An instant crowd-pleaser, in spite of the disjointed international release schedule by Netflix, Violet Evergarden is a labour of love for the tight-knit Kyoto Animation team. In search of music that can reflect the quiet intensity of the melodrama on display, Japan-based American composer Evan Call was instructed to construct the sentimental anchor of the entire production.
The following is a translation of the interview printed in the Violet Evergarden Original Soundtrack booklet, conducted with the composer and series music producer Shigeru Saito.
I want to start by talking about a single shot in Violet Evergarden’s debuting episode.
Violet’s reflection in the clock implies two things: her current state of mind, as well as certain potential, if one takes into account Violet’s first real display of agency in this scene.
A clock as a tool for telling time is mechanical and rigid by nature, its function defined by a single need. Violet was a child soldier who has known nothing but to take orders and acting on them: her function defines her, encroaching her behind a transparent cage.
Not sure where I heard it, but the perfect completed anime to favourite anime ratio is a clean-cut 10:1: meaning that now that I’ve completed over 200 anime in total (according to MAL at least), I get to update my favourite anime to a list of 20. And that’s good news and bad news.
Opening remarks: I originally intended this piece to be a particularly academic-driven one…digging deep into the likes of Mark Lochrie & Paul Coulton’s article on shared viewing experiences or ‘Social TV’ and ‘Second Screen Devices’, and Alice E. Marwick’s paper on ‘Imagined Audiences and Context Collapse in Microblogging’. Elements of these studies are still retained in the final product, but I decided to keep discussion more centred on Dragon Maid and my own experiences in watching it…and ultimately deciding that it is an absolute new favourite.
Yes, for whatever reason, ATMA & Funomena is still alive and kicking. I also got into the elites’ club by being featured on the ThatAnimeSnob Reddit board. Truly an honour.
2016 was a horrible year (yes I’m one of those, deal with it) that was unfashionably kind to me as a blossoming anime fan and…maturing adult (somehow, these two do go hand-in-hand for me). I got myself a new (and first) decent-paying job, I started collecting anime, music and film merch like crazy. I watched too much anime.
Only one frame was needed for Sound! Euphonium to flaunt its triumphant return. With the single shot shown above, Tatsuya Ishihara was able to definitively storyboard the almost non-existent time-gap between the show’s two seasons, while at the same time, encapsulate the essence of the drama that still reside within the concert band: who has shrugged off the doubt and resorted to continue on their quest for perfection, and who’s still being trapped within their own past, unable to continue?
Bathed in a sunny back-light, Kumiko’s ascend upstairs had purpose, a sense of forward vision. Mizore is chained to the bottom of her staircase grasping her own mouth, almost choking on her own memories as ‘Polovtsian Dances‘ from Borodin’s ‘Prince Igor’ opera echoed from the school building’s rooftop, thanks in no part to her middle school band-mate Nozomi.
For weeks now, I’ve been contemplating on the nature of fandoms. Rather than a purely intellectual study, I decided to approach this curiosity with a sense of self-discovery: relying on my 5 senses and observing how fandoms materialise from the culture in which they are surrounded with. To frame this little thought experiment of sorts of mine, I decided to briefly analyse the personality of the 2007 hit Lucky Star.
For my third and final venture into the best of anime 2015, I determine the overall winners of the year.
Below are my meticulously considered titles and studios that will be competing for and winning the Funomenon Globe (Took me 5 seconds to come up with this name…so it’s AWESOME. Design & 3D render pending.)for Best TV & Film Soundtracks, Top-Performing Studio and Favourite Anime of 2015.
(What’s with people rushing their top lists…even the Oscars are STILL contemplating on last year, and how to stump poor ol’ DiCaprio…)
Some mindless yapping first.
About a few weeks ago, I marked my first year anniversary as a regular anime follower. What has always amazed me by myself (yeah…self-centred asshole…), is how quickly I can adapt and project myself into new fandom communities: it took me one photograph to fall in love with photography, it took me a few days and a few dozen albums to fall in love with film music. It took me only a year to complete basically enough anime shows and films to sustain long conversations with people, who have been following anime for years. I completed no less than 100 titles, OVAs and films in 2015, around 37 days’ worth of content (or 53280 minutes), and have familiarized myself with enough anime-isms to be able to analyse in-depth and engage in fanboy arguments during my university’s anime society get-togethers. Overall, anime has greatly improved my enjoyment of life: I have one more passion to engage with other people of common interests, and good animation satisfies my love for great art. I am thankful for that.
I believe in the practice of casting a wide net from the get go, to reel in the best catch. Granted, I will have to deal with a multitude of indigestible garbage and an occasional shopping cart or human carcass, but this way, I can taste-test a wide range of shows, before settling with what to follow, drop or slot into my watchlist.
It’s because of this practice, that I usually start the season running with a dozen shows at least, before it dwindles into 3 or 4 shows I will still be following weekly after 5 or 6 rounds. The shows I stopped following and my reasoning vary, from ‘It’s not my type of show’ to ‘this will look great on 1080p BD’… or ‘This is too epic to NOT marathon’. There’s also added dilemma in what shows work better with a English dub. Then there’s the always fascinating slew of Funimation broadcast dubs. We are definitely in the future.
Perhaps the best way to describe Kyoto Animation’s venture with Hibike! Euphonium is by literally contradicting myself: it is a work of complex simplicity. The emotional dissonance that exists, when a large group of individuals come together is typical of the atmosphere that you may find in a musical ensemble. Long story short, this OVA works as an alternate perspective provider on the emotional climax towards the latter end of the series, and it does it superbly.