Category Archives: Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei

Year in Review: Shafting of the Shrewd

This is really a two-fer (or three-fer): ef, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and Hidamari Sketch; and anime as animation, doing what it is suppose to do.

Not long ago I finished the last episode of ef – a tale of memories. It’s by far the most impressive anime of 2007. Sadly that’s just my impression and not a lasting opinion tested with time, but it was hard to deny that ef was a gimmick intended to impress. Much like Zetsubo Sensei and Hidamari Sketch, ef is the product of SHAFT, the same studio and pretty close to the same production team.

Well, except Shin Oumura, the credited director. He gave ef that touch that reminded me why Makoto Shinkai’s film will probably never break into the mainstream. Akiyuki Shinbo being the “supervising” director only contributed to how some of the scenes look. Can we say red and black railroad crossings? The other two works are Shinbo’s direct results, probably, with him labeled as the director (and who can forget his happy mug in the OP for Zetsubo Sensei?).

I can also really care much less about Sunshine Sketch’s healing properties. The serendipitous 4-koma original stuff is, I’m sure, good on its own. But that’s not here or there. The TV animation series is brilliant in how it transforms your typical manga adaptation into something unexpected, clever, but all the more expressive. And the stuff it expresses are not merely words from a book or plot points in an outline, but feelings and perspectives and attitudes. And you know Sunshine Sketch is good because, I guess, what was good to the animation staff has been transmitted through the show and to your soul! L33t haxxorz they are.

In fact, with all three series there’s this kind of connection that I see with the anime and its viewer. It’s a bridge, a protocol that transmits the beyond-mere-words content of a story to its viewer. Sure, it’s not unusual for anime to achieve this, but so few bridges are so weird and daring yet charming at the same time. It was fun.

Well. That’s that. But in the context of what’s notable in 2007, we should compare these three shows with stuff like like Denno Coil and Seirei no Moribito.

Because, lol, can you say SHOESTRING BUDGET?

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Zetsubo-Sensei? Say Goodbye to School Days…

I was thinking about School Days. As of episode 5 things were coming to a point where it actually fits the mold of a naive school story about stupid teenagers boning each other for whatever it’s worth. It’s so rare to see an anime about something that’s probably not at all rare in this day and age. Depends on how ghetto your high schools are, I suppose.

The funny thing is, while some people I talked with online say that Makoto (or Sekai or Kotonoha, for that matter) may be more like an average 16 year-old than we’d like to admit, just how often do we see that? Recalling my own adolescence, I came from a school that’s probably somewhat ghetto for an American suburban fare and I have certainly heard a fair share of these kind of things. But my impression was, like most people, I made my business to not mind these kind of business. I mean, what good does it do? In some ways the preliminary setup for School Days is just, well, setup for the outrageous crash that is yet to come. And it’s because of the crash that School Days is worth watching. The stuff before that is nice because it might be what you’ve experienced, maybe not, but it’s rather better for the dark subtext sewn into the puppy love story.

It’s good to wonder how much weight that appeal to personal experience one should give. Because, after thinking about it, there were more personality disorders that I’ve seen coming out of Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei that matched my own recollection of high school than just guys and girls having sex, and breaking up.

In fact, I recall one classmate who was like Fuura. A few Kaga were to be found. Definitely some Otonashi (boys more so), two Kaere, a Tsunetsuki, a Fujiyoshi, and even a Komori. I’m exaggerating a bit (or maybe Kumeta is rather?) but a lot of these personality flaws are more common than you think.

So nuts to people who had memories of casual, innocent sex in high school. They’re really missing out on the comedy.

Convention of the まっすぐ GO!! Generation

Next time I blog I’ll be in Baltimore attending Otakon. The Baltimore Convention Center does not have free wifi despite a city-wide initiative. However, some of the surrounding areas do. In any event I will blog from the hotel room at the very minimum.

I pray that the mid-summer Baltimore weather will beat upon us no worse than that is necessary, and I can find time both to relax and to be excited about life, universe, and everything. It’s not just to celebrate anime with friends and share a good time, but in a conscious way to deepen my relationship with God in a familiar but shockingly strange environment, in preparation for the thing that have yet to come.

As the “straight ahead-Go” generation that we are, I think that anime fans are some of the best types that 21st century geekdom has to offer. In some ways this means that some external forces may take advantage of us more so and we’ll cause problems with our straightforward mannerisms, but on the flip side it also shows some degree of tenacity that the long-time fans possess. In any case, rain or shine, we will be there and entertaining our favorite guests at this anime convention. If you are going, I pray that you too will do it share this enthusiasm at this mutual geeking-out.

Sweet Aftertaste: A Brief Rundown of Sorts

When the episode ends with putting a smile on your face, I think that’s a good thing.

11/11 always makes me smile

Of course, sometimes it’s just a cheating cheap trick that’s doing the smirking for you. (Hello wawawa wait I forgot what show I’m mocking?) Gurren Lagann’s rather-epic end to the first 13 episodes is a good example of how to do it so honestly, on the other hand. But still, you aren’t sure if you are smiling because you know we’re going into a recap episode and jump forward in time (yay non-loli NonoNia), or because you’re still on the well-animated euphoria of good old battle robot…goodness.

On the flip side there’s this さよなら絶望先生 sort of smile. Shinbo’s show generally does that for me, although lately he’s doing it with a twist. Hidamari Sketch had those sublime and Azumanga Daioh-like moments; Negima mixes adolescent romance with some pretty cool otaku tropes, plus a bit of that Nanoha battle feel to it. But with Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei he goes back to super-overloading the basics of a simple manga adaptation to create a lot of joy for, at least, some of us. I know it’s not the sort of show everyone will enjoy, but like Soul Taker, Shinbo manages to transform a rather mundane thing into something very unique and it doesn’t terribly suck!

Sort of like Sky Girls TV, actually. Although I think, like Yin, I might have to use my fingers for that one.

On a completely unrelated subject, this is pretty cool–and you won’t see it in a street racing anime: