The Orbital Children is a six-episode Netflix ONA that is about several middle schoolers in space. Some of the children were obnoxious — especially when it came to the social media parts. But overall the characters were each interesting and had their own quirks. For such a short series, it managed to do a fair bit of world-building and hit on some pretty high sci-fi concepts along the way.
It needs to be said that most of the “sci-fi” was pretty bogus. The “hacking” was just clicking a button and having droids shoot lasers at each other. The AI was pretty out there, but the show never tried to explain how an asteroid suddenly turned into a giant AI, so I will just leave it as that…
The ending was quite satisfying, emotional, and left room for a second season, but a second season is yet to be confirmed by Netflix. However, the season summarized two years of events in the last 10 minutes of the show, so I really don’t expect a second season. Most shows that do this are just trying to give the audience a somewhat satisfying conclusion since they don’t know if they will get a second season.
Wow, I don’t really know what to say about this anime. It isn’t flashy, it doesn’t have high production, but nevertheless, it is definitely an anime that will stick with me for a long time.
The story follows a group of high schoolers who went a-drift in this weird multi-dimensional universe. Each scene in the anime has this painted quality adding to the sublime nature of their universe. This story feeds into this underlying feeling of existential nialism. If our lives are so small and inconsequential compared to the universe, what is the point of living? How do you live day to day if you can live for literally thousands of years? What is the nature of our universe?
Sonny boy tackles all these deep philosophical questions while at the same time is a story that heavily leans on character development and emotion.
Castlevania is a great example of Netflix doing anime right. Some people might split hairs over whether this is actually “anime” or just a cartoon. Despite being inspired by anime, Castlevania is not produced in Japan but instead by an American studio. Additionally, rather than being based on a mang, Castlevania was based on a Japanese video game also called Castlevania. Regardless, the animation quality is amazing, and the action scenes are plentiful and very well choreographed. The characters were well developed, and there was just enough humor to lighten the mood when needed. Not much to say on the plot, but it does breathe a breath of fresh air into the vampire genre.
Ajin is a thrilling supernatural horror anime to watch, the story was well-paced, action-packed, and very interesting. TLDR: this is a perfect anime to binge-watch.
Although it is a very good anime, I can’t quite place it as an excellent anime. My first gripe with the anime is largely due to the 3D CG that was used throughout the show. The characters appeared odd at first, however, I got used to it by the end of the first season. Frame by frame, everything looks ok, but the movement often felt offputting– which in a weird way added to the horror/dark component of the anime.
Second, the anime was thrilling to watch and it had enough plot depth to make it interesting, but it didn’t really have a deeper meaning. Another anime that I would closely relate Ajin to is Death Note. Death Note constantly tore into a philosophical debate surrounding justice and how power changes people. The closest thing that Ajin has to that is that it explores the ways in which people are marginalized if they are different– people with Ajin people being hunted down and researched on. Again, this topic can be really interesting if done right — like in season 4 of Attack on Titan when it introduced moral ambiguity and conflicting ideals between the main characters over the use of the Titan power. The discussion around human rights in Ajin is not deeply explored and becomes a simple black and white issue that only serves to advance the plot for the main villain. By the end of season two, the human rights issue for the Ajins has been resolved in the blink of an eye, leaving season three to be merely about fighting Satou. But, this might be too critical since it is a relatively shorter anime and didn’t have enough time to fully explore any themes/philosophical things deeper.
For a Shounen protagonist, Kei is different since he is… as his sister put it: “a Jerk”. There is some plot development with Kei since he eventually learns to trust and rely on others for support. However, Kei still remains a cold and detached protagonist for the most part. It is not clear whether this is due to his upbringing in a strict family, or if it has to do with his Ajin powers. Other than Kei, the other characters are pretty straightforward for anime. The supporting characters are supporting, and the antagonist is driven by the desire to conquer the world.
This was a good anime. Don’t want to call it a masterpiece, but, it is definitely a solid crime thriller to watch. The Great Pretender is about a group of individuals who call themselves “confidence men”, and are essentially people who swindle the rich and corrupt to serve their own self-interests. The show is known for having elaborate schemes and only revealing the plot twist that uncovers the trick at the last minute.
The animation style is also distinctly unique. The colors are saturated and the background is filled with unrealistic shading which gives the world a beautiful dream-like feeling.
And the Mountains Echoed is yet another excellent book by Khaled Hosseini, chronicling the story of an Afghan family. As a whole, it isn’t as cohesive or moving as Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, but it is nonetheless a compelling story.
The book was a little confusing to follow at first since it time skips and jumps perspectives each chapter; however, the payoff for this is significant since it gave us a holistic view of the family through three generations, three continents, and seven decades. At the same time, it is hard to really resonate with one character because there are scores of characters introduced. But, it is a moving story since it illustrates the struggles of a family. At the start of the book, the story was heartwrenching because the family went through so much in Afghanistan. As the story moved to France and America, the story became heartwrenching for different reasons. The family’s struggles became more relatable to me, specifically the pain of losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s.
The meta metaphor in the book that resonated with me was: “A story is a lot like a train, it doesn’t matter where you get on, the destination is always the same”. In the book, Saboor told this to Abdullah and Pari while telling stories, but it is also true of this novel. There are a million ways to tell the story of this family; each version would focus on different characters and themes. But, at the end of the day, we are still telling the same story.
Sex and violence. Devilman crybaby is a thrilling anime to watch with its simplistic yet beautiful animation style with pastel color pallets and well-defined line work. Also, did I mention sex and violence? Devilman crybaby indulges in the taboo as it explores themes of puberty, violence, human nature, and self-identification. This show is not afraid to include graphic scenes with sex and gore.
Overall, the show did a good job with the limited number of episodes that it had. The conclusion was very nihilistic, yet at the same time, the ending left me feeling satisfied with the show overall.
