Tag Archives: anime

Anime and the Coming of Age Narrative

The heroine of Kill La Kill

Madcap magical costumes optional

The coming of age story is defined as a narrative that follows a young person through their transition from childhood to maturity, whether the setting of it involves fighting dragons or maths homework. Either way, the protagonist/s have a pivotal moment on their journey and a lesson they learn that propels their character development and essentially says something profound about the adult world that they’re now more in tune with. Everyone was a kid and a teenager at some point, so it’s kind of a universal theme.

A lot of anime is aimed at young people, which explains why there are so many school uniforms fluttering around since the high school experience is the one most relatable to the target audience (and also they’ve kind of elevated to pop culture cult-interest status, but that’s another story). With adolescents involved and being sought out as an audience, the medium is full of stories about the trials and tribulations of growing up. I wondered, as one does, if the conventions were the same as one would find in the Western YA fiction market.

A note before we begin a somewhat lengthy, ponderous and example-filled post: I make an effort not to generalise when talking about anime since it’s a medium rather than a genre, with the same range of content between high fantasy and slice-of-life sitcoms that Americans and Europeans find in their live-action TV. However, for the purposes of this article I do note that a lot of the same cultural conventions remain the same throughout anime series, understandably enough—a lot of them have a similar sense of humour and values and will be affected by the climate that they were made in and the audience they’re made for. And in this case, whether hard-hitting or escapist, that is the teenager. Continue reading

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Filed under Archetypes and Genre

Sink or Swim: Alex Watches Free!

Free! Promo art

And gets unexpectedly attached to a group of animated swimmers with girly names

Free! is an animated TV show about boys who swim. Actually, it’s about the power of friendship and the importance of letting go of the past (and how the two strongly intertwine), and the sport that forms the backdrop could be anything, really. Though the constant connection with water does lead to lots of lovely symbolism and scenery (and the question of what else Kyoto Animation could have bought with their season budget, e.g. Belgium).

I mused upon this show at its beginning, and now it’s time to talk about it looking back. Here we go, guys. I’m a little late to the party, but it’s review time. Continue reading


Filed under Alex Watches

Free!dom of Artistry

A new show is taking the anime world by storm, raising palms to laughing faces all across the fandom community. It’s been wonderfully received so far… you could even say ratings were going swimmingly.

Free! promotional material

Sorry for the pun. Have some pretty boys as recompense

Free! is a new series currently airing from Kyoto Animation about a group of friends who are competitive swimmers. That’s it. It’s two episodes in, so no great overarching plot can be expected to have revealed itself… but it has been very well established that this is not a show that will be watched for the plot anyway. Continue reading


Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings

Magic, Mythology and Murder: Alex Watches Fate/Zero

It’s been a long time since I did a review (is it nearly June already? Bloody ‘ell) and this is a show I can’t seem to shut up about, so it’s only fitting.

Fate Zero poster art

Down to zero we go…

Fate/Zero drops you gently into the befuddling and intricate world of Nasu’s fictional universe; a prequel to the insanely popular Fate/Stay Night visual novel, which delves into the action of a magical war for a wish-granting device called the Holy Grail. It’s not actually the Holy Grail, but it’s certainly capable of making miracles—so naturally enough, when it materialises those in the know fall into a flap and start bickering over who should get their hands on it.

The Grail can only grant a wish to one party, however, thus the summoning of the omnipotent device quickly turned into a battle royale, where the mages at hand summon the spirits of legends as their champions. Seven teams, pairs of chosen mages, ‘Masters’, and their summoned heroes, ‘Servants’, going all out to eliminate the others for supremacy and a miracle all of their own—it’s a messy business, and in Fate/Stay Night there’s much muttering about the horrors of the previous Grail War, ten years beforehand. This is what Fate/Zero is about. A fun premise already! Continue reading


Filed under Alex Watches

Ghosts are Cute and Friendship is Magic: Alex Watches Anohana

I’ve never reviewed an anime series on here before, so let’s break the champagne bottle on a worthy boat, a short series with a lot of heart, a meaningful message and ludicrously long title.

The cast of AnoHana

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, literally translated to We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day and blissfully shortened to Anohana for all intents and purposes across the fan world, introduces us to Jinta Yadomi, a somewhat apathetic and angsty teenaged shut-in who spends his days cutting classes to surf the net and game at home, only going out if entirely necessary and doing so in disguise. His routine is, naturally, interrupted when he begins seeing what he assumes are visions of his dead childhood friend, Meiko “Menma” Honma, hanging around his house and demanding his attention.

Soon enough he realises that Menma isn’t a stress-induced hallucination but a ghost, shown up out of the ether to play with him and the rest of their friends again, only to discover that the tight-knit and carefree group that they had as children have grown apart since her untimely death. Deciding that she must have reappeared on this plane of existence for a reason, Menma declares that “Jin-tan” must grant her a wish and help her to move on to Heaven. She can’t, however, remember what her wish might have been. Continue reading


Filed under Alex Watches