12/26/2007

The 13th Day of Christmas - The Alternates

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"More moments? Nandeyanen!?"

The "12 Days of Christmas" series is was a joint feature by some members of the Anime Blogging Collective recognizing twelve moments, twelve series, or just twelve things about anime that we've enjoyed over the past year, that really make us enjoy loving what we do, and that is being an anime fan. Yeah, I know it's over, but I'm still going because I'm crazy I love you all that much. Stay in school, random lists are cool!

Hey wait, who put this on the script?

Picking twelve moments from all the shows I watched this year was quite the difficult task. Many of the high-quality shows didn't just have one awe-inspiring moment but many.

As such, I devised a set of rules for my 12 Days countdown, the first of which being which that each series could only have one moment but many.

These are some of those scenes left on the cutting room floor as a result, some of the secondary moments that are excellent in their own right, but were just topped some moments even greater.

(Spoilers: Myself;Yourself, School Days, Shuffle!, AIR, Kanon, sola, Haruhi, Tsukihime)

Myself;Yourself 08: The mailbox
The mailbox with all the bloody (or messy, at least) letters in it was probably one of the first signs that Myself;Yourself was heading towards a dramatic path. As Sana opens the mailbox and all the letters with "HELP ME!" written out on it, there was nary a viewer that didn't utter a 'oh s***' or at least felt a few chills going down their spine.

Myself;Yourself 10: The love letter
The ninth episode of Myself;Yourself was a bit of a lull, focusing mainly on Hinako, the enjoyable character that unfortunately was fairly irrelevant to the plot. There was some hints at drama inside the Wakatsuki family, though, and it all hit the fan in episode 10, first and foremost being the love letter rumoring of an extremely incestous relationship between the Wakatsuki twins.

It was where the drama level of M;Y really shot through the roof, making it probably second only to School Days as the most ridiculous - if not entertaining - soap-slash-harem of the year. It remains to be seen just how exactly it will end.

AIR 6: Michiru on the roof
Michiru's goodbye to Minagi at the end of the sixth episode is probably the first truly emotional moment of AIR, and likewise, a sentimental moment in my anime viewership. If it wasn't for Misuzu, this moment would probably be right up there near the top.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm a complete sucker for tearful goodbye scenes, and Michiru's was done very well with the back-to-back against-the-fence framing of the Tohno sisters. That one emotion, that 'smile-so-you-won't-cry' feeling, gets me every time.

School Days 10: Setsuna proves it to Kotonoha
School Days is unpredictable. Isn't that a shocker by now?

It continued to prove that motto over and over throughout the series, and one of the more memorable instances of this was during Kotonoha's confronting of Setsuna. She was suspicious that Setsuna had something for Makoto as well, and was manipulating Sekai in line with her feelings.

At this point in every other romantic story ever done, it would probably be Setsuna's cue to deny these allegations, especially with the subtitles showing Kotonoha's speech cutting off midway.

I assumed that it was because of Setsuna shouting "You're wrong!" or "It's not true," but in actuality it was because of Setsuna grabbing Makoto by the shoulders and laying a kiss on him. Another spine-tingling moment that I didn't see coming, that continues to show how School Days dares to be different.

School Days Not-12: Nice meme
School Days is unpredictable. Isn't that a shocker by now?

With the fury against Makoto at its highest following episode 11 and the seeming happy reconcilation between him and Kotonoha, hype for the final, twelfth episode was phenomeonal.

And for the episode to be replaced with a completely non-related scenery show depicting nature and other not-stabby images, that was the biggest shock of all. It may not be a moment many like to remember, but this moment was an important one. If not for giving birth to a meme, but for showing the worst side of many anime fans, and adding yet another piece to the legacy that is School Days.

School Days 12: To my bloody children conclusion?
School Days is unpredictable. Isn't that a shocker by now?

The fans wanted blood. The fans got blood. In fact, two of the bad ends were combined into one, with both Sekai stabbing Makoto and Kotonoha slitting Sekai's throat. It almost pulled off a three-peat, but Kotonoha instead stuck with going insane, on a boat that almost seemed like a homage to the above moment, over jumping off the roof.

It's a moment that I still question the sanity of, with that sense of guilt of the "oh God, what have I done?" variety. But for a show like School Days, it wouldn't work any other way.

Kanon 2006 18: Shiori's arc
Mai may have my favorite storyline in Kanon, but Shiori is easily my favorite character by far.

