Fall ’13 reviews part 1: Kyoukai no Kanata, Galilei Donna, Gingitsune

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas~ Once again it’s the time of year for me to review the last batch of anime I watched this year before picking my top 5 of the year. Today I’ll be reviewing the first three fall ’13 anime I finished: Kyoukai no Kanata, Galilei Donna, and Gingitsune…


Kyoukai no Kanata

For a KyoAni show, Kyoukai no Kanata doesn’t seem to have gotten much praise, and I can sort of see why. But at the same time, I personally found it more enjoyable than not overall. Yes, it did have some bad moments which I’ll get to in a bit, but for me, the good things outshone the bad. The first thing I particularly liked about it is how it was able to make its rather complex fantasy world coherent with just 12 episodes to work with. I’ve seen many one-cour fantasy anime that fall flat because their fantastical setting is so vast that 11-13 episodes just isn’t enough to build the world and develop the characters and plot. However, by the end of Kyoukai no Kanata, I got a good picture of how its world worked in terms of what youmu are, what Spirit World Warriors do, and the inner workings of the Spirit World Society. Of course, all of these things could have used even more development; as I said in my first impressions review of the show, even now I’m still not clear about why some youmu like Ayaka and Ai can have human form and be perfectly sentient while most others appear to be nothing more than mindless monsters (and by the way, Ayaka’s youmu design looks like a shiny Ninetales XD) I also would have liked to know more of Miroku’s story and how exactly Spirit World Warriors relate to the non-magical human world they live in. Some normal human beings must know about them and about youmu, so how does that relationship work? But again, development for these things would have been nice, but they weren’t necessary for me to satisfactorily follow the show’s plot and be invested in its world.

Besides portraying its fantasy setting well, I also liked how some of the character relationships played out. The romance between our two main characters, Mirai and Akihito, had many sweet moments and I especially liked how the two realized that they had things in common – being shunned for being “different” – and how it came into play in episode 4 and the final episode. I also liked how the plot of the Nase family’s plan involving Mirai was foreshadowed and then revealed, as well as the eventual conclusion it led to for Izumi, Hiroumi, and Mitsuki. Though one bad thing about this I will point out is that the reveal that Izumi has (some?) youmu inside her came way out of nowhere at the last second and is kinda left hanging…but anyway, how things in the plot came together in episode 10 was particularly interesting, and of course, KyoAni’s animation is top-notch and this is the first time I’ve watched an anime of theirs that has so many action scenes. The animation was great and those scenes were always exciting to watch.

So now let’s get to what was bad about Kyoukai no Kanata. To put it concisely, the humor just didn’t work for me, nor for a lot of other people from what I’ve seen. I was hoping this would be the show where KyoAni would be straight-up serious and not put in those majorly moe or comedic moments they’re so fond of. But they did, and unfortunately they made me cringe more than laugh. From what I recall, maybe a few of the jokes worked but most to me just seemed like forced pandering that was unnecessary in an otherwise dark-themed show. A few funny character traits like Akihito being obsessed with “glasses girls,” Hiroumi being a sis-con, the “work” Mirai did for Ayaka, and Mirai being clumsy-cute were alright I guess, except when they were shoved down our throats with hyperbolics that shattered the usual serious mood of the show. And then when they went so far as to make the infamous episode 6, an entire episode dedicated to fan service-y humor that offered nothing to develop the plot, setting, or characters – in fact, I found the characters acting uncharacteristically silly in that episode just for the sake of keeping the comedic tone – that just put a big damper on things. It’s one thing to have one wacky filler episode when your show goes on for several seasons, but when you only have 12 episodes, you don’t want to have a whole episode that wastes time that could have been spent developing characters (like Ayaka and Ai!) or other things in the plot. And what was up with Akihito’s mom? It’s like she came from another anime. Her only purpose was to create awkward humor and then have some random exposition to tell in the finale…weird.

So yeah, with episode 6 and random scenes in other episodes, I would say about 30%-40% of Kyoukai no Kanata was this kind of foamed in humor that just didn’t work for me. But luckily the other 60%-70% was very good in my opinion. If the time wasted in episode 6 and other scenes was better spent doing other things, I probably would have rated the show higher. But still, overall I think it was a good fantasy/drama. The animation was great, I found the characters fairly likable, and by the end the fantasy setting and plot was paced well and interesting in some aspects. I can’t say the funny moments worked, but most of the dramatic and emotional ones did, and I suppose those are the ones that count. Not a great anime, but decent enough to say I liked it.


