“So it’s about uh, this guy Elric and he has a brother who lives in that armor suit. They are trying to get the brother’s body back after they messed around with alchemy and cost the guy his body. For some reason there are people after them too.”
– Me Attempting to Explain the Plot to Full Metal Alchemist to a Co-Worker circa 2006
I’ve decided to raise this feature from the dead after two years. It wasn’t simply a case of running out of shows that I hadn’t watched, but rather it felt like I was being compelled to only watch those shows that had infamously bad endings. Why not take on a show that is popular and pretty much watched by anyone who has casually watched anime, but that I had not seen? As for the explanation above, it was 11:30pm on a college campus where beer was being served a few feet away and I could only go off of what I had picked up about the show in vague things I read online. I think we’re good to go here. Continue reading Endings Without Context 7: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
It’s now on to the final part of this strange journey into what was at the time of airing one of my favorite shows of all time. The second season put a bit of a dent into it, but the memories of the feelings caused by something linger longer than the actual events themselves. Or something along those lines anyway. This last set of episodes includes two filler episodes where Yuki does awesome stuff and the concert scene that was the greatest in anime until White Album 2 was a thing before the final two episodes of the main story. And ponytails. So on with the show.
It’s back to watching the same old show as last time in weird order. The first segment wasn’t good enough to get a comment, so I will try to do better next time. Maybe I have to trash characters for no reason and wait three years for anyone to care. As alluded to in the title, this is the middle portion of the original series run which only covers one episode of the main story and is otherwise just filler with random plot points thrown in.
So I haven’t died or fallen off the face of the Earth in maintaining this blog, though the reason for my long absence and reduced posting this year has been related to death itself. So to pass some time, I went back and watched an old DVD copy of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi in the original broadcast order because that’s how I remember it best. The reason I picked this and not any of my other favorite series is because I’ve been catching up on The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki, and it’s already in the discussion of what Satelight’s 2nd best anime is since nothing will ever match White Album 2.
I thought I would never come back to writing posts like these. They never turn out to work, I spend a ton of time and effort and no one really reads them anyway. However, I really needed something, anything to write about this season that wasn’t terribly meta or utterly depressing. So here I am back again to write about the upcoming season and not a single one of you will actually read this paragraph.
The obvious caveats that go with this are numerous. If you’ve listened to any of the recent Friday Anime Podcast season preview episodes, I’m the guy who knows fuck all about studios and who has a taste worse than Kelloggs, but no one bothers anymore about saying that because I’m beyond hope. So don’t expect to be informed by any of this.
Recently I’ve finally been able to put into words what I have felt about watching anime over the last 13 months. At first, the question after this season’s tremendous amounts of drops was Do I Even Like Anime Anymore? I can’t say I stopped liking it since I still watch some shows, but that would probably now put me in the filthy casual category. Instead, the question has now become, is White Album 2 going to end up being the last anime I will ever fall in love with?
At this point in the season, there’s just Studio Arms (actually Arms Corporation if we are being completely accurate) series Isuca left to air. So for the most part we can consider that all of the good shows have already started to air. That’s mostly good news for the anime fans out there that aren’t me. What lies ahead is probably one of the most sad first impression posts of the current season that you will read, but that’s mainly because this season has been so meagre from my point of view.
Last year, the Definitive Best Girl ranking made its debut to critical fanfare. All arguments stopped over who was the best girl in each of those series after that since one cannot debate objective facts. In this second edition, a selection committee was formed that would take into account each girl’s record against their respective competition so that they could get a complete resume on each of them. There was a bit of controversy as in the final weeks the production committees of all of these shows advocated hard for a place in the final four playoff positions, but ultimately everyone came to the conclusion that this was the true Definitive Best Girl ranking. If the show you are looking for is not listed in this post, that’s because it is in the second-tier Best Girl Championship Subdivision.
So rather than spend the time going through this and actually writing a little bit about each show, which you wouldn’t actually read, I will just give you the full list. This is all shows that ended in 2014 that I watched at least 1 episode of. So there are plenty of dropped shows and I did end up watching a lot of first episodes just to be able to get to over 100.
Continuing from yesterday’s post, I have to highlight the shows that did better than I thought they would. That’s more than I can really expect since I put nearly everything down these days as a 7/10 show unless it lets me down immediately by taking me to a dumb Hooters clone. At least everything I watched this year after that particular episode was better so it’s a plus.
