Aimless Wanderings 24: WHY DOES NO ONE TELL ME THESE THINGS???
The more astute among you may have noticed that there are apparently two issue 18s in the library. Evidently, I am not among the more astute, as it took me 5 issues to catch on. Due to this overwhelming feeling of embarrassment, I will now retreat into the comfort of some of the series’ that helped develop this particular obsession in its early days. That’s right folks, here comes another retrospective.
After his particularly embarrassing defeat at the hands of his younger cousin during a duel for Enraiha, a magical sword passed down through the family, and the succession of the Kannagi clan (a very old family of fire mages), Kazuto Kannagi was banished from his clan and exiled from Japan. After four years of exile he returns under the name of Kazuma Yagami, an extremely powerful wind mage, on a demon hunting job. At the same time, some of the members of the Kannagi clan start getting murdered by a wind mage, and the blame immediately falls on Kazuma, once it’s discovered that he has returned.
And so, the plot of Kaze no Stigma begins. To be honest, this is a strange combination of different genres; it starts off as a sort of murder mystery with a magic twist, then moves into a sort of shonen-y romantic comedy fighting show. As a whole, the series works, though looking back at it after a few years, there were certainly things that could have been done better. At points it feels rushed, and there seems to be so much potential lost in the hurry through the story, but it’s certainly more than enjoyable enough to sate your hunger for some anime.
From a show that wasn’t entirely sure what it wanted to be, to a show that knows exactly where it wants to end up; Nodame Cantabile tells the story of Shinichi Chiaki, a very talented (and stuck up) violinist and pianist, with aspirations to become a conductor, and Megumi Noda (known as Nodame to pretty much everyone), a strange, but talented pianist in her own right, as they attend Momogaoka College of Music. The two meet when Chiaki gets into an argument with his instructor and is reassigned to work under Nodame’s. The pair don’t exactly hit it off at first, or rather, the rigid Chiaki cannot stand the wild and very odd Nodame, who is prone to expressing herself through strange sounds when in a state of shock or surprise (“Gyabo!” being just one of the many). At least he only has to put up with her in the classroom, right? Nope, it turns out they’re next door neighbors. What a crazy random happenstance!
Some of you versed in older television programming may have noticed that the show I just described is extremely similar to The Odd Couple; well, that’s because it is. This show is basically The Odd Couple set to classical music and given a romantic twist. And I love it. It takes its time to get things right in regard to relationships, and there is never a feeling that the show is rushing any plot points; you get information when you need to get information. The entire thing is set to a wonderfully worked in score of classical music, throughout all three seasons of the show (the first is followed by Paris Chapters and Finale) and it just works beautifully. It might not be for everyone, but I’ve always been a sucker for great music in anime, and this is practically flawless in its execution.
This last one isn’t from the very early days of my anime viewing career, but I realized that it’s almost offensive that I haven’t mentioned it in the 23 previous issues of Aimless Wanderings (or if I have, I’ve forgotten and it bears mentioning again). Baccano! is easily in my top ten anime of all time, there is almost nothing I don’t like about it. The main story of the anime takes place in the United States during the early 1930s (’30, ’31, and ’32 to be exact) and each year tells a different story related, to a degree, to the other two. In 1930, Firo Prochainezo, a young rising star in the Martillo mafia family, has a chance encounter with a strange woman and he, along with various other characters, gets pulled into a mysterious plot involving a group of alchemists and the struggle to find the Elixir of Eternal Life. In 1931, terror befalls the world famous Flying Pussyfoot transcontinental train as two heavily armed gangs attempt to hijack it during its trip from Chicago to New York; the Lemures, a gang looking to take a Senator’s family hostage to force the Senator to release their leader, Huey Laforet, from prison, and a gang of assassins, led by Ladd Russo, attempting to hold the passengers for ransom from the train company. A third group of delinquents take it upon themselves to save the passengers just as passengers begin disappearing, supposedly at the hands of the red monster, known as the Rail Tracer. In 1932, Eve Genoard is looking for her brother, Dallas, who disappeared back in 1930 under mysterious circumstances, and gets caught up in the rivalry between the Runoratta and the Gandor crime families, who both have interest in her brother.
I kind of blew my load writing out the plot for this one, and talking about any details gets into some heavy spoiler territory, so I’ll just say this: This is one of the greatest works of fiction I have ever come across, on screen or in print. The way the story is told is anachronistic, or out of order, jumping in between the timelines many times in each episode. Each story is told pretty much chronologically(minus one or two scenes that are exceptions) but the parts are mixed in with one another, though you learn the cues to tell them apart fairly quickly. As mentioned in the previous entry, I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack, and this one is great too. Let’s not get too long winded about this, however, there are certain things you need to discover on your own; this is definitely one of them.