Tag Archives: MOE!

Sword Art Online Alternative, Episode One

This episode was well done overall– the atmosphere was almost palpable, the action was exciting, we’re left with some intriguing questions about the characters. and so on and so forth. I have a fundamental problem with the Gun Gale Online setting though, and it’s kind of a deal-breaker.

Think about it: in the SAO continuity, in the post-“death game” world, there are a nigh-infinite numbers of MMORPGs people can play. These games have magic, fantastic creatures, beautiful scenery of the kind that it’s very difficult, if not impossible to find in real life, and even amazing features like fully-VR flight. I don’t understand why, when presented with this buffet of scrumtious RPG delicacies, people would choose to play GGO: the game where you get to experience what it was like to be fighting insurgents in Fallujah circa 2007. It’s just a dank, depressing setting, and I don’t know why anyone would spend time there if they didn’t have to.

I guess it comes down to the allure of playing around with guns for people who never get to play around with guns; after all, I was already bored of hanging around the rifle range by the time I was 14. Nevertheless, whatever the reason, I just don’t see the appeal.

LLENN’s winning strategy is to be so much shorter than everybody else that they’re usually not aiming down far enough to hit her. I wonder if this is going to keep working as she gets more notoriety in game? You’d think eventually, GGO players would just be like “when in doubt, aim waaay down.”

And yet, despite my lack of interest in the game world, there are things that make me want to keep watching. It looks like LLENN’s player, Karen (woo, that’s my name!) has a very different lifestyle than you would expect of a hardcore PVP MMO player, and I’m interested to learn more about her. Plus, I have no idea why LLENN and her teammate were competing as a duo when everyone else in the Squad Jam seemed to be in groups of six, and that’s intriguing. Then there’s LLENN’s super-speed, which, according to the reaction of the other characters, isn’t a normal thing in GGO and may be the result of some secret behind the LLENN avatar that she might not want her fellow gamers to know about.

It’s just, if they were going to make an SAO spinoff with this much potential, why did it have to be centered on Gun Gale Online? What’s wrong with Alfheim? I like Alfheim. You can tell Alfheim is better than GGO, because Sinon was huge into GGO, then she was invited to play ALO and was like “it’s been real, fellas” and booked out of there. Trust Sinon, she is a smart young lady.

Oh well. Looks like I’m interested enough to keep watching this show, at least for now, but whether or not I do anymore pontificating about it on this blog probably depends on how they develop Karen, more so than LLENN. Maybe it’s just narcissism on my part, but I’m really curious to learn more about her, and if her real life is interesting, that might cancel out my general antipathy towards the setting.

Comic Girls, Episode One

Despite how excited I was for this show in the lead-up to this season, I find myself with surprisingly little to say about it now that it’s started. It’s doing the right thing in that it’s actually about what it says it’s about, girls drawing comics– it’s not just a generic “cute girls in high school” show with a thin layer of manga-styled window dressing, which was my fear for it. The fact that the girls spend about half the of the first episode actively working on manga together makes that perfectly clear.

Here is Kaos, our protagonist. It’s like someone took Nadeshiko from Laid Back Camp and made her even cuter, which should not even be possible. I just want to hug her, feed her delicious cookies, and tell her that drawing comics is a beautiful dream that only ends in terrible emotional pain.

Plus, the challenges the girls encounter in their manga efforts (like drawing in proportion, learning to draw both sexes equally well, etc.) are things that anyone who’s ever tried to draw comics can probably relate to, but haven’t come up much in anime. Bakuman was a great show about creating manga, but in that story, Mashiro started out as such a competent artist, we never really saw him struggle with beginner problems like “Is this character’s head waaaaay too small for her body?” It’s nice to see comic artists who kind of suck at drawing, I can relate to that.

Yup, I relate to this. I don’t know why it’s so darned hard to draw people in proportion, you’ll go back the next day and the mistake will be glaringly obvious, but it never looks that way while you’re at the drawing board. WHY?

The more successful artists, Ruki and Tsubasa, have accomplished the dream of having serialized manga series in high school, which is pretty much the dream of every kid who doodles comics in their notebook. Appropriately though, the two serialized artists are too stressed out by deadlines to fully appreciate what they have, and it’s only through Kaos and Koyume’s eyes that we can really see how awesome it is to have gotten so far in the field at such a young age.

No, no no get this OFF my screen! I sat through like five seasons of Hidamari Sketch, I do not need to see even one more scene of an artistically inclined girl taking a bath. MAKE IT STOP– oh wait it was only a short scene, I guess that’s alright then.

Surprisingly, we even get some character development this early on; the episode starts with Kaos hearing bad feedback on her manga and nearly disintegrating in despair; after getting acclimated to living in the comics dorm, she’s able to accept similar bad news without getting discouraged. The fact that she’s already showing growth makes me optimistic that she (and Koyume) are really going to improve their manga over the course of the show, which will be much more interesting than if everyone just stays at the same level. I’d especially like it if Ruri and Tsubasa start hitting some walls in their careers, but that may be due to my being stupidly jealous of their success, rather than hoping for interesting plot developments. Yes, I just admitted to being jealous of fictional characters, today is really not a great day for me.

“Someday, young Comic Girl, you too will master the art of drawing characters in proportion; seriously, their arms will be the same length and everything. It’ll be totally awesome. If  you’re lucky, that might even happen before you get a repetitive stress injury in your drawing hand!”

So uh, yeah, Comic Girls: it has a nice premise, it’s funny, the characters are likable, and all that good jazz. I recommend it, I’m just hoping I start to feel a bit more passionate about it as it goes on. Because right now this show is in this weird category of “I think this is pretty good, so why don’t I care?”

Spring 2018 Anime Season Preview

It’s been almost three months; time for a deluge of new shows, and to kiss your dreams of catching up on your anime backlog goodbye for at least another season.

Now, the intelligent, useful way to do one of these season previews is to peruse the source material for the upcoming shows; research what other anime members of the staff have worked on; learn the history of the studio, and cross-reference all of this disparate information to make some educated guesses about what kind of experiences the upcoming shows will offer. I’m not going to do that (mostly because it sounds like a lot of work), but also because I don’t want to have to download anything. Checking out the source material for anime usually means reading scanlations, and whenever I try anything like that, I end up with 14 new malware-infested browsers on my laptop that all look like they came from 1998.

All that is a roundabout way of saying that this preview is mostly research-free, and it’s only real value is highlighting what shows I’m excited for this season. However, I would like to do some episodic blogging this spring (something I haven’t done for quite a while), so I’m also going to be using this to try to figure out what I might want to cover. If you see a show listed here that you’d like to see covered in the coming months (or if I totally leave out a show you’re psyched for), please let me know in the comments. I’m not going to blog a show I have no interest in just because someone requests it, but I’ll certainly give something a try if it wasn’t on my radar previously and see what happens.

Oh, and by the way, this season looks absolutely insane. The number of popular series with continuations and spinoffs airing is way above normal, and a lot of fans are probably going to have trouble keeping up. In fact, this is probably a really bad time for me to dive back into anime coverage just for that reason, but oh well, here we are somehow.

Full Metal Panic: Invisible VictoryAfter hibernating (and haunting fake anime charts) for about a decade, the fact that there’s a new FMP series coming out now is a miracle only slightly less impressive than the Biblical Parting of the Red Sea, so I should probably take notice. I’ve never been able to get into Full Metal Panic!; I don’t dislike it, but the episodes I’ve seen never quite sucked me in. However, my husband is a big fan, and if I’m not watching FMP, our dinner conversation might get awkward, so I’m probably going to catch up on the earlier seasons before the premiere if I get a chance.

Chances I will blog it: High, because it might win me brownie points with my husband, which I need; I make him eat a lot of tofu.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

I like Sword Art Online. Always have. *dodges rotten tomatoes.* No seriously, I do. Sometimes it’s juvenile and silly, but then they’ll throw you a Mother’s Rosario arc and you realize you’re actually watching a warmer-and-fuzzier Ghost in the Shell with lovely colors, and it’s really cool. Gun Gale Online was not one of my favorite parts of SAO thus far, so I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get that caught up in a side story that takes place in that particular game world. Still, my general positive disposition towards the franchise means that I plan to give it at least a few episode to impress me.

Chances I will Blog It: Medium. Really depends on whether or not the characters grab me, because GGO isn’t much of a draw in and of itself.

My Hero Academia Season 3

I watched the first episode of MHA when it came out and it didn’t do much for me; like Full Metal Panic!, I thought it was perfectly competent, but it didn’t seem like my cup of tea. Fast-forward a year or two later and everyone’s ridiculously psyched about this series, so it’s possible I missed something here. I’d like to go back and catch up on it before the third season premiere, but I’m already doing that with FMP, so I might not have enough time. I’m tempted to give it a shot anyway though; despite my general contrariness, for once I feel like it might be nice to be on the same hype train as everyone else.

Besides, this is the series with the frog girl, right? She’s cute. I want to know what’s going on with frog girl.

Chances I will Blog it: If I devote the time to actually catch up on it before April, then I’ll pretty much have to blog it to justify the time investment. Yes, I know that’s an example of the sunk-cost logical fallacy, but I never let logic get in the way of my aniblogging.

Card Captor Sakura: The Clear Card Arc (continuation)

I’ve been enjoying the return of Sakura, even though the show seems to lack a sense of urgency. It’s basically a pastoral slice of life show, then something weird will happen and Sakura will say “Oh right, magic exists,” she’ll capture a card, and then go back to lazy slice-of-life fun. It’s also very consistently repeating events from the original series, in a very self-aware way, which leads me to wonder what the point is.

It could just be, “Hey, remember the aquarium episode in the original series? Remember how cute it was? Well here, have another one!” but I think the show is doing something more sophisticated than that…like some magical entity is purposely making Sakura relive her card capturing adventures in order to mold her into something. So I guess it does have a sense of urgency, after all, but in a kind of odd, roundabout way?

Chances I’ll blog it: Low. If I wanted to blog this show I should have started with the winter season anyway, and as much as I love CCSak overall, I don’t know if I’d have much to say about these episodes. They’re oddly vacant….

Food Wars: The Third Plate (continuation)

I’ve been tiding myself over with Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, but I’m happy for the return of Food Porn: The Anime. There’s all sorts of drama now with Erina, Erina’s Evil Dad, Soma’s Absent Daddy, and so on and so forth, but I honestly don’t care as long as they keep preparing amazing food in ridiculous levels of detail. I’m sure some time this season will be dedicated to the plot, but honestly, the worst thing Food Wars! could do would be to start taking itself too seriously and forget that what it really is, at heart, is the show you watch when you’re trying to decide what you feel like having for dinner.

Chances I’ll blog it: High, because I’ve done it before and had fun, and because somewhere inside me is a frustrated food blogger. That frustrated food blogger usually wants to kill me for going vegan, by the way, so I should probably give her some kind of expressive outlet for my own safety.

Hoozuki’s Coolheadedness: Season 2 (continuation)

I feel guilty about this one. I really liked the first season, but when the first cour of S2 aired, I was preoccupied and didn’t get around to it. Then Sentai Filmworks decided that Amazon wasn’t their friend anymore and took all their shows off of Amazon video, and now I don’t have access to it. I guess I really need to sign up for HIDIVE one of these days.

Still, I’m excited that this show’s coming back, and I’m definitely going to catch up soon (possibly after giving myself a migraine from shotgunning FMP and MHA back-to-back?). There just isn’t any other show that meets the description of “Like Japanese Dilbert, only in Hell, with fairy tale characters and talking dogs and stuff.”

Chances I’ll blog it: Low, because I don’t feel qualified. This show draws pretty heavily from Japanese mythology, and I feel like you’d have to be pretty knowledgeable about all that rich lore to be able to do the show justice. I mean, I guess I could do actual research to write about it…waitaminute, I hate doing research…but it’s Hoozuki! I’ll do research if it’s for my darling Hoozuki…possibly? Kind of on the fence here.

Steins;Gate: 0

It’s weird: as much as I enjoyed Steins;Gate, I’m having a hard time convincing myself that I want any more of it. The other shows in the Science Adventure series that I’ve tried haven’t impressed me, and the fact that the original series was as good as it was may have been something of a fluke. It’s one of those situations where I feel like the original 24 episodes are in a perfect little world of their own and I don’t want anything else to besmirch it; a snobby opinion, perhaps, but sometimes that’s how I feel.

But I do like Okarin and Kurisu, and if I like the characters, then I should be interested in seeing more of them, right? I’ll give this a try, but if I’m not feeling good about it from the word go, I’m prepared to drop it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Seriously, if you try to talk to me about Steins;Gate 0 and I’ve stopped watching it, I’m going to play dumb and pretend I have no idea what you’re even talking about.

Chances I’ll blog it: Unless I fall in love with Okarin all over again, low.

High School DXD Hero

I’ve seen a few bits and pieces of this series here and there, but never sat down to watch it seriously. It’s a fanservice-heavy show, which isn’t an immediate bar to my watching it, but it just never seemed quite in my wheelhouse. That said, I do tend to like stories about demons and their ilk (I write about them after all), and since this series clearly isn’t going away anytime soon, maybe I should get on board?

This is what though, the fourth season of this we’re up to now? No way am I actually catching up on this the diligent way. I think I’ll watch the first episode, then read episode summaries on a wiki or something and pretend I watched it all. Only you need ever know the truth, dear readers.

Chances I’ll blog it: Low, but you never know.

Persona 5: The Animation

I really enjoyed Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4:The Golden (and come to think of it, I should do some blogging about them one of these days), so I’d love to play P5. I just don’t know when I’m going to get around to it; it’s hard to find a spare hundred hours for a meaty JRPG these days, you know? Especially when you’re spending all your free time shotgunning anime you should have already watched years ago.

I’m probably going to put this on hold until after I’ve played the game, because I want to experience the story through the game itself rather than letting an adaptation spoil that experience for me. That said, I don’t know if I’ll be able to work a P5 playthrough into my schedule until about 2033, so it’s within the realm of possibility that I will never watch this. Sigh.

Chances I’ll blog it: Low to the point of nonexistence.

Amanchu! Advance

The first season of Amanchu! was fun at times, but here’s the annoying thing about it: in a show ostensibly about scuba diving, they didn’t go scuba diving until the last episode. It made logical sense that the newbie diver needed to learn the ropes first, which is what most of the season focused on, and the show was just charming enough to get away with it, but still, it felt a little cheap.

Now, with Season 2, I don’t want to see any pussy-footing around. Those girls better get suited up and get their scuba on from the first episode, because the show is all out of excuses for lollygagging. I want to like this, but I swear, if they give us another one of those boring episodes where the kids play Red-Light-Green-Light in the school parking lot because they have nothing better to do, I’m dropping this hard.

Chances I’ll blog it: High, because if they do go scuba diving a lot I’ll want an excuse to talk about scuba diving, and if they don’t go scuba diving, I’ll want an excuse to complain about that some more– because apparently, this is a very big deal to me. I don’t know why either.

Binan Konkou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Happy Kiss

I watched the first season of this, which is about 11 more episodes of it than I should have watched. Once you get used to the idea that the show is a gender-swapped parody of Sailor Moon, there’s really not much else there; it’s basically just telling the same joke over and over again.

This is the third season, with new characters, so there’s potential for something different to happen, but I’m not expecting much. I’ll give the first episode a shot, but if it’s still doing more of the same, I see no reason to continue. Maybe it’s worth watching if seeing the guys prance around in tights works for you as fanservice (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I can’t think of another reason to watch this.

Chances I’ll blog it: negligible.

Comic Girls

For many years, I wanted to be a comic artist. The idea of being able to go live in an all-girls comic artists’ dormitory was pretty much my dream life as a teenager, so I’m more psyched for this show than just about anything else this season. If it’s good, there’s a chance it will dredge up long-buried memories of manga-drawing ambitions and I’ll be reduced to a sobbing mess on the floor by the time the credits roll, but maybe that will ultimately be good for me. After all, if you’re crying, that means you’re growing as a person or something, right?

Anyway, I hope they focus more on the manga aspect and less on the general “bunch of cute girls living in close proximity” humor, which I can get elsewhere. I’m going to be disappointed if a lot of the run time is taken up by the girls taking baths, borrowing towels, exchanging bath salts, or doing other bath-related activities. I’ve watched Hidamari Sketch, and I know how this kind of thing tends to go down.

