Posted on 31 March 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

So we end things up with the bookend of school festivals, huh? I think I get it, school festivals supposed to be fun, exciting and thrilling which is exactly opposite with how Hanabi feels. She feels lonely, but now as time slowly passes, when all the pains become somewhat endurable, she just wants to be left alone. Drifting in life so to speak. But that happy tones of those school festivals seem out of place to me, especially those comic exaggerated reactions don’t land well. Maybe in the manga form it works better because we can still have the silent moments of sobering, but in anime there are noise everywhere. The jump back and forth between festivals don’t really inform us much either. That got me thinking but I do feel that in this case, the best way to end the show could be flashforward few years into the future and show us how the characters are at that time. In Flowers of Evil, when the manga did the massive time-jump, it felt jarring at times, but afterward I found that last part the right treatment to examine the wound, the aftereffect of those obsessions bring to the main character. In Scum’s Wish, the characters are in the same circumstances: lost and adrift in life, time can indeed heal these pains but those wounds don’t heal overnight. It’s a progression; seeing how the past still affects them, but they still can move on with their lives would be rewarding enough. But I’m settled with this ending, not the best way to close up the story but it still pulls great emotional punch to our two mains.

It’s great to bump up each of the cast for the last time, and they’re all in a better, healthier stage right now. Moca embraces her dark self and becomes more beautiful, more attention-grabbing because of it. Remember the ugly duck transforms into a beautiful swan fairytale? Well, she was no ugly duck by any mean but this is a right metaphor for Moca: SHE TRANSFORMS. Ecchan; cuts loose her hair and still manages to be that hot, lets go of that dark past behind and moves on. The way she treats Hanabi was the same way Hanabi treated her back then, sincere and earnest as friends. Four-eyed teacher and Akane are all happy, of course, with the wedding around the corner. Hanabi had a moment to really accept that she can’t never be with Harumi and feel happy for him, and I love the brief moment of Akane being her usual self while picking on Hanabi. As it turns out, I’m pretty the same with Mugi, preferring Akane when she was a broken, lonely character than her current happy version.

At last, it’s time for Mugi and Hanabi relationship and overall I like this treatment. Back in my weekly coverage, I firmly believed that they couldn’t be great together because they don’t talk to each other about their problems, instead just keep those feeling bottled inside and release them in terms of sexual contact instead. Well, this last time they do just that, talk to each other about everything, no physical contact, and decide to part ways to grow on their owns and find their new true love. Well, this show’s main theme has always been about exploring unrequited romances, so I’m happy with this ending; although I do feel like they could’ve been better. As a final impression, Scum’s Wish is an emotionally charged and mature series that don’t afraid to go dark and disturbing to examine unflinchingly on what it means to love someone with all your hearts. I don’t mention it much in my weekly reviews but the direction for this show is rock solid, and I pretty much agree with most of their visual choices there. As for my personal feeling on Scum’s Wish, although the show managed to grasp me personally, I’m more respecting it as a well-written character study, rather than outright responding to it. I’m not that big romance and true love to begin with. Can’t say I’m “enjoying” the experience but I’m glad that I’m sticking with it, because it manages to pull many raw feelings that other series shy away from addressing. The pains won’t go away anytime soon for our Hanabi and Mugi, and I know at the end of this trip, they don’t learn much about what they want, but certain only of what they didn’t want. And that’s fine, it’s all part of growing up.

Posted on with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario

Imagine my utmost amazement when a show that I wasn’t that confident on taking in the beginning turned out to be one of the most solid offering this season had to offer. ACCA is the most recent anime adaptation from mangaka Natsume Omo, which despite isn’t a household name, many of her works (6 titles of them) have been translated to English, a privilege that rarely seen among this industry. Watching ACCA though, it’s easy to see her appeals: attractive and recognizable character designs, detailed world settings, complex yet laid-back themes and featuring characters that always in the move. ACCA embodies all those traits with slow but confident pacing that have an ending that perfectly tied up all the plot threads- for me one of the best ending I have seen in years. ACCA isn’t perfect by any mean, after all, adapting full 6 volumes into one cour of 12 episodes mean that they have to cut LOTS of extra details. Although I would’ve preferred more if the show has more time to focus on these 13 Districts and their ACCA’s representatives, the mere fact that they manage to make the plot points flows seamlessly, while still engage (or rather, enhance) viewers’ interest by each passing episode isn’t an easy feat at all; so a special shout out for Madhouse for this wonderful adaptation.

At first, what really makes ACCA compelling to watch is its rich world setting; as the show’s diverse settings is one of its identity itself. The 13 districts all have their own distinctive traits and are vastly different in wealth and their sub-cultures; which remind me a bit of the worlds in Kino’s Journeys. In fact, it’s too different from each other that the only thing that they all SHARE is its autonomy. I should remind you, the demand for putting background details for this show is insane, as they have to show the characteristics of all 13 districts in the little time they had without obstruct the pacing, but Studio Pablo (you might need to remember that name- They are an anime background company, the team who also handled the gorgeous visual backgrounds in Flip Flappers) did a marvelous job in putting as much details as possible from those districts. The two poorest districts were given more development than the rest with their own stories and struggles and as a whole, Dowa Kingdom is a place that I’m more than happy to spend more time to. The ACCA’s representative member in each district, likewise, all given just about enough personality to both inform us their own characters, and how the uniqueness in the district they work in starts to influent them. Regrettably, I still feel the show doesn’t have much screen time to flesh out those ACCA members but that is the sacrifice I’m willing to take…

