Posted on 31 January 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Hello to week 2 of Paranoia Agent, now with an extra dose of weird! This week we focus on some new characters, the cruelty of children and the supernatural presence of Lil Slugger. Lets jump in!

In general, this was an odd week of Paranoia Agent. Only 2 episodes in and I expect to see myself saying that often. It started off very subdued with its animation. Lots of nice details, but nothing like Kawazu’s beautifully creep fluidity. It did have some awesome direction though. Showing how Icchi views himself and his growing paranoia and solitude. A lot of the shots were very evocative, and really sold the growing dread, even if the animation was more subdued. That isn’t to say Paranoia Agent didn’t have its moments of Kon greatness though. It just reserved it. Every time Icchi started to freak out, the art changed to a more simplistic but exaggerated style. Really playing with the camera angles and stretching the models. I think reserving the fun animation for these moments was a great idea, as it made them really stand out from everything else.


Posted on with categories: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

Welcome back to running made interesting, Kaze Fui! This week the team makes it to the qualifiers, Hana teases some twins and Haiji finds a cliffhanger! Let’s start runnin!

Starting off, I am surprised we made it to the qualifier so quickly. Sure, we just had a training arc, but I figured we would get another episode of buildup. It’s a good thing, really, because we have 8 episodes left and I expect the Ekiden to take up probably half of those. As for the team, it was nice seeing them come together, again. I really should stop enjoying it, it’s happened so much, but I just can’t stop. It’s nice seeing them all prepare in their own ways. King memorizing the route, Yuki relaxing with his music, Musa in the bath, Kurahara going for more runs. Its all these little personality quirks, the in between moments, that make each of these characters feel equally important. Each of them have, or will soon have, their own stories that all tie together, and I love it.


Posted on with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Kemurikusa

Kemurikusa just keeps getting better, huh? This episode does a pretty good job on establishing its world building, and we learn more about these girls’ special abilities, as well as the dead sisters (thanks partly to Wakaba this time). I really hope that we can see the dead ones in some ways or forms because based from the ED they aren’t just there as some backstory – they have their own designs, personality and special abilities. Last week we heard about Ryoku (God, their names are confusing) who knew best about the mechanic of this world and who teached Rin and Ritsu many “survival skills”. This week, we know more about the other two late members, Ryo, who were even better at combat than Rin and Riku, who can used all types of kemurikusa. We also see some of Rina(s) special powers. First, they can use parts of their body to move on their own (with prove to be more than helpful later on). Moreover, they eat stuffs in order to multiply and appears to lose their original memory. What worrisome, however, is one of them start to lose energy and I’m not so sure what going to be happen with that poor soul.

Even the settings on the new islands and the power of kemurikusa start to become clearer as well. Although he activates the kemurikusa power by pure luck, it further confirms that either there are more ways to activate the power, or Wakata himself is a key to all this. The big ass Nushi, however, is clearly designed to destroy the kemurikusa and I suspect that it killed one of the girls and that brings a huge impact to Rin. It’s interesting to note that as long as the girls’ leaf isn’t destroyed, they won’t die and they can regenerate their body. The question I have for now is whether or not these girls are organic (created by the tree and whatnot) or are they artificially made using the same technology that destroy this world? In this episode, when they move inbetween island, we can clearly see the signs, the billboard that clearly resembling the world we’re living right now. What the hell happened in that universe that kill the humanity?

It’s a lot to unpack regarding its ambiguous settings, I know, and I believe this is the right direction Kemurikusa is heading now. Exploring the world, at the same time pick up all the quirks and the functionality of each character has been a rewarding ride. On the production value side, if you get used to the CG models, there are a lot to enjoy here. The use of music, in particular, is strong and enhance the action sequence greatly. The strong use of color is another highlight and each color represents some sort of different power, so it has its purpose. Rin is also a character worth following around, since she has strong sense of what she wants to do and what she wants to protect. Island 4 is going to be a big task for the team, given we know that something is waiting for them there, and that something seems to be a really bad news.

Posted on 30 January 2019 with categories: Mob Psycho 100 II

This week Mob Psycho hits us full force with its unique style. Reigen and Mob get a new job, we meet a bunch of new psychics and a villain makes a questionable tactical decision. Lets jump in!

