Apparently, a Bon Jovi album too, but doesn’t mean as well as Maria.
The Eccentric Family S2
Like fireflies inside the bite marks, humbly bragging about its mastery of mood swings. In the process of dissolving a fragile hierarchy, develops a vertical flow to its wavelength between heavenly hot springs and short stays in hell. Simultaneously, even. Besides the indescribable sorrow where everything clicked, Yajiro tumbling down as a human and hopping back up as a frog, will stay with me as a defining moment.
Rakugo Shinjuu S2
I’m at a point where I need every single little detail under a magnifying glass, which leaves very few surprises for me these days, but I was genuinely shocked by the mid-season reveal. Intentionally unforeseeable, you are strung long enough to be convinced and only see it for what it is after the spotlight fades. Most of the stories echo some truth from the lives of rakugo performers. However, this one in particular, is all about masking that truth and replacing it with a more attractive reality. Manifesting once again in an uglier fashion during the finale, but no less compelling as a testament to little white lies and the preservation of stories.
Saliva-filled frames and lens-flared eyes, enthralled by the thrill of uncertainty. Look closely, you’ll see blood vessels about to burst from the adrenaline. Only real rules in this school are less is never more and the latter is not nearly enough. Literally masturbatory while taking fate into their own hands, from human chairs to rolling chairs. Certainly, no better way to unleash this series of role reversals than dunking Kirari’s aquarium in Yumeko’s giant fruit cocktail. Climaxing in pluses and minuses to make a “Yes, even you” statement for obscene risk and reward of bullet-licking euphoria.
Girls’ Last Tour
Ever since the OP featured tank wheels doubling as film reel, Chi and Yuu were on their way to uphold history. The title itself feels final, but the journals and the photos make tangible memories to outlast their creators. Despite the blobpocalypse, nothing is truly gone. Each new place is a reminder of who they’ve met, where they’ve been before yesterday’s rations shape windows today. Not documenting the gravity of history repeating itself, just jars melting the moonlight. If anyone else is there to witness it, you are not alone. To be remembered is the simplicity of us making history and its rejuvenation with an audience. Spiraling media consumption to grace from gluttony and should I forget, all I have to do is press play.
Tiger Mask W
Ashamed it took me 37 episodes to discover the pun, but glad Haruna was the one to announce it. Honestly, I was fine with merely admiring the abs I’ll never have, so the follow-through on Spring Tiger really caught me off guard. Basically, the same thing Konatsu does for rakugo, except with a more boisterous roar to champion the future. Shining a sea of arena lights over any hard-hitting contact, either energized by swarms of chunky motion lines or an eruption of effects visibly knocking the wind out of the victims. You feel it, from the fire in their eyes to the electricity flowing through their veins. And I don’t know enough about wrestling to call “He took off his mask to reveal another mask!” the most wrestling thing ever, but I want to believe.
Made In Abyss
Went into this expecting a tainted innocence thing, but fortunately, didn’t really get that. Not solely dreadful, anyway. #10 is the only episode which actually feels like this and is a half of a whole, with #11 intended to compliment it. Flexible tone brings to mind ACCA’s nonchalant confrontations and Eccentric Family S2’s endless silver linings. The severity of the worst conflicts here make this less plausible on paper, but I thought it pulled it off well. Children’s curiosity invites them to seek out dread and delight under the same umbrella of wonder. In the thirst for adventure, an injured arm meets alluring greenery as eyes of the same hue can’t help but chase life and death alike.
I spy, with my little eye, a simple dissolve speaking volumes to “Because we’re opposites”. Such a swift motion that its purpose barely even registers until the backstory’s revealed and by this time, it hits like a ton of bricks. As mechanical plant life blooms and the softer side steps into the light, Black Lizard Planet fantasies outgrow a running gag to make an honest getaway. Retreating from roleplay to just be each other again, but in a quiet dose of payback, not everything shakes the shadows. And since this flows so naturally, I’ll read the missing cases as reinforcing half truths into the show’s structure. While there are standout episodes, it’s not something I can look at in isolation, because the dots connect into this cohesive whole.
Man, Mecha Nyanbo is so dope.
Dealing with societal differences soon leads to a dialogue of wants and needs. Perhaps, not just your own, but also your parents’ needs vs. who you want to be. Family can be a beautiful thing or it can trap you, if you let it. I mean, love has a right to be a little selfish. Despite the dragonfucker premise, it slowly builds an understanding for one another, finally spreading those wings at an anime convention where you can be accepted as you are. Only a weekend’s time, just as Kobayashi’s but a drop in the ocean of Tohru’s lifespan. These moments together will inevitably end, but that’s what makes them special.
