Fate/Stay Night Movie: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower

hisui_icon_4040_round Ufotable has set the bar for their anime based on Type-Moon proprieties pretty high. The Fate/Stay Night anime from Studio Deen is more of a punchline than anything else. It was not an utter train wreck but it is also a super simple task to pick apart all the places where it misstepped as an adaptation. You cannot even be that generous when it comes to the Tsukihime anime from J.C.Staff. It was such a bad version it has become a meme. The Kara no Kyoukai movies were a breath of fresh air that saved a fandom that was convinced that their favorite titles would never get a good anime. Fate/Zero and the Unlimited Blade Works TV series showed that Ufotable was able to replicate the miracle. The TV series was not fully OVA quality but considering Ufotable was putting out an episode a week it was close to miraculous. Also, it was a good conversion of the story to an animated medium. When Fate/Apocrypha was given to A-1 Pictures people were disappointed as the anime was nowhere near the quality they had come accustom to. It was far better than the bad adaptations but it was nowhere near the brilliant shine of anything by Ufotable.

So then Ufotable said their next big Fate project was going to be Heaven’s Feel. It was the last of the three paths of Fate/Stay Night and the only part what had never been animated. As the darkest path, there was always debate if anyone could animate the story without major cuts. It is the path where the sex is heavily integrated with the story and the violence is a bit more horrific. Now there is the Réalta Nua version for the PS2 that takes out all the adult content which could be used as a template but there is a segment of the fandom that considered that the neutered version.

So when Ufotable said they were going to make Heaven’s Feel three movies and not a full TV series the opinions were all over the map. There were the Ufotable faithful who felt they had enough successes under their belts that it was not worth worrying about. There was the once burned, twice shy gang who are always suspicious and the story being compressed into three movies got them very worried. Most other fans were a little surprised but cautiously optimistic. So began the wait to see who was right.

I had hoped that Anime NYC would get the premiere of the Heaven’s Feel movie but they had enough exclusive material that I understood that not being one of their jewels in their crown. I was lucky enough that living in NYC allowed me to see the movie in back in November. It was time to see if Ufotable could work its usual magic or if  Zouken’s 500 Years Dedication would strike the final path of Fate/Stay Night.
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Manga of the Month: Tokyo Tarareba Girls

Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura

Are you in the Olympic spirit like me? Then enjoy Tokyo Tarareba Girls! I’m sure a dramedy about single 30-somethings discussing their lives and loves isn’t the first series that seems relevant to an international athletic competition, but these women have a plan: get married before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

From the creator of Princess Jellyfish comes a hilarious and searing look into the concepts of youth, beauty, love, sex, and society’s expectations on women, especially as they age. Successful screenwriter Rinko and her friends meet-up to commiserate their “old age” and play the what-if game of continuously rehashing their past decisions and speculating on how things could have turned out differently. Their feelings about their failed relationships and their desires to find love are complex. They embrace society’s demands of them while also trying to reject those demands; it’s a tough and true place they find themselves in.

Funny, heartbreaking, a little too on the nose at times, and over the top at the right points, Tokyo Tarareba Girls speaks with authenticity about the actual experience of your 30s VS what you thought it would be like in your 20s. Just because life didn’t turn out the way you planned doesn’t make it wrong, but will Rinko learn this herself by the end?


Manga of the Month: In This Corner of the World

In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に) by Fumiyo Kouno

hisui_icon_4040_round When there is both an anime and a manga of the same story the natural question is which of the two should you experience before the other. The simple answer is usually to seek out the original first and then look at the other one if you have the time and money.

When a title is originally an anime seeking out the manga is usually only for those who are gluttons for punishment. They tend to be pale imitations of the original with truncated narratives and inferior storytelling. There are some notable exceptions but they are mostly the exception that proves the rule.

Titles that are manga first fare better when translated to anime. They tend to be hit or miss if they can live up to the original but good anime adaptations of manga are hardly shocking. The real rarity is the anime that surpasses its origin. If anything the anime are usually just very competent direct translations that add little to the story but also don’t lose much either. Overall your best bet is to stick to manga and maybe watch the anime if it has some cool fights or pretty scenery. It also means if you saw the anime there is little reason to read the manga.

This formula is a quick criterion that does a pretty good job of making effective use of your time.  It is important to note that there are some special examples that stand out as prime examples of flying right in the face of that simple rule of thumb. The rare case where the anime and manga are both are each brilliant pieces of art in their own way and worth experiencing twice. Each version tells the same story but is able to do it in a way that is complementary to both versions. Akira and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind are the two titles that come to mind when talking about this. People often prefer one over the other but still recommend that you see both. I would say without hesitation In This Corner of the World is also on this short list of titles that are worth experiencing in both of its forms.

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