Tag Archives: sillyness

Uma Musume: Why Special Week Needs to Die

As anthropomorphized, cute-girl versions of non-human creatures, weapons, or appliances go, I like Special Week. She’s a nice horse girl, and it’s exciting to see her rack up wins on the racetrack, her horshoe-shod cleats making that exciting clomp clomp clomp sound as she does so. But I firmly believe she should die before the end of this season of Uma Musume.

Why? Because like all the horse girls in Uma Musume, Special Week was inspired by a real racehorse, a stallion born in 1995. Just like in the anime, SW’s mother died shortly after foaling him, and he had to be raised by someone else. While he had a brilliant racing career in the ’90s, and went on to become a successful breeding horse, sadly Special Week just recently died on April 27, 2018. Rest In Peace, Special Week.

Just like her namesake, I believe the anime version of Special Week should die. Yes it would be very sad, but think about it: Uma Musume is an anime based on a cell-phone game about equine idols with bushy tails. Absolutely no one expects anything from this anime at all. It is, at best, a commercial for a video game; at worst, a complete waste of everyone’s time and PA Works’ resources.

Now, can you imagine if the show did a poignant, soulful arc where Special Week died, out of respect to her inspiration horse? It would be a completely unexpected, brutal twist in a series expected to have zero twists. It would mean that we can’t necessarily tell the difference between good anime and trash anime at the beginning of the season, because anything can happen. Perhaps chaos would ensue: the seas would boil, cats would lie down with dogs, and Crunchyroll’s social media presence would stop being ungodly obnoxious. Or, it could usher in a new era of open-mindedness in anime: after all, if Uma Musume could shockingly kill off the main character, who’s to say what shows that are not about demi-human horsie girls could accomplish?

I don’t think of myself as a cold, unfeeling person. However, for the sake of anime– for the future of the world– I think it’s time to take Spe-chan back behind the barn. If she must go to the glue factory, let her become the healing glue that binds all of the different subcultures of anime fans together: as one proud, dorky nation.

Food Wars, The Third Plate, Episode 13

The OCD part of me is annoyed that I’m starting off here with Episode 13 of this season. Plus, I only blogged part of The Second Plate back in the day, so really, to appease the OCD Gods, I should go back and blog every episode, starting with the first season. However, I’m going to choose to believe– despite a complete lack of evidence to the contrary– that my time is too valuable for that.

Anyway, whatever, Food Wars! is back! No more tiding ourselves over with oddly specific stuff like Miss Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, it’s time for the show with copious, multi-disciplinary food porn! Currently, the perky culinary students of Polar Star Dormitory are busy fighting communism, or whatever this stupid arc with Erina’s Dad is about, but let’s gloss over that and focus on what matters: people eating delicious food and then hallucinating vividly.

Today’s food porn is a classic egg-over-rice dish, with a twist. Can I just say I have a love-hate relationship with the Asian habit of serving dishes with a runny egg on top? I get the appeal of the creaminess of the egg yolk mixing with the other flavors, but err, food poisoning is a terrible risk. Back when I ate eggs, I ate those suckers cooked to hell and back, let me tell you.

Actually, to go back to the political aspect, I do kind of get it. The original model of Totsuki Academy functioned as an extreme meritocracy, where only cooking quality mattered and anyone who couldn’t cook to a certain level on their own was immediately expelled. So, kind of an extreme capitalist model, the kind of thing that would give Ayn Rand the warm fuzzies. Nakiri Azami, main girl Erina’s evil-ish daddy, wants to change the system to something more forgiving of failure, but also incredibly authoritarian and anti-creativity. So it’s a pretty classic political struggle, and I suspect we’ll eventually end up somewhere in the middle, since the original Totsuki “one mistake and you’re GONE” model was pretty cruel. It makes sense to me, but I think asking why Food Wars! felt the need to get political in the first place is a valid question; it feels a little pompous.

“ATTENTION: No authoritarianism allowed at this cooking school anymore! Now all of you do as the God Tongue tells you! Fresh, seasonal ingredients good, communism BAD!”

Oh and also, Nakiri Azami apparently wants to destroy every restaurant in the world (or at least Japan) that doesn’t feature white-tablecloth fine dining. How many economics classes do they have at Totsuki Academy? Clearly, not even one, or Azami might notice all 14 million practical problems with this approach. Erina’s mom must have been the brains in this family.

Speaking of Erina, this is really her episode, giving us insight into what it’s like to grow up as the girl with a world-famous palette called “the God Tongue.” First, since she’s been working as a culinary consultant since she was barely out of diapers, she’s essentially had her childhood stolen from her. Second, having hyper-sensitive taste buds has got to suck when every upstart chef wants you to taste their edgy new fusion dish, possibly with sheep offal. Third, a brief encounter with Soma’s dad changed her life, because for one meal, she was able to enjoy food just as a diner, and not as a judge.

