Genre: High School, Romance, Comedy
My Little Monster is a charming and sometimes ridiculous romantic high school comedy focusing on the evolving relationship between Mizutani Shizuku, a girl who wants nothing more than to study and be alone, and Yoshida Haru, the namesake “monster” who ends up turning her peaceful life upside down. Both social outcasts, once Haru encounters Shizuku and immediately declares his love, Shizuku is left trying to salvage her grades and worldview from a boy who doesn’t even really seem to know what love is.
There isn’t much else I can say about this anime other than I enjoyed it. The show was entertaining to watch and still relatively satisfying even though it never really comes to a cathartic conclusion.
Genre: Drama, Romance, Junior High, Music
Your Lie in April is… well, as beautiful as it is devastating.
It follows the life of Arima Kousei, a Junior High school piano prodigy who has been living life in monotone. Following the death of his abusive, piano-instructing mother, Kousei can no longer hear the notes he plays, and thus has abandoned the craft for the past two years. Forcibly introduced to Miyazono Kaori one evening during a friend’s double-date, the boisterous and free-spirited Kaori begins to reignites his world with color.
Almost every single element of this anime is brilliant and well-executed. The art direction is amazing, including how the designers incorporated Kousei’s monotone worldview into the actual color-scheme, while gradually having Kaori’s vibrantness bleed through. Then there’s the music, which forms the basis around which the plot pivots. While I already liked some classical piano pieces, in the context of this show I began to appreciate them on a higher level. Then there is the devastating emotional payload, which reminds me of why I watch these sort of things in the first place: to feel something. And it succeeds in doing so.
In short, Your Lie in April has, to my own surprise even, become one of the best anime I have ever watched. It’s sad, it’s beautiful, it’s fantastic.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Devastating Emotional Payloads
Plastic Memories is a pseudo-Sci-Fi anime that follows the life of Tsukasa Mizugaki as he joins the Terminal Service Department of SAI Corp, and attempts to get along with his partner Isla. This particular department is responsible for the removal of the family androids who are approaching the end of their seven-year lifespans. What follows in this short, half-season anime is a series of devastating emotional payloads that, despite seeing them coming from a mile away, you nevertheless get destroyed by. Or maybe that was just me.
The closest analog to this anime would be Anohana: the Flower We Saw that Day, in the sense that the premise itself is sad, but you continue to get absorbed by the narrative and how exactly things will play out. You see the knife coming, but you still yearn to feel it twist. And in that regard, Plastic Memories does so with particular vigor. In spite of this, I came away from this catharsis with a greater appreciation of the relationships one can form, even if they prove to be temporary.
After all, that is exactly what everything is.
Genre: Harem, Supernatural, Action
Strike the Blood is a sort of disguised, supernatural harem action anime. The main character is a high school student, Kojou, who has been transformed into the “4th Progenitor,” a sort of super-vampire who could upset the balance of the other three super-vampires. In response, various human and supernatural parties try to court his attention, keep an eye on him, and/or try and kill him. Did I mention this all this takes place on a man-made island way out in the ocean, made structurally sound by magic and ancient relics? And a significant portion of the population are pseudo-demons?
While there were quite a few particularly hilarious scenes/situations, the bottom line is that this really was as I described it: an action harem anime. If it annoys you when 4-5 girls compete for the male lead’s attention in just about everything they do, then you’re not likely to have a good time. If instead you’re looking for something funny with angst and drama all the traditional harem trimmings, this is likely worth your time.
Genre: Action, Fast-Paced
Kill la Kill is a fast-paced action anime from the creators of Gurren Lagann. In this regard, I sort of view a parallel between it and FLCL; both are less-serious, more-manic derivatives of what came before while still holding ground on their own merits. The premise is that a particular Japanese high school is crafting school uniforms with “Life Fibers,” which grant the wearer immense power. Ryuuko recently transfers to this school to seek revenge for the death of her father at the hands of a mysterious assailant. What follows is a huge assortment of duels, explosions, and Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequences as Ryuuko dispatches her foes with one half of a pair of scissors. The show only gets crazier as time goes on.
This anime does many things particular well. For example, while the heroine (and most female foes) dons a fairly fanservice costume, there is at least an attempt at a rational explanation for it on top of the anime not dwelling too much on it… outside of some jokes at the anime’s own expense, of course. The pacing of the show is also extremely well done, with just enough breaks in the action to catch one’s breath. In this regard, the episodes seemed to fly right by and always leave you hungry for more. I recommend a watch if you enjoy zany action anime.
Genre: Everyday Life, Ghost, Drama
Are you in the mood to be depressed? Homesick? Want to feel like you need to call your friends right now? Then, boy do I have the anime for you! Anohana is an anime that follows a small group of friends, several years after the accidental death of one of their members. After a year or so of social withdraw, Jinta suddenly begins to see what he believes to be a hallucination of Menma, the member of the group that had died years prior. After interacting with her over a series of weeks and months, he comes to believe that perhaps she is a spirit trapped on Earth until her final wish is granted. From there, he begins to try and recruit his old friends to help figure out Menma’s last wish and fulfill it.
I’m not going to lie – this can sometimes be a hard anime to watch, for reasons that have nothing to do with it’s otherwise outstanding quality. In fact, this is perhaps the best anime I have ever seen in its examinations of how much impact a death can have on a circle of friends. There’s survivor’s guilt, jealousy, feelings of failure, love triangles, mental health issues, and more all in 11 short episodes. Still, if you are in the market for an anime that will make you feel something, Anohana is an easy recommendation.