Posted on 31 July 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

I love how different this series turned out to be from the original Rozen Maiden! It still has the same characters, but the atmosphere, the execution, and the themes are completely different here. That’s what a good sequel should be: avoid the tried and true and go into its own direction! It also really helps that this direction is much more mature now.

These past two episodes: they’re really well detailed! Heck, over the span of three episodes we’ve just seen one doll, and even she appeared at just the end of the third episode. In the meantime we get a full look into the life of the grown-up Jun, and into his mind. Because of this we can really see how meeting with Shinu is subtly changing him. There’s enough tension between his job, and taking care of Shinku as well, not to mention how Shinku said at the end of episode four that this can only last for seven days. The whole interplay between young and old Jun is also very good.

What’s also different: there is quite a bit of symbolism added in the narration, ranging from that kid’s story that always pops up in the middle, to various visual symbols when characters are explaining things. The question now is what will happen next: they’re obviously building up to something. Will they be able to use this build-up?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 30 July 2013 with categories: Tamayura

Seriously. This is one of the cutest anime that I have seen in a long, long while. I mean, over these entire two episodes, I just kept going “d’awwwwww” at just about everything the characters did. That is very rare for me: usually I hate series that aim to be cute. The big reason for that is that 90% of those characters are not characters: they’re either cardboard cut-outs, they try to play up their cuteness too much, plain stupid, contrived, and just plain underdeveloped. Tamayura has something that makes the entire cast different from that.

What Potte is trying to do: that really invoked empathy from me. Perhaps my own shyness connected with her, or perhaps it was because of how much development she already has. These two episodes really were about overcoming shyness, and they really did that well. Even beyond Potte, that one teacher was a very nice touch, about how it took him like, 20 tries to ask what he wanted. And the whole performance. It was so bad, yet so adorable!

The new character already feels right at home after four episodes, and the great thing is that she doesn’t feel forced in, but it was more than logical for her to appear. The rest of the cast, Potte’s friends, they’re close to her and all, but most of them don’t share her passion for photographing,and the ones that do are either much older or younger. Here she managed to find someone of her own age and experiences to connect with.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

This series could have gone wrong so easily. Seriously, from the outside it looks like your average show with a bishie and a cute girl, but it’s just consistently interesting. What this show is really good at is playing with the motivations of its characters: everyone here has this interesting backstory. And it just keeps getting better.

What this show is very bad at is making its action scenes believable. I mean I know she got help and all at the end of that third episode, but a 12-year old should not be able to smash through a bunch of well-muscled adults so easily. Even if they are zombies. But yeah, I can’t really stay critical at that scene, because everything else really had me charmed like no other. I did not expect that turn of events, let alone that that guy died!

And then there was episode four. I mean, at first it was a bid dodgy what the creators were trying to do there with the characters traveling around and all, but they really wasted no time to further explore the setting. This episode was most likely unrelated to the plot and all (aside from perhaps the last part), but it continues to use its setting really well, with that huge city full of dead people, showing how the walking corpses try to deal with the fact that they’re not alive anymore.

But yeah, this is a great mystery-series: it makes you hungry, it brings the kinds of twists you don’t expect, and the revelations are predictable, yet they are brought in a fresh way that you still don’t see coming when they do.
Rating: 5,5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 27 July 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

After the first big action-oriented arc, Shingeki no Kyojin is in its intermezzo arc: the arc that does not focus on action, but instead is aimed at exploring the background of something, in this case the titans. Arcs like these don’t have action: they can’t depend on flashy graphics or fast-paced entertainment to keep the viewer busy, so their subject material really needs to be interesting here more than ever now.

Many series before have attempted to first show enemies as ruthless monsters, only to show a bit of humanity into them. My experience told me that this is very hard to really do well. The obvious solution would be to just hint that these beings also have some sort of humanity in them. Gargantia did that for example, but that was way too quick to really come of as convincing, especially how they used it. Shingeki no Kyojin has an intersesting approach here, by using this nutcase of a character really well.

This is new: a character who is so desperate to see the titans from a different angle. She’s fully aware of what they did, yet she forces herself to bond with the titans she caught, even though there are no hints whatsoever that they’re actually taking note of her and recognizin her. It’s like herding a bunch of amnesiac tigers, only ten times worse. And this actually worked.

