Spring 2014 Week 4 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

It’s late, I’m tired, and I’d rather watch some Princess Tutu than describe my week, or sleep, I’m gorram tired, you guys. Most of the shows had been alright, not “great”, but not bad either. Though I list them by order, unlike most seasons, even stuff at position 10 or so out of 13 did quite respectably, honestly. It’s not like seasons where anything under #3 was utter trash.

Going for shortish points on each. Listed in order of enjoyment/good episode was. Links are to more in-depth/longer pieces on some.

1Isshuukan Friends episode 4

Isshuukan Friends Episode 4 / One Week Friends Episode 4 anime overview - Hase Yuki

Oh man. The fact this is number 1 this week tells you everything. This show had always been great. But this episode… this episode truly felt like an end-of-series episode, and we’re only in the 4th one. I think LNs/manga can be like that, they have an arc in each volume or so, and you can see in adaptations multiple resolutions, whereas had it been an anime original we might have not had this episode until episode 9, or 11. Even if the show turns to utter dreck at this point, it could be recommended as one of the best 4-episode-OVAs to be found.

It was sad. It was so real. Hase’s argument with Fujimiya was exactly the same as some arguments I’ve had with SOs, or arguments I hear between other people. And then they decided to work for it, and their tears, and my tears… very emotional. And yet, nothing “big”, no shouts or melodrama, just… well-told drama. Amazing.

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Spring 2014 Week 3 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

Shows in order of my enjoyment of the latest episode, not the show as a while.

I’m actually dropping/putting on hold a few shows. Finally cutting down on some write-ups (I hope I can!) link are to relevant blog-posts, and only for shows I thought the write-up was good or lengthy enough. First impressions for M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane, extra long write-ups for Isshuukan Friends, M3, and Mekakucity Actors.

1) Ping Pong episode 2

Ping Pong the Animation episode 2 overview - Tsukimoto Makoto / Smile has a face-off with coach Koizumi Jou

From APR – Ping Pong Episode 2 takes what the first episode had done and kicks it to overdrive. The characters which were basic are actually built. The interactions are charming, the characters are all “known” and nothing is new, but they still have depth and convince you of their reality, as their quirky natures rise to the top. A loveable cast, solid acting, and solid direction. The “duel” being narrated from the sides, discussing the other’s personality, the flicks to the butterfly… this ping pong duel had been directed and narrated as a samurai show fight, straight out of a samurai manga, and it’s one of the best such duels I’ve watched or read in a long while.

Verdict: Kept, full write-ups.

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Spring 2014 Week 2 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

Another week! Most of the weak shows actually improved, some even did so dramatically! Also covering first impressions for the following shows: Ping Pong, Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess), Mekakucity Actors, and Knights of Sidonia (Sidonia no Kishi).

Each episode’s title links to my full episodic notes for the episode in question, in case you’d like my in-depth reactions. Shows are listed in the order of my enjoyment of the relevant episodes, not the show as a whole. Some shows are listed higher than others though I consider them worse, because I’ve enjoyed this week’s episode more.

1) Mushishi S2 episode 2

Mushishi second season episode 2 anime overview

 From APR – Last week’s Mushishi was “Mushishi good”, which means it was very good, and small, that it didn’t scream its existence to the world. This episode though had been great even by Mushishi standards. We’ve had a case where the Mushishi situation reflects the situation of the humans, /twice over/. We had small sad moments, we had moments that had been down to earth, and moments where the supernatural had been allowed to shine in all of its glory. I have the feeling most of the voice actors in Mushishi aren’t professional full-time actors, and if anything, it makes things feel so much more real. May every episode be like this.

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Spring 2014 First Impressions – (Week 1 Anime Power Ranking)

I ran out of energy and desire to cover the final weeks of the Winter 2014 season (I’m so glad it’s over). But we’ve got a new season, so it’s time to see how the first episodes fared! The episodes are those I’ve watched from Wednesday to Wednesday, and are listed in the order of my enjoyment of them.

Each episode’s title links to my full episodic notes for the episode in question, in case you’d like my in-depth reactions.

(Shows Covered, in alphabetical order: Akuma no Riddle, Black Bullet, Brynhildr no Gokukoku (Brynhildr in the Darkness), Captain Earth, Fairy Tail (2014), Isshuukan Friends (One Week Friends), JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High School), Mushishi S2, Nagi no Asukara, Nisekoi, “No Game, No Life”, and Selector Infected WIXOSS.)

Note, Originally Selector Infected WIXOSS and Nagi no Asukara had been placed just above Akuma no Riddle. Then I decided to embrace fun and bumped them down for the faults I enumerate in my write-ups, basically for being muddled and not brave enough.

