Violet Evergarden – A Sincere Review

So, it’s been 3 episodes now and no I didn’t review the second one. When it comes to Anime, people tend to watch a series in 3 different ways to determine whether its good: the pilot episode, the first 3 episodes, and the whole series. The latter of which means the show was worth making the never ending “anime to watch list” wait longer for you to finish this one. With regards to all shows, you get the best idea whether you should continue watching the series with the power of 3 rule, hence why I’m needlessly writing this review which no one is reading because I believe people have had conflicting views on Violet Evergarden so far. Like I mentioned with the Pilot review, there was an enormous hype train following the early release of the show, a train I didn’t board because I try to keep all judgments reserved until ive seen the actual show yet I’d be lying if I said it didn’t grab my attention. Now I’m here to explain why not only i think Violet Evergarden is worth watching but why I think Evergarden is a lot more meaningful than some people realise.

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You know weirdly the more I write about these shows, the worse I feel like my writing gets. Not just because of grammar and punctuality, but as Violet tries to explain “I don’t even know what I want to say”. That is pretty much how I write and as actual writers will tell you, that’s really not the best way to write something…obviously. I don’t know what I want to write, I just know that shows like Violet Evergarden make me WANT to write, but I doubt I could write a character nearly as intricate as Violet. Describing Violet that may come as a surprise for people who think this Anime is overhyped, but as they say “With highly anticipated shows, comes highly anticipated hate.” People argue Violet is another emotionless Kuudere, yet this is so much that’s stands out with her. The amazing animations and music are more than just cosmetics, yet the show looks beautiful but it’s more than just a pretty visuals. They carry much more deeper meaning. So when Violet spends all day with not a single word to show her feelings, it really gets to me how terrified she is of expressing her own feelings. I struggle to express my feelings writing this damn review, yet I know inside what feelings and emotions I have. Unlike most people, Violet doesn’t even understand the feeling itself, let alone how to express it. Yes the Anime’s story is basically her trying to understand her own feelings, that may be the plot of the anime but it’s certainly not what it’s about, and it certainly isn’t your typical Slice of Life.

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With Kyoto Animation, characters matter. While some would argue films A Silent Voice sacrifices most of it’s secondary cast for the sake of plot development, the film still actually makes you care about them. Violet Evergarden is no exception when it comes to the importance of in depth secondary characters. While Violet is the main focus, each episode does seem to focus plot points from different perspectives. From the pilot we had Claudia Hodgins struggle to introduce Violet to civilian life, in the second we saw Erica Brown as a doll who also struggles with expression support Violet in her desire to understand her feelings. In this episode Violet befriends the loving Luculia Marlborough who comes to admire Violet, and struggles trying to help her drunken war veteran brother. Although I wish by now I started seeing Violet come into her own, it’s still a great way of story telling by showing her characterization through the eyes of others whilst also adding small yet interesting character arcs of their own.  I also hope this leads to an episode from the perspective of The Playwright, the character which the novel opens on as we see Violet for the first time. However I do hope we seem more of these characters, Claudia in particular as we know he cares enough for Violet to try and help her start a new life, he’s looking for redemption and he can’t bring himself to tell Violet that Major Gilbert is dead.

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Violet has only known war, she is at her core, a soldier first and foremost. It’s in her language, her expressions, her to the point attitude. She see’s every task as a mission and every teacher as an officer. Yet she knows this isn’t what life is about, but it’s the only thing she knows. The concept behind the letters and the written word is just as powerful as the shows visuals, it connects characters in the show, shows character development and is important to the story. Having Luculia’s brother in the episode was an interesting way of having Violet taking her first steps at moving on from her military past, or at least using it to help another character come to terms with their guilt. Part of me feels like this foreshadows a later interaction when/if Violet realizes the truth about the Major. I respect the anime for taking it’s time with Violet, unlike the novel the show is presented in chronological order so it’s not showing the series of events of how Violet became who she is, it’s showing the journey of her growing up into an adult. Violet is not a simple broken girl, she struggles conveying emotion because the only language ever taught to her is that of a soldier. Her transformation to becoming a doll is like her trying to jump language or social barriers, to say that she has no personality in my opinion is just misunderstanding of her character. That doesn’t mean I’m right, it’s just how I see Violet Evergarden and why I think so many amazing moments are yet to come. 

