I’m surprised at the number of people who don’t like Hyouka when the primary complaint about it is exactly what makes it special. The first few episodes make it clear that it’s an unconventional mystery series–a light mystery, you might say, aimed towards the light novel audience. But what struck me about the show right away, and what a lot of people seem to hate about it, is that it deliberately ignores mystery’s partner: suspense.
I don’t know much about 5pb even with their Wikipedia page open in front of me. Steins;Gate is a collaboration with Nitro+ but it was written by one of 5pb’s staff, dodging Gen Urobochi’s sadistic
pen keyboard. (For better or worse, one might argue, but one Fate/Zero per year is enough for me). Like its quirkily-named predecessor by the same writer, Steins;Gate is both a horror and a mystery, and also sort of a science adventure thingy. The second arc is pretty cool: the girls’ stories intersect in surprising ways, there are real twists, and the ending is all kinds of romantic. But the anime really shines in its first cours as superb pacing and foreshadowing create more tension than I’ve felt from Nitro+’s horror works.
Shira Oka is an original English dating sim that you might have heard of. It’s notable, sort of–the OP has real animation in it–but it otherwise flew under the radar in anime fandom (the indie game crowd might be different). The game is charming where it counts and flawed in forgivable ways. Flaws are flaws, though, and “charming” is as close to emotionally affecting as it gets.
Director Satoshi Kon is known for his illusions; there’s even a book about it. But he’s also known as the Hitchcock of anime given his work in the psychological drama genre, which is only partly true, not unlike comparisons between Miyazaki and Walt Disney. Paprika is a tricky film because the mind-bending plot and use of (basically) multiple personalities begets comparisons to Perfect Blue, but its tone is altogether different. It’s the antithesis to Kon’s first movie and a reminder that his illusions aren’t as haunting as Paranoia Agent and Perfect Blue urge us to assume. What’s more, there’s an undercurrent of metafiction in the director’s final film and I get the feeling that it can be described in terms other than illusion vs. reality and dream world vs. waking world.
(There may be spoilers for everything).
Honey and Clover fans would be familiar with the ubiquitous Ferris Wheel and weathervane symbols from the anime adaptation, but there are several less explicit symbols that aren’t telegraphed in the OP/ED videos. I noticed while reading the manga that the sweet osmanthus–apparently a common flower in East Asia–features prominently in Yamada’s narration. (The flower’s orange colour and Ayumi’s hair colour is probably a coincidence, but it’s a fun coincidence at any rate).