Anime Fans: Kyoto Animation Studio (Haruhi, FMP sequels, Kanon)

I’m not sure how many anime fans there are out there in Doperland seeing as there aren’t very many threads, but I know there are some of you. I wanted to open this thread to discuss a new animation studio that I think deserves recognition: Kyoto Animation. I’ve seen some good shows by studios such as Madhouse (Monster), Clamp (Card Captor Sakura), and BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist), but those studios all have quite a few average or poor shows to their names as well. The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi was the first show by Kyoto that I saw, and IMO it was immediately a standout. But as good as Haruhi was, I couldn’t say if it was anything more than a fluke success as with the other studios above.

All that changed yesterday, when I started and finished watching Full Metal Panic: Second Raid. As far as I’m concerned, the world needs more people like Kyoto Animation. I’ve now seen three of their shows (Haruhi, FMP: Fumoffu, and FMP: 2nd Raid), and I’m simply stunned at the level of quality they’ve achieved. Kyoto has shown that they can do funny, they can do serious, they can write plots, they can write characters.

I first dipped my toes into the world of anime a few months ago, wanting to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve seen some bad shows and some kiddy shows before, but I wanted to see what was the best Japan had to offer. I’ve seen a fair number of shows, and while pretty much all of what I’ve seen has been good, some of them are just in a class above all the others. As far as I’m concerned, along with a few standout shows like Paranoia Agent and Fullmetal Alchemist, Kyoto Animation’s stuff lives up to what the medium is capable of.

I suppose I could gush on, but I’ve made my point and it would be nice to see if anyone here even knows what the hell I’m talking about. If you’ve seen pretty much any show I’ve mentioned so far, I’d love to discuss.

My husband and I are currently watching Kanon. I think he’s downloading fansubbed bit-torrents, because I don’t think it’s been licensed in the US yet. It’s very pretty to look at, and the story is very sweet, but I admit I have a little reluctance to finish it because it’s a tearjerker. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got enough pain in my life without getting worked up over fictional characters, lol. Anyway, it’s a sweet show; it moves rather slowly at times, and has a dreamlike quality (dreams and forgotten memories are a recurring theme). And it’s amazingly clean and innocent considering it’s based on a hentai dating game! We enjoy it.

Kanon is next on my list of shows to see, I’ll probably be through it by next week. I wasn’t expecting anyone to have seen it, seeing as it just finished airing a few weeks ago! It’s not the only decent show to have been based on a hentai game, though. From what I remember Shuffle! and Utawarerumono were both adapted from games, although I’ve seen neither. I had heard good things about Kanon but it wasn’t really on my (rapidly dwindling) list to watch, until I watched FMP. Now I have to see it just because it’s Kyoto. From your description it sounds quite different from their previous works, so it should be interesting to see how it goes.

In the European competition to YouTube: one can search and check some episodes of the titles mentioned, that is if you can follow the French subtitles or know Japanese (knowing Spanish helps a lot in reading French).

Just a nitpick…KyoAni, Madhouse, and Bones are actual animation studios.

CLAMP, though, is a different beast altogether. They’re a 4-woman manga studio, and don’t actually produce the anime themselves (CCS, for instance, was done by Madhouse).

Ah, thanks for the clarification. For some reason I thought Clamp animated their mangas, but looking through their shows I see they were by a number of different studios. Adding CCS to their list, Madhouse seems to have been very strong recently as well, especially considering Death Note. I liked Monster but I don’t think it was quite as impressive as the few I mentioned above, and I won’t watch Death Note until it finishes. Either way Madhouse is definitely the other studio I have my eye on.

Kyoto’s next show, according to Wikipedia, is called Lucky Star and will air in a few days. I don’t like waiting for episodes to come out, though, so like Death Note I’ll have to hold off on it.

I’m not a big Full Metal Panic fan, but I’ve reluctantly seen Haruhi (because everyone in our circle has to watch it) and I’ve recently finished the 2006 remake of Kanon. I was reluctant to watch Haruhi until about half a year after the last episode aired, and my suspicion was correct - the animation quality was top notch for sure, but the story didn’t impress me at all. If anything, the passive aggressive personality of Haruhi (the character) seemed to make all the fans clamor over her. As for me, everything she does made me want to punch her in the face. Multiple times.