… Because ACCA is masterclass at its storytelling and pacing. Even now when I’m looking back at the series, I don’t see any wasted segments, any meaningless conversations or any useless developments. Everything the show puts in, they are there for a reason, either to advance the plot, or to flesh out the characters, or give the show more identity. All the plot developments were hinted subtly way ahead, so when the BIG ANOUNCEMENTS take place, we don’t feel like them pulling the rug under our feet, but instead we’re well prepared to take such twists in. Secondly, all the character’s usual habits like Jean’s constantly smoking, Nino taking pictures, or Lotta eating cakes all the times not only tell us their personality, but also those details suggest a deeper plot meaning (see the relevance of cigarettes here? Or the reason why Nino taking pictures all the time?). Moreover, for a show that mainly about the scheming, plan within a plan within a plan about the coup, there are surprising overloaded with breads, cakes and deserts. Characters in this show fall in love with breads, buying cakes when scheming about a plan, making friends through the love of toasts (which ultimately saved Lotta’s life), and to be fair, the love of bread is what give birth to Jean and Lotta to begin with (guess where their Mom met their father? A bakery of course), but strangely, those moments of cake-porn never feel out of place in this ACCA world. For me personally, cakes and toasts will be what I miss the most about this show. And then the pacing. While many would argue the ACCA is snail-moving slow, and they’re mostly right, this is one of the most confident pacing that I’ve seen this season. It’s slow, but it never drags. It’s slow, but it keeps getting more intense as it goes on; steadily to its final showdown.

Another attribute; however, that really sets ACCA well apart from other political thrillers, or any thrillers in that extend; lies in its almost non-existence of violence and dark intentions. ACCA is an idealistic show; characters in ACCA think and behave for the benefit of the kingdom, where sacrifice of individuals can be necessary to keep peace for the nation (That make the backstory of princess Schnee even more tragic). Even the show’s main villain’s thrust to destroy the throne wouldn’t necessary qualified as evil either; after all, all he wanted is the “rightful” power and control for his own district, one of the richest and most influential district. If shows like Berserk or Death Parade keeps addressing the dark and ugliness of human’s nature, show like ACCA is the opposite. It’s almost too bright, too optimistic about human, which is be no mean these characters aren’t complex. The characters are plotting plans within plans, and sometimes their actions are already manipulated by other’s, but more or less their objectives always aim for the better of the people, with little to no gain for themselves. While personally I don’t have much of an issue with it, I do feel portraying the world that devoid of violence or ill-will might split the audience on being unrealistic, and that ending where too much of good things happened (look, Pranetta hits gold) could turn some viewers off for being over-cheerfulness.

Madhouse’s execution to this series is overall top-notch. The use of strong color pallete, for example, gives the show so much texture and more impressively, they fit in with the tones so well that those color palletes don’t stick out like sore thumb. Episode 8, for example, detailing the one big flashback of princess Schnee through Nino and his father’s eyes is textbook example on how to use those colors the most effective. The music, likewise, is really on point most of the time and the shot compositions have great flairs, cinematic, and sometimes they convey the mood and tension just by showing one character’s position to another (like when Mauve informed Jean about his royal heritage) or putting the characters in the soft, blurred background (most prominently through the climax of the last episode). In one word, exceptional. But there is one minor issue, though. For a show that have high caliber of crafting like ACCA, the animation, the actual motions, is lacking. Characters stay at static positions most of the time, and even their expressions don’t change much. Which for me is fair, because ACCA has always been about the calm, about what beneath the surface so it’s only appropriate that we don’t get to see much actions on the surface, both in term of actual movement, or the plot itself.

ACCA also is extremely well-grounded in terms of underlining characters’ chemistry. Although I would argue that those characters don’t change/grow much in terms of character’s development (see, in the end, Jean is still the same guy we saw at the beginning, so is Lotta, or… gasp, Owl), but the show delivers such natural chemistry between the cast, especially the trio Jean – Nino – Lotta that it’s such a nice time to see them hanging around together. Each of the pair give off a different chemistry to boost, and they always feel so effortlessly to each other that when Jean and Lotta find out the truth about Nino, it’s bitter and sweet at the same time. For a show that is more about the detachment (everything flows underneath the surface), they understand that the underlying emotions of the show is the buddy relationship between Nino and Jean (and well, Schnee’s tragic past) so rightfully ACCA gives their final moments on those two as a sweet farewell to us.

But like I mentioned earlier, ACCA is not without its issues. One of it is that the show has to compress its source material to only 12 episodes, as a result in the last third of the show the sweet cakes and deserts just evaporated (but I can understand, we wouldn’t take the coup seriously with all those cakes and breads so they have to go), and like I said, more time to flesh out the uniqueness of each districts and their ACCA representatives would benefit the show greater. Secondly, by giving much attentions to the royal and the members in power, we don’t get to see the Dowa Kingdom in ordinary citizen’s point of view. I mean, we hardly know anything about Jean and Lotta’s father, a commoner, for example. Moreover, being slow and static and diplomatic-centric also means that when the show has to raise up its tempo; most notably during the Lotta assassination; they are clumsy in both storytelling and execution to the point of near-ridiculousness. And lastly, show with this deliberate pacing won’t attract much of the mainstream audience, in which if that is the case, the only think I can say is that they have missed out one of the best well written gem this year had to provide and trust me, this show will hold up well with time. I will definitely check out more of Natsume Omo’s works.