Chances I’ll blog it: Oh, it is on like Donkey Kong. Expect 5000 word write-ups on the regular; am I kidding? HA HAH I don’t even know

Tachibana-kan to Lie Angle

This is another show about girls living in a dormitory, only without the manga angle. So this is ideally where all the bath-related plots should take place, instead of on Comic Girls’: if they want to spend the whole show bathing, making curry and dressing each other up, I’m alright with that. Everything in its right place.

That said, “girls live in dormitory, wacky hijinks ensue!” isn’t much to go on. At best we could get another HidaSketch or Kiniro Mosaic or something like that, or we might end up with something like this season’s Slow Start, functional light comedy without really standing out. Right now, all over the world, the 12 people who really like Slow Start are shaking their fists at me through the screen, I can feel it, but I will continue on, uncowed and unrepentant.

Chances I’ll blog this: Really low, unless Comic Girls pisses me off by being too generic, in which case I’ll switch to blogging this show entirely out of spite.

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

Okay so, let me get this straight…this anime is about girls, who are horses, so they have cute horsie ears and tails. And they also race, what being horses and all, and they also sing and dance and get all dressed up in pretty dresses because why not?

That’s…that’s just My Little Pony. They just re-invented My Little Pony from this weird sideways direction, but that’s what it is. Now, you could protest by saying “but My Little Pony isn’t sexual like this!” in which case you would be demonstrating profound ignorance of today’s MLP fanbase.

Shows like this usually aren’t half as outrageous as the premise makes them sound, and they’re usually the worse for it, but I’ll give it a try anyway. Maybe I’ll spin it that because I feel alienated in modern MLP fandom, this is the level I’ve been reduced to; watching adaptations of cell phone games about two-legged horse girls.

Chances I’ll blog this: Medium. It’ll be worth doing if the show actually embraces it’s own ridiculousness and really goes for it, instead of just doing the kind of lukewarm, not-really-naughty humor that could be done anywhere.

Hisone to Masotan

I saw “Air Force” in the description and figured this was going to be another one of those military girl shows, like Kantai Collection or High School Fleet. However, this show is adding a dragon to the mix. That sounds…like a really good idea, actually. How has no one thought of this before? Game of Thrones has been on for like 8 years, and it seems like writers are still kind of waking up to the idea that viewers really, really like dragons.

This one is written by Mari Okada, which might be a useful bit of info for some people, but it tells me absolutely nothing. I’ve seen Okada stuff that I thought was great, yet some of the most painfully awful anime I’ve ever seen has been Okada-penned, so she’s a wildcard. I don’t know if it’s that her quality is wildly variable, or if it has more to do with how some of her scripts have been directed, but her presence on the staff just increases the “wtf is this even and where did it come from?” factor that this show has for me.

All that aside, the art style looks reminiscent of decades past rather than the 2010s, and that intrigues me. I think they’re trying to invoke the Ghibli-classic feel here, and I’m curious to see if they can live up to it.

Magical Girl Ore

This is the first show that Crunchyroll announced for this season, so if nothing else, it’ll be easy to find. It’s a magical girl show, with a twist that the magical girl transforms into a muscular guy when she powers up. My gut feeling is that it’ll be amusing for about one episode, then become dull in the same way Binan High did. There’s something about idols and yakuza thrown in here as well, so maybe it’ll have enough zany appeal to stay fun after the premiere episode.

I have mixed feelings about these gender-bending magical girl shows. I get how they’re a natural progression of the genre in a lot of ways, and how they can be incredibly refreshing for people who are tired of traditional gender roles, and that’s all good. I just never find these shows as interesting or funny as I feel like I’m supposed to. Maybe I’m just not the target audience, and that’s okay.

Mahou Shoujo Site

This sounds a lot like Magical Girl Raising Project from a few years back: an incredibly dark, gritty magical girl show where love and children’s dreams go to die. I don’t have a problem with the recent trend of “dark and gritty” magical girl shows on principle; diversity within the genre is good, after all. But I’d be lying if I said I found any of those post-Madoka Magika shows particularly watchable. Madoka aside, which is an exceptional case on a lot of different levels, my taste in magical girl anime tends more towards the sweet and fluffy; I want to be reminded of my childhood, not convinced that my childhood was all a lie and the only way forward is the sweet release of oblivion, you know?

Still, I’ll give it a try. Maybe this show will have some element that MGRP didn’t have that will hook me.

Chances I’ll blog it: Very low.

Devil’s Line

Vampire show. I’m tempted to say “look, it’s anime Twilight!” except that would be closed-minded, right? I mean, the concept of vampires existed long, long before the Twilight boom, and to call every new property with a romance between a vampire and a human “like Twilight” is ignorant and reductive, right? Vampire literature is a broad sub-genre with it’s own tropes, and that should be respected.

Except this vampire dude saves a girl, and forms a bond with her…only, being close to her might test his stern resolve to never, ever drink human blood…

Yeah, it’s goddamned anime Twilight. Not that that’s a bad thing; this could be a lot of fun, repurposing old gifs from the Twi movies, photoshopping Robert Pattinson’s head on top of the main dude in every screenshot, etc. This could be the most fun I’ve had blogging since taking the piss out of Wizard Barristers every week. But should such behavior really be encouraged?

Chances I will blog it: High, for the wrong reasons.

Golden Kamuy

Historical; takes place shortly after the Russo-Japanese war, in Hokkaido. I had no idea this was coming out until five seconds before writing this post, but now I’m intrigued. First, you’ve got the Hokkaido factor, and once A Place Further Than the Universe completes, I’ll want another show that takes place somewhere cold and snowy. Second, the female character is Ainu, and despite many references to the Ainu and their culture, I don’t think I’ve ever watched an anime with an explicitly Ainu character; I feel like I MUST have, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

So it’s historical, it’s winter-wonderland-zoned, it’s an opportunity to learn, what more could you want? I usually hate categorizing shows into anime for smart people and dumb people (because lord knows, I am a HUGE fan of some dumb, dumb shows), but like Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, this kind of sounds like anime aimed at a more cerebral audience.

Chances I’ll blog it: High.

Piano no Mori

There’s an old piano in the forest and a poor kid plays it, then a rich kid wants to play it but the magical forest piano doesn’t like him as much, maybe? I’m a little unclear on whether the piano is magical or not. I’ll confess, my main interest in this show is the fact that the preview describes one of the characters as “practically breast-fed by the piano as the son of a family of prestigious pianists,” and now I can’t stop wondering what it would look like for a Grand Piano to breastfeed someone. Would you put the baby on the keys, or…?

At the very least, this show will probably be really interesting for people who have experience playing piano; how much appeal it’ll have beyond that, I wonder. Supposedly the manga is highly-regarded and it’s already been adapted into a successful film version, so there’s probably something interesting going on here. I feel like this one is easy to overlook among all the flashier stuff this season, so I’m going to try to give it a proper chance to hook me.

Chances I’ll blog it: low.

Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzuashii

This covers a romance between two otaku, a fujoshi and a gamer. My immediate thought is that it’s in friendly competition with Recovery of an MMO Junkie for the title of sweetest romcom between two nerds, but maybe sweetness isn’t even what it’s going for; we’ll see. On the plus side, unlike MMO Junkie, chances are the director of this one isn’t an absolute raging anti-Semite, so that’s a step in the right direction.

I want to be excited for this, because it could be really entertaining if done well, but something inside me is urging caution. I mean, I’m an otaku who married another otaku, so it would be nice to see that dynamic explored, but I don’t know if this is going to be the series to properly do it.

Chances I’ll blog it: Medium-high, since I can probably use posts about this show to rant about the otaku stuff going on in my own life and make it seem like I’m staying on topic, almost.

Alice or Alice

This is the show this season for people with Lolita complexes, because there’s always one. It’s only relevance to me is that it’ll act like a black hole of negativity, drawing all the self-righteous contempt and vitriol of the entire anime blogosphere to it, like moths to a flame, then hopefully I can watch the shit I want to watch in relative peace.

Okay, maybe that’s not fair. Just because the show has lolicon doesn’t mean it has nothing else to offer; a lot of shows appeal to the loli-loving demographic while providing something else to a different audience (Non Non Biyori immediately comes to mind.) But the fact that the show also appears to be an incest fantasy makes it hard for me to imagine that it’s going to offer much outside of taboo sexual situations.

And don’t get me wrong, if that’s your thing, that’s fine; I know a lot of people enjoy depictions of taboo situations because they’re taboo, and it doesn’t mean they condone the same behavior in real life. But this show is targeted at a specific audience that I am not a part of.