The Kanon remake holds a special place for me because it was the first Kanon anime (made in 2002) that got me into watching anime in the first place. The first take on the story was actually extremely confusing due to its half season (13 episodes) format. The new take on the story doubled the amount of episodes and a lot of missing content got fleshed out. Of course, all the new fancy snow effects sure didn’t hurt either.

In the end, I really don’t look for the animation studios as much as I look for specific genres, authors, and manga publishers (of the original work) when I scout out new series to watch. Except for several exceptionally bad animation studios, most of the stuff that comes out are at least bearable to watch and in the end, it’s really the story that matters.

I can certainly see what you mean about Haruhi, but to be honest I didn’t really like any of the characters in the except for Kyon, and didn’t really expect to. I identified pretty well with Kyon and for me Haruhi (the show) was mostly about him. Story-wise, it isn’t spectacular, especially if you undo the whole out-of-chronological-order bit. But I found to be a funny, fast-paced, and thoughtful show. To be honest I’m surprised at the popularity of the show, since most of its fans seem to like very different things in it than I did. I saw it shortly after it finished airing and had never heard of it, so it was a gem of a surprise. I think it’s the kind of show that will suffer a lot with a lot of hype and expectations for it, though, so in a way I’m not very happy that it got so popular.

For me the point was putting Kyon, a pessimistic, gloomy high schooler with basically no friends, no interest in his future or other people, but a wonderfully sarcastic turn of mind, through a fun little fantasy story. Haruhi was designed to be pretty much a polar opposite to Kyon personality-wise, so her brashness, impracticality, etc are exaggerated as much as his pessimism and timidity. I took it be very light-hearted, but with a surprisingly deep take-away about taking the world we’re in, accepting it for what it is, and enjoying it for what it is. Haruhi and Kyon are both pushed toward this, but from opposite directions, and by each other. The reason I think Kyon’s story is stronger is that Kyon doesn’t seem too unrealistic. I don’t know if I can say everyone has some of Kyon in them, but I sure do. I think the reason that Kyon is the main character is that he is the one that you’re supposed to relate to, but the change in Haruhi’s character was meaningful as well. While I can’t really relate personally, there’s certainly at least one person in my life who seems to be looking for something. While in real life it may be excessive partying or drugs rather than aliens and ESPers, it seems there really are people out there with what seems to be a need to find something “fun” to make life worthwhile.

The show does depend a lot on the non-chronologicality (I think I just made that word up) of the story and its humor on parody. I know that for many a non-chronological story is a been-there, done-that kind of thing, but I didn’t find it too gimmicky in this show. I probably missed out on a lot of the parody as well, since there is a huge number of shows referred to, but I found the show to be pretty strong anyway.

As for Full Metal Panic, have you seen the sequel shows? If you have and they’re just not your cup of tea, I’d be especially interested to hear your take. I only have one friend who saw all three shows and his opinions match pretty closely with mine, so I don’t get much perspective on it. Pretty much the most charitable way I can describe FMP season one is that it was a show with a lot of promise, but it was broken. With Full Metal Panic: the Second Raid, it felt like someone took the show and without changing any of the foundation, fixed it. All the characters and situations were simply thought through more carefully, the story cleaned up, all the illogical bits removed, and with some real character development added. The finished package of The Second Raid was IMO a show with no faults. It may be a typical “giant robots” kind of show, but it’s a great one.

Up until a few days ago, I also had pretty much no interest in animation studios. I was choosing anime to watch based pretty much entirely based on animenewsnetwork’s ratings and on friends’ recommendations, but once I found out that FMP’s sequels were by Kyoto rather than GONZO, I went and took a look at the studios that made pretty much everything I’ve seen so far. After Haruhi and FMP: The 2nd Raid, I’m willing to call myself a Kyoto fan, since so far they’ve consistently matched my tastes.

First of all, A.I. Wintermute, thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only anime-watching person in Doperland.

