Sometimes, you just find yourself staring at the screen, mouth agape, as the shiny pictures flash in front of your eyes, and they're just so pretty. I know it seems weird coming from someone who writes (well) over a thousand words on so many shows, but sometimes I just look at my monitor, realize I have no idea what's going on or how to approach it, and just let the shows wash over me.
Stills do this no justice, check the YouTube video down-post
Originally, this post was going to be about Bakemonogatari (and Nisemonogatari) and Mawaru Penguindrum, which I've watched this year, and are so incredibly rich in imagery, and actively assault your senses through multi-layered visual vectors that you just don't know what to look at, and what is real within the show's world. But then, I remembered that there's actually been a single moment which made an entire show worth it, and was just spectacularly well done, and that moment had been the huge fight in FATE/KALEID LINER PRISMA ILLYA - Episodes 5-6.
Well, imagine a fight that spans two episodes, but it's actually dynamic and constantly evolving, rather than people pulling the same stunts over and over, or merely talking. Imagine a fight that is animated at the highest standards of an anime movie, rather than an anime series, well above the level displayed in the endless shounen shows. A fight that is fluid, a fight that is epic, a fight that is beautiful. I remember being absolutely amazed and dazzled when I reached this part of the show, it's the best anime fight I've seen in a long while, and the best animated sequence in general as well. The direction that managed to avoid things being stale is also to be lauded.
I can keep talking and talking, but still shots and gifs just can't convey how great this fight was. Here's the youtube video of the fight, and it obviously contains spoilers. This fight had been as great to watch as it's been to hear the original "I am the bone of my sword" in Fate/Stay Night - and unlike people today, I've watched F/SN in ~2006, and it's been widely liked.
And yes, Fate/Kaleid has more than its share of fan-service, but episodes 5-6 make it all so very worth it.
SO, DEAR READERS, ANY MOMENT THIS YEAR WHERE YOU HAVE FOUND YOURSELF JUST STARING AT THE PRETTY PICTURES, WHO HAD BEEN JUST SO PRETTY?
And now, here are thoughts shared by others, related either to the above shows, or just watching a show in awe:
Fucking Bakemonogatari. Fucking Shaft. This time last year, I'd heard of the name, I'd heard its rep, and I had it sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to take the plunge. This year? I am a bloody fanboy, seeking out and watching shows and reading books just because Shinbo or Nisioisin directed/wrote them.
Bakemonogatari marks my transition - if "transition" is the right word for something more akin to the snapping of a neck - from casual to lifestyle anime watcher. It's my Haruhi Suzumiya, or K-On, or Attack on Titan; my gateway anime, my one show that reveals to me the strange and wonderful and beautiful and delicious possibilities of the medium.
Bakemonogatari, so much to digest, so very stylized.
And it was nuts.
My notes from that time are basically empty; I can only imagine because all it would have been is increasingly frantic variations of "what." When they aren't empty, they're gushing, over Senjougahara and about crazy reasons to reject the "style over substance" criticism. (I'll still gush over Senjougahara, if you give me half a chance :P)
Andmore than the craziness, more than the exceptional unreality of the show, more than its characters-who-are-people-but-also-metaphors, more than its self-aware construction and underlying thematic pins - what really got me with Bakemonogatari was one moment. Yea, that moment. It's become a clichto talk about Bakemono in the same breath as ep12, as if they represent each other or somesuch -- but to me the real draw of the episode was how incredibly beautifully out of place it was. How it constructed this situation and these implicit character relationships that we hadn't seen over the past ten, such that we could imagine it and that it did feel continuous. How it gave us a brilliant little love story in essentially one and a half episodes, wringing the most possible value out of every single aspect of its production, to give the viewer the best possible experience for these thirty minutes of his or her life.
And yes, I said. I want more of this.
And I got it!
In Mawaru Penguindrum you can't tell where the metaphor ends and reality begins. Not a Shaft Studio anime.
FALCONHAXX: WATCHING AND REWATCHING BAKEMONOGATARI
WATCHING BAKEMONOGATARI and then, a few months later, REWATCHING BAKEMONOGATARI and then just REWATCHING EPISODE 1 OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Bakemonogatari is special to me. It's not perfect, and it does have some boring moments, but it's just so enjoyable to me. I love everything about it. The visuals, the music, the characters, the voice actors, everything. Now, don't misunderstand me, I love Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari: Kuro and Second Season almost equally to Bakemonogatari, but it was the first season that introduced me to the series(which is naturally understandable), and thus it means a lot to me.
XENEFENEX: FATE/KALEID LINER PRISMA ILLYA
I'm a big fan of the Fate Series, so it's no surprise that I was really looking forward to Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, especially when I realized the Miyu was voiced by Kaori Nazuka who voiced my favourite female lead Ayatsuji Tsukasa from Amagami or that ChouCho was singing the opening. And I watch the first episode and I still remember that feeling I get when I watch Shirou with his family and how nice it is to have the mindless lighthearted stuff instead of the more tragic element that the other fate series have. The entire series wasn't too great in terms of story and all, but as a fate fan, I just enjoy seeing the recurring characters in a new setting. Especially after Carnival Phantasm.