Tag Archives: slice of life

Clannad: The Wonderful Beginnings of an Anime

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed an anime, and this is the perfect one to come back to. Clannad is the wonderfully touching story of a group of high schoolers and their lives as they grow with one another. Focusing primarily on the central relationship between Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa, these two lead tragic lives that have become better because they found each other. It all started one day at the bottom of the hill to the high school with “anpan”, and blooms into a wonderfully dynamic and free flowing friend group. The main plot behind this first series is that Nagisa wishes to create a drama club at her school. It is used indirectly to raise her self esteem and confidence.

Where should I start when talking about this anime? This has the elements of a slice of life anime, thrown in with a bit of humor and comedy from Fuko Ibuki, the starfish obsessed wonder. The anime flows over a few arcs focusing on secondary characters that attend the high school, ranging from freshmen to seniors. All of the main characters are mostly seniors, and this transitions into their graduation and life around the town. It is good to see that, although this anime has the beginnings of a harem with only one true central male character, but it is happily thwarted by Youhei Sunohara, the blond haired foil

The starfish and the Dangos!

character to Tomoya’s passive aggressive antics. Their dialogue and chemistry onscreen is infectiously hilarious and comes across as amazingly absurd and out there. It’s perfect to offset the harrowing topics of the anime.

Not to ruin anything about the plot, but the characters focused on are all tragically tainted. Tomoya is an out there delinquent bad boy who was maliciously beaten by his drunken dad in a fight one day. He lost his mother and the two had been drifting apart for years. His dad coped with drinking, and Tomoya did with bad behavior. This doesn’t really seem to ruin his reputation at school, but it ruined his arm and his chances at playing basketball. Damn. For Nagisa, her debilitating health has kept her back a year in school, losing friends, yet allowing her to meet Tomoya. And, for the others, it’s about watching the show to discover what’s so sad with each character. If you don’t cry at least once, where’s your soul?

The dynamic duo, Tomoya and Youhei!

It wasn’t really a decision at the beginning on whether to watch subbed or dubbed. As a rule of thumb, if it’s a show with a lot of crying or sadness, it’s better portrayed in Japanese. Tears=subbed, comedy=dubbed. Remember that. I was surprised to find this show was based on an interactive text video game (one of those simulated dating things, but a manga followed the game soon after, giving a structure and not choices to the anime in the direction the plot would take. The voice acting is really well done and will make you laugh and cry (tears of some sort) and it’s worth watching the first half in order to reach the even better Clannad: After Story. In order to love and care about the characters, you watch Clannad, but once you’re established in that love, then comes the After Story tears. They will flow.

Other than that, I don’t have many complaints with a show that has come out in the last ten years. Animation was crisp and clean, the plot moved along at a reasonable pace, and there’s a character for everyone to connect to. It’s the story of growing up, of high school, of conquering your fears and finding love. It’s a true humanistic story of discovery. I think it’s good for people of all interests and (being the secure man I am) found it rather heartwarming. So leave yourself a few weeks to savor the flavor of the Dangos, and enjoy this 7.7 out of 10 anime.

A possible couple? You’ll see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is the song that’ll make you cry.

 

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Nana: Two Girls Named 7

Going into this I expected slice of life, girl power anime. Coming out, I cursed the Demon Lord himself for not allowing Ai Yazawa to continue the manga that has for so long been on hiatus. Without the manga continuing, there can be no anime of epic downfall and emotional turmoil. And no happy ending for Nobu and Hachiko either… Oh well, they worked with what they had.

And boy, did they have a lot. Nana is the story of, well, two girls with the same name, Nana. Normally when I see the word Nana, I think old lady. But, in the Blast! + Hachi in cool mode.realm of Japanese anime, Nana means 7 (please stop me if I’m being redundant). And these two girls come from separate worlds. Nana Komatsu (Hachiko, her pet name meaning 8), comes from a well to do, middle class family with nothing but dreams of a happy family life with her boyfriend, Shoji. Nana Osaki is a punk rocker with no family past to speak of and a whole lot of rage and cigarettes to sing about. One day they meet on a train and their lives are changed… forever?

People do some great artwork for this show.

A lot of stuff happens in the span of this 47 episode anime. Relationships are founded and lost, friends are made and lost, basically, a lot of stuff is found and subsequently lost. There’s pain and anguish, scenes of sexy times, and a lot of cigarette smoke. But hidden behind that cigarette smoke is one thing. The love of ambition and love itself. Nana Osaki won’t let anything get her down and plans on beating the rivalry that is created between her band Blast! and her boyfriend’s band, Trapnest. This dynamic in itself creates problems between the bands as both sides become intertwined in a web of secrecy, seduction, and snarky conversations.

