Posted on 30 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Golden Kamuy

Wait, did we seriously just watch a guy who gets aroused with the idea of killing? I mean, what a way to explore his twisted desire and what a visual Golden Kamuy presents here. A glowing circle in his pant? Sure, why not? It’s weird, it’s whimsical in an awesome way. The idea is that this guy Henmi has a distinctive approach to killing (and be killed), and I’m pretty sure most of serial killers behave this way, whose killing patterns are influenced by traumatic events in the past. He reminds me a fair bit to Dr. Hannibal Lecter who become known as Hannibal the Cannibal because he witnessed his sister was cannibalized by a band of Nazi collaborators when he was young. The rest of the episode, however, can never top this. While on the topic, the appearance of this new tattooed character Henmi opens up too many issues. First, by focusing on his narrative in the episode’s last part, the show makes a tonal shift that is frankly quite jarring. We never know much about him except for his flashback, thus he just can’t carry the show compared to say, Sugimoto and Asirpa. Worse off, because this guy takes a central role in the last half, our duo behaves like walking sticks. I don’t see any personality in Sugimoto whatsoever.

In the big picture, with this episode I have a clearer idea of what kind of show Golden Kamuy is. I’m pretty sure now that Lt Tsurumi and the old man Hijikata are our final bosses, and to get there Sugimoto and Asirpa will have to face several smaller arcs involving particular prisoners with skinned tattoo. I’m not that fond with this approach to be frank. And now I don’t even consider on which side Sugimoto will destroy first. The way I see it, there’s going to be a three-way face off between the Good (Sugimoto), the Bad (Hijikata) and the Ugly (Lt Tsurumi. Note: purely subjective opinion here). These three forces are the only parties to know about the true size of the treasure to boost. At least in this episode the Bad and the Ugly have a brief encounter where Hijikata raids the bank in order to… retrieve his darling katana and earn some cash. Yeah, OBVIOUSLY it makes sense. What the Immortal and the Ainu girl need to concern, however, is their comrade Escape Artist gets himself caught by the prisoners. The gang, surprisingly, doesn’t treat him badly, at least not yet, in exchange for other skin tattoos. They underestimate Sugimoto at this point, mostly because they have never heard of him, so I suspect that this Henmi business will be when the prisoners take notice and see the threats in Sugimoto’s ability to survive.

Another change in plot direction and in the next villain also results in another change in Golden Kamuy’s setting, and this time, it’s a treat to watch. It might cost the show a bit of pacing issues (look, Sugimoto, let’s help us catch the whale first!), but the herring fish scene is a totally fresh air. We have boats floating on the sea as the fishermen try to catch the big whale, and much later when we see the red herring from fishes and Henmi briefly explains Sugimoto about all the works. I hope we get more of that, but the fact remains that Henmi is ready to throw himself to Sugimoto, quite literally, even at the cost of his own life. Although Sugimoto never seems thrilled to kill these kinds of nutcase, he only kills to defend his life.

Posted on 28 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hisone to Masotan

Hmmm, I do feel like I’m watching some propaganda in HisoMaso this week, in which it tries to sell us the ideas that women’s low self-esteem and insecurity are the best way to “soulmate” their dragons, and worse, learning the whole conspiracy method of crushing these poor girls’ hearts to make sure they’ll ever love again, so they can devote all their hearts to pilot the dragons? WHAT? Okay, propaganda is a bit exaggerating, but I can’t help but feel the mean-spiritedness in this approach, especially virtually no one in the higher-ups question about it or that Ilboshi guy’s decision morally, instead they just roll with it. Haizz, they play those up for laugh, and I guess they set all this up so that the girls can overcome those, but still I feel a bit uneasy watching all these play out. Especially seeing the young mug Okonogi tries his damnest to slide between following his orders and just have fun with Hisone. I figure my uneasiness lies in the fact that these girls, our D-Pilots are the victims and clueless about all this. Ways to depreciate our women and their intelligence here, Mari Osada.

