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For this section, We’re heading to Spain to have a look at their animation this past decade. All things considered it had been a good decade for Spain. While the more popular CG outputs such as Planet 51, Tad The Lost Explorer which were box-office hits but performed poorly critically, it’s their indie, mature projects that – ahem, excuse my pun – has aged much better. Even if many of them are on the plain-looking side, they more than make up for the sheer power of their subject matters. Also I would add to this batch Chico & Rita (which I enjoyed during its release but I need to re-watch some day). These three films below are definitely adult-oriented, and for my money the more unique offerings in the animation scene. Let’s dig in:
Yeah, I’m doing this too. As a whole, I consider 2019 a great year of anime, especially comes right after 2018 which I consider the worst year of the decade. It’s a year where many Anime Auteurs – some of the best working Anime directors today – helming original visions. Ikuhara, Shinichi Watanabe, Yuusa, Shinkai all have their original, passionate projects, and many manga classics like Vinland Saga and Kimetsu no Yaiba receive anime treatments. 2019 also saw many reboot from the 90s, early 00s decade with varying degrees of success, such as Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Fruits Basket (2019) and Blade of the Immortals. On the negative side, the amount of isekai escapism is at its peak, at least in terms of quantity and not for their quality. My format is gonna be this: look at the most Popular show of the year, the most Underrated show, then some honorable mentions before I get to the top 10. Hope you enjoy the countdown.
Most Popular Show of 2019: Carole & Tuesday
If I have to give one definite quality of Carole & Tuesday, it’s “accessible”, for better or for worse. Streaming in Netflix with the majority of the audiences isn’t used to watching anime, I can see this show as a getaway to have a first dip of what modern anime is like. And there are many aspects of Carole & Tuesday to support that approach: the animation is expressive, the art styles are gorgeous and attentive to details, the plot is simple but inspirational, the leads are likeable enough and most of all, the music is well-produced – everything you would expect from the great master Shinichi Watanabe. On a flip side though, because the anime is too mainstream it unfortunately doesn’t have enough edge or depth. The titular characters Carole & Tuesday suffer from that the most. There is little to no conflict between them, and throughout its 2 cours runtime they often act like one, there is no personality to them at all. That is why the supporting cast is often more interesting than the leads themselves. Second, the story arcs remain quite simple and predictable, and it becomes clear that the show is more concentrated on the music than the story. All in all, with the gorgeous visual, crisp animation and the top-notch soundtrack, if you don’t expect too much of it, you’ll enjoy it as you go along the ride.
This time we head back a year to some festival-friendly animated indies in 2018. These films are pretty much passion projects from the creators, and you can see the love for the craft every single minute in the films. Three very different stories from three different regions. From the true story of his mother during the Khmer Rouge in Funan, to Studio Ponoc’s several intimate shorts and finally to Nina Paley’s 7-year in production for a film that eventually released for free. It’s a solid batch of films all around. Next time, we’ll head to Spain for some of their most acclaimed features in 2010s. For now, enjoy.
Well, I promise that this post is the last 2019-centric coverage before I move on to other specific years/ themes (not that this is the end of 2019 titles oh no there are still lots of good ones out there). For this part I decide to pick 3 smaller entries around the globe, with different art styles, aesthetics and target audiences. One from the respected female filmmakers about the harsh lives of people in Taliban, another is a manga-turn-anime tale about growing up, and the last is another addition to an all-time family-friendly classic from the UK. I hope you enjoy the piece.
Out of all the categories in Oscars, I personally feel the most positive about Best Animated Race. Well, the recent change regarding “all Academy members will vote for the nominees instead of Animation branch” is silly, which is another topic altogether so I won’t delve into it this time, but more than any other categories, and more than any Animated Season Awards, the committees do expand their view to champion films that are outside of the US, and pick films based on the merits of quality itself instead of big names big campaigns. Pixar still dominates the category and they still ignore many worthy anime films, which hurts. As for the 2019 race, I’m quite happy with the nominees with each film has its merits to be there. The only surprise is HTTYD edges out Frozen 2 but consider how HTTYD is always a strong franchise, and this 3rd film closes off that franchise on a conclusive note, I have no complaints whatsoever. Next one, we delve one more time to 2019 releases before we head to more theme-specific, or region-specific animated movies. Enjoy for now.
For this #2, we are heading to Western Animation to truly appreciate animation as an artform. This batch includes all install-classic offerings, with innovative and unique hand-drawn art styles that not only rare to find in the age (where CG dominates the box-office), but the styles integrate strongly to the story it’s telling. Two 4-star ratings (little spoilers, as far as all the films I’ve seen this decade I only awarded 14 movies with perfect 4-star, with this third film being the latest addition) and a hard 3-star, that alone speaks to the quality of this second batch. For the next batch we will have a look at other 3 Best Animated nominees from the year 2019. Enjoy.
Let’s start with some anime big boys of the last year of the last decade where they all basically establish their house styles. Shinkai with his obsessions for both background arts and teen romance, Yuusa for his distinctive and unconventional vision and Studio Trigger for their colorful, loud and rush-of-adrenaline qualities. Not all of them are successful, but it’s clear that their ambitions alone make them a worthy watch already. Check the reviews out below:
Now we get to the second part of this 2018 Anime Summary. This can be seen as individual awards, where I will pick the Best, and the Worst, as well as Runner-Ups. It will divide as Individual awards, Production Awards and Character Awards. Get on board for a tour around the town now, shall we?
Like a cold you can’t get rid of, the new season has begun. As tradition, I tailed down all these first new, non-sequel episodes and gave them some quick impressions the moments I finished. This Winter season proves to be a season with no real surprise. It’s certainly the fewest shows in term of quantity for quite a while, and shows that supposed to be stand out are doing a pretty good job. Mob Psycho 100 2 delivers one of the best episode in a while (but to make this post consistent with non-sequel rule I won’t include it in here), Boogiepop tanks but the rest is predictable. This season also marks many shows cut-corner by animating entirely in CG, and the results are pretty clunky (if the bottom two shows are any indication). In total, I watched and reviewed 26 premieres, 2 of them are shorts. Let’s scroll down to see the offerings of this 2019 Winter, from worst to best:
I must confess before getting into this part that I don’t have an ear for anime tunes and only recently, very recently that I’m actively checking out for anime songs and soundtracks. Now that I’m more familiar with anime songs and know some of the prominent artists in this medium, I want explore more, dig deeper and making this list to celebrate all the goodies of this past year. In regards to OPs and EDs, 2018 is another underwhelming year for me. Normally I can easily come up with more than 5 picks, but this year that number is a high bar. This year, however, produces one of my favorite soundtracks in years so I’m not looking back on it with bitter eyes. Whether it has distinctive visual, or great songs, or how these two are in perfect sync to each other, below are my favorite OPs of the year, in no particular order