First off, Mob Psycho went a little crazy with the animation this week. Almost as if to make up for the character focus of last week, as if that was an issue. We got straight up animated renditions of manga panels, slow motion shots, bright colors, wild camera angles and more. Personally, I loved it. I find Mob Psycho’s willingness to go wild with its animation, go off model or use unique mediums, one of its best features. Mob Psycho is, even in its quieter moments like Rock Paper Scissors, always visually interesting. It really makes you wonder why Mob Psycho is so unique in this. I attribute it to BONES, who had absolutely no chill this week, and you know what’s funny? This was all setup for the big sakuga explosion we can expect next week! This was the appetizer!


Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Weekly Summary

We get to the third week of this Winter season where I will cut down some slacks and settle in with the ones I pick. In general, this season has been a solid one for me. Mob Psycho 100 in particular hasn’t had any bad episode yet, Kaguya-sama keeps sharpening its claws, and even something nobody care for like Rinshi Edoka-chan still delivers with grace (the only reason I don’t include Edoka-chan here is because it’s only 3-minute short, WHAT CAN YOU SAY OF A 3 MINUTE SHORT EVERY WEEK?). Anyways, read on to see which shows that still make the cut for the rest of the season.

Domestic na Kanojo (ep02-03)

Curiosity got a better of me and I checked out Domestic for my own dose of suffering. Needless to say, I’m still on the fence whether I’m going to watch it or drop it. There’s a clear set of what I enjoy in the show and what it falters. In a positive spectrum, the situation the older sister Hina finds herself in is frighteningly real and weighty. Having an affair with married person is messy, as in the three-way central romance, and what she’s suffering through is grounded and believable. In addition, I found Rui and Natsuo’s chemistry to be solid so far, as both have the same concerns towards their sister’s affair. On the opposite spectrum, the comedy bits are distracting and most often the time they feel awkward. Natsuo’s best mate is the worst offender as at no point I feel he belongs to this story or even feel like real person. Natsuo’s behavior can be grating at times and I know it will get worse as the story gets messier.


Posted on 29 January 2019 with categories: Dororo

This week Dororo returns to its episode demon slaying, as our intrepid duo combat a cursed blade! We have flashbacks, family issues and regained body parts galore! And you know what? I loved it all, so lets jump right in.

Now, last week I was a bit nervous about Dororo. I found some of the washed out visuals and scrappy animation to be a let down. This week, while it hasn’t gotten rid of those issues, Dororo made me realize that they won’t be as prevalent as I had feared. The chosen color palette has its uses, the limited animation will be… limited, and the however episodic it might be, everything will come together. I will, of course, hit on each of these as we go, but before we get out of technical aspects, I want to say I enjoyed the layout of this episode. Dororo started and ended on the same note, Hyakkimaru standing in the rain, yet the context of each was completely different. Its hard to say he is the same person as he was at the start, because he grows over the episode. I loved it.


Posted on with categories: Finished Series: Action, Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai

It’s clear after the first three episodes that Kotobuki isn’t a show that focuses much on any thematic depth, nor is it a character piece. It has some nice settings, it has one core concept of these Kotobuki team members doing air combats against pirates, and it has extended well-choreographed flight sequences to back it up. It’s pretty telling how they sacrifice 2D character models so that they can go all out with the aerial combat set pieces. In terms of sound and sight, Kotobuki has its chops. It’s not in the level of extraordinary, mind you, but to animate those long battle scenes in every single episode and makes it as appealing as what we got so far is no small feat. The problems lie in the lack of actual story, or even characters that we feel worth spending time for. This week, I still don’t warm up that much to the characters. I do learn more about two of them. Reona (in red uniform), the leader of this group and the voice of reason as opposed to the impulsive Kirie and Chika last week, and Emma (the blonde) who frankly criticizes the mayor before gets rescued by him later on. I don’t mind this “you pick up on character traits as you go along” approach Kotobuk’s currently implementing, but I can see that this approach could turn viewers off because they don’t have a reason to care for the story.

It doesn’t help the case that the story this week is as bareboned as it can get. Rachma, their town was attacked by air pirates who calling themselves “Elite Industries”. The CEO, who acts as over the top as one could, is eyeing the town’s Raiden fighter, and fires off as warning once the town refuses to do the trade. I’m a bit let down by the way Kotobuki clearly makes a ruthless villain we all love to hate, and there is a clear black and white here. The other development this episode focuses on, however, is the town mayor’s indecision to make a final call. This thread works better than the punchable face CEO, but still leaves a lot to be desired. The small town villagers get a sense that they need to participate (and not relying on the girls) to protect their hometown, and the mayor, in a spur of a moment, decide to ride his Raiden and saves Emma, although at the cost of the Raiden.

