Posted on 28 February 2017 with categories: Monthly Summaries

Demi-chan and Masamune-kun have been dropped. With series like these in a generic school setting, I zone out very fast when they revert back to the stuff you see everywhere, and the same old fanservice. I do not have time for that. Beyond that though, this definitely was an interesting month, full of twists and surprises. There’s some definite good stuff here, and I can see the ambition to get better from a lot of them.

Usual disclaimers: there be spoilers, arr. And these are just my impressions, influenced only by myself.

#10: Hand Shakers (05-08)

This list is based on my rankings for all episodes that aired in the past month, with my least favourite first and my most favourite last. Hand Shakers takes the spot of worst this month as a punishment for what it did for the past four episodes. Those who know me know why, and this series should also be well aware and it should feel bad about it!

I’m sorry Hand Shakers, but if you introduce a brother and sister and your first instinct is “incest!”, you obviously haven’t learned your lesson enough. This goes for the entire industry. Let’s first let a good number of years pass with series of siblings with actually normal relationships before we’re going to even think about this subject, mmmkay? This in particular was the perfect opportunity for that: a great way for this series to explore the strong bonds that siblings could have. It would have fit perfectly. Or just make them a regular couple. Heck, they acted more like one than 90% of all other couples in anime.

And this is a bloody shame because aside from that really big detail I’m really digging this series. I like how it explores hand holding, and this series has this warmth flowing across every episode that is really cute to watch. This is how you do chemistry! And look at how ambitious the animation is! Yeah it looks weird and all, but look at all the things they’re actually trying to animate! How crazy the camera sometimes gets, and how much it moves on an actual three-dimensional plane! This is incredibly difficult to do, and yet they keep trying, even beyond the first episode.

So yeah Hand Shakers: lay it off with the incest, and you have next month to redeem yourself!

#9: ChaoS;Child (04-07)

Oh boy. Episode seven. That was… quite something else. Really, I can see why they wanted to animate this show now. In the hands of competent creators, this really would have been the smash episode of the year, and I’m not kidding! The most disturbing single episode in years! Or at least, that was probably the plan. Oh god, in the hands of Tetsurou Araki this would have given me nightmares for months!

But yeah, let’s face it: the acting in ChaoS;Child is abysmal. It may not be the single worst acting of the season, but it is for what it’s trying to do. In episode one it already was quite clear how silly and over the top the gore was, but the real problems started to become apparent over this month: these characters can’t emote to save their lives. They’re all a bunch of cardboard boxes wiggling around and when things get dramatical instead of feeling with the characters, things just get incredibly awkward. Okay, so you want characters who pee themselves out of fear? You want characters who cry blood? Emote them! There was no way the creators would have been able to make that work with this execution, and that was apparent right from the start. What a good director would do in this position was just tone down the gore: make use of what you have, pull a few directing tricks here and there and pull off a more subtle performance that requires less time and budget.

Because it’s obvious that this series should have been 24 episodes long and it’s battling against time, but that’s no excuse. There’s another series this season in the same boat here: ACCA, having to bring thirteen different countries to life in just one cour. But there you can see that the creators are desperately trying to pull all kinds of tricks to make it tick and work. Chaos;Child simply animates the original story line by line without thinking about how to make it work best.

And that brings us to episode seven. Oh boy, I already tuned out a bit with the peeing and blood crying, but here? It was hard to watch what went on there, seeing these incredibly wooden characters trying to cope with the single most traumatic event in their lives, and it just got more and more awkward as it went along. And it just kept going! It felt like an eternity, and I was just hoping for things to stop, just to spare them for any more embarrassment. In more than 10 years blogging, I very rarely had to sit through an episode that was this difficult and awkward to watch.

And really: I dig the original storyline. The original game really was on to something. Before episode seven I could tolerate the bad acting because I was finding myself quite intrigued by what was going on: I wanted to learn more! I really don’t know how to rank this one. Good? Bad? Well, it’s certainly something.

#8: Little Witch Academia (03-08)

So, episode 08 was the best of the series so far, however I’m not sure whether that’s a good sign or not. I mean don’t get me wrong, episode 08 was good and all, and it gave some neat insights into Sucy’s character in a really creative way and all, but I’m more worried about the rest of the episodes. Basically: I expected a lot more from this series.

This may be complaining that apple pie tastes like apple pie, but I expected a bit more than high school hi-jinks for this series. For something from Studio Trigger, you expect something crazy, and yet most of the episodes have been surprisingly tame. It may have big ideas, but they all feel… so inconsequential. Episode 8’s mushroom forest? Gone as fast as it appeared. Dragons! Cool! But not when they’re old farts that don’t really do anything. There’s a whole world beyond the school, which is fastly leaving magic behind! Cool if this show would actually focus on it!

It would also help if Atsuko wasn’t so epically bad at everything. I mean I can understand having good and bad subjects and all, but where’s the fun in watching her fail again and again and again. This show is called Little Witch Academia, part of it should be showing how fun magic is. And yet they don’t show any of the basics. They just expect you to point your wand at stuff and things happen, but there’s no depth to it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to discover this world of magic alongside Atsuko? Instead, we get a series of an incompetent hack who manages to summon incredible powers through sheer luck.

It seems to me that this show doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do. Every episode tries to do something different and they don’t seem to mesh at all. For a while it seemed like this show was about the wonders of magic. Then episode seven and eight came along and portrayed in a much more negative light without any lead-up whatsoever. One episode Atsuko is determined to win, the next she gets distracted by everything and completely loses any sene of urgency.

