The 27 Series Winter Anime Recap

The early leader in the Best Girl running.

The early leader in the Best Girl running.

While in the midst of messing around in spreadsheets that are part of The Best Girl Project, I realized that I should probably get around to telling the few of you how I experienced a season in which I dropped just one show and completed 27. Including the “movie” that was also part of the season, it means the Winter 2014 season now has the joint most anime I’ve watched matching the Spring 2011 season. It’s also my lowest rated season with at least 10 shows, so make of that what you will.

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Fantasy Anime League Spring 2014 – The Quest for the Top Half of the Table

Mahouka will Basil Exposition its way to the top

Mahouka will Basil Exposition its way to the top

It’s back again, the bi-annual competition where stats driven gurus figure out that they don’t have a clue about the taste of a bunch of anime fans. For me, it’s that time of year where I show all of you that I don’t have a clue what the hell I’m doing. So I’ve set out a target of finishing in the top half of the table in the group. Even when legitimately trying, I’ve never come close and with rule changes I can’t even tank properly either. If only there were a place I could simulate tanking in a sandbox.

Light-novel type comedy at its finest

Light-novel type comedy at its finest

So here is my team:

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
Seikoku no Dragonar
Black Bullet
No Game No Life
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou

Bench
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousai

Obviously the plan is to stick Mahouka in after the first week since I will be down in the 400s on the table. For as generic and exposition-filled as it is, it will probably crush everything else this season. After all, I believe the MAL fanbase likes everything explained to them like they are 5. The second show on my bench, shortened to the ugly looking Gaworare in places, is a complete reach and will only see the light of day if I monumentally screwed up in my starting lineup.

Re the Shaft rule below: Remember this? I certainly don't.

Re the Shaft rule below: Remember this? I certainly don’t.

In picking my starters I started for the shows that I wanted to avoid. That meant the following categories of shows were eliminated:

  • Sequels or Spinoffs of Any Kind
  • Sports Anime
  • Children’s Anime since I’m Actually Trying
  • Anything with a Name-Based Pun Title
  • Any Game Spinoff that is not from an eroge
  • Anything with Mecha
  • Anything with Idols
  • Any Harem Show with a Female Lead (so called Reverse Harems)
  • Anything that is plain Romance
  • Anything Yuri that isn’t Fanservice Trash aimed at men
  • Anything by Gainax/ZEXCS/White Fox/J.C. Staff
  • Anything by Shaft that features NEET main characters
  • Anything by ARMS because Wizard Barristers

With those 13 rules in place, I was left to pick 7 out of the remaining 8 shows. That meant I had to choose one to get left on the cutting room floor. So Hitsugi no Chaika it was because I couldn’t imagine people being interested in a show about a guy trying to find a job accompanied by a small girl. Wasn’t this exact plot used in a fall show?

Now for the reason why I used a post on this was to come up with a challenge for readers here. Of course coming up with this is hard since no one really comments here. So anyone who does comment on this or any other post tagged with “Fantasy Anime League” this season and has a team in the competition will be entered into a weighted lottery. Those who do worst in the FAL league will have a greater chance of winning but even the best placed commenter has a chance at it. The winner can pick a show I have to write on in any future season preview post for up to one year. I shall call it the “Emperor J Tank to the Bank” challenge.

Also, feel free to tell me how wrong my 13 rules are in the comments. They are in a state of refinement for future seasons and I would like to do better in the future with better defined rules.

This is Most Definitely A Mistake: The Alternative Spring 2014 Preview

??????????????????????????Here you go people. Apologies to Neregate for being the source of desecrating their charts, but they deserve credit for putting this together.

I Think I’ve Made a Mistake: The Spring 2014 Preview

This is the type of online card battle game I play. Terrible people make the best characters.

This is the type of online card battle game I play. Terrible people make the best characters.

When I talked about my plan to watch as many shows as I felt I could, I failed to take a bunch of things into account. Namely that it is very hard to keep up with 30+ shows at a single time. It’s pretty much cut into the free time I have left so my other hobbies (like suffering heavy defeats playing the latest FIFA games online) are effectively non-existent. I guess that’s why critics are able to do this because that’s their job rather than a hobby.

So with that in mind, I go into this spring season with the caveat that I will watch as many first episodes as I can, but I will continue those shows that I feel I need to keep watching. No boasting about how I’ve dropped a show. No trashing shows I did drop outside of what I did watch. Yes, it’s pretty much a retreat back to how I was before, but I think quitting has a bad reputation. In any case, on with the preview where I think I may end up with more free time this spring than I thought.