So yep, story-wise and characters-wise, Kotobuki offers surprisingly very little to hold on to. What it sells so far is the presentation. CG planes look cool in motion and we can feel the impact of every hit the air jets receive. I also quite enjoy the rapid-fire conversations and clearly each girl sounds and behaves different, although to be fair it’s all style with no substance right now. The only way the show could improve is that they need to get more constructed, as fighting pirates week-to-week, quite fun to look at, gets dull rather easily.

Posted on with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

Boogiepop’s this week further reaffirms what I really like about the show’s overall structure. Each week we have a total new perspective from the same arc, often with different level of impact to the main events. This episode, for example, is about two “lesser” interconnected plot threads compare to one last week, yet we still learn many new elements that could potentially change the tide of this sailing boat. We get another supernatural foe, but this time it seems like they are a small piece in the chess. We have more complex emotional range this week: from sexual to homosexual attraction (which the latter is actually pretty impressive). The main key here that can prove to be a crucial plotpoint, in hindsight, isn’t the characters that have their narratives this week, but Orihata Aya, the girl that dates Masaki, Nagi Kirimi’s little brother. It becomes clear that she has different values regarding her own, as she thinks it’s only natural to offer her body to guys, and think very little of her self worth. She comes off an inhuman vibe, but so far I can’t still put my fingers on who she really be. She could be another one of Towa Organization’s “terminal”, which kind of makes sense since that Spooky E is totally protecting her, but I feel that she’s carrying the bigger roles here. And she’s on the verge of breaking down now that she develops her feeling towards someone else.

Which brings us to the first segment where we get told in Masaki’s point of view. Masaki keeps his presence low profile, but he still ends up as a target of bullying amongst his class. The fact the he’s Kirimi’s brother also ties him into the bigger picture. Could it be that Orihata approaches him because of that? As the event progresses, his affection eventually reaches the girl, which I think will serve as a catalyst to the next big event. Asukai reappears to give these bullying guys justiced, and on the second segment it’s interesting to note that he regards the victim as “beyond cure”, which means that he believes his action as a way to cure the victims. At this moment we don’t see the aftermaths of the victims he touched so I can’t tell his version of “cure” would be like, but my gut tells me that it’s gonna be twisted.

The second thread is about Anou Shinjirou, Misaki’s classmate and as we soon learn, he has some physical attraction to him. I really like the way he behaves towards Misaki, you can see the whole waves of conflicted emotions this guy has towards Misaki. Trying his best to show some hesitant to the boy, yet at the same time stalks him and tries to approach him when there’s no one around. It’s creepy but Boogiepop nails his behaviors wonderfully. His stalking to Orihata (since he thought the girl has some hidden agenda) causes Spooky E brainwashes him and makes him one of his terminals. The highpoint of this episode for me is how despite him losing all his memories, his personality and his emotions, in some rare moments his real emotions surface. The scene where he looks at the painting “Snow falls in April” (which is definitely another important piece – who draw this painting?), for instance, evokes some kind of raw emotions to him. For the show that is on the emotional distance approach, it still doesn’t forget to let some emotions sip in.

Lastly, Boogiepop appears to tie up these stories and decides to banish Spooky E, however he escapes in the nick of time. I still think that some pieces are missing here, and until we learn the importance of Orihata’s role in this story, things will put into motion. 5 episodes in, the biggest strength of Boogiepop Phantom lies in its interwoven structures and it does a decent jobs to maintain the restless mood that prove crucial to its many mysteries. Well, viewers have to work way more than normal shows in order to be on track but for me it has been a rewarding experience so far.

Posted on 28 January 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Romance, Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai

Kaguya-sama continues to pleasantly surprise me with each episode. Just as its two main characters attempt to trick one another into confessing their love, the series pulled the wool over our eyes this week by aborting its usual intro midway and getting straight to the good stuff. Its playfulness and experimentation reminds me of SHAFT’s older romcoms, and since that’s where director Shinichi Omata got his start in the industry, the feeling makes sense. More than his work on series like Arakawa or Denpa Onna, though, it’s his masterful adaptation of Rakugo Shinjuu (under the name Mamoru Hatakeyama) that makes me believe Kaguya-sama might have a future in the pantheon of great anime comedies. Omata’s method of bringing rakugo performances to life bears some similarity to the way he heightens the hormonal delusions of Kaguya and Shirogane – after all, they’re essentially performers in a grand farce, with the student council room as their stage. The two series share a scriptwriter in Yasuhiro Nakanishi, as well, so they likely forged a strong working relationship several years ago, and it’s paying off a second time in 2019. If you ever want to predict which anime will be great before the start of a new season, it’s the key staff members that are most important, as this show’s success can attest.