1) Captain Earth episode 1

Captain Earth episode 1 anime overview

From APR – This show was fun. I actually wanted to watch episode 2 immediately after! While people say it reminds them of Star Driver, not having seen that I thought of Eureka 7. It’s fun seeing a mecha show by people other than Sunrise who had really been off their game lately. This show was very shiny, and we not only got hammered with an extra-heavy dose of “mystical prophecy / portentous memories/dreams”, but we actually got to see the origin, and see the truth behind them. Father being a “Captain” is something many shows would’ve dragged to reveal in who knows how many episodes, but we’ve got it all in the first episode.

This show was gorgeous, it was well-directed, well-acted, and it was interesting. The need for everything to have secrets/symbolism and psychology (really, Freud?) consistent in Bones’ anime is a bit tiring, but guess that’s what post-NGE mecha are about. Still, an extremely strong showing.

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Spring 2014 Season Expectations.

Another season is upon us (this week!), so it’s time to look at what I’m going to watch, and what I’m expecting. Quite interesting to look at my expectations for Winter 2014 and how they panned out (poor Mahou Sensou and Nobunaga the Fool…). Most of the information about the shows can be had from RandomCuriosity’s page, the helpful Neregate Chart, and what I’ve happened to see on various sites, such as The Cart Driver.

As always, organized by days of the week, because I might pick a show on an empty day or cut shows I enjoy on days already overfilled with other shows. Order is by expectation within that day. Originally I’ve listed every show I had some interest in, but that ended with 30 shows. After cutting some out, still had 22. Even if I don’t write anything about the shows, and even if I drop half by the time we’re 3 weeks in (which I never succeed at doing), that’s too much. There are quite a few shounen popcorn and RomComs shows this season, and most will likely be interchangeable, so need to pick 1-2 of each type, or wait for a few weeks in and hear which ones are better.

Descriptions will be short, more on why I find them interesting. “Didn’t make it in” could also be seen as shows I might pick up after dropping others based on buzz.

Sunday:

Break Blade (TV) AnimeBreak Blade – A drama about vying realms, with the monarchs having studied together as youth. Love and treachery, gallantry. A setting with fantasy mechs. I think this sounds very interesting. A version of 6 films adapting the same source material exists and had been on my plan to watch list for a while. Hadn’t watched it yet, so will try these.
Interest Rating: 2/3. Quite intrigued, and if it turns out badly, can turn to the films.
Write-ups: Could happen. Intrigue and drama, after all.

Gokukoku no Brynhildr / Brynhildr in the Darkness – Made by the people behind Elfen Lied, both the manga author and the anime team, and that’s what most people decide whether to watch the show by. I thought Elfen Lied was “fine”, somewhere just ahead of mediocre. I didn’t hate it, and the premise seems interesting to me – a girl is supposed to be dead and comes back, played for drama and mystery. Yes, in the end premise is only the hook, and it’s all about execution, but it is what it is.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. Very cautious. But Sunday is still quite enough to permit it.
Write-ups: Nope.

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Top 13 Anime Shows Ending in 2013

Well, the year is ending, and I’ve actually watched a large amount of anime shows ending this year (over 60), so here is my list of the top 13 shows which ended in 2013. The shows and their positions are factored by how much I enjoyed these shows and how good (artistically, thematically) I think the shows are. Only full shows had been considered, no OVAs or movies of any sort. The names link to the show’s description and information on My Anime List (MAL).

13. Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil)

Aku no Hana / Flowers of Evil anime

This show is all about atmosphere. An oppressive atmosphere of self-inflicted fear, of being closed in, that one can’t escape. Not much actually happens in the show, but the constant fear of what is about to happen, of what is going to strike our protagonist drives both him and us as we watch the show. It’s hardly a “fun watch”, with each episode weighing you down until you seek respite elsewhere. Its masterful control of psychological horror and how well it conveys Kasuga’s life and the feeling of the town in which he lives make this show one that cannot be ignored, however.

It seems that had there been a second season a lot more would actually occur, and all that happened in this season was merely a precursor, but due to exceedingly poor sales, that is unlikely to happen. The rotoscoping is interesting, but believe it or not, the show I believe is closest to Aku no Hana is K-On! due to its absolute reliance on atmosphere over plot or character development.

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Determinators – Power Fantasy, Wish Fulfillment, from Fiction to League of Legends.

Determinators are something I love, and knowing that I love it had allowed me to understand why I love some of the media, some of the stories, some of the characters that I do.
Let us begin with the definition of determinator as it appears on TV Tropes:

A character — good or evil, male or female, young or old — who never gives up. Ever. No matter what.

And let me tell you, if you’ve ever played a Dungeons and Dragons game (or specifically came across D&D related fiction), read a bildungsroman novel, watched anime or read manga, or uttered the term “Mary Sue” with regards to a male character, it’s like you’ve come across determinators, and plenty of them.

