Limited in animation, but not scope: Azumanga Daioh and Beast Player Erin

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Azumanga Daioh:

azumanga-daioh

I’m not usually a fan of slice of life school anime series, but this one just got me for some reason.  Azumanga Daioh isn’t focused on a school club, but friendship between students.  These people don’t just because friends out of happenstance, but because they can relate to each other.  Sakaki and Chiyo get along because they both like cute pets.  Chiyo and Osaka get along because Osaka’s obliviousness somehow connects to Chiyo’s childish nature.   There are many more examples of this, but I think you see my point.  And no, these characters can be described more then by these small traits, but they each have goals they are going for and issues they have to go through.  In Azumanga Daioh, the group feels like true friends.

The humor in Azumanga Daioh is like that of what you would usually have with your group of friends, but hyperized.  The animation and art style allow to show to exaggerate certain points at fun times.  This show also knows how to quiet for great comedic effect.  Very few shows know how to use comedic quiet correctly like this one does.  I should also mention that in 26 episodes, the show covers three school years.  Since this is true, similar incidents happen each year.   Azumanga Daioh takes this as a challenges and ups the comedy from last time and makes it more interesting.  The ramping up of the comedy is what is the best feature of this show.

As stated in the title, the show doesn’t have the greatest set of animation ever.  There are a lot of repeated bits of animation.  There are some great bits of animation, like when Sakaki catches a snow ball and throws it back, but the show gets by with super deformed and repeated bits of animation.  I can say similar things about the backgrounds.  No super deforming, but there isn’t a wide variety of them.  This is okay though, because the rest of the content of this show is what makes the show work.

Beast Player Erin:

erin beast player

This is one of my new favorite anime series.  It’s light novel author is the same person that was behind Moribito, which is another series that I deeply love.  The show has some simple beginnings, a girl and her single mother working at a village, but the world building is incredible.  As Erin grows up and travels to more places, the world and story of the anime builds up around her.  What is affecting the country around her eventually gets around to affecting her.  The series is slow, I’m not going to lie and say that it isn’t, but the story build up from first episode to the last is one of the best build ups of anything that I’ve ever seen.  Assassinations, class wars, racism, and more are covered in fifty episodes.  I am shocked that this anime came into being, but I’m glad that it did.

I think the show played a lot to the original creator’s strength, which is parenting.  The relationship between Erin and her mother, Soh-Yon, felt real.  A lot of relationships felt real, including the relationship that Erin has later on her animal/pet/thing felt real also.   In fact, Erin as a young, smart kid felt incredibly real also.  They knew how to balance out the questioning nature of kids with general playfulness and endless amounts of energy that kids have also.  All the characters except the villain were well executed and great.  The villain’s motivations were clear, but I wish the story elaborated more on why he is acting the way he did.

The backgrounds were very story book like, but there are no straight lines in them.  It’s a very interesting but cheap stylistic choice that greatly enhanced the rest of the story by making each character pop out of the screen.  Still, the backgrounds were very flat and were not very good at showing the depth of where anything was.  Mountain scenes were also flat and they didn’t feel like mountains, but the colors were the best part of the series.  Of course, this lead to the animation, where when beasts attacked each other, the animation switched to a more artistic painting choice.

When more there were more than three characters on screen, there is almost no character movement at all.  They are either sitting around a table, in a still frame as other characters move around, or just stand in particular way.  There are almost no reference characters moving at their spots, Erin just cuts to the characters standing where they be for that scene.   These don’t also go for the people, but for a lot of the animals also.  Sometimes CGI is used when a large number of them move at the same time, and you may get some points if you see the same scenes used over again.  There are great action sequences, but I think a lot of the budget was pulled just to make them.

Those negatives aside again, I don’t think Erin would ever be as great as it would be without it’s direction style.  There was a lot of symbolism through animals just to represent what state they currently are in.    The use of color for changes of emotion, good and bad, really helps share the emotion of each scene.  There are some flaws in the series, like I have named previously, but that’s what makes the series what it is.  The visuals and characters still promote the characters and the story, so I highly recommend everybody to watch this one

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