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I’m really not breaking any new grounds with this review, there are far more talented people who have done more detailed analysis of Violet so far, all I can do is give my opinion on why I like it and where I think it is going. The soundtrack surprised me with VE’s first official use of the “Sincerely” opening and ending of the show. Most people are upset they haven’t used “Violet Snow” yet, but I hope they save that for when the show really needs it. However if I’m honest, I almost wish there wasn’t an OP for the show, yes Ive loved the openings so far but with only 20 minutes to progress the story I wish we got to see more Violet.

No I am not going to post a score or rating, the fact that I’m actually posting this review in the first place should show that it was worth taking the time to write it because I think it’s a damn good show even if I don’t think it’s reached its best moments yet. Simple matter is I don’t see ratings as an effective way to show how good or how much I like something. That does mean people who post scores on their reviews are wrong, it just means much like in Violet, the use of words carry weight and emotion to convey feelings. I don’t believe I can do that just by putting a 1-10 on something.

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On a side note, if anyone is actually reading this, I’d seriously like to thank you for actually taking the time to read a nobodies blog post who’s opinion means Jack shit to everyone else. At this point I really just write for my on catharsis but it still means a lot that you made it this far.  I most likely won’t write another review for VE until the series is finished, but I look forward to writing it.

 

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Violet Evergarden – Actual Review In Progress

Even before I got the chance to see the first episode in October at MCM London, there was already so much hype around this stunning anime and so much controversy at Netflix for owning it. Original fans of the light novel rejoiced to see this amazing story come to life with Kyoto Animations beautiful vision. Now the first episode has finally aired…and everyone is losing their fucking minds and all for the wrong reasons. It’s the pilot episode…

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So what is “Violet Evergarden” about? Waking up in hospital months after a war which Violet (Also known as ‘The Weapon”) has spent the better part of her childhood fighting, has finally ended. Off the bat you would assume then the Anime would be about a soldier struggling to fit in with civilian life? Well yes, but in typical Kyoto fashion its not what you think. Violet instead finds herself haunted not by horrors of war, but by the last words of someone she held dear, words which she can’t understand. Its this moment the first episode builds up to from the very beginning. The Anime is very much a coming of age story, focused on a girl who doesn’t know how to live as shown by her words when she can no longer go back to military life; “If I’m no longer of use, throw me away”.  Now, this is of course something that has been done before, and anyone who hates what is essentially Slice of Life will most likely be disappointed as Violet’s Journey of self discovery takes her from “Weapon” to a person.

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However, Violet’s Journey hasn’t even begun yet, as I mentioned in the intro…it’s the pilot episode and it’s 25 minutes long. Not enough happens to allow Violet to change, we simply learn about who is now…a broken tool trying to get used to her situation. Yet even in this I could find small moments which show great character. In the last moments of the war, Violet lost both her arms of which are now replaced by synthetic ones and understandably she has lost the ability to feel with them. When confronted with a choice of choosing a stuffed animal by her new guardian, retired Lt. Col Claudia Hodgins, she cuddles and chews on the toy to understand what it feels like. The rest of the episode is mostly her struggling to civilian life as she salutes anyone she meets, filling her time with routine tasks, trying to cope with what she’s lost…

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Most of the episode is filled with flashbacks of her last moments with Major Gilbert in gruesome and heart-breaking manner. We know already that despite her disciplined routine manner, she certainly has feelings beyond those fight. At the beginning of the episode, she ponders over the feeling she gets from looking at an emerald broche as it reminds her of Major Gilbert…but she doesn’t understand the feeling. Throughout the episode, she really only shows emotion whenever she is reminiscent of the Major. The next time she feels it is when she is reminded of her last moments with him…and so her Journey begins as an Auto Memories Doll, delivering the thoughts and feelings of others whilst trying to understand her own. It may be a trope, but there so much potential with Violet Evergarden.