In one way, Eren is a great main character. I mean, there is not much to his character, but as an observer he works quite well: he’s hardly ever in control of the situation, which gives the side cast tons of different oppotunities to shine and show themselves off. You way too often have these main characters who try to hog all of the spotlights, but he stays very surprisingly away from that.

Also, that final sentence of the episode intrigued me.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 26 July 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

Regarding the argument that this isn’t Gatchaman: I’d like to disagree, slightly. I have not seen the original Gatchaman or anything, but I’d personally like to see this as a modern rendition of Gatchaman with a lot of creative liberties taken to it. For those who say that it shouldn’t use the name “Gatchaman”, but instead just go with its own story, let me ask you this: would this show have gotten enough sponsorship deals if that were the case? I mean, this could have easily been away from Gatchaman and all, but sometimes compromises have to be made, and to me it’s the kind of compromise that doesn’t really bother me. Plus, this series contains a TON of homages anyway.

Anyway, Gatchaman Crowds. You can really see that this comes from the director and writer of Tsuritama: a bright and colourful world, combined with characters that are this really strange combination between idiot and straight-faced. I mean that lead girl at first reminded me a lot about Haru, but she moves more and more away from him. Haru only had his powers. This girl actually accomplished stuff, and she doesn’t take things at straight value. She doesn’t just attack stuff just because people tell her to. Not to be rebellious, but because she uses her head and observes.

In this episode Gatchaman also showed its themes: it’s about social media, quite a modern topic when you compare that to other series (a lot of series could take place in the year 2000 just as easily), hence the “Crowds”-part of the title. It’s about how social media continues to make a larger and larger part of our lives and most bizarre of all, they seem to be making the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg the ultimate villain. Okay.

Having said that, I do hope that after this, Kenji Nakamura is going to work with another writer than Toshiya Ono. I mean, Toshiya Ono is a good writer who knows his build-up, but he’s also very childish and I do feel that Kenji Nakamura is at his best when he tackles mature topics and storylines. But yeah, with the two series that really set him apart (Bake Neko and Mononoke), he really was aided by a set of excellent writers, among others Chiaki J Konaka and Tomoko Konparu, who really know how to oo original plots like no other. The part where this immaturity was the most annoying was near the end of the episode, where that one person seemed to suggest that ambulances weren’t necessary with the use of that social network. And yeah, that is looking down on real paramedics. A lot.

Also, that one scene where the people fell from the stairs. What happened there? The animation was really clunky and it was hard to make out what on earth that alien-thingy did there.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on with categories: Silver Spoon

I’m back from London. It was really big, but also great. And Kero, Sachin and Smurph: you were awesome. It really was great to meet you!

And now I have the daunting task to catch up to everything again. Starting off: Silver Spoon, the latest Noitamina-series. Thank god, afte the past spring season had that Katanagatari-rerun. Next autumn there will be two new original series and a second Psycho Pass season has been announced, so the timeslot will be back in its glory again.

But first: a Moyashimon-esque series about farming. On the surface the two series really are similar: a guy joins an agricultural school, with a lot of quirky characters. The difference is how both series look at quirks. In Moyashimon, all of the quirks were played straight, and you got to love the characters because of that. In Silver Spoon, there is more lurking underneath the quirks.

Silver Spoon toys with your assumptions. In that way, you could see that this comes from the same writer as Full Metal Alchemist: one moment it’s serious, and the other it’s silly. And it uses the serious moments to build up for its jokes, only to bring the characters back to reality again by showing the harsh realities of farming that a lot of people like to pretend aren’t there.`I mean, the thing with the vererinarians being able to kill animals? Powerful stuff. The combination between comedy and drama was probably done best with the piglets.

I wouldn’t immediately see that Silver Spoon is better than Moyashimon at this point. The big danger for this series is that it will start getting too melodramatic, which is something that Moyashimon managed to avoid on the whole. The main character’s background… it feels a bit too angsty for my tastes. It’s there where there was no comedy whatsoever, which felt a bit out of place.

