First Look: Nagi no Asukara

P.A. Works for some time now has been getting famous for their "scenery porn", a term that is being coined by every one about their animation. And this is probably one of the best things I love about this studio. Most of their works such as Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari doesn't deliver with the story, but when it comes to their visual landscapes or flairs, my oh my, I can't simply take my eyes off of them. It looks so damn fine and real it makes me want to live in Japan even more. 

Based on the narrative from the first episode, the premise of Nagi no Asukara is about human beings -- as they were divided to live between the sea and land. Their differences in habitat has caused a rift in their relationship, which appears to be one of the major conflicts within the story -- besides the obvious love pentagon shared by our teenage cast. It could be said that it has some semblance with J.C. Staff's "Anu Natsu de Matteru", and although it is too early for me to say, but I am betting on Hikari's fate to resemble that of Kanna from the latter series -- he will not end up with anybody. But that's just a wild guess that comes from the fact that we have five characters in this show, meaning one of them would be left out. I know it sounds irksome, but do not take it so seriously because basically we've got a long way to go; long way, as in two cour. And you can bet your bottom dollar that it would be filled with lots of tears, both on-screen and off-screen, courtesy by us viewers. 

Breathtaking scenes. Check! Cute characters. Sure check! Music-to-love. Check! Potentially dramatic and tear inducing. Double check! I am ready P.A Works, so bring it on.

First Look: Kyōkai no Kanata

If there is a go-to studio for anything moe then that title should be won hands-down by Kyoto Animation. They have done it time and again and proved it once more with their latest offering "Kyōkai no Kanata". Based on a light novel series by Nagomu Torii, the story is about two high school students, Mirai Kuriyama, a Spirit World Warrior who can wield her blood into a sword, and Akihito Kanbara, an immortal half-human, half-Youmo literature club member. We've seen KyoAni explore this familiar ocean of fantasy and action before from their successful anime Chuunibyou, albeit for a very short period. But I guess due to the urging of their insistent fan based and the warm reception from the said anime they have decided to expand their horizons and dive in to this not-so-new territory. When it comes to anything magical I could be a little biased about it because everything that has to do with that aspect is just my cup of tea, not unless they screw up the story big time. It is tad too early to judge Kyōkai no Kanata, but on the sole merits of its animation it would be too difficult to hate; just looking at the character designs and the special effects is already a visual eye candy that one must experience. The ending song by Stereo Drive Foundation is a love at first hear for me, to the extent of forecasting the song as a top contender for Best ED for my Fall roundup. With regards to the characters, most viewers have chosen Nase Mitsuki as their favorite, but I would stick to Mirai Kuriyama as my best girl for this series. I have a special affinity for socially awkward, clumsy, short-haired girls like her. What surprises me about Mirai is her tenacity and her headstrong personality despite of her sweet facade and poor social skills. Clearly, there is both light and dark in her character and I am curious and excited to see them unravel in the next episodes to come.  

Anime 2013: Third Quarter Season Roundup

So here we are again. I haven't done much First Look reviews for the Summer as far as I can remember, but I'll try to write some Final Notes for selected anime titles before I get to my First Look for the Fall 2013 Season. It's been a real good journey for the Third Quarter and I sure enjoyed most of the anime's I've seen, to the point of having difficulty parting with them. In an attempt to do a formal farewell I've posted my roundup as fast as I could. This is subjective as it comes, so if you don't agree with my choices don't butt in and just shut up. 

Best Animation - Summer 2013

From start to finish Hakkenden's character design, landscapes and overall animation is flawless. There's not even a single episode in memory that were drawn poorly. It may not have the best story, but Hakkenden's animation makes it all so worthy to watch. 

Best Story - Summer 2013

Novels as sources are the best form of screen adaptation in my opinion. Anime interpretation based on manga and light novels are usually dependent on its marketability and sales. If they are ongoing stories most likely they would either or get an anime original ending, which is something I show no favor of. Novels on the other hand, moves freely without such influences and its story has a more finite direction and ending. Uchouten Kazoku, just like the highly acclaimed Shin Sekai Yori, may not have the best animation, but what it lacks in that aspect it gains in its excellent storytelling. Each chapter builds its characters, unveils an answer, leads us to where it's headed, and solves every conflicts without any stone unturned. If you missed one episode you have to go back and watch to grasp it entirely -- exactly what books requires to its readerships. Out of all the entertaining anime's for this season Uchouten is ahead of everybody when it comes to its unique story and eccentricity, and that's what makes it terrific. 

