Saturday, 25 January 2020

Docchi mo Maid

 And now for something completely different:

I found the amazing "Docchi mo Maid" ONA while looking through some of the worst rated shows on MAL, because as my policy stands "all MAL scores should be inverted". And so this treasure, rated a 4.33, equates to a 5.67 in my books: pretty good!

There did exists awful meme-subs available for streaming, but nothing soft subbed and nothing watchable. So I took it upon myself to give the translation a go myself. It might not be perfect but I tried my best. Due to the nature of the production, a lot of lines are either muffled or just blundered, so sometimes I had to go with whatever my best judgement was.

The ONA itself is a treat. It's aesthetic and the focus of its parody are wholly attune to my own tastes and it reeks of early 2000 flash animations. I sure enjoyed it but it probably isn't up many people's alleyway.

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Saturday, 18 January 2020

The Easy Breezy Weekly Fan Newsletter Issue #2

This post is written by committee for the Easy Breezy Fan Club. We hope you enjoy!

Episode 2! Sorry we're later this week, the committee had external important business to attend to. This episode, despite only being the second one, saw a downturn in the production quality, with the character animations suffering most obviously. However, the ideas were still there and this episode has solidly set up the basis from which the rest of the story will play out: the girls have gotten their own club, their own building and even the equipment they need to start animating! What luck! The story is still firmly in the first act right now, but hopefully the cogs are just starting to turn, or should I say windmills?

The shaping and alignment of the boxes around each character reflect their way of thinking.

I feel like the story is still trying to build the sense of cohesion within the club. Last episode it brought them together as friends, but now it is trying to bring them together as a productive team. It especially seems keen to justify Kanamori-shi as an important member. This makes sense since the other two girls' roles are more obvious to anime, while the role of producer is more ambiguous but nevertheless incredibly important, as this episode shows. Without Kanamori-shi's charisma and social finesse the bargaining with the teacher would never have gone well. Midori-chan is too awkward and ungainly, as seen in her attempt to strong-arm her way through negotiations, and Tsubame-chan seems hesitant in her abilities. We did get a glimpse into the strengths that Midori has in animating though, but I'm sad to say the visual execution under-performed in this regard.

Here is a frame from the improved animation Midori drew, imagining how the windmill would turn if only the wind could blow hard enough. This was in turn foreshadowed earlier when the girls are reminded that a storm is coming in the previous scene. This sets up quite cleverly the final shot: of the windmill now truly turning in the storm's gale, nicely tying up that particular object's arc.

Brilliant work by the episode writer, but while we noticed this and were expecting this payoff to come in the form of Midori's own drawings being used to animate the real windmill, this didn't happen for some reason. Instead the payoff shot is from a different angle, and even falls foul of the problem that they discussed right there in the episode! Who ever animated that deserves to not get paid...

On closer inspection, the central axle is actually misaligned too, double oops!

One thing that was excellent this episode was the architectural design. It seems every location in this show has to be weird in some way. The teacher's office being locating inside an old swimming pool, the interesting elevated monorail station design or the part of the school built atop a river. The latter in particular being a reflection of Midori's house in the first episode, showing Tsubame's relative sheltered innocence as an ojou-sama compared to the other girls as she has never seen this before.

You can even see the old ladder used to get in and out of the pool.

So although this episode saw some wobbles in execution (I put it down to the new-to-TV-anime studio Saru), the execution is still there and you can tell there is someone holding onto the reins (it's Yuasa-san). Let's hope we keep on seeing the innovative story telling on display, and the Eizouken can take us somewhere we've never been before. See you next week!

PS: The end-illustration this week was from Eureka Seven character designer Kenichi Yoshida. Neat!

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Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The Easy Breezy Weekly Fan Newsletter Issue #1

This post is written by committee for the Easy Breezy Fan Club. We hope you enjoy!

The new TV anime project from Masaaki Yuasa-san has finally arrived and it's as great as we'd hoped! Episode one was an exciting introduction to the characters, their motives and their interests. Here is an introduction and our thoughts on them:
  • Midori Asakusa: Otaku-type. Specific interest in architecture, mechanical design and town planning. Small in stature and ego but highly passionate and eccentric about her interests. Kami-nihilist and mad scientist type.
  • Sayaka Kanamori: Producer-type. Utilitarian minded with an eye for financial gain and project management. Awkward in stature but not timid, she has a hidden drive and disingenuous facade. Statistician and autist-wrangler type.
  • Tsubame Mizusaki: Beauty-type. Upper class girl with a talent for human-form artistry. Attractive style and with a extroverted but open heart. Rebellious princess and repressed otaku type.
The OP is so catchy! I can't get it out of my head.

Tsubame-chan is my favourite. Her distinctive Yuasa-san style character design and ojou-sama archetype appeal to me a lot, she looks just like Yuasa-san's version of Miki-chan from Devilman! Midori-chan is the most relatable and as such acts as my main character, as I would guess was intended. However Kanamori-shi is the clear fan favourite! Her design is unique and striking, and as such allow for some fun poses. Her style is not my type, but I think she is a fun character that bounces off Midori very well. Her accent and verbal ticks feed into her moe appeal. All the voice actors are also refreshing, some voices you don't normally hear in anime.

The characters are all distinctive and have distinctive silhouetting, well done character designer Asano Naoyuki-san. With such talent on board I'm not even surprised the show is so good.

I want to join the Robot club! Cute zeon-type monoeye model in the background too.

My favourite part of the show so far is the setting design. The architectural design is dynamic yet consistent, fantastic but grounded. The juxtaposition of old and new architecture is usually an emergent phenomena in town design, with Japan's crowded cities and relaxed building restrictions being the perfect petri-dish for such seemingly bizarre hodgepodged constructions as shown in the show. It's Midori-chan's eye for such things and her ability to see the abnormal which intrigues me. Most people would think twice about the clock that cannot be seen for example. The city is built like a labyrinthine mansion, which is surely the best setting possible! I hope and trust we will see more intricate and clever setting design over the series.

We also got this nice end illustration from Aoki Toshinao-san of the girls in the style of his characters from (the excellent) Hisone & Maso-tan. Hopefully we get more art like this every episode.

Where will the story go from here? We here at the club are sure it must lead to the girls making their own anime, or so it seems. They will have to create a new school club (Eizouken) since Tsubame-chan cannot join the anime club, and with the girls working together as setting artist, character artist and producer we're sure it'll work out. They're just like Anno-san, Akai-san and Yamaga-san!

We here at the Easy Breezy Fan Club sure are excited to see what is coming up and will be sure to release issue #2 when the next episode comes out! Faito Yuasa-sama! Faito Eizouken!

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Saturday, 4 January 2020

Complementary Eyes in Koisuru Asteroid

The first episode of Koisuru Asteroid aired today, and the character designers at Dogakobo Studio are again showing their prowess. This time the animation is more subtle, with the emphasis being put on character action and colour design. In particular I noticed the eyes.

Images should be clicked to view in full.

Mira, right & Ao, left

First is the protagonist, Mira. Her genki enthusiasm for astronomy drives her character, she is a person driven by passion rather than analysis. Her love of stargazing is mostly aesthetic and her knowledge of the subject is small (for now), but the emotions she feels towards it are stronger than the more analytically inclined can muster. Her eyes are the most striking in the show, befitting of the main character. They depict the moment of the appearance of the first star over a sunset in a darkening sky, a moment of mystery and wonder. Immediately captivating but not complex, this is contrasted with her bashful counterpart, Ao.

Ao's eyes reflect a more subtle image. One of the deep-blue serene night sky and the possibility of a coming sunrise. Being complementary to Mira's colour-wise, her single highlight-cum-star is orange, possibly the final star of the night. The night sky is only truly visible when the sky has fully darkened, which her blue eyes depict. This more complex image is one of Ao's analytical mind and her vast knowledge base on the topic, one that Mira is sure to coax out of her.

Inose, left & Sakurai, right

Next are the two Geologists of the club, Inose and Sakurai. While their eyes are individually simplistic, together they form a married couple. Inose's are emerald with a maroon tint, while Sakurai's are inversed: maroon with an emerald tint. This is a beautiful little visual marker of the link between the two and their relationship as boke senpai and tsukkomi kouhai.

Other characters elicit less interest in their eyes, with more focus on colour as generic indicators of their types. The relaxed (ara ara) club president has relaxed, "boring" brown eyes, while the Tomoyo-esque over-protective best friend character has purple eyes; which in the world of anime often indicates a depraved insanity. But I would assume a suppressed version in this case.

The show really is something pretty to look at, and it's nice seeing Dogakobo keep building on their past works to become moe gods. The Dogakobo girl (and specifically eyes) will define the next few years's moe, taking the reins from the KyoAni girl of the previous decade.

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