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There is so much I already want to see develop down the line. If Kyoto Animation is known for anything beyond it’s visuals, its for turning a simple trope into a well fledged and enduring story and interesting characters as shown with Hibike! Euphonium and A Silent Voice. I’m really interested in finding out more about Hodgins, his motives for wanting to look after Violet are made clear as a chance for redemption, but he certainly seems like there is more to him with his military history. One seen in particular shows him observing Violet in a very disturbing manner, what he witnessed exactly her do is not yet known. The flashbacks were used well and seems as its going to be occurring throughout the series to show characters past which already seems emotionally heavy, and the score perfectly captivates every single moment of it. Some were disappointed “Violet Snow” wasn’t played in the first episode, but I’m glad they didn’t as there is bound to be a moment where they will. The use of orchestral violin, piano and even a typewriter to capture emotions really shows the thought that goes into building this character and this world.

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Lets get this out the way, Kyoto cannot be understated when it comes to the quality of its Animation. This doesn’t just mean that the Anime looks good, it looks spectacular but that’s not what makes it great. Whats great, is the attention to detail that goes in every scene, object, stance and colour. Violet Evergarden is was described in so much detail in the Light Novel, not only did they nail her look perfectly but it really brings her character to life. You can tell clearly what she’s feeling and what kind of person she is. It’s not just vibrant, everything in the animation tells a story of it’s own, just look out how Violet carries herself, or the acorns she keeps in her bag (even reminded me of one scene in Saving Private Ryan), or the flower in her tea.

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Listen I may not of covered everything that lovers of the show will want me to, or shown too much love for the show myself for those saying it’s overhyped. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think the show has too much praise already as it was already the most sought after show for 2018…but if every anime that came out this year is as good as Violet Evergarden is looking to be, them it’s gonna be a damn good year for anime. This wasn’t meant to be an analysis of the first episode, nor an actual review really, its just my thoughts on how I felt watching it and that people really should just ignore everyone else (yes even me) and watch it for yourself. Personally, I loved the first episode, and I cant wait to see where Violet Evergarden will go from here on.

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Since Netflix hasn’t released any OST as of yet, the best piece I can find on this episode came from this talented Prince of Anime. It honestly captures the moods of the first episode perfectly.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Words, Beautiful World – Anthem of the Heart

An Actual Review of one of the most overlooked films in history. When I originally wrote this, I stopped questioning what films I would review as to me it didn’t matter. If I’m writing about it that means I genuinely took time out of what little life I have just to mention it, I could easily be focusing on my course assignments right now. Instead I decided to watch an Anime of which very few people will ever care about and even less so will care about this review. I’m writing this because as soppy and as cliché as it’s title may be, Anthem of the Heart is genuinely a masterpiece of the coming of age genre in not just Anime, but film making as a whole.

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When I told a dear friend of mine the synopsis for the film, her only reply was “Oh that is so cliché” and she isn’t wrong. That does not mean the film had no heart, far from it. Anthem of the Heart simply resonates with passion, the burning of youth with characters who don’t just say what they feel but show it. If Hibike! Euphoniun and A Silent Voice express emotions through sound, then Anthem of the Heart fills those emotions with words. It’s as much as an enduring tale of adolescents as any, filled with tear jerking moments of thunderous catharsis and grounded in it’s harsh reality. The Trauma, conflict and pain for longing. A story that depicts the bonds between people, and beloved music will feel your heart with emotion. Much like A Silent Voice, we witness the beautiful story of a girl trying to find her voice. 