SO the plan is to figure out all the girls’ potential romantic interests, push it a bit and then squeeze that love like breaking an egg. Haizz. This plot gets thicken fast as Okonogi is granted a chance to go to a date with Hisone, watching some lame horror movie (wait, is it the same film with the one in After the Rain?). Meanwhile, Kinutsugai becomes an informant (because of Kingdom!) by that guy Ilboshi again. He now becomes a sore thumb here as beside babblings all those bullshits about white lovers, purity and what’s not, he acts equally stupid and manipulative too. To make things worse, this week our dragons get left out, in place for these stupid romantic threads (that include Hoshino and “the guy who ticks all the boxes” and Hitomi’s multiple interests).

The show’s writer is most infamously known for injecting unnecessary and drawn-out romances and it seems like she again hits the streak in this episode. It’s not enough to bring HisoMaso down, at least not yet, so I’ll reserve my final feeling when this all business about the ceremony is dealt with, but for now I’m not that keen on the direction it laid out. It should focus on the dragons – their pilots relationship, or even focus to develop our girls, not this. And HisoMaso still holds their cards too close regarding the real identity of the yogurt lady. Too much sniffing and licking without revealing won’t tease people anymore. I’m a bit concerned with HisoMaso now, it looks like it will head dive into the deep ocean full of sharks and I’m not sure if it ever going to recover from that.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

The core dynamic of Nitta and Hina again is put into test this week, this time with more pressing matters. There’s a woman from Hina’s world comes to bring her back home, except – you know – she’s also scared shitless about Hina’s power. That’s the first thing that makes this new addition, named Kei, different from someone in her role. Kei’s more than willing to take shortcuts to her duty, and poor Anzu has to keep her from running away many times. Kei has a checklist to track Hina’s development in which she expects Hina to trip anytime soon. That blue hair girl passes all the test with flying colors and I especially like the way Kei and Anzu tested her by buying the puppy and disguise it as a homeless dog. Hilarious as it always is, but when Hinamatsuri wants to, it can ring the emotion so true. It might be a bit obvious the way the show wants to show us how Hina has grown while living with Nitta, but it mostly gets away with it by framing that change from Kei’s astounded eyes.

When learning about her going back to her world, she not in the least refuses. Grown girl accepts the consequences after all. The more important thing is how to break it to Nitta. Hina tries, and fails, in various methods to get Nitta noticed (most notably her “byebye” T-shirt, and when she’s frustrated she rolls and float freely in the air, creating a nice and weird visual quirk. Nitta takes the news calmly, he takes her to eat her favorite ikura bowl for the last time and says it when it’s time for their separation, that while she’s a pain in the ass, he enjoyed the time they spent together. That might be why the last laugh doesn’t really win me over because it kinda destroys my goodwill towards Nitta. But to be fair, Nitta has always been an ass himself, so they pretty deserve each other’s company.

In between that crisis, we have a side story of a new Hina’s classmate, Mami, who walks the fine line between a complete fool and an adorable fool. What worse than showing your true power to the bad people? It’s showing your true power to the eight-grader syndrome kid who believe they’re the centre of the universe (in fact they’re closely to grade 8th here). Hilarity ensues when Mami decides to confront Hina upfront (and freaked out to the point of lying on the ground). Hinamatsuri is in total control of the tones here, building up her satisfaction and her desire to brag about her “superpower” just about right, while never overplays her humiliation. Having the crowd total in their straight faces works much better than them laughing and ridiculing the poor girl (especially love both Aizawa and Hitomi’s tense expressions there). There’s so much good laugh in this second part and never at once the show belittles Mami’s hijinks. Well, turn out the parts about those middle-schoolers are amongst my favorite parts of the show. With such a diverse cast with strong and funny characters who always found themselves in absurdist situations, Hinamatsuri retains its touch this week.

Posted on 26 May 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Steins;Gate 0

Oh boy, Steins;Gate 0 was definitely a thing this week, whatever that means. This time we have clashing styles, interesting plot twists and one hell of a cliffhanger. Lets jump in!