Galilei Donna

While Kyoukai no Kanata did a good job tying up its fantasy elements by the end of the series, I sadly can’t say the same for Galilei Donna. It’s a shame because the show had so much potential in its early episodes, as I expressed when I wrote my first impressions of it. All these cool and interesting things happened in the first episode that I didn’t understand, but it was okay because I could say “They’ll explain it later.” And “later” came and they…kind of sort of explained everything in a rushed and messy way that didn’t make a lot of sense. But anyway, taking a step back, I can’t give the series a terrible rating because I thought its first half was pretty good. Even though I’m still not clear on the setting of the show – it looks like it’s supposed to be the real world, but at times it looks like it takes place in the past, but then it seems like the future with everybody flying around in these technologically-advanced airships…it was confusing – the first bunch of episodes with the girls going to different areas looking for the sketches and getting involved in different situations was fine. I really liked the three sisters and enjoyed watching their contrasting personalities work together. I liked episode 4 where Kazuki finally comes to terms with everything, episode 5 had a surprisingly sad little plot that unfolded, and episode 6 where we learn about Roberto and these interesting ideals and world views are brought up that actually had me very intrigued. But the series sadly went downhill from there when it attempted to wrap up all the plot elements.

The biggest flaw with Galilei Donna for me was the Galileo Tesero. How the heck was Galileo, who was having enough trouble making a simple airplane, able to make this deus ex machina of an item imbued with magical powers to make things explode, create a vortex that sucks things inside of it, and can freakin’ transport people through time! Assuming the Galileo in this show is based on the real astronomer and they’re not making him a wizard or something, it just doesn’t make sense that something like that hourglass pendant could exist. I can accept the fact that a little girl like Hozuki is a genius who could create an advanced airship all on her own, but the Galileo Tesero’s powers just can’t be explained, and that’s a big flaw when it’s such a driving point of the show’s plot. Other things about the plot were confusing too, like how all the sketches got to where they were (did Galileo have to physically bring them to all those locations?) and if Hozuki already had the Tesero right at her house at the beginning, what the heck was the point of going all over the world to find the sketches and decipher the riddles written on them? Was it even explained how she came into possession of the hourglass pendant in the first place? Maybe I missed a few scenes or lines of dialogue that explained these things, but I’m pretty sure the plot is just that full of holes. Oh, and the last episode was terribly half-assed. The leader of the pirates somehow getting into the courtroom disguised as a lawyer and somehow getting all the moon sketches? Sylvia somehow knowing everything Anna needed to know and managing to write it down and get the note to her, then somehow putting together a flashdrive with all this perfectly incriminating evidence against Adnimoon? And then the sisters’ dad just randomly strolling into the courtroom? Geez, for having such advanced technology these people really need to work on their security! It was all just too convenient I had to laugh. Then Roberto meets his end by going out in public and killing Francesco, resulting in his arrest. Just didn’t seem like something an ambitious and coldly intelligent guy like him would do…seems more like a contrived way to quickly write him out of the story to have a more satisfying conclusion even if it didn’t match his character.

As you can see, Galilei Donna started out potentially good and just became messier and messier in terms of its plot and ending. I don’t know if having more episode to work with would have made things better or if it just plain had bad writing, but the show unfortunately turned out to be disappointing. As much as I liked the characters and a few of the episodes, they just couldn’t make up for the flaw-ridden plot and rushed ending.


Gingitsune

Like most other anime that are strictly slice-of-life with no ongoing plot, there isn’t much to say in terms of reviewing Gingitsune. It just comes down to whether you enjoy being with these characters every week and find their everyday misadventures funny, sweet, sad, charming, or whatever other emotion they’re trying to convey. And as far as this type of anime goes, I felt like Gingitsune was pretty good. What’s different about it is that it doesn’t just involve human characters but animal spirit characters as well, allowing for different perspectives and stories than typical school-themed slice-of-life anime. The whole Shinto theme of the show was interesting and gave it a lot of whimsical and pretty moments. I always find Shinto in anime fascinating as I like to see how differently the Japanese view things like gods, spirits, and the natural world compared to the West.

