Aiura Review

This is review number two hundred and twenty four AND a half. What? Notice the half. From now on, I’ll consider any anime that runs for five minutes or less as a “.5” number. I feel like if I keep watching short shows and give them a full number, then I’m very much cheating on my goal. This time around, two short anime will occupy a number. I won’t combine them into one post because one review deserves one post but anything that runs below five minutes (or anything not reaching 10 minutes) gets half a number.

Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is a short anime from the Spring 2013 lineup. I’ve basically run out of anime to watch and I have no motivation for Nyaruko-san 2. I’ll be reviewing Aiura. It’s a twelve episode anime that runs for five minutes. It’s about three girls and their normal life. Yeah, it’s one of those shows so let’s read on.

Story

They were pointless conversations

But they were fun nonetheless

There were flowers blooming

In even the most mundane of days

Taking the Pants Off

These little things called “less than five minute anime” are really becoming a trend for some delightful reason. When I started reviewing these kinds of anime, they were usually after thoughts of the seasons and most are better off forgotten. Some of them are low budget anime work that usually does nothing but fill up time and majority of them are embarrassing flash animated shorts. Don’t get me wrong, I love those low budget and flash animated shorts. They’re a great alternative to my rough schedule of reviewing a lineup. Some studios are putting great effort in their shorts nowadays though. Back in the Winter lineup, there was this little gem of a short called Yama no Susume that I once called a rarity because the production value is high and the approach was ambitious. I feel like a kid on Christmas when the same approach was given to a Spring short called Aiura. It’s still nothing much since the anime only runs for four minutes but it’s a delightful experience through and through.

The anime is about three girls spending time together as they go through their high school days. It’s not really the most original thing out there. Four panel anime has this plague of always sticking to a slice of life format with cute girls doing cute things as its main premise. As repetitive as the idea is, there is always something to enjoy about these kinds of anime. In the span of four minutes, the anime would have an opening and ending song with at least one or two skits crammed inside. It’s the familiar musings you’d expect from a slice of life cute girls doing cute things anime. We have the girls simply talking about random things, making fun of each other or being weird and funny just for sh*ts and giggles. Like most anime of its kind, it’s the characters that really drive this anime. The wonderful balance among the three girls makes sure the show stays fresh and interesting despite being mundane.

One thing that nicely stands out in this anime though is the big emphasis on the slice of life aspect of it. Most shows would rely on the comedy produced by the characters. Since this one is only four minutes long, there is no hurry to deliver gags and nothing is overused. Instead, majority of the scenes in the anime has a laidback and almost lackadaisical feel to it. I mean that in a good way. It has this lazy afternoon vibe to it as the anime establishes a relaxed mood while the characters deliver some comedy. It’s a wonderful approach that really makes me want to watch more of it. The anime often has some long pauses and some wonderful dead silence to really bring out the slice of life feel of the show yet it still stays true to its comedic and cute girls doing cute things potential. For such a short anime, it really hits all its good points with ease. I’ve seen way too many slice of life anime like this show and I think the short time actually did some good for something so unremarkably cliché.

The characters are all pretty simple. Our main characters are all pretty great but again, nothing special since the concept has been done to death. Their personalities are basically unremarkable by themselves but they do some great stuff when they’re all together. We are first introduced to Ayuko Uehara. She is the short girl with long black hair and some pretty awesome anime eyes. She is basically cute and the reserved one in the group. She plays along with the randomness of the group but she doesn’t really stand out much in terms of the gags. The scene stealer is easily Kanaka Amaya. She is the super energetic one in the group and the one that does the random things that initiate a conversation in the group. She is also a bit stupid and majority of the comedy comes from her crazy personality. She is basically the glue that holds the group together. Lastly, there is Saki Iwasawa. She is the tall girl that usually reacts to Kanaka’s jokes. She is a bit serious though but also playful when she is in the mood. Her personality nicely compliments Kanaka’s since she often gives some funny responses to whatever Kanaka would do. These two easily makes the show really funny and interesting.

There are a lot of side characters as well though. Most of the episodes are about some of the side characters and some funny skits from them as well. The ways the side characters are introduced are also pretty well done. They usually just slip in and start talking without affecting the pace or the overall charm of the show. In fact, they add some of their own charm to the show. It’s not much but variety in a four minute show is pretty impressive. The usual standouts are the teachers. For some odd reason, they also have a nice balance among them and I would’ve loved to see more of them. There is the super strict male teacher, the loli teacher that looks like a ten year old despite being thirty and then there is the lazy teacher with an “I don’t care” attitude. They all have a wonderful personality that I really admire. I bet they did more of these trios in the four panel. They had the same format as the main characters but their personalities obviously make them special.

The other side characters are Kanaka’s little brother and another classmate of theirs. Again, they stand out much but they made every scree time worthwhile. I love the little brother. He and Kanaka had a nice chemistry together and he nicely fit in with the rest of the characters that it really feels natural. The other classmate is Mei Yanase. She has a very limited role in the anime but I guess her looks are cute enough to make her pretty memorable. She is the straight laced student in the anime and she has her moments.