In a series with a setting this expansive, you’re bound to want to cover a lot, but instead it feels like the balance is completely gone. There is just so much time devoted to Atsuko sucking that whenever this show wants to include something new about its setting, there is hardly any time to look at it, resulting in that it just feels like it’s continuously pulling things out of its ass. Jobs for witches are a neat idea, but not when episode 7 brought it up from out of nowhere, only to never talk about it again. Astrology? People can predict the future now? Diana also conveniently is good at everything for Atsuko to have a rival. It just doesn’t feel organic.

I’ll just say it: Studio Gainax was better than Studio Trigger. Not now, obviously, but I can see that Studio Trigger has Gainax’ wit and balls, but not in the right places; only when it doesn’t seem to have much consequence. I think even when you ignore Hideaki Anno’s works. I mean, one reason why they’re famous is the Gainax ending. Back in the day it was used as a bit of an insult, but I really wonder: is a Gainax ending really a bad thing?

#7: Piace – Watashi no Italian (04-07)

Now, two months in, it’s safe to remove the benefit of the doubt for this series: Piace – Watashi no Italian is a genuinely funny series. Its episodes may only be four minutes long, but it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down yet, in fact it’s only getting more enjoyable. There are many keys in this, the snappy directing that wastes no line of dialogue, knows how to deliver a punchline, and a cast of characters that is just lovable to watch. They are a bunch of stereotypes, but the creators keep squeezing new things out of them, within these stereotypes: they give them different stuff to do, put them in a different context, slowly make them change and acclimatize to each other. Continuity also deserves praises: a wall that is smashed in one episode still bears cracks two episodes later. It also helps that the lead voice actress really carries this series: everything revolves around her, and she is wonderful at keeping all balls into the air.

One thing that is surprising me as well is that this show definitely did its homework. You see that more and more: people actually just googling the things they’re writing about. I feel this happens more and more, so props to this positive trend!

#6: Onihei (01-07)

Onihei is a strange series. It tries to be ugly: it doesn’t shy away from gore, it shows humans at their worst, and its stories are filled with death, sex and abuse. Amongst that it tells stories from around the samurai era, usually centered around a really big moral. First of all I applaud this series for daring to be different. In this day and age of feel-good series which try to play things safe, it’s very refreshing to see a series that just throws a lot of taboos overboard. But how about the execution?

Every episode, Onihei tries to tell a story around a certain character, and this part is something it does really well. It loves the use of irony, and every episode plays around with it in a different way. Most episodes have big plot twists that aim to make you think. It’s also very good at creating its tension through its art style, music and pacing. This combination makes this show tick: well written major characters that make you think.

It’s really bad at animation though. This show takes a good dose of suspense of disbelieve, because a lot of the characters just look silly when they’re trying to be funny. However the biggest detractor for this series is its cast of minor characters. You don’t see this being an issue often, but minor characters are there to fill a story. They are not the main focus, but they populate the world, and especially for this series they give the major characters their reasons for acting the way they do. And sorry, but the cast of minor characters here is just so full of Hitler-wannabes that it gets hilarious. Every single corner of this show is just filled with the exact same corrupt raping murderer that dies at the end that it’s really hard to see a threat in them. There is no look into what made them that way, and while this series is incredibly sympathetic towards its major characters, the minor ones are just ugly sword fodders who are evil just because the story needs it to be. Only episode 1 played with this, aside from that it could very well have been the same guy over and over again. No reason behind it. It’s like one of those stories that forgives a major hot character for committing a few atrocities due to being misunderstood, while at the same time having no qualms of the main cast killing off hordes of nameless goons who are probably only just doing their jobs.

#5: Youjo Senki (05-07)

I’ve compared Youjo Senki to Shuumatsu no Izetta, and that comparison still goes. Both series are set in a fictional Europe in the middle of a war, focused on a magical girl with huge powers of incredible strategic importance. Izetta is about a small country defending itself, Youjo Senki is about the biggest country expanding its territory. Both deal with politics, but Izetta uses a lot of espionage, while Youjo Senki meanwhile is big on the tactics. Objectively, Izetta portrayed its war in the most solid way. Its portrayal of characters was the most realistic and down to earth. And yet, why am I enjoying Youjo Senki far more?

I mean Izetta’s acting was rock solid, while the characters in Youjo Senki really are hamming it up. But on the other hand though, the actual war of youjo Senki simply is more interesting. Izetta was about the underdog and got its tension for watching to see how long they could hold on against all odds. But here’s the thing with underdog stories, in my opinion: there are so many shows about the underdog! It’s not special anymore, and after a while you have exhausted all possible ways to make it interesting. Youjo Senki meanwhile is different: her team already was on the winning side, but with her powers they might actually be able to do something even more crazy. Its tension comes from the weight of the decisions the characters take. Izetta showed on a personal level how terrible the tragedies of war are, and how it must be stopped. Youjo Senki meanwhile uses the tragedies of war to underline that yes: the characters are killing people. Both have their merits. And really, the war alone wouldn’t have done it for me for this series. At this point I was starting to get tired on Izetta, even though the stakes kept growing there. And the setting of Youjo Senki alone is not enough to excuse its lack of depth in the cast of side characters.

