Anime 2013 End of year review – January/February

Since I missed the 12 days of anime I decided to do a retrospective look on memorable moments of 2013 with regards to anime.  I decided that I would take one moment/event from each month and write a bit about them.

Please note that there may be spoilers for any anime that has been brought up and everything is my own personal opinion

January – Kotoura-san, Her shocking first episode and Irredeemable friend

Like many others I went into Kotoura-san expecting a very light-hearted comedy revolving around the trials of a girl with mind reading powers.  However the first episode showed not only the dark side of having said powers but it’s very cruel consequences.  The first episode in question showed Kotoura as a child growing up with her mind reading powers.  However Kotoura is unable to turn her power off or at least distinguish between what people are saying and what they are thinking.  It starts innocently enough with being able to guess what’s for breakfast and what others really want to drink but gets far worse when she inadvertently reveals secrets of her friends and parents.  Which causes her to be ostracised by her friends and even abandoned by her mother.  The episode sets out to get the viewer to feel a lot of sympathy for Kotoura and her situation.  Whether this was too heavy handed or completely forced can be argued at length but for the most part it worked for me, which makes the next part of Kotoura and what follows more memorable for me.

In the early episodes Kotoura transfers to a new school.  Having her powers makes her a social outcast rather quickly causing her to move schools rather quickly.  However this time she finds a few people who accept her and her powers.  One of which is the love interest of the series, Manabe, who likes to tease her with his mental images.  The attention he gives does not go unnoticed which causes a fellow classmate Moritani to actively bully Kotoura.  It is revealed that Moritani is in love with  Manabe but is jealous of Kotoura.  Her bullying efforts come to a head when members of her families dojo members beat up Manabe on her behalf.  She instructed them to beat him up but they take it too far and he ends up in hospital due to his injuries.  After a while Moritani confesses everything and seeks forgiveness from everyone, which in turn leads her to be friends with Kotoura et al.  The main problem I have with this is I don’t think Moritani should have been so easily forgiven nor did I like her.  Her initial appearance ruins her character for the rest of the series.  One of the things I hate is a bully and who use underhanded tactics.  Moritani was not only responsible for putting another character through hell due to jealousy but hospitalising her crush.  She doesn’t properly atone for her actions.  Making her perhaps one of the anime worst characters of the year.

February – 5cm/s a story about the distance between the audience and the door

Each year along with Scotland Loves Anime, The Glasgow Film Theatre shows anime as part of a youth festival.  In previous years they showed showed such films as the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and Children who chase lost voices.  In 2013 they showed From up on Poppy Hill, Wolf Children and a mystery film with a preceding cosplay competition.  The films were all shown in one day on a Sunday in February.  While Wolf Children and From up on Poppy Hill were fantastic movies the most memorable part of the day came from the events surrounding the mystery film.  When entering the cinema everyone was handed a pair of 3D glasses but before we could all wear them for the film there was a cosplay competition to get through.  The host/main judge was Robert Florence, comedian and games journalist.  I should start by saying that I am not really a fan of cosplay.  I’ve never cosplayed before and don’t have any intention to do so but can appreciate the effort that people go through for it.  The entrants were a mix of veterans and complete amateurs.  There was a group cosplaying as Team Rocket from Pokemon, Sakura from Card Captor Sakura and even some Final Fantasy cosplay.  However the competition was won by a small child donning a wolf mask and cape.  The cosplay was their first ever attempt.  In my opinion this child truly deserved to win for various reasons.  The child was sitting behind me in the cinema and was there with their mum and sibling(I forget their genders as masks were worn).  The child dressed as a wolf was very nervous about getting up in front of people but was convinced to go by their family.  Having won must have gave them a huge confidence boost, not only that their prize was an unbelievably good assortment of anime DVDs and merchandise.  Really was a nice start to the mystery event.  However things took a turn when Andrew Partridge revealed the mystery film was 009 Re:Cyborg but they did not get their materials in time so instead we’d be watching 5 Centimetres per second.

As for 5 Centimetres per second here are my thoughts on the experience of watching it in the cinema.  At this point I had already seen the film 3 times, all of which on the DVD version I own.  The cost for this mystery film event was more than the current price of the film on DVD and the runtime is an hour.  Now I’m not disputing the value price of seeing it in the cinema when a DVD is cheaper and that watching something that barely lasts an hour is not worth it.  What I am saying though is this event made it painfully clear that 5cm/s does not work as a film to be shown in cinema to an audience who was not expecting to see it.  While the DVD is something that can put on and enjoyed at home the cinematic experience made the film feel longer than it is.  I was reminded of long static shots filled with silence, the long winded and bizarre inner monologues of the characters and how little a plot the film has.  Although the visuals are still impressive if not more so seeing them on the big screen.

However the Glasgow crowd was not impressed.  During the quiet moments there was various forms of heckling resulting from people shouting that they’ve gave up, exclaiming boredom and even jeers at implied sex from the dialogue.  Once the film finished there were quite a few conversations I recall regarding demanding a refund.  I guess there were a few as the orginisers offered a free screening of the actual mystery film to those who were disappointed by the 5cm/s screening but that will be saved for another post.

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