Although being a stereotype sick girl with magical AIDS, Shiori's personality shone like no others in Kanon. That optomism of hers was almost heartwrenching, as she smiled until the end, hiding all her fears and worries in favor of living like a normal girl. And she seemed the most poetic of the lot, too. Fear the cute and smart ones.

Her arc, cliche as it was, was executed quite well too. The final fountain scene was quite emotional - the tearful goodbye rule wins again? It never fails. All hail vanilla ice cream.

Kanon 2006 23: Nayuki ending! ...almost
Yeah, I was one of THEM. One of the people who stuck with Nayuki until the end over Ms. Uguu, one that held out for the underdog victory.

Naturally, it never came, but we got a bit of consolation as Nayuki got her moment right at the climax of the 'final' episode of Kanon. Where emotions were the highest from Ayu's goodbye, we transitioned into a scene with Nayuki consoling a dejected Yuuichi, urging the both of them to fight together.

She may never get the victory, but Nayuki's fight will always bright a smile to my face.

sola 7: Wait, Matsuri got stabbed
sola was pretty good with the drama and the surprise twists, the first major one being Matsuri's dissapearance in the previous episode. And when Yorito finally reunited with her at the end of this episode, one would expect a more romantic or surprised reaction. Instead, the audience was the one that was stunned.

It's a bit fuzzy, and a bit physically absurd, but Aono's mind-control powers appear to have overtaken Yorito and embodied Aono's hate into his stabbing of Matsuri. It's a key setup for the main conflict of the story, not Matsuri vs. Takeshi, but between Yorito, Matsuri, and Aono, with three characters that weren't exactly villains nor heroes. It's the entertaining blurring of black and white that allows for all characters to have a realistic side to them.

sola 13: Yorito gone, just like that
sola's ending probably only comes to second to AIR's in terms of bittersweetness. When all is said and done, only one of the main three characters makes it out alive, although the ambiguous ending allows for other interpretations.

Yorito had a surprisingly quick death for who appeared to be the main character for 12 episodes, being stabbed by Aono by accident and dissapearing into a flurry of paper within seconds, Aono clawing at the remains.

It's one of sola's final surprises, proving that it too is a show that can be different, that shies away from lengthy dying monologues, that isn't afraid to be disturbingly real with its characters and its deaths sometimes.

In the end, it's kind of a superseding of normal human bounds again, as the ending shows, for while Yorito was gone in a flash, he won't be forgotten for a long time, if not forever.

Haruhi Suzumiya 6: The build-up
"Ponytails turn me on."

What can I say? It's the best line ever. This moment is one of the ones more commonly cited by Haruhiists as one of the great moments of the show, and I can see why.

It's epic in so many way, from the choral Latin music, to the camera shots of thousands of thousands of Haruhis, to that one moment where one realizes how to put Sleeping Beauty and Snow White together. A great 'conclusion' to a great show.

Shuffle! 19: Give Rin back to me!
This is where character vs. character conflict was truly born. Kaede Fuyou, first of the yanderes, made her legacy here in one of the unforgettable harem fights of last.

That one haunting moment, where you suddenly realize Kaede is stirring an empty pot, is chill-inducing. The following two episodes that follow this saga are very powerful, and almost mirror Sia's conflict in Kaede wondering when she's overstepping her bounds in fighting for Rin.

These are the moments when harem shows truly work, in providing moments that very few simple romances can match.

Tsukihime VN: Satsuki's 'arc'
Would Satsuki be as popular as she is now if she had a storyline of her own? We may never know, but as it is she remains one of the communities' and one of my favorite characters in Tsukihime.

It's almost impossible not to be touched by her sad story, her fruitless struggle, the moral dilemma that Shiki has to face in 'saving' Satsuki. It goes to show that not every harem character has a happy ending in the heart-rending stories of Tsukihime, where there are very few black and white characters.

Azumanga 24: The end
Azumanga, a school-life show, is unlike a lot of slice-of-life comedies in that it has quite a sense of progression. You first see the characters in their first year, and you watch them grow together throughout their high school life.
Still, somehow it's impossible to picture a show like this 'ending'. The characters are separated as they head off to university, yet they still say that 'they'll be together forever'. Maybe they will be; it's a question that, as a high-school student, is one that's quite relevant. That's probably why this is such a touching moment, in that it strikes home, and is quite 'deep' for a comedy.

-CCY

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