Summer 2012 OPs and EDs

None of the OPs and EDs of the shows we’re reviewing have knocked our socks off, but there are certainly good ones and bad ones. Let’s explore:

Tari Tari
OP: The cast running around like they’re on a sugar high to forgettable music. Rating: 2
ED: The cast sitting on a ledge, followed by panning closeups, accompanied by muzak. Boring! Rating: 2

Accel World
OP: Goofy techno beat (there is good techno, this is not it), generic action/character montage, and naked Haru flying around. Guh. Rating: 2
ED: Similarly underwhelming. Rating: 2

Binbougami-ga!
OP: One-way Two-way Three-way Four-way No way this is a great opening. Kinda catchy though. Rating: 2.5
ED: Shots of the two leads in various outfits. Well-drawn, but random. Rating: 2.5

Hyouka
OP: Very well-animated, but paired with uninspiring music, and the whole “Oreki stuck inside reflections” thing…it’s just bludgeoning us in the heads with its symbolism. Rating: 3
ED: Corny Sherlock/Watson cosplay. We get it, they’re like, detectives! Rating: 2.5

Kokoro Connect
OP: We like the flying logo, but the rest is your standard high schoolish opening, much like Tari Tari. Rating: 2.5
ED: We like how the ending theme plays over the next episode preview, then segues seamlessly into the ED; a novel approach. The music is nice and funky and complements the ‘winding down’ sunset visuals. Not too shabby! Rating: 3.5

Eureka Seven AO
OP: Great Animation, so-so music. Overall, not bad. Rating: 3
ED: In no danger of supplanting our favorite EDs, ‘Tip Taps’, but not bad either. Rating: 3

Sword Art Online
OP: Comely visuals and a theme that gets us pumped up without getting irritating (though we don’t really dig the dissonance in the last sung lines.). Nothing extraordinary, but competently done. Rating: 3
ED: Nice slow, graceful vertical character pans, so-so music. Rating: 3

Rinne no Lagrange 2
OP: We loved the first season’s OP. We just like this. Rating: 3
ED: This actually improved last season’s ED by expanding on it and making it weirder. Very catchy theme. Rating: 3.5

Natsuyuki Rendezvous
OP: Pleasant enough visuals (we liked the multi-burst character portraits) paired with fairly generic music for the genre. Rating: 3
ED: Gorgeous visuals and better music. Rating: 3.5

Muv-Luv Alternative
OP: It’s not the prettiest, but the quirky pulsing techno-rock sells it. Rating: 3.5
ED: Pretty standard visuals, but again the music steals the show, progressing from a smooth and breezy ballad to more urgent battle music appropriate to the series’ harsh setting. Rating: 3.5

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Mimi wo Sumaseba

During summer vacation, lazy bookworm Tsukishima Shizuku observes an cat riding on the train. Intrigued, she decides to follow him. The chase leads her to Amasawa Seiji, a boy who dreams of becoming a violin maker, and The Baron, a cat figurine who, along with Seiji, inspires her to explore her own creative pursuit: a fantasy novel. Shizuku and Seiji fall for one another just as he’s headed off to Italy for two months, and Shizuku contends with the loneliness by burying herself in her novel, affecting her marks and leading to a family meeting. When her trials are over and she delivers the draft of her novel to Seiji’s grandpa, The Baron’s owner, it evokes in him memories of his own lost love. Seiji returns, and he and an elated Shizuki take his bike to the highest point in town to watch the sunrise together.

We’ve wanted to review this film for a while now. Directed by the late Kondou Yoshifumi (who died before his time) with storyboards by Miyazaki, It’s a classic and perhaps our favorite Ghibli film (our top 3 tend to fluctuate), one that focuses on the real-life struggles of young people and limits the fantasy elements to their imaginations. We take an instant liking to Shizuku, remembering the endless possibilities of summer often boiling down to goofing off (or in her case, reading books indoors) until it’s suddenly gone. It’s full of brilliant moments like the transition from the dark clouds encroaching on a summer afternoon to the first day of school when it’s pouring, enhanced by Nomi Yuuji’s stirring, soaring orchestral score (gives us goosebumps every time). Meeting Seiji requires some degree of coincidence – call it fate – but their budding romance is straightforward and expertly handled. There are times, perhaps, when a kiss is called for, but the lack of overt gestures of affection doesn’t detract from the romance here. It’s understated, mature, and feels very real.

The film takes place in beautifully-rendered, intricately-detailed, sprawling West Tokyo in 1994, which is a character in and of itself. The hum and pulse of the city, with its engines and horns and sirens, people weaving around trains and bikes and cars, it’s all so vital and alive. Shizuku’s various moods as she walks and runs through the twisting streets are all perfectly accompanied by Nomi’s score, and there’s great contrast between Shizuku’s crowded, cave-like apartment (God, we love that apartment) and the gorgeous vistas of the dramatically-perched antique store (the vistas from the deck are superb!). We also enjoyed the side characters, from the very cat-like cat Moon to Shizuku’s pushy big sister and progressive parents, who let her do what she wants as long as she takes responsibility if she fails in her creative pursuit.

We could frankly muse about how much ass this film kicks all day. It transports us back to nineties West Tokyo and drops us right in the middle of the life of a girl tentatively striking out on her own road and, while on it, meets someone she can share the journey with. Whenever we watch it, it always lifts our spirits. It even inspired us to write our own novel, while being mindful not to expect instant perfection, but starting with roughly-hewed ore from which gems can be polished through hard work and patience.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Car Cameos: In a word, tons. There are cars, trucks, buses, and bikes zooming every which way, and Shizuku has some close calls while crossing the street or walking alongside it with Seiji. Recognizable models we spotted include a BMW 5-Series (E34); Honda Legend; Hino S’elega bus; an old Mitsubishi Delica; an original Mini Cooper; a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter truck; a Toyota Corolla (E80) multiple Toyota Comfort and Nissan Cedric Y31 taxis; a civilian Toyota Crown (S130); and a  Volkswagen Golf III. We’re not sure what kind of kei van Seiji’s gramps putters around in…or the makes/models of the myriad motorbikes buzzing around.