I’ve talked about my love for anime eyebrows before, but in case you didn’t see that, let me reiterate: I love me a good anime eyebrow. If they’re thick, scraggly, or just generally super expressive, then I’m in love. So many anime eyebrows seem little more than a simple line drawn onto a face with little thought…so whenever there’s an eyebrow that clearly has some LOVE etched into it, I can’t help but take notice.
Now, I meant to make one of these lists for the Spring 2018 season, but alas. My blogging has been very inconsistent in the past few months. It’s a shame, because Remy Fool gave me a lot of good nominations for Spring 2018 Best Eyebrows, too! I just didn’t get around to making the post, and by the time I had time, the season was long past.
But fear not, good followers. I have not forsaken the eyebrow countdown. This season, I’m back, and I actually watched a decent amount of series so that I could gather adequate eyebrow data for this list. Let’s start this list! Segway!!
The summer season has surprised me quite a bit so far. Going in, the only series that really caught my eye was Banana Fish, but I wound up falling in love with Hanebado! (well, the first episode at least) and Asobi Asobasealong the way, as well.
There was another series that’s surprised me quite a bit, though, and it’s one I hadn’t seen too many people talking about: Planet With. This mecha, while not perfect, is doing a lot of really interesting things with its story and its themes, and is gearing up to become one of the more unique entries into the mecha genre in recent years.
The story begins with Souya Kuroi, who has lost his memories and for some reason finds himself living with a maid girl and a giant purple cat. He’s not too worried about the amnesia and weird roommates, though – he’s just going with the flow and trying to live in the now.
I am a huge fan of schoolgirl anime comedies, but man, there are too many of them. The market has become over-saturated with anime comedies that are just girls in high-school or middle-school being like, “uwu, we’re being clumsy,” or “uwu, we’re eating pastries.” Stuff like that can be entertaining, but a lot of these series, especially short form ones like Wakaba Girl, are largely forgettable. If you’ve seen one, you get the gist of about twenty other ones.
Damn. I sound like one of those crotchety old anime fans, don’t I? I promise I’m not one of those anti-slice-of-lifers or moe haters…it’s just that, well, it’s the tropes of the genre can get real tired, real fast. A lot of these comedies are hell-bent on playing it safe and don’t provide any real laughs. But there are still shows out there getting it right.
Like, take this summer’s Asobi Asobase. The opening sequence, promotional artwork and, okay, yeah, even the summary makes it look like just another basic cute girls doing cute things show – it’s a story about three girls who get bored and start the Past-timers’ Club where they hang out and play games. It takes this basic, seemingly done-to-death plot and injects it with enough energy and ridiculous humor to make it work again.
When I first saw that an anime adaptation of Banana Fish had been announced, I was really confused. “Did someone adapt that short story from The Catcher In The Rye guy?” Of course, I soon realized the answer was – “no, you big dummy, why would someone make an anime version of ‘A Perfect Day For Bananafish?'”
This season’s Banana Fish is actually a modern update of Akimi Yoshida’s manga series that ran from 1985 to 1994. Upon researching the title, I found that the series was somewhat of a cult hit, and that the anime was highly anticipated. Knowing that it was apparently very popular and that it referenced one of my favorite short stories from my pretentious, angsty literature loving days was enough to get me interested. (Yes, I was an emo kid who was super into The Catcher in the Rye in high school…)
I watched episode one, and came away with many, many questions – not just questions about where the story will go, but questions about why Akimi Yoshida chose to reference this particular story in her manga. This post will be an attempt to explore and semi-answer that question.
Sound design is often overlooked by the average viewer and critic alike when it comes to anime. Which, hey, is understandable – anime is a visual medium, right? Naturally we’re going to focus more on animation and animators as opposed to sound. Sure, we might take note of voice acting, and we all know that a great soundtrack (or lack thereof) can make or break a series, but we tend to overlook a good, effective soundscape.
One thing I learned during my time taking film classes is that, whether we notice it or not, sound is one of the most important things when it comes to creating a movie or series. Most people are actually more likely to watch something that has bad visuals but sounds okay than they are to watch something that has great visuals but sounds like shit. Despite how important sound is to our taste, though, we’re far more likely to rant and rave about beautiful animation (or shitty animation, for that matter) than we are to praise a good soundscape.
Which brings me to Hanebado!. It seems we can all agree that the series is gorgeous. It’s beautifully animated, the lighting is stunning, and the attention to detail is on-point. You see beads of sweat being flung from players’ bodies, the clench of a player’s thigh muscles when they go for a jump, and even dust particles can be seen floating across the screen. It feels like you could take a screencap at literally any moment & come away with something beautiful.
(…which not only makes it easy on the eyes but also easier for me to find screencaps to put together with my posts…)
There was something else that really struck me about Hanebado!, though. You’ve probably figured out what I’m gearing up to talk about by now – the sound design. Hanebado!’s opening episode crafts a quietly intense atmosphere with its minimal (yet effective) soundscape.