As a whole, the characters in Gingitsune were alright. Gintaro’s “tough on the outside but caring on the inside” personality isn’t anything that new, but it was interesting seeing it come from a fox spirit and it was surprisingly funny in many scenes. Makoto was the typical overly nice genki girl we’ve seen many times before, which made her not all that special on her own, but seeing her interact with the other characters was okay. I found Haru and all her yelling and Satoru-obsession a bit hard to take, but I got used to her after a while. Satoru himself was probably the most interesting character with his insecurities and social awkwardness he was trying to get over. All the other characters like Makoto’s two girl friends from school, her father, the other animal spirits, Funabashi’s “butler” Yoshizumi…they were all alright. This isn’t the type of show that warrants extremely well development characters to go with a progressing plot, so as long as they’re entertaining I can’t really complain. I’d also like to point out that I really enjoyed the few scenes that showed the backstories of Gintaro and Haru, how they were ordinary foxes that “achieved” spirit-hood. I kinda wish there were more scenes like that which focused on the Shinto elements rather than the human drama…but the human drama was still okay ;) The only thing that kinda bothered me was that they brought up Gin’s partner a few times but we never get to know much about why he left or what kind of relationship the two of them had. But by the end it sort of turned into an “oh well” thing. The ending with bringing together pretty much every single character, reiterating their relationships and establishing some new ones, was a nice way to end the series.

To sum up, I can’t think of anything really fantastic about Gingitsune, but I can’t think of anything bad either. It’s just an overall decent slice-of-life anime with a nice Shinto theme. There are some cute, funny, and touching moments worth your while if you like this type of anime.

—–

I’m a little behind schedule in terms of getting my last anime reviews and top 5 anime of the year posts out before it’s time to start thinking about the winter ’14 shows already! It just worked out that way due to my blogging schedule and when the fall shows I watched ended up finishing. So here’s what my posts are going to be for the coming weeks:

- 01/03/13: Fall ’13 reviews part 2: Coppelion, Monogatari Second Season (plus Pokemon Origins)
- 01/10/13: My top 5 anime of 2013
- 01/17/13: First impressions of the winter ’14 anime I decide to watch (I’ll say that they are later =P)

I might end up combining the rest of my reviews with my top 5 post…I’ll have to see what kind of time I have next week ;) But after all these I’ll get back to my usual editorial type posts. So see you all next week and Happy New Year! ^_^

15 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. chikorita157 says:

    I pretty much agree with you on Kyoukai no Kanata. While I enjoyed the story, the characters and the animation, the comedy is the weak point of the show. As mentioned in my review, it seems that Kyoto Animation is trying to appeal a wider audience by adding comedy, but it kind of backfires. I hope that if they make another season, they should tone it down a bit or at least make it worthwhile.

    • Yumeka says:

      My guess is that the folks at KyoAni are a bit hesitant to make a series strictly action/fantasy/drama, since pretty much all of their shows in the past few years have been along the slice-of-life comedy lines. So they’re afraid not to include the moe comedy and random acts of cuteness that’s been their selling point for a long time. Sometimes they can integrate it well, other times not, and for me Kyoukai no Kanata was the latter.

  2. jimmy says:

    I wanted to like Galilei Donna. Caustic, awkward sisterly relationships, insane sci-fi premises, cute girls who build goldfish mecha, globetrotting adventures – it wouldn’t have even needed to be good, just half-decent, and I would have loved it. The cool/stupid premise, European flavour and lousy writing reminded me of another not-that-good anime I quite liked, First Squad: The Moment of Truth (it was also closer to gorgeous than “pleasantly flashy”). FIrst Squad was more sort of lacking in writing quality, though, whereas Galilei Donna was aggressively bad by the end of it. A shame.

    I agree on the bad points of Kyoukai no Kanata, too, except there wasn’t anything about the show I particularly liked, either. It turned out better than Galilei Donna, though. I thought the flashback episode was quite respectable, and especially it worked within the series to support it, but it didn’t have the same effortlessly effective storytelling grace as the really good anime from this season did, like Kyousougiga or Kill la Kill. I thought the first two and the last episodes particularly were underwhelming, or, rather, cultivated and reaffirmed my personal dislike of the show.

    I haven’t finished Gingitsune yet (moving to another country/lack of Internet made anime a tad difficult and I’m still catching up; luckily the season’s winding down so new anime aren’t stacking up… yet), but my view on it so far is a more straightforward “yep, pretty solid, probably above average”. I haven’t been as fond of some of the smaller and more annoying spirits, but Gintarou is a bro and Makoto’s a good lead. I thought the first episode laid it on a bit thick, but apart from that her friends have mostly had a good unit going. Satoru’s also a pretty good character.

    PS: what is “foamed in” humour?

