All posts by Syrup

About Syrup

22 y/o Anime Lover

A Whisker Away Anime Review: Learning to Grow

A story can have amazing artwork, animation, story and all that jazz but what it fundamentally needs is heart. Characters drive the story. If the characters are uninteresting or unlikable, the viewers aren’t going to be interested in any of their actions. and they are certainly not going to be rooting for what the characters are aiming to do, their desires and their aspirations. This is one of the primary criticism that comes up when talking about A Whisker Away: Miyo is annoying and Kento is uninteresting.

This is one complaint I will not understand about A Whisker Away. The movie, first and foremost, is targeted towards children. It does exceptionally well at keeping the characters simple and direct. Miyo is the girl with a troubled past and seeks to be happy with the boy she loves. Kento is a boy who has the burden of supporting the family and has trouble expressing himself. Yoriko is the sensitive and caring friend of Miyo. Characters don’t need to be overly complicated for them to be third dimensional. They simply need to make choices that fit the context of their personality. This is what makes characters believable. If the character was perfect already, there wouldn’t be much to talk about.

Miyo on the surface is a happy go lucky girl who likes a boy in her class. However, as we will come to understand, her home life isn’t all that pleasant. She was bullied at a young age because of her parent’s divorce. She doesn’t understand why things are the way they are but suffers for it. She is too young to. And.. she has found an easy way to run from all her problems. She can turn into a cat and go to the place she loves the most. Much like drugs are an escape from reality, so is the mask. She becomes reliant to the mask and it makes sense. It is the only thing that gives her happiness. When she is faced with a dilemma at the lowest point of her life, after being rejected by her crush and having a fall out with her family, the cunning cat mask seller appears and convinces her to give up her human mask and become a cat permanently. However, the mask, is not without any consequences.

The mask seller is the personification of our dark thoughts that implants fear and doubt into our heads. He is cunning and while he makes some very minor appearances, he appears at some of Miyo’s lowest points in her life. This is very much intended to be metaphorical. We all have dark thoughts when we hit our lowest points. We doubt ourselves when we feel insecure and rejected. Ultimately, he wants us to make mistakes. But when we are isolated for a long period of time, and feel detached from our friends and family, and the world, the mask seller starts to make sense. Difficult choices start to become easy to make and just like Miyo, we make irreversible mistakes.

The ramifications of her actions catch up to her. She will soon turn into a real cat with a shortened lifespan. She will also be unable to understand humans. She witnesses her friends and family genuinely scared for her life. Miyo realises that there are no simple solution to our problems. The only way to make our problems go away is to solve it, no matter how difficult. This point of the story is superb. It feels real. From the start we are shown Miyo’s behaviour. She keeps unpleasant feeling bottled up inside her and explodes. Her outbursts are how she got the mask in the first place. However after realising that one cannot simply run from their problems, she decides to tackle them directly. And this is her growing up.

The movie does many things right. And in this sense, the use of lighting & colour is one that is abundantly clear. It can be argued as one of the best in the medium. At emotionally difficult moments, darker shades of blue are used to invoke feelings of sadness and isolation. When Miyo visits places she loves, the lighting is warm and energetic. During more sinister moments, it’s dark and mysterious. Scenes are never clustered and instead kept relatively clear and focused. The animation is fun and creative. One that stands out most is the cat mask seller. His movements are erratic, unpredictable and, fun. He is mythical, so his eyes are yellow and pierce into your soul. He is mysterious, so he comes out of weird places like pots, then vanishes into thin air. He is sinister and powerful, so he towers over others.

Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen Anime Review

Genre

  • Shounen
  • Action
  • Supernatural

Introduction

Going in blindly from a recommendation, I decided to try this anime out of sheer boredom and after one episode, my boredom was cured.

