2017
04.07

Clockwork Planet

I lied, its actually Fire Emblem.

I lied, its actually Fire Emblem.

Within the first 30 seconds of Clockwork Planet’s first episode I couldn’t help but think…”is this NieR?” What with all the discussion of the world ending and robots, that was the natural conclusion I would be led to, albeit half jokingly….and then it turned literally turned into NieR!…albeit with some dorky card game animu kids thrown in for zest because Xebec. But yeah that’s fricken 2B, this is NieR more or less.

I mean don’t you remember that part of NieR where 9S had this huge gear fetish? Don’t you remember that part where 2B still in a fridgerator crashed into his house? Don’t you remember that time 9S stuck a screwdriver in 2B’s…yeah moving on….Don’t you remember that time Pascal was a bitchy loli scientist who chastised her employees and the grumpy not-German military? Don’t you remember that time 2B called 9S a pervert before making herself his personal slave and did oral on his index finger? Don’t you remember love?!?!

What? You don’t? Well clearly you weren’t playing the same Vidcons that I was plebeans! Go back to your Pissewna and Zelder! This is clearly an A+++ adaptation of Taco Yolo’s schmasterpiece. And clearly as I am the master gamer of this group, I should know that. Now would somebody figure out how to plug in my Atari 26k, grampa needs a new pair o’ shoes! – Lord Dalek

Kabukibu!

Thaumatropy's Test Kitchen

Thaumatropy’s Test Kitchen

I was going to write about this show before realizing it would be boring, so let’s talk about spaghetti instead. Spaghetti’s a dish that I’ve only seldom had over my entire life, mostly because it’s surprisingly hard to craft a perfectly good plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Some fucker of a chef will tell you that making spaghetti’s really easy, all you have to do is boil the pasta and make the sauce, but it’s more complex than that. It’s not like instant ramen where you can just do it while you’re half-asleep. It’s like performing an elaborate magic trick, and the audience is your tongue. You have to pull all of these stunts to make sure your tongue doesn’t realize it’s being fed bullshit, which spaghetti can easily become when handled poorly. It’s not like pizza because pizza has an easy to grasp form, while spaghetti is just nothing but entanglements. That’s why you see all these Papa John’s and Domino’s, but rarely any fast food joints that pride themselves on their noodles. Or why you don’t hear Richard Dawkins raving over a Flying Pizza Monster. Because spaghetti is a common trade often done too poorly for the average human to tolerate. Some people can over-boil the pasta and leave it soggy. Others will make a sauce that’s too chunky or too watery, something that looks more like freshly excreted bloody rectal fluids than anything edible.

And it’ll taste like that too. I’ve met quite a few people who’ve described a bad plate of spaghetti as a diabetic’s diarrhea given life. So many things that you have to get just right in order to so much as create a decent dish of spaghetti. The kind of effort that will make you go “Fuck this, I’m ordering take-out.” But the take-out guys aren’t any better either, because they’ll add too many onions and not enough garlic into your dish. They might not even enhance the flavor with spices or anything, leaving you to chew on some stale garlic bread as a palette cleanser. And that’s why I envy the master spaghetti chef, because they can manipulate this shitshow of a food into something great. And if they can do that, they have their life together. – BloodyMarquis

Love Tyrant: The Very Lovely Tyrant of Lovely Tyrant Love

"This is my 'Japan ruined Death Note more than whitewashing' face."

“This is my ‘Japan ruined Death Note more than whitewashing’ face.”

Oh dear fucking god. What is this? Why is this? Who in their right mind thought making Death Note into a romantic comedy would be a good idea? I mean Death Note’s already pretty damn funny for all the wrong reasons, but trying to make it into a Monster Musume/ToRabuRu-like? Just…why?

So our not-Light is some blue haired guy who probably wishes he was married to his imouto and his reverse shikagami sidekick looks more like an escapee from Soul Eater than an albino Willem DaFoe. Not-Ryukh needs Super Saiyan God Dorku here to kiss some girl in order to stay alive. However for whatever reason said perfect choice has turns out to be a blood thirsty yandere. And now there’s a love triangle because immortality or something. I don’t know anymore.

The main problem with Kiss Note is that its the worst paced comedy known to man. Plot points get thrown out willynilly and jokes are simeply rammed into each other without any sense of structure or timing. Also that kitty cat has a human face and a spit curl, and the theme song was done by Wake Up Girls! singing Keiichi Okabe. I just…why? – Lord Dalek

Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Exposure to mass amounts of Card Game anime has been proven to be hazardous to your health. Side effects include spiky hair, effeminate noises, and lack of continuity. Please see a doctor for a strong regiment of more civilized games...like Monopoly

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Exposure to mass amounts of Card Game anime has been proven to be hazardous to your health. Side effects include spiky hair, effeminate noises, and lack of continuity. Please see a doctor for a strong regiment of more civilized games…like Monopoly

In this season’s installment of “oh its this thing again”, we have the not-so-highly anticiapted return of that edgy card game animu from a couple years ago that we talked about for all of three weeks before it actually turned out to be no so great after all. Frankly all I remember about it was that was it was just a rehash of SamCham starring the dude from Ideon. Space Dandy, and some random girl. Clearly that was the staying power of Rice of Basmati: Megadrive, it’s existence had been thoroughly wiped from my memory until its sequel was announced too late for me to care. But hey! I just vomited my way through two unremarkable/downright awful episodes of Groanblah Fantashit, maybe this won’t be so bad! (nervous chuckle)

So we begin our episode with a bad rehash of…Final Fantasy IV? Yes apparently humans have stolen the powers of the gods and are using them to prove he doesn’t exist so they can get killed in the next zebra crossing. Meanwhile in another corner of the anime, a lame reenactment of the opening number from Beauty and the Beast is happening starring Spunky Pink Haired Grl and the dull locals of this castle town. This is Nina and she’s both really strong and prone to making weird frog faces. Elsewhere its been a whole decade since Favaro and Kaisar blew up Bahamut. Since then Kaisar’s been a rather begrudging participant in his king’s recent Farquad-esque fantasy creature relocation project. There’s also some guy with wings whom the government wants to kill because yeah, and then Nina literally explodes and turns into a dragon because sure. Who cares.

Well ok lets get the good out of the way, the animation for this show is INCREDIBLE! Its borderline feature film quality and although not quite on the ones its damn close. But then again, it IS the great Mappa so not very surprising there.

That said… This show fucking BLOWS! ITS BORING. THE PLOT IS A MESS. THE CHARACTERS ARE NON EXISTANT. THERE’S NO DECENT HOOK FOR ME TO COME BACK. THE ONLY LIKABLE ONE IS THE TALKING DUCK. ITS NEVER COMING TO TOONAMI GET OVER IT. CERTAINLY AINT WORTH THE 200 DOLARS YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEND MAINTAINING YOUR ANIME CRASH ACCOUNT. TWO HUNDERED FUCKING DOLLARS FOR THIS NICELY ANIMATED BUT ULTIMATELY SOULLESS CLAPTRAP. FUCK IT! FUCK IT FOREVER! AMEEEEEN! – Lord Dalek

The Royal Tutor

I think the tutor is embarrassed to be in his own show.

I think the tutor is embarrassed to be in his own show.

Child-like teachers were in-vogue in anime for a while, particularly in the 2000s, but isn’t something you see much nowadays. Royal Tutor puts a spin on the concept by having the titular tutor only look like a child but have the mind and deep baritone voice of a fully grown adult. Oddly enough, the tutor’s voice actor is a newbie and this is his first role, and I have to say he’s really nailing the character’s deadpan and passive-aggressive wit. I think all the voice actors are in general quite praiseworthy in this show, since they really help elevate an otherwise basic concept into something pretty funny.

The premise of the series is total BL fujoshi-bait, with a bunch of slender and effeminate young guys surrounded by their adorable teacher. The characters all slot into classic BL archetypes, the same kind that Osomatsu-san viciously parodied in it’s infamous first episode. A lot of the humor comes just from the tutor himself reacting in a deadpan fashion to the oddity of these brats and commenting tsukkomi-style about how they are doing something archetypical, stupid, or strange. The show looks as good as it’s characters, with sharp, distinctive character designs and a stylish color palette. It’s well-executed, even if it isn’t exactly, well, interesting. At least so far.

Still, I like the tutor enough to keep watching and it might be fun seeing how he gets these weird princes to come around to him. Again, it’s a well-made show, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about the manga by it’s English-language translator on her podcast that has made me interested in looking into more of it. This show should be good fun for those of you who like their pretty boys and BL shipbait, while still having enough good enough humor and moments to interest the rest. – LumRanmaYasha

Sakura Quest

sakuraquest1

 When your parents point out the contradictions in your argument and you can't retort because you know they're right.


When your parents point out the contradictions in your argument and you can’t retort because you know they’re right.

There are some shows that are just so damn relatable to your particular circumstances that you can’t help but fall for them immediately. For a currently unemployed college senior desperate for work but has no offers or options, finding more comfort and purpose back home after trying so unsuccessfully to make it in the city, and having great respect and nostalgia for the rural countryside and small-town communities, how could a show like Sakura Quest possibly not appeal to me? What’s more, the show feels very similar in tone, look, and feel to Shirobako, another show about twenty-somethings trying to make it in a career with no job security constantly unsure of their futures or what they’re doing with their lives, that I of course also adored. Whilst promoting tourism isn’t as pointedly relatable to me as the work involved making cartoons, Yoshino’s general attitude about her life and struggle to make it and longing for the specific moments in her childhood that made her happy is pretty on-point to how I feel everyday.

The character designs are also done by the same woman who did Shirobako, and are just awesomely expressive and full of life, which really complements the personality of animation and acting which makes it so easy for me to love every character right off the bat. The show is also plenty funny – I legit laughed out loud at the scene where Kodota dressed up in the Chupakabra suit to scare Yoshino into accepting her queenly duties – as well as genuinely heartfelt. I really believe these people love their town and want to do their best to bring it back to their glory days, and I can the nostalgic catharsis Yoshino feels after realizing her fondest childhood memory was experienced in this town. What could have come off as sappy or saccharine emotional manipulation instead feels sincere and real. Even Shirobako didn’t always get that right, but a show like this lives and dies on the honestly of it’s feelings, and so far, I really believe in them.

