12 Days of Something III: Moments of Anime

spacebros42a1. Space Brothers moon accident (Episodes 40-43)

In January when I was still watching Space Brothers, there was an event I knew was going to happen from watching the live action movie last year. Hibito did end up crashing the lunar rover into a massive crevasse. What happened with the next few episodes was the series at its very best. The dumb light moments were gone for that span and it was replaced with a drama where the threat felt real. Hibito did get out of that situation, barely, but the scars would last. The conclusion of that arc later took a hit in my mind when I found out the inspiration for the astronaut figure left on the moon. After that, the old Space Brothers returned and I could no longer enjoy it in the same way.

haganai20h2. Sena and Kodaka talk over coffee (Episode 7 – Haganai Next)

Sometimes the best insight into characters can come at the most surprising times. When the Neighbors Club took a shopping trip there were the usual antics that come with a harem comedy. In the middle of this was a conversation at a coffee shop between Sena and Kodaka where we learn more about the latter than all previous episodes prior. It’s brief, but we learn that he has a massive inferiority complex. He doesn’t feel that he deserves to be loved by anyone and at that point it’s obvious that he is willfully ignoring the feelings of the girls around him. This conversation really marked the transition of the series from one about girls falling in love with Kodaka to a show about helping him find his confidence.

Older Maid Sister is in fine form3. Older Maid Sister’s Speech (Episode 9 Maoyuu Maou Yuusha)

While this show disappointingly ended with Hero subjected to Female Knight and Demon King shoving their chests into his face, there were moments of genuine quality in Maoyuu. Having taken Crimson Scholar’s place in being subjected to public execution, Older Maid Sister gave a speech that wasn’t so much a call for her own safety as much as a call to destroy the existing order that was drawn from her own experience of being taken in by Demon King. Even as she is being beaten her will shines through and she will not have her spirit crushed.

htms01b4. A Demon Lord and His Minion Land in a Rough New World (Episode 1 – Hataraku Maou-sama!)

The spring season opened with a 2nd show involving a demon king only this time they ended up in modern Japan. There wasn’t much glossing over what happened on Maou and Ashiya’s arrival though. Here were two foreigners who did not speak the language trying to figure out a way to make some money and find a place to live. Their social support network consists of just the two of them and their mysterious landlord Miki. A long struggle to survive in low-wage hell looked set to begin.

yuyu07a5. Pikachurin (Yuyushiki Episode 7)

Yuyushiki is at it’s heart a show about 3 cute girls doing cute things as friends. Their club activities fittingly involve looking things up on the internet revolving around a theme of the day they come up with on their own. The moment I think that best summed this up took place in the 7th episode. When talking about Yuzuko’s unusual eye color she ended up coming across a Wikipedia article for the protein that sends information from the eyes to the brain. Yes, Pikachurin. In this show of many tangents, a discussion that begins with cat’s eyes concludes with speculation on the gender of the children a scientist has. That’s Yuyushiki research in a nutshell right there.

muromi11b6. The Quest for Happiness in the New Economy (Namiuchigiwa Muromi-san Episode 11)

It’s not much of a stretch to say that Muromi-san isn’t exactly heavy in social commentary. What little there is is run through the character of Otohime the former business owner under the sea who has to work in a fishing shop. The episode is about much more than that though. There’s the convenience store worker who had dreams of his own, but with his girlfriend now pregnant those dreams may be permanently on hold. Otohime herself is looking to stand on her own terms after she lost her business, but it doesn’t look like that is happening. Her frequent fights with Muromi always seemed to be about how Otohime had fallen, but this episode revealed that they were really a frustration with how things change. Life can’t simply go back to how it was before the economy tanked. The episode ends fittingly with an all-night drinking session outside of the convenience store talking about business in an unstable economy.

c3bu04b7. Yura’s Imagination Comes to Life (Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu Episode 4)

C3-bu ended up turning into a sort of gunsoft version of Rambo when the protagonist Yura was questioning why gunsoft didn’t love her as much as she loved it. Early on in a quest to improve her skills the club goes to a temple and sets Yura a goal of being able to shoot a single 5-yen coin from across an archery range. After failing for the day and having left her gun at the temple, Yura returns and enters one of her vivid delusions. The next day she returns and imagines herself in the middle of an ancient battle and fires a shot through an incoming arrow. Did it really happen? Was Rento also sucked into Yura’s imagination? Or did she simply shoot into the hole of the 5-yen coin?

