Summer Anime: 2nd Heat
The Hot, the Warm, and the Dead Cold
By: Head Writer – J.R Tafoya
Hello again Giga-Landers! It’s that time of year again!
Summer seems to be the time when all of the anime companies decide to release all the best stuff and it seems terribly difficult – neigh, herculean, to weed through all the things to see what you might like best. With that, I agree wholeheartedly! There is a ton of good anime this season and if it weren’t for the fact that I have no life, I’d be in the same boat! . . . Ow.
This time around, a good friend of mine came up with a proposition for our group of friends. That we all pick an anime, and we all watch the one anime everyone picked. Six of us agreed and to the terms set for by young
Inter Fenrir Bryan and we began our season of watching anime together. On this, it became easy for me to decide what to write about!
This time, I cover the last three of our six-pick run: Ballroom e Youkoso, chosen by our (Captain)Gabe, Isekai Shokudou, chosen by none other than Bryan the Creator himself, and Vatican Kiseki Chousokan, chosen by a surprise last entry John! The first dances to the front of the race and promises not only a good drama, but a sports manga-like character development and growth. The middle is our rest stop that promises healing with a garnish of nostalgia. Finally, falling into last is our finale that promises a lot but falls just short. I’ll give it to (Captain)Gabe this time. If it weren’t for my bias, Ballroom would be a hard first this time around.
As the wind that carries you softly through the air on delicate wings, I welcome you to read and be amazed at my spectacularly average writing! If you’re one to wait for a few episodes to see which ones are promising, then look no further!
Ballroom e Youkoso
(Welcome to the Ballroom)
Outlook: NOT Yuri!!! On Ice, Even Better! –
Probably likened to Yuri!!! On Ice because of its artstyle and flamboyant characters, Ballroom e Youkoso actually brings a lot to the table that I couldn’t find in the former. Heck, I couldn’t even finish Yuri!!! So maybe I’m not the greatest person to ask. But, I can assure you if you liked one, you’ll very likely love the other.
Ballroom starts with our main character, Tatara Fujita, happening upon a small dance studio he’d never noticed before. Why, of all days, did he notice it that one day? Partially because he was being bullied in the area, and partially because he was following his crush, Chinatsu. But, that’s neither here nor there. Only there to make fun of his empty wallet, Tatara is saved from the bullies by a stout, handsome, young man named Sengoku. Pushy to the point where he’d pass for a used car salesman, Sengoku assumes that Tatara had just been too embarrassed to ever enter to studio and promptly forces him inside. There, Tatara not only finds his crush, but a new love. A love of dancing.
Whisked away by the beautiful yet precise movements played out by the dancers, Tatara becomes enamoured with the world of dance. Though, as Sengoku had previously mentioned, Tatara was too embarassed as a man to want to dance, so he is sent home with a DVD of Sengoku’s prize winning dances. Falling in love all over again, Tatara becomes determined not only to dance, but to become a dancer just like Sengoku . . . and maybe so he can dance with Chinatsu too. Though, he’s going to have to master more than just the Waltz to get that far.
I honestly didn’t think I’d like this show so, when (Captain) Gabe picked it, I was actually a little distraught. I’d thought it would just be a rehash of Yuri!!! And I’d be subjected to flamboyant men in colorful clothes scooting around, but this time without frozen water. To my surprise, I am actually enjoying this show to the point where it’s my 2nd favorite of all six of our shows. Looking at the world of dance through Tatara’s eyes isn’t just some kind of amazingly choreographed drug trip, it’s a look into how he sees his coach Sengoku and how he sees his “rival” Kiyoharu. His innocence and love for the art are so pure and excitable, that it drags you into this world were dancing is the only form of art worthy of expressing your feelings.