I don’t know if this show is for you all, necessarily. This show honestly feels like someone looked at my exact situation and interests and said “hey, let’s make something tailored specifically for this LumRanmaYasha guy!” (why they didn’t just remake Urusei Yatsura if they wanted to appease me I don’t know, but here we are). So maybe I’m the only person this show is made for. But that’s okay. I don’t really care if anyone else relates to what this show is about or not. This show is for me and I honestly really could use a show like this in my life right now. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere or has something to say, I feel so much love and honesty from the staff behind this expressed through the show, and what it’s about is deeply cathartic for me. Dammit, first Alice & Zokuro made me feel all warm and fuzzy with it’s precious father-daugher dynamic and now Sakura Quest has won my heart with it’s hometown spirit. I really am a big softie, aren’t I? – LumRanmaYasha

Seikaisuru Kado

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Oh God, it’s a Toei show. A Toei show with CG. A Toei show with CG businessmen. Hands on deck for something that will make Shaft quake with fear.

Wait, this is actually interesting to watch. The CG isn’t particularly noticeable once you get used to it. The characters aren’t that annoying, aside from the physicist. What’s going on?

Maybe I’m being too bitter if I was going in thinking I’d hate this show, but this was a surprising first episode. It’s not superb or anything, but it does keep you focused and glued to the screen. I was thinking this would be a lame show about businessmen until the cube showed up and sucked everybody in. I like how the show focuses on the disaster aspect, with the Prime Minister and his team of physicists working on how to get people out of the cube. There’s actual tension going on, something you wouldn’t get if the cast were just high school kids using magic spells to extract people out of the cube. Instead, it’s the government, the Japanese Self-Defense Force, and several scientists working together to solve a national crisis.

It’s kind of refreshing. Even if it reminds me a little too much of Shin Godzilla, but that was a good movie. And if Toei was gonna rip off something, why not rip off good movies? People rip off Anno’s other good shit all the time, so why not take a cue from Shin Godzilla? Like how Samurai Jack takes tons of shit from Mad Max Fury Road. Or all the shows this season that add “Zero” to their already long light novel names to trick you into thinking they’re spinoffs of Re:Zero. What I’m saying is more anime should be like Shin Godzilla, because that was one fine monster movie.

But back to bitterness, I’m just waiting for something really stupid to come out in this show though. Especially how the episode ends with this white haired angelic figure straight out of a CLAMP manga unveiling his presence to the known world. – BloodyMarquis

Twin Angels Break

Looks like someone needs to brush up on their Edo history.

Looks like someone needs to brush up on their Edo history.

I was in the mood to watch a magical girl show and this happened to be the only new one out this season as far as I could tell. I got what I expected. Genki go-getter girl is a goofy goody two-shoes and she’s given a magic gift to become a magical girl and has gotta get good to gut grifters and goons. Also her partner is a moody broody chick who can’t crack a smile. The premise isn’t really explained much beyond bad guys are stealing energy from people for nefarious purposes and a hedgehog is giving girls powers to fight against them. You can check off a list of all the elements that go into a magical girl series and see that this show pretty much has them all.

So it’s a pretty average and unambitious magical girl series, but for what it is I quite enjoyed it. The fight scenes are hilariously bad in terms of animation and action choreography, but they’re silly enough to be entertaining anyways. There’s some fun oddities to the show, like the earnest philanthropy of the protagonist, the fact that her most feminine friend is a cross-dressing boy who wants to be an idol (and I appreciate there were no jokes at his expense), there’s a random girl who dresses like a sheep and ends all her sentences in “baa,” and the fact that the bad guy she fights in this episode is a shamisen player with fights with the shamisen as a weapon. Weird, random things like that infuse a lot of flavor into an otherwise bland premise, and it helps that the characters while stock are pretty easy to like. There’s nothing great about the show but there’s nothing bad about it either. It’s worth checking out if you are specifically interested in watching a magical girl series from this season. Otherwise, it’s harmless entertainment, but not a must-watch. – LumRanmaYasha

2017
04.05

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor Yes That Really Is The Title Look For it Wherever Videotapes Are Sold.

At the moment I could feel my soul emerged my body, leaving it a lifeless husk doomed to wander the wasteland that was the present. This was the price I would have to pay for watching Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor, the slow agony of a crippled, broken existance combined with general self-doubt and intense self-loathing. P.S. Fuck you Rynnec.

At that moment I could feel my soul escaping my body, leaving it a lifeless husk doomed to wander the wasteland that was the present. This was the price I would have to pay for watching Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor, the slow agony of a crippled, broken existance combined with general self-doubt and intense self-loathing.
P.S. Fuck you Rynnec.

Hey guys!!! This year has been pretty quiet hasn’t it? You know what we haven’t had at all this season? MAAAAAGIC SCHOOOLZ! AWWWWWWW YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADFADGADGAFDAGADSGDSAHF! Oh boy I am so excited to watch Onegai Bastard! WOOOO HOOOOOOOOoooooooo

…he lied.

Oh look! Tsunderes! Delinquents! Recycled character designs from other anime that sucked (Oh Hi Leonmitchelli Gallete des Roi!)! No plot! No characters! All comedy! No jokes! Oh look that cat girl is fondling blond girl! THIS ISN’T A YURI! DROPPED! – Lord Dalek

Alice & Zoroku

alicezuke
alicezokuro

I like fairy tales, stories about parenthood, and jaded old badasses, so Alice & Zoroku conceptually appealed to me from the start. The show went the extra mile by beginning with an exciting, intriguing action-chase scene that drops us in-media res into Sanae’s escape and a battle between her pursuer and maid-like ally. The premise isn’t out of the ordinary – a mysterious girl with special powers and potentially from a fantasy world stumbles upon our world and finds a male counterpart to help her – but the execution is at least atypical. Rather than a buxom tsundere teenager Sanae is a little girl and her companion ends up being not a bland-looking milquetoast teenage boy but a grumpy old man who has no patience for any bull-shit. Zoroku is really the character that makes this show. His nonplussed and reasonably reactions display a maturity and rationality that most teenage fantasy protagonists don’t have, and he’s very smart and straightforward about everything he does leaving no room for dumb misunderstandings or unnecessary complications. He’s just so competent and responsible, without any obnoxious attitude baggage yet still possesses a strong, distinct personality. The fact that he’s also a big softie deep down who looks out for kids in trouble and is a florist even Yakuza respect is a fun contrast to his outward appearance and behavior that gives him major charm points in my book. I really wish there were more anime protagonists like him these days. I don’t think I’ve liked one this much off the bat in quite some time.

Though Zoroku makes the strongest first impression, I like Sanae quite a bit too. She’s a precocious little brat, but a believable one. She feels very childlike in a believable way, which is a hard line to balance in making a character like her tolerable. Moments where she’s lusting for food, tearfully enjoying a good meal, being chastised and learning lessons from Zoroku, all help reinforce that she’s an innocent kid, one who has a lot to learn not only about using her powers wisely, but how to be a good human being. The defining moment of the episode for me was when Zoroku tells Sanae that she had essentially blackmailed him by mentioning his granddaughter thereby getting her involved, to which she is taken aback, and meekly replies that wasn’t her intention. Zoroku firmly delineates the difference between a request and a demand to her, and that the latter, especially presented in the way she had done, was “crooked” and a bad thing to do. We don’t need to hear her reply to know she understands this, her reaction shows she’s really thinking about what Zoroku’s just said to her, and will learn from this mistake.

I think moments like this, the parenting moments between Zoroku and Sanae and the surrogate father-daughter relationship they form, are going to be the emotional center of the show, and this episode establishes their dynamic very promisingly. I’m already emotionally invested in these characters, and alongside the general mystery of the “Dreams of Alice” project, some fun side characters like the twins, great pacing and atmosphere, and a lot of appreciative attention to detail (I love how the convenience store worker is like cheering Zoroku on when he’s trying to get Sanae to talk to him), there’s a lot of promise in this show and I daresay it might be my favorite of the season so far. About the only downside is that the CG cars aren’t very well-rendered and stick out like a sore front against the show’s otherwise beautiful aesthetic, but it’s not something I feel is worth getting bothered by when the rest of the show is executed so well. In a season overrun with yet more bullshit magic high schools and fantasy video game worlds and (admittedly good) sequels to long-running established shonen shows, Alice & Zoroku is charmingly cute and refreshingly atypical. Unless you don’t appreciate a good SOL fantasy show or really hate the CG cars for some reason, it’s worth checking out. – LumRanmaYasha

Armed Girls’ Machiavellism

Sasha warned us.

Sasha warned us.

I feel that I have come to the point this season where I could simply post the lyrics of America’s 1972 hit “A Horse With No Name” as a write-up for any of these shows. Not simply because it is completely accurate but it would save me time before the next dumpster fire I’ll have to watch. So what’s on the docket this time? Oh its..oh.oh.ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Basically this is Prison School!…if it was a shitty light novel show made by Silver Link =(. It has some of the same parts as that earlier cringecom but now with an extra splash of Gary Stu protagonists, recycled Precure villain designs, and 50% less animation but 100% more random bear. Does any of this really matter at this point? Nope. It never did.

So where was I? Oh yeah… On the first part of the journey, I was looking at all the life. There were plants and birds and rocks and things…There was sand and hills and rings The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz and the sky with no clouds. The heat was hot and the ground was dry but the air was full of sooound.

YOU SEE I’VE BEEN THROUGH THE DESERT ON A HORSE WITH NO NAME, IT FELT GOOD TO BE OUT OF THE RAIIIIIIN. IN THE DESERT YOU CAN REMEMBER YOUR NAAAME ‘CAUSE THERE AIN’T NO ONE FOR TO GIVE YOU NO PAIN. LA LAAAA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAA LA LA LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. – Lord Dalek

BORT

"Let me give her a little of this brown fist."

“Let me give her a little of this brown fist.”

I know that the Naruto train is still too lucrative to stop yet. I’m aware there was an ongoing Bort manga a while back. But everything about this first episode feels like it shouldn’t be. Another debut of a knucklehead ninja who gets his friends in trouble and makes a fool out of the Hokage? Besides the lack of a nine-tailed fox in his naval, and having a not-dead mom, I’m not even sure what the difference between Bort and his dad are. I’m thinking back to complaints over The Force Awakens being a soft reboot of Star Wars because it adhered too closely to that film, and that’s what this episode feels like. Yet more Naruto. I guess going back to the style of the very first episodes makes a change of pace after the Great Ninja War and Kaguya plots from the end of its father show, but I didn’t think the first episode of Naruto was a strong opening when I first saw it. And making a redux of that is a little bore-inducing.