Best Opening Song - Summer 2013

Jiyuu no Tsubasa - Linked Horizon

Where the first OP left off the second season picked up. Linked Horizon did a fantastic job with the song, the arrangements and the band, it's a feat unmatched by any of the anime from summer. Using the big guns with orchestra and choir -- on a grander scale this song defines the epic which is Shingeki no Kyojin. 

Best Ending Song - Summer 2013
Hello Especially - Sukima Switch
There are so many contenders for the best ED song, but the one that really stood out for me is Gin no Saji's Hello Especially by Sukima Switch. I love acoustic-guitar driven songs, and the feel of it totally sounded like the series it represents.

Best Original Soundtrack - Summer 2013
Shingeki no Kyojin by Hiroyuki Sawano

Favorite MC - Summer 2013

This Summer season has given me a tough job when it comes to my anime roundup. Believe me I have difficulty selecting (out of the many) favorites for most of the categories, and this one is not excluded from the said confusion. But if I have to give the "Favorite MC" title to one character and one character only then that would be Lance Corporal Levi from Shingeki no Kyojin. This is an obvious hands-down-choice. If you look up on search engines he wins the majority of polls as viewers favorite, surpassing the series lead, Eren Jaeger. And considering that his appearance is very minimal and he has no character development makes this distinction quite outstanding. But in a time where most male characters are just pretty and metro sexual everybody misses having a bad ass and brave face Shounen, and Levi gave everything and more to what we look for in an MC. My heart goes all toki doki for him. 

Best Girl - Summer 2013

This honor is supposed to go once again to Misaka Mikoto of Railgun S, but because of the unexpected arrival of this maladjusted misfit named Tomoko Kuroki there was a change of heart. Well, at least mine. Despite of her crazy antics I can't not help myself but love her to bits. There's a part of her that I see in myself -- that makes me sad and at the same time makes being alone less lonely knowing that there is a character representing the minority of us unfit in this cookie cutter world.

Best Supporting Character - Summer 2013

Armin's character did a lot of growing up during the first season of Shingeki no Kyojin. He is the epitome of character development. Because as the series progresses so does he. He used to be a weakling, but he knows how to capitalize on his best asset -- his brain -- and he uses it well. He is the thinking man's character, and while we are hating Eren for his poor decisions I like Armin more and more for showing us that people do improve over time. 

Best Villain - Summer 2013

The choice for this category goes out to the character that really got on my nerves this summer, and that is no less than Soun Ebisugawa, the patriarch of the Ebisugawa clan. I want to enter the screen and punch him in the face for what he did to the Shimogamos. He is the shit and the most loathsome. If a villain can do that to you then I think he is highly effective in his role, and that's what makes him the best villain in my opinion. 

Favorite Recurring Character - Summer 2013

Touma is actually the lead cast of the main franchise of this series and he is more of a guest starrer in Railgun if you ask me. But this is my blog and I think his role in the Sister's arc for Railgun S makes him a recurring character. He's been popping in this anime from time to time anyway to qualify as one. We all know that Touma is sincerely a nice guy, being nice is second skin to him, especially when it comes with women. But I think it's so damn cute for him to be there for Mikoto when she needed help the most. He kicked the butt of Accelerator, taught Mikoto to rely on her friends, made her blushed and forced the eternal tsundere to baked cookies. Now that's one cool guy. 

Most Underappreciated - Summer 2013

I'm sad that this series received such a lukewarm reception. RandomC did not even blogged this one. Along with the viewers from MyAnimeList we felt that this anime did a great job, but is completely overlooked by many. I haven't read the manga where this anime was based on but I think each episodes of the Second Generation Genshiken is truly enjoyable. Being a self-confessed fujoshi I think it is nice to watch a series that depicts the current standing of otaku's of this age and time. We've been seeing a lot of traps in anime and I like that Genshiken gave us a character that focuses on the mindset of one. Overall, this series is a study on society and it deserves a second look for the uninitiated.

Disappointment - Summer 2013

It can be wrong to have high expectations on one thing because in the process you'll be disappointed when it didn't live up exactly to your imagination. Given that this is made by KyoAni I have reservations of including it as a disappointment. However, the last two episodes sealed its fate for me. I've always like the works of Mamoru Miyano, but his role as Rin Matsuoka is just spiteful in my opinion -- he is so damn capricious and spoiled. While Haru's melancholia for Rin is so over the top. I don't mind the slight BL foreshadowing, heck I'm a fujoshi. But I want my guys to be guys, not a bunch of whining girlies. The only male swimmer that played appropriately here is Seijuurou. Gou on the other hand made watching this series worthwhile because of her fun and bubbly personality. There will be a second season next year, hopefully the story will be better and we can get some sense from each characters. 

