The Wind Rises (2013) | Rating: 3.5/5
As an anime fan, it's natural to succumb to the charms and whimsy of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli at some point in your life. I try my best to watch as many of these films as possible and while I haven't seen them all just yet, it's something I try to accomplish. Being late to the game, I finally got around to checking this one and the one below out. I remember seeing previews for both of these movies in their respective years and mentally made a note to catch them at some point. This fictionalized biopic of Jiro Horikoshi was something I normally wouldn't watch if it were live action, but since it came from Studio Ghibli, it was a mandatory watch. Even then, I normally don't care too much for war stories, I knew in the studio's hands, it would be an enjoyable and most likely emotional journey. I definitely got that and also learned some things about Mr. Horikoshi as well as the time period he contributed to. He had a fascinating life, whether it reflected on the real person or not, and I thoroughly enjoyed his struggle to balance his love life and his ultimate design vision.
When Marnie Was There (2014) | Rating: 4/5
While watching this movie, I glanced through some comments on IMDb and wondered if this took an unusual route of sparking a romance between two young women or something else entirely. At times, the comments read that way, but the movie had nothing to do with romance in the slightest. The story was more about finding yourself and the confidence within you. This film features the usual emotional depth and intricate, colorful scenery and animation that Studio Ghibli is known for it. It touches on a subject matter I don't see too often in anime which is adoption and feeling out of place or not wanted. Certain elements of the story spoke to me on a personal level and I can see adoptees and families really enjoying this film. It has a somewhat mature subject matter and probably won't speak to a lot of children easily, then again some Ghibli films can be a little up there with its content. Nonetheless, I found it very enjoyable and it really knew how to pull at your heartstrings and keep you engaged throughout the journey. This definitely made me confident about the future of Ghibli post-Miyazaki.
Show by Rock!! Short!! (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5
To hold us over for the second season of Show by Rock!!, the fans were given these lovely shorts. These 5 minute episodes of amusement takes a break from the main story that the first season presented to us and treats each band like a real group by showing us the members playing together, the origins of their band, and getting to know them (kinda) through a television program. These shorts are not required viewing for the second season, I'm assuming, but it's something fun and fanservice-y for the fans who are really into these characters like a real life group. Obviously, I really love this show, so seeing ShinganCrimsonZ playing an over the top, fierce game of ping pong or acting like high school delinquents makes me very happy and gives me plenty of cosplay ideas. For me, I thought it was successful in keeping me entertained until the second season airs.
Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5
Most people in the anime community are more familiar with the term fujoshi, so fudanshi is pretty much the male equivalent. This is another anime short that conveys just enough information to know who these characters are, their quirks, and the humor of this series in roughly three minutes. The show disproves the notion that fudanshi are gay or personally attracted to same sex relationships. Sakaguchi, the main character, became attracted to the yaoi genre due to its storytelling and intriguing content...or something like that. He does take this addiction/obsession to the extreme by posting on fujoshi forums daily and rushing to buy the latest yaoi manga in the shop. His friend tolerates his behavior and his obsession with pairing every day men he sees around town or creating romantic scenarios for them; sometimes his friend becomes victim to these musings. Obviously, this isn't for everyone just like yaoi and shounen ai isn't for everyone, but for those who are part of fujoshi/fudanshi culture or are familiar with it and casually enjoy the yaoi genre will find this short series entertaining and amusing.
Hatsukoi Monster (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5
There's an ongoing joke of how anime characters never look their age and this series takes that joke and runs with it. When I first started this series, I was very confused and pretty much had the same expression as Kazuo (the one facepalming). It took me a few episodes to accept what was happening...well, more so the whole age difference between our two main characters Kaho and Kanade...and Kanade's friends, but that was the whole joke of the series was their age and appearance contrast. First loves are already a nerve-racking feeling, but this makes things more amusing and difficult. It also proves that you have to have a lot of patience once you enter such a relationship. Sure, the humor may be immature, but its a bunch of fifth graders who still think "w*iners" and "p*op" are hilarious and fascinating. [If you've seen the show, you would get the censorship.] It does have some serious moments to break up the immature and perverse humor and they don't seem out of place either. I wouldn't mind checking out another season of Kanade and the gang, but on the other hand, I also feel very satisfied with this single season and upcoming OVA.
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