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Steins;Gate is like a Takimoto Tatsuhiko (Welcome to the NHK) story without being written by Takimoto, which is something I need right now.
Much like the episode 8 phenomenon I pointed out some time ago, there’s something that most 11 and 22-episode shows have in common besides their odd length. At least nine times out of ten, a series with one of these rare episode counts is bound to be among the most unusual anime on TV.
I first noticed this about 22-episode anime after seeing Texhnolyze and Red Garden, two of the most unusual anime ever made, which for a long time were the only 22-episode anime I’d even heard of. The 11-episode phenomenon came to my attention after Kuuchuu Buranko and Youjohan Shinwa Takei. If you’ve seen any of the four anime I just mentioned, you’ve probably already begun to understand the significance of this phenomenon.
And these episode counts *are* exceedingly rare. Performing a MAL search of TV anime by episode count, there’s only about 1 page worth of either number out of over 100 pages. That almost every anime with 11 or 22 episodes is distinctly unique says to me that it’s being done on purpose. One common trend in the recent shows with these episode counts is belonging to the noitaminA time-slot, which is itself dedicated to unique anime; however, it is neither the case that all of the shows in this phenomenon are from that time-slot, nor that everything in that time-slot is 11 or 22 episodes long.
Here are examples of some 11 and 22-episode anime that I particularly enjoyed.
Black Lagoon is one of the few shows I marathoned in 2008 that I can still remember quite, well in spite of only rewatching half of it (and reading the first volume of the manga a couple times). I remember it because Black Lagoon was a turning point in the kind of stories that interested me, as well as in the kind of stories that I wanted to create.
The show had been recommended to me a number of times in the year before I watched it, but I was always scared to because it sounded ‘dark and gritty’. Back then, I couldn’t handle stories that featured extremely dark or violent situations and wanted to be taken seriously. Now mind you, I’ve always loved violence; but at the time, I was scared to get emotionally involved in it. In early ’08, two of my favorite anime were Mnemosyne and Baccano; both shows are ridiculously turbo-violent, but handle it in a lighthearted and fun way. (Not to mention half the cast of either show is immortal anyway.)
It’s no surprise at all to find that many people cannot stomach Texhnoolyze, most commonly by the reasoning that it is ‘boring’. I can’t blame anyone for thinking so – it’s an incredibly slow and ruthlessly dense experience, and written by Chiaki J. Konaka who never seems interested in letting anyone watch his shows easily. I, however, do not find Texhnolyze boring at all. ‘Boring’ would imply a certain indifference and disinterest – ‘boring’ would mean that I didn’t care. Rather, I really enjoy Texhnolyze and find it wholly interesting, but I would describe watching it as ‘physically painful.’
All too often, I see the phrase ‘animation’ getting tossed around without a proper knowledge of what the word entails. Although, for the record, I also see people talk about wanting to watch anime with ‘good graphics’ so at least most of us aren’t that bad, but nonetheless, I think a lot of people confuse a series having ‘good art’ with having ‘good animation.’ There are a lot of ways I could explain this with examples unrelated to one-another, but I think the more effective way to illustrate this is with Haibane Renmei and Texhnolyze – two shows with art designed by my favorite artist, Yoshitoshi ABe.
Casshern Sins is like a combination of Texhnolyze, Kino’s Journey, and Trigun in a brilliant and beautiful tone piece. At this point it’s primarily episodic, though there’s a plot always hanging in the background and leading everything along. In episode 7, Casshern meets a woman who used to work in a factory before the apocalypse and has now spent all of her time building a tower onto the factory. Her dream is to hang a bell on top of the tower that, when rung, will make all who hear it see that the world is beautiful even in the ruin. She tries to use Casshern’s body to make her bell but fails. She then builds a simpler bell (which is broken soon afterward) but she is dissatisfied with the sound it makes. However, Casshern is enthralled by the sound which he feels resonating from the woman’s heart. At the end of the episode, ringo shows up at the tower and listens in wonder at the woman’s bell of the heart.
There is plenty of fanfare over a great climax. Shows like Gurren Lagann have climaxes that stay in mind forever, but this is a post about the moments or even full episodes after the climax – the resolution. When people say that most anime has bad endings, they are usually referring to the weak or ambiguous resolutions. Here are some that were excellent.