Shelf Life
Anonymous Noise

by Paul Jensen, Gabriella Ekens,

I learned something while getting my measurements taken for a suit this week: being part of a wedding party is absurdly expensive. Between the clothing, the bachelor/bachelorette party, the wedding gifts, and all the travel involved, celebrating the lifelong happiness of your friends can be a real drain on the ol' disposable income. Why didn't anyone warn me that 3-D relationships would have such an impact on my 2-D vices? Welcome to Shelf Life.

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Anonymous Noise

On Shelves This Week

Anonymous Noise - Complete Collection BD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Years after being separated from her childhood friend Momo, high school student Nino reconnects with him through music.

Extra: We covered the first episode of this series in the Spring 2017 Preview Guide, and Gabriella also reviewed it for this week's column. It's available streaming on Amazon Prime and HIDIVE.




Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic BD+DVD, DVD
Funimation - 100 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $34.98|$29.98
Currently cheapest at: $26.24 Right Stuf|$22.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Sebastian and Ciel board a luxury liner, where they investigate an illegal experiment to raise the dead.

Extra: We have a review of this movie from its US theatrical run last year, and you'll find the TV series streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.





Kabukibu! - Complete Collection BD
Sentai - 325 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98
Currently cheapest at: $38.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: When he learns that his high school has no Kabuki club, lifetime Kabuki enthusiast Kurogo Kurusu decides to build a club from the ground up.

Extra: Our Preview Guide ratings for this show were all over the place, ranging from 2.5 to 4 out of 5. It's available streaming on Amazon Prime and HIDIVE.




Mobile Suit Gundam AGE - Part 2 BD, DVD
Right Stuf - 525 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $74.99|$59.99
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf|$38.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: As the war between the Earth and Mars Spheres continues, Flit, Asemu, and Kio each find themselves playing pivotal roles in the conflict.

Extra: We have a review of the first half of this series, which features three generations of Gundam pilots.




My Hero Academia - Season 2 Part 2 BD+DVD, Limited Edition
Funimation - 325 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98|$84.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf|$61.49 Amazon

Synopsis: As the members of class 1-A begin their internships with pro heroes, a new villain appears on the scene with a mission to kill heroes.

Extra: We have a full review for this specific season, along with episode reviews for the whole series. You can stream it on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.





RWBY - Volume 5 BD+DVD, DVD
New Video Group - 204 min - Dub - MSRP $24.95|$14.93
Currently cheapest at: $14.29 Amazon|$9.99 Amazon

Synopsis: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang must unite to defeat the dark forces that threaten the nations of Remnant.

Extra: We've got two titles from outside Japan to round out this week's new releases, starting with this web series from the US. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll and RoosterTeeth.com.




Satellite Girl and Milk Cow BD+DVD, DVD
Shout! Factory - 81 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $22.97|$16.97
Currently cheapest at: $14.96 Amazon|$11.19 Amazon

Synopsis: When out-of-control magic turns a falling satellite into a girl and a lovelorn singer into a cow, the two of them must outwit several outrageous foes in order to stay together.

Extra: Our coverage for this South Korean film is very thin, so much so that we don't even appear to have an encyclopedia page for it. You'll find a trailer for it streaming on YouTube.



Shelf Life Reviews

Shelf Worthy
Nothing this week.
Rental
Nothing this week.
Perishable
Anonymous Noise

As I mentioned in this week's new release list, Anonymous Noise was covered in the Preview Guide but didn't make the cut for that season's streaming review lineup. Now that it's out on disc, Gabriella's here to give this romance series a second chance in the spotlight.

Shoujo. Shoujo never changes.” Seriously, while otaku media can be dated into geological periods based on whatever the dominant fetish is, shoujo still likes to throw out the occasional property that feels plucked straight out of the Tokyopop era. Today's show, Anonymous Noise, was 2017's main example of that. But does this throwback succeed at resurrecting the adolescent appeal of early-aughts tween romance manga, or does it mark the unwelcome return of the era's worst habits?