Posted on 29 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

Boy, what an impressing ending to this great show. In a way, I should’ve thought about that, keeping in tradition which what ACCA has been established so far: a coup d’état without any chaos, or violence; an actual coup d’etat but not aiming to exclude the Prince and the royal, but to Furawau district. The coup that was just… too polite, like it was the calm during the storm itself, but it swept all my concerns for a conclusion that tied up ALL the loose ends. First, it’s none other than Qualms who leaked about the royal blood rumors (this guy’s impressive!), but the main players in this game are none other than Jean and Mauve. Jean apparently learned about Lilium’s plan from Mauve back when she informed him about his royal heritage (don’t underestimate the power of the opening sequence, when she literally whispered to his ear), then it was Jean who proposed a counterplan that run right beneath Lilium’s evil plan. All the districts want the continuation of ACCA, Lilium wants the power into his Furawau’s district. Mauve takes up the stage and delivers a kick-ass speech, in which not only “forced” the Prince to accept the continued existence of ACCA, but also negated Lilium’s own plan. He left the game, as did his district from the Dowa kingdom. Jean settled the game without having to step in for the throne and his identity is kept secret from the public. I can’t possibly think of any better way to resolve it as satisfying as we have here.

After that, everything else falls on positive notes (if a bit overly so), the Prince turns out to be much nicer than everyone thought. The 5-heads dragon, now with Lilium gone, decides to disband, each of them (save Grossular) returns back to their district to become a chief district and seem to be much happier with it. Mauve becomes the leader of ACCA (so deserving), and while it’s a bit sad that Mauve and Jean don’t become a couple, I believe they’re better off that way. The two poorest districts are now growing to be much better (I can see that the author really care about those two districts), with Pranetta hits gold and become a new “American Dream” – or should I say, “new Furawau Dream”; Suitsu opens its borders and now citizens can vote freely. Lotta has a whole lotta more opportunity to meet her new cousin and beloved grandpa and eat cakes and breads. Abend is indeed, Owl, and this guy was the one who pulled the strings from behind so that everything can fall according to this outcome. Like Nino said, an impressive feat.

Finally, Nino seems to be so relaxed and peaceful. I think all of his load was taken off from his talk with Jean last episode, now he’s truly free to do what he wants. I was actually smiling when he stands behind Lotta in that crucial moments to protect her. He can’t change, huh? Kudos for the show to focus squarely on Jean and Nino’s relationship in ACCA’s final moments. In the end, no matter what happen, they will always stay beside and trust each other. I’m in particular impressed again with the use of jazzy music during the coup scene and the use of strong color pallete everywhere in this episode. This episode indeed ends the show in a high note, and I’m sure this show will hold up very well, and rewatching it to pick up all the subtle details would be very rewarding. In retrospect, people might complain about its slow and deliberate pacing, but for me this is one of the most confident and well-balance pacing that I’ve seen in recent years. Every detail they put in counts and I don’t really see any unnecessary fat so far. I really have a blast blogging this one, and believe it or not ACCA becomes one of my favorite titles this season (not a slight judgement with a season that has Rakugo, Little Witch Academia, and Hand Shakers… I kid, I kid). Well, full review will be up soon, all I can say is I am satisfied with the whole experience. Well done ACCA.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario

Demi-chan is one of the newest addition to the monster girl subgenre, which usually feature a human helpless male lead get stuck in a harem of mythical creatures, in form of oversized boob girls of course (why usually those monsters are in female forms anyways? Aren’t they sexless?). In this case, we have monster girls as high school students in an otherwise mundane ordinary world, where human begins to accept them as a part of society. With the help of a teacher who takes special interest in demi-human, those monster girls (called themselves as demi) starts to navigate their lives, opens up about their demi abilities and how they adjust those abilities to fit in with the environments around them. Demi-chan, as a result, tackles quite thoughtfully and sincerely about demi issues from multiple sides; from demi side, from those who do and don’t aware about them. The middle part of the show, however; dragged the show down by a passable but uninspiring slice-of-life tendency where nothing much happened. The final two episode picked up some of the show’s best spirits but as a whole, Demi-chan isn’t special enough or hard-hitting enough to really stand out in a crowd.