Another thing that this show does quite well is the balance of the cast. There are a lot of characters here, but they’re all quite different and colourful, especially when you look at the main side characters. Though granted, some of the minor side characters are walking cardboard cut-outs.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 17 July 2013 with categories: Random Posts

Hey everyone, the next few days I will be gone on a holiday to England, including London where I’ve managed to make an appointment to meet up with a few readers and Salisbury, where I’m going to try and get into Stonehenge, although that turned out to be quite annoying to take care of if you don’t have a credit card….

Anyway, I’ll be back later. Take care, everyone.

Posted on with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

Yeah, what can I say? Uchoten Kazoku stands with head and shoulders at the top of non-sequels this season. It could have easily been the second Noitamina-series this season. For those who don’t know: this was originally written by the guy who wrote Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei, and with this it really is clear: this guy is a really good writer. This has by far the best script of the entire season: it’s just way more eloquent than every single other series.

And then there is PA Works that managed to breathe this to life really well. These episodes are all scripted out really well, starting with random dialogue, a bit of conflict here and there, and then ending with a very powerful climax. What also surprises me: these two episodes were very different: first the drama was about that old tengu. The second was about the family of the main character, and what kind of impact the father had on it. Powerful stuff.

This show knows its build-up very well: there’s just so much in each episode, but everything somehow adds up to each other. Every character gets a chance to talk about his or her feelings and gts the chance to be fleshed out really well thanks to that excellent dialogue, with the result that there are already a ton of likable characters within just two episodes. I really liked the frog in this episode, the mother was really charming, and even the two tanuki from that other family were different from the usual brats: they were brats, but the way in which they transformed, plus their place in their own family made them also interesting to watch.

A lot of characters here are Tanuki, and a lot of the characters really have this animal side to them. The only one who doesn’t is the main character, or rather he is very much different from the rest of the cast. You can see he’s a tanuki with how he treats his own transformation powers, but aside from that I miss that animal side of his.
Rating: 5,5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 16 July 2013 with categories: Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

Okay, at this point I’m pretty sure which series I’m going to blog this season. But first a few short comments about the ones I’m not going to blog:
– Free is well made for a bishie series but I don’t trust the creators to actually use the characters well enough.
– Gifuu Doudou hilariously camp, but ultimately a one-trick pony
– Inu to Hasami is badly produced
– Servant X Service is great, but I already know that I don’t have inspiration to write full entries about it.
– Dagan Ronpa… I’m going to decide whether to blog that one after episode 3 where I can see how the creators handle the detective part, because I don’t trust that yet (this also depends on how fast I can catch up to Uchuu Kyoudai…).
– Fantasista Doll is oddly interesting, but I don’t have enough inspiration to write about its bland parts.
– Stella is just entertainment, not really the right show to blog every week.
– Blood Lad is fun, but I miss substance which will make it a bit hard to write about.
– Gen’Ei is too bland and tries too hard.
– Watamote seems like too much of a one-trick pony, which is not good to write about every week.
– Kimi no Iru Machi is together with Dagan Ronpa the one that I’m the most doubtful about. Both have the potential to become really good, or really, really bad. Do I want to watch enough to find out about that?

In the meantime, this is the third Kamisama-series that I’ve blogged, and the fifth Kamisama-series that I’m going to watch, after Kamisama Dolls, Hajimemashita, Kazoku and no Memo-Chou. And that’s a good way to describe this series: a mix between stuff that has been done before, together with new and fresh stuff.

Let me get back on Gen’Ei wo Kakeru Taiyou in particular, because it does bear some similarities with Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi, in the way that it puts a little girl and forces these very dramatic things upon her. In this show it works, in Gen’Ei, it doesn’t. Why is that, even though both are pretty dramatic and use their protagonist being young as shock factor.

When I looked beyond, I realized the difference is that in comparison, Gen’Ei is bland. On one hand you have a young girl who grew up in the middle of zombies and has taken the task upon herself to become a respectable undertaker. On the other you have a high school girl who finds a bunch of girls who fight for her and that pretty much all look the same. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi spices up its story: it comes up with creative twists and sides to both the setting and the characters, and that actually makes it very interesting, whereas Gen’Ei to mee seems to rely just too much on its shock factor without making the rest likable. Shock factor is supposed to be used as a condiment, not the main course.