Chances I’ll blog it: Low, unless a secret lolicon billionaire gets involved and pays me to document the exploits of the two Alices. C’mon, Mark Zuckerberg, you know you want it.

Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi

I feel like I’ve already seen this show about fifteen times, probably because I’ve seen so many shows that take place in and around Shinto shrines. This seems like a Shinto shrine show crossed with The Ancient Magus Bride, meaning it’s creepy, and we’re all kind of on the fence about whether or not it’s creepy in a good, self-aware “we are examining the psychological ramifications of this creepiness” way, or just plain regular creepy. I have a feeling the fact that one of the neighborhood demons wants to take the main girl as his bride isn’t going to come up much after the first episode, but that plot point is going to effect how a lot of people judge this show early on.

Forced marriage aside, I tend to like these kinds of supernatural shrine-hijinks shows, so I’m cautiously enthusiastic for this one. With any luck it’ll be a slightly more adult version of Gingitsune, because I’ll watch anything that’s similar to Gingitsune.

Amai Choubatsu: Watashi wa Kanshu Senyou Pet

Wait, I was wrong before: THIS is the show that’s going to draw all the vitriol of animebloggers. Because unlike Alice or Alice, which at least deals with a specific fetish of a relatively small group, this show looks like it actually deals with female sexuality, and nothing scares culture bloggers half as much as female sexuality.

As the “pet” of a sadistic prison guard, the protagonist of this story is being dominated by a handsome man, which is a fantasy for many, many women. However, rather than acknowledging that this fantasy exists, and has logical reasons for existing, people are going to freak out that the show is “teaching” young girls that they want to be dominated. That is bass-ackwards, but whatever, let’s just pretend this is a problem with the mass media brainwashing girls. Never mind the fact that Wuthering Heights was a pretty big thing back before there was a lot of media around, and all of this stuff is ultimately derivative of Wuthering Heights and other gothic romances from that era.

To be honest, the show itself sounds like it’ll probably be pretty boring, unless you’re really into this particular fantasy; I doubt I’ll watch past the first episode. But it bugs me a little that it’s probably going to get critically crucified for the wrong reasons.

Chances I’ll blog this: Low, unless other anibloggers absolutely lose their shit condemning this show, in which case I will begin waving a flag of support just to be a pain in the ass. Sometimes, I can be a petty person.

Butlers: Chitose Momotose Monogatari

I have mixed feelings about this. It’s a show about handsome butlers, one of whom is a specialist in cafe latte art(!), but they also travel through time and fight supernatural battles and stuff. It’s like, can’t I just have a show about handsome butlers working in a cafe, serving delicious coffee? Why do they have to have superpowers and shit? You’re trying too hard!

Hopefully the show will win me over to the point that I actually enjoy the supernatural aspect and don’t just see it as a wasted opportunity to explore the refined world of handsome men in nice suits making latte art. I want to make some sort of comment here about how a show about butlers being butlers should be enough, but then again, the last anime that focused on maids was also about giant dragons fighting each other with god-tier magic, so maybe this is something about anime that I just have to accept.

Chances I’ll blog it: High. This wasn’t something I was really anticipating until just now, but something tells me this might be a lot of fun to cover.

Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori

…Oh. Here’s another show about handsome men serving drinks, so maybe I shouldn’t be so upset that Butlers won’t spend all it’s time on coffee shop life.

It’s four hot guys working in a tea shop, so due to the Immutable Law of Karen that I will watch any anime that takes place in a coffee shop, I am contractually obligated to watch all of this (and yes, I know it’s a tea shop and not a coffee shop, but c’mon.) I’m expecting a soothing, healing anime with a healthy side of food porn, and I’ll be a little miffed if I don’t get exactly that.

Chances I’ll blog this: Low, because I’ll probably have more to say about Butlers and doing both could be redundant.

Waka Okami wa Shougakusei

A young girl loses her parents and is forced to move into her grandma’s hot spring inn, where she learns to take over the family business. This sounds a lot like the premise of Hanasaku Iroha, a very pretty and extraordinarily tedious show from a few years back that I watched all of, for some reason. The art style leads me to believe that this show is going to be a bit more energetic than Hanasaku Iroha, which can only be a good thing. It also has ghosts, which is probably a plus, assuming the ghosts bathe in the hot springs at some point.

It seems like there’s going to be a lot of overlap between this show and Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi, with this one targeted a little younger. That said, the two shows could be very different tonally, so the similarities may be superficial.

Chances I’ll blog it: Low. I’m actually looking forward to watching it, but I don’t think it’s going to lend itself to posting. We’ll see.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai

“Mitsuyoshi Tada, a boy who has never known love, is taking pictures of the cherry blossoms in full bloom when he meets Teresa Wagner, a transfer student from Luxembourg. Upon arriving in Japan, she got lost, separated from her travel companion. Mitsuyoshi helps her and brings her to his grandfather’s coffee shop.”

COFFEE SHOP!? I’m on it!

It looks like a really cute romance story. Now, the question is, will it be centered around said grandfather’s coffee shop? Or do they just go to the coffee shop once or twice? I have no way of knowing yet, but I know I need to find out.

Chances I’ll blog it: Medium. I didn’t have plans for it before checking out the PV, but it just looks really pretty and soothing.

Jikken-hin Kazoku: Creatures Family Days

Crazy-abusive scientist parents turn their kids into demi-humans, and after they get arrested, the one normal kid has to try to teach the others how to integrate into human society….

…well. That’s a premise you don’t see everyday.

I would say this is just another show in the Cute Monster Girls subgenre, except one of the kids is a monster boy, so that’s novel. I’m kind of intrigued by the parents: what was their motivation for experimenting on their own children? Why did they think they were justified in doing so? Unfortunately I think the parents are going to be shuffled off into a dark corner (which, to be fair, is where they belong) while the monster-kids take the spotlight, so I’ll probably never get answers to my questions.

Chances I’ll blog it: Low. It could be a perfectly fine comedy/slice of life with supernatural characters, but the stuff I actually find interesting about the premise is probably going to be ignored on the show. I will be happy to be proven wrong about that, however.

Caligula

A virtual idol gains sentience based on feedback from her users, decides humanity is suffering, and traps humans inside a dream world to save them from their suffering. *sigh*

No, I’m not sighing because that sounds bad. Actually, I think the premise is intriguing and has a lot of potential. It’s just that ambitious, high-concept anime always seem to disappoint me lately, and the stuff that really resonates with me has a super-dull premise like “four girls hang out in the country” or “two MMO players form a relationship.” Girls Last Tour was high-concept, but that’s the odd exception.

I’ll try it to see if it has anything to offer, but I’m expecting it to feel pretentious and kind of boring from early on.

Chances I’ll blog it: So low.

3D Kanojo: Real Girl

An otaku ends up dating a gorgeous girl, mayhem ensues. Sounds innocuous enough, except for the references to “rough waves that beat the otaku out of him.” I really hope they’re exaggerating there, because I do not want to see otaku get beat out of anyone. Also, the capsule description includes “This is sure to be THE comedy program of 2018 that you won’t want to miss!”, which makes me want to snub it on principle.

I’m hoping the show is actually good and it’s just the people responsible for marketing it that are getting over-zealous. In a way, I think I’d prefer it if the MC gave up his hobbies to please his girlfriend, because that would be wrong, and the wrongness would make the show stand out; right now I’m expecting a painfully generic romcom with copious references to “save points” and “flags.”

Chances I’ll blog it: Only if it’s so horrible that so-bad-it’s-good applies…which means there’s a decent chance, actually.

Koneko no Chii Ponpora Dairyokou

I love the anime for Chi’s Sweet Home, and I own the manga in its entirety. To be honest though, I’m a little weirded out by Chi in 3D. It’s still really cute, but for some reason I don’t find myself wanting to watch it anywhere near as much as the original. This is the second season of Chi-in-3D, and I’m still not caught up on the first season, so it’s not high on my priority list.

That said, this is one of the few anime my daughter is familiar with, and will even ask for specifically by yelling “Kitty Cat!”, and for that reason alone, it has a prominent place in my life right now. I’m probably not going to watch it as it airs, but you can be pretty darn sure it’s going to be playing in my house eventually.

