Hyou-ka: You can’t escape

The best show of the season is over. And by season, I mean both of the cours that it was airing through.

I could write two or three paragraphs eloquently praising the animation quality, but screw that, you already know that Hyouka is gorgeous. In fact, I kind of have the feeling that this attribute of the show is starting to turn into some sort of passive agressive insult, with people implying or outright stating that it is nothing more than pretty visuals.

But that’s far from being true. Sure, KyoAni’s animation skill was needed to make it visually interesting, for example a J.C. Staff adaptation would have been incredibly bland,  but that isn’t the original plot’s fault. Hyouka has many positive attributes, deep characters, clever mysteries, and a well-presented overarching theme, but it was very obviously intended to be a literary work. It needed the little details, symbolisms, atmospheric touches, body language and facial expressions, perfectly outlining the already existing details of the setting, that only KyoAni could provide in the Anime industry.

It’s also a good proof of how worthless our “first episode impressions” posts can be. Along with Kokoro Connect, both shows were seen at first almost exclusively in terms of “looks like K-on LOL”, and “Predictable character archetypes, LOL”, then episodes later, both series proceeded to have some of the most in-depth psychological analyses and character development in any anime over the past years. Yes, Houtarou is an audience surrogate, but only as much as any point-of-view protagonist is an audience surrogate. Beyond that, he also managed to be a unique character in his own right, instead of just a condescending parody of the target audience.

One of my primary ways to define a great story, is that it is something that I can’ stop thinking about after it ends. What happened next? What could have happened differently? What was going on with the others? I’m so curious!

Hyouka is a great example of that, one of the few since I started following anime episodically. For that, it gets a 9/10 from me, and gets into my top 15, only below the quadrumvirate of Haruhi, FLCL, Death Note, and Legend of The Galactic Heroes.

If anyone  would ask anime recommendations with the intent of getting into the current anime fandom, Hyouka would be one of my first default recommendations (assuming that no special genre interest is mentioned). It has everything that makes anime anime: High school clubs, cultural festival, tsundere, moe, unspoken love interests, giant sparkling eyes, cherry blossoms… and it’s all done well. This is what even the most average, mundane, genre-conforming anime could be, if at the very least it would be well-written, well-animated, and well-acted.

Nothing groundbreaking, just a beautiful story.

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Fall Anime List and random comments

I haven’t been posting a lot lately. I do have various themes to write about, actually I’m collecting them on a sticky note, it’s just that I haven’t actually been watching a lot of anime lately, so I first wanted to enrich the blog with some direct anime discussion, based  on my recent experienced, before even more rants about fandoms and phrases and opinions in general.

It’s not that I’m no longer interested in anime, but in the past months, it had to share my time with my rediscovered enjoyment of western media. Specifically, I just got into Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy franchise (those things are ridiculously deep), and also started to watch Stargate SG-1 from the beginning. I’m learning to appreciate anime’s brevity from a whole new angle. SG-1 alone has twice as many episodes as Legend of the Galactic Heroes, each of which are twice as long. It’s not even just the filler episodes, but the whole directing. 30 second  scenery shots, ten seconds of dialogue pauses, even the OP is slow! And this is supposed to be American TV’s idea of explodey action!   If an anime would have this many atmospheric scenes, it would be called an atmospheric ~healing~ anime by half of the fandom, and ~boring~ by the other.  By the way, I like it, it’s just interesting to be reminded of how if we look at this the other way around, even the very basic elements of anime, that we take for granted, like the pacing, might be inherently strange for anyone else.

Anyways, welcome to September, the end and beginning of the eternal cycle. Soon one season ends, another one begins, so here we are, vocalizing our disappointments and pleasant surprises of this season, and our hopes and wishes for the upcoming one. As usual, I’m only listing that I have a reasonable chance of checking out, in descending order of expectations actually, after finishing the list, I just realized that I can barely find anything that I’m truly hyped for, and very few that I truly expect to be crap but still checking out, so no, they are in no meaningful order:

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