This is a really amazing show. Just like Yama no Susume, I’d consider this one a great rarity. You rarely see well thought out anime like this and you also rarely see less than five minute anime having great effort put in it. It looks like the days of those embarrassing flash shorts are over. I hope it is and the rest of the studios adapt this kind of format in their shows. Liden Films (the studio) is really making a mark in the “less than five a minute” anime department. They hit strong with Senyuu and it looks like they really made a wave with this show. I hope they can bring their own style of animation on normal series’ because they certainly are a promising little blossoming studio. Only time will tell though because the anime industry is fickle. I just hope they do get their chance to hang with the big leagues and, if they stay consistent with their work, I’m sure they can make even bigger waves.

Sight and Sound

aiura7

Character design is pretty decent. I am glad the studio was able to capture the manga design of the characters. We have girls with big heads and a cute body that isn’t really all that remarkable. I love the small detail works on the characters though and how their personality was brought out in their designs. The expressive faces and the wide range of variety among the characters really made a difference for this short anime. This is still a cute girl doing cute things anime and they really made sure that point was delivered. The girls are all cute. Some are overly cute while others are just enough to want to hug. I guess the anime entered a sort of “moe” place in terms of design but it did well to make sure the looks compliment the rest of the show.

aiuragif1

Animation is outstanding. I guess since it’s so short then the studio was able to boast their style of animation. The way the characters move is mesmerizing and you see how the hair would bounce as they would run around. I love the way the hand movements was also given attention and the way the faces was used to match the body movements. Majority of the scenes in the anime are really just about the characters talking but, to accentuate the slice of life aspect of the show, the studio went as far as to do really precise scenes were the girls are just going to school. They would interact with the background, they would have detailed hand and body movements combined with those bouncing hair. It’s not an easy thing to do yet the anime was keen on sticking to that high quality kind of animation. It really makes a big difference because it really makes you want to watch the show nonstop. I know I did. The anime was able to establish the laidback mood while also making sure the comedy was intact even without dialogue. All they needed was to have the characters literally fidget around the place. I love great animation and it makes me feel happy that an anime would take time to put shadow leaves on the characters while they are under a tree just to make sure the scene is correct. That’s great dedication to animation that I am a huge fan of.

The background is also something I really enjoyed. It’s really detailed yet very relaxing to look at. Establishing mood is something most anime would rely on the story for so it’s a rare treat for a show to actually do it by the scenes alone. The paint brushed backgrounds combined with the bright color palette and the hint touches of CG really makes this particular reviewer happy. The background work in this anime had a KyoAni attention to detail approach to it but KyoAni is a bit more polished. This screamed potential for this particular studio and I personally can’t wait to try more of their shows.

One standout element of this show is the voice work. I never talk about voice actors in my reviews unless they’re amateurs like AKB48 members voicing an anime. The voice actors in this show are all pretty new to the industry and you can just tell their voices are destined to be famous. The three main characters all had amazing voices that comes off as a bit amateurish but also pretty pleasing to the ears. It’s a wonderful blend of childish and serious that also adds to the charm of the show. I don’t consider voice actors as an element that makes an anime great but it’s a great moment to hear some pretty heavenly voices in anime. It may or may not affect the overall product but it’s still a worthy eargasm through and through. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the voices as well so I do hope you try this show out.

aiuragif2

The anime’s OP is “Kani☆Do-Luck!” by Aiu♥rabu. This is sung by the three main characters and it’s a really energetic and hyper song. It’s also all over the place as it just goes on a random streak. The song is about eating crab meat and how the girls love crabs. It’s a really weird song. What’s even weirder is the OP sequence. It has split second shots, bright colors and cut outs sprawl together to make one insanity induced OP sequence. It reminds me of a Shaft anime. There are bright colored scenes and weird cut outs. There is a picture of Steve Jobs holding a crab while appearing on CNN for some odd reason as well. You read that f*cking right. In fact, the OP is so mysteriously random that people have been searching between the lines as for the reason of the OP having crabs and Steve Jobs. I personally think it’s just a random hot mess but the song and the OP sequence seemed to hide more than you’d expect, I guess. Take a look for yourself.

The anime’s ED is “Ichigo Ichie” by Aiu♥rabu. This was also sung by the three main characters. It’s a laidback song with a slow pace. I love how the voices of the characters nicely blend together to give off a relaxing tone. It’s a song about friendship and having a mundane yet awesome life. It’s pretty awesome. The ED sequence is simply a shot of the girls walking home. It’s nothing complicated. It then cuts to one more skit while the song plays over it.

Overall Score

6/10 “High quality anime told in just four minutes”

This is an awesome anime. The premise is overdone and the concept is overly cliché but the anime was able to do things right. It was able to draw strength from all the cliché and still deliver a satisfying anime experience in just four minutes. That’s a great accomplishment for such a show. If you love cute girls doing cute things then you’ll love this anime. If you love slice of life anime with detailed animation then you’ll enjoy this show. I recommend it.

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