Catching up: anime

Exaggerated and unfair, but true.


The car over the harbor show

I finished OddTaxi. Noir with (mostly) cute animals works pretty well when the writing is strong. It likely is the best show of the year, though I can’t say for sure because I haven’t watched more than a few episodes of anything else. Considered as anime, it’s something out of the ordinary and worth sampling if you have an interest in animated storytelling. Considered as noir, I’m not so sure. My knowledge of the genre doesn’t extend far beyond “Watching the Detectives,” and I suspect that connoisseurs might find the ending unsatisfyingly upbeat. Iniksbane has mixed feelings. Nick Creamer discusses the first episode in detail here.

And that’s it for 2021. Nothing this fall looks interesting, so I’ll pop in a disc of Hozuki or Humanity Has Declined when I’m in the mood to watch something.

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Heavy and cute

Is it still noir if someone uses the word “codependent”?

So, is Odd Taxi really noir? Let’s check with Roger Ebert.

Film noir is . . .

1. A French term meaning “black film,” or film of the night, inspired by the Series Noir, a line of cheap paperbacks that translated hard-boiled American crime authors and found a popular audience in France.

Nearly every scene in Odd Taxi takes place during the evening or night. Check.

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Thirty years ago

I recently unearthed Richard’s box of Japanese magazines and scanned a few more. This batch is from the February 1991 Newtype. It provides a snapshot of what anime was during the age of the laser disc. (The magazine pages are a little larger than my scanner can handle and there are missing edges.) These are big scans, so right-click and open in a new window to see every detail.

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Geology and furry noir

The second season of Yuru Camp concluded with a four-episode trip around the Izu peninsula south of Tokyo. It was mostly more of the same — girls go camping in cool weather, and nothing much happens. Which is fine; spending time with the introverted, independent Rin is enough. (The next hard drive I buy will be named “Rin,” joining the company of Kino, Marika and Isako.)

Among its other virtues, the show was almost entirely free of common fanservice — the beach episode lasted maybe ten seconds and occurred only in one character’s imagination. However, there was plenty of scenery and food porn. One unexpected pleasure was the show’s awareness of the geological history of Izu. Although Japan has numerous volcanoes, some very active, they rarely figure in anime.

Columnar basalt

If you’d like to see the real-world counterparts of the locations in Yuru Camp, infinitezenith has you covered: one, two, three, four, five, six.

Here’s one reason for Yuru Camp‘s success:

Business Insider interviewed Laid-Back Camp producer Shōichi Hotta, where he shared some of the secrets behind the hit anime. He said that although the manga is published in Manga Time Kirara, which tends to be associated with slice-of-life stories that emphasize cute girls, Laid-Back Camp has some slightly different nuances to its appeal, and he wanted to ensure that this was captured by the anime. Specifically, there were two things that he set out to avoid:

1. When a character praises another one of the other girls, don’t make them say “You’re cute.”
2. Don’t let them get touchy-feely so easily.

He explained that doing so would pigeon-hole the genre, and also that these kinds of depictions weren’t in the original manga to begin with.


I’ve been checking out first episodes of the current season on Crunchyroll as they become available to non-subscribers. As usual, I rarely can tolerate more than five minutes of most, but I did watch the debut of OddTaxi twice. It looks like a kid’s show — simple art, anthropomorphized animal characters — but it has a satirical edge and looks like it could get quite dark. The central character, a walrus who drives a taxi, is blunt and cynical. There are strong hints of police corruption and various nefarious goings-on, and probably everyone has a secret. Despite appearances, it’s not for children. What the central story will be isn’t clear yet, but I will probably continue to watch this.

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Additional views of Mt. Fuji

Crunchyroll has discontinued the obnoxious politicized ads that repelled me last spring, and merely dumb ads I can endure, so I am able to watch the occasional show now. The second season of laid-back Yuru Camp through the first six episodes is much like the first. Girls with hair in unnatural colors go camping, and that’s about it. The installments focusing on solitary, self-reliant Rin are a pleasure to watch. Nadeshiko is also pleasant to spend time with, but the other girls in the camping club quickly become annoying.

A moment from the third episode:

Is “loneliness” an accurate translation? “Solitude” or “isolation” would fit the context better, at least to me.

The distortions of extreme wide-angle lenses are sometimes tolerable in photographs but look weird in drawings.