You know in that one Dragon Ball GT movie with Goku’s great-great grandson who goes on adventures with his own friends, and everyone there looked off? It looked 60% Toriyama-ish, but not enough to look like he even drew it on a bad day, so you get Uncanny Valley’d by the designs. That’s what I found in Bort. I don’t know any better because I haven’t read the Bort manga, but the plot with Denki and seeking strength to face his father felt straight out of the depths of filler hell from a decade back. Even the main characters look like they were drawn for a filler arc and not the spearhead to the next generation of this franchise. I don’t even care for Kishimoto’s artwork, but when you place a character he made next to one from those movies or an episode not adapted from the manga, you see a stark difference in effort put into the two. Perhaps it’s cruel to call this the GT of Naruto, but it is. An overtread of a series fans have already seen several hundred episodes of, that I’m sure someone higher-up in the near future will cite as non-canon and make a new sequel called Naruto Super. Or maybe some disgruntled fans will make their own follow up called Naruto Multiverse or Naruto AF. Or an offshoot porn company will make a crossover called Pretty Cure and 5 Kagez. – BloodyMarquis

The Laughing Salesman NEW

The face of capitalism.

The face of capitalism.

Based from a late 60’s manga and late 80’s anime by Fujiko Fujio A, one-half the team responsible for Obake no Q-taro and the creator of Ninja Hattori (not Doraemon, that was Fujiko F. Fujio, different guy), The Laughing Salesman is a modern update of a formula that’s more or less stayed the same for the past 50 years. The titular laughing salesman Moguro preys on his clients’ emotional weaknesses and lofty desires and gives them a figurative monkey’s paw that will always, without fail, lead to their financial destitution, personal humiliation, or both. Oftentimes his victims are conventionally sympathetic, but the theme of the show is that his clients want things they do not need or deserve, but have been conditioned to yearn for them by an oppressively commercialized environment and workaholic capitalist lifestyle.

Moguro is the laughing salesman not simply because he takes pleasure in his victims’ downfall, but because he is genuinely happy with his career and place in life. In contrast to his clients, he is one of the few who benefits from and is happy living in this economic environment, profiting of the misery of those who cannot thrive within it. Considering the manga was created during a period in which Japan was finally recovering economically and a wealthier, more financially-driven lifestyle was coming in vogue, The Laughing Salesman provides a strict critique of blind capitalist indulgence, that happiness can be bought without expense, and the idea that you can buy happiness in the first place.

That his victims are often so sympathetic and relatable only emboldens the dangerous nature of the exchanges they partake in. The pleasures and gifts Moguro gives could be healthily indulged in, at least in moderation. His clients suffer consequences only because they’re never satisfied, and always want to indulge in their fantasies and pleasures more, without thinking about whether they can afford to do so. That is exactly what Moguro, what the capitalist machine, wants them to do, and he profits off the misery and mistakes they beget, unsympathetic to whether they can pay what they’ve bought back. With so many people not just in Japan but even in the U.S. suffering from extensive credit card debt and high-interest loans to pay for things that ultimately haven’t satisfied their emotional lack or helped them be happier, it’s easy to see why this show has been rebooted in the modern day.

The opening sequence in particular deftly describes the show’s contempt for oppressive capitalism and commercialization in wonderfully abstract terms. It depicts people trudging to work, constrained and treated as commodities by a system that doesn’t value human happiness, capturing the oppressive, harmful nature of the modern japanese working life. All the while, the sinister face of Moguro is omnipresent, representing the forces of capitalist exploitation that convince them to buy things they cannot afford and sink themselves further into debt, and deeper into despair. The show itself doesn’t capture that sinister omnipresence of Moguro quite as well as the opening describes it, but the second story in particular makes his insidious and constant persistence to interfere and destroy the lives of his victims perfectly uncomfortable, from him somehow knowing the OL lady’s thoughts and being there right when she’s thinking of her problems, to his face appearing on the wall of a dark alleyway she’s walking towards after an otherwise fun night on the town. Moguro’s design is the perfect blend of goofy simplicity and readily recognizable symbolic iconography that makes him a brilliantly effective antagonist for these parables.

But while The Laughing Salesman is an interesting social critique with a fun antagonist, the fact I’ve been able to thoroughly dissect its essence in a single episode without having any prior exposure might warrant reasonable fears that it’s message will wear thin and feel repetitive the longer it runs, especially due to the show’s episodic nature. Then again, there’s a certain appeal I find in franchises like the Fujio pair’s previous works Doraemon and Ninja Hattori, that are ostensibly the same plot every week but manage to keep fresh through engaging characters and well-executed storytelling. Like those shows, Laughing Salesman is not going to appeal to Otaku or the general western anime fan audience, but to guys like me who appreciate charming moral parables with a touch of clever social satire and more simplified and cartoonish character designs. So while I’m not sure the show will be saying something new every week, I’m reasonably confident I’m going to enjoy it every time. And that’s a transaction I can get behind.

Also, it’s OP and ED are the best I’ve seen out of this season so far. AOT’s don’t even come close, imo. Haven’t seen much else out of this season yet, but it’s going to be damn hard to top them. – LumRanmaYasha

The World YAMIZUKAN

The face you make when you're caught performing experiments on a human abductee.

The face you make when you’re caught performing experiments on a human abductee.

The World Yamizukan is a refreshing five-minute shot of horror and sci-fi, rendered through a beautifully detailed picture book style reminiscent of sci-fi comic books of the 50’s and 60’s. Like a lot of sci-fi short stories, TWY looks to tell simple parables through horror stories with morbid, ironic twists. I’m nostalgic for this kind of straightforward simple sci-fi horror, free from a need to modernize with detached ironic humor or self-aware parody. The shorts throwback horror comic-inspired character designs, washed out watercolors, and cut-out animation provides a perfect atmosphere and aesthetic to communicate these stories visually while the chilling sound design and music and Twilight Zone-esque voiceover provides a perfect audial accompaniment. Five minutes a week well worth your time I’d say. – LumRanmaYasha

2017
04.03

animearejustfictionbrah

Hello. I welcome you to Spring 2017 Clusterfuck of Japanese Animations. Please peruse to your delight.

Alice & Zoroku

This is not Attack on Titan. Keep scrolling

This is not Attack on Titan. Keep scrolling

Oh boy its another “Girl escapes from a secret organization and has a random encounter on a rain swept road” show! What? You didn’t know about this genre before? Well neither did I, but then we had that shitty Brynhildr show and that awesome Flip Flappers show so somebody at the ever awful J.C. Staff decided “Hey! Here’s something we haven’t ripped off yet!” and thus we have Alice & Zoroku, a watered down SOL version of these usual psychokinetc gore-a-thon shows. Sounds…average.

So in a world where someone decided to remake Rozen Maiden with actual lolis, a girl known as the Red Queen has fled from the evil government organization of the week to that far off haven for people wanting to hide…Shijuku!…wait that’s a terrible idea…What’s an even worse idea is to trying to make a magical girl spirit pact not with some strapping young kid but instead a grumpy old jackass named Zoroku. But hey here’s some action scenes to make the show far more entertain…

…oh god. My eyes…get it away from me…dat suckoooga.

Well once we get past that bit of… quality, we’re still stuck with a double length episode, which means 24 more minutes of grumpy gus old dude, his awful CGI Mini Cooper, and Not-Lucy going all not-diclonius on more magical girls and that dumbass alien kid from World Trigger. Its a slog and at many points I considered dropping this and letting Rac suffer (YOU OWE ME.) only two have Zoroku’s abuse of Sana, the Red Queen and her anime show bullshit drag me back in. And the sad part is, this actually could have been good. There’s a potential for parody of these bad paranormal biohazard harem shows that actually would have worked and may have made for a decent sleeper hit this season but noooooooooo, we can’t trust J.C. Staff to do anything right and thus we’re just left with a painfully dull, painfully cheap looking mess.

Fuck this show. Fuck it in the ass. – Lord Dalek

Attack on Titan 2: The Zeke-quel

tackontitan1

tackontitan2

When watching the new episode with other people, someone remarked that this premiere felt like watching the season premiere of The Walking Dead. You know, the kind of premiere where very little happens and you’re left wondering if you should’ve went for several bathroom breaks. And you watch not of personal interest, but just so you can talk to other people at threads, water coolers, alleys, and anime cons about the latest big shocking event to pass. Even a chunk of the cast spends a good part of the episode waiting for something to occur. I’m sure it was meant to be cheeky and a nod to how long it’s been since the last episode, where pregnant viewers who watched Annie get beat up are now raising toddlers. People who just started college are now finishing up their senior theses and discovering the bitter joy of unemployment. Such a gap between episodes that would make Sherlock fans blush, the new Attack on Titan offers nothing new for the sweet summer child of a viewer. Eren’s still bug-eyed, the Titans are still drawn to be drunk, naked people, and courageous speeches of hope are still instantly subverted by shrieks and crying. If anything, it does refresh and reinvite you to the show’s themes in all of twenty minutes.

I guess you could say the advent of the Beast Titan sets up a new stage, along with the opening hinting at Krista’s role, but the first season’s often glacial pace makes me wonder how much this season will actually deliver, especially with the news that it will only run for one cour. Yes, I sound quite sour, and to those who haven’t read the last few articles about Attack on Titan at all, I might seem even contrarian. But what made the first episode so special all those years ago has vanished, and now I’m stuck looking at spoilers from the newest chapter out of amusement and not wonder. For intrepid Titan fans, have you seen what the latest chapters are about? It’s nonsense. All the series’ previous subversions of worn out anime cliches are now played bizarrely and utterly straight. I don’t wish to spoil for anime-only fans, but the Beast Titan’s voice actor being Dio Brando’s is quite fitting. Anyway, hope you guys love the Krista arc. – BloodyMarquis

Usual crappy shit that other guy wrote!

Yeah whatever.

Shingeki no Colbert

Once upon a time, there was a show called “Attack on Titan.” It was popular. It was VERRRY popular. So popular in fact that its popularity quickly spread from the land of the rising sun to the ol’ red white and blue. In fact its popularity was so great that volume 1 of the manga became the highest selling single TPB of any manga ever released in the US. There were live action movies, a theatrical reedit of the series, all sorts of merchandise, and so on. Obviously with a franchise this successful, the natural thing would be to make a follow up as soon as possible!

…and yet, here we are four years too late for anyone to care.

Yup its really been four years since the first season of Attack on Titan. Since then, a slew of edgelord “Titan-Like” shonenshit have appeared, failed to make an impression, and disappeared into the night. That massively selling manga didn’t so much as fade off but fall off a cliff in sales (taking the New York Times Bestseller list with it in the process). The amount of folks with Colossal Titan on their shirts has dwindled as Wit continued to drag their feet with dreck like that show with the vampire lolis. Basically Titan isn’t what it used to be as a brand and it is into this situation (highly similar to the one in which the first series began) that we are now given its much belated return.