No, what I like best about Youjo Senki is its atheism vs theism themes. When after episode 1 I hated the whole setting, it just took a minute of being X to just sell me on it, and its subsequent appearances have toyed with some really interesting ideas, with this tug-of-war between the lead character, and trying to get her to accept that God exists. It’s really different from the Jesus you usually see in these types of stories, and being X is the one who throws in the irony to keep this story interesting, the extra kick and layer of depth that this series needed.

#4: ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (05-08)

From the start, it was obvious that ACCA would be a slow burner. With a setting this huge, it first had to do its share of building up. It’s still a bit weird, considering at the same time that it’s trying to rush its storyline into just one season. The result is that we just flew past 13 different countries and we’ve already gotten to the part where everything is starting to come together.

And that’s my opinion of ACCA: taking these constraint into consideration, it is doing a really good job here! A complaint you usually get with these series is that they don’t put in any thought in how to make their story work best for the anime format. The writers of ACCA clearly put in their hours. They did their homework in order to make sure that ACCA works as an anime.

This show is here to present its story, and episode eight made all of the scenes that felt a bit weird in the earlier episodes make sense. When the big twist was first announced, it felt far-fetched, but at the end of the eighth episode, they got away with it for me. Meticulous is the word here, I think. The more I think about it, the more I see that this show didn’t get any scene go to waste. Every scene was there for a reason, even all of the cakes, sweets and deserts were very deliberately put there to flesh out the identity of the different countries here. It’s actually very clever of the creators. And beyond that, every scene is just meant to either flesh out a character or country more, or to advance the main plot. It’s an excellent example that aspiring writers can look at for writing compact stories.

The big danger with being so compact is of course that the characters will feel more like plot devices than anything else. But even there this show pulls a number of tricks to try and avoid that. First of all the cast is just huge. There are so many characters, to the point where this series feels alive, and all characters are just part of it. I also want to praise this series for how it really tries to avoid overacting, and still makes the characters feel sympathetic. I still felt along with the characters, due to how good the writing was. The voice acting in the meantime was still able to offer colour to the cast, but without the overacting there is always something subtle behind them.

#3: Kuzu no Honkai (04-07)

Kuzu no Honaki has firmly established itself as “Unrequited love: the anime”. The whole set-up is carefully crafted to show many different perspectives, many different flavours in different contexts, intertwined together. Some parts are a bit exaggerated; played up in order to be able to tell a coherent story that fits within 11 episodes. Others through…

Like seriously at times this show completely nails it! Since the original Honey and Clover we haven’t gotten unrequited love this well depicted, and this show goes deep within the cast of characters. To show exactly how they feel, and why it sucks so much. The characters are all gradients of self aware: they know full well of what they’re doing, but all of them are desperately trying to find solutions in how to cope with their feelings, gradually finding them over the course of this month. And all characters do this, so this show just can keep juggling its characters around to prevent one story thread from getting too stale.

And all that lead to a number of great emotional punches, and every episode so far had at least one. Just one of those moments where a character learns to accept the situation they’re in, they cave in to their desires and move away from the ideal world they created in their own minds. It has now reached the point where every time I start an episode, I just know I’ll be getting the feels. This consistency deserves applause.

Oh, and one final thing: Youjo Senki, thank you for not including any awkward fan service like what Izetta did. Good lord being X this felt refreshing once I realized this.

#2: Classicaloid (17-20)

Remember how last month, I said that nothing happened in this series? Well, for February, things DID happen, and it hasn’t screwed up!

This usually is the point for comedies where the storyline kicks in and the jokes are much less of a priority. However Classicaloid’s advantage is that it has an amazing cast of characters with some amazing chemistry. So when these episodes tried to be serious, even if the comedy WOULD have been abandoned this still would have worked. And the thing is that these past four episodes were just as hilarious as ever, my favourite being the love-episode. That episode was all kinds of amazing and had me in stitches from start to finish, more than any other Classicaloid episode so far. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be done: continue with the priority of being as entertaining as possible, while in the meantime pushing the story and the characters further.

Because of this I have high hopes for the finale. This series seems to know what it’s doing. Even though the final month is usually disastrous for comedies, if this series actually has the balls to screw conventions and do what’s best for the characters then it will be able to stand as my top pick for the past three months. It IS the show I’m most anxious about ending though, because if it doesn’t do that the potential for a mellow ending is the largest here, and a show of this caliber really deserves to go out with a bang!

#1: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (05-08)

As funny as Classicaloid may have been, and as touching as Kuzu no Honkai was, I cannot give my favourite show of February to any other than Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu; something really special happened here.

The thing with fiction is that over time, stories just keep getting written and written. They pile up about all kinds of topics. The first stories have it easy because there is a wide variety of different topics and techniques that haven’t been done before: originality is easy. However, at this point pretty much everything is a derivative of something. To get something truly original, you’d have to venture into territory like “a 13-legged octopus travels to Vermont to watch paint dry”, but that’s just faux originality: the story itself also has to be good.

What we got here, in the past month. Closer to something truly original is probably never going to happen again, especially in the realm of anime. And not only that, it did not sacrifice emotional impact, in fact this was higher than ever. This is the month where everything starts coming together for this series, and the past starts linking to the present. With Yakumo’s failing health the past comes above again, just like what happened with his master. I love how in-depth this show got at how hard it is for him to accept his own old age, how his passion for rakugo has evolved. They’ve built this guy up to such a beautiful walking contradiction. And the rest of the cast was brilliant too! Everybody had their own motivations that while all the same, they all came together from different directions to the same conclusion in not wanting to give up Yakumo’s rakugo.

