Lists Are Fun To Make: Clutch BGM of 2013

I haven’t been writing much on it lately, but I’m a firm believer on the power of a soundtrack (and good sound direction) to either give a show the last little push it needs to get to 10/10 quality or kneecap a show that could’ve been a contender. With that in mind, here are 10 tracks from 10 different 2013 anime I thought turned particular scenes into memorable standouts.

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New Directors: What’s In A Resume?

Aside from perhaps the hair episode of Yami Shibai, the 5-minute preview for Go Nagai’s Robot Girls Z was the most impressive, repeatable five minutes of animation I watched last month. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s over here. Short version: it’s a 5-minute comedy which, but for the more modern cutesy character designs, could totally have been written by Go Nagai. Its style of humor, featuring excessive violence and heroes doing more damage than the monsters they fight, is what he’s always been all about.

Being that I was excited about the project (this was only the 0th episode), I flew over to ann to check the profiles of the freaks involved. As it turns out, the director, Hiroshi Ikehata, has only ever handled one TV series before (Ring ni Kakero), which isn’t a very good sample size to judge a director on. But he has held the position of episode director numerous times, on all manner of series (from A-Channel to Yuyushiki).

There are no less than 8 new directors making their debut in this Summer 2013 season with similar information about their early careers available.* One of them is Hiroko Utsumi, the director of Free! Others run the quality gamut, from C3-Bu’s Masayoshi Kawajiri to Neptunia’s Masahiro Mukai. And, lest I forget, Shishiou Igarashi made a smashing debut with The Unlimited this winter. It’s definitely possible for first-timers to post veteran-esque performances, but far from guaranteed.

This observation led me to a question; what, if anything, can we glean from a first-time director’s experience in the bullpen? If it that experience is important, what part of it is? Is it better to have worked as an understudy to a great creator on a memorable show, or to build up tons of experience grinding out lots of support roles? To attempt to answer these questions, I pulled up resumes for the 11 directors who first got their hands on a serial anime project in 2012 and combed them over to see if anything in particular was a good indicator of their respective performances. This article outlines a number of the potential performance I examined, some better than others.

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First Reactions: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke Episode 12 (End) and Quickie Scores (8/10)

As is the standard form for spinoffs with no direct ability to influence the main plot of a series, The Unlimited’s ending didn’t exactly break new ground. But it sent things off well enough to do job #1: entertain the viewers.

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First Reactions: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke Episode 11

On the plus side, this episode set up a couple of really interesting routes that the final episode could potentially take. On the minus side, the normally marquee action was a couple of settings downward on the smoothness slider.

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First Reactions: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke Episode 10

We’ve got ourselves another lull episode. True to form, this show spent its downtime efficently, focusing on the relationships of several key players in this game with the titular one.

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Animetics Podcast: The Winter 2013 Season

Live from what may or may not be a filing cabinet, we bring you the Animetics Podcast, a (presumably) monthly recording of our panelists jawing over various topics. If the very thought doesn’t scare you, you can download it from the following link:

http://www.mediafire.com/?dtwsd2810g366d0 (94 minutes, 85 MB)

In this inaugural episode, we’ll be talking about the Winter 2013 Anime season. This discussion is a two-pronged assault. First, we cover the shows we’re watching, trying hard but not too hard to stay on topic. Second, we discuss the season in historical context with recent previous Winter seasons, taking on the oft-disseminated “worst season of all time” rumors.

If you’re strapped for time or only want to follow a certain portion of the podcast, you can find each particular segment at the times listed below:

Tamako Market [0:50]

Maoyuu [5:58]

Blast of Tempest [12:13]*

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman [17:05]

I Don’t Have Very Many Friends Next [20:07]

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai [26:42]

Cuticle Detective Inaba [32:38]

Senyu [35:40]

GJ-bu [41:12]

Koutoura-san [44:12]

Mangirl [54:00]

Problem Children [55:24]

Puchimas [58:32]

Vividred Operation [60:56]

The Unlimited [63:30]

Comparison with past Winter seasons [72:47]

Seasonal Charts We Used:

Winter 2010

Winter 2011

Winter 2012

Winter 2013

Winter 2011 full chart (w/ Madoka)

*Blast of Tempest is technically a Fall 2012 show. It’s in there mostly because Sam and I wanted to hash out a topic we had argued over the past week. One that I proved myself wrong about 2 days after emphatically declaring that studios didn’t really matter.

First Reactions: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke Episode 9

Last week’s episode wrapped up a particularly fine retelling of an originally dull story arc. This week, it’s back to that massive cliffhanger Shishiou Igarashi left us with in episode 6. That’s right; it’s time to open… Pandora’s Box.  Anyway.

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The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke: Brief Thoughts on Episodes 1-8

Let me start with full disclosure; I’m an unabashed fan of Zettai Karen Children, the manga. I have been since 3 years ago, when I got through the whole of it that existed (some 200 chapters at the time) in just under 2 days. I love the way it portrays slow growth of characters and a gradual shift in both the softness of Minamoto’s personality and a growing sense of responsibility of the kids. I love how it can do drama well and can return to good comedic storylines after said powerful dramatic moments.

ZKC-Probability Note

This immediately followed the series’ most dramatic arc

Let me also say that I abhorr the 2008 ZKC anime, because it’s a cheap imitation of Hayate the Combat Butler with little of the dramatic poise and persistent direction that makes the ZKC manga such a dynamic read.

So it should come as no surprise that I called shotgun on The Unlimited’s bandwagon as soon as I saw the promo art, premise, and the name of the director (in it was not the same one from 2008). It felt like the more dramatic side of the story would get a chance to see the light of day. I was worried about the fact that the director Shishiou Igarashi, had never helmed an anime before, but one could’ve done worse than Episode Direction of Deadman Wonderland as far as resume went.

538167-deadman_wonderland___12___large_34

From this…

ZKC-2…to this.

And this show immediately answered my expectations. In the first 2 minutes, we saw villain Hyoubu tearing through a military pursuit squad with nonchalance, taking down a helicopter with a popsicle stick after upending a tank squad. If nothing else, this show was going to establish itself with action. I really can’t emphasize how good the chase scene is for any sort of opening episode (more on that in a later article), and the fact that this director understood this flat out was a very good sign. As later episodes would show, this was not a misleading sign. Since that impressive first episode, we’ve gotten plenty of good action, some decent character development for anime original characters Andy and Yuugiri, and a retelling of one of the slower and less necessary manga arcs made more interesting than I expected.

The writer for the original 2008 season of the anime, Shinichi Inotsume, is still working on this season, and while his presence isn’t totally gone, it’s been reduced enough to be tolerable. The worst of the havoc he wrought was a not-very-funny Spelunker reference in episode 3. I appreciate that the director is handling body language and action scenes for the cast well enough to make the mediocre writing quality thankfully irrelevant.

I still enjoy the ZKC manga in its raw form, mixing comedic and dramatic arcs with a gradually advancing plot, the best. Still, if the 2008 anime was the forgets-what-made-the-original-good-comedy Fumoffu of the franchise, then the 2013 spinoff is proving to be a reasonable facsimile of TSR. More than anything, I look forward to seeing Igarashi’s name on more shows to come.