As you can probably guess from the title “Interviews with Monster Girls”, the show focuses on the main demi-human nature of our high school girls: vampire, dullahan, snow girl, succubus. By that the show comparing their true natures to those traits we all heard from mythology (Do vampires hate onion? How succubus work to attract male preys?), addressing their main concerns toward blending in with human world, and explaining their demi abilities so that those girls understand and be proud about their nature. One of the main moral question the show keeps asking throughout its run is that how we, the human people, should treat the demi girls most appropriately. Should we treat them like normal people, or should we care more about their monster’s attributes? Isn’t keep questioning about their “abnormal” nature a kind of discrimination itself? When you keep asking about those natures so many times it’d make the monster girls aware that they are different than the rest. For that Demi-chan argues that it is necessary for the girls to learn and embrace their own natures because those natures are a part of themselves and are what make them unique as a person. The human as well should learn and understand their concerns in order to really support them. Sometimes we do some discriminated actions to them without we knowing it (one of the lines from a recent film Hidden Figure really hits it home. The white boss: “Despite what you may think, I have nothing against y’all”. To which one of the black girl replied “I know, I know you probably believe that.” I totally agree with this thoughtful approach and to be frank this attitude is relevant to the people from ethnic groups in real life as well. I’m not going to touch on world political much but with Trump’s aggressive actions towards Muslim countries and border immigrations, sometimes what we should do instead is understanding each other’s points of views and acknowledge and respect their distinctive cultures.

Another strength of Demi-chan is this show has a lot of hearts. The show has its light-heart, sweet nature hanging in the air and many of those big emotional scenes are heart-felt and delightful. Well, you can argue that those moments (like Hikari confronts the bullied girls in the toilet, or Hikari encourages Tetsuo by the lake) are over-sentimental for its own good, but when its heart is on the right place I have no problem with that. It’s that sweet nature and the easy chemistry between those girls and Tetsuo that basically carry the show throughout its run. In addition, the sweet voice acting help elevating the chemistry as well. Of those characters, Tetsuo-sensei and Hikari are easily the best characters of the show. Hikari for her over the top but that’s-exactly-what-we-need carefree attitude, and Tetsuo for consistently helping out the girls with his kindness and he also grows from approaching the girls with curiosity into wholeheartedly caring about them. The second last episode where the show examines how close should he assist the girls is also a thoughtful, well-drawn conflict that help developing his character and making us see how much he means to other monster girls.

The introductions and then the interviews of our monster girls are easily the show’s best parts. After the interviews segment though, Demi-chan stumbles in finding a hook so it relies on some of its more questionable aspects: the romance and the slice-of-life approach. The romance is a totally dead weight, unfortunately, because this show doesn’t need any romance to begin with. Sakie’s crush on Tetsuo is more of a missed opportunity than a hit, because it’s awkward in tone and worse, gets pale very, very quickly. Kyouko the dullahan’s feeling towards her teacher is also the show’s low points, and there was more than one time that Tetsuo having a sexual tension towards her, which gives this show a rather bad taste. Secondly, after the interviews the show wanders around for “cute monster girls doing cute things” focus, that including the girls studying for the exams, enjoy reading old manga and swimming in the pool (really, we MUST have pooling episode in some ways). Those moments sure are cute and relaxing but they don’t really have much to say and it loses its steams by each passing episode. In fact, I don’t remember much what happens in those middle episodes because nothing really happened, nor mattered. Lastly, the new characters introduced in that period are unmemorable at best. The young boy and the detective adds little to the table, that Tetsuo’s scientist friend has no chemistry whatsoever with the cast, the human students don’t have much screen time to stand out and Hikari’s parents, while well-fleshed out, still remain underdeveloped. In fact, where is Himari in the second half of the show? It is a shame because she’s far more interesting than most of the core cast out there.

In the end, I’d only recommended the first 4 episodes and the last two, which would sum up to exactly half of its runtime. Except from its well-thought approach on the nature of the demon girls and the easy chemistry between our characters, the show leaves little impact and unfortunately, for me at least, the middle part really brings the show down to the point I feel it falls flatter and flatter as each episode passed. The last two episodes did regain some of its spirit but by then it was far too late. Still, I don’t deny that I have an easy time watching Demi-chan, it’s good to get sucked in their world and enjoy the band of demi-girls having fun times, but ultimately when it’s all done and gone I left without much personal attachments from any of this.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Little Witch Academia

I did expect to see the episodic stories return in some fashion but at least the story development from last week is still going. This week Akko is transformed into Diana by a mirror that looks to have some connection to Woodward. I worry that Akko may be falling into the same trap as the main character of the pokemon series. Proclaimed that she is gonna be the best while her strides towards it are small while being prone to backtracking. Diana does seem rather tired of her talk with nothing to back it up and I can’t honestly blame her for that. While Akko is improving she does tend to slip back into old patterns from time to time. She tries a little bit and suddenly gets a big head and thinks she can pull off statue magic. If Woodward had a point in this little prank it was likely to force Akko to recognise that she isn’t Diana. In a way they may not want her to be Diana. Diana is the poster child of the school and it’s clear the teachers are the ones who think she will be the one to bring back magic but Woodward didn’t test her on the night of the blue moon. If it really was her in that mirror then she might not have much of a good opinion of Diana’s methods. Perhaps because Diana treats magic as a science when Chariot treated it more as a art.

What we did find out is that Diana has tasked herself with unsealing the Grand Triskelion and bringing magic back to the world. As a fairly privileged child of magic it is rather appropriate that she sees it that she has to be the one to save the world. Unbeknownst to her, the chosen one for this task has already been decided. So how would Diana react to the fact that it isn’t her, the magic prodigy and pride of the school, but Akko the class dunce who is tasked with saving the world of magic. Diana so far in this series has been a reasonable girl but I think even she would be devastated at this revelation. At the start of the series I hoped that it would delve more into the two perspectives that Akko and Diana have approached magic. Akko is the dreamer aiming for the stars while Diana is the realist who takes into consideration the sacrifices and work needs to strive for a dream. Personally I stand more with the viewpoint of Diana but I do recognise the value of optimism and drive. It’s just that when that is all you have it just becomes reckless and destructive.