Also, from out of nowhere, this show suddenly got incredibly good at doing plot twists. Like every time I’m just struck with surprise, but the big reveal really was something else. At the end of season one, when IT happened I remember how I found it a bit underwhelming. the scene was a bit weird and it just didn’t feel right. At that time I saw that as a fault. Well consider my ass kicked and I take all that back. I have been beaten. Praise the glorious rakugo overlords!

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Allow me to be honest for a moment, my dear readers. Recently, I’m having a hard time sitting down to watching Rakugo. This is not due to a lack of enjoyment and I found myself to have this strange apprehension to starting to watch it. Youjo Senki and Little Witch Academia are shows that I can’t wait to watch and usually do so at the first chance I get. Rakugo, however, I find myself putting off for reasons I can’t quite fathom. Perhaps, it’s due to not having a lot to say about it in my blog posts as the slow pace of revelations leaves little room for interpretation or opinion. Another reason could be that a large amount of the series is already tied up. Yotaro has gotten over his problems as a performer, Konatsu and him now have a rather loving relationship, and Yakumo’s past has been laid out to bare. Really, there isn’t much left to this story and the plot now focuses on Yakumo getting back into Rakugo after his health taking a nosedive. Truthfully, I find everyone’s attempts to force him back on the stage to be rather cruel. He’s past his prime and the accident took away his ability to perform well, so if there was a point to retire, this would be certainly it.

I can understand what Yotaro is trying to achieve in performing Sukeroku Rakugo in front of Yakumo as it ss made clear that he wants his master to have fun performing again. In a way, it’s similar to how Yakumo pushed Sukeroku back into performing before his death. Though, the big reason to get Yakumo to perform is to make the yakuza boss happy as he and Yakumo have some shared history that I don’t believe was explored in the anime. Actually, on that note, there has been a disconnect between episodes in regards to time. Each time I start up an episode it feels like a significant amount of time has passed but not many clear indicators of it having done so. Maybe there is a date shown at the beginning of the episode but it’s mentally taxing for me to keep track of the timeline week after week. Either way, Yakumo’s problem looks to be wrapping up if it wasn’t for the police to have picked the worst timing to arrest the Yakuza leader. From the next episode preview, it looks like

Yakumo will be giving him that performance in prison is what’s in the future for this series. The only thing left isn’t essentially saving the art of Rakugo but how that is going to happen is a mystery. We have the writer working on new Rakugo stories and preserving the art but other than that, there hasn’t been much effort to shake up the art. I do still like this show but I admit my interest is waning a bit. In truth, Rakugo was never usually my kind of show as I tend to not go for series set within reality. I often prefer to escape the mundanity of real life, which makes slice of life such a bore for me. Rakugo to me looks to have reached a premature conclusion and now needs to bring up a new struggle to deal with in its final episodes.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Saga of Tanya the Evil

After a recap episode last week, we are back to Tanya and her efforts in the war but I must admit that while still enjoyable, this was a weaker episode of the show. I am reminded of the first episode of the series which, while visually interesting, lacked a real hook to get the audience invested. The characterisation and interaction between Tanya and her subordinates has been lacking and I noticed that the past two episode had little of Tanya’s own inner monologue. One of the most entertaining aspects of this series is the contrast between how Tanya thinks and the views of others of her, but ever since establishing the battalion, there hasn’t been many times where we hear her thoughts. The five minute shorts do show more of how Tanya interacts with her subordinates but in the main series itself very little is shown besides her few interactions with Viktoriya and even those are strictly business.

Have you ever seen a simple action movie, where the protagonist’s family member is killed by the villain and then they grow up to take revenge in the films climax? Well, I feel like that is what is happening here but instead, the protagonist is the one doing the killing. It took me a while to remember that Anson was one of the officers who first fought Tanya on her first mission and it is  rather odd that he got so much focus this episode. Anson Sue (Crunchyroll has translated this as Sioux but it’s up for debate if that is an accurate translation), sends his family away from the war and loses his life in a desperate gamble to take down Tanya. Tanya, with complete disinterest kills him and steals his gun which happened to be a Christmas present from his daughter, engraved with his initials. I doubt Anson will be making a second appearance as that fall looked fatal and any attempt to bring him back would be cheap or ludicrous.

As a result, Tanya is now lugging around a gun that signifies her as the killer and I think someone’s daughter is going to be out for sweet revenge once the war reaches American shores. It certainly seems like the workings of Being X, to give someone a personal reason to start gunning for Tanya’s life and give another a beatable antagonist for Tanya to face. It is rather hypocritical if this is the case as he choose to support a non-believer over a devout soldier which does call into question why he is deserving of such praise when he tosses aside one of his followers in order to spite a non believer? What I find especially delicious about this development is that Ansons daughter is named Mary. So Tanya would be, quite literally, fighting a Mary Sue. The biggest problem about this is that if Mary Sue is going to get involved in this war, it certainly won’t be in this season. Most likely, it will be later down the line in the novels which we may never see animated.