Chances I’ll blog it: There’s a better chance that my 2-year-old will write about this one, but don’t count her out; she knows all her letters and everything. She’ll probably be taking over this blog by next year.


So, what do you guys think? Does it look like a good season, or just a bunch of hype that isn’t going to amount to much? Is anyone mad that I totally ignored all the sports anime? Please tell me you’re not mad, I know sports anime is important and stuff but it’s just, this post was getting SOOooo long and just looking at pictures of people kicking soccer balls and stuff was making me feel really tired.

Winter 2018 Anime Impressions, Part II

This season, I find myself gravitating towards slice-of-life shows and comedies more than anything else. I know there are action shows this season that are getting people excited, but I just don’t feel the urge to watch that kind of thing right now. Maybe it’s because there’s some challenging stuff going on in my life that makes me long for the anime equivalent of comfort food, or maybe I’m just not in the mood for giant robots doing fisticuffs.

Perhaps I’ll check in with some of the flashier, high-profile shows sometime midseason, but for now, here’s the rest of the warm-and-fuzzy stuff I’ve been cozying up to.

Card Captor Sakura: Clear Card Arc– It’s impressive how good the art and animation was in the original series back in the late ’90s, because this show simultaneously looks state-of-the-art and just like the CCS you remember. Yes, there’s a bit more detail and the CGI effects for the magic are more sophisticated, but it just feels like proper CCS on some level I can’t explain– as opposed to say, Sailor Moon Crystal, which always seemed a bit off to me.

I read a little bit of the manga for this arc while it was running in Nakayoshi, and it kind of seemed like same-old, same old. Oh noes, the cards have changed again and Sakura has to hunt them all down, how can this beeeeeee? Still, it’s interesting to see the cards becoming more aggressive, like Windy becoming “Gale.” If there’s some larger theme about the stakes escalating as you get older, I’ll be impressed.

Really, the only thing I don’t like is the fact that they’ve added about a foot to Sakura’s height. I know this was to be expected, but dammit, it’s Sakura! I never wanted her to grow up to be a CLAMP Noodle Person! I feel like Sakura’s original design was like the Golden Mean or something, it was the essence of perfection the way it was and messing with it is just stupid.

“But she’s in middle school now!” you say? Yeah I don’t care, too busy making Short Sakura-chan FOREVER banners to plaster all over my neighborhood.

School Babysitters– Moe shows (or shows with cute-appeal for the uninitiated) harness our natural desire to love and protect children to get the viewers to have feelings for the characters; usually moe characters aren’t young children, but they have sufficiently childlike proportions that our protective instinct is invoked. What’s special about a show like School Babysitters is that since it’s actually about really young kids, you’re kind of cutting out the middle man: straight-up cuteness without having to do the mental gymnastics to convince yourself that everyone is really in high school or whatever.

This kind of show defies analysis, at least at this point; it’s just a piece of feel-good mind candy that makes the world a slightly better place whenever you watch it. The only thing that mars the perfection is the fact that one character hits his kid brother– and I don’t mean a spanking (where at least you are bonking the kid on their natural shock-absorber), but he hits the kid in the head. Kind of disturbing, but considering the fact that the hitting clearly creates more behavior problems than it solves, it doesn’t seem like the show is condoning this behavior; more just acknowledging that it happens.

One nitpick is that several of the kids in the daycare program look like one-year-olds and speak more like three-year-olds, but that’s the kind of thing only viewers with kids will probably notice or care about. I’m still a little bitter about Hanamaru Kindergarten from years ago, so maybe this will be the show about adorable little rugrats that pulls out all the stops.

Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san– Kind of weird that there’s no official English title for this one. This has a really simple premise: a clever girl teases the boy sitting next to her. Unbeknownst to him (but totes benownst to us) Takagi actually really likes the object of her torment, Nishikata. Nevertheless, liking him doesn’t stop her from messing with his head in every conceivable way.

This show reminds me of Tonari no Seki-kun, with it’s emphasis on two kids goofing off in the back of the classroom. However, whereas the genius of Seki-kun was that it was ambiguous how much Seki-kun was actually trying to distract Rumi, and how much he was just amusing himself, the deliberate nature of Takagi’s teasing can get kind of annoying. Considering the amount of mental anguish Nishikata goes through trying to anticipate how she’ll torture him next, sometimes she just seems like a cold bully instead of a charming scamp.

Still, considering how ingenious Takagi’s schemes are, it’s probably for the best; if she weren’t so busy teasing her crush, she’d probably be hatching supervillain-level plots to take over the world. Way to take one for the team, Nishikata.

Anyway, this one is in the “maybe I’ll keep up with it if I’m in the mood” pile. Whether or not I watch it probably depends on how nostalgic for Tonari no Seki-kun I’m feeling on any particular day.

Sanrio Boys– Considering that I was expecting this show to feel like a commercial for Sanrio products, it’s doing a pretty good job telling an actual story, albeit a simple one. I mean yeah, it is a commercial for Sanrio merch, but the main character spends the first two episodes going through an actual emotional arc and everything. Add the fact that it’s exploring the feelings of teen boys who enjoy things that are considered non-masculine, and how they reconcile that with their still-emerging gender identity, and there’s some genuinely interesting stuff here. All shows that are meant to pimp tiny little erasers and keychains should only be half this interesting.

All that said, I have personal baggage here that makes it difficult to fully enjoy Sanrio Boys. As far as I’m concerned, Badtz-Maru, the grumpy penguin, is the best Sanrio character by a country mile, and all of the other ones are just taking up space that should rightfully belong to my Badtz. As I write this, there is a Badtz-Maru plushie staring at me from the exalted shelf meant for Special Toys that Little Hands Are Not To Touch.

GREATEST. BOY
BEST. BOY.

So when the guys on this show go on about their love for Pompompurin, or Hello Kitty, it’s like, hello, aren’t you forgetting someone?!? They’ve shown Badtz-Maru briefly (in a scene using live-action footage from a Sanrio store), but he’s clearly not a favorite for any of the boys on the show, thus will likely play a diminished role, if any; we’ll be lucky to see him show up in group shots with all the Sanrio characters. He’ll probably be standing behind Keroppi and we’ll only see like, one of his hair spikes sticking out or something.

So, uh, on the one hand, this show is a pleasant surprise; on the other hand, they are not focusing on my favorite Sanrio character and thus should be punished severely. I haven’t yet figured out how this punishment will be meted out, but trust me, it will occur.

…crap, I’m going to end up buying Sanrio merchandise again thanks to this show, won’t I? Goddammit.

 

Winter 2018 Anime Impressions, Part 1

It still kind of takes me by surprise just how much new anime there is each quarter. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but when I look at Crunchyroll’s list of updated titles at the beginning of the season, I find myself saying “Wait, that’s out? And that’s out? And that too? These are all airing this season? They’re using up all the anime, there won’t be any left for next season!” Apparently it doesn’t work that way.

I’ve watched a bunch, and still only sampled maybe half of what I’m interested in trying from this Winter Smörgåsbord; here’s what I’ve caught so far. If you’re going to use this post to help evaluate what you plan on watching, keep in mind that my biases include cute things, food porn, and uh…actually, I’m sure I must have more biases, but those are the only two that come immediately to mind.

Laid-Back Camp— My overriding thought concerning this show is “Hey, I’ll bet I can get my Dad to watch this with me!” which makes it hard to focus on much else. Still, I think there’s a little bit of a conflict here between the comfy, relaxing mood the show has going on and the inevitable cute girl antics.

Whenever main gal Rin is out camping, looking at the beautiful scenery, you feel like you can smell the smoke from the campfire, feel the warmth of being all bundled up in long underwear and sleeping bags, and the bracing, invigorating chill of cold, clean mountain air on your face, and it’s just lovely. It’s experiencing the best parts of camping without having to deal with bugs and dirt. Then the other girls come on and act quirky or whatever and you kind of want them to just shut the hell up and let Rin camp in peace. However, this is clearly a deliberate choice (especially because even Rin herself acknowledges it), so I have hope that the show is going to get better at marrying it’s soothing elements with it’s genki-girl shtick.

A Place Further Than the Universe—  As much as I dislike icy roads, single-digit temperatures and having to deal with piles of snow, cold-weather tourism has a huge romantic appeal to me. I’ve read all about the Ice Hotel in Sweden, and the idea of going to Lapland, Iceland, or even Greenland, is something I think about often. Unless I get over my huge fear of flying, I’m never going to get anywhere near that whole region, but hey…there’s nothing wrong with imagining it.