Continuing Shows That I Will Watch

2 of the 4 permitted answers for Nisekoi Best Girl. The other 2 have not yet been introduced.

2 of the 4 permitted answers for Nisekoi Best Girl. The other 2 have not yet been introduced.

Nisekoi – it’s pretty much what I’ve expected up to this point. It seems like they’ve really pushed off introducing Marika, which is a definite minus. However, the 20 episode run is an unusual number that I can only really put down to an event happening in June that would impact late night television in Japan. (Yes, I know exactly what that would be.)

Nobunaga the Fool - I have no real idea what is going to happen with each episode. I guess I’m imagining Nobunaga unifying both the East and West stars because the plot dictates it, but how it gets there is a mess.

Sequels/Spinoffs That I Will Watch

Just a reminder. Best Girl.

Just a reminder. Best Girl.

Date A Live - It’s harem trash that I can’t help but continue watching. The recent OVA featuring Best Girl Origami reminded me of why I kept coming back to the show. There’s an awareness of how silly it contrives itself to be. That works well enough for me.

Sequels/Spinoffs of Shows That I Dropped or Did Not Watch and Will Therefore Not Be Watching with No Explanation Why

The collaboration of the year.

The collaboration of the year.

Broken Blade
Cardfight!! Vanguard: Legion Mate-Hen
Dragon Ball Kai: Majin Buu-hen
Fairy Tail
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Keroro
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R
Kiniro no Corda: Blue♪Sky
Lady Jewelpet
Love Live! School Idol Project Second Season
Mushishi: Zoku-Shou
Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection
Puchimas!! Petit Petiti Idolm@ster
Soul Eater Not!

Children’s Shows I Would Not Watch

Disk Wars: Avengers
Dragon Collection
Hero Bank
KutsuDaru
Monster Retsuden Oreca Battle
Nandaka Velonica
Tenkai Knights
Wasimo
Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V

The Rest of the Pool

Abarenbou Kishi!! Matsutarou – The first of the sports shows this season is about sumo. I’m not really optimistic about this one because it doesn’t seem different from the average sports show.

Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky - Another game adaptation which is set in a slowly ending world where people use alchemy. The more this show goes away from the game dynamics, the better it will be. I just remember trying to play a game with Atelier in the title and just struggling to figure out what the hell was going on. Maybe I’m too dense to play Atelier games.

Baby Steps - I don’t think they protagonist in this show is going to cause a mass extinction via tennis, so that’s a plus. On the downside, there’s little entertainment value in this sports show that plays as a straight romance.

Black Bullet - This looks so stupid. It’s another one of these kids get superpowers in a post-apocalyptic world which would only exist in anime. I can’t see past the first episode without banging my head on a table.

Blade and Soul – I don’t know much about this one to be honest. A straight up story of people playing in an MMORPG seems pretty boring to me, but Log Horizon has done pretty well in that regard. Maybe this is just more of the same.

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou – This looks like a straight romance series with a protagonist who has to deal with the terrible neighbors that he has. Getting MC-kun hooked up with Sempai-sempai will hopefully prove to be interesting.

Brynhildr in the Darkness – Another show where a guy matches up with a girl who has magical powers. Anyone watching Buddy Complex from this season will relate to the fact that I expect the main character to go into traumatic flashbacks when he has to deal with the new main girl who looks like the girl who died when he was a child.

Captain Earth – This has mecha invaders from Uranus. That seems scientifically improbable. As is the probability I have patience for this show past episode 1.

Devil’s Riddle – Reading the description on this, it would seem like it’s a normal shoujo romance type show where a girl falls in love with the boy she is supposed to go after. But wait…there are a bunch of female assassins after the main guy. Put this one in the category of High Concept Harem Variant.

This is the very first panel from the Dragonar manga. It's downhill from here.

This is the very first panel from the Dragonar manga. It’s downhill from here.

Dragonar Academy – This is going to be an appalling mess of a show. Think Zero no Tsukaima with a plot that makes no sense and amps up the fanservice even more. The main character gets a young girl as a dragon and I’m guessing that means she has something against clothes. The best this can hope for is to be better than Dragon Crisis.

Fuuun Ishin Dai Shogun – This is just about the dumbest looking revisionist history idea I’ve ever seen in anime. Will I watch it hoping it’s as bad as it seems? You know I most definitely will.