Other than that, this was another easy win for Tanya and with the Entente Alliance on it’s last legs, this could signal the intervention of other countries. Daika has already made a move, unwise as it was, but I will say that other countries are getting the same idea. The Empire has grown to an alarming degree and as predicted, will soon be fighting a war on all fronts. Tanya’s reputation is growing greater as she guesses the plans of the top brass and can even challenge her superiors with her opinions but I find this rather hard to be invested in. Why? Because it is set up for a war that we will not likely see play out in its entirety. As far as I know, this series is a single cour which would be enough to cover maybe two or three light novel volumes of content. There are seven novels so far and could end up following the likes of many anime series that are only designed to drum up sales for their source material.  It could be possible that a second season is planned though considering the recap episode last episode, it’s possible that Studio Nut is already working to the bone to give one cour. My biggest worry would be that the rest of this season would be spent building up to a second season and have no real satisfying conclusion. It’s a sad fact as an anime fan, we do not see a proper ending to a majority of the series we watch. It would certainly be nice to have such a thing although greedy and unrealistic at the same time.

Posted on 27 February 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

This week we have an episode that dedicated to Shimada the 8th Dan and overall it was a satisfying episode. Looking back to his first introduction, I’m even more amazed how the show pulled his character off by purposely made him insignificant when we first met him both by his plain appearance and by Rei’s occupied thoughts on Gotou; until he demanded Rei’s and our full attention. He might be plain and always seems to be lurking in the background (and the show keep pointing that out as well), but as this episode proves magnificently, even ordinary everyday man has his own personal compelling tales to tell, just like real people we meet in our lives. Chica Umino is a masterclass when it comes to character writing and I’m in overall happy with what she accomplished to Shimada’s character here.

Starting off by Shimada’s flashback on his rural hometown and how he gotten into shougi, we followed his perspective on the struggle he had to stand on his own in the shogi world. We usually find this kind of flashback in other anime as well, the whole episode focused on certain character’s backstory to flesh out the character, but in this case I would argue this flashback is an example on how to use it right. Because in addition of giving more depth to Shimada, this flashback never at once feel out of place or even disrupt the flow of the story. Everything they showed in that flashback was just deepen what we already know about Shimada. That night bus keeps squeaking as it runs through the night perfectly sum up thematically his struggle towards just barely make it there to shogi, become “a small fish in a sea of sharks” and keeping the hope from the people in his town (man, how I love this writing). I had been in night buses before (and night planes that took forever) so I can relate to it all to well. Waking up and there’s a different, unfamiliar world awaiting you; but the moment when you’re alone in those buses waiting to get there was the loneliest time ever. His stomach pain also represents his pressure towards the kindness and hope of the people in his village; but those hopes (and that heartfelt banter) are something that keep him going, that make him try harder and harder in his shogi path.

I’m honestly quite surprised about Rei, as he takes a very good care of Shimada in this episode; because let me tell ya, taking care of a person is a freaking demanding job. He felt a bit responsible for Shimada’s current stomach pain so he decided to accompany him to Kyoto (that place! One of my favorite place that is). Rei has gotten more active roles lately and I’m glad that he starts to take care (AKA giving his support) to others because then people can rely back to him. It’s the right step in the right direction for our protagonist. It’s interesting to note that he’s actually shared the same thinking with Souya regarding shogi, because mostly they play the same all-rounder style and both relatively “genius” among his peers. Well, the Souya comparison will get more apparent as Rei’s getting better at his game I’m sure, but it’s still nice to see that Shimida acknowledged it sooner than anyone else. Also, we learn a bit more about Souya. He’s like an outcast, I don’t think he feels belong to this shogi world, but he keeps getting forward without looking back and apart from that he doesn’t care for anything else at all, just wandering around places with his mind in the sky. There’s really a thin line between a genius and a fool after all. Next week, we gonna see how the title match in Kyoto progress and I hope this time Shimada can break through so that he could play shogi in his hometown. You have my full support Shimada.

Posted on 25 February 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

Let see, this week we have a full Moca’s episode. Her role up till now admittedly has been a little insignificant, mostly because her princess, childish persona don’t go to well with the dark themes of love in Scum’s Wish. Thankfully, this episode gives her character justice and yes, she does support the overall theme very nicely. While it’s still unclear right now that it’s the end or just the beginning of her act, I believe she serves her purpose so I don’t really recommend if she’s trying to push her love through Mugi (but if one thing I’m sure about Scum’s Wish, it’s that they WILL push forward anyway). Really, her role would just make less impact the more they force her love in so the trick here that you should learn, Scum’s Wish, is to make one sharp clean slit rather than several dull cuts.

“Apparently, if you go to sleep holding hands, you’ll both have a same dream”

Alright, the loss of innocence.I’ve been waiting long for this opportunity to address it because Moca is a perfect candidate. She acts like a princess, having “elegant mood”, eat Western-style foods (because the other characters actually don’t), and dreaming of the prince of her life. She’s a girl who stay inside her little perfect dream because it’s the safest and the most beautiful world. Looking at her roles in a big narrative, she contrasts very well with Akane, who embodied all the darkness and bitchiness of woman’s nature (I wonder how it feel like if the two talking to each other with their true personalities). The show has a great touch to further express that theme through the movie Mugi and her watching: The Little Mermaid, whose story details one big theme about shattered romance, with all the dreams dissolve into foam. Here what makes her character different than her archetype, she awares that Mugi never desire her. Going out with him is for her sake and she intends to enjoy the most out of it so she always has the “perfect moment’ in her dream, and then leaves it at that- the sweet little moments that she will cherish for life. Of course, things don’t go according to plan because she feels the desire to touch him, to kiss him. That desire will forever shatters her fairytale version of love, but for Moca in particular I think this is for the better.

