Tuesday, March 31, 2015

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Five Shows That *Kinda* Have to Do With Spring

[Disclosure: Posted April 1, intended for March 31. April Fool's Day joke unintended… ;P ]

Spring is finally upon us and many anime certainly enjoy taking place in it, particularly with all of those falling cherry blossoms. So, here are five shows that—at least vaguely—have something to do with the vernal season (vaguely…)!

…Because, it's the start of the, uh, baseball season:

Big Windup!
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]
[Hulu] [FUNimation.com]

—This 2007 series (otherwise known as "Ookiku Furikabutte") was one of A-1 Pictures' earliest works and received some good accolades and a fanbase, but one not nearly large enough for FUNimation to justify licensing its sequel. Just one of many casualties of the North American market's aversion to sports anime, regardless of a title's admiration…

…Because, umm, it's the start of racing season, too…:

Speed Racer
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]

—If you have ever visited HardDoor's Twitter page or seen the sidebar of the blog, you could probably tell that I'm a big fan of racing. I have always had a thing for it ever since I was little, so it was perhaps only natural that one of my favorite shows back then (including one of my earliest exposures to anime) was the ubiquitous Speed Racer. Is it old and campy? Yes, but all of that also adds to the inherent fun of it. I'll ignore all of the subsequent "sequels" and reboots and just fondly remember the Mammoth Car, thank you…

…Because…because…it's colorful, like flowers?:

[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]
[Aniplex Channel] [Crunchyroll] [Hulu]

—Aniplex was banking on Oreshura to be their next big hit, following Oreimo, and tapped Kanta Kamei, who made his star-making directorial debut with Usagi/Bunny Drop, to helm it. The result was a very colorful…commercial dud. Perhaps the market at that time was saturated with harem-type shows and light novel adaptations with long-winded titles ("Oreshura" = Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru), as despite an interesting mix of childhood friend + hot transfer student + ex-girlfriend (a little-used twist) and atypical production stylings (Kamei seems to like his distinct visuals and color palette), it failed to strike a chord with either viewers or critics, leaving it to sink rather quickly into obscurity. Were they right or is the series underrated? You decide…

…Because, it's nice to ride on a motorcycle when it gets warmer (even though the main character here is more dressed for winter…):

Kino's Journey
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]

Kino's Journey was a beloved early-2000s series that still attracts warm words from fans. While the philosophical, slice-of-life tales of an androgynous-looking girl, her talking motorcycle, and their episodic travels has its intrigue, I cannot say this was one of my "favorite" shows. Perhaps I was too young to truly appreciate it (even though I am a big fan of similar works), but if you like traveling, thinking-man-type shows, albeit one with a darker edge, KJ might certainly be up your alley, especially if you weren't around back when it debuted over a decade ago.

…Because, this one actually has something to do with spring!:

Di Gi Charat Flower Viewing Special
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]
[The Anime Network]

—The original Di Gi Charat was an oft-hilarious affair and I've always liked the franchise, even though other iterations of it that I have seen don't quite reach that same level. There are many specials among, most season-related, and the "Flower Viewing" ("Ohanami") one is for spring. On display is Di Gi Charat's signature mix of cute character designs and bizarre, completely surreal character designs and antics. One may naturally scoff at the saccharine images of Dejiko and her cohorts, but your opinion might change once you see them act against type and say and do not-so-cute things (while still being oddly cute in the process). I would liken it more to a parody and it can be surprising how ribald and lowbrow the humor can get (with a dash of questionable ethics…). It's not for everyone and your mileage may vary between segments and gags, but it's definitely something different—and unlike most of the aforementioned titles, this one's actually spring-related!

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