The Secret of Studio SHAFT

It’s time for another big one! Today I dive into studio SHAFT, exploring a number of the things that set the studio apart. From the history of their current incarnation to their stylistic proclivities and key creators, this is a broad look at one of anime’s most singular studios. It was actually pretty fun doing the research for this one, and I was significantly helped by our recent glut of excellent creators interviews. I hope you enjoy the piece!

The Secret of Studio Shaft

Winter 2017 – Week 2 in Review

This week in anime was… look, I’m barely watching anything this season. ACCA and Interviews with Monster Girls are the only non-Rakugo show I’m not both watching and covering for ANN, and that second one’s already kind of on the borderline. If the season continues at this pace, it seems likely we’ll be at This Week in Rakugo before too long. That’s not actually the worst thing! I’ve probably said it before, but I’m much happier with a show or two I really love than a bunch of “watchable entertainment” I’d be comfortable skipping. My media consumption tends to reflect that – I make top ten lists and whatnot, but as an “anime fan,” I’m probably only a fan of 2-3% of what the medium puts out, and could take or leave the rest. That’s not to say I’m a more refined consumer or anything, it mostly just means I understand that some seasons aren’t going to have much for me to talk about. I’ll figure out if I should adjust my schedule for the season at some point (“Week 6: the award for best Rakugo goes to Rakugo”), but for now, let’s run down this season’s slimmest of pickings!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 6

I think we may be in it now. Last episode saw Casshern Sins embracing narrative continuity for the first time, bringing back a handful of characters from earlier episodes in order to answer a couple questions and set up some dramatic dominoes. The nature of Luna is still unclear, but Casshern’s nature is becoming a bit more concrete – he was used as an agent of violence, he could not necessarily control his actions, and his tendency towards violence seems to take over his body altogether.

That episode also saw Casshern represented as a figure of both ruin and salvation, bringing Ruin upon this world but also standing ready to sacrifice himself to pay for his crimes. This show’s symbolism often feels more concrete than its narrative, so I’ll be keeping an eye on everything I can as we continue our adventure into ruin. Let’s get to it!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 13

March had a pretty shaky episode this week, both in terms of its structure and its visual execution. The actual material being covered was fine, but the show’s adherence to its chapter-by-chapter format and creaky animation didn’t really do this block any favors. I’m probably enjoying the show more than I would if I’d read the manga – since this is my first time enjoying this story, I can accept some sloppy execution.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Why It Works: A Worlds Tour of Flip Flappers, Part Two

Today we conclude our journey through the many worlds of Flip Flappers! This article ended up being more or less a two-part version of the sort of thematic breakdowns I used to cap off each season with. This half starts to stray away from breaking down worlds and get into analyzing Cocona, but that’s pretty much how the show itself works, so it seemed fitting to me. I hope you enjoy the piece!

Why It Works: A Worlds Tour of Flip Flappers, Part Two

Planetes – Episode 20

Having passed the first round of testing, Hachimaki has successfully isolated himself from the world and home he once knew. Even Planetes’ opening monologue seems to know it – instead of the classic explanation of space debris, the narrator now speaks solemnly of the course of space travel, and the mighty grasp of humanity in the current age. The narrator doesn’t play coy about the consequences of this shift, either – the economic partitioning that has underlined so many of the show’s episodes is directly referenced, and the monologue ends on “the Von Braun is about to set sail, carrying with it humanity’s hopes and dreams.” We’ve already seen that exact vision dismantled by Hachimaki’s father, making its appearance here an intentionally grim irony. Planetes is not pulling its punches.

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Winter 2017 – Virtually Every First Episode Retrospective

Hello and welcome! With the new anime season’s first week having come and gone, we are left with an immense pile of new series to investigate. A great part of the fun of new media is the joy of discovery, but I detest joy and your acquisition of it in particular, and so I’m here to steal that pleasure from you. Instead, you will now read my list of impressions for basically every new show that came out, which will dictate the terms of your entertainment for the next three months.

Working for ANN’s preview guide means I really do watch basically every new show, and offer a reasonably sized take on all of them (you can check out ANN’s full list here, and find my thoughts under Nick Creamer). But even that is so much material that it’s kind of ridiculous to engage with, and so here at the blog I group everything I watched into vague descending categories, with both brief thoughts and a link to my longer ones. This has been a fairly iffy season so far, so I’m sorry to say the lower brackets will be kind of stacked this time, but there’s still plenty of worthwhile anime to discover! Feel free to skim at your leisure, or just skip to the part where I start rambling incoherently and losing hope in existence. THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

Incidentally, I won’t be covering the shows that are chained to various awful licensing situations here, so just imagine my thoughts on Little Witch Academia are “please Netflix, please spare us from the pain of this empty season.” Alright, I think that covers it. Let’s run this season down!

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My Monster Secret, Volume 3 – Review

I’m back on My Monster Secret again, which is basically the definition of comfort food. I don’t expect this manga’s character writing to wow me or narrative turns to thrill me, but reading about goofy, likable people making fools of themselves in vaguely romantic ways always makes for a pleasant afternoon. My Monster Secret confidently demonstrates that a steady, upbeat execution of these romcom staples is all you need for a good time.

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Flip Flappers – Review

And unsurprisingly, here’s my overall streaming review for the flip flaps. Flip Flappers was a standout show that I’d really love to see get more recognition, and the review monster is a hungry beast, so this was basically inevitable. Hopefully 2017 will bring us a few more gems of this level!

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Nichijou – Episode 21

Holy shit is it ever time for Nichijou. This is my first post-election Nichijou episode, so I’m really counting on Nano and Yuuko to bail me out of these incoming apocalypse blues. The world could very conceivably end in the next several years, but you know what, at least our species created one super funny cartoon. That’s gotta count for something in the grand scales, right? Nichijou is pretty good.

Alright, enough frighteningly justified doomsaying. LET’S NICHIJOUUU.

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