Jujutsu Kaisen without giving much away, is a shounen anime about Cursed Spirits and Sorcerers. The protagonist, Yuji Itadori is a physically gifted high school student living a relatively normal life. One day, he unknowingly picks up a cursed item and hands it over to his fellow classmates. Some unfortunate events down the line, Itadori swallows the item to gain power which results in him becoming a vessel for the curse.

Characters

As a fan of One piece and of Luffy, it is very easy for me to dig Itadori’s “don’t give a fuck” attitude. Starting off as a relatively easy-going, high-spirited kid, the death of his grandfather and his parting words makes Itadori realise the importance of life. This motivates him to eat the cursed finger of Sukuna (the king of curses) to obtain enough power to protect his friends from suffering an improper death. While he is level headed and composed at most times, he can become very emotional and impulsive when witnessing unfair and cruel behaviours. All in under one episode we are given his personality, origin, and his motivations which helps him become an interesting and complex character.

Story

The story grabs the viewer from the very beginning with an intriguing hook – the protagonist has been abducted and is said to be executed by an unknown individual. The high stakes keep the viewer on edge as the story switches to a more light-hearted tone while also building the dangers of possessing cursed items. All this tension explodes when a curse attacks his friends and Itadori is faced with a dilemma of whether to protect them or run away.

Visuals

Jujutsu Kaisen is one of the most beautiful looking I have ever watched. Not only is it extremely aesthetic, but also fluid and stylistic. The camera movement is experimental with amazing tracking and POV shots. The shake effects make every punch and hit feel impactful and as if you’re part of the action. The great choreography ensures the viewer doesn’t get lost with what is happening around them.

Music and Sound effects

The Curses have terrifying sound effects befitting of their designs and mannerisms. During action sequences, the dark orchestral music complements the frightening tone of the series.

Conclusion

Jujutsu Kaisen has all the great makings of a good anime. Great visuals, characters, premise, and soundtrack. Everything fits so damn well together and every element complements each other making this anime such a joy to watch.

Castlevania Sypha

Netflix’s Castlevania Review

For fans of the supernatural genre, Castlevania has it all –  Vampires, Monsters, Monster Hunters, Magicians and Sorcerers. Based on a video game and manga of the same name, the story is about the vampire Vlad Tepes exacting revenge on the citizens of Wallachia for executing his wife, Lisa. Causing mass genocide by unleashing all kinds of horrifying monsters into Wallachia directly from hell itself, Trevor Belmont, a monster hunter attempts to stop him in his tracks.

There are many positives to talk about in this anime inspired cartoon, including the voice acting, story-telling, character design, aesthetics, and animation.

As it is an American cartoon, the voice acting is perfectly casted and incredibly well done with believable performances all around, reminiscent of Hellsing Ultimate (another anime about vampires). The realistic art style supports the mature tone of the series which is already riddled with gore and violence.

The storytelling is immersive and can make you feel like you’re playing an rpg video game as the main cast visit different locations and interact with the local residents discovering new information and challenges they must overcome. This is quite intentional as the cartoon was primarily adapted from an action-adventure game.

There is never a dull moment to be had as there are a great deal of interesting characters, each with their own goals and motivations along with concurrent events occuring in different parts of Wallachia which keeps the story fresh and compact.

While the animation can feel lazy and stiff at times, it kicks up a notch during action scenes displaying some of the most beautifully choreographed fight sequences in anime. Effects of fire, water and other elements are especially well animated and the use of lighting and colour adds a cold and grim atmosphere to reflect the severity of Dracula’s actions.

Trevor Belmont

On a negative note, some intriguing plot threads I would have liked to explore more thoroughly had been skimmed through to make room for the primary story. The story can feel quite rushed as there were far too many characters to address in 4 seasons. In contrast to earlier seasons, ordinary citizens who are the primary victims of the ongoing war between humans and vampires are given no room for dialogue. Feeling detached from these ordinary citizens hurts the actions of the protagonists as their primary goal is to save these people.