I’ve never really felt a pull to go to Antarctica though. Penguins are awesome and all, but I think the fact that it’s just so remote is what renders it unappealing to me. If you go north, even pretty far to the north you’ll still find cities and towns where people live, albeit sparsely. There are no towns in Antarctica; I mean, maybe I’m mistaken, but unless I’ve missed something in the past ten years, no one goes to Antarctica and comes back raving about what great restaurants they have there. It’s something apart from human culture, like the surface of the moon.

This show is almost in my wheelhouse, since I relate to the wanting- to-go to-a-mysterious-far-away-cold-place aspect, but I’m having trouble getting psyched about the girls going to Antarctica in particular. So far it’s well-written and well-produced, with the chase scene in episode 2 a particular stand out, but I’m not completely sold yet. I think the test of whether this show succeeds will be if I start to find the idea of going to Antarctica exciting myself, instead of just wishing the show was about a group of girls going to northern Finland.

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles  This sounds like a bad idea on paper: a Food Wars!-like show that features people having foodgasms, except they can only eat one type of food. Why would you do that? Why would you make a food porn show based on only one food, and make it a full-length, 12-episode series no less? This seems like the kind of thing that might work as a 3-minute short, if that.

The first episode was pretty dull, but after the second, I think I might be on board Ms. Koizumi’s little train here, perhaps against my better judgment. The characters are better defined than they usually are in this type of show, and there’s more nuance to the world of ramen than noodle-neophytes might think. At first I couldn’t imagine how they were going to get 12 whole episodes out of this concept, but now? I think I get it. The show is trying to do something pretty simple (decent character interaction +constant ramen facts!), but what it sets out to do, it succeeds at…I think? Maybe I’m just giving it a pass because I’m hungry.

Who am I kidding? I’m a vegan now and the only way I get to enjoy meat is when I watch anime characters eat it, so I’m going to watch all 12 episodes of Koizumi stuffing her face with pork-and-chorizo ramen, then I’m going to watch it all again. If you can actually eat ramen in real life, you probably have little use for this show (and I’m trying very hard not to hate you right now), so keep that in mind.

Dagashi Kashi 2— Speaking of food shows that shouldn’t work, here we have a second season of Dagashi Kashi, the show about cheap candy and snacks that usually don’t look very appetizing. At least the Japanese audience has nostalgia for these products, but for foreigners, we lack that powerful childhood connection. In theory, the show doesn’t have much to offer the international audience.

And yet, I found the first season of this show absolutely delightful two years ago. Maybe it’s the characters; maybe it’s the fact that I want to live in a world where penny candy could possibly make anyone this happy. For whatever reason, they could probably make  12 seasons of Dagashi Kashi and I’d be cool with it. I was a little concerned with the change to half-length episode format, but if anything, cutting down the running time seems to have improved matters; they have just enough time to freak out over the latest fried octopus flavored gobstopper or whatever, then it’s on to the next thing.

I feel like I should have some sort of comment on the change to Hotaru’s design, but honestly? Unless I’m looking at screenshots side-by-side, I can’t tell the difference. So sue me.

The Ryou’s Work is Never Done!It has to take a certain amount of chutzpah to put out another show about shogi during the same season as March Comes In Like A Lion, right? I mean, let’s face it, even if Ryou does really well for itself, it’s always going to be “that other anime about shogi with cute girls in it.”

Right now though, anything else the show might have to offer is overshadowed by the 4497th incidence of the Loli Controversy: the show has a young girl in it who is sometimes depicted with non-detailed nudity, and even though no real children are involved isn’t this just edging dangerous close to child porn, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s something worth discussing in there somewhere, but this happens so often that the fact that it’s even a controversy anymore is kind of strange to me.

Hey, speaking of lolis, who else remembers the original Lolita, a.k.a. Dolores Haze, lust object of one Humbert Humbert? And how the genius of Lolita is, even though a child is raped every day from the age of 10 onwards, the reader is seduced by Humbert to some degree, and thus is made to feel somewhat complicit in Lo’s situation? So that, at the end of the book, while you’d like to just write off HH as a total monster that you have zero sympathy for, you just can’t, and that opens up a Pandora’s box of uncomfortable questions?

I’m not trying to argue that this show, or any of its contemporaries are on an artistic par with Lolita; that’s ridiculous, and also not the point. The point is, we have all these shows with “lolis” in them, named after a character in the most deliberately, brilliantly offensive and disturbing book of all time, and people are still complaining that these “loli”-themed shows make them uncomfortable. Shall we also complain that swimming pools are too wet, deserts too dry, Godiva truffles too chocolatey?

I don’t plan to continue watching this show, since Lion provides all the hot shogi-explaining action a girl could possibly need. But I find the dialogue surrounding it kind of sad, and it’s only going to get worse once they do a beach episode or something. Get ready for “But real 9-year-old-girls wear bathing suits just like one Ai was wearing all the time!” “Yeah but that DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT!” and so on and so forth. Ack.

Slow Start— This is an interesting experiment in just how minimal an anime premise can be before it ceases to have any premise at all beyond “cute girls are friends.” The hook here is that the main character missed her high school entrance exam and had to take it the next year, so she’s secretly one year older than everyone else in her grade. She’s trying to hide it, but considering that this is perhaps the least juicy dark secret anyone could possibly have, it’s hard to feel invested in what’s going to happen if anyone finds out.

It’s not bad; if you find it soothing to watch cute girls eat boxed lunches and do sports and stuff, this show has that. There’s some humor, and some maybe-they’re-really-lesbians teasing. The animation is above-average, at least so far. It’s just that there’s really no reason to recommend this show over pretty much any other show that features girls in a school setting. Three Leaves, Three Colors didn’t really have much of a premise beyond “girls are friends,” but made up for it with characters who were really fun to watch. I don’t think Slow Start has that, which is a bit of a shame.

How to Keep A Mummy I had no idea this show existed until I saw it on Crunchyroll, and I’m glad I fell over it. It’s about a tiny little mummy creature who’s incredibly cute, and you just want to go “awwww!” and hug him about 100 times in the first episode. It’s possible this trick will get old, but I’m a sucker for tiny little cute things and will probably keep saying “awww!” throughout the entire season.

However, based on the OP, there will be more monster characters, so the show should have a lot more going on than just cuteness appeal. I would say moe appeal, except Mii-kun barely even has eyes, and I’m not sure if it counts as moe without big eyes. I need the International Moe Council to revise their guidelines on this.


So, what do you guys think of these seasonal posts that cover a whole bunch of anime at once? I know that for SEO purposes, I’d be much better off doing a separate post for each show, but never in my life have I done anything that’s good for SEO; why start now?

Okay, I shouldn’t joke about that, MAYBE doing things to improve the visibility of my blog would be good, but for now, I like my stupidly impractical 2000-word posts. Life is hard, let me please have this one thing?

The Frustration of Urahara

I don’t know if calling Urahara a disappointment is really fair. I could pretty much tell everything I didn’t like about it from the very beginning, and though I kept watching in the hopes that the show would get better, I never honestly believed it was going to. So I never really held it in high enough esteem for it to disappoint me. Still, watching it was a frustrating experience, because it could have been so much more.

Considering how little discussion there was online about the show as it was airing (at least in among the English-speaking anime fandom), you would think it was just a bland, boring show that didn’t have much to offer. However, there were some pretty cool ideas in Urahara; the premise of these super cute, super-competent girls protecting their Tokyo neighborhood from creepy supernatural threats, all while learning important lessons about the power of friendship, sounded like some kind of strange union of Card Captor Sakura and Durarara!!, and what’s not to like about that? That sounds like it has the potential to be one of those high-value combinations, like peanut butter and chocolate. Plus, some of the plot twists late in the show were, if not necessarily shocking, quite ballsy for their willingness to mess around with the show’s world.

In addition, this show was singled out as one to watch because of it’s largely female creative staff; it was the show that was supposed to impress on us the “importance” of women working in anime, at least according to the now-defunct Teen Vogue. And this is where things start to get a little weird and uncomfortable, because it was the whole feminine approach to things that seems to have really sunk the show.

