can sympathise with your stance of “how can new shows compete with the old favourites?” but in all honesty we all worry about that issue every time a new season comes around: amidst the forgettable and the ‘meh’ there’s always a gem or two that leaves us pleasantly surprised every time. I’m giving those gems a few weeks to come to light before writing the season off outright – the 2007 titles you mentioned are testament to how this still happens.

    Macross Frontier for me however is the comfort food of my ‘anime diet’: it’s fairly predictable stuff I suppose but there’s a strong sense of familiarity with the pretty music and shiny mecha – overall though there’s a new offering for every mood I find myself in when looking for something to fill what’s left of my free time.

  6. I would be really curious what your opinion to the movie Apocalpyto would be. Warning there are some graphic scenes. However I felt an emotional connection to the character. Either you will be bored with it or you’ll love this recommendation.

  7. @Ivy: I really liked the first episode of Twenty Faces; a lot better than expected. Totally forgot to mention it in this post, but yes, it’s definitely one of the best of the bunch so far (outside of Kaiba, naturally). Just to add, it has a great OP sequence. Also, interesting that you pegged it as a ‘sleeper’, because I get that vibe about it too, but I’m not sure if that’s just because it looks so unremarkable (very muted colours and style)?

    @psgels: I’ve tried a few of those and still deciding whether or not to continue with them; specifically, Amatsuki and Himitsu seemed very average. Not sure yet if they can offer more than amped-up fan-service for the yaoi lovers. Anyway, I’ve been following your reviews and you’re really tempting me to persevere with them, especially with Amatsuki.

    Kurenai is on my list too, and for the most part, I really liked Red Garden (I’d love to see one of the bigger noses from Red Garden slapped on the little girl from Kurenai just to test all this admiration for her), so that’s another show that I’m totally expecting to enjoy. Cheers for the tips.

    @Martin: I was planning on writing this ‘hello, not dead yet’ since yesterday and then saw similar posts from Jeff and yourself this morning. Kind of funny how we all did this on the same day! :) Anyway, Afterimage is most definitely a side project. I mean, after two years of writing Bateszi, I’d never let it fade like that, but it’s nice to have somewhere like Afterimage to write “a few sarcastic paragraphs” every now and then. Ultimately, we’ll see what happens.

    As for the new stuff, my opinions are, generally speaking, still up in the air. It feels like I’m really missing an ‘anchor’, you know what I mean? A series that melts my heart and absolutely hooks me into the characters. Something like Berserk, Gungrave or Gankutsuou. Last year it was Gurren Lagann, but I’m still searching for that in ’09.

    @frog212: I watched Apocalypto late last year and it had me perched on the edge of my seat through-out. Like you said, it was really violent, but really disturbing too. The whole thing feels tinged with despair and hopelessness. Very primal and raw action scenes, parts of it were hard to watch, if just because you know stuff like that (human sacrifices, brutal tortures) used to happen all the time. Culturally, I found it quite fascinating too. I didn’t know much about Mexican history, so Gibson’s attention to detail and language was quite enthralling. Basically, I thought it was a brilliant film, but not one I’d watch again in a hurry!

  8. well it’s difficult to relive the magic we’ve seen in past animes because we saw them with different eyes back then (aka not tainted by let-downs, disappointments, prejudices, etc). Sadly though, becoming jaded seems to be one of those stages most people go through, and this greatly affects our overall enjoyment of animes (and much about anything we do at that).

    So long as you don’t lose hope and still retain those eyes which can see that beauty in animes, and not let past experiences get in the way of your enjoyment, I believe we can all relive this passion :)

  9. I finally caught up with Ookiku two weeks ago and I have you to thank for a wonderful recommendation. Truly one of the best viewing experiences I’ve had in a while. Here’s hoping for a better summer season than spring.