So anyway where were we? Of yeah there was that big Titan burried with the wall itself. As Hanchi tries to pry information from the local wacky eyes priest, Wall Rose gets breached!…again! (DAMMIT TROST!) Connie, Sasha, and Reiner are sent off to evacuate the surrounding cities in their civies due to the lack of time needed to gear up. Eren finally recovers from whatever the hell happened to him in episode 25 but otherwise is only in the episode to prevent confused exclaimations of “WHERE’S EREN?” And a new weird titan appears, a giant hairy guy who can…talk?!?! Gore! Shaky cam! Old film effects! Bulging eyes! Business as usual!

Attack on Titan Season 2 doesn’t even try to hide the fact its just the long delayed third cour of Attack on Titan. Hell it even continues the episode numbering right where it left off. As such this is absolutely impossible to get into if you’re a newcomer. The juggling act the show has to do to keep all these disparate plot strands it keeps throwing at us is already too much of a challenge for the show to handle on its own and the fact that our three lead protagonists have more screen time in the opening title sequence than they do in the episode proper might leave novices confused as to what this show is supposed to be about. I can only imagine the decreased episode order from 25 to just 12 is the cause of this.

For fans only. – Lord Dalek

Triple Dips

All in all, just another Titan in the wall.

All in all, just another Titan in the wall.

I’m really sick of hearing all the complaints from all the butt-hurt AOT fans that they waited four years for twelve episodes. That Wit Studio spent four years just working on these twelve episodes and wasn’t doing any other shows in the meantime. That fans somehow deserve, no, are ENTITLED to more episodes. Well, sorry to break it to you, but that’s not how anime production works. They probably only started working on this season after Kabaneri’s production wrapped up. They probably had less than a year of prep time before broadcast, the industry standard. So forget about what you’re not getting and just enjoy what you are getting right now you ungrateful assholes.

With that out of the way, Attack on Titan season two. The show basically picks up where it left off and doesn’t waste much time getting you caught up to speed. It boasts the same level of visual polish and high standard of animation quality as the first season, nary a difference really. The tone is as over the top and bombastic as ever, with some hilariously goofy Titan designs and walk cycles, wonderfully brutal death scenes, and lots of screaming and shouting and crying. All the making of a solid dumb popcorn action shonen fun. It really is just more Attack on Titan, for better and worse.

If this season is going to end where I think it will there’ll be a lot of action, blood, twists, and betrayals for people who haven’t already read the manga to look forward to. Pacing-wise I’m concerned that’ll all feel dragged out, but it’ll still probably be better paced than the Trost arc was so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Honestly, it doesn’t matter since this will undoubtedly be the best-looking and most talked about anime of this season regardless. Practically everyone in the anime community will be watching it, and heck, even non-anime fans considering it’ll start airing on Toonami before the end of the month. You don’t need me to tell you to watch this because if you can’t possibly not have an opinion on a show this big by now. All I’ll say is that I like the Beast Titan and enjoyed seeing his introduction scene animated. That was one of the moments I was most looking forward to out of this season and it turned out as I expected. That sums AOT season 2 quite nicely actually. It so far meets expectations. Let’s just see if it lives up the to hype people have had for it these past four years. – LumRanmaYasha

GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation

Neither did I!

TTW the scribbled in parts of a story memo creep into the actual scripts…

This is an odd one for us. Technically GRANBLUE FANTASY (all caps because Crunchyroll did it) was supposed to air last season and indeed it did…for two episodes as a preview special. However production setbacks delayed the actual start of the series proper to Spring cour which is why its appearing now despite the pilot being on Crunchyroll for the better part of three months.

That said… I probably should have written this up last January anyway since the general lack of effort or originality on display here would have totally fit in with the dumpster fire that was Winter 2017.

So what’s this show about? Well have you ever watched Laputa? Have you ever played Lunar? Are you a horrible secretion who likes Fairy Tail? Well this is all of that! But 100x more bland. Mysterious blue haired girl falls from an airship by means of mysterious glowing blue gem. She encounters Average Guy and his annoying flying cat thing sidekick. They are pursued by the local evil empire because shitty fantasy anime before being rescued by a Not-Erza. And…that’s it. Literally the plot stops 13 minutes in. Great…just great. No wonder this is based off a card game. Literally noone cares.

So what else can I talk about here? The animation? Oh its bad. Its really bad. Everything’s really scratchy and unrefined and I’m sure that’s not the fault of Crunchyroll’s recent compression scam. The CGI is incredibly obvious and intrusive, but that’s not surprising since its A-1. Otherwise its just meh all around and I’m sick of it already. At least the music’s good, its by some obscure guy who did the soundtracks to Rad Racer and 3D World Runner back in the 80s before vanishing off the face of the Earth. Wonder what happened to him? That’s all there’s left to be said about Granblue.

Oh wait! They also do a tribute to the dolphin fucking scene from Fa—and I’m out. – Lord Dalek

The NEW Laughing Salesman

Sheeeh!

My face watching Hand Shakers returns

Before there was Doraemon, there was The Laughing Salesman. A darker, harder edged version of the “be careful what you wish for”-type stories the illustrious Fujiko Fujio combine would later perfect with Nobita-abuse. Suffice to say, it didn’t run nearly as long as that damn robot cat in print, however the saga of a nasty little man who dishes out nasty karmic justice to even nastier not-so-little men is apparently so fondly remembered in Japan that it got a 100+ episode adaptation in the early 90s and now a new one to celebrate the franchise’s 40th. And this one actually got subbed to boot, so now Americans can be exposed to another ancient manga franchise a bajillion years after it ceased to be relevant ala Osomatsu-Kun. However, unlike Osomatsu-San, this is played completely straight which may make or break the show in the end.

Now since this is based off a short comedy manga with only one character the plot is pretty simple. There exists a man in Japan name Moguro who will make your dreams come true, as long as you don’t stray too far from his “path of decency”. Do that and he will wreck your shit faster than the Road Runner wrecks The Coyote. This week’s marks include a pair of office workers who waste their lives away at an imaginary burleque club instead of showing up to work in time and then a sadsack office lady who gets way more (or less) than she bought using Moguro’s surprisingly useless credit card. In both cases these people get what they deserve but the outcomes aren’t as funny or smart as they should be. This isn’t to say its bad, it just left me a little wanting.

Production wise, I ain’t gonna lie, this show is pretty terrible looking with bargain basement low frame animation and in some cases just stils. No surprise really since its poverty row studio Shin-Ei in the driver’s seat here. The OP on the other hand is AWESOME and may end up being the best of the season. All in all, I’m not sure there’s any real reason to watch The New Laughing Salesman. Its not very funny, its pedigree is largely irrelevant, and it doesn’t seem like it has much potential beyond its rather simple premise. Your mileage will obviously vary of course though. — Lord Dalek

Monster Strike 2

Here lies an anime so obscure that no one /a/ speaks a word of it.

Here lies an anime so obscure that no one /a/ speaks a word of it.

Monster Strike 2 is the sequel to Monster Strike. I never watched Monster Strike, but I’m sure it was pleasant. The episode starts with our heroes chasing a dragon down a subway tunnel. When the dragon is about to hit an oncoming train, they make the train go to another dimension. They never bring back the train. They are horrible people who condemned hundreds to death in the void. Sadly, this is the only interesting thing that happens in the episode. Okay, that’s not completely true. They do go to an underground club that’s only for middle schoolers where the animators get to show off more cool monsters in these augmented reality fights called MS. What does MS stand for? I don’t know. Monster Strike, I guess? Marquis said it stood for multiple sclerosis, but I think he was reading a /cock/ thread. In any case, the bulk of the episode is about a new female transfer student from New Jersey joining their class and cozying it up with the male MC. New character marvels at how fun Japan is, and that’s pretty much where the episode goes, with another girl and the mascot character joking about how female MC must feel about a random blonde girl stealing her man. Even Steven Universe filler episodes do more with their 11 minutes. There are hints about something more nefarious in the background, as the main group is being stalked by a busty woman with a sunhat and some dude who skates around his lab in shorts and a lab coat, but nothing too interesting happened. Plus, I’m still too annoyed by Samurai Jack being preempted by Reddit and Memey to care. Monster Strike 2 gets a 5/10 for being average as heck and looking like video game cutscenes. – RacattackForce

My Hero Academia 2

So the villains in this show are Otaku?

So the villains in this show are Otaku?

Why do I find myself writing what’ll likely be the most negative review of MHA for the Clusterfuck two years in a row? I was the first person on AR to read it, and I believed in it’s potential early on when others dismissed it as generic shonen. I think it’s the best currently-running manga in Jump right now, it’s only competition being the rebounding One Piece, the gripping new series The Promised Neverland and Gintama, the latter of which is on it’s way out. I’ve defended it’s virtues against critics and naysayers several times, most recently against Doctor of the Ass Backwards Anime Podcast on Manga Mavericks. I’m very passionate about this series and its success and I’m quite happy it’s continuing to grow both in it’s storytelling and it’s popularity.

So let me be clear, I’m criticizing this premiere from a fan’s perspective. An anime adaptation is what most people judge an anime franchise on, and Shonen Jump properties especially live and die in terms of critical and popular respect based on them, at least as far as the western fandom is concerned. Bones’ adaptation of the series generally looks great and benefits from the life the voice cast, expressive animation, and color breathes into the world and characters. They’re a great studio that has consistently produced fine adaptations of long-running shonen manga, from Fullmetal Alchemist to Soul Eater to Fullmetal Alchemist…again. I just can’t help but feel that the pacing could be better.

I came around to the idea of them splitting the first chapter into two episodes, since there was a lot of content in there that benefited from the breathing space. However, I still don’t think that the first episode works on it’s own as self-contained premiere to a long-running shonen action series, and felt that making the premiere double length would’ve been a better solution. Ostensibly, I can understand why the pacing of the first season is the way it is, and in theory it could’ve allowed them to add in more material to flesh things out a bit more. That’s what Bones has done with their adaptations in the past. But the MHA adaptation was very faithful and didn’t add anything substantial to what was already there. It followed the practice of other long runners of having a measured, easy-going pace, and they did it well. Considering how the arcs break down and how many episodes they had, it made sense why they went in that direction.

