“From the studio that brought you Your Name.” That line says a thousand words and implies a thousand more. Needless to say, sharing a common bond with the highest grossing anime film of all-time is an easy way to get people talking and a certain way of raising expectations through the roof; expectations no small Netflix film could ever realistically achieve without capable hands. To add to the colossal weight the film insists on lifting it aims to be an ambitious run of three separate short films that attempt to explore the contrast of youth and adulthood. Each of these shorts has its own story to tell but, the question is, do they tell them well or do they ultimately tumble into a cliched and hamfisted attempted to recapture the magic of Shinkai’s modern classic? Let’s dive into the tank and take a look at Flavors of Youth.
What does it mean to be a friend? Are we suppose to plaster smiles on our faces, laugh at each joke, and act as if nothing is ever wrong? What would happen if someone you considered a friend was suddenly able to read your thoughts and know your deepest desires? What if they found out that the person they thought you were was nothing but a lie? Would your friendship fall apart if they knew your true feelings or would they continue to love you in spite of the change? These are the questions Kokoro Connect and its four-episode sequel, Michi Random, asks its characters. Let’s dive into the tank and take a look at one of Silver Link’s more underappreciated titles, Kokoro Connect.
Good friends are something we all pursue and treasure. Sometimes we even place our entire worth on the number of friends we have or on the people who know us. Social media has this idea that placing importance on how many “friends” we have or how many “likes” our entries receive we are someone more valuable than another. If you aren’t popular then who are you? Growing up I didn’t have many friends. I was incredibly shy and whoever I grew a liking to (only because they grew a liking to me first) I would always keep at arm’s length. I was that way with everyone I didn’t know, constantly afraid of any type of social interaction. When I played on a swingset I would move on as soon as someone else jumped into the swing beside me. Then as I grew older things changed. The anxiety that once gripped my life started to gradually disappear and I began to speak with confidence. A confidence that once seemed impossibly out of reach. During the past five to eight years I often found myself wondering what exactly happened. At what point was I able to stand beside a stranger with my head held high? I am sure there are many factors to my change and if I had the time and space I could probably recall a fair number of them. But every story has a beginning and mine happened to start with the first person who wanted to be my friend. (note for those who haven’t seen the film I will be talking about some major spoilers)
When it comes to any piece of art, whether it be music, film, or literature, the most important thing it needs to execute is its identity. What does it want to be? An action-packed thriller with twists and turns? A romance? Or maybe a simple down to earth comedy? While you can, of course, utilize all of these elements in a single story they have to be just that: elements. They need to be tied effectively to a single, larger narrative. The show I’m going to be looking at is a perfect example of what happens when you have everything but a single, cohesive narrative. Let’s dive into the tank and take a look at Charlotte.
Do you remember the films you grew watching over and over again? Do you remember those enchanting and charming animated films that fascinated and dazzled your young mind? Films like The Lion King, Bambi, and Beauty and the Beast continue to reach the hearts of children and adults even today and similar things can be said for Studio Ghibli. Should one call them Japan’s answer to Disney they wouldn’t be far off. Ghibli is responsible for some of the most beautifully hand-drawn films of all-time. Spirited Away was when the studio first caught the mainstream eye but Ghibli had been creating masterpieces long before then, such as the epic Princess Mononoke, the wonderful My Neighbour Totoro, and my personal favourite, the inspiring Whisper of the Heart. When fans were given the news that Ghibli would be closing its doors at the end of 2014 it left many of us wondering what would or could fill in the vast gap left by the beloved studio. Unsurprisingly, the absence of Ghibli’s craft hasn’t stopped anime from excelling in 2-D animation, going on to craft some of its best films in years with Your Name, A Silence Voice, and most recently Maquia (When The Promised Flower Blooms). But those films aren’t necessarily for children. It was a passion for simple, innocent storytelling that made Ghibli so unique in the anime world.
Enter Studio Ponoc, a brand new animation studio formed by people who were once under Ghibli’s wing. Do they possess the same fiery passion their forebearers did or are they merely trying to cash in on nostalgia? Let’s dive into the tank and take a look at their first full-length animated feature, Mary and the Witch’s Flower.
If you were asked to, how would you make the most of your youth? Maybe you would buckle down and study for the future or maybe you would decide to spend it in a carefree daze and live by and by. Whichever route you choose to drive your early years down we all have one thing in common: we all dream. We all have aspirations and ambitions and that few of us ever see become a reality. Maybe your anxieties get the better of you or you fear that stepping out will only lead to regret. The worst thing we can say to ourselves is “I wish I had never done that.” But what if we did step out? What would it take to make us abandon those fears and go on an unforgettable journey? Maybe, in the end, all it takes is a good friend. Let’s dive into the tank and take a look at A Place Further Than The Universe.
Let’s talk about sequels. It’s almost become a universal truth that sequels are rarely as good as the first instalment of a franchise, but do we see the same pattern in anime? If so, why? Let’s dive into the tank and take a look at a few unfortunate, and not so unfortunate, anime sequels.