“And then, the prince’s kiss shatters the dream, and the princess wakes from her dream, finding herself alone in the darkness”

Thank God that Moca isn’t just an one-note character, as she has her dark, spoiled side and she awares of it. One distinctive thing about Scum’s Wish is that almost every character awares of their own dark feelings (except for a certain guy with glasses), they have their own reflections. She knows Mugi having a girlfriend and with her “dignity”, she should stop and has a more genuine relationship with Mugi. But she decides to charge over, hugging him and kissing him. That sequence of her real self fighting with her innocent self further highlights on how she abandons her innocent in pursuit of lust. As soon as Moca kisses Mugi, she’s no longer a “pure” princess, and now she understands the breakdown of the real romance relationship. At least, Moca had broken the shell of her egg so that she can be more mature and more honest to her love. She might find herself alone in the darkness, but at least now she knows what she doesn’t want to be.

“I want you to think I’m worth something”

Meanwhile, Hanabi tries unsuccessfully to hook Takuya up, but that guy who basically act based by his hormone so why give him so much effort? Hanabi wants attention, and desperately hooks into one so she can feel her worth. That’s painfully honest, pathetic and sad at the same time. From how I see it she doesn’t really love her true self, so insecure about her worthiness that she needs a desire/conformation from the others. Well, at least she and Mugi decided to confess their hopeless love in order to move on and possibly start dating for real again. I don’t see their relationship going to be genuine at all but at least now they have a courage to do what they had been avoided from day 1, so there’s a tiny little ray of light at the end of this dark tunnel.

“I’m going straight to hell”

Yes, totally. You bastard.

Posted on 22 February 2017 with categories: Flip Flappers, Other:, Top 10 Anime

And I return back to arguably one of my favorite anime of the last decade for the list of most randomness details in Flip Flappers’ universe. Which by all mean isn’t a complaint. Flip Flappers is a show that relies heavily on visual language, and while most of the time its heavy symbolic images represent something much deeper about adolescent and identity, sometimes we have some quirky details that just purely out of the whims, making me wonder if the creators were on some kind of LSD effect. Those randomness details below might not add up much in terms of plot or theme, but the sense of wonder is always shining bright here. Granted, they aren’t at all useless, after all those details create quirks that pretty much bring identities to Flip Flappers, making it… well, Flip Flappery. And truthfully, that’s one of the reason why I love this show so much: the ability to let loose and embrace on your weirdest dreams. This list therefore functions more as a celebration of creativeness, of bringing original ideas to the table.

As I stated earlier, even readers who haven’t checked out Flip Flappers, feel free to read this because it’s… useless details anyway. I will list them in order of usefulness, from most to least. Enjoy!!

  1. The Plugin/ Transformation items (episode 5)

Those tokens (the stick/baton and the bracelet) are supposed to be their precious items in real life so that they can use it a reminder to differentiate between this world and the Pure Illusion world (think Inception), or are they supposed to be a material requirement for the girls to tune in? No one knows for sure as the show didn’t attempt to explain at all. First, they ain’t even precious, at least to Cocona, and second, we never heard about them ever again in our lifetime. Oh, you mean they were carrying those items the whole time but just didn’t show it? Well, fair enough, but in later episode the girls were stuck in one Pure Illusion world wearing swimsuits, where the hell then did they hide the long stick (just the right length, they even commented) in the tight swimsuit? Unless they put it… Let stop here.

  1. The mysterious unconscious girl (episode 1)

That unconscious girl was shown from the first few minutes into the show, gathering a debate of what the hell the Flip Flap organization was doing with her. Then that poor girl never get addressed again (or even hinted to) and disappeared into thin clouds like she was never there at all. Was she just a bad dream that I had while watching Flip Flappers? Was she just in my imagination?

(Read More)

Posted on with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

The plot sure thickens a lot after this episode. Well, last week I mentioned about the possible spoiler of ACCA plot, but the truth turns out that it didn’t really qualified as a spoiler at all. All the hints were there and viewers picked up pretty quickly (or just that I’m a slow picker, yare yare). All that just to say that I really admire ACCA’s storytelling; the way they don’t spoonfeed us with obvious details, but trust viewers to pick up hints and then move the plot forward. This week the show decides to drop that bomb out front: Jean is a royal blood and he’s the first line in succession. His mother was the second princess, but she eloped with a beautiful white hair guard some 33 years ago after the Titanic accident. The couple then had Jean and Lotta, living a normal happy life until that train accident that really took their life 13 years ago. Now it raises 2 questions. First, was the train accident really an accident? And second, how much does Grossular know? I would say 90% sure that he knew about Jean and Lotta’s true origin, but how much did he know about the real cause of the accident? And about this upcoming coup?

It’s not hard to pin down the real boss of Nino though. It’s pretty obvious that he set Jean up to that cake store so Jean could have some time with the King alone, so we can rule out that only the King or that Privy Council was his boss. And with that phone talk at the end I can pretty much say the King was the one assigned him to follow Jean. But is it that simple? I appreciate ACCA’s storytelling so far but this week, at episode 7, we still come up with new characters, namely the first princess/ Prince Schwann’s aunt. I know she’s a minor character but this actually gets me questioning: where the hell is Prince Schwann’s mother, the third princess? Seems like she gained the most after the disappearance of the second princess and it might be that she had some kind of role in that ship sank? How about monitoring Jean now through Nino? Is she going to appear in this story at all? Man, there is a lot of questions, but I do love that for the first time since forever Nino was shown in some kind of emotional state, having received praise from his “supervisor”. Well, just looked at him when he was in the cake shop, you can sense he was overwhelmed as well. And isn’t that rare that he admitted that he was too close to Jean as dear friend that his supervisor isn’t happy at all about that. Jean and Nino share such great chemistry together and the next time they talk gonna be a life-changer one.