But why, now that they have two cours – 25 episodes – to work with, are they proceeding at such a slow-burning pace? The season two premiere is ostensibly a recap episode, with long explanations going over Midoriya and All Might’s motivations and everything that happened in season one, with some exposition given about the Sports Festival tacked onto the end. There are some fun gags and important foreshadowing featuring yet to be introduced characters, and the episode delves briefly into Ochako’s motivations which will be a huge part of her character arc, especially in this season, but even taking all of that into account the new material comprises maybe less than a third of this premiere. I’m not sure why we’re so slowly being led into the story when there was literally a recap episode the week before.

I don’t think this is a bad episode by conventional shonen anime standards – it’s par for the course of a modern episode of One Piece – but a show like MHA doesn’t need to be paced like a Toei-style Shonen Jump adaptation. It has the benefit of a condensed episode count, a healthy production schedule, and plenty of source material to work with. I’m concerned that this season will be paced slower than it needs to be, and that will detract from it’s many great merits. The Sports Festival is, oddly enough, already a contentious arc among MHA fans, and when one of it’s biggest criticisms (even by Horikoshi himself) is that it went on longer than it needed to, it won’t benefit from being dragged out. I ’m hoping this won’t be an issue, and this premiere isn’t reflective of the pacing or production quality of the rest of the season. MHA is one of the best shonen action titles on the scene right now, and I really wanted this premiere to say “I am here!” with a heroic bold, booming confidence. Instead, I heard a lackadaisical yawn, as if it was leisurely waking up from a long slumber. To be fair, this is only the first episode. Easing into things slowly works well enough to catch up people who maybe haven’t watched or thought about the show in a year. I just hope it doesn’t take the whole season for it to really get going. – LumRanmaYasha

The Silver Guardian

I'm running out of Tencent jokes here people.

I’m running out of Tencent jokes here people.

Whelp its another season and that means more steaming piles of rancid Tianjin from our “friends” at Emon and TENCENT. Bloodivores was one of (if not the) worst shows of Fall 2016. Spiritpact might have been the worst show of Winter 2017 had a certain vomitorium called Hand Shakers not opened up across the street and now here’s Silver Guardian, a show with animation quality on par with that bad PV from Gi(a)rlish Number and a plot rehashed from a fair number of bad late 90s shonen shit.

So our hero is Suigin, a pool boy who can’t swim, and his Azudai retrace cat. For some reason Suigin is fighting a bunch of grey boring monsters and titan clones for reasons we are NOT made aware of. Also he’s apparently attracted to some retrace of that girl from Rosario X Vampire. I’m sure all of this will make sense soon, perhaps after the commercial brea—wait…credits? Its over?!?! ALREADY?????

Yes this is a 9-minute animu with no plot and no characters. Didn’t care when it started, cared even less after it finished. That’s how far Emon has fallen. To that I say… THE PUNISHMENT FITS THE CRIME. — Lord Dalek

2017
03.26

samuraijack3

It’s weird. When Samurai Jack did their Frank Miller tribute episode with the Spartans back in the day, Miller was still revered as the trendsetter of comics. Who aside from some rough spots like Dark Knight Strikes Again, was one of those names every fan of comics knew. But in 2017, Frank Miller’s now a laughingstock and a pariah because of his recent works like The Holy Terror, failed attempts at a directing career with The Spirit movie, and controversial political views that have painted his previously renowned works in a poor light. Admitting to liking him, even his seminal works like Year One, is a rarity to see now. You’re about as likely to see people openly admitting to liking Ken Penders than Frank Miller. No matter how good any of his new comics will be, his name always carries a burden. So seeing the new season allude to Frank Miller works feels like it’s from another time, with the first scene between Jack and the wolf harkening back to Sin City. If anything, it strengthens how flashback-heavy this episode is. That Jack’s recalling a simpler time while the show is also doing just that.

Jack recalling his childhood and reciting his father’s words to the Daughters proves something pivotal to his character: He’s still figuring out how to fill his shoes. Even when he’s mentally in his mid-70s, he has to figure out what wisdom his father had that he needs to attain. The Emperor managed to seal Aku not long after first encountering him, while Jack has had decades to kill him but to no avail. Perhaps in some ways, Jack hasn’t mentally aged, and he’s still somewhat of a child in need of education. Maybe all these decades have scarred him so much, that he’s somehow regressed. Like where’s his flying cloud and glowing silver samurai armor? Why haven’t the gods given him the tools to finally vanquish Aku once and for all? If he’s essentially become a plaything and an understudy for his father, then how can he possibly succeed?

Of course, that applies for the Daughters too. They’ve been so excessively trained and secluded from regular society that the sight of a deer nuzzling another confuses them. They even think one with antlers is meant to be Aku’s servant. It highlights how even though they are all grown women, simple moments that even toddlers can comprehend are out of their reach. Like how the Daughters chasing Jack last episode was as much the mission as it was also them exploring their surroundings and being almost curious about the tomb they infiltrated. So cold, yet so simpleminded, all because their mother never showed them her copy of Bambi. The worst part? There’s indication that their mother isn’t even allied with Aku since a troupe of mud people could easily gain access to him while she could only bow to a statue in his image. So all of this bloodshed and death in the last two episodes isn’t even because of an ancient evil, but some crazed woman indoctrinating her chldren.

PS: I don’t know what to think of the fan theory that not only will Ashi survive, she’ll be the one who goes to the past and kill Aku. Maybe that could work, but I’m not sure. If executed poorly, it would feel like Jack sacrificed decades of his life for nothing while someone else took his place.

2017
03.19
In which someone has inflicted pain on themselves within a current day.

In which someone has inflicted pain on themselves within a current day.

Let’s talk about mirror scenes, which we previously saw in Jack rescuing a couple dogs from beetle drones like he did in the first show. This time, we get a callback to when the water aliens agreed to build a totem in Aku’s honor in exchange for living in his domain. There, he wasn’t particularly emotional or hammy like his usual self, but he seemed to take a little joy in the idea of ruining a species’ homeworld and having them grovel before his essence. But in this episode with a similar situation, except replace water with apparent fecal matter, Aku’s just apathetic and irritable. He couldn’t care if this race sang songs about his magnificence, because he’s just not feeling it. Because what he really wants is beyond his grasp. He wants Jack dead, but Jack keeps evading death. On and on and on, until Aku feels a Myth of Sisyphus crisis going, knowing that fifty years of evil have done little in harming Jack. And ignorant of Jack’s sword being misplaced, Aku’s stuck with the knowledge that he and Jack are at a standstill. Such an issue that even he’s talking to himself the way Jack is, but in less of a psychological way and more psychiatric.

But all of that’s hampered by Greg Baldwin’s performance. Needless to say, he just doesn’t sound like Mako enough. He was a good enough Iroh that it was hard to notice the difference, but his Aku doesn’t have that right tenor. Greg sounds a little like Kevin Michael Richardson doing a Mako impression in a few lines. I’ve heard he sounds much better in future episodes, but there’s some oddness in seeing a lighthearted scene that’s not out of place from the previous seasons, and Aku sounds like he has strep throat. Giving Aku a new environment would have alleviated this issue, but a need for visual consistency wins this round. Still, the idea of Jack and Aku’s battle starting with giving each other life (Jack’s father accidentally giving Aku sentience, and Aku unintentionally giving Jack agelessness) and leading to a mental war of attrition is intriguing no matter the voice actor. Jack waiting days after villagers have died before bothering to fight. Aku no longer reveling in his villainy. It’s yin and yang almost about to merge and become a pool of gray, but each side is too stubborn to let it happen.

Which was more fascinating than all the talk about Jack finally killing a fellow human. Jack’s killed plenty of sentient creatures and robots in the past, some of whom weren’t evil like X9 was. What makes a human life worth more than a non-human one? It would’ve been more interesting to focus on how the Daughters are Aku’s answer to Jack’s training, being raised from childhood to fight and kill a legendary foe, and how Jack essentially slayed a version of himself. Have him focus on the face of the dead Daughter, and he comes to a slow realization that children are being raised to fight him the same way he was raised to fight Aku. Jack’s lived in this world for 50 years and has gotten used to its brutality, yet he has to assure himself that his foes are mere nuts and bolts? But maybe it’s a sign after all these years, Jack still had a lingering trace of idealism, and a belief that humans could do no wrong.

2017
03.12
Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a woman, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING.

Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a woman, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING.

It’s always fascinating to see a show come back and have to adapt to modern storytelling practices. For the most part, the original Samurai Jack played by standalone episode rules. One-in-done. Little continuity in the way, with the occasional follow up episode. But this is the current year! Where even cartoons for toddlers have intricate lore and ask you to watch every previous episode to understand the latest one. So our revived Samurai Jack has to adapt, to evolve in order to appeal not only to its established fanbase but to any intrepid viewers who got bored and turned onto Toonami. And it’s hard to have it any other way, because would people prefer this new season to be exactly like the old days? With reviews saying this felt exactly like a show from 2004?

That was one of my issues with Sym-Bionic Titan and why I couldn’t warm up to that series. Felt too much of a throwback that it didn’t have a lot in the way of original vision. And while the new Samurai Jack is certainly derivative, it carries a fresher flavor in its plot. With a destined endgame in mind, and a ten episode run to keep the show focused, this new Jack is now at a crossroads. In the original show, Jack was allowed to go off on so many side-adventures like with the Woolies, the Mafia, the baby, the rave kids, and the Ringo Starr seamonkeys. But now, those goofy little miniquests of his have wearied him, where he can only muster so much mental strength to go to a decimated village and fight a Sammy Davis Jr robot. Jack’s grown sick of fighting so much only to see the bloodshed of those he couldn’t save, leaving him almost apathetic to the cries even if he denies such thoughts. It’s been fifty years, so many of those he saved have probably died. Those talking dogs from his pilot movie have certainly passed on. All those undertones in the earlier show about how people could rise up against Aku, all those higher beings watching over Jack to make sure he wouldn’t stray from the path, they’re all gone.

But what was also absent in this first episode, besides a brief phone call, was Aku himself. Any presence he has is merely secondhand, with that cult of his worshiping his statue but never making any direct contact with him. He’s almost like a ghost. Before Scaramouche called him, I had a brief thought that Aku might have died off screen, and that revelation would lead to Jack breaking down further, knowing he’s worked and struggled so hard to fight an opponent who will never show up. Granted, that would be anticlimactic, but Jack’s enemy this episode was certainly his own past as much as it is the robots in front of him. And if he ever does get back to the past, how much will he welcome a realm that’s plagued his visions for decades?

2017
02.13
I'm not sure why I made this.

I’m not sure why I made this.

Boy, are people hyped for the new Samurai Jack. Even the people who don’t care for the show have the mental thought noise of Phil LaMarr saying “Gotta get back, back to the past” in their head recently. None of that hesitant hype people had for the new Powerpuff Girls or Teen Titans Go that eventually soured and became seething rage that quickly overpopulated actual discussion of those respective shows. Just genuine awe and excitement over seeing a little show about a samurai fighting an evil wizard come back to the TV screen. Refreshing, especially for a show I never expected to come back. I just assumed the “Jump Good” episode was the ending and was done with it, while being mildly woken up by the occasional “Tartakovsky is in the next stage of production for the Samurai Jack movie” news every other year for the past decade. And to be honest, up until writing this article and doing the research, I haven’t watched many episodes of Samurai Jack for ages. Some I haven’t seen since they originally aired, but it’s cool that the new season’s given me an opportunity to re-open this trove.

A disgraced writer named Lawrence Miles once talked about the reason why Looney Tunes characters have lasted to this day, because they’re not written to be relatable, but to be iconic. Look at a purple bird running, and you automatically get the image of Road Runner without any further explanation, you just hear the “Meep meep!” in your head as soon as the thought enters. It’s kind of the same with Samurai Jack. I know there have been jokes about how Jack looks exactly like Professor Utonium, but there’s a nice simplicity in his design and Aku’s that says more with less. How you only need to look at a mere outline to be able to go “Oh, hey. That’s Aku!” Styling like that gives viewers an easy identity to put on the show. It’s a show built on creating not just relatable or fun characters, but ones that can be iconic in a sense. But then that leads to the other argument, that the show is too simple with how Aku’s a one-dimensional villain whose dialogue consists of either laughing or “Foolish samurai!” To that, I say the show’s DNA holds more than enough to contradict that claim.

From Yojimbo, to Lone Wolf and Cub, to Tezuka, to pre-crazy Frank Miller, Samurai Jack’s the obvious product of someone who’s read and watched all of that and uses them to put the puzzle pieces together for his own work. So many cardinal works consumed and digested, all to form one unified essence within this show. You can see it in the shots resembling less that of traditional animated fights and more like comic panels, the episode tributes to other artists, and many cheeky in-jokes like when Huntor from Dexter’s Lab made a cameo. Signs that Tartakovsky is more than happy to pay homage to past works to honor his current one. Even in talks about his new season, he’s absolutely gleeful to discuss how films as recent as Mad Max: Fury Road gave him ideas.

Despite being that open in what the show derives from, Samurai Jack also had a unique flavor most of its contemporaries didn’t have back then. Action cartoons in that era were more superhero fare like Justice League, or too self-aware and comedic to tell a dramatic story like Megas XLR. Samurai Jack didn’t have either of that, with Tartakovsky’s interviews emphasizing how he wanted to create a more vulnerable protagonist than the other fare. How the lack of dialogue for some scenes would help kids focus on the animation and artwork. I’m especially amused by this show’s answer to censoring violence, by just having Jack kill robots and cyborgs who bleed oil, even as enemies are mutilated or given visceral deaths, they always either explode or bleed oil. I’m almost sad the new season will probably relax that law, because it was charming. Like when Jack fights a bunch of reptilian warriors, and he can only cut off their arms because they’re the cybernetic part. That was cute.

Not to say it’s all perfect though, because there are some issues getting in the way when re-evaluating this show. Like a reference to the Austin Powers theme in the Mad Jack episode, timely then but scoff-worthy to hear now. The Sah-moo-rai episode, which while still funny to me, was somewhat embarrassing to watch given how unashamedly stereotypical he was. A little bit like watching a Wayans Bros movie. Or the one where Jack has to save all the teenagers from the evils of rave music, where he has to explain to the demon DJ that he thinks the music is bad-bad instead of slang bad. All of these little detours that have probably made fans scratch their heads when the thought of a pacifier sucking, Dr. Seuss hat wearing Jack dancing pops up in their brains. For every liter of pure focus, there was an ounce of that running in the series.

And it does beg to question what this show’s ultimate plan was. I always thought that by the last season, Aku’s forces were waning, given that he had to resort to getting formerly retired robots like X9, or increasingly incompetent bounty hunters to do his work. Leading to this idea that Aku will eventually lose merely out of his own failure than through Jack’s strength. I guess my idea was wrong considering how much of a sorry shape Jack is in. But still, it’s refreshing to know the final season will be more connected this time, with a definite endgame in store and not a finale where Jack takes care of a baby.

2017
02.08
Sweet Platonic Monkey Love

Sweet Platonic Monkey Love

I hate having a film that I want to watch, but I don’t either because of lack of time, there are other things to watch, genuine forgetfulness, and so on. I’m seldom known for being on point the moment something important pops up. And while many films can hold that distinction for me, one that just kept getting away was Kubo. Meant to watch it on August, but no theaters around me had it. Meant to watch it on November, but I’m too frugal to slip $30 for a DVD. And for half a year, “You should watch Kubo, it’s a fun movie” kept flowing into my thoughts while my lack of strong will stopped me from seeing it until now. Yeah, second article in a row of me talking about stuff I’ve taken forever to get to. Definitely not the last if I actually remember what I had on my backlog.

And what a pleasant surprise from Kubo. Even with all the hype, and how fans were justly loud and angry at a certain Sony movie about meat products doing better, I was still amazed over how great this movie was. Every shot and scene felt like it was crafted out of love. Being Asian myself, I’m always intrigued when a western animated film tries to adapt eastern elements, like in Mulan and Kung Fu Panda. Or even in shows like Samurai Jack and Avatar. It’s fun to pinpoint which details they got right and what cultural allusions they added in. Even the ones I don’t like are more often than not made because the creator has genuine curiosity for other cultures and wants to capture it in their own story. Kubo’s director Travis Knight is definitely such a creator, using all this experience to make such an ethereal fairy tale. Everything he puts into his film is sincere, where you can even get emotional resonance out of the waves of the oceans in some scenes. I know that sounds overly pontifical, but it’s true.

The film has deep meanings established, but all accessible enough to be told in a 101-minute kids’ movie. For instance, I appreciate the way the film handles death and how we deal with it. While death’s sad, the agony over it shouldn’t consume you as long as you utilize your memories for comfort, and participate in a few rituals to keep your mind clear of bad thoughts. A message told in many other animated films, but the way it’s presented here is more than exceptional. Mortality is simply one stage of a human’s journey, while the second is how they impact their loved ones. People can die physically, but never spiritually as someone’s there to remember them. And if you don’t agree with that like the Moon King did, then your perception of others, even your kin, gets thrown out the window. Now convey that message with giant eyes and a titanic skeleton, and you get a modern folk tale known as Kubo.

Kubo’s an alright character, especially when he’s played by someone who previously acted as such a nonentity as Rickon Stark. But the real charm comes from the way the supporting cast fill their shoes. Charlize Theron makes a great Monkey, and Matthew McConaughey’s fun performance makes me regret previously mocking his gargly voice in True Detective and those car commercials. I wasn’t too sure about why they cast Ralph Fiennes though, because he does an old Asian man voice for his character. Like if he watched clips of Aku from Samurai Jack as resource material for his performance, it sounded as if they wanted him to sound like Mako Iwamatsu since they obviously can’t get the actual Mako Iwamatsu. I’m not going to be one of those assholes who claims everything’s “Orientalist”, but they did have George Takei and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in the movie too. Nothing was stopping Laika from using either of them instead, or getting the guy who played Uncle from Jackie Chan Adventures. While Fiennes was still good in his role, and I’m perfectly fine with non-Asian actors playing Asian characters in cartoons, there was just something off about that. It would be like if they made a Luke Cage cartoon, and Diamondback was played by Steve Blum who went out of his way to sound like a black guy.

So yeah, thumbs up to Laika, and hope this film gets a second lease on life from word-of-mouth.

2017
02.04
but a miserable pile of secrets?

but a miserable pile of secrets?

Rose of Versailles was always that show I heard referenced to for years, but never got around to watching it. For years, I’ve watched more of that musical theatre version of the story than the manga or the anime. Embarrassing, I know. How dare I write reviews of anime when I haven’t watched all of the greats yet? But that was then, and now I’m cured, delivered, and I’ve seen the light that is a 70s/80s anime from Tokyo Movie Shinsha. Alleluia. But looking at this show with modern eyes, it’s provocative how much of this story resonates now. Strangely appealing in these current times due to having a female lead who abandons gender norms whilst facing an increasingly divided social and economic hierarchy. Women throughout the series are forced to choose their roles in life at the cost of those they love. Society is on the brink of bloody change. If someone had the nerve to adapt the manga now, they would probably be celebrated as topical and hardhitting by short-minded anime critics who don’t realize it first came out in 1972.

I’m sure someone out there can make a good argument that our lead Oscar’s life is meant to be a prototypical transgender narrative. And I would agree with that point, since the manga author is well-used to writing about transgender themes like in her 1978 publication Claudine. Throughout the story, Oscar is in conflict with her gender identity, wanting to be a warrior and doing well in her job. Yet her urges to be with Fersen and her relationship with Andre plays a great deal in her personal affairs, along with a one-sided crush from Rosalie’s perspective. But she doesn’t choose to be masculine, it’s forced upon her by her well-meaning but controlling father. To me, it’s less of her fight between genders, and more of her battle between becoming a warrior like her father intended or being a lover to Andre, Fersen, or even Rosalie. That’s what makes Oscar stand out and lead this anime by herself, because her personality allows for all of these interpretations on her inner struggles. She’s probably one of the best female characters the anime/manga medium has to offer thanks to that.

I’m especially impressed by how this show can handle characterization given its stylistic choices. Because no matter how broadminded you can be, this is a show that came out in 1979, and it shows quite painfully in some places. Occasionally when we get a dramatic scene, organ music straight out of a 60s soap opera plays. And when a romantic scene occurs, you get what I assume to be a synth version of a harp playing. I’m not sure how to properly describe it beyond that, but the music overall feels very out of place for a show set in the midst of the French Revolution. It’s especially glaring thanks to the animation that’s aged well for the most part, even if the directorial change from Tadao Nagahama to Osamu Dezaki is noticeable. When Dezaki takes the helm, many of the “Oh, look how pretty French royalty is!” moments go away, and he introduces this bard under a bridge whose songs foreshadow the end of the aristocracy. Nagahama already depicted the lords and ladies of France as coldhearted, but he did pull his punches whenever Marie Antoinette shows up. After he dies, that’s put in doubt.