Castle in the Sky Review: An Epic Fantasy Adventure

Castle in the Sky is an epic fantasy adventure following a brave pair of adolescent orphans, Sheeta and Pazu on a quest to discover the mysterious castle, Laputa. On their journey, the children encounter some troublesome, slap-happy comical band of pirates and maniacal government agents.

The dazzling visuals are sure to transport any viewer into the dreamy wonderland designed by Hayao Miyazaki. The stark contrast between the industrialised steampunk constructions and the beautiful dynamic natural landscape in the world of Laputa creates a very stand-out unique feel – which has managed to inspire countless animated movies including WALL-E and Up.

Every Sci-Fi design, whether it’s airships or towns leave a sense of wonder as to whether they could exist in reality due to the sheer amount of detail that’s put into them. Characters are simplistic yet easily distinguishable as their outfits are reflective of their lifestyle while their mannerisms flow in a subtle yet unique way that synchronizes well with their personality.

The two hour thrilling atmosphere leaves minimal room for dialog due to the plot-driven nature of the narrative, so qualms about character depth are fair. While there are hints of character motivation, the information is certainly lackluster and unimaginative. However, this doesn’t mean the characters are dull. In fact, Pazu and Sheeta’s actions are inspiring as their brave hearts never falter while encountering many dangerous obstacles. Pazu’s willingness to dive head first into danger for his friends are some of the greatest moments in the anime.

Great Teacher Onizuka Review

Great Teacher Onizuka Review: Great Lessons

An unorthodox teacher attempting to teach children about the value of friendship over studying is a far cry from any original premise, however, Great Teacher Onizuka isn’t attempting to be anything revolutionary. GTO is quite simply, a what-if scenario.

What if your teacher tried to understand your internal struggles? What if he was approachable and relatable? What if he tried his best to ensure your school life was full of happy memories so that when you’re older, you can look back and say, “Those were the happiest moments in my life.”

Eikichi Onizuka, much like the standard shounen protagonist, manages to teach important and valuable lessons about life while also being an idiotic and perverted goofball. He may appear to be quite careless and absent-minded but when it counts, he is the most dependable teacher to have by your side. Students are depicted as real human beings with real problems rather than ungrateful “brats” acting out their selfish desires.

This is only the tip of the iceberg because while GTO is able to craft very real and intricate personalities, it’s also an unadulterated comedic gold. The expectation vs reality parallel between Onizuka’s perverted fantasies and reality make some of the most hilarious moments in the anime. Not to mention his pure stupidity allows troublesome students to play countless pranks on him.

Perfect Blue review

Perfect Blue Review: A Movie Ahead Of Its Time

Perfect Blue follows the story of a celebrity on her transition from an innocent idol to a mature actress. Unfortunately, her transition isn’t as simple when she begins to realise she’s gradually losing her grip on reality and her identity. Perfect Blue is a narrative that manages to be quite relevant today, perhaps even more so in this modern age of social media.

Celebrity life isn’t something that’s taught and can come quite unexpectedly. It’s appropriate to say that one must be mentally prepared and have a strong sense of self-worth and pride to keep stern at both positivity and negativity. An unresolved individual is sure to be consumed by the brutality of internet trolls and obsessed admirers.

Amongst the constant disarray and confucius predicaments in Mima’s (our protagonist) life, there is a clear motif put forth by the director that highlights the ramifications of not knowing oneself. While this is a perfectly satisfactory topic to talk about, Satoshi Kon manages to go deeper by calling attention to the importance of understanding the clear distinction between one’s public persona and their private life, which is a topic more relevant today than it was 20 years ago.

Perfect Blue is a flawless anime about the diabolical nature of the obsessed and irresolute mind.

Hajime no Ippo Review

Hajime no Ippo Review: A road to Success

Hobby is something one does for leisure and entertainment while passion is something one cannot live without. Full devotion towards a certain goal or achievement is the essence of passion and such is the narrative of Hajime no Ippo, the road to success.