The animation is really what sells the show more than anything. The standard cut and thick lines that make up the characters transform completely when suits and gowns are donned. The animation takes hard curvatures into account that really helps accentuate each dancer’s movements and really brings a lot of depth, power, and inertia to each step and stride. And, though it may look weird at some points, the bodies are elongated in a way that makes them look almost as spine-breaking as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure where necks become three times longer and joints and spines move like they’re made of rubber. But, this really helps to add a layer of wonder to each character’s flawless movements on the dancefloor. Almost as if seeing it through Tatara’s eyes, every movement seems impossible, yet gratifying to watch.
I highly suggest this show even to my own surprise. If you like anime that center on drama or character development, you’ll definitely get your kicks out of this. Ballroom honestly plays out a lot like a sports anime/manga in that it centers almost entirely on the growth and relationship of the characters. Even when Tatara is dancing by himself, it looks as if one other person is there with him and it makes his love apparent, not just to us, but to his coach as well. If you’re interested, even slightly, I would highly recommend watching at least three episodes and I can almost guarantee you’ll be hooked like us.
(Restaurant to Another World)
Outlook: When Food Porn and Fantasy Have A Love Child –
As many of you know, I love me some Slice of Life. So, when our buddy Bryan picked this show I was honestly a little excited that I finally had a reason to watch one! I’ve never really had a solid justification to watch Slice of Life other than, well, I like it and it makes me happy. So watching one that crosses food porn and fantasy should be right up my alley, right?
Isekai Shokudou centers around a diner called “Youshoku no Nekoya”, a western-themed restaurant famed for its delicious food and constantly frequented by Japanese Salarymen. One special thing about this restaurant, other than the amazing food, is that it has a second door that opens up to a different world. Every seven days the door opens up to this world and any of its denizens who happen upon the door, which seemingly appears in random places, and are led to Nekoya. There, they are treated to a Japanese/Western style cuisine never before seen, or tasted, in their world.This may sound kind of weird and, to be 100% frank, a little boring, and that’s because it is. Isekai Shokudou is what you’d call a “healing anime”, something you can watch and just completely turn your brain off with. The show has a specific formula: introduce a character, show a little of their backstory, how they got to the restaurant, and them enjoying food. The show never really goes deeper than that, and it doesn’t really need to. The only recurring characters we learn a little about are the restaurant manager/chef who refers to himself as “Tenshu”, and his waitress Aletta. Tenshu’s cooking prowess is the one thing that brings people in as it evokes not only a love for food, but a sense of healing nostalgia apparently capable of healing any sickness.
The anime seems to be running it’s course sticking tightly to its formula, which seems to be fairly popular with a specific crowd. However, this particular formula can lead to a heavy disconnect with a lot of watchers. There’s no real premise to the show other than “look at how good this food looks!” and how much that helps the people eating it. We learn just a little about the patrons, they leave, and the episode ends. There really isn’t much dialogue to speak of and the characters and their development are so sparse it’s genuinely hard to care about them or their problems. Isekai seems to be handling itself more like a collection of short stories, something done much better in shows like Kino’s Journey, than a cohesive or fluid storyline. So people expecting something like Shokugeki no Souma may be in for a little surprise as no one’s clothes magically burst off after a taste test. Instead, the characters are treated to a plate that is reminiscent of their childhood or some past experience, and we’re given a little nostalgia along with the characters that feels oddly warm at times.
This is definitely an anime geared towards a specific crowd. If you don’t like Slice of Life or are wary of the subject, you will not like this show. The characters don’t really leave an impact and their stories don’t hit a tinge of empathy like short stories are meant to. However, this is exactly what some people want. It’s genuinely beautiful to look at and the food looks so delicious it can make a grown man’s stomach rumble at 1:00AM. The characters are just shallow enough to leave a small impression, but never so deep that we have to think about them or their problems. This appeal works because it’s about the food and how it can heal the hearts of people who eat it. And, sometimes, that’s all we need.
One episode is all you need to watch to know if you’ll like it or not.
