An anime based on a game. We know how that usually goes. The thing is that this time, the two final episodes were delayed an entire season. Why? Because they needed more time to create an ending that would please the viewers. And no, I’m not making it up. They made a sudden announcement on December 12th that they are changing the ending and that the entire show will be rebroadcasted during the Winter season of 2020. I didn’t watch Azur Lane last season. So, fear not, as these truly are my first impressions.
DISCLAIMER: May contain spoilers ahead. May also contain eggs, milk, soy, nuts and the tears of your enemies.
The Opening Theme. An unfortunate collaboration. “graphite/diamond” by May’n
Truth is that I listened to the OP during the previous season, when it first aired. Only a couple of times though. But I couldn’t remember it, as it didn’t really stand out in the Fall 2019 season. And most likely, it won’t stand out this season either. That’s a shame. Especially when considering that music is one of the strong points of anime in general. And that anime openings and endings are a way to promote not only the anime but also the artists.
So, when I first listened to it a couple of months ago, I thought that it wasn’t anything special but it had this one quality that stood out. Well, frankly, it was only the small instrumental phrase after the introductory section of the OP theme, around the 00:13 mark. The rest was only just another opening theme…
OST first impressions. An unintentional mishap. by Nishiki Yasunori
What happens before the OP is the most crucial part of the first episode. It’s the viewers’ first impression. It’s hit or miss. The OST has many western cinematographic elements and it soon becomes clear that the source of the anime is a game. More importantly, this part of the anime shows that the mixing of the sound is a bit exaggerated but within acceptable limits.
Around 8 minutes in, I second-guessed what I was watching as it looked like a promotional clip. Well, making an anime around a game is exactly that, but the music is what made it so noticeable. No action, no suspense, no emotional impact. Just plain promotional music with little to no development. The sound mixing started falling apart little by little, as the volume of the music was too high, forcing the volume of the sound effects to be louder.
My main issue was that the animation was so awkward that made the music look bad. Well, in quite a few cases, it wasn’t just the directing that slapped the music away, it was the sound mixing. Some SFX were unnecessarily loud and some OST tracks were louder than they should have been. There was little balance between the dialogues, the music and the sound effects. And it mostly became evident after the fight scene, where we listened -quite intensively and extensively, if I may add- to the sound of waves splashing around.
The soundtrack didn’t fit the visuals all that well. It seemed way too serious for the story and this kind of action. And while the combination made the whole production seem better at times, it also made it a whole lot worse at others. The OST isn’t bad as an OST. It’s just a soundtrack that doesn’t work well with this anime. It’s a soundtrack that may have worked better with another anime, with better visuals and a story with more depth and development. What dragged it down is the way it was used. But my verdict is that there was lack of communication and misguidance between the director, Tenshou (aka Tanaka Motoki) and the composer, Nishiki Yasunori.
Find Nishiki Yasunori here:
The Ending Theme. Better than Azur Lane itself. “Nikari no Michishirube” by Kano
It’s a slow and emotional song that has the ability to make us forget about the shortcomings of the anime. It’s a sweet and calm song with an underlying sense of stability and power. I wish it were tied-up with another anime, as it would have done it justice. In a broader sense it fits Azur Lane but in the end, the anime drags the music back once more.
The animation is quite boring and awkward at times. The anime mainly exists to promote the game. From a marketing perspective, its aim is to draw more customers. How can the first episode have a prerequisite of knowing the characters and the context of the story? Prepare your new audience for what they’re about to watch. Make them feel more engaged to the show. Make them feel that the people who worked for it actually cared. Don’t be superficial.
TL;DR (Don’t you want to know why it’s so ‘meh’?)
- The music is better than the anime.
- Bad directing that affected the music as if it was dragging it around.
- Average OP, not necessarily memorable.
- Good soundtrack, but unfortunately was misused, if not abused (heavy, I know).
- Good ending. It would have a better acceptance if it was the tie-up act of another anime.
- This anime made the artists look bad.