ANN Takahiro Omori page

My average ranking: 7.86

Director Pantheon: Takahiro Omori Rating
Baccano! (TV) Excellent

Some shows have one, maybe two loveable characters in them. This has the luxury of several. Sure, the convoluted plot can become tiresome, particularly early on, but the characters and sheer exhilaration of the, often very violent, action always pull it through. The ditzy pair of thieves, Miria and Isaac, lead the way, somehow bringing joy to all and sundry, including the viewer, as they attempt to rob the crooked for the sake of the world. They aren't the only crazy, wonderful and surprising characters. The series abounds in them.
Durarara!! (TV) Very good

Compared with Baccano!, its spiritual sibling, Durarara!! has far more of those "wow" moments where I'm gobsmacked by the power, poignancy or irony of what's taking place on the screen. The supreme moment, noted by many people, is when Mikado summons help from the "Dollars" in the centre of the Ikebukuro via his mobile phone. The result is astonishing, one of the all-time great moments in anime. It also has more interesting characters. Only Miria and Isaac can match the best of the Durarara!! mob and it's notable that they make a couple of cameos. The crucial difference is that the violent characters of Baccano!, such as the Ladd Russo, Claire Stanfield, the Gandors and the Genoards, are repellent without being particularly entertaining, while their Durarara!! counterparts, with some exceptions, are either genuinely likeable (Celty and Shizuo) or, in Izaya Orihara's case, deliciously repugnant. Whereas I didn't give a flying fig what happened to Ladd Russo or Claire Stanfield, how I enjoyed Simon Brezhnev dishing out a black eye to Izaya and how I wished he'd been given an immortal elixir and concrete shoes, a la Dallas Genoard. Celty Sturluson is the premium character of the series. What a wonderful creation she is! The most human, most normal character in the entire show is a headless creature from myth. Her developing relationship with the ambiguous Shinra is one of the highlights, though I keep having these creepy thoughts of the two having sex together. A headless woman in bed - feminists would have a field day with that one. Perhaps Celty really is the ideal woman for the average man? Sexy body, no brains. That black ooze is a worry, though.

What Durarara!! lacks is the crazy, unstoppable forward momentum of Baccano!. It falters in the slasher arc and, as the more eccentric characters - especially Celty - take backseat roles, the show must rely on the three central student characters, Mikado, Masaomi and Anri. While their story is compelling, they don't have the eccentricities of the others and, well, they're juveniles and, thus, no match for the best adult characters of the two series.

Hell Girl (TV) So-so

It's startling at first and the colour palette is gorgeous, especially in the credits and supernatural sequences, but the format of nasty of the week getting their comeuppance is followed far too religiously and for far too long into the series. Mind you, it also doesn't help that the protagonist, Ai Enma, is devoid of personality. Wrinkles on the format do occur but it's not until Tsugumi, the precocious daughter of the plot framing journalist Hajime, takes a prominent role that the series is able to re-generate any interest.
Hotarubi no Mori e (movie) Good

This 40 minute film from Takahiro Omori is clearly from his Natsume’s Book of Friends millieu. A young girl lost in a forest is saved by a spirit. Each summer she returns to spend time with him. Their love grows but is tempered by the knowledge that should they touch he will vanish forever.

It’s well written and nicely paced (until the end), very pretty to look at, and the main female character – Hotaru – is sweetly observed. These qualities are spoiled by the emotive ending, not because it is emotive but because it is both predictable and rushed. Somehow it lacks the gravitas it should have.

Koi Kaze (TV) Masterpiece

An exquisite script and two very appealing protagonists elevate this series from the ever-present threats of squickiness or sentimentality. This is a serious anime about a potentially alienating topic, incest. Thankfully, although there is a lot of humour, the incest is not played for laughs.

The genius of the script is apparent on several levels: the beautifully constructed characters of Nanoka and Koshiro; the psychological insights into their behaviours; and the slow development of the affair that never strains credibility yet inexorably leads to its final outcome.

Its most amazing ability, however, is to make the viewer complicit in the transgression of the protagonists. Even though we readily condemn the perv Odagiri for lusting after underage girls, he never actually does what Koshiro does, and yet we are willing to forgive the latter. Similarly, when the wonderful Kaname (who really should be Koshiro’s partner) desperately tries to prevent him from taking a step too far, aren’t we secretly hoping she loses the argument? Finally, Nanoka so successfully wins our sympathy that, I for one, would rather she achieve her heart's desire than conform to society’s norms.

At times the art work and animation reveal the limitations of its budget but Koi Kaze more than makes up for it with an inspired use of music (except the awful end theme) and, importantly, silence. This is an anime made by people utterly in command of their art. (Prominent people in the making of this anime went on to make the completely different, but also beautifully scripted, Baccano!).

Natsume's Book of Friends (TV) Very good

The episodic nature and fantastical spirits of Natsume's Book of Friends reminded me strongly of both Mushi-Shi and Kino's Journey. It's lightearted tone and generous sentimentaliy prevent it from achieving the depth and grandeur of either of those two but it is warmer and more emotionally engaging than the latter. I liked Natsume as a character. Although generally good-natured he wasn't above showing some very human irritability and, understandably on occasions, presented a cold shoulder to both humans and spirits. Poor class president, Jun Sasada, deserved better at times. It made for a well-rounded and believable character, especially in the way he treated the spirits more kindly through the course of the series as he came to understand that they were as troubled and as flawed as any human, and that he had he wherewithal to help them.

The designs and personalities of the spirits - particularly Natsume's bodyguard, irritant and friend Nyanko-san - are cute and jolly and consequently rarely threatening. This is both good and bad. They enhance the indomitable and optimistic spirit of the series but there is a general lack of tension. It makes up for this lack with humour and sentimentality, although the humour can be too often trite or slapstick. I didn't mind the sentimentality - the dilemmas of the spirits were quite moving at times.

Composer Makoto Yoshimori abandons the more upbeat numbers of Baccano! and Durarara!!, returning to the more plaintively melodic style of Koi Kaze. The music always suits and enhances the feel of the series. Yoshimori is a composer who is particurlarly sensitive to the work he is embellishing and doesn't impose his sound on a series in the way, say, composers like Kenji Kawai or Yuki Kajiura are apt to do.

A couple of episodes towards the end were weaker (11 and 13) so that the season kind of petered out for me. Perhaps I should see it as just part of a much longer series - a fourth season has been announced - rather than a stand alone series.

Princess Jellyfish (TV) Very good