To start off, lets get the obvious out of the way. Steins;Gate 0 is not an action series and it shows. The opening “combat” scenes of this episode were… weak, to be kind. Animation was stunted and in general it just wasn’t great. This isn’t unexpected though. Steins;Gate’s design/style doesn’t lend itself well to smooth, fluid fights. It has always been a series focused on its characters, not the action. That said, the actual narrative portion of the “combat” was pretty interesting. We have no idea who the leather-clad women is, though I have suspicions, and Mr.Braun’s entrance was both unexpected and exciting. I have always wanted to see more of his character, get a deeper look into our landlord ever since Steins;Gate, and we finally have the chance. And boy did this week spend a lot of time with him.

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Posted on 25 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Golden Kamuy

This week ties up one plot thread that is Nihei and Tanigaki and their quest for hunting down the wise wolf and overall it does a decent job at that. Continuing from where the last episode left of, this final confrontation works for me because everyone has a moment to shine. Sugimoto proves that he does have some strategy beside his strong survival skills by using the Escape Artist to… escape. Tanigaki is wise and underhanded enough to use Asirpa as a hostage, and Asirpa also more than serves her role well when she saves Tanigaki’s live by cutting his poisoned flesh. But the main stars in this arc lie in the final showdown between Nihei and Retar – the man and the force of nature itself – with a welcome twist. Nihei has it under control until he realizes he lets his guard down, that Retar never intents to face the man down upfront, but he only serves as a distraction for his mate to attack him from behind. The wilderness again outwits the man, through the power of family bond, something that all the men in Golden Kamuy seemingly leave behind to pursuit their own goals.

What happen right aftermath this fight furthers highlights many of Golden Kamuy’s stronger moments. Tanigaki, barely walking, comes up to the death Nihei and says his chant. That’s the respect. Asirpa refuses to let anyone die in her ability by bringing Tanigaki and the Ainu dog back to her village. Golden Kamuy might not have the excellent production by their side: all the action scenes are only just functional, and their violence is somewhat extreme, but the violence never serves as glamorized action (unlike Tarantino’s films for example – except for certain skewer sequences), it’s gruesome, and it fits with the world these characters inhibit in: gruesome, bleak, macho. But the ones who survive so far, as we further see after this Retar’s arc, are the ones who have companions and it’s the desire to keep their companion safe that push them farer than those who simple have nothing to lose. Seeing it on that light, it’s a good sign for both Asirpa and Sugimoto.

This episode also gives us Lt. Tsurumi’s emotional motive for pursuing the gold and really, it’s not in the least surprises me. Feeling betrayed by the Government after literally putting their lives on the line, the 7th Hokkaido unit aims to stage a coup to basically regain “what was rightfully theirs”; and give more job opportunities for their family members by opening the weapon factory (!). What’s the catch, then? That the amount of gold is in really far bigger than the assumed amount (about 1,000 times bigger). That is to say those soldier bastards won’t leave the game anytime soon, and Sugimoto and the gang come upon another issue of whether or not to trust Tanigaki at all. With this kind of story, don’t expect anyone a friend even when they’re on your side, and the same could apply for our escape artist.

But if there’s another special skill that our escape artist inhabits, it’s his ability to run into trouble in every corner. He bumps into Ushiyama and they engage in the hilarious chase, in which Ushiyama jjust sweeps off all the barriers with inhuman skills (that involves taking a damn HORSE down Mongo-style takedown). Seems like it’s time for our group to finally meet the prisoners, although with only 1-cour confirmed I am not sure how Golden Kamuy can bring this story to a satisfy conclusion, given that all the events happened so far feel like they just finish its introduction phase and now moving on to the second arc.

Posted on 23 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hisone to Masotan

At one point during this episode I almost felt that Hoshino was just too overboard. Being stubborn is one thing, but when you’re too stubborn you outright hurt others’ feeling without backing down, it’s irritating to watch. The issue with Hoshino, as we come to learn during the flashback, is that piloting an F2 has been her lifelong dream. And she tries, amongst the male-dominated world, to reach that dream. Then this dragon picks her and she determines to push forward to make her dragon a F2 plane. The dragon understands that so he tries to stay in Foxtrot form all the time. It’s a classic abusive relationship if I’ve ever seen one. The main thing is, for Yoshino it’s her desire to fly, not piloting a F2, that hooked her in the first place and their flight together in the end further reminds her of that.

