This is the exact amount of time that the opening moments of the first episode of Bakemonogatari goes without lead Koyomi Araragi speaking a word.
“A better decision than dodging, wasn’t it?”
The first words out of Hiroshi Kamiya’s mouth as Araragi form this question, followed by an immediate and unsure retraction that devolves into a constant stream of Araragi’s innermost thoughts.
Upon revisiting the first episode of the series — going by initial airdate, not chronology or any other measurement — I was shocked to find that he went this long without speaking. Araragi’s voice is synonymous with the Monogatari franchise at this point. His monologues long-winded, his conversations unnaturally verbose — Kamiya’s specific Araragi tone is etched in every viewer’s mind who has watched Bakemonogatari or other parts of the series. When I picked up the Kizumonogatari novel, I somehow heard Kamiya’s voice in my head, despite reading it in English, not Japanese.
The caprese salad pictured above isn’t the first time that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable has offered a plate of delicious food. It’s also not the first time this particular JoJo’s arc has played around with horror tropes specifically using food. Diamond is Unbreakable‘s premiere episode opens with a cheesy morning radio talk show and a carefully prepared breakfast to set up a 90’s pop aesthetic before turning to horror, juxtaposing a bleeding hand and a perfect table setting.
When Gatchaman Crowds first aired, I was undecided on what direction the series would take. The premiere episode hinted at anything from poking fun at superheroes to an odd “buddy cop” duo starring Hajime Ichinose and Sugune Tachibana with Hajime inevitably spoiling Sugune’s stodgy plans, dragging his character forward. While the latter does happen throughout the series, it’s a byproduct of Crowds‘ main focus — examining existing societal structures and social mores.
When the Orange manga was first recommended to me, I was hesitant. I’ve stayed away from shoujo manga and anime due to my growing personal frustration with it. The insipid storytelling based on years upon years of tropes coupled with often insidious messages for young women found in most shoujo romances is still far more difficult for me to ignore than routine sexual fanservice aimed at men. I approached Orange with trepidation, but came away rewarded with a strong story that skirts around these expectations by focusing primarily on regret and the premature loss of a friend.
Orange is less about romance — despite the ever-present tropes — and more about dealing with the death of a loved one.
Due to the well-worn nature of its subject matter, the second episode of Orange is grating, especially to those who have seen a large amount of shoujo anime — perhaps only one was enough, considering that gifting food to a romantic interest is so common of a cliché that it appears in nearly every shoujo romance. Throughout the majority of Episode 2, I wanted to shake Naho Takamiya by the shoulders and yell at her to give Kakeru Naruse the lunch she prepared.
In fact, Orange could easily fall into the trap of becoming just another shoujo series — and there are a few more clichés to come — although I have confidence that it won’t for two major reasons. One is a source material spoiler from the original manga around which I’ll try to tread lightly. The other is the deft visual touch of director Hiroshi Hamasaki.