The ground tread by Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is well-worn. Its original form, a serialized comic, began in 1986 at the height of Fist of the North Star’s popularity, a few years before Dragon Ball Z would codify the tropes and structure of the teenage-boy action story. Jojo falls into many of these tropes, especially in its first arc. In its structure and in much of its characters, it gives the appearance of yet another standard shonen action show. But Jojo pushes these tropes to amazing heights, through its unique style, clever writing, and balls-to-the-wall daring. Jojo, like Fist of the North Star, has few restraints, but it works with intelligence and care. It is brute force applied by the hands of a master artisan. David Production’s Jojo anime reflects this as well as it can, and it’s by far the truest adaptation yet. Continue reading
Psycho-Pass is a grand example of the wrong way to merge genres. It wants to be a large-scale political drama, an intimate character drama, and a raw action show, while throwing as many allusions at the audience that can be fit in the script. In the end, it’s an inconsistent mess loaded down with pretensions of its authors. Psycho-Pass had a lot of potential in its early days, but it builds and builds until it collapses beneath the weight of its plot holes, unrealized character development, and bland twists. Continue reading
Let’s face facts: slice-of-life high school comedies are a dime a dozen nowadays. They’re easy to make, easy to market and they’re almost always guaranteed money for a production studio, new or old. So whenever I hear about a new slice-of-life with a decent twist, I get pretty excited to see if it’ll be one of those slice-of-life shows that actually shakes it up. It is for these reasons combined that Kotoura-san is without a doubt the biggest disappointment of the season, and maybe even of all of 2013.
As it is a subject that will likely come up many, many times in the course of my writings on anime for The Stereogram, Masaaki Yuasa is my favorite currently-living director working in the anime scene. In an industry fueled by pandering (generally to lowest-common-denominator male enthusiasts), he is one of the few people willing to look beyond selling merchandise and expand the medium. Each of his works brim with passion he poured into them; there are few anime directors who are as recognizable, especially not in the modern age.
The Tatami Galaxy, Yuasa’s fourth directing effort, is in many ways a reaction against generic means of storytelling, an issue common in modern anime. Though The Tatami Galaxy initially presents itself in a standard form, with a few notable exceptions, it soon becomes a commentary on formulaic plot design, eventually collapsing upon itself in a fantastic conclusion. Continue reading