Vatican Kiseki Chousokan
(Vatican Miracle Examiners)
Verdict: THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU . . . Not To Watch This Show –
The last of my six shows, Vatican, came from our good friend John as a surprise last-minute pick. Stuck between this and Skirt no naka wa Kedamono Deshita, I’m genuinely a little happy . . . er that I wasn’t asked to watch a soft core porn that is Skirt. However, I won’t go around claiming Vatican is worthy of any awards or is some kind of masterpiece. But, it is -relatively- better than the latter. Relative is a the key term here.
Vatican follows two Priests from the Vatican whose job is to, well, examine miracles around the world. On the scientific and mathematical side, we have Josef. A young man with an awful backstory- I mean, who has a brother in a wheelchair and that’s why he works so hard. On the side of history and pure knowledge – not just of Catholicism, but of most religions – we have Roberto Nicolas. His expertise on cryptanalysis ancient archives brings a different, but still incredibly important, knowledge that young Josef still lacks. Together they are sent South America to Saint Rosario Church to uncover the mystery behind a virgin conception.
Upon arriving, the two are met with more than just one mystery but a layer of lies and deception that may cause the Church itself to be brought down. One of many of these mysteries involves a group of kids holding demonic seances on the church grounds which . . . well, let’s just say, if that happened at a Catholic School, you can bet some kids wouldn’t be walking straight for a week after those lashings. After just their first night, Josef and Robert find that one of the many Priests of that congregation has been killed. A massacre, to say the least, the body was strewn in a way that only appears in nightmares upon a demonic symbol and his murder weapon, an enormous boulder, by his carcass. Now, with murder, virgin conception, demonism, and even drug and child abuse on their plate, their investigation has turned into something much more than a miracle examination.
While the show sounds like it can handle itself pretty well and, on some weird level, you might even be able to compare it to The Exorcist or (very lightly) even “The Da Vinci Code”. However, either due to my amazing writing skills or just the premise itself, I can assure you it is anything but “well handled”. The story has a good setup and, being Catholic myself, I can already find myself invested in what might be happening and if any of the miracles are real or not. However, I don’t feel any connection to the main two characters whatsoever. Either because of their incessant rambling about the past or how the show handles the dialogue and transitions, I could honestly care less about either of them.
The show itself is considered a mystery, and this may be one of the most difficult genres to handle as a whole, but I won’t give it any breaks for that. A mystery is usually handled in one of two ways: 1)A cohesive and well-built story than hinges on small details, allowing the watcher/reader pick up clues so they can figure it out along with the characters, or 2) A story where you’re meant to just watch along with information withheld from you while the characters figure everything out. Vatican seems to be doing much, much more of the latter in the most obnoxious way possible. Josef himself will just pull random bits of information out of nowhere, picking up clues on things we’ve never been shown, and throw them into a giant pot and pull out an answer. Half the time they transition to a scene just so you can watch them talk about how right they were, disregarding how they came across the information in the first place!
I’ll give in that the architecture and backgrounds for this anime are absolutely stellar, even leagues beyond anything else in the show in terms of quality. Every detail in the Catholic churches has been pointed out to a “T” and those compositions really bring to life a fantastic setting that really outdoes itself. However, the anime never really capitalizes on such a boon and throws in a lot of awful shot compositions that add absolutely nothing to any given scene. Hell, one such scene was so strange it almost made me nauseous! And while it may seem strange to harp on something so strongly, I can assure you that cinematography is an extremely important to any show, as the great SuperEyePatchWolf will demonstrate in a recent video.
With all the good things the show has going for it, none of them are ever expounded upon and it ends up leaving you wanting for something that just doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. None of the character leave any kind of lasting impression. Well, sans for one, I call her the **“Sausage Sucking Sister” and her only role was to sexfully suck on a weiner. Yup. . . I really wanted to like this show, being a Catholic myself but either because of bad direction, bad writing, or both, Vatican is a swing and a miss for what a definitely enjoyable mystery could have been. But, because I’m obligated to watch this show, I will continue to do so. However, I generally do not recommend this show. If you’re a fan of religion, mystery, and the occult in your anime, you’d likely want to give it at least one episode but; like me, you’ll probably find yourself not caring much about anything and end up quitting.