So, yesterday, I took a look at KyoAni shows of the past decade that I’d seen. Today, I want to do a similar look at another of my favorite / respected studios, P.A. Works, as part of my 12 Days of AniTAY.
I haven’t seen nearly as many P.A. Works series as say, KyoAni or Doga Kobo (who I will also look at later in this series), and glaringly, I’m lacking on what sounds like probably their most beloved effort, Shirobako. (Shirobako is definitely on my “to watch” list, and in fact, I wound up buying the blu-rays during one of Sentai’s late-year sales, Black Friday, I think. Main thing is, I want to watch with my wife, and we want to watch with another friend of ours who’s looking to do a re-watch, so it’s partly a scheduling thing.)
In fact, checking my list, it’s only 3 series that I’ve watched, and yet, even so, when I see P.A. Works, again I’m likely to give the synopsis of the upcoming show a close look, as fair or not, I expect decent animation and a quality story. I still may not watch it if the overall concept doesn’t interest me, but they’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt in a borderline case.
So, I’d heard the name Angel Beats around, but didn’t know anything about it. Then I saw the AMV above as a submission in the AMV contest at a convention I went to, and knew I wanted to see the show. Many, many good words have been written on it, including a recent ANN “This Week in Anime”, and an entry last month from Dil.
An afterlife/limbo/purgatory set in high school, designed to help those with unresolved issues move on to their next life. A group of rebels fighting against what they feel is an unjust God, and his Angel. A great mix of over-the-top slapstick comedy, along with the drama, romance, and pathos, and a last minute heartbreaking twist, all matched to some great music. Really, my biggest complaint is that it needed about another half cour, not even a full cour, to flesh out some of the story arcs more, rather than the quick resolution they were forced to go to.
Probably one of the few advantages of not having seen Shirobako yet is, I didn’t have to compare Sakura Quest to it (likely unfairly). One of my favorites from a few years ago, a case of mistaken identity leads a young woman who wants more than anything to not be seen as “normal” to becoming “Queen” for a year in a small town out in the country not too unlike the hometown she tried escaping to Tokyo from for university. There, she makes friends with other young women, and we have an entry in the Cute Girls Doing Adult Things category, as the Queen and her ministers become friends, grow up a little, and start to realize where they really want to be in life.
It’s filled with some traditional tropes, and the occasional oddball comedic moment (mostly provided in relation to Sandal-san, the foreigner who’s come to town to find proof of the existence of his great-grandmother, who was a native of the town). Not to mention a ton of great screencaps.
Personal growth is made by many, obstacles are overcome, and yet, we’re also left with a bittersweet uncertainty about the future, rather than a saccharine happily ever after (as much as I’m a sucker for one). In fact, I genuinely teared up watching the ending, having been emotionally invested in the characters and their lives, and seeing them at the end of their current journey together.
A world where magic is just a thing. Where a girl who has lost the ability to see in color due to some magical incident, is sent back in time by her grandmother to meet her grandmother’s teenage self, and teenage friends. Also, she meets a boy whose drawings allow her to see in colors again.
This is one of those cases where I was borderline based on the description, but the fact that it was P.A. Works led me to go ahead and watch it. And I’m glad I did, as again, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
I was worried about running into some of the usual tropes, like “has to hide that she can do magic”, and “has to hide that she’s from the future” - the former didn’t occur at all, and for the latter, I was pleasantly surprised at how minimal it was, and how quickly and painlessly it was dispensed with. Again a story with a bittersweet ending (even moreso than Sakura Quest), it trips along in a single cour, and yet, I didn’t feel like it was overly-rushed - on the contrary, looking at it at the end, I thought a second cour would only have made things drag out.
Having watched these 3 shows and enjoyed them all in different ways, I am definitely looking forward to my upcoming watch of Shirobako, and definitely intending to try and complete that in 2020. Here’s hoping next year’s 12 Days of AniTAY will be able to include my thoughts on that show as well.