Hello everyone. How are you doing today? I have to say, this is such a unique sort of day and time slot for me when it comes to an OWL tour post. Usually I have post later in the month and have and scheduled my post two weeks in advance, but that didn’t happen here. Instead, I’m throwing all caution into the wind this time by writing a lot closer to the due date. I blame that on Anno August because I wanted to keep the flow consistent. You know, whatever is consistent for my blog. This is a lot more frantic then I’m used to, so I hope that doesn’t hurt the quality of this post. If you want some guaranteed good OWLS posts, you should probably check out Takuto’s post from yesterday about Amagi Brilliant Park and check out Lyn’s post about Clannad: After Story that will appear on Wednesday.
For those of you who haven’t heard of what OWLS is may be asking me and other people what that is. Well, that’s an easy question to answer. OWLS, also known as Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, is a group of otaku bloggers who promote the acceptance of all individuals. There will be no judgement of people based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or disability here. All of this is about humanity for humanities sake and hopeful betterment. Each month, our members are given a topic to write about and each of us approaches that topic in our own way. If you want to know more, please click here to go to our OWLS Blog Page. Find us here and maybe you can join us! We are always looking for more people.
This Month’s Prompt
This months prompt brought to you based on horrible events and LynLyn’s script is “Believe.” If you need something more specific:
We all have that one anime we enjoyed from Kyoto Animation. Whether it is pain or joy, Kyoto Animation has brought to life stories that can touch our emotions. For the month of August, we will be honoring Kyoto Animation and all it has done for art, storytelling, and popular culture by discussing some of our favorite Kyoto Animation series. We will discuss what we love about these series and what they taught us.
The fire that happened at the studio is indeed a tragedy. We pray for the lives that were lost in this tragedy and the families that are suffering at this time. Fires may be dangerous, but there are flames that burn within us that spark passion, hope, and belief in ourselves.
An event affects us all, even if we didn’t realize it yet.
On July 18th 2019, Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 building was lit on fire by an arson attacked. 35 people were killed and 31 injured in the largest mass murder in Japan since World War Two. Even if the servers were protected and a lot of the materials were saved, the human loss in this incident goes beyond just losing anime. These were people that were just people behind anime production for a popular studio. These people put love and passion into their craft and you will never see some of their work again. They were also human beings who had hobbies, lives, and families as well. It’s hard to imagine what the studio behind them or the people who supported these great people are feeling right now.
When I first heard about the incident, I didn’t know what to say about it honestly. You know what, I only sort of, kind of know what to say now. I guess this post is as close to a statement as I can get. It’s just so hard because human lives are too complicated to summarize. I am happy about the support the anime community has been able to give Kyoto Animation. I haven’t been paying attention to how much has been donated recently, but I know it’s somewhere beyond the millions of dollars right. It’s not a perfect solution though because those just don’t exist, but at least those who are badly injured can have access to all the medical treatment they need. Kyoto Animation will rise again, but they need a helping hand from all of us.
Please help donate to KyoAni from Rightstuf right here. They are paying for the tax fees to Japan themselves, so Kyoto Animation gets everything you send them. It’s the easiest method to help out right now besides buying digital goods from the Kyoto Animation store.
Watching KyoAni Anime For The First Time
The first time I’ve ever watched anything from Kyoto Animation is when I watched Full Metal Panic Fumoffu and Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid. I’m a mecha nut after all, what else would it be? Of course because I had no sense of what studios were back then, so I had no idea about this fact yet. Still, there was something about these two parts were much different then the original FMP! Season. The visual style was a lot more human and expressive then before along with the mecha just looking so natural. Gonzo did a good job with Fullmetal Panic, but FMP: TSR is still the best the franchise has ever looked. Even now with Invisible Victory out. It was thanks to watching FMP that I understood what Kyoto Animation’s specialty was.