I often go on about series repeating themselves too much, but there is also such a thing as “stealing well”. And to me, that goes to this series. The idea of there not being children? Been done before. Old guy (32!?!) travelling together with young girl? Been done before. Zombies? Been there, done that. However the way in which this show uses these themes is new, and it doesn’t feel like it copied these things out of laziness, but rather because it was a good way to get to the ideas it wanted to explore. I mean the concept of God just saying “screw it” and refusing to kill people. That’s pretty damn interesting!

This show does have flaws so far. The biggest so far is that a lot of the characters seem just devices to tell the story; their acting still feels wooden and they are used A LOT for exposition. That needs to improve, this series needs a bit more of “show, don’t tell”. The big challenge for this series will be to correctly explore its themes throughout its limited airtime. Create interesting stories around this setting, instead of just randomly filling up time.
Rating: 4,5/8 (Good)

Posted on 14 July 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

Rozen Maiden’s new series is weird. Really weird. The first episode was this vague recap that wasn’t a recap. And now the second episode pretty much contained the best transition into an alternative retelling that I’ve ever seen. Seriously, as a Rozen Maiden fan, this just blew me away.

I just expected something that started similar with the original Rozen Maiden story that then diverged a different way. I totally did not expect this episode to show what would have happened if Jun didn’t order Shinku’s suitase. They skipped like eight years or something! He’s an adult now! We just got to see how he grew up!

I love this, he actually managed to escape being a hikkikomori, and now he’s in this state in which he needs to deal with the fact that he basically threw a very important part of his life away. You can really see that on one hand, he’s bright, but on the other hand he just stopped learning for so long. I love how he struggles in his life like that, showing some of the conseuqneces of his actions in the first seasons that didn’t involve the dolls. The biting reality of that one manager also really help. Yeah, he’s a jerk, but damn that guy raised some good points.

The thing is also: I totally have no clue whatsoever what to expect from this series. In every other series, I can at least suspect the directio they’re going in. Here, I’m blank and my best guess is that they need to get rid of that seventh doll. But beyond that, I have no bloody clue. This episode really surprised me many times here!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • ninjarealist
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:52 AM)
    @Bam Some universities charge in the neighbourhood of $20K a semester for out-of state tuition.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:37 AM)
    If you guys think out-of-state tuition is bad then you should look at the rate international students have to pay. My Japanese ex paid $7400 a semester for Sacramneto State. They pretty much robbed her out of all she had saved up.
  • ninjarealist
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:21 AM)
    @K-Off Yeah, out-of-state tuition is as expensive as a liberal arts college at most places.
  • k-off
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:17 AM)
    @Bam Ha, good one.
  • k-off
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:14 AM)
    @ninja In my case, I’m getting an out-of-state higher education, so I’m fucked if I don’t get that position in the FTC next August. I’ll have to wait another year for a window of opportunity and by then, who knows if I’m going to be stuck in some corporation.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:09 AM)
    I never joined a frat but I’m like an honorary member of bunch of them since I can procure pretty much whatever they are looking for so I get to party with all of them.
    My ancestors have shed too much Greek blood to me to don their banners.
  • ninjarealist
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:02 AM)
    I think the main issue with liberal arts colleges is that a degree from a liberal arts college isn’t much better or worse than a degree from a public university, and the cost of attending a liberal arts college is much higher for a full tuition payer. It’s just not worth it if you’re paying full tuition.
  • ninjarealist
    (Sunday, Oct 26. 2014 12:00 AM)
    @K-Off I mean you can get many of the same degrees that you would get at a normal University at a Liberal Arts School. So I think the question of what degree you get is important whether you’re at a liberal arts college or a university. It’s not like the same degree from a liberal arts college is less valuable than one from a university. It just depends on the school and depends upon the individual.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 11:46 PM)
    @ninja I guess it really depends, but in my opinion, one has much less human capital in liberal arts than someone who specializes in an academic field, for example. Especially with liberal arts, it’s a matter of constantly adding to your human capital.
  • ninjarealist
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 11:33 PM)
    @K-Off For example, a lot of my friends from liberal arts college have high-paying jobs with NGOs. The liberal arts college I went to was kind of like a factory for non-profit professionals.

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