It’s hard to pick between the top two contenders (Spoilers! Header photos) of Spring 2015 season. When the season was first announced, eyes were on the ufotable’s remade of the all-time hyper Fate/Stay Night series. Many titles had been well-established in this season so fans knew exactly what to expect from these franchises from the beginning; there wasn’t any room for errors here. Needless to say, most of them, except for one (namely that Haruhi spin-off), lived up to their expectations.
Let’s start with the pleasant surprise this season. Plastic Memories is an original show from an unknown studio. I have to say, the premise hinted a Slice of life rom-com with sci-fi setting. “Enough of KimiUso drama and Medieval Europe already, let’s have something fluffy, light-hearted and futuristic”, I thought and thus came the naïve dive into the first wild-card of the genres; the one with decent-looking art.
While Plastic Memories doesn’t have the most visually stunning animation or awe inspiring plot-twist as a hit series would have; it merely tells a beautiful message by means of a simple story—a story of joy, of compassion, of love, and of grief. And the studio did a great job in doing what they set out to do. The show gave the viewers a promise of a grim premise and it boldly dwelled into it without hesitation. Some say the drama was forced and they didn’t feel like the giftia analogue was sympathetic at all. In all fairness, it was packed in one 13-episode season; I think it did alright since even the 22-episode-double-season KimiUso was considered forced.
As for the giftia, I would say that was a smart downplay to the overused Soap Opera Disease trope. It would be Narcissu side 2nd if it was to play the trope straight. Speaking of which, both Narci2 and Plastic Memories featured fantastic soundtrack. I often find myself humming after the OP these days. The pieces were melancholy, the opening and closing sequences were symbolic and foreshadowing and, all in all, they complimented the story well.
The downside of this anime lies in its slice-of-life jokes. The comedy wasn’t bad, to be honest, but some parts of it were badly-timed and disrupting. Not to mention, sometimes the camera span reminded me of the many unserious shows before. Yes, I’m talking about that boring and repetitive recipe: an out-of-place joke then a character screams and the camera pans to the sky. It was abused right off the bat and it was in these moments that I questioned the tone of the series.
In all, I enjoy this ride. Even though I could see the end coming from miles away, when the end did come, I could still feel the impact. Plastic Memories is not an emotional roller coaster KimiUso was. Plastic Memories has only one slope and it was a frigging eighty-five-degree nose dive straight to earth.
As a fan of light-hearted Romance and bittersweet Drama, I don’t mind getting my heart broken again. However, having been intimately touched two seasons in a row, I now think I can use something less emotionally devastating next time.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
The all-time-hyper Fate/Stay Night franchise made a comeback this season with the ufotable remade of the original story in Unlimited Blade Works path.
For the uninitiated, Fate/Stay Night is a visual novel created by Type Moon. The novel consistently tops many “best VN of all time” listing and in most cases, it’s one of the few novels that was not produced by Key Visual Arts that made it to the top five (the other being Steins;Gate). It already had an anime adaptation by DEEN Studio in the past and an anime original prequel namely Fate/Zero written by Gen “Urobutcher” and animated by ufotable.
Comparing DEEN Studio’s animation quality to ufotable’s is like comparing Zimbabwe dollar to US dollar. The exchange rate is 35 quadrillions to one with DEEN’s being the worthless one. Naturally, as the remade this time has all the good and none of the bad; a top ranking novel and a top-tier studio; fans were all hyper-hyper about it.
I have no complaint about the visual, the musical, the sound, the everything aspect of this show. Living up to its nick “Unlimited Budget Works”, every episode is a full-blown visual treat. As the snapshots above showed, ufotable’s graphic is simply stunning. The actions scenes are especially well-done and the animation is silk-smooth. They even have the original content that actually makes more senses than that from the novel.
Except for the dolphin euphemism, that still disappointed me…
There is no weak point in UBW, neither there is any strong point. Personally, since I have watched and have enjoyed Fate/Zero, I would say the story this time wasn’t as memorable.
The whole past Holy Grail war history was vague and it would be hard for first-timers to the franchise to understand what was going on. What kind of man was this Kiritsugu guy? Who is this golden-haired, overpowered bastard named Archer appearing out of nowhere, out of no logic to kick everyone’s ass? What is the relationship between this Illyasviel loli and Shirou? A lot of these questions can only be answered by watching Fate/Zero and/or reading the novel itself.
In this manner, I believe ufotable had made up their mind on the watching order of the franchise: the prequel, which was released second, then the main story, which was released first. It means a full 48-episode two seasons series for starters. At least, I can assure the visual aspect of animation would blow anyone away. It’s just that good.
In the end, I do realize the show was supposed to be like a Hollywood action movie: people watch it for the action and much less for the story. I’m still a drama-sucker, though, and Saber’s photo got HTTP error when I first uploaded it while Isla’s photo got through so Plastic Memories won the highlight this round.