Thirty Day Anime Challenge: Days 13 to 17

FMAbrotherhood

Earlier this month I was reading Matt Doyle’s excellent blog. He had just completed a Thirty Day Video Game Challenge. That reminded me that I had yet to finish the anime challenge I started way back in July. Oops! I better make some long overdue progress on that by answering a few more questions today. For those of you who only subscribe to this site for reviews, and therefore have no interest in this series, I recommend that you check out these reviews penned by other bloggers instead…

Anime: Sword Art Online (Season Two)
Manga: Black Butler
Movie: Aquaman
Video Game: Pokemon Red/Blue

DAY 13: CHARACTER I AM MOST SIMILAR TO

I pretty much resemble any anime character who is a stereotypical geek. Perhaps you could compare me to a male version of Moriko Morioka, as I stay indoors all day, am terrible with face to face interactions and often play characters of the opposite sex in video games. I once asked a friend what animated personality I remind them of. They said Master Roshi, as I am a bald headed pervert. Can’t argue with that logic!

DAY 14: ANIME THAT NEVER GETS OLD NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I REWATCH IT

These days I don’t have enough free time to re-watch shows. Just keeping up with the current season’s anime (and older stuff that I want to check out) is a big enough struggle. Many moons ago however, when I limited my anime viewing to DVDs, I wasn’t averse to watching a series multiple times. One particular box-set that got a lot of mileage was Full Metal Alchemist. No matter how many times I watch FMA it never gets old.

DAY 15: FAVORITE ANIMAL SIDEKICK, PET OR SUMMON

I had to rack my brain to come up with an answer for this one. Generally I am not a fan of mascot characters. You can blame eighties cartoons for that. Back when I was a kid, the cartoons I watched often featured comic relief mascots who were super annoying. Anime critters aren’t all bad though. I recently had fun traveling with Pikachu in Pokemon Let’s Go for example. After much thought I am going to pick Taromaru, the pup from School-Live. He’s very cute and played a big role in the show’s emotional finale.

DAY 16: ANIME WITH THE BEST ANIMATION

There were many contenders for this category. Garden of Words has some exceptional visuals, as does anything that has Studio Ghibli’s name attached to it. The last Madoka movie is also worth mentioning, due to a particularly impressive fight sequence. All those nominations however have the benefit of a motion picture budget backing them up. With that in mind my vote goes to Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. Who knew that a TV production could look so amazing? One could say that Ufotable’s artists brought their A-game to the (ufo)table in that series.

DAY 17: FAVORITE SUPPORTING MALE CHARACTER

I had to think long and hard for this one. Nothing immediately came to mind. Most of my favourite male characters, from the world of anime, are protagonists. Although I suspect a better answer will come to me later, I’m going to go with Akio Furukawa from Clannad. His childish antics make me laugh, as do the scenes were he gives Tomoya a hard time. Akio isn’t a one note comedic character though. During tough times he acts as a second father to Tomoya and is selfless when it comes to his family. This is evidenced by the reveal that he abandoned a career in acting in order to support his daughter. Instead of the stage he now works as a baker. The family business depends on him because his wife hasn’t got a clue when it comes to recipes. Octopus tentacles and bread do not make for a tasty combo.

 

Review of The Garden of Words

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The Garden of Words (known in Japan as Kotonoha no Niwa) is a short animated film brought to us by critically acclaimed director Makoto Shinka (best known for 5 Centimetres per Second and Journey to Agartha.) The movie’s star is a fifteen-year-old high school student named Takao Akizuki who likes to skive from class during rainy days. On said showery dates Takao can be found loitering at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens where he spends his time sketching the footwear of the park’s many visitors. Is our teen protagonist suffering from a case of podophilia? Nah. He’s just an aspiring shoemaker who likes to admire the different types of shoes people wear.

During one of Takao’s park loitering sessions he stumbles across a fellow hooky named Yukari Yukino, who is skipping work to enjoy some early morning beers and chocolate. Even though an alcoholic, who is also a chocoholic, doesn’t sound like the most stable person you’ll ever meet, the pair ends up striking up a friendship culminating in regular meetings at the gardens, whenever the weather demands the use of a brolly. Takao is smitten with his new acquaintance, so much so that he offers to make her some new shoes, but can their relationship grow beyond being just chums? There’s quite an age gap between the two (Yukari is in her mid-twenties) and there’s no telling how Takao will react when he eventually discovers the harrowing reason why his love interest is avoiding work.

UK anime fans can presently buy The Garden of Words on DVD or Blu-ray courtesy of fledgling distributor All the Anime. At the time of writing the DVD version is retailing for £12.29 whilst the Blu-ray will set you back £17.45 (prices taken from the Amazon website.) Given that the feature’s visuals are drop dead gorgeous, I wouldn’t blame anyone for coughing up the extra dough to get the Blu-ray transfer in order to fully appreciate the movie’s sublime artwork. The attention to detail is simply exemplary. The animation of the characters is extremely life like, the backdrops based on the actual Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens are beautifully picturesque and the water effects are also impressive. Rain droplets and ripples on puddles are not always easy to bring to life with CG software, but the folks at CoMix Wave Films have managed to pull it off.

So what is my final rating? As a reviewer I feel pressured to give it five stars, as the movie is so well composed. The tight script is free of filler making every scene eventful as well as emotional. From the point of view of a consumer however I would have to give the whole package four stars. The running time is a mere forty-five minutes, which will leave you wanting for more. Also, however well crafted the movie is, the story itself is just a straightforward tale of a young man falling in love for the first time. It’s the type of movie that gets rave reviews at a film festival, but I imagine most viewers won’t re-watch it enough times to justify a home purchase. As an example of the high standards anime can attain its still worth checking out though. Anyone who buys the DVD will at least be pleased to learn that, in compensation for the meagre running time, you get substantial extras in the form of interviews, storyboards and commentaries.