Now, how do I explain this without sounding like an awful, self-hating woman? I mean, it’s not like having a feminine perspective, or a feminine style, is bad in any way; that should go without saying. It’s just that in Urahara‘s case, they took that whole angle so far, it started to feel like an outright parody of a feminine anime. Like, if you got a bunch of really obnoxious misogynists together, got them all hopped up on beer, and asked them “So, what would happen if we let a bunch of chicks make an anime?”, they would very quickly start describing something that sounds a lot like Urahara.

“LOL okay so like, girls can’t do math and they hate using rulers and T-squares and shit, so the backgrounds in the anime would be all scribbling and wonky, with bad perspective. And they’re lazy too, so they wouldn’t bother to draw any PEOPLE in those backgrounds., so the world would feel all dead and empty. And the character design would suck, because chicks wouldn’t be willing to make the girl chars look sexy, but they wouldn’t know any other way to make the designs pop, so every design would just be like, whatever, like why did you even bother?

“And chicks are obsessed with sweets, like cakes and stuff, so the villains would probably turn into cupcakes or some shit at the end of every episode. Oh, and like half the chicks making the anime would probably be pregnant too, so instead of having normal flavors like ‘vanilla’ and ‘chocolate’ they’d always be going on about ‘coriander sweet potato’ or ‘spicy peppermint horseradish’ or some other weird thing. Oh, and chicks can’t make decisions for shit, so instead of having a dedicated color palette, they would just use EVERY. SINGLE. COLOR. all the time, until your eyes wanted to explode–”

Ahem. Now, it should also go without saying that Urahara is not actually indicative of women’s contributions to anime; plenty of talented women professionals have been working in the field for years, blah blah blah obviouscakes. But I guess it’s kind of like a monkeys-on-typewriters situation; if you have enough anime coming out each year, and a certain percentage of them are poor quality, you will eventually get an anime that is poor quality in exactly the way a basement full of inebriated misogynists might predict, right? I guess it was bound to happen at least once.*

Moving aside from the weird gender angle, there were other problems. Considering the fact that the character relationships were about as deep as a puddle, the show was clearly going for style over substance, and there’s nothing wrong with that– certainly not in animation, where the style can become the substance if done right. However, for the style-over-substance approach to work, the show would actually need to have good style, which is where the show repeatedly failed. The pastel colors were nice, but most of the character designs just weren’t very good; the outfits looked goofy instead of fashionable, which is inexcusable in a show that was supposed to be at least partially about fashion.

Somewhere out there, I know there are people who think that these designs are good and go well together. I wish I could see what these people are seeing.

This is of course highly subjective, but to me, the only really good character design on the show was Misa; everyone else, particularly the girls in their magical-girl attire, ranged from dull to embarrassing. Plus, as mentioned above, the fact that there didn’t seem to be any guidelines in regard to color (beyond “Anything Pastel is Automatically Fine”) often led to a cacophonous viewing experience.

The emptiness of the show’s backgrounds not only made the show’s world feel hollow, but actually undermined one of the story’s greatest moments. Late in the game, the Urahara girls find out that everyone they’ve been interacting with in Harajuku since episode one has been a product of their imaginations; they’ve been alone in the city this whole time. This should have been a pretty stunning revelation, but it was hard to feel anything about it at all, since it had always felt like the girls were completely alone in the city. Other characters were shown, but so few and far between that it felt like the population of Harajuku was about 6 people, so the revelation that the city was actually empty fell completely flat.

And that’s what made the show so frustrating; every good idea seemed to be canceled out by a bad one. Another plot twist, the fact that the sweets the girls had been eating were slowly turning them into the evil Scooper aliens, is pretty nifty if you think about it. Think about the Scoopers’ plan here: They planned to let the girls defeat their soldiers, knowing that the girls wouldn’t be able to resist eating the corpses of their enemies, at which point they would be reprogrammed into Scoopers themselves, giving the Scoopers unlimited access to the girl’s creativity. That’s a pretty creepy, evil plan, and it served as a nice “gotcha!” for everyone who wrote off the enemies-turning-into-sweets thing as a harmless joke.

But by the time we’d gotten to that point of the story, the characters still had yet to come alive beyond very basic character outlines, so the fact that the evil corpse-eating plan was succeeding didn’t even seem to matter. What would have happened if the girls really had turned into Scoopers, anyway? Presumably, they would have flown off with Misa and her peons, to go inhabit another pastel world that would be strangely devoid of life. There’s no feeling of urgency, even when the story is giving us reasons why there arguably should be.

All this aside, I did like the show’s message about creativity. The general “Being creative is fun and good!” vibe is hardly original, but the way this works in regard to the Scoopers is interesting. It becomes clear over the course of the show that the Scoopers (whose primary activity is stealing culture from other planets because they can’t make their own) actually do have the capacity to be creative, they just don’t realize it. I wonder, how many people have that problem in real life? How many people go around thinking “I wish I could make something cool, but I’m not a creative type of person,” and never realize that there’s nothing stopping them from taking out a pencil and paper and changing that?

The idea that creativity is as much about choice as it is an innate quality is a more unusual message, and to its credit, the show even acknowledges the important role that copying other art plays in the process of learning to create your own stuff (and does so a lot more explicitly than it deals with any other theme, curiously). But in the end, it’s still a show populated by boring characters that we don’t care about; I should be psyched wondering what kind of creative stuff Misa and her clan will come up with when they go off to explore the universe with new vigor, but I just don’t care. It feels like Misa will provide the solar system with some shiny beaded necklaces, or maybe a knitted tea cozy, and that’s nice for her and all, but it’s nothing to get excited about.

That’s the tiny tragedy of Urahara; A show about creative artists fighting aliens, who worship creativity but are unable to recognize it in themselves, filled with over-the-top action and whimsy, should have been a delight to watch, and it just wasn’t. Every season there are anime that fall short of their potential, but I feel like it’s rare to see one that had so much going for it on paper fail on so many different levels. The sad thing isn’t even that Urahara could have been good; the sad thing is that if it had been good, it would have been something really unusual and charming. It’s still unusual, and not entirely devoid of its own peculiar charm, but only a shadow of what it could have been.

*I almost wrote about this show on Anime Misogynist, but that would have required some Galaxy Brain-level, crossing-the-line-three-times shit. I couldn’t figure out how to criticize Urahara, with complaints that sounded like they came from an actual misogynist, on a site that was all about the inherent ridiculousness of using misogyny as a critical perspective. If I’d managed to pull that off, I might have ascended to a higher plane of existence and be writing to you from Ironic Blogger Heaven right now, but I am just not that awesome, and so here we are.

 

 

Fall 2017 Anime Impressions

Since I’ve been watching more anime than usual lately, I figured I may as well take advantage of it and talk about the new shows like a proper Aniblogger. Here are my takes on some of this season’s offerings; keep in mind I only watch shows that are available on legal streaming services. This is less of an anti-piracy stance, and more of a “I am too goddamned old to be dealing with malware on my computer from dling torrents,” stance, but let’s all pretend it’s because of my unimpeachable moral compass.

Urahara– This show puts me in a bind; I really like what I think it’s trying to do, but it’s just not working. The washed-out color palette, the intentionally wonky hand-drawn backgrounds, the surrealist feel, the enemies that turn into candy when defeated? I love all of that. But somehow the designs and the art style just don’t seem to work together, and the story has all the urgency of watching paint dry. It’s just so nonsensical that it’s impossible to care about anything that’s happening; it also doesn’t help that the magical girl designs are the absolute worst part of the show.

Right now it feels like a half-baked version of Flip Flappers, a show that often felt surreal but managed to maintain a sense that what the characters were doing actually mattered on some level. I’m probably going to stick with it, just because I like some of the things the show is experimenting with, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for bailing out; it’s pretty much an incomprehensible, silly mess right now.

Anime-Gataris– There was something off about the art in the first episode that made me wonder if this was the studio’s first anime, but it turns out Wao World, the studio responsible for Gataris’ animation production, is prolific. The production company, DMM Pictures, is new, but I’m not sure how much that actually matters. The director, Kenshirou Mori, has relatively few credits, but one of them is the first episode of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. So, not exactly a newbie.

Normally I stay away from this kind of inside-baseball approach to anime, because I don’t know much about what goes on in production, but something about this show really made me want to try to figure out what the hell was going on. It looked like the show was made by people who had watched anime and taken a lot of notes, but had never actually made it before; there was something just slightly off-kilter about the colors, the shading, the backgrounds, etc. Even the piece of stock animation that Arisu uses to summon her butler looks like it was made in 1998. By the second episode, things had smoothed out a bit, but I’m still wondering if the weird look the show started with was a real phenomenon, or if I’m just hallucinating.