This episode is the first of two parts and we end with Akko getting advice from the fountain of polaris to do what only she can do. What that is I certainly have no idea but it’s clear she isn’t going to perform her part of the festival as intended. Speaking of which, what might be of interest is that the monster that will appear of the festival looks like one of the red visions that Akko had upon striking Woodward with shiny rod. If so then perhaps those series of visions are a premonition of the future and if that is the case then dark tidings are on the horizon. We still don’t know the meaning of Diana’s prediction as well that Akko would leave Luna Nova. For now it looks like Akko is set on becoming the Moonlight witch as she seems to believe that Chariot was made one in the past. Though based on Ursula’s reaction I don’t think that’s how things went down. Guess we shall see next week.

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

Thus Rakugo draws to it’s final conclusion and it is rather refreshing to see a genuine conclusive ending in anime, This is a lot rarer than it should be as most anime leave you hanging for another season that may never come or just wrap up things haphazardly leaving it with a unsatisfying conclusion. However the end of Rakugo may have taken it’s sweet time but it’s nonetheless a great close to a great series. In a way the last episode was an emotional epilogue and this was an epilogue for the future of Rakugo. I am a little miffed that all the problems Rakugo faced are all resolved offscreen after a time skip. I would have liked more of a focus on how they helped rebuild the art after the burning down of the theatre. Looking over the series I find that while Rakugo was at the forefront of developments, it was more character drama that the story specifically focused on. While it brought up concerns of Rakugo becoming outdated in modern times I find that the series tended to only give vague indications of what was happening with the medium as a whole. Regardless it’s hard to deny that his is one of the finest character drama’s in anime.

That’s that then, Rakugo had a beautiful ending and there’s really not much else to say…unless of course we bring up that surprising detail revealed in this episode. I do find it amusing that Rakugo, a show so very close to perfectly executed would happen to throw something like this in at the last minute. Like a painter making a beautiful portrait and then slapping a small bit of mud on it. When the words were spoken I literally paused the video, let out a huge sigh and said out loud “They cannot possibly be doing this.” But indeed they did. For you see the father of Konastu’s first child….is Yakumo. Oh god this is Batman the Killing Joke animation all over again. Now from what I see a large amount of people are assuming that the writer was wrong in his accusation and that Konatsu was just humoring him. Of course, as no one wants to have a story twist like this. Sadly the fact that Shin looks strikingly like a young Yakumo and Matsuda being the one to clue the writer in speak that this is the truth. You could still claim otherwise but the final nail in the coffin is that apparently the writer himself confirmed it in side material. Look I get what is being done here, the blood of Yakumo and Sukeroku coming together in a new age of Rakugo but isn’t that just against the nature of succession in Rakugo itself? In Rakugo you don’t have to be related to your teacher to carry his name and his spirit. Having Yakumo spiritually live on through how he influenced Shin is a much more powerful representation of the ties of the art. A genetic tie only succeeds in allowing Yakumo’s bloodline to continue but in turn comes at the cost of respect we had for him.

I just cannot for the life of me fathom how these two could possibly engage in intercourse. Konatsu hated Yakumo and fully believes him to be the cause of her parents death. Yakumo was torturing himself over the deaths of the two so the very idea of him adding yet another sin to the bundle is just asinine. Taking this as fact this makes Konatsu a serious hypocritic and Yakumo someone who angsted over the death of his friends but still thought that getting his best friends daughter pregnant was fair game. The afterlife episode makes even less sense now. Maybe Sukeroku could get over it but Miyokichi? Like hell. The more I think about this the more it just darkens my view of Yakumo and Konatsu. When he collapses and said “My beloved” to Konastu, was he literally talking to Konatsu? Was he using her as a substitute for MIyokichi? Or against previous conceptions is he just a horny old fart? Is Konatsu really shallow enough to put aside personal vendetta’s for the chance to bang a suave older man? Because I don’t buy that “Wanting to carry his legacy” bullshit at all. Now I am really mad that we spent the last few episodes sending the Yakumo off like he was a saint.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is a situation where I believe we should invoke death of the author. In my mind the Yakusa leader is the father of Konatsu’s child. That’s my head canon because the story is the better for it and or god’s sake it makes much more sense. I suggest you do the same.

Somehow I knew that the majority of this post would be dedicated to that twist when I seen it. But let me move away from that. It’s nice to see that Konatsu has become the first female Rakugo performer(There does seem to be records of female Rakugo performers before her though) but it is a shame the final episode didn’t spare some time to show her performance. What we did get however was Yotaro performing Shinigami and I got to say I didn’t think he could pull off such a dark story considering his usual optimistic nature. Yakumo popping in for the afterlife to pitch in only made the performance all the more intense. The writer always makes assertions to make the audience think but it’s often Yotaro who happens to throw out the real words of wisdom. Ending the series with his final line that “Something this good could never go away” is a somewhat poetic end to this series. After all he is right in that regard. Even if something is old, outdated or niche, as long as it can touch the hearts of people there will be those who ensue it will never die out. That is as true for Rakugo as it is with anything in the world.