The road to success is tough. Self-doubt and uncertainty are only a few of many struggles one must face on his journey. Ippo is no stranger to this. Bullied all his life, unable to develop friendships and also just, really wimpy. But this all changes when he meets a boxer and finds his passion and love for boxing.

There are certainly quite a few anime that fall into the “sport” or “action” anime category, however, while they go for the cool factor or even enter the supernatural realm, they fundamentally lack character depth. Hajime no Ippo manages to go deeper, displaying how passion and concentration can change one’s outlook on life with a more content and cheerful eyes, how an individual can go from having absolutely zero friends to having worthwhile and meaningful friends, and how he can realise he’s capable of much more than he once thought possible.

So much care is taken into every character that fights in the ring. It is not just Ippo that is trying to become number one in the professional world. Everyone has trained for their own goals and motivations. Whether it is to make money or a promise they made to a loved one, they have given it their all for a moment to shine in the ring. It all culminates in the stadium where the one that has not only trained harder, but also has the spirit and drive to rise above and beyond that will ultimately attain victory.

Hajime no Ippo is a beautiful anime about the journey to becoming the best version of yourself. There are many lessons in this anime that are sure to be of some value to anyone that’s watching.

Monster anime review naoki urasawa

Monster Anime Review: Naoki Urasawa’s Masterpiece

Monster is one of the many critically acclaimed manga/anime series by Naoki Urasawa. The anime follows the story of an intelligent Japanese neurosurgeon Dr. Tenma whose life takes a grim turn after deciding to operate on a child over the mayor, going against his director’s orders.

It’s rare to find an anime that dives into the depths of the human mind in such a masterful and realistic way like Monster. Capabilities of the human mind are infinite and while one is capable of love, another is capable of committing awful atrocities. Monster flawlessly manages to highlight and represent these extremities by drawing a parallel of “good” and “evil” through Dr. Tenma and Johan Liebert.

But who decides if one is “good” or “evil”? Are we born equal? Do monsters exist or are they just flawed human beings like you and I? These are just a few of the many moral dilemmas Monster presents for its viewers to contemplate.

Supporting casts are carefully crafted and and serve their purpose beautifully on the protagonist’s journey without superseding their boundaries. The art style is realistic and detailed with a strong emphasis on capturing the characters’ facial expressions and emotions. Each individual feels authentic with their own unique personalities and mannerisms; from how they dress to how they speak.

Baccano! Review

Baccano! Review

Baccano! is an anime adaptation of a novel written by Ryohgo Narita who’s more notoriously known for creating the critically-acclaimed anime and manga, Durarara!! It is a 13 episode epic story about alchemists, immortals, gangsters and outlaws who happen to interweave aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, leaving trails of unfortunate events along the way.

When does a story start? Does it need a beginning? Does it even need a protagonist? Too often writers are caught up conforming to some standard, some convention, because after all, why break something that works? It’s rather rare to see an author challenge the very essence of storytelling.

Enter the incredible disjointed and scattered world of Baccano! This anime has some of the most diversified range of characters, not simply ranging in personalities but also from differing eras. Characters from all backgrounds intermingle and coincide together resulting in some fascinating and intriguing interactions.

Suspense is the anime’s speciality. Each episode feels purposeful and important, unraveling its many secrets, leaving the viewer paranoid and uncertain of what’s to come. The clever use of setting gives a sense of claustrophobia as the plot gradually moves forward, independent of any individual’s choice as they’re part of a much larger story.

Costume designs are top-notch, primarily reflective of the 1930s where the majority of the story transpires, while the jazzy musical choice reinforces the period’s classy atmosphere. Animation is excellent and remains throughout, unafraid to display graphic imagery of which the story relishes in.

Baccano! is an example of a story that isn’t afraid to take risks in order to reap the highest reward, and does so successfully. I recommend this to anyone that is a fan of unconventional storytelling, loves good ol’ gore and enjoys suspenseful thrillers.