Haikyuu!! - A shounen sports show with high school students playing volleyball in a long game of revenge, this looks pretty unrealistic. The main character is too short to really succeed at even the high school level, so they will make him jump unrealistically high to make him seem normal. Kurobas is much more realistic than this.

Hitsugi no Chaika – The main character is a retired soldier at the age of 20. Since he seems to be uninjured, it feels hard to sympathize with a character who then comes across a girl with a coffin…who happens to have magical powers. This seems to be a theme this season.

Inugami-san and Nekoyama-san – This show seems to be about yuri shipping based on the names of the two characters. You see, Inugami likes cats when she should like dogs and Nekoyama likes dogs when she should like cats. Oh how original…

Irregular at Magic High School – This is from the top selling light novel series about a world of magic users and how unjust it is towards the protagonist. That’s okay because he’s really great at what really matters, though it can’t be measured so he is seen as a lowly ‘weed’, whereas his brocon sister is top of her class. It’s Self-Insert Wish-Fulfillment at its highest level.

Is the Order a Rabbit? – So a regular cafe show where cute girls just do cute things based on their names. I can’t see much coming out of this honestly.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara – Having read the manga for this, prepare to be amazed when this show completely loses direction. So it goes from a fun high concept show about a guy who can literally see the flags that he is tripping to a grand conspiracy.

daimidalerc01aKenzen Robo Daimidaler – Quite possibly the classiest mecha show that will ever be made. I read the first chapter of the manga which had an enemy mecha with it’s main cannon placed between its legs. The protagonist was also thoroughly unlikable to make some of the jokes work. Ultimately, I think this may end up in the pile of Misogynistic Power Fantasies with Mecha.

Knights of Sidonia – I briefly remember watching a trailer for this months ago and coming away not impressed. It was like they looked at Arpeggio and decided that they needed to have the CG characters look even less lifelike. It was also very pretentious, even by the standards of an advance trailer. I just hope the space battle set pieces look as good as possible.

Magical Girl Wars – I guess this is a show where magical girls battle each other drawn from character designs from Pixiv. Doesn’t this inherently mean that the one from Tokyo will win in the end?

Majin Bone – Some mecha show from Toei. That’s as much as I know.

Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to – This is a 4-koma adaptation with a perverted mangaka and the female assistant(s) who put up with his antics. It’s as hilarious as that sounds.

Mekaku City Actors – This is one of the NEET focused shows this season. This one is about a boy who is forced to go outside thanks to a character in an online game. I’d say this is probably the least objectionable of these shows this season.

ngnlc04aNo Game, No Life – Another one of the NEET shows, but this time it’s about a pair of siblings who go to another world which plays out much like Problem Children. Clans play games with outcomes that are absolute. It’s a shame the pair are thoroughly unlikable since I stopped caring about them quickly in the manga adaptation.

Normal High School Girls Tried Being Local Idols – Oh look, another idol show. I guess this just has to surpass Wake Up Girls in budget to really succeed with fans of the genre. As far as plot, I think it appeals to the same audience who hates the Tokyo-based idol factories.

One Week Friends. – This basically appears to be 50 First Dates only with the time period being a week and the location being a Japanese high school. The larger question of how a character with a memory that resets is able to attend school will likely remain an extremely open question.

Ping Pong THE ANIMATION – Tatsunoko is involved in Wake Up Girls, which has me under the belief that this will look exceptionally poor. With Yuasa directing it, that shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance. The thing that I think will get in the way is that the characters will not be interesting enough.

Ryuugajou Nanana’s Buried Treasure – This would be the NEET series about the poor student who moves into an apartment that is haunted by the ghost of an attractive girl who was a NEET. I get the feeling that this will be very much like Dusk Maiden or whatever that show was called with the ghost. It’s almost the same plot.

Sadon Desu – Very much another one of those shows about a club that does nothing. I hope the tea ceremony club will be as entertaining as D-Frag this season. I doubt it because I think only one good show of this type is allowed per year.

selector infected WIXOSS – Turns out this is a J.C. Staff original. I guess this is about some girls being sucked into a game because they have weaknesses. It’s like they are hoping to channel the spirit of Madoka into something that isn’t as dark but still commercially viable. Good luck with that.