The film opens with a young and naïve Jun Naruse with flights of medieval fantasy, witnessing and then telling her mother about her unfaithful father, soon stops talking all together after realising the pain she has caused to the people she loves. Come present day, she is called upon to help produce a musical with Takumi Sakagami, a generally well-liked boy who never seems to show much interest in anything. Natsuki Nitou, the straight-laced girl who has some kind of past with Takumi. And Daiki Tasaki, the former baseball ace whose blown elbow has left him a bitter relic on the team’s sidelines. None of these four are interested in designing a performance, much less with each other – but when Jun witnesses Takumi singing a silly little song about eggs and words, she begins think that music may be a way to let free the feelings trapped in her heart. Takumi is caring and understanding when she tells him via text message about her curse, and how much pain she feels when she talks. In Jun’s fantastical mind, he’s a prince and a savior. Takumi friendship leads her to interact more with everyone around her. She’s beautifully animated and even without talking her expressions through body language are just endearing. Her reactions are just adorable and bring a much-needed light heartedness to scenes that made me cry…and so we have Anthem of the Heart. 

 

What I really want to say

Anime lovers are no strangers to ridiculous plots, and as absurd as the plot sounds, you might be forgiven thinking this is nothing more than a sweet high school fantasy movie. Yet the real life implications, the tare between what is fantasy and what is real, makes this a beautiful and heart wrenching tale that much like it’s protagonist is screaming to have that story told. We see a quiet withdrawn girl who is unable to communicate using normal methods and the judgement and assumptions made about her by the people around her, the same people that she comes to call her friends.  Through the painful scenes of her trying to express her thoughts, eventually and as soppy as it sounds, Jun realises she can express her feelings through singing. This brings out the more light hearted and most emotional moments throughout the film. 

To me it never mattered when the story became melodramatic at times as the film blends Fantasy-Reality all too well. At times Jun’s personal fantasy as childish as it also begins tarring her apart like her views on romance. Throughout the movie, she was always genuine about her feelings but was also in love with the idea of love. The reality which she was so afraid of however becomes more beautiful as the world opens up to her. It certainly makes the “be careful watch you wish for” story all the more fresh with it’s juxtaposed magic and reality dynamic. Some of the ways the film uses to convey emotions through expression can be heavy handed, as beautiful as it is not everything has to be expressed. Sometimes the best option can be to just have it left unsaid, which is a weird complaint about an coming of age Anime of self expression. Yet on the other hand there’s a quiet loneliness to many of the sequences here that show how real it is, the film isn’t afraid to go where many adolescent dramas do not. It makes the more beautiful moments stand out.

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As fantasy as her cure is, Jun’s problems are very much real and I feel her despair in every scene. Over the small and heartfelt moments, we see how each character struggles with the expression of their feelings, and as they naturally grow to care for each other we see the realistic development of their characters growth. It never spares in showing the best and yet the worst in people. The most surprising character is actually the hot headed baseball ace Daiki, who speaks out against Jun’s inability to speak and his disinterest in helping. As his insecurities are revealed, he asks Jun for forgiveness and gradually grows to love her for who she is…something she has never experienced before. I especially love the final scene of this film as it shows just how much the characters develop. Through a heart warming sequence, we see the cast’s accomplishment the morning after. As they begin to reminisce the past few weeks, we see Daiki confess his feelings for Jun and her expression is just one of awe. The film is much as about learning to express our thoughts and feelings as it is coming to terms with emotional burdens, and it’s enduring to watch.  Its surprising in it’s revelation of how often the words we speak can be so violent and painful, and it’s characters don’t refrain from showing unhappiness, pettiness or depression. Anohana also portrayed this perfectly with it’s characters, and i enjoyed those throwbacks here. 

 

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The music is not only wonderful to hear but players important roles in character dynamics. It’s Jun first listening to Takumi that gets her to open up, in one scene in particular she tells him she wished the ending of the story was more happy. Here was get a beautiful rendition of “Over the Rainbow”, a song that I hadn’t heard since my childhood. It’s perfectly used to convey it’s emotional truth. I’ve always been fond of music being used to convey feelings especially in film (not in a Katy Perry pop song) and it’s nice to see a series that makes such good use of it to solve real problems, like those that Jun faces. While there is no 7 minute Euphonium solo, it doesn’t need to have one. During it’s emotional climax’s, the film often lets characters actions and performances do the expression while the soundtrack carries the emotion throughout.

