I took some time recently to look at my favorite anime and suss out a top 20. Always an enjoyable exercise. Also included some brief comments on each one, for anyone who’s curious about that sort of thing.
A translation of a 1999 interview done by director Takahashi Naohito and chief animation director Chiba Yuriko for KSS Perfect Collection books focused on To Heart. It’s a long interview, touching on a bunch of topics pertinent to the show and their attitudes towards various aspects of story structure and animation.
As a general note, some of the original dialogue in the interview is pretty obtuse and/or meandering. I inserted some punctuation and made minor structure alterations to a few sentences to make sure the meaning came through.
To Heart is a fantastic anime that’s interesting in lots of little ways. It’s one of the early beneficiaries of the late-night broadcast paradigm. It offers a powerfully low-key type of drama rare in anime. Its soundtrack was composed by a man who went to an all-boys high school. Its US release involved a special video restoration process.The list goes on.
Additionally, the series’ particular combination of ending theme songs is an unusual one. The show has used both Yell, sung by lead actress by Kawasumi Ayako and Access by SPY, a band under the Bandai Music label. Two ending songs is hardly an unusual number for a 1-cour anime. What is rare is that, rather than certain songs being associated with certain episodes, different endings were broadcast in different regions, and one never made it onto the video releases, instead ending up viewable primarily on NicoNico as a VHS rip.
It’s an odd situation, and though there are a lot of facts and one neat rumor swirling around, none of them offer a fully adequate explanation.
The Original Soundtrack of To Heart, which I am fortunate enough to own, comes with a booklet with short statements from the composer, director, and sound director for the show. I found them extremely interesting, especially the ones by the director (“wants to make it feel personal” is a good way of summarizing the approach of the series) and composer (who based the romantic soundtrack on his imagination and his time at an all-boy’s high school).
Included rough scans of the relevant pages as well, for people interested in a look at the original.
Translator’s Note: The first paragraph of the statement by Watanabe Jun was extremely messy in the original Japanese, essentially a one-sentence paragraph with hella commas separating stuttery speech. I tried to strike the best balance I could between preserving the original statement and making the meaning clear. Apologies for any difficulties encountered in reading that part.
I love To Heart: The Anime, straight up. I love it because of the anime, period; I’ve played only part of the game, avoided the blatant cash grab that was Remember My Memories, and straight-up ignored anything related to the name with a 2 next to it, because why would one take characters that good and replace them? I maintain that it is a rational love for a great product – it averaged 10k in an era where far fewer series did per year per total number shows produced, and is one of relatively few TV anime to boast a page on sakuga@wiki – but ultimately enjoying a series past a certain extent is an emotional thing. I’m not going to try to convince anyone else that they have to love it, but I am going to talk about it for a bit more before going to the season-summary capsules that motivated my latest rewatch/quote-mine experiment.
Anyway, there are so many scenes in this series are gravity-defyingly good. I could spend a whole column just listing them off, but that’s not this column’s angle, so I’m gonna keep it to two. First, there’s a linked pair of scenes from the first and last episode where characters resolve a bit of internal anxiety in a way that shows clearly on their faces in a surprisingly small number of frames:
And a scene where two amateur martial artists are fighting a bout that’s half even and half one-sided, but not decisively so:
The above were the two scenes I felt survived the pull out of context the best. As minimalistic as it was, To Heart was also a very visual show, and so finding quotes that worked for every show I’m watching this summer was a bit harder than grabbing those clips, but the show’s dialogue isn’t exactly shabby, just frequently dependent on context. That said, I was able to get enough to go by, so if you’re at all interested in a combination of quotes from a [phenomenal] 1999 show I love way too much and my opinions on a bunch of shows that are airing right now in September 2014, read on.
An article on US views of visual novel adaptations. It contains at least one factual inaccuracy, and should thus be read with extreme caution,* but is somewhat interesting as a perspective piece/not-so-veiled plug for Higurashi’s R1 release 2 months later.
*Kanon was released as a game in 1999, and not animated until 2002. To Heart was released on PC in 1997, and then on Playstation in 1999 (a week before the anime adaptation began airing). The article states both were broadcast in 1999.
There are few things more frustrating than loving an anime that has room to grow as a story, but never gets beyond one season of material. It’s arguably even more of an irritance when you know the second season would easily pay for itself. Fortunately, it’s very rare for popular anime to not get sequels (happens only about 20% of the time), and there are ways to predict which ones those will be. I like to think knowing softens the heartbreak.
The biggest potential pitfall for WataMote as a show is that it is essentially one joke retold countless numbers of times. However, the series’ greatest strength is that it’s made by people who understand exactly what that means for a comedy.
Full Disclosure: I like making lists. This particular list is the result of an afternoon of me sitting down and trying to list all the anime episode titles I remember. This correlates pretty well with my actual favorite anime episodes, because I’ve seen most of them enough times to remember their titles. When making this one, I set myself a limit at 60 and reached it fairly quickly. After making the list, I actually ranked them. So yeah, had a lot of fun with this one.
Arata Kangatari’s 7th episode was delayed this week thanks to a pan-Asian Table Tennis tournament, so I was going to write a post celebrating rapid-fire tennis comedy Teekyu. But a certain phrase kept popping up in that post, so I thought I’d address that first. And really, I’ve tossed around the terms “fast pacing” and “high energy” a whole awful lot over the past couple of months. I think it’s only fair I define both terms, since I’ll be using them a lot in the months to come.