Given the options I was provided for this year’s Secret Santa review competition, I was provided three options. I could go with Tortov Roddle, which while available on Youtube was far too short to really get my money’s worth in a review. The next option was Kino’s Journey, which is a show that is far too good for me to review. That left me with Akuma no Riddle, a show that was widely available when it came out earlier this year. Given the feedback I got from those who had watched it, I was warned to look out for the bullshit at the end. The only question was whether I would choose to unethically watch this on the website of the licensor or follow my ethical calling.
Every year watching anime you start to notice patterns where very little is surprising in terms of quality. Just do a little research on a studio and director and your own tastes and 9 times out of 10 it will be exactly what you expected. This post is going to focus on those few shows that failed to live up to my expectation where tomorrow’s will be about those that exceeded them.
Jozy Altidore is something of a mystery player. The American striker plying his trade in the Northeast of England at Sunderland has something of a bad reputation. While no one really calls him Dozy Antiscore, it can’t be debated that he has very rarely troubled the score sheet in the Premier League. It’s never a good sign when you get quotes like this from the manager after a match:
“If Jozy had scored, you would have said it was a great decision to play him. I tried to say him at halftime to look for the net and don’t keep thinking about that, but he needs a goal.”
His defenders on the internet last season were pointing to the World Cup for his breakout and possible move to a different club. Let’s see how that ended:
With the numbers 69 appearances, 2 goals standing out to anyone who looks at his performances in England, he still has his defenders. They say things such as; Sunderland is a club with terrible players, no one will pass him the ball, he needs a manager that will let Jozy be Jozy out there. So through the magic of Football Manager, we are going to give him just what he needs…
Over the past few episodes of Shirobako, a show about a group of girls trying to make it in the world of anime production, there has been a pretty surprising theme. Quitting a job is a perfectly fine thing to do in pursuing one’s passions. At the same there’s some risk involved in doing that for at least 1 of the people who did it as well as someone still considering quitting their own different job.
I bring this up because it’s had a bit of an impact on my own life. In order for that to be the case I’ve really had to have been thinking about this for a while. You see, basically I’ve been trying to rationalize reasons why I continue in my own job. I think many people out there do this as well, but they have perfectly legitimate reasons for staying. However, I’m in a point in my life where I can probably do something else with my own life.
Shirobako simply brought up my own thoughts on wanting to quit my job. For the first time in my adult life it feels like the job market out there is good enough to take a chance. I think I can pursue happiness away from this demographically cursed part of the country and start anew. Even the number of people quitting their jobs around the country is growing and that is a good sign.
So in the coming year I will try to pursue my happiness. It will hopefully take me somewhere that I don’t feel constantly cold, alone and with little prospect of changing. I just needed a group of people involved in animation production that like Ideon a little too hard.
During the NFL season, there is a group conversation a bunch of anime/sports fans have as the games are going on Sunday afternoons. There’s even a fantasy football league that is in it’s third season. I thought I did alright, but I didn’t make it to this week’s championship game as everyone really wants to be. But that’s not the part any of you care about, it’s the team names:
This end of regular season look doesn’t include the period when team names were changed to mock someone who actually liked the ending of Kimikiss. Who really liked Mao at the end of that series anyway?
I really don’t want to relive getting dumped out in humiliating fashion by Kelloggs, so instead, I will just provide some highlights of these conversations. Which include making fun of tweets like this:
RG3 has better arm than Luck, better deep thrower, faster, bigger clutch gene, more of an "It" factor. Luck will be very good, RG3 better.
So a couple months back as I had been part of the recording of the fall season previews for the Friday Anime Podcast an idea was born out of pure stupidity. Kelloggs, who was also a part of this had regaled us for a while of stories about getting unusual people to watch harem anime. The end result of this was a set of rules for consuming alcohol to a bunch of harem tropes. While keeping in mind that this was built with To-Love Ru: Darkness in mind, Kelloggs, Aeroblip and I were set to try this on Hagure Yuusha no Aesthetica. Plans were made, then Kelloggs had other stuff to do. So in a moment of stupidity, and because it’s my most popular post on the blog, I suggested trying it out on the first episode of Ladies versus Butlers. Not the greatest idea.
As I’ve covered the last two years, I tend to read manga that is pretty terrible and shouldn’t really exist. I don’t feel bad for doing it even though I am bad for it and should feel bad. I can’t help but think that it was still a pretty good year regardless from the manga that I do read, though without a doubt you will not think for one second to pick up any of these.
There are any number of shows that I really do want to watch, but for some reason I never get around to watching. These shows are invariably terrible, but there’s just something that draws me in, but not quite.
1. Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere
2. Golden Boy
3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
4. Evangelion 2.0 (I actually have a copy that has been sitting unwatched on a bookshelf for almost 2 years)
7. Log Horizon
8. Yuruyuri Season 2
9. One Outs
10. Aria the Animation
11. Code Geass R2
13. Getting Hit By a Car: The Animation
Last year as part of this series, I ran a post where I decided to write about the experience of watching as many random shows as possible in a single day until I felt burned out. So once again I will be using a random number generator to go through the catalogue of a certain large streaming site where the number of available series has increased significantly over the past year. Instead of 269 to choose from it is now 478. That number will actually be fewer that that since I will not be watching anything I have already completed, and I will be picking up from the last episode after dropping it. I’m going to need a bit of help getting back after this.
The 5th of June 2002, early morning Central Time, watching a sporting event half a world away more in hope than anything else. I was on summer break from school at that point so I could afford to be awake at whatever time I wanted. The event I was watching was the United States versus Portugal match to open group play at the World Cup from Suwon, South Korea. While it’s nice enough to talk about that particular match in the context of the result and how it came to pass, I’m going to take a different angle on this.
It’s been over 12 and a half years since the match was played. Of the 28 players who took part in it, only 2 can still be considered professional players. This particular post is inspired by the 2nd youngest player that day one Landon Donovan. At the time of the tournament he was pretty much unknown to me. He had burned out at German club Bayer Leverkusen before returning to the States in ignominy and San Jose Earthquakes were basically not on my radar. Yet he had so much promise with that shrug of his after his cross was turned in for an own goal in that Portugal match. Here was the future of the national team, his age would ensure that he would be around for at least the 2014 World Cup and 2018 at a push. To think that the lasting impression of him at a World Cup would be this moment four years ago:
Now that his career is presumably over, I think I want to talk about how we as a culture can fail to take into account the emotions of public figures. After that first World Cup, there were visions that he could become that world class player that would play for massive clubs. Then as time passed, he became known as soft, misunderstood, Landycakes, not willing to put in effort and probably the worst thing that could be said in some circles, content to be in his comfort zone.
At the end of the 2012 MLS season, he went on a sabbatical from playing. He embarked on a world tour just to do whatever he wanted to do for a few months without having to worry about being a professional athlete. Among the things he did was play another game barefoot in Cambodia with a group of locals. I think I started to understand him at least a little. He wanted to play the game because it was fun and not because it was a job. Even well paid people can hate their jobs too because it can sometimes be all that they know how to do.
The best example of this I could find in anime this year was in Nourin. That is a show about an idol who retires after really finding that she lacked passion for being an idol. She goes to attend a school in the countryside that is about as far away from the popular idol lifestyle as possible. By the end, she finds herself caring about crops and the small group of friends she makes at the school more than she ever really cared about the mass of idol fans. Sometimes it just takes a little time away to realize what a person really is. I think that’s something we as a society could definitely do better.
There’s a stereotype out there that if one blogs about anime they will eventually come to hate that which they watch. Paradoxically, this also makes them more popular with readers. Now I have been doing this blogging thing off-and-on for more than six years now and I can’t really say I’ve come to hate it any more than I did at the start. Does that also explain my perpetual lack of readership to this blog more than anything else?
Writing about any sort of visual medium tends to break down into three different types in my opinion. First is the completely neutral factual approach. That would be taking the Wikipedia approach and saying something like “Sora no Method was created and written by Hisaya Naoki who also worked on Kanon while at Key.” Nothing controversial about that style, but it’s probably the most useful in general. Second is more of a constructive criticism approach along the lines of “Sora no Method is written by Hisaya Naoki and while promising at the beginning fails to live up to the standard of his past works.” That’s pretty straightforward as well, but it can seem a little too forgiving of a series where a reader might be looking for a black or white opinion. Finally, there’s the full on advocacy/hatred angle which would look like “Sora no Method is yet another fantastic show from former Key writer Hisaya Naoki that will appeal to everyone who has taste/Sora no Method is yet another crap work written by Hisaya Naoki since he learned from Satan incarnate Maeda Jun.” That last approach will appeal to a larger audience than any of the others for the simplicity. It also does not make it any less valid a way of making a point either. If a writer loves/hates/is mixed about a show, they can go whatever direction they want.
So when it comes to shows that have been covered by myself over the years, I’ve been largely neutral with a few exceptions. For instance, when I wrote about Koichoco a few years back, I really did not like the show by the end of it. I really wanted it to be better the whole time, but it let me down. I still felt that the experience of watching it and the fun challenge I had in writing one particular post left me feeling that I was a better viewer for having watched it. So I hedged a bit on the opinion and probably felt that I didn’t convey my thoughts on the whole show with a sufficient edge to reflect how much I did not like it after all.