Failure - Summer 2013
Honestly, the Dachshund is so adorable I want to hug him, while the female lead and the rest of the characters are so annoying. It gets worst each episodes right unto the finale. And I don't even need to explain much why this series suck. All I want to do is to say screw it, it totally reeks! Your time is better spent on other things. 

Exceeded Expectations - Summer 2013

Compared to Free! I didn't expect much from Blood Lad and I wasn't even too eager to watch it because of the fat breasted female lead. But when you throw in Ohsaka Ryota and the other talented seiyuu's in the mix, with a well constructed script that did what it could with its limited screening, and high production quality then you'll get this insanely fantastic anime adaptation from Brain's Base. It's so fun to watch you'll be engrossed from start to finish, even with just one sitting. 

Best Anime - Summer 2013

This is the most complicated, hard-to-do, category for my roundup and what made it more complex is the fact that I've decided to choose not one, but two titles for a change for my best anime. Coming from two completely different genres, we have a slice-of-life and a fantasy/dystopian series that won my heart from last season. 

Gin no Saji is my most anticipated series this year and it totally blow my mind for everything that it is. This daily life of an agriculture high school student solves my fix on all things related to rural Japan. It may not be real life, but it's the closest thing we can get from a slice-of-life. A second season will air next year and I'm already looking forward to it 

Then there is Shingeki no Kyojin. Although it is not unique with its story and it doesn't have the best animation, but when it comes to adventure and all the works it has all the power to pull every viewers interest. I enjoyed the second cour of this series more than the first one. The female titan arc is so addictive, it's like watching a Hollywood movie or Game of Thrones. Major cliffhanger at the last episode is downright unforgivable, but it doesn't take away any points and would most likely be a curiosity factor for viewers to take a gander on the franchise. 

Scenes From A Marriage

Year: 1973 | Directed by: Ingmar Bergman | Roundup Rating: A+

Ingmar Bergman is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers (he ranked number three on my 2013 auteur list) and from his ouvre Cries & Whispers was my personal favorite. But that was before I've seen this one ― because everything changed from thereon. Originally a five part TV miniseries, I only managed to watch the theatrical version of Scenes from a Marriage, starring Bergman's longtime and favorite actor Erland Josephson (who can boast the most number of collaboration with the Swedish auteur) and Norwegian actress Liv Ullman

Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke used this movie as a yardstick in making Before Midnight. There are so many marriage films out there, I can even name a few of them, but this Bergman masterpiece probably started it all and raised the bar higher for everyone attempting to create a movie about couples struggling in their relationship. 

Bergman's films have always been a careful meditation into the psyche of it's filmmaker's past. I've been thinking the length of autobiographical influenced to this movie, especially in the aspect of marriage. Bergman himself was never good in his own marital commitments, he was divorced four times out of his five marriages. He even admitted in an interview that he left his ex-wife while she was suffering from an illness. If there is one out of the many things I could take from this movie then that would be the fact that there are no marriages secure enough to last for a lifetime and that people are naturally complex beings. 

Johan (Josephson) and Marianne (Ullman) are considered by their friends as an ideal couple. In the opening scene they were being profiled and interviewed by a journalist due to their successful marriage. They were both divorcee, but successful in their own careers  as a doctor and a lawyer. They were friends first, got married for companionship and their love for each other grow from there. Having the perfect balance between their work and family, two children, a lovely house without any financial problems, they seem to have everything figured out. Smooth sailing it was, until Johan fell in love with a 23 year old woman named Paula (not seen in the movie). He confessed this to Marianne a day before he would leave for Paris with his young mistress. Everything was portrayed realistically. As their marriage disintegrates Johan appears to be cold and callous and lacking of any empathy for his wife, a complete definition of an arse hole. Marianne, on the other hand, restrains herself from any lamentation, while the audiences tears apart on her behalf. 

It would take years before they finally put an ink to their divorce. Marianne struggles to move on while Johan enjoys the duality of his life  living with a mistress and having a sexual affair with her soon to be ex-wife. (Which is every foolish man's dreams). His idea of being a man is letting a woman down, wanting them to be at his beck and call, and using them for his sole benefit until they have no identity of their own. 

Time skip here. Marianne wants to fast track their divorce, she looks forward to a possibility of remarrying, of happiness. Johan, on the contrary, is exhausted with his relationship with Paula and has realized that he wants her back. However, she needs him no more, at least not as a husband to come home to night after night. They were divorced afterwards, they married other people, remain friends, but in-between they continuously have sexual liaison's together behind their partners backs. Marriage and relationships are a confusing puzzle, because after all the years of their stupidity it is obvious that these two still love each other and can't let go of what they have. 