One of those show’s biggest questions lies in whether or not Marie Antoinette is at fault for the common Frenchman’s plight. In contrast to the “let them eat cake” portrayal, Rose of Versailles treats her as someone very out of control of her situation. Many challenges to nobility are done without her knowledge, and her name is often used in aristocrats’ schemes without her consent. But she never seeks a way to undo these wrongs, instead holding out in her palaces while people like her mother beg her to fulfill her duty as a queen. Sure, she does try to take the moral stance in situations right in front of her, but Marie never seeks out these problems firsthand. She’s not pro-active, letting those around her grow decadent and abuse the common folk while she realizes too late that they’re going to look at her as the cause for all their suffering. But she can’t join the working class and sympathize with their plight because that means losing good favor with the noblemen she’s known all her life, making her too afraid to join the righteous path if it means abandoning familiar surroundings. She’s not the cause for all this suffering, just an unwitting scapegoat and symptom of how bluebloods or those who at least claim to bluebloods can abuse their power.

Throughout Antoinette’s reign, we see all of these horrible, despicable people find riches and fame in Versailles, like Guement, DuBarry, and Jeanne. What’s interesting about the latter two is that neither are born noble. DuBarry started out as a bloodthirsty prostitute who got lucky enough to be a king’s mistress, and Jeanne just cheated and killed her way to grandeur. We get few and far moments that these two women are anything but abominable, and it’s through Jeanne’s self-centered actions that shake up the foundation of French society. Nobody’s in agreement, everybody’s scheming to take each others’ positions, and none of the peasants can do anything about it for the majority of the show. They have to stand around while their own kind are either shot or run over by carriages, unable to do anything because a noble’s blood running down the streets would bring forth armies while a commoner’s blood would not. No matter how many cry about needing bread to feed their families, all it takes is a handful of nobles, blind to the public’s opinion, to decide who lives and who dies.

But the show’s indecisive on the “nobles = bad, commoners = good” argument. Chalk that up to shades of gray. Look at Rosalie for instance, the good sister compared to Jeanne. She’s revealed to have noble blood on her birth mother’s side all along. Even then, she’s in conflict with that ancestry, doing much to renounce that connection in favor of how her adoptive mother raised her. It’s another example of women in this series trying to fight back against the role their parents have given them, to varying results. Her character arc never rises to a satisfying conclusion, with her just leaving and becoming Bernard’s husband. I heard from questionable sources that was because her character was unpopular when the manga was ongoing, and the author just decided to shuffle her away as a response. Something I wish didn’t happen, because Rosalie had some potential for the later parts of the series. That’s one issue with the series, it doesn’t fully involve itself in some characters with parts to play, like Fersen, Marie Antoinette’s lover. He leaves to fight in America for seven years. Then when he comes back, he finds his beloved France torn by class warfare and hatred from both nobles and peasants. The 97% lower-class versus the 3% nobles. But his story arc and eventual conclusion (one with historical basis at that) just gets told secondhand by the narrator. The show tries to fit so many years of French history into forty episodes that important events are sped through instead of indulged upon. Somewhat of a necessity to make sure the plot doesn’t lag, but lamentable nonetheless.

But we do get some cool moments for other characters, such as how tensions between classes lead to vigilantes like the Black Knight. I thought that was a fun addition. I initially believed it to be out of place, but then just reminded myself of Zorro or Fantomas. Or Princess Knight, something of a precursor to Rose of Versailles’ characterization. I guess if you’re going to do something important and nerve-wrecking to one of your characters, having a masked crusader show up and attack him is one way to handle it. I know to others this arc will come off as dumb for what’s meant to be a sign of political outcry, but I still like this idea. When tensions rise, people are going to go for fantastical, out there, and silly ideas to solve problems. If you added more pulp in history, people are more likely to devour it.

An interesting thing to note is how Robespierre, one of the most important figures in the Reign of Terror, only makes brief appearances and cameos for the first 30 episodes. Learning about the French Revolution back in school, he was always written in my history books like he was omnipresent. The face of a looming force about to break out into France. I recall my history teacher bringing up Robespierre just as much as she brought up Bonaparte, making him sound like the ultimate example of all the good and evils that come from a revolution. While the show makes sure to remind us that he’s the spearhead for something greater, it’s not as strongly pronounced as I expected, focusing more on the French Revolution on a step-by-step basis with Robespierre as simply one of these steps. It takes until episode 34 for his speeches to occur, when he speaks at the Etats-Generaux. Even when rioters start attacking people who aren’t even nobles, Robespierre doesn’t show up at the beginning. The anime doesn’t even do much to portray him as corrupt, using Saint-Just as the questionable revolutionary instead.

I guess the easy answer for why Robespierre only shows up sparingly is because this is adapted from a shojo manga, and that demographic is unlikely to sympathize with a lawyer in his thirties. While someone like Oscar is far more of an energizing character who can lead her own plot and flatter the audience with ease. She’s the one who encapsulates all of this chaos. All of that conflict, all of those desires for a better world while wondering if that means straying from your loved ones, in one package. Everybody’s had that moment of realization, where they see the world around them is about to change into something unrecognizable. Maybe something wonderful, but never through peaceful means. They witness as their life is transformed through fire and blood. And in those times, the diplomats, the royals, the peasants, they can’t just simply resist. They all have to become warriors to survive the change.

2017
01.20

Chain Chronicle

MR SPARKLE

The conservative’s nightmare

Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that opening. All of the cast just striking at the empire right before I’m ready for the opening. I feel like I missed ten episodes before this. I assumed I was meant to watch something beforehand, but even other fans tell me the movies were like this too. Overall, a very off-putting experience, not necessarily a bad one. Actually pretty refreshing to get past all of the exposition to see this, because all of the occasional references to the Black Emperor and his Black Army suggest I won’t give a horse’s ass about the lore. If more of these fantasy shows could start out like this, I’d be less grumpy and unwilling to review anime.

But then the opening scene finishes, and I’m treated to more of what I expected from the burgeoning mobile phone adaptation genre. Just some kid in an unbuttoned shirt saving the helpless old people like he’s hot shit. Oh yeah, the fight at the beginning turns out to be for nothing in the long run because they all lost, and the peasants are pissed off because they’re fucking peasants. Maybe it’s subversive to have the big fight mean nothing for the show’s climate, and if anything make things worse? Seems strange to have this be your big twist while leaving out any creative decision making for the rest of the story.

But theennnn, somebody else tells me this is actually an edited form of a movie coming out at around the same time as the show. And maybe I should watch the movie or download the phone game to figure out what the whole story is. But theeeeeeeennnnnnnnnn, I find out the global version of the phone game was shut down before either the movie or the show came out. That’s kind of weird, but I guess the studio wants to keep things locked down so those filthy foreigners don’t pervert their image of the Black King. But theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, I hear from elsewhere that Funimation licensed this show/movie for overseas release. Maybe they want to shill this on the Black King’s merits rather than to those few wacky gaijin who played the game beforehand. Honestly, this whole behind the scenes adventure has been more interesting than the last 15 minutes of this episode. So yeah, pass. – BloodyMarquis

Degressi: Tsugi no Kurasu S3

The guy playing the principal has been on Degrassi for decades. I can't tell if that's dedication to admire or mental sickness.

The guy playing the principal has been on Degrassi for decades. I can’t tell if that’s dedication to admire or mental sickness.

There are some things that, try as we may, will continued undeterred. The sun shines, the grass grows, and Degrassi offers a unrestricted look a the lives of modern Japanese youth. While other anime confine their efforts to shallow action or trite comedy (not to mention ungodly amounts of appalling fanservice), Studio Epitome has once again elevated itself about the rest.

The Degrassi franchise’s usual blend of compelling characters and biting social commentary comes to fruition with this season. Worst girl Lola continues to be, well, worst girl. While I applaud the show for giving us an honest picture of what bullying looks like Canadian high schools throughout Japan, her character arc as a villain is basically just her hair changing color (likely showing influence from Studio David’s JoJo adaption) and ending her purity, which had previously been her only redeeming factor. Meanwhile, fan favorite and muh waifu Maya continues her struggles. Here we see some of the most heartfelt drama I’ve seen in years. Of course, fans will also rejoice at the heavy yuri undertones this season. I won’t spoil who is involved, but let’s just say it closely ties in with the much anticipated and acclaimed Syrian Arc.

On the technical level, the animation is on par with the rest of Epitome’s work. Usually fluid, but willing to take breaks in order to focus on strong character moments. The OST is also fantastic, and I have no doubt that “WHATEVER IT TAKES/それが取るものは何でも” will go down as one of, if not the, best openings of the season. My hats off to you once again, Epitome. – ShadowGentleman

That's it, I quit.

That’s it, I quit.

In this season’s entry of EARLY-2000’S SHONEN THAT TIME FORGOT!!!(tm), a young boy’s ravenous sexual libido manifests itself as a Digimon growing out of his chest.

 

woodrugh

 

Yeah I should stop writing right here, but there’s also something about yet ANOTHER secret government organization dedicated to fighting space aliens and Chuuta, our dorky kid is literally dragged into their secret organization because yeah. Its all rendered in Pierrot’s signature 15 cent budget-no shits given “style” and lacks the sense of humor or stupid fish faces of your average shonen crap to have any lasting value. I’ve already forgotten what I just watched or what I was about to write. Sounds legit. – Lord Dalek

Gabriel Dropout

I really don't like the bondage overtones this season has.

I really don’t like the bondage overtones this season has.

Stop me if you’ve heard this setup before: so there’s this angel, right? And there’s this demon, right? So the angel, get this…is terrible at being a angel! She’d be better working as a demon. And the demon? She acts like an angel! Hahaha…oh, you’ve heard that before? It’s nothing new whatsoever? Huh. Weird. So, Gabriel DropOut is a decent show that isn’t really worth a watch because everything about it is either boring or “been there, done that.” It’s a cute enough comedy, I suppose, and it is competently made. But there’s absolutely nothing here that you can’t see in any other show and done much better, or at least in a more interesting fashion. From the types of characters and how they play off each other, to the various situations, to every joke made in this first episode, I can think of a dozen anime that have done it and pulled it off much better. In terms of this season’s middling anime, it is a mediocre bad rather than a mediocre good.

