The Chuuni Corner

Anime reviews, Chuunibyou, and other writings

Category: Writing

Banjo’s Top 7 Summer 2017 Anime

Sakura Quest / Episode 20 / Sanae, Maki, Yoshino, Shiori, and Ririko standing together

And the best from Summer 2017 include….

Thinking about these past few months, a lot has happened for and around me.

Some of it was good, like indulging in other hobbies and being recognized at my day job. Some of it wasn’t so good, like a recent medical scare (which thankfully turned out to be nothing) and the passing of a close family member. In the end, life’s responsibilities shift and sway in importance and priority, and so anime cannot always be the foremost thing on my mind.

Despite the above detours and difficulties on both sides, though, an apparent truth has surfaced: Anime itself isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. A tale about a mysterious interdimensional restaurant or a story about a psychotic gambler are here to stay no matter how late I myself happen to be in posting these various threads.

As such, it makes perfect sense for me to finally reveal my favorite anime from this interesting season. Fourteen separate shows had the opportunity for glory. While seven spots were available, only one has claimed the title of Best Anime of Summer 2017.

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Made in Abyss and Building a World

Made in Abyss / Episode 1 / The city of Orth which surrounds the Great Pit, otherwise known as the Abyss

What does “world-building” mean and do for a story?

I’ve had the great fortune of visiting Walt Disney World multiple times over.

True to the name, it’s a world all its own. A place where I seriously lose myself and leave my worries behind me. It achieves this effect by meticulously building itself up piece by piece, brick by brick. The mythical kingdoms. The delicious foodstuffs. The silly characters. These aspects and more combine into a park-away-from-home, a special experience unlike any other.

Stories enjoy building their worlds, too. We cannot visit them in person, of course, for they are stuck behind a computer screen or printed onto paper. But they build their worlds just the same, hoping to achieve a similar, captivating outcome.

Last year, during the Summer 2017 season, a “little-known” anime by the title of Made in Abyss arrived with splendor in tow. To put it lightly, this show swept the community off their chairs with its grand adventure and intense direction. However, almost none of the praise it received would have been possible without the story building the world in which it was contained. So, the anime got me thinking two major questions.

What does building a world mean, and how is Made in Abyss so effective at it?

This essay will attempt to convey the idea of world-building. First through a general description, then with its specific functions derived from other mediums, and finally leveraging the anime Made in Abyss to bring everything together. Along the way, the presented research should hopefully address what world-building is, how it is used, and why it is important for a story.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

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Banjo’s Top 5 Spring 2017 Anime

Little Witch Academia (TV) / Episode 1 / Akko seeing the Leyline

Which anime beat out the competition this Spring 2017?

I’m just now finishing up Spring 2017 season, but I’m slowly catching up!

It takes me so long because, to me, every anime deserves a shot. I don’t care what it is; I will give it its fair shake and try it out. From a dramatic story about two unfortunate people to a kindhearted tale about a grandfather and his granddaughter, I find it important to approach everything with fairness and respect and professionalism. It’s how I’ve always behaved as a writer and critic, and it’s how I’ll continue to behave for as long as I take part in this awesome medium.

Thus, with fairness in mind, we look back on this season and all that it offered. I myself tackled and reviewed eleven series in total. Of these eleven, only five earned a spot on this list, and just one claimed the prize of Best Anime of Spring 2017.

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Little Witch Academia and Thematic “Magic”

Little Witch Academia / Episode 1 / Akko smiling bright

What theme does Little Witch Academia explore?

Anime gives me everything I want in stories and then some.

One story may have compelling characters whose traits make me laugh. Another story may take on a completely different artistic style that dazzles my eyes with its strangeness. Then there could be a story that entertains me outright with moments of solid drama, crazy action, or sweet romance.

On that note, and just recently, I finished Little Witch Academia, Trigger’s famous and beloved anime from last year that won the hearts of many. A story about a girl’s dream to become as great a witch as her role model, the characters, the style, and the moments therein impressed me.

However, like always, I took a keen interest in the “…and then some” part of my original statement. And so I wished to know: What is this anime really about on a deeper level?

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Banjo’s Top 7 Winter 2017 Anime

Demi-chan wa Kataritai / Episode 12 / Hikari attempting to reminisce her way out of trouble

A stacked Winter 2017, but which ones overtake the others?

As everyone contemplates their favorite anime of the year and looks forward to what the next one will bring, I’m over here still in Winter 2017!

Mind you, I’m not complaining, for this season was strong. Perhaps the strongest I’ve ever reviewed in my three-year writing career.

Sequels brought their A-game. Adaptations could not be quelled. Even a semi-original managed to make the mix. From dragon maids to reincarnated classical geniuses, this season had a lot to offer.

Best of all, out of the thirteen anime I watched and completed, I handed out not one but two — yes, two — perfect scores. That has never happened for me before in a single season and may never happen again. Hopefully this rarity should be evidence enough for its strength

At this point, I normally provide a relevant anecdote that gives me a nice segue into the crux of this post. But, this season is so good, that we’re just going to get right into it. After all, I know you are really here to see which anime I found to be the winners — and the one among them that earned the coveted title of Best Anime of Winter 2017.

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Kemono Friends and Nostalgic Charm

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What makes Kemono Friends so gosh darn charming?

I am (gasp) an adult.

I have my own desk at work. I manage my monthly bills. I buy my own ice cream. The regular grown-up stuff. After having this greater sense of responsibility for a while now, I wouldn’t trade it away for anything.

Sometimes, though, I reminisce about my younger days. When I was but a kid, hanging out in the basement of my parents’ home to escape the sweltering summer heat. I’d watch cartoons all day and play video games all night – a perfect use of my time.