Conceptually, nothing is topping Narrated by Kaiki, but this is the ideal place to stop: rekindling Kizu, providing a rebuttal to Second Season, circling back around Nise and bookending Bake. It feels so complete and conclusive, but there’s somehow at least 6 books after this lol. Knowing Nisio, the fake ending is entirely the point and damn it all. Like the snake that forms a circle by eating itself, ending and eternal.
Land of the Lustrous
Following a seemingly unbroken 90 seconds of nail-biting tension, the simple line closing out #10 struck me as even more impressive. “From afar, I see how much you mean to me” instantly refines the gems, repeatedly swallowed up in long shots of grand architecture and spacious skies, trading cold distance for a handful of affection. Still, wholesome headpats are at odds with earlier sensuality running up and down their long legs, leaving questions without ample time to be answered. Only reflections upon the monkey’s paw before resuming the daily routine. Even if there’s no second season, Ichikawa Haruko’s pursuit of the unknown has already been lovingly realized in anime form.
KiraKira Precure a la Mode
Bibury fits in just fine and I like the Chekhov Guns, but the second half was never able to properly integrate the rest of the side cast. Thankfully, the finale swells with enough emotion to overcompensate for any shortcomings I once saw. Left with only the relief of taking everyone else’s expectations off that pedestal to follow your dreams. While a steep hill to climb when the thoughtful creations crafted were done so in a group setting for the longest time, it’s nice to have this one thing you can call your own. Finding personal happiness to share with the world, but more importantly, waffle-winged pegasus and chocolate shield were among the most amazingly silly things of the year.
The more I see how splashes of raindrops already resemble crowns, the more I like the idea of consciously running with this imagery. As usual, Pablo’s backgrounds are desserts fit for royalty and I adore the delicious variety of typography, illustrating a nation of diverse, individual districts. Down to ACCA as a palindrome, maintaining a hollow order of so many moving parts. Coasting on its calm during the storm to the very end, with only sweets and smiles in the face of danger. As I type that last sentence, I realize it also sums up KiraKira.
Pokemon Sun & Moon
Haven’t touched this franchise since the initial craze, but it’s been delightful so far and here’s a quick rundown of my highlights. Togedemaru making sounds. Mooland cloud. Team Great Wave. Lesser known waves crashing between Suiren and her resolve against a furious Gyrados. Meowth’s 7-second baseball training flashback. Coin polishing sunrise. Nature’s light show lit by horror stories. Drunk Mao. Literal Ash. Lychee liking puns. Boobur. Kiterugone. I’m flying, Jack. Jessie rescuing Mimikyu’s treasure. That one time Ash thought Mokuroh was cool. Mamane On Ice. Brock rocks. Pokeball proposal. Jigglypuff finally meeting their match. For righteous evil, not evil evil!
Far from my favorite, but easily, the show I looked most forward to every week. The real, unspoken premise is hilarious, but also extends its reach to more than just a good punchline or two. Most of my excitement came from the calculation of a predetermined victor, combined with the mystery of how it would adjust the formula to sidestep the inescapable for any ripples of change, however small. Playing with perspective like Monogatari, only now in the context of a battle royale with scarce hope to spare, yet there’s a tiny triumph in how necromancy defies the nature of death games.
The Whispering Star
The slow, but rewarding process of finding sentimental value in things, all the things. If I had the talent to make movies, I would end mine with a stunning 5-minute shadowplay like this.
The Shape of Voice
Delicate subject matter of bullying, deafness and suicide made this my most diffcult watch in a while. Constantly fearing how it would play out, despite knowing a point of the light was expanding all along. Some scenes are still tough to watch, but I applaud the opening sequence abbreviating the growth of narrow perspectives. Surrounded by negative space cleaner than a room with crossed off calendar days. If only adding new ones was as simple as viewing vibrations again with the clarity of carp swimming together. Or maybe on the frequency of the fireworks with their abundance of light, flower language of hanabi and above all, the fullness. Music rushes in like a flood while confetti rains on top and the tears try their best to fall even faster. Overflowing with this one. That one. Everyone.
In This Corner of the World
Tend to think of vignettes as an escape from more longform narrative, not somehow, also the vehicle for said narrative. You see the world as Suzu does, whatever happens to catch her eye, but the blindspots are just as vital to the destination. Inside her headspace is a canvas for explosions cushioned by colorful paint splotches, sheltering her from the reality of war. Although there comes a time when ignorance ceases to be bliss, it’s that same youthful mindset which lets dandelions endure.
The Night is Short, Walk On Girl
Friendship Punches say glass half-full is for cowards who can’t hold their liquor. Fill it to the brim and then, pour some more. Leave your inhibitions behind you and dare to be seen. Show off yourself like an open book and watch paper stained with ink submerge dry diction in an aquatic quest. Everyone has a story to share, each connected by fate’s infinite web of literary influence. Grand spectacle turns the pages of a lonely cold spreading at the speed of chain letters, but there’s warmth in this kind of writing too. So, whether cheers or jeers await us, let’s entertain our fluffy cotton candy feelings.