  10. Hey, there. Just wanna highlight on the “emotional connection” that you mentioned and tell you that personally, I think it’s one of the best qualities of your writing. It takes a lot to be able to write from that kind of place, especially because it’s so personal. But in return, your entries are very powerful and they often hit me hard enough to make me want to watch anything that you recommend simply because you’re so convincing about the good qualities that you see in it. It would be a shame if one of my favorite bloggers were to drop out, especially since I’ve only just stumbled upon your blog a month back and haven’t had the pleasure of seeing your writing develop. So *nudge nudge* write more =]

    On another note, Kaiba is too mind-blowingly awesome and I have too many words to say about it. I’m looking forward to another Kaiba entry from you sometime in the future. Oh, and have you been keeping up with the most recent Naruto chapters? If so, omfg, Uchiha x Uchiha angst.

  11. I’m not sure how much you should trust my taste, but I’d also suggest giving Amatsuki a try. It’s fun and surprisingly not angsty.

    And Macross is Macross. It’s like Gundam is Gundam. I mean you can’t expect it to be the best thing you’ve ever seen. I mean it’s like picking up a Terminator movie, or something like that. It’s predictable and silly and fun.

  12. Well, I will be Kishimoto’s reader forever I guess, since I do not see the end of Naruto any time soon. I think it sucks, and every week I read a chapter, I curse myself for keeping up with ridiculous plot twists and absolutely overpowered antagonists and underpowered protagonists. Each week it all annoys me.
    But I can’t help but download those 16 pages of drawings each week. I used to be a huge fan of Naruto, I always craved more and it was an awesome journey. Now I do not enjoy it at all, but I will still be reading it, because perhaps I do not want to waste my 2 year “dedication” (if you can call it that way) to this work of art.

    This season, Makross is probably my favorite show, plus Soul Eater. They’re both great entertainment, I doubt they will bring something new and out-of-norm, but it is a safe choice, I assume.
    As for Amatsuki, I watched first 2 eps and for some reason it just did not click. It is not really cliched and generic, it just does not have the “it” factor whatver it is, lol. Anyways, as you can see I can not put it in words, so I’ll stop. ^ _^

  13. As i previously mentioned, if you’re bored of the high school kiddie/teenage mecha type shows (I am too), watch stuff like Gasaraki. The realism, depth and characterisation is light years ahead of admittedly fun but shallow stuff like Geass.

  14. @usagijen: It’s not that I’m particularly caught in the past as much as I’m just not sure this spring season is all it’s cracked up to be. That said, I’ve still got a lot left to see, including Soul Eater, Kurenai and Library Wars, so I’m still rather hopeful of finding a few new gems.

    @Dan: Great to know you enjoyed Oofuri that much. To be honest, you’re comment sent me straight back to replaying the climax of episode 25. I love sports anime!

    @itsubun: Nope, when it comes to Naruto, I’m an anime-only kind of guy. It’s impossible to avoid the occasional spoiler though, so I do know what you’re talking about there. Can’t wait to see it for myself.

    Kaiba’s the kind of series I’m almost duty-bound to write about at some point or another. Judging by some of the clips I’ve seen of episode 3, it’s still as incredibly moving as that first episode. I badly need to get my hands on the soundtrack.

    Finally, thanks for the compliments about my blogging style. I do make an effort to invest a lot of myself into what I’m writing here, sometimes it’s really exhausting, but reading that kind of comment every now and then really inspires me to keep going.

    @Cameron: Well, I haven’t seen you praise any genuinely bad anime yet, so you’re still noted for having “good taste” ;) But if you ever slag off Berserk, we’ll be having words! As for Macross being Macross; I’d rate Macross Plus inside my top 10 anime of all time, but I suspect that has more to do with Shinichirō Watanabe and Yoko Kanno than anything else. I’m just concerned it’ll be another high-school ‘train-wreck’ anime, a relatively recent anime trend that’s fast becoming a genre.

    @Hotarubi: You’re English is perfectly fine. Anyway, I know how you feel about Naruto and its never ending story. The same could be said for One Piece. Will they ever end? Who knows? Will I live to see it? All I know is, all these years on from when I started watching them, Naruto and One Piece (and many other long-running shonen anime) have always, at that critical moment, pulled out some drama, plot twist or action scene that’s impossible to ignore. There’s no denying I still find them absolutely entertaining and compelling, and, regardless of length, they will always be good stories worth reading/watching.