I was re-watching PT Anderson's film Magnolia two days ago and the character Earl Partridge comes to mind as I try to piece together Johan and the rest of the male populations reason for cheating on their wives. Earl Partridge and Johan did what they did out of their selfish "machismo" reasons. They crave for extra-marital sex because they think it would make them more of a man.  It's an old and phased out state of mind, but men are men, and they are ruled by their balls not by their brains. However, in my opinion, Johan's action is more on, "hurting someone before they can hurt you," kind of thing. Men are simply obtuse creatures who tends to hate what is blasé, repetitive and old. Different sexual positions were invented because of their fondness for things that are exciting and new. And clearly, mistresses are good at that. But let's face it, when they get tired of eating out they would always come back home. Unfortunately, not all women turns a blind-eye on cheating or wait around for a man to come back to them, especially if they've been had or abused physically or verbally so many times. 

Going back to Scenes from a Marriage, I think it is rare to see a movie that focuses on the couple alone, and does not involved a huge cast or a storyline that widens the gap of the story. After all, marriage is about the two people in it and not everyone else. A lot of underacting by the actors, which is a good thing, because real people do not exaggerate their emotions. The images, courtesy of the great Sven Nykvist, is a feast in the eye and a classic, it doesn't need those 3D effects to look real because it does have a life of its own. 

What more can I say about Ingmar Bergman? He's superb as always, especially with the way he fleshes out his characters, may it be in the screenplay or through the performances of his actors. He writes what he knows best, mostly it's about his search for God, but this time around it has to do with his own demons, relationship wise. Although the story moves slowly he doesn't dawdle or beat around the bush. He takes his time to really develop the characters, until the audiences have a sense of understanding and affinity with them. There's a lot of close-up shots in his films, especially with this one, but I think it's his way of emphasizing their internal attitudes instead of his or her surroundings. By observation in the eye movement and the gestures there's meaning behind them and Bergman used those close-up angles for us to interpret a character beyond the realm of their dialogues and interaction with others. Out of all the films by Bergman this is "the-one" that really broke my heart. I cried everytime Liv Ullman was playing nice, passive and accepting of his husband's decision. You want to console her after she found out that her friends knew of his husband's cheating a long time ago. 

I couldn't help myself from saying this, but I think this movie is the prelude to Nancy Meyer's It's Complicated, before they were divorced and started to have an affair. So basically, although I am not entirely sure, Bergman really influenced a lot of marriage films we have today, which is a good thing as long as they can keep it up or make good of it. 

Must-See Pinoy Films For 2013

Two Filipino language films that everyone must see this year -- fresh from their wins at the recently concluded Cinemalaya are Sana Dati by Jerrold Tarog and Transit by Hannah Espia, with the latter receiving a prestigious honor as the country's entry for Foreign Language film at next year's Academy Awards. Sana Dati is currently having a national screening, and I'm crossing my fingers that I could catch it at the cinema's one of these days. 

Bicycle Thieves - Clip

I've seen this film last year and I could feel a sense of pity for this man after he lost his bike -- a must-have item for his job. In a moment of desperation he decided to stole somebody else's bicycle only to be caught red-handed by the unforgiving mobbed of Romans. What a cruel twist of fate indeed. His son, who idolizes him, cried and pleaded to the policeman and the owner to cut his father loose. One of the most ironic films I've seen in my lifetime. Imagine, after running on foot to chase the thief all over the city, hungry, and jobless, he was shamed instantly for doing the same deed, while his thief is out there rejoicing. De Sica sure knows how to stab you upfront with the bitterness of reality.

MUBI: My Top 10 Auteurs

Just updated my list of favorite auteurs. Here is my top 10 for this year; the below 20 are not ranked in order though. For the first time in years it consisted of different nationalities: Alfred Hitchcock (British), Wong Kar-wai (Taiwanese), Woody Allen/PT Anderson/Billy Wilder (American), Michael Haneke (Austrian), Kieslowkski (Polish), Jean-Luc Godard (Swiss-French), Hayao Miyazaki (Japanese). For a change there are two Asians who made it on my top 10 bracket (Kurosawa, one step closer and you'll be here soon!). It seems my taste, as I am growing older, leans to somber stories and film making, more conversational and substantial in their context, compared to ten years or five years ago. 

To view the complete list please visit

Copyright © 2011 Quotes JazZ | Privacy Policy.