The hero that gets beaten but then rises once more, or who gets beaten, trains and then comes back, the hero who will not abandon their friends, the hero is a hero. Note, should a villain display these traits, and it’s actually quite common, we’ll call him persistent or a pest, which is also often about time-frame or due to the fact that this isn’t shown on-screen. Take for instance Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of Poke’Mon. In episode 5 his electric Pikachu is beatenby Brock’s rock/ground Poke’Mon, so he trains overnight and comes back in the morning with his dynamo-trained electric rodent to beat Brock. More commonly though, we think of determinators as those who do not give up within the scene, who get beaten but rise up once more.

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Cartoon Demographics – Are We Infantiles, or are Children More Adult-like?

I’ve been thinking of the intersection of genres and demographics for a while, especially as I’ve recently discussed how some shows have demographics as meta-genres, and instead of genres. This recent blog post on The Otaku Lounge by Artemis discussing anime/manga demographics made me try to formulate my words on the topic. I sat down and thought – this genres don’t really apply to me – I watch children shows (though less as time goes by), and I watch both female and male-oriented young-adult and adult shows. I also tried to even identify shows that fall within certain categories and had a really hard time doing so.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (season 2)

That’s when I realized – the shows don’t have these demographics within them. There is no magical connection between the so-called demographic which is supposedly of the show and who really enjoys the show, or can enjoy it – especially if we’re going to resist gender and age-based essentialism, though obviously we’re talking more about life experienced and supposed socialization lines here.
That made me realize – these demographics are merely a construct, and not one truly used by the authors of shows or movies, but by the marketing teams that have to release the work into the wide world.

Well, let’s backtrack a bit and talk about some shows, movies, and other things:

Avatar the Last Airbender – This cartoon by Nickolodeon had first come out in 2005. The Story-Game RPG community I was part of had absolutely loved it. I was 20 when it’s come out, my friend Christian who was 30 years old who watched it with his 3 year old and 13 year old sons. We’ve had numerous men and women ranging from 15 to about 40 who all absolutely loved the show. So what if it’s been categorized as a “Children’s show”? It has good characters, good character and plot development, real conflicts and conflict-resolution that isn’t entirely based on violence. It’s for everyone.

Disney/Pixar movies – Children here are usually taken to watch Disney films as they grow up. I remember being taken to watch Bambi as a five year old, and when I saw my grandmother crying next to me I consoled her, “Don’t worry grandmother, it’s not real – it’s just a movie.” My best friend and I had watched plenty of animated films in the cinemas – all of the Shrek films, Toy Story 3, and recently we’ve watched Monsters University.
We definitely weren’t the only adults there, though going at later hours and watching the films in English rather than dubbed to Hebrew definitely raises the age. The point being, there is definite adult interest in these “Children-shows”.

Now, let’s look at some different examples:

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Blog Overview Since Revival and The Months Ahead

Today marks exactly three months since I’ve awakened my blog from its multi-year slumber. I’ve managed to hold to the schedule and release one post every week. Summer is upon us, and I have some more free time, and I also want to get posts out while still fresh. This post will detail the posts I’ve made thus far since the blog’s revival, and the posting schedule for the upcoming months. Hope you’ll stay with me! :)

Synopsis: I will list every single blog-post since the blog’s revival on April 1st, giving a short description of each. The next blog-post will go live next week on Monday, the 8th. I will either post two blog posts a week (Monday-Tuesday and Friday-Saturday) or 3 blog posts per 2 weeks (a blog every 5 days) for the next two months.

I will spend the next week to write more blog-posts, I find it harder to write a post properly 4-6 months after watching the show. I will also try to comment on some blogs I’ve been meaning to comment on for the past couple of months but hadn’t really found the time. Hope you guys enjoy the posts and keep reading my updates :)

Also, feel free to comment on this post with thoughts in general, well-wishes, idle banter, or what have you.

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Django Unchained – Not Understanding What Emotions Are

Django UnchainedYou know how in various media you hear about people confusing fear for respect, and not understanding the difference? Django Unchained is very much a movie like that – if you see me squirm or flinch back due to gore and sympathetic pain, it doesn’t mean I actually care for what I see on screen. You need the emotional attachment to be there to begin with and to be enhanced by those sympathetic pain/music sequences, they can’t replace them completely.

I think back to Prison Break, there’s a sequence where they cut off Scofield’s toe, and he’s a character we can relate to, and they do it slowly – so even though we don’t actually see the deed – we’re hugging the back of our seat. Also think of the ending of Requiem for a Dream, where horrible things happen to many of the main characters of the show. Finally, think of Fairy Tail – I touched on how influential the music was on my enjoyment and emotional participation in the show – I’ll be frank, without the music I’d have probably cared for the show a whole lot less.

But that’s just the point, if you see us flinching back or squirming in our seats and you mistake us not enjoying what happening to the people on screen with us actually caring for the characters and the story, then you are mistaken. Django Unchained kept hammering us with big sequences that were supposed to make us care – an epic story, horrible things being done to people, decadence most extreme – but it never did the small thing first, it never created an emotional attachment with us.

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