Tricks of the Gods – Oh look, an otome game adaptation. I hope that this actually isn’t completely dependent on tropes within the genre and abuses its audience like every other adaptation from the audience. I’m hoping for a bit too much in this case, but it frustrates me that it’s assumed that otome game players are also masochists.

The World is Still Beautiful – And finally, we have the show about a girl named Nike. That’s just so much potential gold that can come from ignoring how that is actually pronounced. So I can pretend this is a show about how the world of athletics is beautiful in the state of Oregon because they have so much money from our heroine. Then completely ignore that it’s a love story set in a fantasy world.

So that is that for the season preview for this season. I would definitely be interested in knowing how wrong I am about the new shows in the coming season. I will also try to watch any shows that are recommended by you, my loyal reader…readers(?). I will also be attempting to compete in the newest edition of the MAL Fantasy Anime League. I take pride in failure since I have no idea how to compete to win. So maybe someone out there can point the way. When I go ahead and post my team, I will pose a Cart Driver-esque challenge that will apply to the summer.

For those who care about the “regular” chart I use. That will be up shortly.

Wake Up Girls: Sports Anime About Idols

wug06aWhen watching recent episodes of Wake Up, Girls, a series about a struggling Sendai-based idol group of the same name, I could not help but think that I was watching a show that made the experience of watching idols feel much more like watching a sport than pure entertainment. While the sense of conflict around anything I-1 Club related is clearly exaggerated for dramatic reasons, it adds a needed element of comparison that makes the rest of the show.

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Ranking 10 Shows from 2013

So hyped for Season 5…oh this is about anime isn’t it?

2013 was definitely a show filled with many shows of assorted variety. It probably says a lot that I can think of tons of shows of appalling quality yet struggle to come up with more than one show that I genuinely loved. Anyway, let’s rank these things and move on with out lives in 2014 because that’s truly for the better.

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12 Days of Something III: Maou-Economics

maoyuu05bThis was a strange year for the fact that there were three series with a very strange common element. Yes, judging by the title of this post, they all have to do with demon kings venturing over to a different world and having to deal with the economic consequences of their actions. Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Hataraku Maou-sama and Yuushibu deal with this concept in different ways even as they are filled with light-hearted moments throughout. For the purpose of this post, I’ve decided to evaluate them on how deeply they get into the realm of economics.

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12 Days of Something III: What FAL Says About Me as a Person

fal_header

In the last couple of spring and fall seasons, Fantasy Anime League has taken place on MAL. While some people out there take this deadly seriously or devote entire pages of coverage to how they are doing in that particular edition, I haven’t much talked about my own entries into the competition. That’s because I enter each time without any sort of clue what the hell I’m doing.

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12 Days of Something III: The Year in Bad Drops

This is generally how I look when I drop things

During the course of a normal year watching anime, I drop a lot of shows. It ends up being about 9 out of every 20 from my reckoning. That said, I make many, many mistakes in the eyes of my readers, followers on twitter, or people who even think of the name Emperor J. That includes those who have lived in mountain monasteries their entire lives and have no concept of blogging in their minds. So to further their confirmation bias of my taste, I present to you the list of my worst drops as rated by MAL and other comments throughout the year.

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The Coming Season of Discontent

A picture from the real Season of Discontent. That pile of trash does not represent the anime this season.

 

“No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.”
― John Steinbeck, The Winter Of Our Discontent

 

I suppose I should preface this season preview post as coming on the basis of a rough couple of weeks personally and an evening of impromptu off-road driving. Anyway, winter usually is a dead period for my anime viewing and because of the quote I used above I can only suppose it is the same for you my lone reader. I’ve been in the anime viewing business for a long time, so I’m going to spend the time reflecting on all the great anime that I watched in the winter season of 2004. That’s because everyone gets jaded and remembers how good things were, right?

Let’s see, there was Paranoia Agent, Kon’s TV masterpiece which was surreal and filled with important social commentary at the same time. That really wouldn’t come to air now would it? Then I also watched, what was it…

The winter of 2004 was shit.

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Needless Attention to Detail in Walkure Romanze

The better onsen episode this week was White Album 2, but that would be too easy to write about

The better onsen episode this week was White Album 2, but that would be too easy to write about

By most reasonable subjective measures, the eroge adaptation Walkure Romanze is not a very good series. It’s so derivative that it could also be considered Infinite Stratos with horses and armor in place of personalized mecha suits. The harem lead in this piece, Takahiro, is just as overpowered as Ichika is in that series and just as oblivious to the emotions of others, but still has all the girls after him for pulling off moments of brilliance. That’s not what I’m here to talk about in this post, though. Instead, there is an incredible (by the standards of harem anime) attention to detail in the show’s universe that is undermined by the quality of everything else.

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Lessons from the Second Season of Infinite Stratos

The source of this rant. Maybe I should have called this "Thank You for Not Writing"

The source of this rant. Maybe I should have called this “Thank You for Not Writing”

Infinite Stratos at its best is a whimsical harem series with a bland protagonist who comes good in spots and the real focus is on the girls who have affection for him. This formula worked well enough in the first season for the fact that it kept the story and character development as simple as possible. With enough demand for more IS, a second season was ordered up and ready to go into one of the most packed seasons in recent memory. I wouldn’t be the first person to say that it has been a disappointment even by the first season’s low standards, but why did it have to be this way?

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In Which I Ask, Do I Qualify for Aniblog Citizenship Now?

Tsk, looks like it's that time of year to do this post again.

Tsk, looks like it’s that time of year to do this post again.

So it’s that time of year again where I am legally obligated to point out how long this particular blog has lasted. It’s now reached the point where in many nations I would now be qualified for citizenship for simply being able to hold down a job and not commit any crimes that would see me deported. The caveat to that being that I’m working in the aniblog fast food joint washing dishes while others who emigrated with me are now captains of industry.* That’s enough for the depressing bits in this post (and the many other drafts that are far worse than that you will not see). Instead, I’m going to keep things simple with five things I’ve learned since this blog started.

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Finding a Greater Cause in White Album 2

wa205cThere’s a key transformative moment in the 5th episode of White Album 2 when the 3 characters that are the focus of the love triangle at the center of the story begin to care about each other as a group. Setsuna and Haruki leave their own classes in order to console Touma after she ran out of class with the score she was working on. Up until that point, these were largely characters that were acting as individuals acting on their own teenage hormones or path of least resistance. So what changed?

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Revisiting the Drops

Unlike Megatron here, everything else in this post was dropped.

Since there’s little in the way to talk about this week from the currently airing shows, I embarked on an experiment yesterday. By MAL’s reckoning, I’ve dropped 362 series and those would have been for a variety of reasons. So what would happen if I gave some of these shows another shot? In all seriousness, it sounds like a better idea than talking about every show that I have dropped this season. So how would this experiment go?

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On Outbreak Company and Cultural Assimilation

This is a serious post on serious things

This is a serious post on serious things

The third episode of Outbreak Company finally sees the protagonist of the series, Shinichi, come under real threat in dealing with the culture of the new world he finds himself. In the episode, the school that he had built to spread otaku culture with the backing of the Supreme Ruler Petrarca was taken over by a reactionary faction that opposed the existence of the school and how it affected the balance between the three races of the Holy Eldant Empire. Eventually a bit of modern technology and magic get them out of the crisis, though not without consequence. After three episodes, I’ve felt the desire to chime in on how this series has dealt with cultural assimilation.

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The Summer 2013 Season in Review

Death Metal training montage in something else I watched this week

Death Metal training montage in something else I watched this week

If I’m perfectly honest about the last week of the season, most of the final episodes I saw this week ranged from poor to mediocre. There were maybe two that I enjoyed, but I think that seems to be a theme lately. Put the climax of the story in the penultimate episode then just throw something together showing the cast having fun in the last episode. I get that it’s really just to sell the discs to the hardcore fans. I only finished 10 shows this season which was a bit lower than normal. I now present what I made of those 10 series that made up my summer.

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Chuunibyou Constructed Criticism: Storytelling in Kiniro Mosaic

Shinobu finds the idea of reading hard.

Shinobu finds the idea of reading hard.

The last episode of Kiniro Mosaic made the series a rather interesting subject on the topic of adaptation. The series has been very much a 4-koma adaptation in nature with the start and end being anything but. In the process, there were 3 very different stories told throughout the course of the series; daily life as fantasy, daily life and pure fantasy. The separate parts are well enough constructed that they can be completely isolated from each other in my view, but its really the ending which grabbed my attention.