It’s tough to feel like a kid nowadays. I’m way too busy, and life in general riles up for one reason or another. Then along comes Kemono Friends. An anime about a child, her anthropomorphic animal companion, and their small journey together.

This show contains an incredible amount of charm. Charm that it uses to try and make its audience forget about adulthood for approximately four hours total. The fact that I’m here writing out this essay is evidence enough that the anime’s strange affinity for charm stood out to me in an interesting manner.

And so it got me wondering: What makes Kemono Friends so gosh darn charming?

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Banjo’s Top 5 Fall 2016 Anime

Fune wo Amu / Episode 3 / Kaguya looking both mature and beautiful

And the winners of Fall 2016 are…

I got to see something yesterday that I never have before: a solar eclipse.

Many parts of the world and half the Internet were abuzz with the phenomenon; it got me that much more excited. Thankfully, our workplace handed out those special protective glasses, and they allowed the entire office to step outside for around ten minutes.

While just one celestial body moving in front of another, and only partial coverage occurred from my location, it was truly an amazing sight. An event hundreds of thousands of miles away that manages to get people looking upwards and thinking for a brief period about something that almost anyone can agree on as being downright interesting.

I’m lucky enough to encounter a similar sort of experience all the time with anime. Yes, I get to see more anime than I do eclipses. But when I start up a story that centers on an impassioned ice skater or that blazes ahead in occult fashion, I can’t help but get excited about what interesting events are in store for my viewing pleasure.

Thus, it has also come time for us (mostly me because I’m seasonally behind at the moment) to celebrate what interesting anime Fall 2016 had to offer. Ten anime got into position, and five stood out above the rest. But only one eclipsed the others, earning the grand title of Best Anime of Fall 2016.

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Fune wo Amu and the Words of Dialogue

Fune wo Amu / Episode 2 / The Daitokai dictionary in figurative form

What does dialogue do for a story?

“To be or not to be, that is the question.”

That’s the start to one of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies, and it’s arguably his most well-known line. It comes from Hamlet, a play about the titular prince as he attempts to uncover the unjust death against his father (the king) while he contemplates life and semi-devolves into madness.

It’s been on my mind because I recently finished 1948’s Hamlet [1], starring Sir Laurence Olivier as the prince himself. (He also directed and produced the film; he could do it all.) The acting was great, and the specter was spooky, but it was really Shakespeare’s words that drove the entire story. Puns, memorable quotes. More specifically, the dialogues — be that with a group, one other person, or with themselves — created the drama and breathed life into the characters.

Shortly after completing Hamlet, I also finished an anime that went somewhat undetected during the Fall 2016 season: Fune wo Amu. This anime likewise places heavy emphasis on words but to a more thematic level. So, it got me thinking. How does Fune wo Amu use its own words to craft dialogue?

The following essay will investigate dialogue. What it is, what it can do, and ultimately what it creates. Hopefully, by the end of this piece, you will not only have a better appreciation of Fune wo Amu but also a greater understanding of dialogue as a whole.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

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Banjo’s Top 10 Summer 2016 Anime

91 Days / Episode 1 / Angelo looking down with a menacing grin dominating his face

Which earned attendance this Summer 2016?

Anime inspires me.

It’s one of the reasons why I love this medium so much. It doesn’t always happen with every show I watch, but there are those times when an anime connects with me, going beyond the fancy visuals or comedic asides on screen.

I had this connection happen in a tremendous manner with this season’s set of shows. After finishing the infamous Orange, it inspired me to approach my once-per-season mega essay differently. I made it less strict and more personal. I called my essay Orange and Learning Life Lessons, and it targets precisely what the title details.

Now, in the end, Orange messed up its execution quite a bit (and barely did not make my list), but I nonetheless found myself inspired by what it presented. I saw part of myself in Naho. I empathized with Kakeru. I found that its thoughts on life and living aligned with my own.

Yes, this prologue is an easy excuse to (shamelessly) self-promote that piece of mine once again. But it also serves to highlight something a lot more important. That is, from the top-tier diamonds to the bottom-of-the-barrel chaff, anime can inspire in ways not thought possible.

Maybe an ultra-grotesque show gets one thinking about religion. Maybe a complete life do-over makes one wonder what could have gone differently in their own. Or maybe it causes one to try out a new style of writing. It doesn’t matter if the show is “good” or “bad.” What does matter is that a strong connection has been made, inspiring like never before.

In keeping with the spirit of inspiration, this season inspired me to (yet again) compose a list of the best of the best. In total, nineteen different anime vied for a coveted spot. Ten tickets were handed out, and only one among them was given the title of Best Anime of Summer 2016.

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Orange and Learning Life Lessons

Orange / Episode 1 / The group having fun together

A letter from me to you

Like many people, I have ideals. Tenets that I uphold and morals that I adhere to. One of my biggest is summed up as a singular phrase: no regrets.

I do my best to live a life that I can be proud of. Where I can get up, think about yesterday, and say to myself, “That was a good day; I have no regrets.” Often times, I will step back from what I am currently doing and make sure that it’s something worthwhile. Something that I won’t worry about later.

That’s not to say I don’t have regrets. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid them. I regret staying up too late despite having work early in the morning. I regret not keeping my hobby of reading books going strong. I regret not visiting with my grandmother more as she lay lonely in hospice.

I do regret, I have regretted, a lot in my life. I have made small mistakes that have kept me up at night, and I have made royal screw-ups that impacted the very paths I would eventually walk.

However, as Orange claims — and as I reinforce — having regrets is not the end.

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