The relationship between Erina and Soma’s dad has been hinted at before, but it’s kind of surprising how limited it actually was; it seems like she was only in his company for a few hours, once. The way the show has been foreshadowing it, I thought he had been clandestinely tutoring her for years or something. Nevertheless, her connection to his father strengthens the bond between Soma and Erina, which gives Erina the courage to do something she’s always been terrified to do: stand up to her insanely domineering father.

I don’t think anyone looks to Food Wars! for great character development, but this has been a solid arc for Erina and it’s satisfying to see her fully emerge as one of the good guys, after playing sometimes-antagonist to Soma and friends for so long. Now Erina is going to be helping the Polar Star kids pass an Advancement Exam, where the judges are going to be gunning for them because they’re rebels who openly disapprove of her father’s agenda.

I’m curious how this is going to play out. It could be a simple as Erina using her experience and palette to help coach her dormmates to make food so delicious that the judges can’t eliminate them in good conscience, but I kind of hope they go another way: that she starts throwing her weight around as The God Tongue.

Like, imagine the judges are trying to evict Megumi, and they say her Salmon en Croute tastes “bland and uninspiring,” then Erina walks in with her entourage, tastes Megumi’s dish and says “ACTUALLY I think this is some delicious salmon, and I’m the God Tongue; go fuck yourselves.” Then the judges go off to a corner to cry and Megumi slowly backs out of the room, wondering what just happened.

Except only the highest quality, Grade A eggs with spiky red hair and an attitude problem.

This episode also features what may be my favorite Foodgasm thus far: Erina being assaulted by tiny chicks who all look like Soma. He feeds her an innovative egg-over-rice dish, and her resistance to calling it delicious is countered by a million tiny Soma-chickens who nibble on her extremities, or something. I want the Soma mini-chickens to be the new norm for foodgasm scenes, even if he’s making something totally unrelated; diners takes a bite of Soma’s chocolate pudding, suddenly they hallucinate a flock of Soma mini-chickens poking their belly buttons, because why not?

So yes, a fun episode with fun food that manages to work pretty well despite my lack of engagement in the larger plot. If the show keeps this up, maybe I’ll keep covering it weekly for the whole thing, and not getting distracted halfway through like I did with the second season.

 

The Ten Most Disappointing Things About Pan de Peace

BREADS
As the Spring 2016 anime season comes to a close, we’re left with little more than a gnawing sense of regret that we spent too much time watching anime when we could have been playing videogames instead. Out of all the shows I wasted time with when I should have been consuming Odin Sphere Leifthrasir in bed, Pan de Peace was the most disappointing. Here are just a few of the reasons why….

1. It Wasn’t Polar Bear Cafe

To be fair, this is the most disappointing thing about 99.9999% of all anime. Even Space Patrol Luluco suffered the fatal flaw of not being Polar Bear Cafe.

2. There Were Only 10 Breads

I went back and counted, and there were only 10 different breads featured in the show– and the only reason why the final tally is that high is because I counted “Melon Bread” and “Crispy Fluffy Melon Bread” as two distinct breads, which I was under no obligation to do. Now, maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think a 13-episode bread anime should feature at least 13 different breads.

3. No Bakery Wars

The show introduced warring bakeries Fuwa Fuyu and Guillame, yet at no point do the two engage in any kind of bread-based competition. As Anton Checkhov famously said “If you introduce two competing bakeries in the first act, there damned well better be a sourdough bake-off before the end of the cour.”

I mean, I wasn’t expecting full-on Yakitate!! Japan antics here (well okay maybe I was, but that’s because I’m a glass-half-full kind of person), but I don’t think a three-minute baking competition somewhere over the course of the show was really too much to ask for.

4. No Bread=Boob Comparison

For a bread show with overt lesbian overtones that featured not one, but several bath/swimsuit scenes, the fact that they never did the inevitable joke where they compare everyone’s breasts to different types of bread represents nothing less than a complete ethical breach of contract with the audience. I can’t believe I sat through the whole show and I never got to hear anyone say that Fuyumi’s breasts were like luscious cinnamon buns and Noa’s were like cute little garlic knots.

…and no, that time when Minami hugged Fuyumi and said that her body was soft “like bread dough,” does not count; that is an entirely different joke, and if you watched as much bread anime as I have, you would know that.

5. No Bread Lightsaber Battles

Speaking of things that never happened, the show introduces the concept of French Bread being used as a weapon, and then does nothing with it. I think they mention it maybe once after Noa’s introduction, but they never have an actual battle with baguettes being used as lightsabers. Like…how do you do that? How do you, in good conscience, make an anime about bread that introduces bread lightsabers in episode 2, yet never does a bread lightsaber battle? Whatever made them think it was okay to dangle that in front of the audience and then take it away? What did we ever do to them?

