How do you create the ultimate anime? Buy the best director and the best writer and give them infinite time and infinite money? Seems like that’d be obvious, right? Obvious, but wrong.
Leaving aside auxiliary questions like how one can actually judge who the best director and best writer are, there’s a much more fundamental problem with that idea. It’s an thought I often find expressed in critical circles, that the best successes come simply from good talents being able to do what they really want, free of any constraints. It’s the ideal of creative freedom unchained and free to race around the world with gumption and gusto.
The problem with this idea is that it’s too much yang and not enough yin, and it neglects the fact that a lot of the most creative ideas of our time have only come about because people didn’t have the materials or editorial approval to try their first choice and ended up doing something totally new. And how the choice that spends the most money isn’t always the choice that’s best for a particular show. Creative constraint is the polar opposite of creative freedom, but almost as vital in the production of powerful anime.
Different anime and manga, and really all works of entertainment, have different ways of captivating their audiences. Some of them create mental mementos so strong that they last forever whether you want them to or not, and others leave light footprints that disappear with the first snowfall, but are no less beautiful.
The two-week stretch of the season where every first episode comes out is almost over, so now it’s back to the equally enjoyable grind of talking about individual series in depth as they do their darndest to make an impact.
Photo Kano was a show I resolved to blog on the strength of one feature: its skillful utilization of photographic motifs to enhance a story about photography. After this episode, I’m even more convinced that rookie director Akitoshi Yokoyama knows exactly what he’s doing. This episode was all over the charts in terms of the events it featured, and he had a different camera trick for everything. And it’s worth nothing that, great as the camerawork in this episode was, it certainly wouldn’t have produced as much of an effect if the cast wasn’t growing increasingly charming.
I mentioned in our Spring Preview Betting Session that I was worried about both of these shows, as they had first-time directors handling big-budget tv productions, something that is usually a recipe for trouble. Yes, Shishiou Igarashi notwithstanding. Still, I went into both with an open mind, as I enjoy nothing more than a pleasant surprise.
I’m really convinced at this point that Ayumu Watanabe can fascinate with literally anything. In the latest bit of proof, this week he made a guy surfing the internet gut-wrenchingly engaging. What’s more, he did it without even needing to resort to the *ahem* stylized approach.
My biggest criticism of this show as a whole is just the fact that it hasn’t been able to constantly harness its potential and occasionally throws in a long-dull skit that breaks up the action. It became a lot easier to rate after the final episode, which was one of the highest-energy ones of the show.
This week’s episode once again showed the show’s consistent ability to cycle on all cylinders. Appropriate to the week’s wait for the details of the heroes’ grand plan, we got treated to a wham-bam reveal and a complimentary visual feast.