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No like i mentioned before the film is not flawless, but even it’s flaws just work for the portrayal of its characters. It’s sincere with it’s feelings and in its execution. The characters, thoughts and feelings all feel real. A small story with grace, It’s a simple and enduring little film, that deserves to be heard.

 

 

My confession of Love: Hibike! Euphonium

I’ve never reviewed a series before, let alone an Anime series because most people just don’t care. Anyone who doesn’t watch anime will not know what the fuck I’m talking about, and anyone who does most likely hasn’t even seen “Sound Euphonium”, and again even if they have they aren’t reading this because the show ended almost a year ago now…which is all the more reason why I have to write this. I’m not reviewing an Anime series here, there are plenty of those on MyAnimeList, this is literally what I wrote in the title. Some more talented and dedicated writers have created entire blogs centred around every little detail, character and moment in this series. As much as I could do that…someone has already done it better. The fact is I often write these “Actual Reviews” in a humorous sense, yet I’ve come to learn it’s not very funny to un-ironically love something (yes, I know). So really writing this is just my own form of catharsis as after watching this I decided to drop every single Actual Review I planned and every assignment I have due in, just to write about my own crazy love confession for this ridiculous and insanely smart Anime.

The first thing anyone uses to describe an Anime like Hibike! Euphonium is “Slice of Life”. That usually means “a depiction of mundane experiences in art and entertainment”, theatre goers would describe is “Naturalism”, writers would say “Arbitrary”, and Anime lovers would most likely say “Melodrama”. Anyone who says this is completely right….and yet they couldn’t be more wrong. It wasn’t until the last episode of the last season that I realised just how profoundly I had fallen in love with these characters, their Journey and their emotional struggles. I’ve found it’s very easy in Anime for something that’s a “Slice of Life” to be nothing more than small cliché but cute moments of day to day life, and there is nothing wrong with that, K-on is probably the best example of this. It’s amazing how much you can make from so little, and K-on’s Director Naoko Yamada certainly understood this when she moved to Tamako Love Story, and then decided to take the closer role of Episode Director in Hibike Euphonium. Her ability to use common events, enviroments, and emotions in uncommon ways is what made Euphonium stand out. 

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Kyoto Animation is undoubtedly famous for it’s quality style in animation, but it is people like Yamada who make it so. Of course it looks amazing, but it’s the detail from the close ups, the environmental shots, the lighting, to the simplest moments of a smile or even her use of leg shots. I never knew how much you can tell about a person from simply how they carry themselves. There is so much attention put in every scene, that I could analyse and tell you exactly how someone feels for someone else just from what flower happens to be blooming in the background. This is something that was perfected in A Silent Voice, and much like that anime Hibike Euphonium most definitely needs to be heard as well as seen. The use of music is not just a plot device for the progression of story, there is real emotion put into every piece that is played and not just the solo performances that are just as powerful as Whiplash!Every character has their own song, with the title reveal song “Sound Euphonium” having the most surprising impact.

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Taken from the perspective of Kumiko, Hibike Euphonium is about the different kinds of relationships that a musician can have with the activity of playing music itself,  and who is struggling to understand the nature of her own relationship within music. Yet as the show progresses, it becomes much more to do with the relationships between these characters you grow to love, the show never fails to captivate on the emotions of it’s characters. Hibike! Euphonium is ultimately about the complex interpersonal dynamics and challenges that arise from the ensemble of a diverse group of  unique individuals, who share a goal of competing at the national level in concert band. This is something that the anime captures not just well, but beautifully. 

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The only way that I can really describe what I see and feel, Is that It all feels real. In terms of character development and interaction, this is the most realistic anime I have ever seen. It would have been easy for the creators to rely on stunning visuals, beautiful sound and cute high school clichés. The story revolves much more around the characters than the actual plot, I could write for hours on end why I love certain characters. It doesn’t just focus on main characters for it’s development, the anime brings in the whole ensemble as every extra and side character is given their own unique traits and as the story develops we see their reactions to certain dramatic situations. From the emotions each character tries to display, to the feelings each character tries to commit to exposing or explaining, to the struggles each character displays in their attempts to become better than they already are. All of these things, wrapped up by the simple, yet extremely effective and extremely hard thing to perfect… how realistic they feel.

