24 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Noitamina duo: Sakamichi no Apollon and Tsuritama episodes 1

Oh Noitamina, fashionably late as usual I see.

Noitamina is a late-night timeslot, started in 2005, that dedicated itself to providing anime that aimed at a different audience to the young adult male that most anime catered to. What this generally transpired in is a bunch of josei anime, aimed at young adult women, in the vein of Honey and Clover or Nodame Cantabile. It also gained a reputation for producing high-quality anime, such as Eden of the East, Mononoke and Moyashimon. There were still a few stumbles, such as Library Wars, but the quality generally remained high. However sales weren’t really matching expectations, and combined with a drop in ratings in 2010 forced the producers at Noitamina to change their focus. Young adult male audiences were no longer taboo, and up popped anime like Fractale, Ano Hana, Guilty Crown and Black Rock Shooter. While it’s important to remember Noitamina don’t make anime, they do provide a place for josei anime that really didn’t exist beforehand, while stuff like Black Rock Shooter would have been made anyway. This was combined with two poorly received more-traditionally Noitamina-esque anime in C and No.6 to bring about a shocking drop in quality. It probably wouldn’t have been quite as noticeable if these anime were just disappointingly boring, but the high ambitions and grand concepts from the likes of Fractale and Guilty Crown caused their eventual collapses to be all the more dramatic.

Now that we’re all caught up on Noitamina history, let’s talk about what they’ve got out now.

The reason I’m putting these two in the same post, aside from the whole Noitamina thing, is their premises are remarkably similar. A perpetually school transferring highschool boy with a debilitating anxiety problem moves to a new school where he strikes an unlikely bromance heavy relationship with a charismatic yet shunned class outcast over a mutually shared hobby.It’s kind of fascinating to see two wildly contrasting takes on the same story. Shinichiro Watanabe, the assured old hand, definitely has a firmer and more confident grasp on directing in Apollon. It has a very laid back approach to depicting its story, but every scene is very carefully crafted and deliberately placed.

Meanwhile Kenji Nakamura is the hyperactive, gifted yet unpolished new kid on the block. Tsuritama has nowhere near the same fidelity in directing as Apollon does, but it’s eccentricity and occasional sparks of brilliance make it a hugely entertaining piece anyway. It’s like the old captain midfield enforcer in football (sorry Americans, I mean saaawwcuuurr) playing against the young pretender. For the most part the older and more experienced player will boss the match, but there will be that one moment where the younger guy flicks the ball between the legs of the older guy, leaving him rooted to the spot with a perplexed look on his face.

For a Watanabe/Kanno anime, there was a rather surprising lack of BGM in Apollon. I did get a huge kick when I recognised the jazz song they played on the piano. I don’t really follow music trends a whole bunch, but I do like my jazz and blues, which I guess paints my biases for Apollon pretty clearly. Another part where my personal biases come in is I’ve always liked delinquent characters, and Sentarou is the absolute definition of that character archetype. Not a bad thing at all. Yuno from Future Diary may be the absolute stereotypical definition of the yandere, but in going all out with that character archetype, she defines the archetype rather than negatively compared to others. Sentarou is that for delinquent characters. Doesn’t go to class, has a laid back personality where he doesn’t give a shit what other people think, complete ignorance of social boundaries, so on and so forth. I guess I have more of an affinity for these sorts of characters because I fit that mold as a child more than the wimpy kid mold, so I like any show that shows them with the heart of gold.

Tsuritama’s social outcast character falls into the screwball character mold. Complete nutcase with even less of a nose for social boundaries. To be honest though, the character who caught my attention more was the stoic indian dude who was on a scouting operation/loving date with a duck. Heck, the other two characters in this show also made more of an impression with their inner monologue back and forths. It’s a clever little narrative trick. We haven’t a clue what the self-proclaimed alien is thinking, but we hear every single thought the two guys with him have. It’s like the Literature Girl scene from Nichibros (I can’t help it, I have a mental problem where I have to compare every anime to that show), where a scene would appear one way without a running commentary turns out very different with it.

Visual style in Tsuritama is rather reminiscent of the watercolour look of pre-opening segments in Arakawa except without the water, if that makes any sense. It’s not particularly polished, but it lends itself extremely well to the overall feel of the anime. Eccentric and lots of that old whimsy stuff floating around. At the very least, it works well with the visual metaphors the show throws around a lot. Apollon has a much more standard look to it, which is fitting giving its more down to earth storytelling style, but what there is of it is polished to a shine. A bit too much shine at times, characters have this weird glow to them, especially when they’re being all bromance-y. But when they get down to doing some moving, its pretty astounding the level of detail goes into these things. The cymbal noises actually match with the animation of the character hitting the cymbal! Like, holy shit, anime doesn’t do that!