Anonymous Noise stars Nino, a weird girl who belts out songs at the beach every morning. She does this because she misses her childhood friend Momo, who moved away without warning six years ago. The two of them used to sing together, and Nino has lacked a proper outlet since he left. However, when she starts high school, Momo suddenly reappears in her life. As it turns out, he's been able to contact her for years, but has refused to for his own strange personal reasons. On top of all that, he's now a famous music producer and living his half of their shared musical aspirations. In spite of these dick moves on his part, Nino remains obsessed with him, and joins a band to regain his attention. What follows is her rise to musical stardom, entwined with her journey towards sorting out this complicated emotional situation.

So the main narrative thrust of this show is a girl trying to win back her childhood love after he's grown up to scorn her. This doesn't work for a number of reasons. Firstly, her love is such a jerk that we don't want her to get back together with him. Throughout the show, Momo continually ghosts and belittles Nino, refusing contact while also insisting that she's “his and only his.” As you should know, this type of behavior is considered both “stringing along” and “abusive,” and is 100% unacceptable in a romantic partner. Unfortunately, the show frames Momo's possessiveness as what's sexy about him, and not something that renders him totally ineligible as a potential romantic partner for Nino. This romanticization of pathological jealousy (and its corresponding abusive behaviors) in men was one of my least favorite parts of the Hot Gimmick era of romance manga, and I'm sad to see it return here.

Secondly, the “anonymous” part of the title is a misnomer. While Nino does use a disguise, Momo knows that it's her from the beginning. This eliminates what could've been a functional (if not particularly unique) form of added drama, in which Momo forms different relationships with Nino and her alter-ego, Hannah Montana-style. Lacking this, Anonymous Noise instead fills its time with a bunch of stock shoujo love triangle melodrama. There's a second boy – Nino's current best friend YUZU – who also likes her, and who struggles to get his feelings across in light of everything that's going down. While he's generally the more likeable love interest, he'll occasionally treat Nino as an object in a way that (again like the Momo stuff) makes it clear that the show is romanticizing this sort of pathological possessiveness. Again, this is BAD, but unfortunately common within the genre. Otherwise, the show largely runs its characters stubbornly refusing to communicate for no explained reason (YUZU and Momo) or coming to unbelievably stupid emotional conclusions on a regular basis (Nino). As such, it's even harder to get invested in what's already some pretty humdrum romantic melodrama.

Visually, Anonymous Noise is far from impressive. It's all generic, minimally animated stuff about kids hanging around high school – aka the exact sort of thing that we get four or five times a season nowadays. Really, the nicest thing that I can say is that the character designs are pleasant enough as entries in that Hot Topic superflat spaghetti-person style, and that the show doesn't go off model as often as it could. That's about it. Otherwise, this is also a music show, which means that I have to talk about what the songs sound like. Mostly, they got Saori Hayami (who is also Nino's voice actress) to sing on some totally forgettable indie buttrock tracks and then put those into the show. I listened to them not even an hour ago and probably wouldn't recognize them if someone were to play them again for me right now. (As an aside, it's always funny when these lazily produced band shows keep informing us that we're listening to AMAZING music despite all evidence to the contrary. But I digress.) On the subject of music, Anonymous Noise is also pretty lacking as a band story. For one, Nino and co. become ultra famous pretty much immediately without any seeming struggle or effort on their part. As a depiction of the music industry, this is pretty laughable, and the show doesn't even try to play into the potential drama of trying to make it in the industry. In this regard, it reminds me of another 2017 anime, Fuuka – which itself might as well be a gender-swapped version of Anonymous Noise, now that I think about it.

Sentai's release is sparse in terms of extras, but does feature an English dub. The dub starts out pretty weak, with a lot of awkward line reads and stilted dialogue. It does, however, become passable by the end, in case you're really set on watching this show in English.

Honestly, this isn't the worst show I've reviewed by a long shot. It is, however, just so bog-standard for its genre and boring that I can't imagine who I might recommend it to. If you enjoyed both Vampire Knight and Fuuka, maybe? If so, my condolences. And so, by justification of “forgettable” rather than “fiasco,” I'm condemning Anonymous Noise to the “disposable” heap – albeit in the higher end of that inglorious pile. In the end, it turns out that this genre of romance was best left a childhood memory.
-Gabriella[TOP]

That wraps things up for this week. Thanks for reading, and remember to send your Shelf Obsessed entries to [email protected]!


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