For this week’s Why It Works, I offered one more sendoff to what I feel has been an sadly underwatched anime. March’s adaptation has had some obvious issues of pacing and occasional points where the studio style hasn’t meshed with the material, but overall I’ve felt it’s been a very rewarding show. The awkward comedy that held down some of the early episodes largely disappeared after a while, and the more time its cast had to grow together, the stronger the drama became. Unless the rest of the year has far more highlights than I anticipate, it seems pretty likely March will slot into my top ten of the year.
Today I conclude my article on Dragon Maid’s recent Yamada episode, spending a good thousand words to break down maybe a minute of animation. LIVIN’ THE DREAM.
This episode very easily supported this close of a reading, and I was happy to get the chance to write about it. This also offered me a chance to articulate how animation is inseparable from storytelling in a more general sense, and how thinking of animation as “wasted” is generally a pretty absurd idea. I doubt this will fix the general mess that is discussions of KyoAni dramas, but hey, gotta try.
Today I’ve got the first of a two-parter all about Naoko Yamada’s recent episode of Dragon Maid. This one offered me the chance to do something I love doing, but only infrequently get a chance to – breaking down a massive number of visual choices made for one specific scene, exploring how all of them facilitate the sequence’s dramatic intent. Not all shows or episodes reward that kind of close look, but Yamada’s stuff and Kyoto Animation’s work in general do it all the time. Good anime are fun to talk about!
I turned back to Tanya for this week’s Why It Works, exploring what was easily the show’s most unexpectedly powerful episode yet. It’s pretty tricky to make a war story that actually, successfully embodies the awful nature of war, but somehow I think the fascist loli show nailed it. Partitioning was the key – Tanya is normally a pretty fun watch, but this episode was intentionally sober and dispiriting from start to finish. It was a pretty great episode!
Today I finally tried my hand at a Kemono Friends article, focusing specifically on the compelling style of worldbuilding that’s ultimately just one of the show’s strengths. It feels just a little awkward to highlight this in particular, since so much of the show’s appeal is just “goofy characters having fun times together in horrible CG,” but I suppose that can always be another article. Either way, hope you enjoy the piece!
For this week’s Why It Works I returned to Maidragon, and dug into the specific kind of fantasy world the show presents. Magical realism is actually one of my favorite kinds of fantasy, and though its greatest exemplar in anime is likely The Eccentric Family, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is pretty great too. I hope you enjoy the piece!
Today on Why It Works, I finally get around to a dedicated Rakugo article! I ended up pretty happy with this one – I switched from Why It Works’ generally conversational tone to a more dramatic, show-based one, and I think it worked out okay. Why It Works lets me experiment in all sorts of ways, and making a weekly column-sized version of one of my big thematic writeups was a lot of fun. Rakugo certainly offers plenty to talk about!
Yep, Tanya gets a Why It Works. Before ACCA, before Maidragon, before Rakugo, here’s the friggin’ fascist loli show getting top billing. What can I say – Tanya is a well-constructed piece of entertainment. It feels professional in the way Hollywood films feel professional, and that gives me a lot of fundamental craft stuff to talk about. So here we are, starting off my Crunchyroll deep dives of the winter season with Saga of Tanya the Evil!
Today on Why It Works, I establish one of those most reliable of column structures: a seasonal tradition. With all the premieres accounted for, I figured the Crunchyroll audience might also appreciate some recommendations for navigating the new crop. If I were writing this article right now, I’d probably also include Tanya, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to rep that awful little show eventually. Here’s the piece!
I’m still crushed under preview week at the moment, but the Why It Works show must go on! Unsurprisingly, I’m sending off the fall season with a two-part episode on Flip Flappers’ various mindscapes. It becomes much harder to map these worlds to specific characters as the show goes on, but they all reflect Cocona in their own ways, so I think I’ll manage. Here’s the piece!