2 stars (out of 4)

Released 2012 (in Japan)

EVA 3.0 is the third of a proposed 4-film reinterpretation of the classic Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. I have not seen the original series. However, I have watched the first 2 films and I can’t honestly say I’m a fan of the franchise. I don’t recall feeling anything for the characters and I didn’t find the mecha action to be that engaging either. The inclusion of fanservice was jarring and contributed to my lack of enjoyment of those earlier films. Strangely, EVA 3.0 doesn’t really build on the plot of its predecessors; but if it does anything right, it’s by scaling back the fanservice a lot and substituting BL undertones instead.

On several occasions, the audience broke out laughing at the (presumably) unintentional humour of the budding bromantic relationship between Shinji and Kaworu. That was actually the best part of the whole movie. Not just because it was funny (it was), or that I’m into BL (I’m not, really), but because that was the one part that actually was easy to understand. Having lost the life he knew, it made sense that Shinji would want a friend that he could hang out with and confide in.

A big chunk of the action happens right at the start of the film. Visually, it was nice enough, but beyond the general gist, I found it hard to follow what was going on. Actually, regarding the animation as a whole, the CG looked good, and the cel animation looked more than good, but I felt they didn’t mesh together that well.

In an even bigger chunk of the movie, Shinji mopes around by himself, pondering his existence.

Even though the screening was very late at night, it did hold my attention, surprisingly. I can’t really say, though, that the plot made a lick of sense to me or that I recommend the film to anyone.

Cherry Blossoms (from Ever Blue Sounds ie. soundtrack from Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club)

Free! Ever Blue Sounds Cover

Okay, this is how obsessed I am with this anime.

The soundtrack from Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club has some achingly gorgeous piano pieces and unfortunately, sheet music is not available for it.  So, I picked out the notes for Cherry Blossoms (a painstaking process with my tin ears) and here it is, in case there are other fans itching to play it:

Cherry Blossoms – Free! anime piano sheet music

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club

Free! promotional image 1.jpg

4 stars (out of 4)

Released 2013

I wasn’t that impressed by this single-season anime on first viewing – yes, the animation is beautiful and the characters are appealing, but I felt the story was not as poignant as the direction/musical swells seemed to imply.

But after I finished watching it, I just kept finding myself thinking about it – how original some of the characters are and how nuanced their relationships with each other are. I even dreamt about it!

On second (and third and fourth) viewing, I’m blown away by the character detail (they’ve managed to animate distinctive mannerisms, like Haru’s habit of frowning and looking to the side when he wants to shut down emotionally).  The characters have undeniable chemistry with each other, because of the excellent voice acting as well as the skill of the animators.  And now I see the subtlety of Haru’s personal change over time as he is affected by his team-mates in different ways.  Blown away!

(12 episodes, streaming at Crunchyroll)