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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sigh. It’s a week where someone forgot to tell these people that their final episodes were this week. The amount of mailing-in was at historic levels for a week that should have concluded this week. Instead, the creative talent decided to go on summer vacation and sent in whatever they could get in as a conclusion. Anyway, as a courtesy to you my loyal single reader, I’m going to put in a bit more effort than that on recapping the week in shows I watched. Not much more than that though.
In a little under 2 weeks time I will be heading to one of those other popular conventions with at least a couple of those unidentified figures I used in the Anime Boston post. In the meantime, that means having to deal with making sure I’m not going to end up with a building on fire when I return from work and at least getting somewhat comfortable with the shoes that people are actually watching.
Also on my mind this week was the topic of discussion of anime. My views just so happen to be so far out of touch as to not get anything like that on social networking sites or forums. Then again, those people have to want to care that I exist so it’s really a complete failure on my part. My own relevancy is something I’ve touched on here many times before, but it seems more than ever I watch shows no one else is, and of those I do watch no one else really can be bothered to express a simple opinion. I guess that’s my lot in life.
The idea of passion was on my mind this week as I was reading posts on Valvrave of all things. Flawfinder in his post on the episode, really couldn’t be bothered with something that hadn’t earned the right to do a rape scene. It’s all pandering to fans and that sort of thing. The discussion on Twitter took a turn to the classic moral quandry of a series that is Yosuga no Sora since that also had a rape scene in it as well. I really wanted to say that it didn’t handle it badly, but I didn’t think it would find much of an audience. I think it feels like there is just little desire on my part to try to make any sort of passionate argument, so I think of making fence-sitting contrarian crap arguments instead.
So I’m going to try to be different in this week’s recap. Tell me if I fail in the comments to be passionate in my views on any of this week’s entries. Continue reading The Return of the Recap 39
A certain incident of what was called aniblogger drama, which I’m not going to talk about specifically here, had me thinking of opinions on anime in general. I personally try not to come off as cynical about some of the series I’m watching. There’s the odd Urobuchi hating women moment from time to time, or occasionally there’s a show that I think can do much better than it is capable of. Ultimately, I hope to avoid the whole looking jaded thing as I write for you few readers out there.
Regardless, it got me thinking of opinions in general, plus it also helped that the book I’m reading recreationally covers the same area. Nuance is something I try to value when discussing anything I’ve miraculously happened to be watching at the same time as someone else. Being able to justify the existence of a series I’m not particularly a fan of, which could be something like the Tokyo Mew Mew dub, and convincing someone it isn’t a crime against humanity is a fun exercise. However, what I would say is that it is much easier to build a readership by holding views that have no nuance at all. A world that is black or white is easier to grasp in a brief read than one with nuance. What a terrible world that is.
I’ve really been thinking hard about this blog lately. Mainly the new season is coming up and on some sites there are polls where the audience is asked what shows should be blogged for the coming season. My big concern is that if I were to do something similar I’d end up with around 4 votes total. I’ve dealt with the relative unpopularity of this place before, but from a perspective of someone writing for an audience it makes it hard.
I can put it down to a single word: expectations. I basically do not have any. No one is holding me to any sort of standard. So I could just post a pile of horribly argued garbage filled with strawmen and it wouldn’t matter a bit. It really makes me wonder if I’m actually any better of a writer than I was when I started this back in 2008. So while I do enjoy writing, I guess I question whether it is doing me any good here. Especially with completely dropping the posts on Maou-sama and no one saying a word on it.
Anyway, on to the actual weekly recap. I’m actually getting really tired of writing on the shows that continue to be bad every week, so I’m going to a top 5 and a list of the rest. If there’s terribad, I’ll throw that in too. If anyone comes in expecting me to cover all 11 shows, you probably should have said something at some point. These will probably be more detailed in later weeks if they stick around, but for now, it’s probably best for my state to only stick to the normal level of detail. Sorry everyone.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, it’s actually really hard to find pictures of some characters from Photo Kano that aren’t perverted. That above was the best I could do with a few minutes effort from a certain popular Japan-based artist’s hub. It wasn’t a particularly different week or interesting week, rather I’d think of it as just another week in the middle of the season. That didn’t mean there were no standout episodes, there were 2 of those this week, but the spring season is turning into a bit of a letdown.
Also, a bit of news. Next week I will be blending into the scenery at various locations in downtown Boston, so I will not be doing the recap. Also the Maou-sama post will be delayed if I post it at all. No repeats of the 3-state Koichoco post from last year. Continue reading The Return of the Recap 36
I decided to do something a bit different than I’ve normally done this season when putting together the weekly rankings. Instead of keeping a running ranking as I have done, I waited until the end of the week to put them together. Then I came to find out that I’d rated 2 series in my top 5 for the first time this season, including the number 1 vote. So why not do something entirely different for the whole post? This won’t end well will it?
Yet another week has passed in the world of animation from Japan, as well as real time of course. It’s safe to say that we are now firmly entrenched in the middle of the season. Typically, I find that this isn’t a very interesting part of the season. Usually, the really terrible shows have been weeded out by now. Those that do fail in the end will be known about 5-7 weeks from now. So what we are left with is a bunch of shows trying to make things interesting. So how did they do this week?
Since the last installment of this particular feature, the following has happened to all of the shows I had been watching:
- Oregairu – since picked back up after I dropped it on episode 1, see I can change.
- Space Brothers – Dropped after the 3 consecutive recap episodes reminded me of how badly this series has been edited.
- Devil Survivor 2, Attack on Titan, Aku no Hana all dropped for being too boring in my opinion
I sometimes worry about stuff like this, probably too often. I find a series boring, it then becomes popular. Or the reverse, I like a show so much early only to have it go in a terrible direction. It feels like I cannot win sometimes. It just becomes a problem having my finger so far off the pulse of what the rest of this community is watching that I just kill conversation, or get left out entirely. Perhaps I intentionally isolate myself when it comes to the series I watch. Yet it just feels like I’m insulting people by responding “oh, I dropped that” when a show comes up in conversation.
Anyway, that’s obviously not of much concern to you my readers, you want my thoughts on the shows that I’m still watching instead, so here you go.
Three girls spend their first days of high school doing everyday things then dropping in on a club with zero members to look things up on the internet in the first episode of Yuyushiki. This trio, Yui, Yuzu and Yukari spend their time messing around with each other in a friendly, if sometimes borderline erotic, way. In their first few days in high school they spend most of it wandering around before they come across a poster asking for members to join the Data Processing Club, which has 0 members. They later end up in that club room at the invitation of a teacher, and spend an afternoon looking things up online and making jokes about them before heading home for the day.
I’ve always tried to make my preview posts a little different. Whether that is through projecting my own ending based on the title name, or just writing crap all over a chart, I’ve tried to make them all different from each other. To be honest, you shouldn’t really go to me for season previews since I hardly know what I’m talking about, and there are better options available. I’ll try to do my best to make this interesting since there are a small number of you out there that subscribe. Fortunately, the anime getting the most buzz is
I had to try that once. There’s no way in hell this is getting 13 comments let alone 130.