To conclude this particular post, I will just answer my own questions. Do anime bloggers hate the anime they watch? A good number do and probably feel pressure to continue watching those shows because they get the most views/comments from readers. Does that make them more popular because they hate them? I would argue instead that they are better able to reflect an opinion that many people hold, so it draws readers to them. Does my lack of loving/hating certain anime make me less popular? It clearly does not since while I can start writing hate posts about Kill La Kill or Space Dandy all I want, my opinion does not hold much weight, nor am I really putting that much work into expressing a contrary opinion.
I’m a person who is generally in two different camps of fandom. For most people in the anime group, I think that ends up being anime and some form of gaming. For me seeing as the title of this blog is Lower Mid-Table, that has always been anime and football of the association variety. (Note: I generally just call it football on my own, but I let context of conversation determine whether I go for soccer or not. I’m not against calling it soccer by any means.) I’m going to date myself very heavily here and say that I really started getting into it around the turn of the millennium.
One of the things that really makes someone get into this particular sport is to pick a team. The English Premier League was about the only league that even had a highlights package airing in the US at the time, while MLS games at the time were played in sparsely attended giant stadiums with the exception of Columbus. With newly-promoted Ipswich Town putting up a challenge for a Champions League place in 2000-01, they seemed like a fun team to choose. How I sometimes wish I had chosen differently!
What followed the next season was a few rounds in the then UEFA Cup, getting knocked out by Inter Milan, and ending the season in the bottom three. But you know what, I was invested in this fandom enough to want to really be involved anyway. Reading about winning the title in the club’s first ever season in the top flight, the FA and UEFA Cup wins, even being on the wrong end of the biggest defeat in the Premier League were facts I had to absorb.
All in all, it’s proven to be a decent conversation starter with people I’ve met from or in the UK, or why there would be a person at an anime convention wearing an Ipswich Town shirt. As the sport has become more popular over here, it’s become much easier to talk about with every day people. Being supported by major broadcasters at times of the day when people are normally wake helps with that thing. The only point of embarrassment that comes from talking about my own fandom is mentioning that the club I support has been stuck in the second tier for 13 years and having to explain promotion and relegation to some groups of new American supporters of clubs that will never be in danger of not playing in the Premier League.
In contrast, there’s anime fandom. One must always suppress power levels or whatever that bullshit is called. At least in the US, I would safely say that more people watch some anime than watch any soccer. Yet, the idea of liking it has this perception that it must be carefully revealed only to other fans. There’s at least 2.5% of the population here that is staying up late on Saturday nights to watch, but it seems to be stuck in only willing to be underground.
I say all of this because I really just want to be able to express who I really am in public. I don’t think the consequences of doing so will be terrible other than possibly losing my job, but even if that wasn’t a problem I probably would keep it hidden. It shouldn’t just be a realm of socially isolated college students and dicks who harass people on Twitter. I would like it more mainstream, that’s all.
There haven’t been many posts by me recently. The main reason for that comes down to the whole idea of having fun. If I’m not having fun with whatever I’m watching it will definitely come through like that on the post. I will be perfectly honest in saying that I’m not having very much fun recently. This particular blog, like almost all of the things I am involved with in my everyday life has always been a solo project. I think all of that has really started to take a toll on me recently. Work hasn’t been fun1 and everything else has sort of felt like work. I keep telling myself “just get to the end of November and everything will be fine,” but will it?
Rather than wasting more of your time on personal issues that none of you care about2, I’m going to go the anime contrarian/hipster3 route and talk about some of the shows this season that you are not watching. Continue reading On Fun After 6 Years
I’ve run into a little problem with the current slate of shows and I can only really briefly describe it in this one sentence: Despite the crop of shows this season being considered to be solid by the vast majority of people I talk to, I cannot bring myself to say anything other than “meh” about this season. I’m well aware that it is early days yet, but having casually dismissed the most popular and well-received of this season’s shows has only led to yet another bout of questioning exactly where I am in terms of the medium.
Seeing as I had no confidence in the summer season, I decided to invent a backlog of shows to watch from one of three different areas. The thirteenth and final anime on this list was Vividred Operation, which aired in the winter of 2013. I had previously watched the first and sixth episodes of this anime before in the course of dropping it twice. I watched the show over a period of a week, and these are my thoughts on it.