OK, that stuff I’m getting excited about in Apollon don’t sound particularly thrilling. It’s true there’s more in Tsuritama that makes in an easier sell. It has an indian on a date with a duck. It has a water pistol that erases memories. But it also has boring parts too. The entire opening segment with the main character moving houses and walking through the town were rather dull. Perhaps it was to establish a sense of place, but the rest of the show did that just fine anyway. Apollon has that sort of quiet approval of something that is absolutely perfectly executed. The humour in particular hits the mark far more than a show with its mentality has any right to. Perfect comic timing, a dry deliverly and actually funny jokes (please take notes Polar Bear Cafe). Between the two, I definitely prefer Apollon, but Tsuritama is pretty awesome in its own eccentric way. Fancy that, a Watanabe anime that’s really good and a Kenji Nakamura anime that’s really weird. Who’da thunk it.

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  1. luffyluffy
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Sentaro’s drum solo was so beautiful I actually cried.

    • Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:10 am | Permalink

      Sentaro’s drum solo was AMAZING. Watched three times. =D

  2. RogerMoore
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Viva la noitamina. A fantastic recovery after Guilty Crown and Black Rock Shooter.

  3. Nebulous
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Cymbal. With a C.

    • luffyluffy
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      inb4 regional english differences or something

      wacky irish

  4. Lanf
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Its depressing that my real life anime loving pals like the crap noitamina shows like [C] and BRS but shun the better ones…

    If these have both turned out alright though, then its good to see noitamina are finally back to airing quality shows, and looking forwards to Moyashimon Returns next season, I was really surprised to see that coming back given how long ago the first season aired.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      C is all right. Better than Guilty Crown or BRS anyway

      • Name
        Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Please bitch. C is just bad. It tried so hard to be something with a deep meaning behind it and failed so hard on it’s behind. At least BRS had a clear vision of what it wanted to be and delivered upon it.

        C had battles scenes and BRS had battles. The clear winner here is BRS. C was a total train-wreck. Even that creepy clown that some of you like so much was suck a gimmic which represented something curious to look at. But that was it.

        From a story standpoint they both fail but still BRS has the edge here imo because they didn’t set the bar so high for it to spectacularly fail and break it’s spine upon impact.

  5. Mr. Anon
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    I don’t even care what Apollon is about, I’m way too much of a Watanabe fanboy for there to be any other result than me loving it.

    The way he directs, and how he combines it with music, is godlike genius.

  6. 3242
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Then one turns into a magical boy series while the other becomes K-ON with boys and better animation.
    must always prepare oneself for the worst…

    Though I do believe the last noitamina season was all a ploy.
    Put things in there that could of been elsewhere perfectly easy,then these seem even better after having to live through that..
    Guilty Crown *shiver*

    • Posted April 13, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      “Then one turns into a magical boy series while the other becomes K-ON with boys”

      Turns into? This is already pretty much what they are.

      But boys are not moe, so it’s OK.

    • Someone Else
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Funny, that Apollon is my cup of tea…and sweets

  7. asd
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Ugh, truly disliked the lumping of two animes in one post. I was reading along and then suddenly nothing made sense anymore, as I have not/will not watch tsuritama.

    • Mr. Anon
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 4:02 am | Permalink

      I agree, this made the post really hard to follow.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Why not watch Tsuritama?

      • Mr. Anon
        Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        Him not watching Tsuritama wasn’t really the main point of his post …

  8. diz1776
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    Karma indicates that these shows will sell like crap, further emphasizing its demise.

  9. Embok
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Wait Apollon was supposed to have humour? I must have completely missed it. Really it didn’t have much of anything.

    Tsuritama wasn’t exactly spectacular either with how unbearable the two leads were, but at least it had an interesting visual style and an indian guy with a duck.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      That pimp walk?

  10. gw_kimmy
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 5:17 am | Permalink


    i may start to watch anime again, thanks.

    Posted April 13, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    U need to blog at least 1 of these 2 anime, preferably appalon, in addition to space bros. This has been 1 of the best seasons in a long time. This time last year i just remember a lot of moe & a lot of tits.

  12. Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    This anime put a smile to my face at a record time of 3 seconds into the OP.

  13. Jeevas
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    This is the Noitamina that I used to know. Let me just embrace this season’s Noitamina.

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