Meanwhile, the other three manage to survive for few days and initially forgets all about their training objective. No big deal, when the dragons are happy they can just take wings and fly off (And eventually they did). These girls encounter the shrine inside the cave with Masotan and other dragons’ symbol in there, so I reckon that this island is a spiritual place where the dragon pilots – white lovers, shrine maidens, whatever exchange some form of mutual relationship with the dragons. They all have the same dream that night of a lady riding a dragon, which I guess for now is either the yogurt old lady or Nao’s mom. Well, we have all the elements in place now: the maidens, the shrine, the dragons, the last thing left is the ceremony itself so let’s see how HisoMaso eventually get into that part.

While I feel the drama and the overall serious tone are just passable, it’s the comedy that fares much better this time. In particular, the comedy duo Hisone and Nao’s puppet head provides some nice gags, including one of the most tragic faux “death” in recent history (Hisone’s face is priceless). The voice acting also work wonderfully well, especially the licking gags of Hisone – just to show you how weird our main protagonist is. Nao and Iboshi’s current crave for kiwi doesn’t really work for me, but it ties its thread well with the final revelation. As of now, I feel HisoMaso just doesn’t have enough of a central plot to make a proper impact, and it relies instead on the gorgeous visuals and quirky character expressions. It’s a nice show to watch and enjoy, but when it’s all done you realize the story doesn’t progress much, and sometimes it feels like the plot just stands still and doesn’t go anywhere at all.

Posted on 21 May 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Megalo Box

Hello everyone, and welcome to the most surprising episode of Megalo Box yet. This week we have family drama, Joe’s declining health and a shocker of an ending. Lets jump in!

So starting from the top, lets talk about this ending. I never thought Megalo Box would pull something like this, with its limited number of episodes. I assumed there would be a basic, linear progression of fights. With this however we now have 2 strong antagonists, or perhaps 2 protagonists. Its difficult to decide where Yuri fits into this, though Mikio’s place is clear. Regardless I am very impressed through brought Joe’s legal citizenship back into question. Mikio was already an interesting opponent, the rich boy with something to prove, but this blackmail really sells his “Anything to win” attitude. I am slightly disappointed that we didn’t get a fight, and might not get one next week, but based on the quality of previous fights, its not that big a loss. Fewer, higher quality fights with intense narrative weight like the inevitable Mikio fight will beat out Samejima any day.

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Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

At this halfway mark, I want point out that the comedy of Hinamatsuri isn’t as sharp as the first few episodes (except for the segment including Hitomi’s classmates). There’s still absurdist sense of humor, sure, but it doesn’t make me laugh out lout or even make me chuckle. That is to say I come to enjoy the show’s drama much greater. This first short segment about Anzu, for example, hits all the right notes that you just can’t help but want to hug her. Anzu’s first day of work is… full of hearts and wonders, for the lack of better world. Here’s a girl who started from the very bottom of the society, now that her living condition is better (her own room, her own bed), she still appreciates what she had learnt from Yassan and the homeless people. The way she’s still used to her old habits (stunned over the cash till, taking a cold shower, cleaning up the used chopsticks) play mostly for gag, but it hides a sense of sadness under it. One thing for sure is that her first day in the restaurant is a whole lotta fun, and her life is going up from now on.

At least I’m glad that Hina becomes much more active this week. In the second segment, triggered by Nitta’s remark “find a way to make it fun”, she nominates herself to run for student council president, which only two things in mind: improve the lunch meal and more time to nap. Then somehow the lawyer of the big yakuza organization involved and what I find the most “genius” is the way he connects Hina’s two dot-points draft into a sensible and logical argument. Of course after a good meal, everyone would want to sleep, right? Hitomi’s reactions speak volume here, so does Hina’s clueless speech that include stage directions to her speech like they’re the most natural things in the world. This segment is where the static Hina works best for me, her stoned face and mono-tone need to contrast with something as bombastic and out of left field as this. Otherwise, our poster girl can only be suited for mascot.