But my favorite sequence was when Maude takes up the stage and take Jean by storms. She accurately figured out lots of things happening around Jean without his help, and despite Jean hiding things from her she still trusts him dearly. If they join forces together they would make a really dangerous pair. Still, I really love that deadpan matter-of-fact delivery of Mauve, and Jean’s cool detachment when hearing that he’s the first in line for the throne. Elsewhere, Prince Schwann proves to be much smarter than everyone assumed him to be, figuring out by himself the true identity of Lotta, and now aiming to gun Jean down. As of now, how many people actually know about Jean’s true identity? I can safely say right now there’s the King, Mauve, Nino, 90% Grossular and now the Prince and those I believe will be all main ace cards for the upcoming coup. But with the revelation, the current situation has changed considerably. The main questions are no more “Who setting up the coup?” or “When will the King die” (because as far as I see he’s freaking healthy) but “Who gonna be the next in throne and who would be benefited the most with the outcomes?” Now we have Jean and the Prince for the throne, with that Privy Council President as a dark horse (because he can still manipulate the King). Jean has been set up to be an intermediary so far, so it’s mean there’s still someone behind the curtain who know about his true identity and pull all the strings.

Finally, the two districts we visited this week: Dowa and Kokore, were full of interesting characteristics and tasty breads. Dowa is the capital city with that old-fashioned but elegant city designs, and Kokore is a feminist town that really resembles an European city. I love how they explore a bit of women’s aspect in that Kokore district, and really the strong influx of women’s roles in society at large is always a positive sign for me. The breads and cakes also are equally impressive. With Dowa we have that apple cake and snowball cake (man, looks so tempting) and Kokore has full of delicious chocolate. This is hands out the best episode of ACCA so far, as the plot moves in much tighter now, while simultaneously never betrays what makes the show so appealing and unique in the first place (I’m looking at you, hot breads and cakes); I expect the show getting better from now on, now that they‘re gearing up for the big final showdown.

Posted on 21 February 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Little Witch Academia

It’s good to see that the strides Akko made last episode are still in effect as she is not making an honest effort to improve herself. She’s taking lessons from Ursula and paying attention in class but despite this her improvement is minimal. That’s good as I don’t want to see Akko become a top class student just because she’s trying now and her development is likely to be a main driving force for the series going forward. What this episode highlighted well though was that Luna Nova clearly hasn’t made an effort to accommodate for Akko. Akko is one of the first student to attend the academy from outside a wizarding family so it is natural to assume that she would need to be taught from the very basics of magic. However the teachers of the academy never took this into account and have thrown her into the deep end without anything to guide her. Akko’s difficulties with magic are not necessarily her own fault but also the fault of her educators who quite frankly never made an effort to incorporate her into the school. This is what makes the teacher’s rant against her at the end of the episode so utterly infuriating. For the teacher places all the blame on Akko without considering her own failings in teaching her.

After all one of the teachers required her to understand fish language for crying out loud and this woman is complaining about why she can’t keep up with the other students who clearly have had plenty of preparation before entering the school. You didn’t even tell her that she was going to need to be able to ride a broom to even enter the school. By all accounts, Akko isn’t a bad student. It just seems like she is being taught wrong. She seems to learn quickly when people are depending on her which allows her to get a grasp of fish language and movement spells in one fell swoop when she is needed.(Though the fish language thing I find a little too convenient) Which brings me to something I didn’t expect which is that Ursula is also learning while teaching Akko. The two have really started to be bond and Ursula in turn needs to learn the right way to teach Akko. So Ursula will be growing with Akko and I think there is something there when Akko remarks on childhood dreams. By teaching her Ursula looks to be regaining the fire she had in her youth and seeing her stand up for Akko at the end of the episode was immensely satisfying

My previous theory about the sorcerer’s stone being the only place one can use magic in the world looks to have fallen through as Ursula remarks about numerous magical professions around the world. I admit my theory didn’t really account for just what the students do upon graduation but just how is magic considered useless by the modern populous? There are things that only magic can do so I have a hard time understanding just how this could be considered antiquated. The only other ways i can see this mindset being logical is if magic has much greater limitations outside of the school or if the traditional mindset of the community has made the world ignorant of magics true potential. This is an issue that needs to be addressed but I have a feeling trigger isn’t going to let this be some plot hole to overlook.  Lastly it’s nice to see the shooting star mentioned in the paper detailing Akko’s marine adventure. Looks like it’s still flying around. Theres also the matter of Diana’s prediction that Akko would leave the school which seems to have more meaning than Diana worded it.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Looking over my old review of episode 12, I find that I didn’t really cover the episode decently. I gave a brief summery but I don’t think I really articulated my feelings on the episode as well as I could. I do remember finding it to be a big heel turn when it came to Sukeroku’s and Miyokichi’s final moments but I was willing to give it a pass. Now this episode comes along and reveals that was all a fabrication. Thinking on it, I believe Yakumo incorporated part of the last Rakugo story Sukeroku told into his version of the events as it detailed a story involving a deadbeat husband changing his ways. However now so many things make sense. Konastu’s hatred for Yakumo and why she calls him a murderer and why Yakumo is so beaten down in his old age. All this time her lied to protect Konatsu from the horrible truth. The truth that she was inadvertently caused the death of her parents.

