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Category Archives: Anime Analysis

The Fascinating and Problematic Setting of The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress

combat baker 1

I mentioned in my The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! blog post that I liked Bookwalker Global’s other exclusive light novel release: The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading volume 2, I figure I should write a post explaining why I like it.

Put simply, I’m a fan of the setting of The Combat Baker. It is a postwar story about a former soldier who takes on a mundane-sounding job in a fantasy European setting. I guess in that broad sense it is like Violet Evergarden, although the tone of the story is very, very different. The Combat Baker also puts a heavy focus on the political backdrop of its postwar setting, as well as how that affects people in a rural town. I quickly found myself sucked into this world that SOW had created.

As cute and fluffy as the cover images make it look, there are some disquieting elements to the setting of The Combat Baker beneath the surface. Thanks to the presence of fantasy technology, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time period it’s based off, but the general “mood” of the story makes me think it’s around World War I. The victor of this fictional war is a country named Wiltia, whose citizens have Germanic names and whose physical appearances are defined by their blonde hair and blue eyes.

So, obviously, fantasy Germany won the war and annexed an entire continent.

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How Gundam Wing Became a Global Phenomenon

Note: This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for Crunchyroll. Check my writer profile to see my latest articles.


To celebrate the 38th anniversary of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, Crunchyroll has recently added some classic Gundam titles to its catalog. Let’s take this opportunity to look back on Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, the show that ignited the West’s love affair with Gundam. You may be surprised at how many convenient factors lined up in both the original Japanese context and the international distribution process that helped pave the way for Wing’s success.

Wing 1
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Novel vs Anime – A Certain Magical Index

Note: This is a repost of a series of an article I originally wrote for Crunchyroll. Check my writer profile to see my latest articles.


A Certain Magical Index is based off one of the most popular light novel series in Japan ever. If you count the side story volumes and the New Testament sequel currently being published in Japan, the Index series has over 40 volumes in print—and this isn’t even counting the A Certain Scientific Railgun manga spinoff which has its own sprawling continuity. If you’re even vaguely familiar with anime and light novels, you’ve probably heard of the Index franchise.

index cover

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What Makes the Oregairu Novel So Relatable?

Note: This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for Crunchyroll. Check my writer profile to see my latest articles.


I first read the My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU novels soon after the first season of the anime hit the airwaves, and it’s been one of my favorite light novel series since then. It’s hard to describe exactly what makes the series so appealing to me, but it essentially comes down to this: it’s the most true-to-life representation of the high school experience that I’ve encountered through fiction.

my teen romantic comedy snafu too

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Why the Ending of Scum’s Wish Dissatisfied Me

I finally caught up on the last chapter of Scum’s Wish today and… it was kind of lame.

Brief spoiler-ific thoughts below.

scum's wish 1

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What We Learn Through Body-swapping: The Subtext of Torikaebaya and Your Name

Let’s look at some of the stories that Makoto Shinkai referred to when creating Your Name. Below is a translation of a column written for the official Your Name guidebook. It’s written by Mizuo Watanabe, a manga critic and the main writer of the yearly Kono Manga ga Sugoi! guidebook.

your name

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Why Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga sucks compared to the first season

blue exorcist 1

There’s been something… missing in the second season of Blue Exorcist. It’s really strange. The production quality of the second season is high, and it’s adapting a well-regarded arc in the manga. There’s none of the filler that plagued the second half of the first season.

So why does it suck so bad?

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Did Yuri Propose to Victor?

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for episode 9 of Yuri!!! On ICE. If you haven’t seen it yet, catch up with the series today!

yuri-on-ice-1

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Comparing the Film and Anime Trailers for The Great Passage / Fune wo Amu

fune-wo-amu-anime-teaser-009The Great Passage (or Fune wo Amu) is a novel by Shion Miura. It’s getting an anime next season, featuring character designs by the Rakugo Shinjuu artist and a spot in the Noitamina TV block. I suppose most anime viewers should have it pegged as a mature and down-to-earth drama, especially after seeing the trailers. This was my impression of the anime as well.

As it turns out, the anime’s style is only one interpretation of the novel’s story, and the live action film directed by Yuya Ishii appears to be quite a different beast, judging by its trailer. It depicts the story as a quirky romcom, complete with a socially inept male protagonist, before taking a melodramatic turn. The light-hearted approach to weighty topics is reminiscent of the “trendy dramas” of the 1980s and 1990s. (It’s worth noting that the novel, despite being published in 2011, is set in the 1990s.)

I haven’t read the original novel, so I can’t tell you how faithful either adaptation is to the story. Nor have I watched the anime or film themselves. I only have access to the trailers, so I can only comment on how these adaptations have been pitched to their audiences. The two trailers strike a completely different tone and feel, to the extent that I initially found it hard to believe that they were adaptations of the same story. This says something interesting about the leanings of their directors, as well as the perceived target audiences of the live-action film and television anime in Japan.

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The Basics of the Animated Mise-en-scène

vlcsnap-2016-06-18-19h23m22s129I’ve been having interesting conversations with various Twitter folk lately about the kind of anime-related criticism they would like to read. One of the main things people said they wanted to see was more writing about the nitty gritties of the animation craft and how it impacts the viewer’s experience (obligatory reference here to the excellent Sakuga Blog, a new animation blog on the scene which all of you should check out pronto). For what it’s worth, I happen to agree with this assessment, but I’m not terribly educated about animation theory, and I don’t think that many anime fans are.

And this is okay! I don’t think you need to know theory to love and appreciate anime. But what if you want to convey to others how much you appreciate the animation craft, beyond just “the animation looked cool!” or “the voice acting was good!”? I think that most of us are aware that the visuals and sound impact the way we perceive the characters and narrative, but we lack the vocabulary to describe what exactly is going on. This can be frustrating when we’re trying to explain why we like (or don’t like) something about a work of art to another person.

Also, for critics who take themselves and their opinions seriously, this sort of thing should matter a lot. Pure formalism may not be a highly-regarded form of media criticism these days, but it does lay the important groundwork for any lens of analysis. So let’s not disregard it out of hand.

Since I’m a beginner too when it comes to animation theory, I figure we can learn about these things together. This post is about the basics of scene composition. I drew most of the information here from the revised edition Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics by Maureen Furniss, which I think is a really well-written and accessible guide to the main issues in the field. I also encourage anyone with an education in animation theory to do us all a favour and leave a comment and/or some links to further reading. Your knowledge and insight would be very much appreciated!

(Note: While this post draws on general theories about animation, the examples I use are all from Japanese anime. While I’d love to discuss non-Japanese animation too, that’s a topic for other posts.)

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