Category Archives: Nagi no Asakura

Year In Review 2014: N-Listing

Just trucking along. Happy 2015 guys. Still celebrating Christmas for 12 days right?

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Nagi no Asukara: Modern Fairytales

Every now and then while watching NagiAsu, something in the show pops out to me as “hey, I think someone took this motif from The Little Mermaid.” It’s as if you boil down that fairy tale based on proto-tropes, or better put, plot ideas, and redeploy them differently. If you think of the stereotypical fairytale as the story of a mermaid who falls in love with a prince on land, and trades her voices to the witch in order to gain a chance to live on land and make him fall in love with her, lest melt into the sea as foam… I think NagiAsu is pretty much Onegai Little Mermaid in a fairly literal sense.

That being said, I’m really enjoying this series, and can’t wait for its finale in another 12 hours!


I’m just hoping the Okada-ness of all of this will not be overpowering. I’m ready to be surprised; it’s like after the nth plot twist of Samurai Flamenco, you kind of just give it up in a way that still makes you care, but you no longer try to head things off. Kind of like Dr. Strangelove and bombs. It’s quite the treat to have two shows like that in the same season.

Horizontal Adaptation of Ideas in Original Anime Concepts

If I smack Anohana with a Nagiasu-shaped noodle press repeatedly, what shakes out of it follows:

  • People in love with people in love
  • How more things change, more things stay the same, except things still change.
  • …and as a corollary, themes about passage of time in the physical versus passage of time in the emotional

It’s all really signature. I mean I don’t think the two shows have any overlap other than Okada, so it’s a good exercise in picking out what makes her writing tick. Nagiasu in many ways is a superior version of Anohana, except they have different goals narratively. [Edit: NISA licensed both shows for US distro, which might be the only other overlap!]

I was thinking about this while walking down a sidewalk in midtown NYC during rush hour. Invariably what happens is that you walk with a pack of people and someone is smoking. Then you think about Zvezda.


Zvezda episode 3 almost justifies the existence of this anime. It is the sort of thing that makes me go “Original anime are the best.” [read it like “SHOW YOU GUTS COOL SAY WHAT” is the best.] I don’t think about it so much when watching Anohana or Nagiasu, but the thought simply confirms by those things. Similarly I can look at all my favorites this season, and majority of them are original. I’m not even sure that I included Kill la Kill or Space Dandy in that list.

I think what makes original anime good is actually not that they are anime-original. It’s because of the telephone game factor. If Shinsekai Yori was an anime original it would have been gangbusters awesome. You wouldn’t have people who looked it up and get all icky because of the highly sexualized manga, and I wouldn’t had to suffer through the slog of the thing that is the current anime, simply because they could have applied the narrative structure better. Of course, the trade off is that fewer people vet any given concept, none the least are the audience for the original work. Although arguably that is kind of not the point in a lot of cases in the late-night category. Also it isn’t to say original works don’t get that committee’s touch, to put it nicely; that can happen to anything.

Makes me think what Kawamori had to deal with when he was creating the core items in the AKB0048 anime.

I remember reading some interview with the creator of Rahxephon and Mamoru Oshii. This was a part of the US release of the movie, I think? Anyway, the point I want to repeat here is that a part of Evangelion’s greatness comes from the contribution of many of the animators there. There were a lot of talented creators pitching in little things that made it great. This is kind of what I’m referring to by my earlier comment on Witch Craft Works. And I think it is this sort of originality that makes original anime neat.

And to give things some orthogonality, you can track original creators like Okada across works in this way. It’s like she’s basically refining her thoughts on the topics and coming up with new ideas. It’s not just her, either. I think Madoka’s success is largely due to this factor, tracing Shinbo, Kajiura, Urobuchi and even Aoki (albeit a lot less than the others). I also like how Madoka’s PR purposefully hype and hide, so to speak. Nagiasu took a different route by hiding it entirely, and its sales reflects this (other than the obvious genre gap here). Both shows are better for it, I think, sales aside.

And Zvezda too. If the November 11 joke wasn’t enough for you…

Screaming at the Calm of Tomorrow

Yep, that's her!

Watching Nagi no Asukara episode 14 after the 3-week broadcast break was like screaming my emotions out. If we imagine my emotions like my digestive system, it’s like throwing up–with the exception that all of it is stuck in my throat, and I can’t let any of it out. All I can do is cry on twitter. If I could actually translate this confusing emotion into a physical response like grief or elation, that would have made it easier. But it’s like being overloaded by the meta, I have no way to scream in a way that soothes my nerves.

The funny/ironic thing is, there isn’t even that much drama in the episode. Spoiler aside, let’s just say if we can consider the “character relationship flowchart” version of the romantic relationships in the show as some kind of elaborate papercraft, you know, like a fancy Christmas card or master-grade origami, then Nagi no Asukara just folded it and popped out something 3D from a 2D piece of paper. This omo-esqe analogy is my way to avoid the spoiler for you, but by making the story bifurcate like that and then… fold it upon itself, my mind just got blown at what results from it.

Part of it is also amusing because it is taking some key story ideas from the Onegai franchise, or it sure feels that way. Amusing because it’s got that vibe at the very start, now it is using a similar story concept and it is beyond my belief that we’re going down this road in a very “what if” sort of way.

It’s also a very otaku thing. A normal person watching Nagi-Asu is not going to have these preconceptions or unconsciously jump to conclusions about romance triangles involving Hikari like OMG HERE GOES AGAIN AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

The rest of you watching this show, I hope you’re having as great of a ride as I am.


PPS. They sure tried to keep cour 2 a secret, kinda.

Autumn 2013 Wrap

Incoming train of thought–

I took a nice vacation at the end of the year (I guess I’m in the middle of it) so I was able to catch up on a lot of stuff. Like Valvrave. I really enjoyed it, more so than I expected at any rate.

I was wondering if CLAMP designed the characters instead of Hirao-face-looking group that we had, maybe VVV would have more legs. As is, it’s actually a very good story but it just didn’t get to flesh out. The plot and the symbolism and themes all make sense and it is a good, liberal (as in liberalism) message that would resonate with kids. But I don’t know, it feels like the right message but it’s probably preaching to the wrong crowd. It could also use another 2 more episodes to flesh the ending out.

This season is tricky because I couldn’t tell that White Album 2 has another episode, I mean, what. Nagiasu really seems like it went off a cliff this week, because there’s another cour after that? Don’t even bring up Samumenco, geesh. I’m still enjoying Magi, and as far as sports anime goes I really like the past few episodes of Ace of the Diamond, explaining some basic sports mechanics sort of things that are not obvious to most people. It also got “good enough” to be talked about, IMO.

Say what you will about Yuushibu and OBC, both shows are great, and I had a good time with both. I think I enjoyed Yuushibu a lot more in that meta context, also it probably wins some award for dragging out a Star Trek joke the longest. OBC was more of the ideal guilty pleasure sort of anime, because the show didn’t really go anywhere with its soft power digs. I mean, it’s not even bush league. It’s not even softball. It’s more like wiffleball. Kind of like that football game they played–you knew they could do so much better but they just went with whatever, lawl. A shame I guess.

I still think it’s incredible that people walk away from Yuushibu episode 1 and think it’s bad animation quality. It’s insane. I suppose this is how some people feel about Kill la Kill when I say it’s actually not really that great. I think what’s good about it is that it is an anime done in a way and in regards to subject matter common to B-tier Japanese live action TV and movies. Now finally we have an anime like this–full with underboobs. I mean, you can’t do that on TV normally. Studio Trigger’s newsletter is great and it basically confirms all this. Also, maybe it’s because I saw Hentai Kamen live action movie this autumn and it kind of makes me feel like Kill la Kill is an inferior version of that. I get the feeling a lot of people watch anime as a medium don’t venture outside of it, so this is all fresh and exciting stuff.

The best anime this season is a tough call. I would give Kill la Kill the most creds as the most stylish, YZQ for the best sakuga feast, Kyousogiga for the most arthouse and best first episode, VVV for the most daring in terms of story, and Arpeggio will win the “It’s not Girls und Panzer but it’s close enough” award. OBC probably has the best meta fanservice and Yuushibu has some…serious fanservice. Best ED is obviously Unbreakable Machine Doll and best OP might actually go to Galilei Donna. Best concept has to go to Samumenco for not only the most meta but also the best written meta that I’ve seen in a while.

I also feel compelled to give Gundam Build Fighters some kind of recognition, so maybe it will win Aila’s biggest buns trophy or something stupid. Too early to call it the best AU Gundam but it’s definitely up there.

That’s kind of how I feel about White Album 2 too. I really enjoyed the series so far but it lacks a few compelling components in terms of plot. It’s too centered on the girls and not enough on the guy. I mean, I guess I don’t want another Golden Time but Haruki is at least interesting enough to get a little more exposition. Speaking of Golden Time, I’m okay only because I did watch Natsuyuki Rendezvous, so I’m build for it. That said gosh yes Koko is a bitch and the whole ghost-in-the-amnesia thing is dumb can we please just slap everyone and hire Linda to cater to more underground parties? I do give it a lot of credit for making every one of its characters a lot of substance and it’s easy to understand them, even the weirder ones like Miss Denpa.

Golden Time is also surprisingly meta too. That Nana-senpai. Even shows like Tokyo Raven is pretty meta, when it’s a run of the mill kind of a battle mystery story. Is it really necessary? Even I think it’s too much, and I’m someone who loves the meta.

I still want to watch more Sekatsuyo, but I can’t get past episode 4. I should just jump to the Chiaking episodes.

Kyoukai no Kanata was a thing. It all makes sense but it didn’t gel, which is too bad. It is the sort of beautiful nothings that we’re used to seeing from Kyoani, which is by all means something we can never run short of. Did I like it? Yes, but I probably won’t watch it again. It’s funny, but when you lay it side by side to something like, say, Noucome, I would take Noucome every time.

Perhaps Noucome is the ultimate guilty pleasure, sorry OBC. If being funny is a sin, Noucome is worthy a Kotaku post about how sinful it is. Too bad they pegged it as just some solid comedy.

But what does that make Log Horizon? It’s not a guilty pleasure, but it is for me–I’m totally watching it to trip on old school MMORPG feels. That, and Yumi Hara going all osaka, which is only appropriate. It’s a good anime as they say; it’s like if Maoyu got a Fate/Zero treatment, except not quite. I mean, that story could totally be built up better. Log Horizon is appropriately less ambitious in the scope and in turn more down to earth, but it’s also somewhat less epic on the face. I guess you can’t have everything. And that is okay when all it is to me is a guilty pleasure.

In a busy season like this I still watched 4+ episodes of Gingitsune, which is solid, 12 episodes of Infinite Stratos, which is disappointing, and all of Walkure Romanze. Man, that horse show is actually quite good in the way that exploitative eroge about fancy and peaceful setting can be, all because it has a freaking koushien in it. I respect it as one respect a well-polished trope. The fanservice episode clever and outside of the box, which is another thing you kind of didn’t expect a show like that to do. Nakamura Eriko-sensei can speak English to me any time.

Viva Torture!