Second, have you taken a look at the Animesuki Forums? You’ll find plenty of anime fans, and specifically, rabid KyoAni (their affectionate term for the Kyouto Animation studio) supporters who will be delighted to share their thoughts with you. You’ll also find a smaller but vocal number of KyoAni detractors, so be forewarned.

What, no mention of Air? Think of Air (also done by KyoAni) as a counterpoint series to Kanon 2006. Whereas Kanon takes place in winter (the snow effects are wonderful), Air takes place during summer. If you’re like Gr8Kat and can’t stand crying, though, watch out. Both Kanon and Air have their moments of tragedy, only I consider Air the more vicious tear-jerker. These series follow a pattern where everything starts off idyllic and comical, then things rapidly go downhill. Kanon and Air are based on interactive visual novels (computer games) so those familiar with the games can anticipate what’s going to happen to their favorite characters. I never played the games, so I really got sucker punched when things, well…happened.

I’ve watched Haruhi a dozen times, both in chronological and broadcast order. I have my criticisms of the series (too short, Haruhi was nearly psychotically mean in the beginning, and the ‘wtf’ feeling of seeing Episode ‘Zero’ nearly turned me off to the entire series), but KyoAni’s attention to detail and the excellent voice-casting got me hooked (and screaming ‘When’s Season Two going to start?’ every other month or so.).

I liked Full Metal Panic, although my favorite series (if you can call it that) is FMP Fumoffu. Someone once described it as having the FMP characters lose a bunch of IQ points. The comedy, though, is fantastic.

I took a hiatus from watching anime because of my busy work schedule and the lack of anything that caught my attention. ‘Card Captor Sakura’, ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’, and ‘Haruhi’ got me back into the anime watching groove. Unfortunately, much like crack cocaine (I imagine), once Kanon ended, I found myself at a low lull with nothing to watch. I look forward to ‘Lucky Star’ and ‘Clanad’ (whenver that gets released–fall of this year, perhaps?). In the meantime, not even the sporadic releases of ‘Nodame Cantabile’ are helping much. What’s even worse is that the Nodame anime pales in comparison to the live-action version, even though the anime is under the direction of the geniuses who brought us ‘Honey and Clover’.

A tangent on KyoAni: I like to make the SAT-like comparison of “Kyoto Animation(KyoAni) is Tokyo Animation(Toyo) as Pixar is to Disney”. Here you have an upstart, smaller, animation studio that’s willing compete with the big boys by making each production a labor of love, with an emphasis on ‘labor’. For instance, the Haruhi ending theme dance has an insane number of animation frames that most studios wouldn’t even dream of doing. Yet it was that same dance sequence at the end of the first Haruhi episode that got me interested in watching Episode Two because the ‘crappy’ first episode reminded me of the endless number of high school student videos I had to sit through in class. (Yeah, I know, that was the point…but I wish I got the memo in the first place.)

By the way, A.I., congratulations on taking a first step into a larger world. Like other genres, anime has its gems surrounded by a lot of garbage. Also, most series or movies tend to target a specific demographic, so I encourge you not to be disappointed if you watch a highly-recommended title only to beg for a bullet to the head afterwards. There’s a large selection out there, so don’t give up. I’ll be happy to offer suggestions.

Since you say you’re new to anime, would you be willing to sample a few (possibly older) series within the past decade? If you like decent animation, good storytelling, and a mixture of humor and seriousness in various proportions, try ‘Cowboy Bebop’. ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ is also good, although the TV series and the OAV (think direct to video) vastly differ in mood. If you want to experiment with something offbeat, take a look at ‘Welcome to the NHK.’ And of course, the aforementioned ‘Honey and Clover’ which seems to strongly resonate with the college crowd.

First off, thanks a million for that link to AnimeSuki. Having watched a bunch of great shows in a short period of time I’m practically bursting at the seams to talk about them with somebody. I liked Fumoffu a lot as well, especially the first four half-episodes (two of which were unaired, I think). I have a couple of friends into anime, but they don’t much like talking about it (especially as their tastes are polar opposites and they can’t discuss shows with each other).