hsdxds207b8. Akeno Makes Her Move (High School DxD New Episode 7)

Having saved his friends from Kokabiel in the last episode through force of will, Issei and the rest of the Occult Research Club embarked on a more pedestrian mission; cleaning the school’s pool. The feelings of those around him had swung fully in his direction. When even Yuuto is confessing his feelings for him, you knew Issei was in the form of his life. So when he had to have more of his dragon energy sucked out of him by Akeno, the audience was in for a show.

kinmosa12f9. The Kinmoza Musical (Episode 12)

Having wrapped up the series proper, Kiniro Mosaic started a take on chuunibyou and ended up turning it into a short musical number. Going completely off-script in the adaptation happened to yield the best of this series. The musical number relied on being interested in these characters and their idiosyncrasies, but the case could be made that the musical number could stand on its own. I’d be interested to see if anyone who did not watch any of Kinmoza would understand the musical bit.

noukome01b10. Noucome‘s History of the World Through Choices (Episode 1)

For a high-concept harem comedy about a character who is forced into making ridiculous choices, the opening scene is one of the most ambitious narratives of the year. They try to tell history as a series of choices made by people who would go on to be famous for those decisions. Unfortunately, it’s hardly a successful story as it drags on for far too long and it is followed up by Furano, Ouka and Kanade being involved in dirty jokes. Failed ambition is better than not even trying.

wa207a11. A School Festival Concert (White Album 2 Episode 7)

There were hints of this in the opening episode that the relationship between Setsuna, Kazusa and Haruki would hit its peak. The concert’s three songs sum up the series perfectly. The first was the song that brought them together, the second was a dialogue between Kazusa and Setsuna about romantic conflict and the third was about love lost. The performance captures everything that made this series the surprise of 2013.

oc12a12. Outbreak Company takes on ‘Cool Japan’ (Episodes 11 and 12)

Outbreak Company was one of the better shows this year with its attempts to portray a divided society and in the final episodes the attention turned to the Japanese government and the place of otaku in society. Imports of anime and manga were restricted early on in the 11th episode. It became clear that this was the dark side of trying to spread culture. Matoba revealed that it was all a plot to have the people learn Japanese and to become more interested in anime and manga than developing their own culture. When Shinichi learns of this he and Minori become expendable because they do live on their own. Ultimately, he uses the ties that he has forged in his new land to get protection after he tells Petrarca they should make their own anime, manga and light novels. That was a potentially dangerous thing to do.

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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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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The Return of the Recap 44 – Apache Chief Glows at Night

Even if it fires death lasers out of its eyes, I can't take it seriously as a bad guy.
Even if it fires death lasers out of its eyes, I can’t take it seriously as a bad guy.

This past week I did try something different with posts elsewhere. It quickly reminded me that single-digit view counts are pretty much expected when starting fresh. Even when you write on Sword Art Online to start. Then, I did my annual off-site preview of the Premier League season on my personal blog I hadn’t touched in over a year. That was about the same level of interest after blowing 3500 words. Maybe I should have just posted a bunch of screencaps from Attack on Titan and bitched about the episode not meeting my standards. You’re actually here for the few screenshots of shows that I do watch and bitching about those shows, right?

Continue reading The Return of the Recap 44 – Apache Chief Glows at Night

The Return of the Recap 43

I have a feeling anyone who says this girl is the worst will have missiles launched at them from New York.
I have a feeling anyone who says this girl is the worst will have missiles launched at them from New York.

In recent days, I’ve thought about changing up the design of this blog. Basically it’s been about 2 years with this current look and I have a constant reminder of how unpopular this place is every single time I look at it. Unfortunately, the one thing I can’t seem to change is this dumb title that pretty much inhibits any potential growth (and the writing – self ed.). I wouldn’t really be starting over if I moved this to another .wordpress.com address would I?

There’s this small little convention going on somewhere on the east coast of the United States this weekend. I went to it last year, but the person I went with last year seems to have fallen completely off the face of the Earth. There have been any number of people that I’ve mostly just followed on Twitter or in this particular sphere of blogs that have withdrawn or simply moved on with their lives. That’s just something that tends to happen with the passage of time; people get lives, girlfriends, spouses, children and spend time with new groups of people. I don’t think a conscious choice is made to cut people off in situations like that, but this is the era of the declining social community. Yes, people can communicate with each other online, but how long is that going to last between nations?