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Its hard to talk about this show, without mentioning relationships. Naoko Yamada Is renowned for creating realistic and even controversial relationships, and never gives her own personal thoughts on whether characters should or should not be together. A lot of people interpret the relationships in Hibike as “Yuri”, when simply the best way to interpret them is “Adolescence”. It’s people falling in love and for a lot of them it’s their first time experiencing such feelings . If it’s hard to talk about relationships, then it’s impossible to not mention the “Relationship expert” Tanaka Asuka. There are so many amazing characters who i could mention (Kumiko, Reina, Mizore, Nozomi, Natsuki, Yuuko, Taki) but I could write entire essays on why and how Asuka is my favourite character. She isn’t a person who easily opens up. However, the symbolic gestures she makes do have powerful effects and it means something to those who do understand her. Kumiko’s personal Journey is every bit of Asuka’s as well. The issues with Asuka just touch nicely with what Kumiko already has gone through and allow her growth to explode. Kumiko has to fully tap into what she’s been through and who she is by the end of the show thanks to and because of Asuka. 

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Despite the title…I didn’t actually love this Anime from the start, In fact I would say I didn’t even realise just how much I loved it until the very last scene of the very last episode. Thats definitely not to say I thought the show was boring at first, but watching it was like experiencing this personal Journey of adolescents that was all too personal. The Journey of Kumiko is one that had me so surprisingly tearing at it’s sounding conclusion, as I came to experience the same resolution as she did. It’s amazing just how much the show understands it’s characters, and how it understands people. Its the little moments when slow down that we have the biggest revelations. The show is not Yuri bait, nor is it forced animation, it’s a damn genuine take on a coming of age story about personal growth. In the end it made me reminisce my own life Journey of cliché adolescents, and the realisation of me turning 20 that all of it is now coming to a sounding end. Hibike Euphonium left me with the same long lost feeling of saying goodbye to a personal friend who I know I would never see again. I’ll miss Euphonium, but like Kumiko, I’ll appreciate its memory and the insane, silly, beautiful and soundful moments that took place, and how I came to love them.

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The show opens with a sombre piece of piano music, as Kumiko gazes at the falling snow from tight closeups that capture Kumiko’s breathless state and cold cheeks, we see footsteps small and indistinct in the fresh snow. Kumiko stands in the cold, briefly alone, treasuring a notebook that only she can read what’s inside. This ends up being the very last scene. As snow falls on the steps where the band once played so horribly, Kumiko finally runs into Asuka and tells her the truth. Though Kumiko initially disliked and maybe even despised Asuka, she’s come to love her. She doesn’t want to let her go. It’s one of the few moments Asuka actually shows her feelings. Asuka’s response to this is characteristically her: “if you don’t want to say goodbye, then I guess we won’t.” Passing on her father’s treasured song, she waves not a goodbye, but an ‘until next time,’ and then she’s gone, her footsteps small and indistinct in the fresh snow. Kumiko reminisces all her moments with Asuka as she treasures her gift, and finally the title piece of Asuka’s song is shown: “Hibike! (Sound) Euphonium”. Sentimentalism allows us only a brief respite, even in moments like this. It was that moment, I realised how much I loved Sound! Euphonium.

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“I’ll never forget the sense of warmth that name filled me with”

 

 

Shout out to these awesome creators who helped inspire me to make this review:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNvxWSKZa-4&t=65s – Hibike Euphonium – Kumiko’s Journey (A Character Analysis)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlgJCAnSlyI – Why i love Hibike! Euphonium
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAzp5rTMb5s&t=1040s – Naoko Yamada — At The Entrance To The Universe

 

 

 

 

 

Blade Runner 2049 “Actual Review”

There’s nothing like experiencing something that you come to love for the first time. I can think of a number of films where I wish I could go back in time and watch it again like it was my first all over. With Star Wars The Force Awakens I was able to have that experience as it felt like I was watching the original for the very first time. I had the exact same feeling when watching Blade Runner 2049, except unlike most critics when they watched the original Blade Runner I ended up wanting nothing more than to go back and see it again.