I had never heard of Air until I looked up Kyoto Animation a few days ago after finishing FMP. I’ll have to check it out. I already have Kanon, Honey and Clover, Cowboy Bebop, and the Kenshin OVA, and that makes up most of my list of stuff to watch for the near future. A friend of mine is currently liking Welcome to the NHK, so when he finishes I might check that out. I have very diverse tastes and can appreciate lots of different styles and stories, so I’m open to just about anything good. I took a couple of weeks to check out some of the shoujos I had heard good things about, so I’ve been through Kodocha, Fruits Basket, Kare Kano, and CCS. All of them had their good points, but CCS and the first half of Kare Kano left the biggest impressions on me. It’s a shame Anno Hideaki left halfway through Kare Kano, as I think the parts he was there for are superior.

As for something different, you might want to check out Mushishi. It’s got very high ratings from what I’ve seen, and to be honest that surprises me. It’s a great show and I love it, but I never would have guessed its appeal would be very wide. It’s a very thoughtful and atmospheric show, with no storyline or continuity between episodes (so far - I’m only halfway in). I would try to describe it further, but it really defies summary. I tend to watch things very quickly (college student here!), so I’ve done things like FMP’s or FMA’s entire run in two days, but Mushishi made me slow down and smell the roses, so to speak. An episode every two days or so is quite enough for me, and I’m enjoying it.

Mushishi aside, one of the things that attracted me most to anime in the beginning was the storylines. I’ve never been a TV watcher, and pretty much nothing of American TV has appealed to me much beyond some of the better sit-coms (yay Scrubs!). Fullmetal Alchemist was the show that made me really take the jump into anime because it was simply a great, well-told story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. None of the downsides of two trends I see here: prolonging everything and resolving nothing in the name of keeping the show going, or moving at a thousand miles an hour. Shows like Alias, 24, or Lost (to name a random few I’ve seen) just don’t have the story draw to appeal to me. I think a lot of it is the fact that these anime are based on a written medium, so I have the Japanese manga industry to thank as well.

Since I just spent a few minutes bashing American TV, I should say I just watched Firefly and quite liked it. It’s a pity it failed, since if the events of Serenity really would have occurred during the show’s run it could have been amazing.

Also, as a bit of an off-the-wall recommendation for an anime thread, I highly suggest for anyone who can to check out the recent Japanese drama “My Boss, My Hero.” It’s almost like a live-action anime, and it’s a great, great show.

This past year or so I’ve been getting into all sorts of Asian entertainment (Korean and Japanese TV dramas and the like) and I’ve just recently started on Anime, and so far I’ve seen Honey and Clover and Death Note.

I’ll be honest, I don’t watch these two series on DVD because H&C doesn’t look like it will get licensed ever, and as for DN, I got a taste of a few episodes, and it is amazing. I cannot stop watching! Pardon me for sounding over-the-top but it quite possibly has the most exciting, thrilling plot I’ve ever seen outside of books! And I love how quickly it goes. It got licensed in North America by Viz so we should be seeing DVDs soon, but in the meantime, if you look up brujita on Veoh, you will find the first 26 episodes. If it is for you, you will know by the end of the second or third episode.

As for H&C, it is a wonderful slice-of-life drama. There is no action in it as it shows the lives of five college students in an art school in Japan. Rarely have I seen animated characters so fleshed out, and the soundtrack is wonderful. Combine these two elements together and you will see many tearjerking moments as you watch these five students grow up and mature. I loved this series so much, I bought the Japanese soundtrack. I get ridiculously emotional when I hear some of the songs!

There is comedy in it too… it is actually a dramedy, but in the end, it’s the drama that made me fall in love with it. It might be too “normal” for some people to take interest but I happened to stick with it (mostly because of the gorgeous animation) and I’m glad I did. There are two seasons and some episodes are on Veoh.

AIR maybe the best anime romance I’ve ever watched. Just a suggestion though you may want to watch the TV show first, then the two specials, then the movie. Be warned though it’s a real tearjerker! :frowning: :frowning: