Time for another review! This time I got a chance to revisit one of my favorite shows from 2014, and actually found it even more enjoyable in retrospect. Knowing from the start that the thriller stuff would be kind of silly made it easier to focus on the show’s actual strengths; its plot is functional and sometimes over-the-top, but that doesn’t really take away from the show’s strong ideas or gorgeous execution. The show feels filmic in a way only KyoAni shows tend to match, and it’s kind of astonishing how gracefully the show’s ideas are illustrated, considering this is the same show that also features friggin’ airport chess. Its weaknesses ultimately feel almost inconsequential to me; it’d be nice if this show were actually perfect, but it’s still really damn good.
I had to stretch to get a top 10 this year. I’m ready to admit that. Last year, it was easy – in fact, it was too easy, and I ended up expanding my list to twelve shows basically by necessity. But this year didn’t have quite the top shelf of 2013, and so concessions had to be made. There are certainly a couple notable absences here, with I’m guessing the biggest ones being Kill la Kill, Space Dandy, and maybe Nozaki-kun. The reason for those absences is simple – I didn’t like any of those shows very much. If you’re looking for a general “all the shows that enjoyed positive appraisal among the kinds of people who make a point of appraising shows,” I’m guessing all three of those would be included, but this is my list, and I’m gonna talk about what I wanna. (Incidentally, if you are looking for a list like that, my fellow critics at ANN all contributed their own top five lists to this recent retrospective – and that’s all shows that started in 2014, so even my list over there is pretty different). My list may be a little shorter this year, but it’s still got some real gems, and considering three of the year’s best shows aren’t included simply because they aren’t finished (Shirobako, KimiUso, and Parasyte), I’d say we made off okay. Let’s run it down!
There’s just something about that open road. Modern society is an inescapable monolith, and wherever you go will be just one more spot on the map, but when you’re young and hopeful and feel like freedom is a real thing, the road has a real power to it.
ANN just posted their big top five anime of the year retrospective, which includes the results of their reader poll and lists from a bunch of their staff, including yours truly. This list was based on full-length shows that started in 2014, meaning no Hanamonogatari or Samurai Flamenco, while shows like Shirobako are eligible. Meaning the list I submitted there is actually fairly different from the top ten list I’ll be posting here in a week or so, but it still offers a fine preview of my thoughts on the year, and actually highlights how badly I think this fall season pulled everything together. This was a weak year in anime, but the silver lining is that fall’s continuing shows (Shirobako, KimiUso, Parasyte, FSN) are almost single-handedly ensuring 2015 will be better. And the other ANN writers highlight a whole bunch of other compelling stuff, so clearly animeland will survive. Here’s to 2014!
The world is against us, but the world is at our backs. The future could be ours, or there might just not be a future. There’s no “outside” of what we’re escaping, but we move forward anyway. Our only certainties are the wind, the darkness, and the distant horizon.
We live in the shadow of a great and terrible machine. That’s Terror in Resonance’s opening assumption; an assumption the show often takes very literally. Its characters weave in and out of society’s sunlit face and shadowed reality, and the rigidity of our modern social order is perhaps the show’s single constant antagonist. Whether they struggle against it or accept its presence, it is always there, always dictating the lives they may live. Terror in Resonance is a story of adolescent rebellion and societal alienation. It is a story of what the world demands of us, and what we become in its eyes. It is a story of anyone who is cast as a child by the world, and of the things only children can do.
Welp, here we are. In spite of everyone’s best wishes, the bomb’s been set – nobody wanted this, but this is where alienation has brought us. I’ve really enjoyed this show, and I’m confident it’ll end well, but I can’t say exactly what that ending will be. I doubt it’ll be happy – the context this show is stabbing at isn’t a happy one, and our actual world doesn’t offer any easy solutions to the questions of power dynamics and societal disconnect we’re dealing with here. All I’m hoping for is an ending that stays with you – I think one of art’s highest purposes is holding a mirror to the world, and I think Zankyou is as angry and driven a show as I’ve come across in recent memory. Let’s see it through to the end.
Time again for terror! Lisa’s been captured, Twelve’s made his choice, and Nine stands alone. With three episodes left, it seems unlikely this will all end in smiles and rainbows, but I’d sure like for Lisa and Twelve to get out of this, at least. That may defeat the show’s purpose, though – Nine’s anger is just as understandable as their connection, and no one can really escape the world they’re born into. All you can do is adapt or burn the damn thing down.
Incidentally, vestenet made a great post about Zankyou’s historical context over at Isn’t It Electrifying. I’d definitely check that out to see some of the more specific unrest and political circumstances Zankyou’s building on!
Hey guys! I was on Deadlight’s podcast a little while back, where we talked about the summer shows in the context of “individual details versus the big picture,” a theme that was kind of sidetracked by Zankyou no Terror deciding to become all about those individual details in its most recent episode. I guess I’d characterize the tone of the podcast as “everyone else thinks everything sucks, I kind of enjoy everything.” You can find more info and timestamps for the various shows discussed over at Deadlight’s blog.
A low week in anime, my friends. Barakamon, Aldnoah, and Zankyou all had lesser episodes, meaning it was pretty much up to JoJo and Hunter x Hunter to keep things together. Fortunately, JoJo rallied magnificently, and Hunter x Hunter is just always friggin’ good, so I guess I can’t really complain. But damn, I really, really hope Zankyou keeps it together. Anyway, let’s get to the shows!