While I do find this version of events quite interesting, it does hold a level of contrivance like the last version. It makes sense for Konatsu to lash out at her mother after she stabbed her father but I find her pushing her mother back into the balcony and the balcony collapsing at that exact moment to be too calculated. Konatsu and her mother were fairly far from the balcony so Konatsu pushing her that far seems a little unrealistic. Still the thematic implications are strong and it certainly is heartbreaking to have Yotaru embrace Konatsu while crying. All the while Konatsu being ignorant of the fact that those tears were for her. So the question is, will Konatsu ever learn of this truth before season’s end or will Yotaru and Yakumo take it to the grave. After all these years learning the truth would break Konatsu, it would utterly destroy her.

Other than that we have Yotaru watching the old videos of Yakumo and Sukeroku and remarking at the difference. Yakumo in particular did seem much more cheerful in the past when doing Rakugo, a point Yotaru notices easily. Seeing Sukeroku after all this time was oddly nostalgic and I felt a connection with Matsuda in that it really felt like the return of an old friend. In other events the writer looks to have had a crush on Miyokichi which does explain the level of antagonism he has for Yakumo. Though in turn that seems to be the origin of his love for Rakugo. On top of all that Yakumo says he’s done with Rakugo, this may be why his vision when he fell unconscious features Sukeroku strangling him. To Yakumo, Sukeroku took his voice and without Rakugo he only has to wait for the reaper. The rest of the cast is reluctant to let him leave the Rakugo world but perhaps this truly is the end of his carreer.

Posted on 20 February 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

We have a fairly typical 3-gatsu this week, in which its level of quality is what we come to expect now. Its awkward shift in tone and the lack of big thematic plot points are still prominent in this episode, but we also have many heart-warming little moments, occasional touch of visual greatness and the plot that focus balancedly on Rei in his professional shogi life, his social life and his personal life. The notion of hometown, in particular, plays a big theme in this episode. As Shimada talks about his hometown to Rei, there’s really nothing in his town, just farmland, yet he tries his best so he can play the title match in that town again. Doesn’t matter where you end up living, the place where you spend childhood will always give a special, nostalgic feeling to you. And where is the place that Rei consider his home anyways? His true life was taken away from him when he was too young; spending 10 years in a house with little to no happiness; and now living alone in an empty apartment? Is it the sisters’ house then, the house he was just accustomed himself to recently? That song “Hometown” in the end really brings the sad, quiet feeling and it was one hell of a way to end the episode. Nice craft, Shaft!

Although I would be more interested to see the title matches between Souya and Gotou instead, bringing Shimada to face Souya actually benefits the story better. Shimada is still at the level that isn’t out of Rei’s reach, so to see the man’s commitment to face off the top shogi player is a valuable experience for Rei. While I feel that they overplayed the part where Darth Vader and Yoda shogi fighting and the endlessly shogi rambling (still, steamed bun joke was very good), I like the way Rei feel unsettling about the situation in the workshop. He’s the allrounder type, so he tends to focus more on the overall situation than the specific puzzle, unlike those two. The water motif again is very on point this week, depicting Shimada’s spirit and his will through the influx of water that nearly swept Rei away. I’m glad that Rei has gotten really over his depression few episodes ago and now keeps trying to improve his game, both tactically and mentally.

It’s his time with Hayashida-sensei, however, gives the episode a lot of heart. Hayashida has become more and more important to Rei’s current life and he feels like one of a prominent character now, the way he makes his best effort to keep Rei engaging his school life socially. He is one of the best sensei Rei could’ve had (on a second thought, not really, since he actually encourages Rei to skip class and nearly cost the poor boy another year), not only helping him get along with his study life, but moreover gives him many valid advices and heartfelt comments. Rei always has a feeling that he’s currently in a standstill: he doesn’t get along well at school, barely make it pass the year, his ranking isn’t improving… but Hayashida pointed out correctly how he has been fighting all this time at an age that normally shouldn’t be bothered to try. While I’d would give the exact opposite advice if I were him- someone in Rei’s age needs to go get out more and explore the world- his sincere comment at least reaffirm Rei’s worth, his life isn’t empty as he think it is. He carries a big burden especially for someone his age and it’d be much better if he understands that his friends are more than happy to carry the load along with him.

And here comes more Hina and Momo moments. I was a bit afraid that having the sisters meet Kyouko would disrupt the balance of the tone of the series, but thank god it didn’t. The three sisters are always brimming with light and warmness, while Kyouko’s always surrounded by dark nights and cold detachments, so how can they mesh together on the same screen? After all, how often you see the sun and the moon together? And isn’t it those times when they are together a special occasions? This week, it’s nice to see Hina and Momo get into Rei’s apartment for the lamest excuse (yeah, like they need that bento box that urgency!), but Hina’s emotional directness always work for someone who always hide his feeling like Rei. Rei makes that moment even sadder when he admitted that Kyouko is his sister, but clearly they don’t share any siblings chemistry at all. It’s perfectly normal when siblings having a fight with each other once in awhile. It isn’t when they having a fight every single time. In fact, the only close-to-sibling-ly moments they shared together was when Kyouko teased Rei about the three sisters. Only Arika sees through this complex relationship and I hope we have a more touching moments the next time Rei encounter the three sisters. Now, allow me to end this post here so I can watch some Squirrely-sensei programme and go to that Mouseland for some adventure!!

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