    @Animated FatCat: I think that might be on my list. If not, it’s added. Political mecha for the win!

    @TheBigN: I think I’ve gathered up enough courage in this post to do just that! ;)

  15. @Bateszi: I know what you mean about no single show being an ‘anchor’ to get your attention – there’s a lot of good stuff (almost too much it seems) but nothing that has the makings of a great show just yet. That said, I think you should give Kurenai a chance; Soul Eater is another that might be up your street too. It has a SJ vibe (which I’m sure you’ll appreciate more than I do!) and a very new-Gainax art style which is quite unlike what Bones have done so far. Out of the new crop those are the two that I’d recommend most to you.

  16. You know, I end up comparing a lot of last year’s shows to almost everything I watch. Maybe it’s because they’re the shows I started blogging about, but every once in a while, it occurs to me that, damn, those shows were just SO good. I started a whole bunch of shows this season, and I haven’t really been following them, but, everyone’s been saying this and I’ll say it again, Soul Eater, from what I’ve seen, is pretty good.

    People’ve said this already, but I’m glad to hear from you. The emotional aspect, as someone’s pointed out yet again, is the best part of your writing. It’s almost addictive and I end up checking for a new post almost rabidly.

    And I’m glad I’m not the only one going crazy over Code Geass because I’m pretty tired of that whole thing as well.

  17. I think Kurenai has a lot of potential. I actually don’t have as rosy a memory of last season, baccano! was amazing but even a show like Seirei Moribito which started well kindof petered out. In comparison Allison and Lillia looks good, Kurenai has potential as does Nabari No Ou.

  18. If you hadn’t noticed, theres a second season of Baccano! as well. Check your sub provider, 14 should be out allready.

  19. Actually I really like Beserk. A lot. It’s a hard anime to watch a second time, but other than that, I’d say Guts and Griffith are two of the more interesting characters I’ve seen, so I think I’m okay.

    But the original Macross had that kind of “Young man going out to save the world, meets a beautiful girl and is love with her” thing going on too. But honestly, it’s a show I’d actually say I like for its simplicity (which is really ironic coming from me.)

  20. I agree with Usagijien and itsubun on what anime should be to it’s viewers. If it doesn’t give you that connection with the characters or draw you deeply into their inner turmoil I’d say theres really no point in watching anime at all. I also believe that ‘seeing things through untainted eyes’ analogy can be a major pain at times too, which is probably why I don’t watch horrible Cliche anime.

    Anyway, I agree with you and hotarubi on what really makes an anime/manga sparkle. I myself have followed naruto and one piece since at least 6 years back. I still wait on each chapter each weekend and I certainly still love it every single release. Emotional connection is vital to loving an anime after all.

    [Thank god for Kaiba, right? Think on this for a moment: in the spring season of 2007, the following anime premiered.

    * Claymore, Darker than Black, Dennou Coil, Ookiku Furikabutte, Seirei no Moribito, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann and Toward the Terra.]

    I agree. Last year was a true streak of anime gold. I totally loved most of the shows that were on and its most of those shows that make this season feel underwhelmed. I can’t disagree with you on that point. Shows like gurren lagann and seirei totally blow away what this season has to offer, but then again theres still the year to cover. Who really knows? So don’t give up! xD

  21. Though the comment may be a little late, I figured it was worth stopping in to say that I completely relate to what you’re talking about here.

    I also graduated in 2005, and I’ve been watching anime for quite some time. There was a period when all the gimmicks were still new to me and no matter how crappy it was, each and every new show seemed refreshing. But that time is over, and I find myself buried under the same monotonous crap. Admittedly, it’s crap that at the aforementioned place and time, I would have found enjoyable. Now it just seems to eat away at my soul.

    It’s a good thing that there are plenty of amazing animes that I’ve missed, and that despite a wave of garbage, this season does still have a few beacons of hope. I’m not so cynical that I can’t still appreciate a lot of what’s out there, but it just doesn’t move me like it used to.

  22. @Jingo: I’ve been watching the new episodes, but unfortunately they are not a new season, they are Japanese dvd-only episodes. I still can’t believe Baccano! isn’t licensed in the US.

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