Lu Over the Wall
Yuasa’s recent movies aren’t that formally or tonally similar, yet they make nice companion pieces in terms of how we relate to legend and share our weirdness with one another. Structurally, Night’s two visual modes are more sectioned off into isolated adventures while Lu wants to marry them amidst a divorce. Even though the flash animation often clashes with painterly backgrounds, it does find balance in outlined character designs above the surface and stripping them down to mere shapes underwater. Rather than coloring outside of the lines, there are simply no lines anymore and at its best, achieves something like children’s drawings in dusty, old windows. And at its bestest, the beautiful S(e)iren pun makes the mythical real.
First two parts begin with tense flash-forwards and end with solid hooks to build anticipation for the next. Part III breaks the trend by starting off chronologically for a change and concludes with an ending nobody looks forward to. This contentment with unhappiness is also in the evolution of ED themes from hopeless to romantic and finally, both at once. French intertitles remind me of this expression, La Petite Mort or Little Death, which can describe the near-death experience of orgasm. While likely outside of Oishi’s vision, it provides convenient shorthand for the sadomasochism and self-loathing involved in such morbid ecstasy.
The Shape of Water
Still giggling about Mardi Grass. Green as can be, from the time cards to the hallway wallpaper. Somewhere in the middle, teal colors lapels and streaks along the sea creature. And underneath both, aqua glows into a second chance for the silenced voices who never knew of a first.
Killer tracks. Diner booth to bus seats. Opening elevator doors to the ending. There’s a doubling repetition to the script, echoing what has been heard, just as an actual baby would. Monsters Inc. line is made loud and clear, but childish mimicry steers the whole film, reflecting Baby’s inability to make his own decisions. Now that red encompasses both a devil behind the wheel and a desperate need to stop, it’s finally time to decide.
John Wick 2
Funny, for a film so confined by unavoidable crowds of the onlookers, a private meeting is the most revealing. The pool of blood scene draws a clear line between the chapters, since the first was too busy humoring itself to sincerely attempt such melodrama. Holding the victims’s hand in their last moments, not out of concern, but to recognize he runs toward the same inescapable damnation. The difference is John doesn’t have the luxury of choice and needlessly fires away, grasping at delusions of one. Or worse, it’s reflexive, habitual, addictive. Sacred rules of symmetry are repeatedly broken until all that remains is that stare off at the infinity mirror, trapping John Wick within The Boogeyman.
I understand Redbone just felt right, but the leap from Donald Glover dying in The Lazarus Effect trailer to becoming a voice of wisdom for those who haven’t learned to run yet, is a special easter egg among many. Like The Story of O.J.’s music video, reclaiming tools designed to keep black people down to instead, lift them up over the racial disadvantages within the horror genre and hopefully, beyond. Plus, there’s four more of these social thrillers on the way? Yes please.
So sweet and so cold, creativity flows from repetitive rain and of course, Method Man!
Bathing in faux glow and sprinkled with fake salt, encouraging you to point and laugh at games of horseshoe played with toilet seats. Even if West Virginia’s anthem was written by folks who’ve never been there, it’s still dramastically earnest in its ode to country roads and crazy cauliflower grooves. In its first few seconds, “Almost heaven” is the perfect way to put a few dents in foolproof plans. As much about jammed gates and sinkholes as it is Adam Driver flawlessly serving a marvel of martini with one hand. Well aware Duck Tape can’t fix everything, but that won’t stop them from trying.
Big Fish & Begonia
At a distance, always emphasizing the width of its worlds and the souls who can’t be caged forever. Too big to be contained in a single sea of life, setting up the scale for legendary maelstrom while lending any close-ups their impact. Of sins and saviors from omens to gratitude, slipping through the fingers, reigniting my love for Penguindrum.
On the Beach at Night Alone
A more organic Right Now, Wrong Then, as in not such an obvious experiment. There’s the fairy tale cottage and intrusive men, but otherwise, a more low-key dreamscape. Reunions with old acquaintances feel like they’ve just met for the first time and their dialogue develops with half of the speakers momentarily off screen. Close your eyes and you’ll find the title, once hidden like emptiness in beauty or belligerence underneath composure. Recontextualizing things which lack the singular meaning autobiography might carry. In doing so, surpassing one’s apology to let both sides converge into a shared authorship coming to terms with the affair.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Defining Lanthimos’ approach to relationships as clinical becomes all the more amusing after a cold open in the operating room, which only scratches the surface of this absurdly dark comedy. In all those creeping zooms and uneasy grins, the movie plays the long game more patiently than Martin, but both remember to save the best for last.