The dynamic between Nitta and Hina come back in full force in the last section, and I actually quite like the way the direction it went this time. Nitta, for the first time, shares something personal to Hina. Hina and Hitomi take that hint and want to talk Utako into having a date with Nitta. Of course, Hina will have to screw it up in front of Utako since she has absolutely no sense to “taking the hint”, but somehow the date still happens with some unexpected twists. First, Hina breaks her ankle because Nitta’s swinging (Hinamatsuri comes close to screwball comedy here), and second, Utako rejects Nitta out right. It should be a punchline here, but for me this one the punch doesn’t land well, because it drags so much with all the montages of their date with an obvious result. It could work much better if the show includes their conversations instead of this. At least now that Nitta truly regards Hina as his family, so Mother or not, hand puppet or otherwise, it’s all good for now.

Posted on 20 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Legend of the Galactic Heroes Die Neue These

The majority of this episode was detailing the plan and execution of Yangs takeover of Iserlohn which does seem rather simplistic when you think about it. This is a point where LOGH shows its age a bit and while they tried to bump it up by throwing in a body scanner, there is still the rather grievous oversight of the control room not being monitored at all from the outside. For such a key part of the fortress it sure is light of security but you can forgive this a bit and they still managed to make it somewhat feasible. One thing I miss from the OVA was Yang moving his ships around to put pressure on the captain to let the Rozenlitter through security checks. Mainly because it shows that Yang at least had some part in the plan where as here it seems to all come down to the Rozenlitter getting through security and holding the commander hostage. Sure Yang had some part in leading the other commander away but the plan sure seems simple when you have an overview of it.

The aftermath of Yangs victory was certainly somber though as the other commander returns to launch a suicidal assault against the captured Iserlohn. In another show his warriors pride would be considered admirable but here it really shows the utter arrogance of it. This man was dooming millions to die over his pride and even as Yang fired shots to convince him to flee, he still kept pressing onward. I am reminded of the Kiritsugu way of thought where he talking of dressing up killing and war with glory and chilivery. Indeed Yang took Iserlohn without losing any of his own men. But there were men of those ships Yag shot down with Thor’s hammer. And that was no small number of men. So it’s to see that Yang doesn’t take pride in his victory and to him he did his job and nothing more than that. Walking away regretting he was force to kill in order to do it.

We also see the introduction of a third natural party to the conflict, the planet Fezzan who are definatly going to play a role in future events. So now can Yang retire to a peaceful life of drinking bourbon in a teacup….oh Yang. It is always rather amusing that Yang seems to underestimate his own worth and that is likely the factor that causes him to overlook his inherent value to the FPA. Sorry Yang, you ain’t retiring early anytime soon. So bloody hell Julian let him have his alcohol, he’s earned it.

Posted on 19 May 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Steins;Gate 0

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, Steins;Gate 0 has stomped the throttle and cut the breaks. Lets skip the intro and just get right to it. Early on I thought this episode was going to be slow, we were going to focus on our characters and relax a bit. I thought it would be drama free. Apparently however this was just the calm before the storm. Far earlier than I predicted, I was assuming ~episode 12, the shoe drops and our plot begins in earnest. I am so happy. This means, hopefully, that there are no more additional characters and that no more additional world building is necessary. For this shoe to drop, it means all of our relevant actors are in play. Now onto drama and theorizing!

First off, triggers. In the original Steins;Gate, as seen by the flashback, Mayurii’s watch stopping was the signal that she was about to die. However we know in this timeline that Mayurii lives. So the question becomes, who dies next episode? My money is on Maho. Shes gotten a lot of screen time, everyone loves her, and she clearly likes Okabe. Add to that the fact that Amadeus’ server gets shut off, and I think we have a new death-flag/dead friend combo. Maho also already had the foreshadowed stalkers/Dr.Reyes “mugging” incident, so the signs are already there. The only real hole to this I see is there is no D-Mail, so no easy time travel, at the moment. Killing off anyone here is a big commitment, taking them out of the series for awhile most likely. I legitimately cannot wait to see how this shakes out.

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