So there’s a lot of anime this week. Sorry about that. Otherwise, enjoy!
Creativity is one of the most important things a human being can express. It’s good for our brains, our hearts, and our souls. It allows people to explore themselves and others in a deep way, something introspection and discussion can’t always do. When consuming others’ creative works, you’re getting a piece of who they are as a person, whether they wanted or intended that or not.
Creativity allows us to function as a society. We’re not merely surviving—we’re living, hour to hour and day to day. How we spend our time digesting others’ creative works—whether that’s a movie, a novel, or a collection of poems—is important to how we grow as people and a community of human beings. I hope reading about the creative content I enjoy (or don’t) gets your creative juices flowing and inspires you to make something great and uniquely your own. At the very least maybe you’ll discover something new you might be interested in.
5 Centimeters per Second
This anime is actually a sixty-minute movie split into three chapters. The best thing about it is it features the most beautiful background art I think I’ve ever seen. Every shot is stunning and gorgeous. No, seriously, just Google some stills. The film covers the life of a boy and his struggle with lost love, but what makes the story particularly poignant is how realistic it is in terms of how kids and teenagers deal with crushes and whatnot growing up. If you ever have a free hour, I recommend giving this movie a shot, if nothing more than for the breathtaking art.
I finished Steins;Gate last week (and I’m still in a daze over it), so I immediately moved onto Gunslinger Girl because it’s a short series of only thirteen episodes—a nice, bite-sized anime I could run through in a few days. Now I haven’t seen much anime in my life, but of what I have watched, Gunslinger Girl is easily the worst. While the execution is terrible, the premise is awesome: Young girls who face tragedy are adopted by a government agent that fits them with biotic and cybernetic parts to make them ridiculously awesome assassins. Not only are they fast, strong, and perfect shots, but no one suspects being assassinated by an eight-year-old girl, which makes them discreet. Unfortunately, the concept is the only good thing about this anime. The story is unfocused and has no real beginning, middle, or end, and there’s certainly no climax or even one central conflict the characters have to deal with. The animation and art aren’t stellar either. Halfway through I was bored out of my skull. Pass this one by.
Sword Art Online II
I loved the original SAO. Sure, it was kinda of an otaku’s power fantasy—I mean, you’ve got your awesome male lead with virtually no flaws that every girl falls in love with, he wears all black, and he’s the best player in the virtual video game he and thousands of others are trapped in—but the story, music, art, and themes were all awesome. SAO II is the sequel to the first series where the same main character, Kazuto, has to enter a different video game for different reasons, this one being a gun-centric game rather than a sword-focused one. The series is ongoing so I’ve only seen the first episode, and it was mainly setup, but the last shot is of a new character, Sinon, and her awesome sniping abilities. Basically, if SAO II is anything like the first, I’m stoked for where this anime is going.
A friend recommended this movie so I decided one night to watch it. All I knew going in was that it featured Jake Gyllenhaal, and if you want to experience everything that makes Enemy great, that’s all you should know before watching as well. If you enjoy psychology to any degree (and if you have a functioning brain, you do), this movie is particularly insightful. Like me and thousands of others who watched this, after the final shot you’ll probably shout at the TV, “What the—?” before turning to YouTube for in-depth analyses that will give you the eureka moment you’re hoping for. The whole thing reminds me of Donnie Darko, but unlike Donny Darko—where the viewer has to have outside information to even begin to grasp its plot—Enemy’s story is laid out entirely within the film. Who knows? You might be able to figure it out on your own with multiple viewings if you’re smart and observant.
One thing Gunslinger Girl was actually good for was introducing me to this almost nonexistent indie band from Scotland I never would have discovered otherwise. The anime’s opening theme is The Delgados’ The Light Before We Land, and it is a stellar song that made me search them out. So far I’ve only been able to find the band’s Hate album, but I’m gonna keep looking for their other albums because something about this band is enticing. Maybe its their use of unique instruments or their somber tone. Regardless, they certainly deserve more attention than they’ve got.
Lucy Rose is the female voice of Bombay Bicycle Club, the best band I’ve discovered so far this year, so I decided to check her solo stuff out; I owed her that much. While Bombay Bicycle Club is an indietronica/indie rock band, Rose’s only album Like I Used To is folk. I love her voice, and when she occasionally does a song featuring more than simple acoustic tones, she nails it, just like she does for Bombay. I just learned now that her song Shiver is the opening theme for the second season of Mushishi, an anime I’ve been planning to watch—for some reason, that makes me love her music even more. Give Watch Out a listen.
Mass Effect 3
I don’t care much for science fiction (I’m more of a fantasy guy), but the Mass Effect series is easily the greatest example of sci-fi I’ve ever witnessed (yes, it’s better than Star Wars), and for that, I’ve paid attention. I’ve had Mass Effect 3 on my shelf for probably two years now, so I decided it was finally time to end my fight against the Reapers. Bioware’s worldbuilding and storytelling are unparalleled. I can actually feel the entire galaxy’s hopeless struggle as I, as the illustrious Commander Shepard (female version, of course), try to prepare for humanity and every known alien race’s final push against extinction. So far, Mass Effect 3 demonstrates the series’ best gameplay, but I’m not far enough in to know if it will top the original Mass Effect in terms of story, especially considering the infamously disappointing conclusion I’ve yet to face. Time will tell.
The Wolf Among Us Episode 5: Cry Wolf
I finished up Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us series yesterday after playing each episode as they came out weeks apart. After spending months with Bigby, Snow, and the rest of Fabletown’s lovable characters, I have to admit I’m sad to see them go. On a brighter note, the final episode, Cry Wolf, featured a satisfying conclusion and the best action sequences Telltale has delivered to date. The story wraps up nicely and ends on a cliffhanger of sorts that makes you reevaluate things you learned all the way back in the debut episode, which means I’ll have to replay this whole series soon to catch things I missed the first time around. I hope Telltale plans on making a second season because I’ve come to love their adaption of the Fables comics as much as their take on The Walking Dead.