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Just wanted to write up a quick post on the winter anime I’m watching before the season ends! Not much time left for all these shows, so I’m pretty excited to see how they’ll all end! Note that there may be spoilers for Kill Me Baby, Natsume Yuujinchou, and especially for Mirai Nikki and Another. Make sure you’re up to date on these shows before reading on!

I’ll start with Kill Me Baby.

It looks like this series will have 13 episodes, so only two more left (unless ep 12 is already out… then one ep left). Most my thoughts on the show at the moment stem from my musings in response to Bitmap’s blog post on denpa, or the “radio aesthetic” found in some Japanese music and anime shows. Kill Me Baby has been surprisingly quite funny to me, especially in recent episodes (10 and 11), and I’m also a bit surprised this show hasn’t really caught on much.

But I find Kill Me Baby becomes more interesting when you look at it as a satire of some of the more recent trends in anime–namely the big focus on “cuteness” in slice-of-life shows. KMB is a gag comedy, and it takes the concept of cuteness and moves it into a fairly bizarre direction. The character designs are simplistic and adorable–and also chibi, on top of it. The backgrounds are likewise simplistic, and reminiscent of a child’s doodles. There’s essentially only three characters, and they don’t do much of anything to strain the animation budget. Even the obnoxiously giddy OP and frighteningly catchy ED are sung by Yasuna and Sonya’s voice actresses. In many ways, KMB can be seen as an anti-K-On of sorts, particularly in terms of animation and characterization. Rather than seek an “AAAAAAWWWW” from the audience at the characters’ cuteness, KMB instead has Yasuna and Sonya constantly act like incompetent buffoons.

We are laughing at them, not with them. And that’s okay, because we know Sonya is never going to actually kill Yasuna. XD At the end of the day, KMB is just a very silly series which manages to achieve its goals within its restricted means.

But speaking about potentially killing your friends, let’s move on to Mirai Nikki!

First of all… WOW. Talk about absolutely crazy! The last couple episodes of this show have been a rocket-powered roller coaster without a track. I imagine the author of this series must have felt tired of all the tropes found in manga and anime, and really wanted to try crafting a truly bizarre, unpredictable thriller filled with bizarre, unpredictable characters. I can safely say I did not expect so many characters to die in these last couple episodes–and all so quickly and unceremoniously! This show is brutal.

It’s not the most intelligent story out there, and I’m going to withhold judgement on the plot until after the story is completed, but I got to say I’ve really liked just how messed up things have become for our protagonist Yukiteru. He’s had to change so much over the course of this series, and it’s painful to see just how destroyed he’s become. I really wonder if he will be able to bounce back at all? And honestly, what is going to happen in these last four episodes?! I’m surprised there’s still that much story left to tell, when these last two episodes have felt so… climactic!

The ending can really make or break this series, so I’m hoping for the best.

But speaking of needing a really good ending, I really can’t wait for the final episode of Another to air next week!

I’ve written a lot on this series over at the Sea Slugs blog, but I’d like to share some more thoughts here as well. First of all, I’ve loved the atmosphere for this series. The animation and music have been top-notch, and the character designs are also great. The camera angles used for many shots are often unorthodox and clever, and the general tone and lighting of the series has helped maintain that ominous mood it’s captured so well. There’s been a ton of little things I’ve noticed from episode to episode, that have really showed a lot of thought has been put into each and every scene. The show has its shaky moments and times of confusion, but all in all it’s been quite a tense experience.

Episode 11 was especially tense, particularly when all the classmates started going after Mei in their sudden witch hunt. The fact this happened at the same time as the shenanigans of the crazy lodge manager, a random fire, and a bunch of small abrupt mysteries regarding several characters… Well, it was tough to keep track of everything! It was sheer chaos, which worked well for setting up what will hopefully be a satisfying conclusion.

The mystery may be what I love best about this show, since it’s given me a lot to think about. Just who is the dead extra? I’ve considered many characters, and at the moment I’m (sadly) leaning toward the possibility that it’s Mei herself! I feel she may have been lying to Kouichi about it not being her, which would explain why she sounded so sad at the end of episode 11 when she ran away from him. But I may be reading way too much into it! Other characters with red flags at the moment include Teshigawara, Akazawa, and perhaps Kazumi–but I’ve seen other bloggers suggest other characters as good possibilities as well. I believe there’s still some mystery regarding Kouichi himself that needs to be resolved before the story’s through, but we’ll just have to wait and see…

And hope that he and Mei don’t get killed! I’m hoping they at least will make it through… TT.TT

On a happier note (for the most part), I’ll wrap up with Natsume Yuujinchou Shi.

Okay, I guess this show doesn’t have any potential friend-killing (like the other three), but at least there was some tension for Natsume and his childhood friend relative girl acquaintance (I wasn’t quite certain on the specifics here). I found it interesting how the show used an episode to lead into what appears will be a two-parter to finish the season off. It’s been such a wonderful season, and it’s nice to see how much of an effect Natsume has had on the people around him–even when he was younger (as evident in the multiple flashbacks we’ve gotten lately), and when he was less outgoing and more troubled by the yokai.

Things are just as heartwarming for the series, but episode 12 was rather amusing at the beginning, and then surprisingly unsettling once Natsume got to the house he apparently used to stay at when he was a kid. That yokai without a mouth was genuinely threatening, thanks to how it attacks its victims mentally. I’m curious to see what effect it will have on Natsume for the final episode.

And I hope there will be another season some day! It’s not too unlikely, given that it’s gone this far already. Makes me wonder how much it’s adapted from the manga. I’ve read five volumes so far, but know there’s at least a dozen or so out there. It’s a wonderful series, and I suggest it to anyone looking for something calm and character-driven.

So looking back at these four shows, the moral of the story definitely is… don’t kill your friends! [thumbs up] I’ll probably do a final winter post next week, perhaps on favorite moments or characters.