To clarify, the latter is a decent, if poorly spent, way to burn 22 minutes of your remaining time on the planet Earth, while the former is glorified background noise while you play an online shooter. Watching Gabriel DropOut is just a sad reminder of where the Japanese animation industry has been for the past few years and where it will continue to go: buckets and buckets of quickly and cheaply made schlock, with a small handful of gems that manage to appear once in awhile. Hundreds of anime made each year and so much of it utterly forgettable. Yeah, I probably won’t remember having watched Masamune-kun no Revenge in a few months either, but at least I got a bit of short-term enjoyment out of viewing it. Gabriel DropOut brought me no joy. Or sadness. Or any emotion really. It was a boring comedy that just existed. If you need a supernatural comedy fix this season, ignore this and go straight for Demi-chan wa Kataritai. Even if you end up forgetting having watched that as well, at least you would have been smiling in those lost memories. – RacattackForce

Hand Shakers

I think this is my punishment for calling Keijo!!!!!!! artless garbage. While that show was indeed garbage, it seems Japan wants to introduce me to "artsy" garbage.

I think this is my punishment for calling Keijo!!!!!!! artless garbage. While that show was indeed garbage, it seems Japan wants to introduce me to “artsy” garbage. Hence… Hand Shakers.

The goal of whoever made Hand Shakers seems to have to been make a show that will literally induce motion sickness. At least with me they have succeeded wildly. This first 90 seconds alone are a tableaux of jerky nonsensical editing, hard to read subtitles, random fish eye lens effects that make no sense in anime, and gigantic credits IN ENGLISH that distract my eye making what was already hard to follow on screen even harder to follow. This show is already a disaster and we’re barely in!

But wait there’s more! What follows is a fucking rape scene!!!!! And a non-sequiter rape scene at that because they immediately cut to something else! Yes in a season that has already produced some of the absolute worst garbage imaginable (so much in fact that Tanya The Evil just became one of the best shows of the season by default), this show managed to find a way to be worse than all of them on so many other levels.

Well what’s the rest of the show about? Well a bland dork who looks like Yashiro from K encounters a sickly girl who looks like Neko from K and gets shoved into a plot that can’t tell if its Fate/Stay Night or Guilty Crown. Than that rapist guy shows up again and starts attacking the two with infinity chain generated by litterally smacking his bitch up. Nothing in this show makes any sense. Nothing in this show seems to want to make any sense. I can’t even be bothered to make that “Hand Shakers? More like Head Shakers!” joke I had planned because it would be too kind to this manure. Don’t watch this. Just don’t. – Lord Dalek

Idol Incidents

The Walking Derp

The Walking Derp

Whelp… can’t say we didn’t see this show coming, hell it seems all of modern anime was building up to it. Aikatsu imagined a world where little girls forfeit pretty much everything just to become vapid role models to other little girls to forfeit everything over. Love Live went one step further and made it a world where being in an idol group was the only way to get any sort of education or training in this cold hard Japan we live in. And now… Idol Incidents presents us with a Japan that after years of recession, social discord, and other malaise, has finally embraced idol groups as the only way to run their government effectively.

…and people said Blade Runner was the most effective futuristic dystopia of all time =/.

So the Heroine Party is looking for a new Dietwoman and young Natsuki is the only one who survived their grueling qualification test (a race to the top of a very tall hill). However she just isn’t very good at Aikatsu-ing and an attempt to pair her with a far more qualified veteran is a near disaster. But her aura is so strong that everything will work out right? Well its certainly enough to crush the staid salaryman she’s running against in the opposition party…I think.

This, if you have guessed, is supposed to be a parody show. But its not a very funny one and since I try to avoid idol shows like the plague (I can literally count the amount of Love Live episodes I’ve seen on one hand), I cannot say I got any injokes if such things were even there. That said, you could do a whole lot worse with a plain old idol show…like that one by Yamakan about 9/11. Seriously. – Lord Dalek

Little Witch Academia

I guess you could say Akko's been... Trigger'd

Akko shares her fealings about the 2017 Winter Season.

First things first, I like Netflix. I like it a lot. Yeah The OA was kinda weird and stupid, and Stranger Things would have been 1,000x better if it was an actual storyline and not just a bunch of shabby old 80s movie ripoffs homages but their content is far broader and far more entertaining than the current decrepit state of cable televsion (Netflix has Magi and Madoka, so have fun burning in hell with DBShite Turdnami).

That said… I do not like the idea of having to wait 13 weeks for a quote-unquote Netflix Original Anime. Especially when that anime is, of course, Little Witch Academia.

This is by far the most highly anticipated show of 2017, and maybe the ONLY highly anticipated show at that. Trigger’s original short made such a huge impact at Anime Mirai in 2013 that they were able to finance a second short movie through American Kickstarter bucks. This was of course before Trigger turned into something slightly less interesting than what the original production promised thanks to dreck like Kiznaiver and Inou-battle. But hey! LWA is now a full 24 episode tv series, so bygones be bygones and all that.

Now usually when we have a series of films get adapted into a tv show, its just a cutup of existing material ala Broken Blade or Gundam UC RE:0096. But happily not so with Little Witch Academia, as Yoh Yoshinari and Michiru Shimada finally have the opportunity to fill in the many gaps in what was originally just an exercise in crazy sakuga with some plot. Wanna know why Akko desperate adores Shiny Chariot? Its in here. Wanna know why Sucy hates Akko’s guts but hangs around for lack of something better to do? Its in here. Wanna see Akko and Lotte get sacrificed to a giant firebreathing chicken? Oh there is most definitely a giant firebreating chicken. If LWA the short felt like a concept pilot, then the series is that concept fully realized and lord is it good.

Anime of the season, easily. But then again…we all knew that going in. — Lord Dalek

Marginal#4 Kiss kara Tsukuru Big Bang

Nomura has not had boy's flesh in long time. Nomura is curious.

Nomura has not had boy’s flesh in long time. Nomura is curious.

R Nomura must sing for girls, because that is what Nomura knows best. That is what Nomura does. To make the voices go away. Without the singing, Nomura considers death. But not death of self. Death of others. Without the singing, Nomura contemplates actions. Horrible actions. Nomura has read up on the French act of Piquerism. Piquerism, the stabbing and skinning of others to achieve sexual affinity. Nomura is delighted by stories of Piquerism. Nomura reads the stories of Albert Fish every night in awe and delight, but Nomura cries at the end of each page because Nomura can never act upon these urges. Nomura must keep singing for girls. Nomura must not kidnap girl for torture. That would be bad for Nomura’s business.

But if Nomura so desired, Nomura would kidnap fan, preferably younger fan. No preference for gender, Nomura is willing to dip in any river. Nomura would take fan to apartment, strip fan of clothes and identity. If fan is too fat, Nomura will cut off fat. If fan is too tall, Nomura will make fan short. Nomura would cut into fan’s flesh every time they say a naughty word, and will only give them food and water if fan can please Nomura’s desires. Nomura will force fan to call parents to say they are okay. Nomura will put more holes in fan’s body if fan complains about the pain. Nomura will burn fan’s eyelids with cigarettes so fan cannot avert gaze. Nomura will cut fan’s tendons to make sure fan will not run away, to make fan crawl like dog. Nomura likes dogs. Nomura likes when dogs go bark bark. Nomura wants fan to go bark bark too. Dogs that go bark bark please Nomura, but Nomura abhors dogs that do tricks. Because that is a dog trying to be a human. Nomura does not want dogs to think they are human.

Nomura will use scissors when Nomura is ashamed of his manhood. Nomura will beat fan with bamboo stick if fan asks to die. Otherwise, Nomura is content. Nomura is pleased with life. Maybe Nomura will let fan orgasm some day or another. Nomura can be a kind god. But fan and Nomura both know this is a temporary situation, for Nomura will one day grow bored of fan. Nomura will someday find fan unattractive, not deserving of Nomura’s love. Not deserving of anyone’s love. Nomura will lock fan in storage, stop their breathing, with whatever storage Nomura can find. Perhaps Nomura will use an oil drum like the last one. Or not. Nomura distastes routine.

Then Nomura will continue singing with friends and girls, because Nomura is a good boy. Nomura is a good boy, and good boys can do no wrong. – Nomura

Rewrite Second Season

Visual Metaphor for Theron Martin when he gives this a 3.5 over at ANN.

Visual Metaphor for Theron Martin when he gives this a 3 over at ANN.

Last time on Rewrite: EVERYBODY DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!

Yes everybody, literally. All animal life on the face of the planet got sacrificed to a big fucking tree because Kotarou couldn’t keep his goddamn hands off of Kagari’s Kagaris. What was left was a world bathed in yellow light where the only thing left alive will be Jailbait 60fps Ushio and that damn robot doll that was actually Tomoya or something because clearly all Key/Maedaverse bullshit is all connected am I right wut wut.

BUT WAIT! Despite its Jun Maedeon Be Invoked ending, Rewrite’s got 12 more episodes to do…something…I guess. So how is Eightbit going to follow up their feh-pic first season which made Charlotte look like anything that was you know… good…and not Charlotte? Simple! Pretend it never happened! Wheel out the ol’ reset button boys, my fist is hungry for some slams and jams.

We begin with Kotori about to blow Kotarou and Kagari (god, say that five times fast) away with a shotgun which was apparently the pathsplit before the previous season went all Tomino on us. Ya see if The Key joins with the Earth then Kotori loses her magical druid powers and we already saw how THAT turned out. However things get interrupted by the arrival of a random Brachiosarus thing and Kagari instead gets blown away by Not-Golden Darkness and her anti-tank rifle. What follows is a series of scenes that have no flow and no continuity as Kotarou plays through all the routes he skipped in warp speed ala a highlight reel. Trying to describe this is impossible because the narrative, which was pretty disjointed already, only manages to become even more disjointed by the way Eightbit is presenting it in the first ten minutes of the episode. No wonder they titled it “Three Cups of Coffee”, clearly that’s how much the writers drank before setting out on this trainwreck.

Well there is an explanation that all these crazy alternate routes are memories of Kotarou’s of things that never actually happened, and since it didn’t happen lets just watch him get impaled/beheaded/Team Rocketed by Kagari’s red ribbon of fate for the One-Tillionth time. Otherwise, this show literally has nothing else to offer other than Kotarou wandering through the empty destroyed city and staring at Kagari doing nothing.

Doing nothing is also all I can do for this show. I simply can’t write about it. All 24 minutes of it were nonsensical incoherent bullshit with no redeeming value which is something I have never been quite able to type about anything Key until now. The worst show of Summer 2016 got even worse. Isn’t it incredible? – Lord Dalek

Urara Meirochou

THIS WAS A HARBINGER.

THIS WAS A HARBINGER.

Hey kids! Da ya like moeblobs? Da ya like cute girls doing cute things? Da ya like random fanservice? Da ya like midriffs? Of course you don’t! So screw this! – Lord Dalek