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Keima’s Dark Place

twgoks309a

Katsuragi Keima for most of the time I knew his existence as a character from The World God Only Knows‘s universe was a fairly average harem lead noted for his lack of affection for any other human beings. He viewed people very much like characters in the visual novels he played; either they were characters he had to conquer and pursue down their various routes or they were simply mob characters that could safely be ignored most of the time. This served him quite well in his job helping Elsie capture loose spirits that inhabited girls with gaps in their hearts since he could follow them. There was still a big question the remained with this approach. What would Keima do if he found himself affecting a girl’s genuine feelings?

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What C³-bu’s Yura Says About Human Nature

c3bu08a

If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. – Mark Grace

 

The critical moment in the 8th episode of C³-bu comes when the protagonist of the series, Yura, reacts to being struck by a stray shot from a member of the Meisei team by continuing to fight and winning the battle and tournament for her team. The nature of the victory represents a pivotal moment in the development of her character going forward, but how does it reflect human nature in this circumstance? Additionally, what can we learn about Yura as a character in figuring out why she acted the way she did?

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Pointless Debate #38: Oreimo as a Symbol of Cultural Decline

This was an attempt at a serious post. So I may as well get it started with this.

This was an attempt at a serious post. So I may as well get it started with this.

Back when I was really intensely studying such things, the ideas of “soft power” and in particular “Cool Japan” were popular in the international political scene. The idea for those who don’t know is that by spreading one’s culture around to other countries and gaining a foothold there, it can have longer term positives as the perceptions of one’s country becomes positive as a result. You can see this in the present day in American movies being rushed into Chinese cinemas with added footage specially for that audience and to ease it past the censors there. Then, of course, there’s the repeated attempts to try to sell anime and manga to Western audiences over the years with mixed success in the case of Japan.

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Kiniro Mosaic: A Quick Take

No one sits like that for that long.

It’s okay Alice, we get that you are a hardcore weeb.

Shinobu goes to live with a family in England for a short period of time where she meets a girl her age named Alice in the first episode of this series. The episode details the gaps in communication between the pair when they are in England since they are only capable of saying “hello” in the others language. Shinobu departs to finish middle school back in Japan and on one spring day in high school, she has a surprising new classmate from abroad.

First of all, the level of detail that went into this episode was really good on all fronts except for one. That they use Japanese voice actresses for the English speaking parts is not surprising, but there’s no attempt to even make them sound like they are from the southwest of England. Also, you may question the fact that the family in England seems to speak perfect Japanese, but upon visiting the website seen in the credits for the bed and breakfast on which that part of the episode takes place, you would see they heavily market to Japanese visitors. There’s also a lot that goes into that quintessential stereotype of Japanese families in that shoes get taken off immediately upon entering a home. Shinobu delights in being able to walk around in an English home with her shoes still on. She carries that over to school at the end of the episode when she commits the faux pas of all faux pas.

Where this series really shines is in breaking down cultural barriers. Shinobu starts as the Anglophile on a bit of an adventure. She spots Alice as a cultural curiosity for having blonde hair. Alice sees Shinobu as the girl who looks like the Japanese doll in her bedroom that speaks a weird language. Eventually, they grow close enough to communicate at a basic level just by doing things together.

When the story skips forward, Shinobu is still an Anglophile even if she can’t read a bit of English. Alice, meanwhile became a full-blown Japanophile in the most uncritical way possible. She came to Japan having learned the language in their time apart and taken the stereotypes of Japan uncritically to be true. Since the two of them will now be living together, it will now be about breaking that down Alice’s perceptions of Japan just by spending more time together.

Yes, ultimately this is a story about having one’s perceptions about an exciting new world being destroyed. Fortunately, it’s replaced by the close friendship that comes from experiencing those things with someone close to you. Where this show will fail or succeed is in how well the material transitions from being about Alice’s reaction to experiencing realities for the first time to how well she has adjusted to life in Japan. If it goes horribly wrong, this could be the worst sort of laughing at foreigners show that frequently gets heaps of criticism. For everyone’s sake, I want this series to succeed in just that transition.

Reasons to Continue Watching

  • High quality production
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Not above mocking the absurdities of British and Japanese culture.

Reasons to Watch

  • Hopelessly naive characters
  • Stereotypes used for comedic effect
  • The English speaking scenes are still awkward despite their best efforts.

My Verdict: Yet another good surprise this season, which may turn out to be better than previous summers. The potential for disaster is here whenever you make cultural clashes the subject of a series, but in this group of characters I’m willing to trust it for now.

Uchouten Kazoku: A Quick Take

That's one way to send a love letter.