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

Studio Nut really must be hurting as this week starts off with a two minute recap of the last episode but what made this episode special is that for the first time, Tanya lost. The start of this episode at least had Ansen pay that check of giving Tanya a hard time. In particular I loved the irony that he tried to take her out with a suicide bombing much like Tanya did on their first encounter. There was also that moment where in Tanya was fought in close quarters and full herself getting manhandled. It’s sometimes easy to forget be she is still a little girl of twelve years of age. When in hand to hand combat she is at a serious disadvantage due to her under developed body. I spotted moments of janky artwork and cgi animation in the fight scene but otherwise it was a fairly accelerating affair. I am once again annoyed that Tanya shook off injuries and looked fine within the next scene.

They really need to clarify just how medicine works in this universe as this is the second time she’s gotten injured only to have it magically disappear by the next scene. It definitely gives a layer of invincibility to Tanya when she’s survived many explosions with only a bit of dirt on her despite being in the center of the blast radius. One really great detail of the fight scene was the Ansen was using a military shotgun which Tanya proclaimed violated wartime treaty. See in real history the German protested the use of shotguns in world war I. They stated the reason being that shotguns were inhumane and caused excess suffering to the victim. Though the real reason is that Germany didn’t have shotguns so they wanted to prevent the enemy from using them. What makes this particularly novel is that claiming that Shotguns were inhumane is rather hypocritical because Germany invented flamethrowers.

There may be those confused at what exactly happened in the second half of this episode.  For that you may need to know so history on the World Wars. The first is the matter that command signed a Armistice, not a surrender. An armistice is only a formal agreement to stop fighting and one of the things that lead to the start of World War II. Another event to know would be the battle of Dunkirk which has been site of one of the points that Germany could have won WWII. It was a mass evacuation of 338,226 soldiers. If the soldiers had been killed then this could have meant that Germany could have taken England and thus deterred America from entering the war. Here we see a combination of the two events as the armistice was used as a massive distraction to ensue the Emipire doesn’t notice the mass evacuation. The goal in this war was to have a severe loss of life to ensue the enemy was incapable of fighting.

Now that the enemy has fled the mainland it opens up the war for new people to enter the field. Tanya knows her history and  she knows that the empire will be in a very bad position if that happens. Here is the beauty of what happens next. Tanya only knows what she knows due to alternative history. Anyone high enough in command who would listen to her is dealing with negotiating the terms of the armistice. To anyone else she just sounds like a war crazed soldier who can’t leave the battlefield. But she know that this is her one chance for a peaceful life in this world. Yet command chains her for she just looks like a psychopath trying to start another war. This is beautiful. Tanya know’s exactly what is happening but is utterly powerless to do anything about it. All of her victories so far in the series have amounted to nothing as she will once again be forced into the fires of battle in the future.

Posted on 27 March 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario

Let me say this out front, Seiren is NOT a good show, it’s a highly uneven one. Throughout its run, I can see some solid moments and fresh ideas that could potentially raise it above the bar, but ultimately, view it as a whole, Seiren is a show that isn’t worth recommending. At first, I’m actually intrigued by the premise of the show: an omnibus format on the romance between our protagonist and each of the girl (3 of them this season). Ya know, a harem without an actual harem. For me personally, I’m dread at the concept of “the one” in romance, that there is one person who specifically for you, your “true love”. I always believe that having a romantic relationship with someone is a matter of meeting them at the right time in the right circumstances, of course with enough chemistry and efforts. So, for a show like this (and Amagami, I’ll get to that later), showing multiple possibilities one could’ve have to be in love with different girls is actually interesting and more realistic concept, at least for me. Moreover, with 4 episodes for each arc, it is a perfect length to flesh out the characters, heighten the chemistry before the romance itself drags out for too long. That was in theory anyways, because what we got instead is a show that bugged down by a very inconsistent plot progression, awkward pacing and weak writing in general.

It’s hard not compare this to Amagami so I will address this issue first. Although Seiren is an original show, it borrows the same concept, the same structure and even the same settings with the latter, so like it or not we have to see if this show is better than its inspiration or unique enough to stand out by its own. For the quality, Amagami is way better and way more focus, they understand the romance is their central point so everything they put is mainly to flesh out the relationship between the main character and any given girl. Each of the route starts and finishes around the same time period, making us feel strong connection between each arc. Moreover, Amagami works because it adapts its Sim-dating format really thoughtfully (okay, enough about Amagami, I won’t address it again. Promise). Seiren, being an original show, doesn’t really need to follow Amagami’s footstep because frankly, why stick to a game format when you have an ability to do something fresher? Seiren achieved it in a way, because after finishing the show I wouldn’t call it a ghost of its predecessor. It is its own thing, but in an inferior way.