Continue reading The Return of the Recap 43

The Return of the Recap 42

It’s time to bring this feature back for the 599th post on this blog. I suppose I should do something special for that one. I’ll get around to coming up with something this week. This is the first time I’ve done a roundup collectively of the summer. I hope that’s been enough to separate the bad from the good. Unfortunately, I’m almost certain that’s eliminated any other series that my readers are still watching. I have a tendency to do that almost every single time.

But first a little digression on what’s happened this week tied to the man I’ve pictured above. That would be Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. The undoubted superstar of the club in Major League Baseball’s smallest market, 2011 National League MVP, 5-time All-Star and as of this week admitted drugs cheat. In the midst of that season, I had the unusual luck of catching the same cross-country flight as him, but as it was 2am I really made no note of it other than the coincidence of being on the same plane. This is more about fandom though. While the figures involved in creating something may go on to be a future disgrace, the thing they created will still exist. Urobuchi may now live on overhyped projects that chop women to bits and have characters say funny things just for laughs, but Madoka will still always exist. And while the season may be lost for Milwaukee now, come March 31st next season there will still be baseball played, and Braun will probably be starting in left field.

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Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³: A Quick Take

Going all Rambo on this season.
Finally, a First Blood re-enactment in anime.

A socially awkward girl transfers in to the magical setting of the Stella Girls Academy only to be quickly picked up by a group of strange girls interested in survival games and action movies in this first episode. Yura’s awkwardness seems to get her nowhere on her first day on campus and she’s further horrified when her new roommate has caches of weapons, military uniforms and action movies organized around the room. Meanwhile, the club itself begins recruiting efforts by trying to be the first to talk to new students who are undecided on clubs. When Rento discovers Yura playing along with the film First Blood in her new room, she gets dragged into the club and her first survival game.

Gainax’s recent efforts since Panty & Stocking have been pretty poor. Once again, not surprising considering the massive talent drain after that series wrapped up. So in their first series that doesn’t involve leveraging the Shonen Jump fanbase or taking mountains of money from Subaru, the expections were pretty low for this. It also further helped lower expectations by having this air after the wildly successful Girls und Panzer. Needless to say, all it had to do to succeed these expectations was to be mediocre.

I mention all that because shockingly, this actually was a pleasant surprise on first viewing. For the most part this actually turned out to be more like K-On than Garupan in my mind. There’s the new girl joining a club that uses their main club activity as an excuse to mostly spend the time eating sweets around a table between club activities. Even in Karila, Rento and Yura you have characters who are similar to Ritsu, Tsumugi and Yui respectively. There’s no Mio though because she literally impossible to replicate; trust me on that.

Something that Gainax has typically turned to in the way past is throwing in references to Western popular culture. There’s Star Trek references in KareKano for example and even though I liked it as it bombed with nearly everyone else, He is my Master had an entire episode that was a riff on Die Hard. There’s no hidden references here since the movie of Sonora’s that Yura watches in their room as well as the survival game the club plays at the end of the episode are both based on First Blood, the first of the Rambo films. What I think made this stand out was the visual at the end when Yura imagined Karila as John Rambo. She was living the movie in her mind now and therefore emotionally connected both to the film and to the scenario she found her self in. Yura may be no good at firing airsoft guns and survival games, but she now lives them.

As for production quality on this one, it’s typically Gainax in that it looks fairly low budget most of the time even though they clearly have the money to spend. I’d describe it more a low-key and only getting creative when it counts in the visual department. As for the sound aspect, I think more effort went into making the airsoft guns sound right than anything else, but overall nothing to really note as being good or bad.

Reasons to Continue Watching

  • It’s K-On with guns
  • The characters feel like they actually live for survival games
  • The club is a collection of lovable weirdos

Reasons to Drop

  • Blatant attempt to cash in on matters Garupan related
  • Perhaps too in love with 80s action films
  • Will probably fall apart when Yura learns how to compete in survival games

My Verdict: A really pleasant first episode to watch. It looked like everyone involved had fun with it. Methinks a training montage scene in the style of Rocky IV may be necessary to get Yura up to speed.

The Picture Because I Quit Summer Season Previews

Will this win?
Will this win?

The Summer Preview Because I Quit Spring

I needed an image to fill this, and no you don't need context.
I needed an image to fill this, and no you don’t need context.

This is probably the first post where I’ve actually tried to get assistance from other people in it’s creation. For the most part this is just a fairly standard preview with my opinions in it plus some other information. I wish I could have been a bit more creative with that, but I can only work with what I’ve got.

Continue reading The Summer Preview Because I Quit Spring