That's right folks: it's the ides of December, so time for the year-end lists!
With all the hype dedicated to shows like ATTACK ON TITAN and KILL LA KILL, it's easy for titles to get swept under the rug despite being amazing. Today I'm going to shine a light on three titles you should start watching over your winter break.
And yes, you will be quizzed on the day back!
#3: SAMURAI FLAMENCO
Vice Pit guest host Marlan Moore hit the nail on the head with this one. SAMURAI FLAMENCO is Japan's answer to Mark Millar's KICK-ASS franchise. A bumbling but well-intentioned man decides to become a masked vigilante and patrol the streets to stop any crime, no matter how petty. As he steps up to bigger challenges, the world around him ramps up with stranger characters and more dangerous situations.
And when there's downtime, the show is surprisingly philosophical. Characters have distinctly different views on Justice (capital J, fo' sho') and frequently debate with each other the proper way to distribute it throughout the world—sometimes even while the exchange blows. And you know what? Some of their points hit home, and it makes you wonder what YOUR excuse is for some of your actions.
#2: NAGI NO ASUKARA
Remember in middle school when suddenly you had all these FEELINGS? You want your friendships to evolve, but how can you risk ruining what you have? And what if you risk losing those relationships forever due to the way their own feelings are changing?
Try dealing with that while attempting to desegregate two communities divided by the fact they are almost different species. Sometimes adolescence is a real minefield.
The parallels between the personal and societal conflicts in this show are beautifully crafted, but what's amazing is just how much the big societal things serve to underscore the internal conflicts of the characters; as above, so below. It's the tugging of the heartstrings between the five middle schoolers that's the core of show.
And did I mention the art is gorgeous? While it's not exactly a beacon of animation quality, the art direction and design is enchanting.
OK, confession time: this show is technically the retelling of an OVA series that came out a couple of years back. But they expand SO MUCH on the concept, world, and characters that it's a whole new experience even if you've analyzed ever single frame of the original.
If you took THE MATRIX and changed the setting from one of a dreary and gray modern world to one made of geometric figures, dreams and folk tales, you MIGHT get close to the amazing originality of KYOUSOGIGA. The story goes that a black rabbit fell in love with a monk who had the power to bring his beautiful drawings to life. Granted human form by a buddha the couple had three children together, but were persecuted for their love. The family was forced to flee into the world of the monk's paintings, where they lived quite happily.
Until the monk and his wife vanished, that is. And now the siblings maintain an uneasy alliance as they govern the reality their parents built for them.
And then the girl with the giant cosmic hammer shows up and starts wrecking stuff with her two demon-boy sidekicks.
The pacing is dreamlike and jerky, but never feels like it's maliciously holding things out from the viewer. Every piece of the puzzle you get makes you want to see the bigger picture more, and the fact that none of the characters have a total grasp on what's going on gives the feeling of high stakes despite the world of drawings being purposefully static.
So there you have it! Have you been watching any of these titles? Are there others you think are deserving a little more love? Let us know in the comments below!
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.