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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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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Winter 2017 – First Impressions, Part One

The winter season has begun! Yes, it certainly has done that. So far, this season is pretty much confirming my initial impressions – we’re in for a ridiculous new anime dry spell, and it’d probably be best to open your backlog binders now. I say “Part One” in the title, but this may well be the only one of these roundups I get to before the final list – shows have just been coming out too fast for me to put one of these together, and so we’re starting off with about half the season already behind us. There have been a couple shows I might just maybe continue, though, so I guess it’s not all bad. Anyway, you can find the whole list of shows that have been covered right here, or click below to get a rundown of each of my scores with individual links!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 12

March returned this week with what was honestly a pretty disjointed episode, mixing Rei’s thoughts on the Kawamoto family home with the first stages of a tournament and even a brief showdown with a new nemesis. Gotou isn’t anything but a one-note antagonist so far, but March has very good about avoiding that sort of character in the past, so hopefully he’ll gain some complexity before the Lion King finals. Either way, it’s nice to have this show back.

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

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