This Week: Kuuchuu Buranko, Kino’s Journey, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, and Bakemonogatari.
Kuuchuu Buranko (Trapeze)
The promotional video probably tells someone more about if they want to see this than anything I could say.
Irabu is a thoroughly enjoyable character and the show takes frequent pauses to give actual medical information. Patients are often seen as side characters during each others episodes, which provide an interesting lens for the viewer; as everyone is being treated over the same several days, one will see different stages of the patients developments from multiple sides (internal/personal when they are the primary focus for the episode, and the outside world when they are not).
It packaged what are often difficult and uncomfortable concepts for many people to approach into what I found to be an entertaining and emotionally fulfilling series of character studies, so I very much recommend it.
Kino’s Journey (Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World)
I’ve traveled extensively for professional and academic reasons (I’ve made it to every continent aside from Antarctica), and this is just such a wonderful series that I think perfectly encapsulates many of the feelings associated with the raw idea traveling and the interactions that come from that.
I watched the English dubbed version of it for this go around, and I thought it was a very strong series of performances, particularly from the two leads. This is easily the kind of show the would drive somebody up a wall should there have been poor voice acting (much like having a bad travel partner), and I think the team handled the material very well.
It also still looks fantastic, with a great mix of being fantastical yet seeming realistically “worn” and lived in, which I think speaks volumes to the route the production committee took in making the locations characters in their own right.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (Tasogare Otome x Amnesia)
My internal ratings for this show were all over the place while I was watching it. It’s trying to walk a lot of genre lines at once, which is a commendable effort. It dances between romance, horror, comedy, drama, and so forth. But as a result sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn’t.
My biggest problem though was the ending, so skip to the next show in this post unless you don’t want to be spoiled on it:
My final opinion is this show would have been stronger if it kept to its guns and cut the final seconds. The whole series built up the groundwork for a nice bittersweet ending: exploring Yuko’s past, rejoining her shadow self, Teiichi’s promises to move on after she fades away, etc. But it can’t bring itself to follow through on all that. This is fine with proper setup and pacing, but to just plop Yuko back in with “Surprise! Happy Wish Fulfillment Ending!” literally in the closing seconds made her return feel incredibly jarring and hollow.
For lack of a better word, this was a very “comfortable” series for me to watch. Due to the naming structure of the episodes, I would know how long an arc was going to be, block out as much time as that arc needed, then do something else once the arc finished. So I essentially watched it as a collection of five short films over a period of days, which I think plays to the series strengths (the art design, character wordplay, atmosphere, etc) while keeping it in doses that prevent it from becoming either overwhelming, annoying, or otherwise losing its novelty or impact.
Going along with this, I really appreciated the small cast size. By rarely ever having non-main cast characters on screen, there was more time for sideways conversations to better characterize folks or shots to establish theme, which the series certainly more than made use of. It allowed many things that would have been more superfluous in other shows to be more central to the experience.
I’ll be moving on to Nisemonogatari next; I’ve read from many folks over the months that it isn’t as impressive, but the score differences on MAL between it and Bakemonogatari seem fairly minimal, so I’m not really apprehensive about it at this time.
Mothballs is a weekly write-up of already completed anime series I have either removed from my backlog or have recently revisited. A crash space for my immediate thoughts and personal processing, these are not intended as full reviews.