In terms of the story, there isn’t much to discuss. It’s a show about people talking about anime, so it runs on in-jokes and nods to otaku culture. The main thing it has going for it is that it’s making nods to very recent shows, so it’s more topical than these in-jokey shows tend to be. I’m going to keep watching it, but it doesn’t have a lot to offer unless you’ve been actively following anime for the last year or so.

The Ancient Magus Bride– I have to admit, I was distracted during this show because I couldn’t help wondering what Anime Feminist was going to think of it. A young girl sells herself into slavery, to a huge monster dude who calls her pet names and treats her like a dog? Including forcibly bathing her? How could the show itself possibly compete with the entertainment value of feminists having a complete meltdown over it?

Turns out, the person who reviewed it for AniFem has read the manga, so was able to reassure feminists that the sundry “red flags” in this episode are not truly indicative of the story’s overall quality. You would think this experience would lead AniFem to question their policy of “Screen all first episodes for problematic content and judge them accordingly,” but apparently not. Remember, I may defend AniFem’s right to exist, but that doesn’t mean I have to think that anything they publish is any good.

Oh right, I just wasted time talking about another anime blog and not the show itself. So far, it’s high quality overall, but it’s a bit of a cypher to me…I need to see more before forming an opinion, which is rare for me because having opinions tends to be one of my strengths, really. I think I was just too distracted by wondering about how this show was going to be perceived to pay enough attention to the substance of it, and that’s on me, not The Ancient Magus Bride.

Blend S– One of the Immutable Laws of Karen is that I will watch any anime that takes place in a coffee shop; keep in mind that I have watched not just one, but both seasons of Is the Order a Rabbit?, making me quite possibly the only straight woman on Earth who has done so. Maybe it’s my love for coffee in general, maybe it’s pure nostalgia for Polar Bear Cafe, but this is The Law; I must watch all of Blend S, because it takes place in a coffee shop. It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible.

Fortunately, it’s not terrible. The premise sounds like it’s going to be toying with some S&M vibes (since the main character is roleplaying a sadist as part of her gig at the cafe), but right now it’s very reminiscent of the lighthearted workplace comedy of Working! and its sequels. The whole S&M hook is really just a tease so far, since the humor is about as adult, as err….well, Working! The only slimy thing about it is how Maika’s boss continually hits on her, which is only really objectionable if you’re on the “anime must never depict anything that would not be acceptable IN REAL LIFE” train. I don’t know why anyone gets on that train, it’s a boring-ass train.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie– Another anime about people who spend much of their lives inside an MMO, although this one has an unusually adult take on it. Instead of teenagers and college students, the characters on this show are definitely old enough to drink, so they can drink screwdrivers in front of the computer while they wonder why they’re wasting their lives grinding for levels. (No one has actually done this one the show yet BTW, but it seems like something they would do.)

It’s gender-swapped, with the female character playing a male avatar in the MMO and vice versa, and it looks like it’s mainly going to focus on the romance between the lead characters. Normally, I would expect betrayal when they find out about each others’ true identities, followed by inevitable reconciliation, but this show is sophisticated enough about MMO culture that I trust it to go somewhere more interesting with the relationship. It would be really cool if after the reveal, both players just went “Oh, well that’s not surprising,” and just continued playing as normal.

A Sister’s All You Need– This show turned people off with an introductory scene that tried to portray little sister fetishism as disgustingly as possible, and succeeded, with stomach-turning results. Some concluded that the show was simply gross, but I think I get what they were doing by taking the little-sister trend to it’s logical (if unsettling) conclusion. And the show features interesting relationships between insecure writers, who are all insecure for different reasons, and that’s right in my wheelhouse.

This show actually reminds me of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, which also received some early backlash for having a “gross” premise, which turned out to be entirely overblown. Now, it may turn out to be just another forgettable show trying to earn some points with shock value, but it could also be the little sister show that actually examines why people develop this obsession, which would be interesting. I would call it “a deconstruction of Oreimo and it’s ilk,” except A)I don’t actually know what ‘deconstruction’ means and B)that sounds so pretentious I would have to slap myself. Let’s just say that this show has the potential to do something different with its premise, and hope that it does.

Konohana Kitan– This feels incredibly bland to me. I think it’s trying to be that kind of episodic occult show where the supernatural-creature-of-the-week is the focus, and the main characters are more there for consistency than anything else. (See: Mushi-Shi, The Morose Mononokean.) However, too much attention is given to the little fox girls in the foreground for the show to have that kind of oblique feeling, which would be okay if the fox girls weren’t such boring characters.

It’s cute as hell, and if you like anime girls with fox ears and/or tails, this could be your Show of the Decade, but I’m not sure if it has much to offer besides moe/fetish appeal; it doesn’t have the sophisticated appeal of an occult anthology show, nor does it have strong enough characters to work as a slice of life show.

Love Is Like A Cocktail– As a big fan of I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, I was anticipating this one; anime about stable, married couples are rare and intriguing. However, it’s hard to get excited about something that’s three minutes long. I get that these kinds of shows are designed as shorts, and they’re not meant to sustain full 22-minute episodes, but I still think three minutes is a little lean; I would prefer half-length episodes, like Muromi-san and Encouragement of Climb.

It’s cute, and having each episode themed around a drink works nicely, but it makes me wish there was more to it.

March Comes in Like A Lion, Season 2– So, hahahahah funny story, I thought I had completed the first season of this show, only to realize that I somehow stopped watching it towards the end and had no memory of doing so. That may sound like it bodes ill for Lion, because if it were a good show, surely I would remember whether I had finished the season or not? However, I think of this show as being kind of like the Marcel Proust of anime: it’s very artfully done and nuanced and everything, but sometimes you just can’t take it anymore and need to put it down for about five months.

Anyway, now that I’ve had a nice break, I look forward to catching up on Lion and finding out what’s new with Rei and his deranged sociopath of a stepsister.

Food Wars! The Third Plate– By now, you probably know whether you enjoy the Food Wars! brand of attractive and talented people having elaborately illustrated foodgasms over curry, or not. I found the formula was getting a little stale for me by the end of The Second Plate, but it’s still amusing enough to keep up with, for now. I find myself beginning to genuinely dislike Soma though: like, why you gotta challenge EVERY chef on the show to a duel? Can’t you just be secure in the knowledge that you cook good food,? Did you watch too much Top Chef as a toddler and it totally distorted your view of eating meals?

That’s all for now; I may pick up a few more fall shows, in which case I’ll write an Impressions: Part Deux post. However, it’s entirely possible that that will never happen, in which case I would like you to forget that we ever had this conversation.

Spring 2013: Red Data Girl

RDG1

So, I decide to get back into anime blogging a bit, and what’s the first series I pick at random? Red Data Girl, a spring series about a meek shrine maiden who’s the human host for another shrine maiden, only with nicer clothes. And she needs other people to use Google for her because computers break around her– especially when she cuts her bangs.

Look, they can’t all be winners. Continue reading Spring 2013: Red Data Girl

Summer 2011: Yuru Yuri

There's even a Yui, but she's not the ditzy one this time. Ooooh...how diabolically clever.

Summary: Another one of them K-On clones, only this time I think the creators really wanted to make a magical girl anime- so why didn’t they? Do they get, like, a tax break for making another one of these “four girls in a club that does nothing” shows? It boggles the mind. Anyway, it’s watchable and pretty inoffensive thus far, but also a tad dull- more than a tad if the references don’t amuse you as much as they do me.

Streaming: Crunchyroll. Continue reading Summer 2011: Yuru Yuri

Summer 2011: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee The Animation

Yune: Saving anime from moe by being more moe than moe.

Summary: This episode was pretty much pure wonderful for me, but I’m almost afraid to say anything nice about it in fear that it’s going to do nothing but tread water for episodes 2-11 so the two main characters can vaguely acknowledge that they love each other during the finale like it’s a surprise. Nevertheless, the first installment of a Japanese girl moving to Paris in the 1890s (or thereabouts) is beautifully animated and sweet, without ever crossing the line into saccharine territory.

Streaming: Nope, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Crunchyroll announced this soon. Continue reading Summer 2011: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee The Animation