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, some anime I don’t have any expectations for when I start watching them, so if they end up being bad I’m not that disappointed. But I had hopes for Galilei Donna since the premise was unique and the first episode was flowing with potential. So it’s a big shame when series like this end up going wrong, especially when I feel like a few more episodes and changing a few things in the plot could have helped a lot.

      Glad to hear you’ve liked what you’ve seen of Gingitsune. It and Galilei Donna didn’t seem to get much attention compared to other shows of the season, and while I can’t say anyone’s missing out with Galilei Donna, I thought Gingitsune has enough worthwhile things to watch if you like “gentle” anime ;)

      Heh, “foamed in” humor is a term I absentmindedly picked up from Nostalgia Critic. It basically means that the humor is sort of molded into the story, like there’s already a “foam” for the story and then the humor is pushed into that foam and makes a noticeable dent, in other words it feels jarring to the mood of the story, like it doesn’t belong.

  3. Mikoto says:

    I completely agree with you on Kyoukai no Kanata. For me, I was very disappointed because people were labeling it as “dark fantasy” which supposedly the novel does a better job in (but overall, I hear the novel’s even more terrible for other reasons), and I didn’t exactly get that. The humor bits thrown in, and episode 5 (I think?) especially gave me the impression that it was having some sort of identity crisis. Overall though, it’s not a bad show, but I can see why it’s not being praised as much compared to their past shows.

    Merry (belated) Christmas, Yumeka! :P (I was planning on giving you a present of every starter Pokemon in existence but you weren’t online on XY, but the offer still remains xD)

    • Yumeka says:

      LOL, an “identity crisis” is a good way to put it XD I too don’t think KnK was bad per se, there were just things in it that could have been done better or done without (like most of the jokes). Some scenes and a few episodes could certainly be considered “dark fantasy,” but when you throw in hyperbolic moe scenes or have the characters randomly dress as idol singers, it kinda shatters that idea XD

      Thank you for the pokemon offer, that’s so nice =D I believe I’ve seen you online in XY a few times (I think I sent you a battle invite once but you didn’t accept, then you sent me one a bit later and I couldn’t accept ’cause it was dinnertime =O) But yeah, I’d like to have the starters (just not the Kanto starters, I already have a lot of them XD) If you see me online next time, feel free to send a trade invite. I have a lot of pokemon with their hidden abilities or good IVs I can give you in return. We can negotiate any specific trades on Twitter if you want too :3

  4. Kal says:

    I also agree with your view of Kanata. It just did not fit in so well. Another problem,and this is something that I’ve seen in the last few KyoAni shows, is that they are a bit weak overall. Characters, story, etc, is not the greatest. However, the last shows have been a bit different (Free! was quite different), so they have always had something special. The problem with Kanata, is that it takes the demon, and demon hunter setting that we have seen many, many, many, many, and many times before, so it’s not something to surprise us. Add onto that, an ok (but not amazing plot), somewhat weak characters, and the out-of-place humor, and you get just a barely average show. Just like you, I did like it, but it was simply “ok”, and not great.

    I had the same problem with Galileo. I actually had to stop the last episode and go back and make sure I had not missed any episode. I even went back and checked that there wasn’t any extra content after the ending credits. Nope, there wasn’t, and I did not miss anything. As you said, the ending was just something “pulled from the sleeve” like great magicians do, but with no explanation at all. There were just a lot of pointless things. Searching for the sketches was fine, but why did she travel to the past? She did nothing. The friend/boyfriend of the short-black-haired girl? Why was he even brought up on the first episodes? He had nothing to do. Roberto killing his adopted father? As you said, it made no sense. And they were saved in the end by people that had done nothing through out the show, and all “pulled from the sleeve”… It was just a bit messy. I was also quite disappointed with it.

    I liked Gingitsune. It was just a fun show. It also explained a lot about the shrines and how they work, what they do, that it was very educational as well. There is not much to say about it I guess, just that it was a fun show.

    This season was really weird. The shows that I thought I would like ended up being the weakest, and shows that I thought were “meh” ended up being the best (Outbreak company, Ars Nova, Log Horizon, Nagi no Asakura are really good). It was quite interesting to say the least, but really enjoyable nonetheless :)

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, the fantasy setup of Kyoukai no Kanata isn’t anything unique, but originality isn’t something I particularly look for in anime, since a driving point of the medium is specifically catering to fans of certain cliches and character archetypes. I’d rather see a familiar story retold in a good way than something that’s extremely unique but not well written. So in KnK’s case…I thought the fantasy world was kind of interesting, I guess solid enough to make up for the other things it was lacking or had too much of (like awkward humor), along with some good emotional moments. Not enough to make it a great show, but a good one I would say.