Kyoto Animation’s Strengths
Ever since I’ve gotten into this blogging gig, I’ve been taking more and more notice of animation studios and what they do well. There is a lot of talk about how animation studios don’t matter, because it’s the directors and animators, who are usually more free lanced then anything, that decide how an anime moves, feels, and thinks and for the most part I think that’s true. Except for Kyoto Animation. They have an in house style and work environment, including good pay and a lot of female representation in an industry that is lacking it, that makes Kyoto Animation special. So you can go into a Kyoto Animation show knowing what to expect from a style perspective.
Kyoto Animation anime are fantastic at quite a few things. Facial animation, expressive body movement, believable backgrounds, subtlety, and it’s pure magic to me. Especially since they are able to consistently do it in everyone of their shows that I’ve seen. The biggest thing that sticks out to me personally is how they are able to make the ordinary into the extraordinary. I don’t mean just storylines, I’m talking visuals. I still have the moment when Reina touched Kumiko when Kumiko was covered in light with Kimuko’s response logged away in my head and it will never leave because of the power of that moment. (Why can’t those two just be a couple?) There are so many moments of this through out Kyoto Animation’s works and recently, a quiet little anime that came out last winter season called Tsurune captured my heart the most.
Now here is an anime that I never expected to like. Especially since it’s a sports anime in a season that I was already watching something great by the name of Run With The Wind from Production I.G. You know, one of my favorite studios. Still there was something special about this one. Tsurune is a quiet little anime centered on a friendly club of five males and three females playing the tradition activity of Kyudo or Japanese Archery. Something that I knew about, but never have seen before myself. For a group of angsty teenagers, their angst was covered in silence and yet each character felt believable. Noticing that was when Tsurune caught my attention at first.
Tsurune is a full Kyudo, traditional Japanese archery, tournament anime in thirteen episodes. There are some short cuts here and there like we only know one main competitor facing against our boys and rounds were skipped in the final episode, but Tsurune has never been fully about winning against others, though they do that. It’s about these five boys conquering their own fears and inadequacies. Master yourself, master your craft. That’s Tsurune in five words. Honestly can’t recommend this one enough.
This anime mostly centered on the team of boys, so the female club members never got the focus they deserved even when they competed, but I feel like I completely understood these boys by the end of it. Plu, I felt like I got at least a reading on the female members by the time the show ended too. Everyone was playing Kyudo for a reason, because they love it. How each boy shot a target, flaws, lack of skill, personality, and so on was also connected to their mental states. Kind of wonderful how that works, isn’t it? A little more KyoAni magic comes into play here.
The best example of this comes Tsurune’s main protagonist, Minato. Minato is a quiet and reserved guy, though he used to be energetic, that doesn’t like to talk about his feelings a lot, but you can tell that he’s more then a little unsettled because he has target panic. That’s a condition in Kyudo Archers, or archers in general, were the archer shoots before they are ready so there is no chance for them to hit the target. Minato not being an expressive guy isn’t a problem here, because you can always tell there is something off about him through his archery. Him finding a way to temper himself and return to how he was before target practice took a hold of him is an incredible mental journey. Once you know he’s found himself again, the show lets you know. Believe me, you won’t forget the moment when you know. (I still haven’t.)
That’s the power of animation right there. I can still hear and feel how I felt the last time I saw that shot move on screen and it’s almost been an entire year now. The sense of expressiveness a singular arrow shot can’t be understated here. While I can’t say that every character has had a powerful moment like this, that dismiss who each of these character as an archer and as a person. Seiya is a study archer until he lost his cool, Onogi is a rash guy that wants to add fanciness to his shot when he doesn’t have to, Ryohei is an archer that is still new to it so he’s very frantic and unrefined, and Nanao is steady archer that is far from the best because he always hits the target but never in the center. It’s fantastic characterization.
Thank you for everything that you’ve done for us, KyoAni. Thank you for some installments of FMP, Beyond the Boundary, Sound! Euphonium, Liz and the Bluebird, every show and movie I’ve ever watched from you guys, and specifically Tsurune here. I hope you find yourselves again when you are ready to wow us with your art and your hearts yet again. Wherever and whenever you create something next, I know that I am putting your guy’s work on my watch list. There is no other way around this. Even if you don’t, which I highly doubt, just know that you guys touched my heart in so many ways that I’ve never thought possible.