What I found great about this show was the even distribution given between the two Nana’s. Hachiko is given equal time at the beginning with her relationships and problems of fidelity and then Nana Osaki is given her time to shine as her

Ren and Nana, two loves from opposing bands.

band becomes popular in Tokyo. The chance happening of meeting each other on the train and the separate lives that come together under one apartment roof is an interesting premise that is buffered with good turns and emotional climaxes. The characters are diverse and strong in their certain flaws which gives an element of a darker relationship based “slice of life” anime that is where it really hits hardest.

But there are flaws. And it’s not that flaws are bad. But all of these characters are passive. They allow everything to happen to them by key characters. Not to divulge too much, but Takumi Ichinose of Trapnest controls the last 20

The most smoking ever. This show is adverts for smoking.

episodes of this anime. And the decisions you’d like to see happen for that happy ending don’t happen, but you are sort of okay with it at the end (other than the hiatus placed on this manga…). But the ineptitude and inability of certain main characters to function is just staggering. It makes you hate them and wish for them to move at the same time. Heartbreaking.

Just a taste of the manga that needs to be brougt back.

Other than that, work on your shipping skills and hope for the best for the Nana’s. The voice acting is fantastic and there’s a character for everyone to love in this show. It’s simple charm about people attempting to achieve their biggest dreams, however big or small makes for a great anime. ‘Cause, come on, who wouldn’t want to follow a band around as they become famous, being their friends and just having the ride of your life! Enjoy the amazing music by Olivia and the quirky animation and raw human emotions and talent portrayed by the voice actors (subbed for this one). I give Nana more than just a 7, I give it an 8.1 out of 10. Recommended for anyone interested in life and love.

 

And here’s a little taste of the music of Nana in this first opener.


Paprika: The Inception Anime

So based on my new obsession with anime, my mom picked this little anime film up for me from the library. I had not expectations and I was delightfully surprised. This anime film, which got positive reviews across the board in 2006, is an anime about dreams. In my opinion, anime is one of the few mediums that can accurately depict dreams. (Nice attempt Christopher Nolan, but this film came 4 years earlier than your Inception.) If I had seen this before I had seen Inception, I would’ve considered Inception a rip-off (sort of is). But it’s comparing apples to oranges. And that’s the way in which this anime stands out.

Paprika is a story that appears to take place in modern day. A Japanese technology company has created a piece of technology known as the DC Mini. These apparatus is used by psychologists to analyze the dreams of patients firsthand in order to diagnose and treat their patients. The one problem? The machine hasn’t been finished. And then it’s stolen. So the members of the company must go on what appears to be a wild goose chase in order to find who stole them before dreams become fused with reality.

That’s what makes this film unique. At any moment, the characters in the film could be dreaming, awake or asleep, and the

What's going on here? Probably why it's rated R...

mind-bending elements that present themselves in this film as the characters navigate the dreams is done beautifully. The film incorporates a love of parades, movies, and the thrill of flight all in one. Although I myself do not dream in terms of surreality, I could appreciate the elements of dreaming used that most people experience. The vivid colors and feeling of a warped reality and drawn beautifully and the movements of the characters are animated fluently and gracefully, something I’ve found that some anime have trouble with. (I guess it all depends on the budget and skill of the artists…)

Yuri Lowenthal. Fat, but good.

The voice actors are decent, most notably is Yuri Lowenthal. I didn’t pick up on his voice immediately, but he is one of those A-list voice actors that get a lot of work today. I think now would be a good time to explain voice acting in terms of skill. In the past (1970’s to 1990’s I believe) voice actors were picked more often for the sound of their voice rather than their acting skills. (It’s like choosing a sports announcer.) But in recent decades, voice actors are being chosen for their versatility and their acting skills. It’s this change that has given a lot of credit to an industry that is not seen as all that credible in America. In a more dramatic sense, in comparison to cartoon voice actors, these actors can perform dramatic as well as comedic and everything in between. And this gives us a better viewing experience because sound is half the battle in anime. Big league hitter companies in anime dubbing are ones like Funimation and Aniplex.

Paprika. Worth the jump.

Other than that, there is a certain cute element to Paprika. If you watch the ending romance you’ll understand. Characters are thrown into each other’s dreams and the underlying feelings that are discovered help bring a happy ending. I do enjoy those snapshot films where a problem arises and returned to normal through understanding and conflict resolution. A “slice of life” if you will. And that’s what Paprika is. A little slice of dreams. 8.1 out of 10.