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It would feel strange reviewing the original after so long,  but I feel like I already have the pleasure of doing so as Blade Runner 2049 is every bit a true Blade Runner film through and through. That really should sum up about how audience’s will take this film. Fans will most likely love it, and those who didn’t like the original will most likely hate it. The question is whether the general audience will invest almost 3 hours of their time on a fantasy dream like dystopian sci-fi. The short answer to that would be the guy who fell asleep behind me an hour into the film. I’m not here to convince people they should see this film, let the actual critics do that. Here I write for myself, but if you haven’t seen this and actually happen to be reading this then it would be a damn shame if you didn’t see this in the Cinema. Unlike the original, 2049 is already a cult classic where as it took almost 20 years for Blade Runner to turn into a masterpiece.

This film made me appreciate the original sci-fi noir even more, but does not rely on it for its themes or plot. We follow Ryan Goslings Detective K, a Blade Runner who’s job it is to “Retire” Rogue Replicants. We follow him as he attempts to unravel the meaning of life…oh and do his job. While this film may be lacking in action, it never faults in suspense, immersion, and making you question your own very existence. If anything It felt more like an experience, there is nothing in this film which Dennis Villeneuve has put by mistake. Everything has a purpose and everything is open to interpretation. Even over 30 years later people Ridley Scott and Villeneuve can still argue over the implication of whether Deckard is meant to be a Replicant or not. Similar questions from the first film are drawn again here while Villeneuve adds a few of his own. From questions of souls, to the implications of Retiring, love, memories, race (even between Replicants) all of which cultivate in an assortment of conflicting emotions. I hope you do like Gosling looking at things intensely though…

While the film swaps unicorns for wooden horses, it also trades gas explosions for fantastical ships. Roger Deakins makes the film every bit of a visual splendour as its predecessor, everything in this world is truly breath taking to pain staking detail which makes the whole world feel alive. Accompanied with a worthy score with not only Hans Zimmer but Benjamin Wallfisch who either let you sheer with bliss at the visual spectacle, or who eerily overwhelm your senses. You will be completely immersed from the god like pyramids of the Wallace Corporation buildings, to the back alley market traders and Replicant traffickers.  The beauty of the film lies as much in the small low key moments as it does the grandeur skyscrapers. Little moments like a surprise memory forger sequence from someone who spends 5 minutes on screen, or the at home moments with K’s holographic girlfriend as he imagines a normal life all help build character into the long drawn out segments that are more like wondrous dreams than plot points. It certainly helps drive the themes of the movie across when Ryan Gosling wonders off into the pale orange distance in search for answers.

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There is something I have to address before seeing this film however if you want to get a better understanding of the events prior to 2049 going in. The first, second, and third thing to do to watch the 3 short films preluding 2049: 2022, 2036, and 2048…you still with me? When you’ve watched those, then if you haven’t already you should watch the original. However it’s not necessarily essential, in fact I could say you don’t even need to see the original to see this as it stands strongly in its own right. Even though the story has key characters from the first play an essential part in this, you can follow along with who these characters are and what happened during K’s investigation to understand the gravity of the situation.

Narratively, the film is nothing short of a masterpiece as even when fans and newcomers alike will guess at every turn the secrets of Blade Runner, Hampton Fancher and Michael Green amazingly both satisfy and keep the strong case of Identity from the original while also delivering a complete and compelling story of its own. Even with unanswered questions, I was able to leave the theatre resolved with it’s ending and satisfied that it maintained everything Blade Runner stands for. Dave Bautista’s character says at the start of this film, “you have never seen a miracle”.

I have, it’s called Blade Runner 2049.