      Agree with what you said on Galilei Donna. That’s funny that you actually thought you had missed an episode because things got so confusing. Such a shame.

      I think Gingitsune should have gotten more attention, but then again I can’t say there’s anything extremely noteworthy in it. It’s just a fun, cute show good to balance out the drama of other series =)

      I’m still watching Nagi no Asukara too. I like it very much =D

  5. Overlord-G says:

    KyouKana’s decent. They tried too hard to make Mirai moe but other than that, it was fine.
    Haven’t seen Gingitsune.
    Galilei Donna is my pick for most disappointing anime of 2013 for me. Let me put it this way, I rarely get disappointed and when I do it’s for distinct reasons. GD: I expected National Trasure with awesome female leads. I got the Da Vinci Code with some unnecessary commentary about society and the evils of man and other nonsense that had nothing to do with treasure hunting. Eventually I didn’t know what the show was doing so I stopped caring. Backstage politics is no reason to give this a show a pass. If the writers had trouble releasing the original script and the producers wanted to cut it, DON’T RELEASE A CHOPPY PRODUCT!

    • Yumeka says:

      I wasn’t expecting anything particular from Galilei Donna, just a good story with good characters that at least made sense in the end. I got the good characters, but not the good story and sense-making XP

      • Overlord-G says:

        Indeed. The sisters were the best part of the show. Anna was decent, Roberto didn’t need a tragic backstory, the Ferrari seniors were also cool and El Capitan did his job just fine.

  6. Artemis says:

    Happy new year! :)

    I ended up dropping Kyoukai no Kanata after episode 6. I actually quite enjoyed that particular episode – in fact, I found that a lot (though not all) of the humour worked for me in this series, but that the more serious parts of the show just didn’t. It’s odd, because normally I tend to go the opposite way with shows that mix the serious with the comedic, preferring the former over the latter. I really do think that humour is what KyoAni does best though, and I’m not surprised that Kyoukai no Kanata received such lukewarm responses from fans.

    Oh, Galilei Donna. Much like you, I think the show had a lot of potential but ended up squandering pretty much all of it. The further along it got, the worse it became until it was a struggle for me even to finish. Finish I did though – I’m still not sure why. Possibly because I seem to have developed a taste for bishounen pirates? Unfortunately, Cicinho’s character remained sadly underused for most of the entire thing.

    I don’t have much to say about Gingitsune that you haven’t already mentioned. I feel very similarly; the series wasn’t bad, but nothing about it stood out to me in any particular way either. I’ve seen other slice-of-life anime with supernatural plots or backdrops done far better, so I guess I was mostly underwhelmed, but Gingitsune was also never an unpleasant way to end the week. It was always just kind of peacefully sitting there, with no attributes to make it either special or terrible.

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s interesting that you found the humor to be Kyoukai no Kanata’s strong point. But since you dropped it, I guess it wasn’t enough to make up for your lack of engagement with its serious stuff =P

      Chalk up someone else disappointed with Galilei Donna squandering its potential XD I agree that more development for Cicinho would have been good since pretty much all he did was pop up whenever it was convenient for the plot and flirt with Hazuki.

      Gingitsune’s the type of anime to watch as a breather in between watching more complex or dramatic series. But yeah, I can’t say it’s a must-see outside of that.

  7. Ori says:

    I didn’t mind the bad comedy on Kyoukai no Kanata, is made by KyoAni so it was expected and I’ve seen worse in Tamako Market. I guess Moe sells more.
    I really, really liked the action, story and the setting. The foreshadowing and mysteries were all cool, and yes I would’ve like for them to explain more. Lot of questions and not enough answers.
    The weird mom with all the answers right at the end, Izumi a youmu?, Ayaka and Aui not having their own episode, why is Akihito a half-youmu? with kyoukai no kanata inside of him? Why is there an old man living on a secret shiny base inside the Nase’s mansion?
    KyoAni had it all set, but they half-blew it. But I liked it for being different and for them finally doing something action/kinda-dark fantasy bloody theme anime. But gotta admit the action, effects and incredible art negates some of the badness.
    Do you give it your thumbs up for another season?

    I want to believe…
    This is me just finishing watching it. I’ll probably rewatch it again and somehow figure out some of these questions.

    • Yumeka says:

      I would like another season of Kyoukai no Kanata. More development for its fantasy world/elements as well as the characters would definitely make me like the series as a whole better. Not dying for one or anything but I wouldn’t mind =P

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