6. They Never Told Us What It Means To Be a Bread Buddy

Sure, you could be forgiving and assume that ‘bread buddy’ just means “a chick I eat bread with.” However, I would have preferred a Death Note-style outline of the rules, so we could learn exactly what being a bread buddy entails. Like:

RULES FOR BREAD BUDDY

1. Eat bread together
2. Don’t talk about Bread Buddies (unless your mouth is full of bread).
3. If you see someone eating rice, rip it out of their mouth and replace it with French Bread.
4. If they persist in eating rice, impale them with your French Bread Lightsaber.
5. Be sure to say “I can’t even BREAD!” at least once a day.
6. Kiss a girl and like it.

See, I could ask you to be my Bread Buddy. But thanks to Pan de Peace‘s shoddy world-building efforts, I wouldn’t even know what I was asking for. I could end up in Fluffy Melon Bread heaven, or hanging upside down with a limited edition ciabatta sandwich stuck up my ass. That sounds dangerous.

7. No Lesbian Orgy During the Sleepover

Honestly I didn’t have a problem with this, but my husband insisted that if I was writing a list about the most disappointing aspects of Pan de Peace, this needed to be on it.

8. We Never Get To See Yuu’s Manga

It’s bad enough that, by law, each and every anime must have at least one manga artist among its cast. However, if you’re going to make someone a mangaka, let us see the goddamned manga. They do a whole episode ostensibly about Yuu and her manga, but we only get to see one shitty demon bear drawing(?) and never the actual manga. I’d like to think that Yuu’s manga is some kind of bread/magical girl hybrid, featuring a Noa-chan doppleganger who uses crumbs like magical fairy dust, but now I’ll never know.

9. The Last Episode Had A Recap Segment

They thought that they needed a recap in Episode 13, because we might not remember all the different breads they ate over the course of the show (which wasn’t that many, SEE ABOVE).

Think about it: Someone involved in the production of a 3-minute anime, including the opening, said “You know what we could use right now? A recap episode.”

10. Some Episodes Didn’t Even Have Bread In Them

Seriously what the fuck

Anime Rescue: Spring 2016

Four times a year, dozens of young, bright-eyed anime characters are set loose upon the world. As joyous as this miracle of nature is, sadly, every season many characters are deployed to the wrong shows, leading to much unnecessary stress and existential angst. For the cost of just one Cup Ramen per day, YOU can send an anime character to where they’ll truly thrive; away from the unappreciative jerks on their own shows.

Let’s learn more about this season’s crop of unfortunates, and what you–  no, what we ALL– can do to help. Continue reading Anime Rescue: Spring 2016

Let’s Put Israel On The Moon

A few days ago, this Gawker piece proposed the elegant solution of moving Israel from its current location to Germany. Now some readers took umbrage that this was a shockingly daft thing to say, but I disagree; writer Hamilton Nolan’s sole problem is that he didn’t go far enough. We don’t want Israel in another country, where the current inhabitants of said country will likely get pissed off and start bombing it from different angles; we want Israel somewhere really far away, where we don’t have to worry about it. Somewhere like the moon. Continue reading Let’s Put Israel On The Moon

Nine Reasons Why The World Needs More Polar Bear Cafe

pbc

Some would say that we didn’t really need 50 whole episodes of Polar Bear Cafe, a show that was basically about zoo animals sitting upright and drinking coffee; some people are idiots. Here are some of the top reasons why my favorite slice of life show really should come back for a second season, and fast. Continue reading Nine Reasons Why The World Needs More Polar Bear Cafe

Study Finds Sword Art Online Viewers Most Polarized

A new study released by the Otakusphere Anime Foundation (OAF) has found that viewers of the show Sword Art Online represent, perhaps, the most polarized group currently extant; more so than one finds in the cases of deeply religious people vs. atheists, different warring factions in the Middle East, or people who think that the last two episodes of the Evangelion TV series were a valid artistic statement versus the people who think the former group needs to look up the definition of the word “pretentious” in the dictionary.

“We’ve found that there is no group more set in their ways, no group less capable of acknowledging their shared humanity, than viewers of SAO: the fans, and the people who aren’t fans but nevertheless watch it every week for some reason,” said a researcher who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals. “In the trials, it reached the point where just saying Asuna’s name would lead to savage fights over territory. On the team, we started referring to her by the code name ‘General Butterscotch’ just to avoid that.”

Continue reading Study Finds Sword Art Online Viewers Most Polarized

Steins; Gate: Mayuri is an Evil Mastermind

DON'T BE FOOLED; She's got it all figured out.

Okay, the title’s misleading: Mayuri isn’t necessarily an evil mastermind. But she’s definitely a mastermind, alignment pending.

While contemplating my favorite show this season that’s not about underage succubi princesses and cognitively-impaired mutants, I got to wondering: what purpose does Mayuri serve on Steins;Gate, exactly? She’s just kind of there. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that not only is everything about Mayuri, but she must be a genius the likes of which Okarin and “Christina” can only imagine.

Here are just some of the reason why Mayuri must be the key to the kind-of-sort-of puzzle that is S;G.

Continue reading Steins; Gate: Mayuri is an Evil Mastermind