Ridiculous aim

The daily lives of three different people from different worlds in Kyoto come together in the first episode of Uchouten Kazoku. The story basically breaks down into a fairly simple show about the lives of these characters. There’s Yasaburou, the third son from a tanuki family who can excellent control over transformations, Akadama, who Yasaburou takes care of and is a tengu who is no longer able to fly, and finally Satomi, better known as Benten who is the object of Akadama’s one-sided affection and is a human with mystical abilities. Beyond that, this setup lets the characters run the show.

When I had a first look at this for the season preview, my expectations weren’t high. A bunch of mythical creatures living as people doing normal things ranks pretty low on my excitement level charts. Plus, the character designs are rather unique since it appears that they have taco-shaped ears. In addition, it looks like it was done on the smallest budget P.A. Works has ever put into a show. The only saving grace could be the substance of what was being adapted. So it’s a pleasant surprise to be able to say that I was pretty well blown away by this first episode.

I say that because this is a story that is very open to interpretation. It can be considered an allegory of aging where Yasaburou is developing his abilities, Benten is older and most powerful and Akadama longs to be able to do what he was once able to do. It can be a study of the student-teacher dynamic where Akadama opened up the world to Benten only to be betrayed and so spends his time belittling the abilities of Yasaburou, who is desperate to impress him. It’s a story of unrequited loves for Benten. It’s also a story of characters who live outside of the bounds of their own cultures. Benten shouldn’t be able to fly as a human, Yasaburou should not want to be as human as he is and Akadama should not be the tengu without the ability to fly.

These three characters feel like they are part of a twisted family. They inflict pain on each other and love each other the same even though they can’t go back to how they were in earlier days. Both Benten and Akadama feel like characters who have been through a lot with the scars of past traumas still haunting them after they have long passed. Yasaburou will be dragged into that world kicking and screaming because he’s too close to them that his life is part of theirs. On character depth alone, this is the best first episode so far this season.

Reasons to Continue Watching

  • Character depth
  • Incredibly open to interpretation
  • A feeling of the fantastic in everyday living

Reasons to Drop

  • Character designs take a lot to get used to
  • Not a lot of actual events happening
  • Too into itself

My Verdict: This would be a strong candidate for surprise show of the season. I guess the key to making a P.A. Works show work is to strip excess from the budget. How good would straight voice acted storyboard have been?

Gifuu Doudou!! Kanetsugu to Keiji: A Quick Take

Where the budget went to die.

Where the budget went to die.

Two Sengoku-era heroes meet for the very first time in the opening episode of samurai action series. After a brief prologue where both men are looked upon as gods, we get back story on how they first met on the battlefield and then their first fight together. What you need to know is that Kanetsugu is the serious one and well respected for his expertise as a general. Keiji, on the other hand, is very eccentric for his time, but he is also an absolute monster in battle. This series will essentially become the story of how the two of them came to be legendary in their time.

I’m going to start with the production levels on this episode. A lot of the effort went into the scene where the two protagonists meet. The sound of Keiji’s biwa along with sakura petals flying through the air created a very interesting mood. The change in tone as Keiji anticipated Kanetsugu’s desire to attack was also well illustrated. However, for the most part, the production levels were pretty poor. Keiji and Kanetsugu seemed to vary in height from anywhere from 6 feet to 12 feet tall while their necks were as thick as the waste of one of the prostitutes they were sitting in front of. In fact, it sort of felt like I was watching Sengoku Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure at times.

That’s where the real problem with this first episode was. For all the eccentricity it was trying to portray in Keiji’s character, it never felt all that interesting. Even if he’s able to use a Stand, it didn’t do a good enough job at keeping me awake. It actually took 2 attempts to watch this episode because I checked out 6 minutes in the first time. Kanetsugu, meanwhile, was just a passenger in the opening installment. Occasionally riding on his 12 foot tall horse, but more generally providing exposition.

Reasons to Keep Watching

  • A non-genderbent Sengoku-era story
  • Has a JJBA-lite feel
  • The protagonists feel larger than life at times

Reasons to Drop

  • The amount of money that went into the production looks minimal
  • Lots of nothing happening
  • Feels like it took twice as long to watch as it actually did.

My Verdict: Really too uninteresting for me to continue watching. I know I dropped JJBA really early when that aired, but the first episode there had me slightly emotionally involved. This one just washed over me and not in a good way.

 

The Picture Because I Quit Summer Season Previews

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Will this win?

Will this win?