Firstly, hello everybody!
It's been a little while sing I posted on this blog. No apologize from me as I never promised any kind of schedule or frequency haha
Secondly, welcome to AniMAY for 2021, on hiatus since 2012 and very much so a last minute hence why I've not bothered Sparkles* with it. The main reason I wanted to do it this year is because I've been learning Japanese the past 60 days and it'll be good for me to listen to the language being spoken I reckon 😅
It's a really simple concept. I watch the first handful of episodes (minimum 2 but no more than 4) of a bunch of different anime I've yet to try out to see whether the concept and pilots catch my attention.
I'm happy for the list to change as the month goes on if there are any absolute bangers I should be looking at. Just tweet me!
For context, here's some stuff I've already watched:
Attack On Titan Season 1
My Hero Academia
Naruto (only the initial series, I never watched Shippuden #1 and onwards)
Sword Art Online (quite a number of arcs)
One Piece (currently working through all of them but I'm barely at Dress Rosa and I'm fully up to date on the manga. Hence why I want to check out Wano in AniMAY)
And I'm sure plenty more I've forgotten to mention.
The full list is available to see here and thank you for those suggestions:
These aren't going to be particularly elegant posts. I'm literally making bullet points as I watch the show and I'll glob them in to paragraphs afterwards, so let's get started!
So given the recent news of this franchise surpassing Spirited Away's box office numbers it felt appropriate to dip my toe in this pool with the first 3 episodes of the anime.
From my VERY brief research it seems as though the manga has already wrapped up and the anime itself is relatively new as far as adaptions go. That new gen is definitely felt in the way the visuals are presented in this show with some fancy 3D and 2.5D layering that can really emphasise the sense of scale and space in areas like the forest.
I'd be lying though if I didn't mention how the sweeping camera shots that pan around the characters often up to 180 degrees break my immersion for some reason.. Maybe it's because I suddenly start seeing the layering and composition and my brain flips to "I bet they did that this way" and video editor me kicks in.
I guess this is where I'd like to pose a question to you all:
How are modern anime created? What shortcuts and engines do they use to save time?
I ask this because a few things really stood out to me. Firstly, the snowfall. If that's hand drawn then holy moly, round of applause! I've got zero qualms with it being a render engine, I'm just genuinely intrigued and secondly, do they pull textures from stock photos and apply them to certain terrain or planes? It was the wooden buildings in the initial town that caught my attention, the level of detail in the bark work seemed excessive for something so background.
This show's wilderness and detail seem to be on par with Dr Stone from what I've seen so far. I have so many questions about modern methods 😂
Anyways, less tech and more talk!
PLOT HOLES OR PLOT GOALS?
Pacing wise, I thought these episodes were spot on. I don't mind a slow burn (which is what a lot of people warned me of) with anime so long as it's not slow due to filler. They kept the lore tight, the character introductions brief and world building was straight forward.
The world building currently feels a little generic. Foggy forest, demons eat people, don't let them in sunlight. It basically feels like Twilight!
Even after a few episodes there's still no great threat or mystery laid out for us that we know will take 200 episodes but the seeds are sown.. There's mention of the Demon Slayer Corps and how they've been around for ages but as far as Demon's go... No idea where they came from and that would be fine, so long as they gave us some breadcrumbs as to how close their research has gotten or even the posing of a grand antagonist but we get neither.
The only goals that seemed to be laid out before us are "can we turn Nezuko back?", no. "How long's her nap?", dunno. "Slice a boulder?!", eventually. Everything feels inconsequential out the gate.
I'm not even 100% sure why he's training to become a Demon Slayer, did i miss mention of some cure that they've heard off in a far away land or something?
Also... The scar. That seems like a prominent character trait but gets absolutely zero recognition. It's the same with Sabito's one too. What gives?
They also repeatedly make mention of Tanjiro's nifty nostrils and he even declares to the first Slayer he meets that he has this ability but that doesn't seem to phase him. Even when he passes Tanjiro on to a trainer, it's a passing mention of "oh yeah, he can kinda sniff like you" but for all the big red arrow pointing at it, it doesn't seem to be too rare of an ability.
The series thus far feels very insular. Boy has diary, sister's not quite dead, lots of people in masks. It's a bit bland.
BOOM BOOM POW!
The savior of this series so far is the visceral combat sequences. The combination of REALLY good foley work as well as the odd camera shake / puffy smoke impacts makes every hit feel meaty and I love that!!
Whether it's Tanjiro getting chokeslammed by a bamboo reed or getting uppercutted by a wooden sword in Episode 3, I almost felt them.
The combat as a whole has already demonstrated the potential for Naruto levels of Chess move fighting. A random action like throwing a stone seems pointless in the moment but contributes to a near finishing blow later on, I live for tactical narratives like that.
Another element of the action scenes that stood out to me was their use of brief pauses. Those moments of near silence visually and audibly then a blindingly fast head getting kicked off or gut punch landing feels so much sharper. They give you enough time to recognize the pause and just as you begin to try and predict the next mo-WHAM!!! Back at it again. That toying with suspension puts it a step above other shows for me.
Also, dialogue is minimal mid fight, thank god! So far there's been no Dragonball trash talks that last 15 minutes between each scuffle. The odd bit of internal monologue is always fine and I hope that focus of speed and aggression remains.
Is combat in the series as a whole quite sharp and concise? Let me know.
Speaking of which. The only reason I know the combat gets more flashy and interesting is because of the anime's intro sequence where there seems to be a really heavy use of watercolor and high saturation. Had I not seen those intros and only seen the contents of the episode, I'd be quite underwhelmed due to no cannon displays of this after 3 episodes. I thought that was worth mentioning.
Lastly, I wanted to quickly touch on the music in the show. It has this wonderful swinging back and forth between more minimalist Naruto music and then haunting male choir pieces like Death Note (I've not watch a ton of anime so I have very few reference points) and each are used elegantly. The directors have given priority to sound effects and defeaning silence over music that says "hey this track's playing, you have to feel this feeling" which is a trap so many anime fall in to. Good job.
This show will definitely land on my 'give it a few more episodes' list but it hasn't completely enticed me. I need a little bit more promise of adventure and threat to be fully reeled in.
Having seen the scenes in motion now, I'm not sure I could transition back to reading just the Manga so I'm kind of spoiled that regard haha
See you all tomorrow for Hunter x Hunter and comment or tweet me your thoughts (minus spoilers) - I can't wait to read them all