The first issue here is the route, because honestly I can’t call it a route. Each arc happens in a different time period, and sometimes without the knowledge of the previous arc, you couldn’t follow the details in later arc (like Tatsuya, Shouichi’s friend, who has a fetish for rabbit). Worst of all, except for featuring the same stock of characters in the same school settings, the three arcs are vastly unrelated to each other, be it in themes, in the romance, even in characters themselves. For that I mean the characters change in personalities during each arc that it’s hard to consider them the same person. Take Shouichi best friend, Ikuo for example. In the first arc, he appears as Shouichi’s close childhood friend but he’s more academic, he’s more serious about his life and spends a lot of time for study. In the second arc however, the show betrays his nerd side by putting him to become a game-buddy with our main leads; and in the last part I wouldn’t consider them close friend at all (how can you call each other best friend when you have no idea the girl that Ikuo crushed for so long) and Ikuo acts like a love-struck Romeo. The only thing that consistent is the show’s weird fetish for deer, in which I find rather fascinating.

Then to the big elephant in a room, the writing and the progress of the plot are all over the place. In Seiren, I have a feeling that there are too many chefs in a kitchen, thus the result is a hot mess tomato syrup. Sometimes it wants to be a game-buddy show with exciting mecha fights (really!), sometimes it focuses on magical girl- passion only for later it drops that storyline to focus instead on the girl baking and enjoying Christmas party, then it remembers that it had to develop a romance so it puts the characters alone together. In addition, normally you know the writing of a show is inadequate when a side character shows up and you had to think for a few seconds to remember who that person is. Well, I have the same problem with this series. Like, who is that girl in swimming club again? From the poster, I supposed she’d be one of the harem but where are the other two girls then? They might be around somewhere but at this point I lose all the interest to find out who they are. And not even characters, but the plots development as well. Let’s see, why Seiren keeps focusing on Hikari’s best friend backstabbing her subplot and then kind of drop it off all together? Why the subplot of the Student Council President (oh, my bad, it’s Public Morals Committee) forced the Home ec Club to build a Christmas tree? There were like dozen subplots in one arc without any proper development that it feels just like having a dream. I bet in few months all we can remember is the main plot points and some fragments here and there but we totally forget everything else.

But the show is not without its charms, mind you. First thing I should mention is the hilarious dialogues that bother self-satire, that actually make the show ridiculous and funny at certain points. Line like “Sorry, do you mind if I feed my deer” in a middle of a café date with deadpan delivery is something to behold. While the main male protagonist is plain, I like the all three girls Hikari (no, not the vampire), Toru and Kyouko (no, not the dullahan. What’s up with this show and Demi-chan?) and they are interesting and diverse enough to carry the show by themselves majority of the time (my favorite girl: Hikari). Lastly, I enjoyed the epilogue parts of each arc because I think it’s one of the rare cases where the randomness in details work in their favors. Watching Shouichi become a chief, a school bus driver (haha) or a magical girl mangaka is both hilarious, but also remind us the endless possibilities of our own future.

The technical aspect of the show is nothing to write home about, although it fulfills its jobs. There are some moments, most notably, during the “kiss in a beach” scene, where the visual and sound really elevate the whole sequence. Other time, the show did a decent job of choreographing an action mecha fight and the character designs, while attractive in general, sometimes I do feel like I was looking at fake wax statues (weird huh?). I think it mostly have to do with the character’s eyes, sometimes they just kind of staring too long without any emotion attached.

It’s note repeating that for my score, I consider 60 as recommendation line; as such Seiren falls short. The inconsistent in plots and sometimes in characters themselves are its most drawbacks. It’s a pity because I can see many of its plots have a potential to become a solid offering, but when they jam up everything they can think of together, the result is a half-baked resolution to most of its plots. If there will ever be a second season (come on, there are 3 more girls), I’m not exactly sure if I still care to watch it. At the end of the day, Seiren is a misfire romance show, it had potential to be a much better show, but all it need is to settle in some major plot points and develop them properly. To put it more precisely, Seiren lacks a sucker punch.

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

It’s strange, for a show that almost certainly make viewers furious one way or another, be it totally love it or hate it; I remain indifferent for last couple of episode. The thing is, I can’t ship this Akane – Narumi relationship, because I’ve witnessed this kind of relationship in real life before and it just didn’t work out. Contrasting personalities can attract each other, sure, but they still have to share the same basic fundamental of mutual understanding. I’m sure Akane and that robotic sensei have different sets of value about commitment, and until they can sort out that gap, marriage proposal is out of question. Furthermore, to what extent should we love and accept a person the way they are? The only one-sided, unconditional love that work is the love of the parents towards their child (I love a line in Xavier Dolan’s movie“Mommy”, in which a Mom talks to her son- “The only thing that’s gonna happen… is I’ll love you more and more. And you’ll be the one loving me less and less, but… Life works that way.”). Love as a couple means you love and expect the other to love you and have a moral obligation to behave correctly towards each other as well. How will he react if Akane is going to stay true to herself and f* anything that moves? Accept it means he assists her to her own destruction but reject it means he doesn’t accept her they way she is.

Therefore, it’s important to know what Akane’s feel about this relationship, and I actually can see why Akane attracts to Harumi. For all her love life, she has been a man’s sexual desire. She’s in the centerstage, demand all the men’s attention and enjoying their possessiveness and their jealousy over her. For Akane, it’s the proof of her worthiness. But Harumi cares none of that so that order is thrown out of the window and she suddenly feels confused and wants his approval. His very perspective of love- he’s fine if she screws around because she likes it- eventually reaches to Akane, shattered all the gallery of previous relationships (great visual metaphor here, although I still don’t understand why the young Akame again?), and makes her feel connected. As I said above, I don’t think this love will last and marriage proposal is way too fast for this relationship.