Never have I ever enjoyed watching or playing sports. A few months ago, I would have never even fathomed watching a sports anime. But, after watching Yuri on Ice and Haikyu!!, all my preconceived notions about sports and sports anime have changed. I still won’t watch real sports, but goddam does anime make sports really exciting.
Haikyu!! has been received very well by the community at large– and for good reasons. The characters have great banter and are hilarious, the plot moves at a good pace, the animation is great, and the plot is thrilling. It is effortless to get drawn in and feel the tension, heartbreak, and adrenalin during the volleyball games. It gives off the same energy and emotion that many epic shounen battles give. Yet, it is merely a high school volleyball game and not a battle to decide the entire world’s fate.
It is amazing the energy and emotion emitted from sports anime– and just anime in general. Dramatic storytelling, balanced characters, stunning visualizations, and cinematographic shots can make just about anything interesting. These are things that “regular” sports don’t have. Since anime can tell us the story focused on the characters, we immediately become invested in winning the game — like real sports fans. With sports teams, they try to do the same thing with interviews, press releases, and open practices, but these all pails compared to having the star athlete be the protagonist of a television show. Telling the story in this way also humanizes the characters rather than puts them on a pedestal, as we do with most professional athletes.
Although Haikyu!! is highly entertaining, I obviously can’t pull deeper or philosophical meanings out of it as I could with Fullmetal Alchemist. But, having surface-level themes is not bad, especially when the show is entertaining. Having a cheerful anime that teaches the importance of teamwork, hard work, and extracurricular activities is always a good thing. In fact, since this anime has aired, high school attendance for volleyball has increased.
Oh boy, Promised Neverland season two had great potential. But, it faced the same fate as the ending of Game of Thrones. Large swathes of the manga were cut, and the ending… Up until the final episode, I was fine with season two — having not read the manga. But the final episode’s ending was terrible. Most stories will either end with a cliffhanger or with a conclusive ending. But, the anime ended with multiple seasons worth of content included as a PowerPoint slide at the end of the show. The anime would have been better off simply not playing the slideshow montage and just ending with the two groups parting ways.
It is as if halfway through the season upper management decided that there wouldn’t be a third season or a movie so they tried to cram everything than a half-baked ending that spoils the manga.
My second problem with season two is the issue with Norman’s return. It simply didn’t feel natural or earned to the reader. Norman then placed Emma into a trolley problem where she either had to kill all the daemons or save their siblings. It upset me that serious consequences were not forced upon the characters at this moment. Instead, the solutions to all their problems just fell at their laps; no serious effort or price to pay was required to solve this serious morally charged geo-political conflict.
A lot of shounen anime often backs themselves out of a trolley problem once they present one. Personally, I don’t have a problem with this since it illustrates that not everything is black and white and that there is always a third solution. But, consequences must be had for large decisions. As a horror show, Promised Neverland could have easily used this as a reason to kill characters or even make a Faustian bargain. Since the show was paced too quickly, consequences were never felt for their decisions, and victories never felt earned. The show methodically used 12 episodes for the orphanage escape in season one; it is a shame that CloverWorks crammed overthrowing the entire demon world into a meager 4 episodes.
Season One of Promised Neverland is the shounen equivalent of the movie Maze runner. A group of children have to escape an orphanage after finding out that they are merely cattle waiting to be eaten by monsters who rule the world. The plot a lot like Death Note, was driven by suspense, strategy, and plot twists rather than the action — which is heavily prevalent in most shounen anime. The way the story handles twists and turns makes it a great thriller to watch. The story was dark, and the characters were sympathetic.
I have mixed feelings about using CGI for most of the environments and 2D animation for the characters. This made for a really eerie watching experience like something is deeply wrong with the orphanage. The way the camera lingers through the orphanage reminded me of the way the Shining was filmed. Although, in The Shining, the camera rarely ever stayed still. Moreover, many shots were framed to gave us the feeling that the children were never alone and that someone was always watching them. The animation strove to mimic the camera effects used in lenses that are often used for horror movies. Scenes often shifted focus from foreground to background and using fisheye effects in some transitions to add an added sense of eerieness.
There are little gore or jump scares in this anime –unusual for the genre. Instead, Promised Neverland conveys the horror through the characters’ raw emotions and tension built up by how details in the story are revealed.
Many of the themes and deeper meaning of the show is similar to the Matrix. The question boils down to whether a blissful life of ignorance is better than living in constant suffering but being free. This debate can be summarized by an exchange between Isabella and Emma in episode 8 after Isabella finds Emma and Norman trying to scale the outside wall:
I love you all and don’t want you to suffer. I don’t want to be the cause of your suffering. You get to live in a warm house filled with delicious food and love. If you can stay oblivious to the truth, then you are able to die feeling satisfied… So how does that sound like anything but paradise?
Isabella Season 1 Episode 8
What’s the point if it is all fake! I’m going to live freely even if I suffer for it! Then I’ll decide happiness for myself!
Emma Season 1 Episode 8
This isn’t an easy moral question to answer. On the one hand, we all want to live free of suffering, yet on the other hand, everyone should have the right to know the ‘truth’ and make the decision for themselves. This show gives us a ‘give me liberty or give me death’ answer. Complacency in the system that systematically uses them as food is obviously not tolerable for the protagonists. But, it is understandable why so many humans go along with the system in hopes of living a normal life. But, what kind of life can you live knowing the nature of your existence? How do you live knowing that the people you love will die premature deaths for a cruel system? Is it possible to ever return to a life without suffering after they have learned the truth? That is why Emma’s question to Isabella asking her if she is happy struck an emotional chord with the audience. Or why Ray’s question to Isabell asking why she gave birth to him struck a deep chord of nihilism.