I’m glad the show doesn’t tackle this, instead just hints very slightly this episode; but at one time I thought they made Harumi lose his glasses so that he sees Akane reminds him again of his lost mother. Because if it is then I really question if Harumi really love/care/know Akane enough to live with her for the rest of his life. Akane herself doesn’t sure if it works out either, but the mere fact that she wanted to change is good enough. Also, credit where credit is due, although you know I believe he’s the worst-written character out of this show, I need to praise Takuya’s appearance in this episode (yep, he was in this episode, sobbing when he found out that Akane was cheating on him), because seeing the brief moments of him hurting by that love, I can feel the way his pure love is broken and a glimpse on how he becomes the way he is now. That is a sensitive storytelling.

Akane accepting Harumi also means the rejection for our boy Mugi. For the first time since forever, they have a date but it’s just purely a date, you know, no love hotel. Akane enjoys herself and then firmly rejects Mugi. When you think about it, it’s actually very thoughtful of her (I guess because she actually cares for Mugi) that she cuts that relationship clear and clean so Mugi can be able to move on. Like a protagonist in 500 Days of Summer (gosh, what’s with all the movies’ references today Mario!!!), he learned that people can actually change, but it’s always someone other than him; he has no real influence on her decision. Now, it’s important that he remembers this so that he can grow after this pain. “If it’s a special kind of pain, they’ll be able to become stronger”. Indeed. If there’s a central message to all of our tainted love threads, it’s that line. Now, it’s only Hanabi and Mugi left on stage for the finale (it feels so long without Hanabi), the real question is if they mature enough now to actually be together? I don’t really mind how the result might turn out, but I do think they deserve some happiness after all the troubles they have been through.

Posted on 23 March 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Little Witch Academia

I don’t mind the lighthearted shenanigans of Little Witch Academia but in my opinion it’s episodes like this that will truly make the show memorable. After ten episodes of mere hints as to the state of magic and it’s history we get a truckload of answers. Why is magic being considered antiquated? Because magic is declining and less witches are being born into the world. What is Ursula’s past? Much like Akko, she chased after her own Icon in the form of professor Woodward, one of the great witches. What is the plot of Little Witch Academia? Akko must activate the magic words of Shiny rod(Claiomh Solais) and bring back magic to the world. As it stands Akko has activated two of the words, strangely the spell she said in the second episode doesn’t seem to count. We even get a small glimpse of an antagonist and strangely it wasn’t the horned woman who turned out to be Professor Woodward. It’s nice to see Ursula get some development though rather silly that Akko is too oblivious to notice her connections to Shiny Chariot. Even the Bird in Ursula’s room should have been a massive giveaway. Though perhaps I don’t give her enough credit as in her dream it showed at first Ursula from behind before switching to Chariot while repeating Ursula’s words. At least on a subconscious level, I think she’s beginning to catch on. Either way, with a task given to her by Woodward I think Ursula is going to buckle down on Akko’s training. If so I hope they go further with the bond the two have in this master student relationship.

Can I just say just how refreshing it is to see anime make references to Irish Mythology? I admit that as an Irishman I am biased in that regard but it’s just so refreshing to see something referenced that isn’t bloody leprechauns. Today we know the real name of Shiny rod and that is Claiomh Solais which strangely enough translated to “Shining Sword”. Considering that it has the ability to transform into a bow and an axe I say that it is highly likely that it also has the ability to transform into a sword. I also really loved the celtic theme that played when Ursula was talking to Woodward. Quite marvelous. This episode was a bit of a retread of the fountain of polaris as Akko once again seeks out something detailed in her Shiny Chariot cards. Though with the fountain she was seeking a quick path to becoming a great witch, here she is just trying to see if she has the potential to become Shiny Chariot. While the reason for seeking it out is different, the lesson is more or less the same. In a way it’s sort of regression that Akko needs to learn that there are no shortcuts for her a second time. It is understandable that she is losing patience with her constant failures with magic though she has made progress. The weakest part of this episode was the choice that Akko was presented as giving up her past in exchange for being Shiny Chariot was out of the question from the start. There was no tension in the choice because the choice was obvious. Otherwise I consider this a great episode of the show and one it sorely needed at this point.

My biggest worry at the moment is that with the story laid out this will mean we return to the more episodic nature of previous episodes. After this development I don’t think people would have the patience for the show to sideline it so that we can see Akko have some  one off adventure with little consequence. One of the things that could suggest this return is that while Sucy and Lotte have gotten their own individual episodes, there’s still Amanda and her whole crew that have yet to get the spotlight. Not saying I wouldn’t want an Amanda or Constance episode but if we are going to get one I would wish it would push forward some kind of plot. Diana may have gotten a large amount of screentime but I feel she has become a Mary Sue with the antagonistic aspects of her removed. I originally applauded this change as I thought this would put more focus on her contrast with Akko but unfortunately she just has been disconnected with the stories so far. So in order for this show to really shine we need Akko to work towards finding these words while developing the side cast of characters. One last thing, was Sucy meditating at the start of the episode? That’s a pretty interesting detail.

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