The playfulness I mentioned earlier wasn’t limited to the fast-forwarded introduction. It can be found all over the three chapters adapted in this episode, especially the first, where Kaguya’s lack of sexual awareness causes all three council members to be plagued by self-doubt. The highlight of this segment was her roundabout plot to make the president confess, first by imagining his panic at never having been kissed, then assuming his thought process would lead him straight into her arms to rectify the situation. Anime’s prude take on romance can be frustrating at times, but Kaguya’s sheltered upbringing and Shirogane’s nervous bluffs just make things funnier for me. Fujiwara has to explain the mechanics of sex to her friend in the end, but her embarrassment doesn’t function as an excuse for anyone to be mean-spirited. Rather than tearing down its characters, Kaguya-sama is dedicated to building them up via small details, like the slow social evolution the vice president has undergone since joining the student council. Though Shirogane’s observation of this change serves as a simple catalyst for a game of 10 Questions (complete with an old western theme), it’s his understanding of her screwy personality that ultimately enables him to win. Even though they’re constantly trying to one-up each other, it does feel like they’re slowly learning more about one another.

That sense of impending closeness is given a boost by the conclusion to this week’s final chapter, where Kaguya gets to ride on the back of Shirogane’s bike (a big romantic flag in Japan) as he pedals furiously to beat the tardy bell. In the show’s most heartwarming turn of events so far, this event is only made possible by Kaguya’s accompaniment of a frightened young girl to meet her friend before school. Her original plan was to ambush the president on his normal morning route (which she naturally has memorized), but by taking the time to assist a crying child, she abandons that opportunity in order to help her fellow man. As a viewer, I was really satisfied that Shirogane’s lateness allowed her to meet him unexpectedly, as though she were being rewarded for her good deed. I also really liked the backgrounds during this scene, which nicely mimicked the style of the council room; though I doubt too much CG was involved for this chapter, the sterile layout of the city and slightly inky linework made it look consistent with the show’s normal one-room environment.

Speaking of CG, I’d get my head bitten off if I didn’t mention this week’s new ending theme, which starred Fujiwara doing a super cute dance that I suspect involved some extra computer assistance. Actually, my head might be in danger for bringing it up in the first place, since I didn’t seem to enjoy it quite as much as the rest of the Internet. Though it perfectly captures Fujiwara’s fun-loving personality (as well as her good-naturedness in releasing the cicada at the very end), I felt the uncanny valley creeping up on me as her eyes didn’t quite follow her head during her more elaborate movements. It’s a fine ED that contributes to the show in a meaningful way, so it’s good that so many people are raving about it, but I can’t count myself among them. Rip me a new one in the comments if you must!

Posted on 26 January 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Yakusoku no Neverland

Things are heating up as Neverland continues to up the stakes for our characters episode by episode. This particular episode had a focus on the new caretaker, Krone. Krone makes for an interesting juxtaposition from Mama as she seems much less interested in the more subtle management of Mama’s style and more focused on pure brute force. Caretakers may look like motherly figures which makes Ray’s wordless suggestion of killing Mama seem like one of the best options despite moral quandaries as Mama generally controls through psychological means. However Krone shows that even if the caretakers look like that, they most certainly are no slouches. Put simply, Krone is an absolute tank of a woman which she displays in full force. Emma makes the wise suggestion of training the kids to escape through a game of tag but Krone uses this opportunity to prove that she can catch all of them, all by herself if need be. Seeing her smash open trees and sprint after these kids like some kind of Victorian maid terminator shows well just how high a wall the kids have to scale.

I do appreciate this shows adherence to the show don’t tell rule however this episode was one of the first times that came back to bite them. The anime goes to extra lengths to not show us a single characters inner monologue and while showing through animation is a good stance, there are things which do require more of a inner approach. The biggest misstep here is Krones monologue over how she sees this as an opportunity to overthrow Mama and become the new Mama of the farm. There isn’t anything wrong with this concept in general as it shows that Krone isn’t a complete ally to Mama and having her declare this to a doll she delusional thinks of as her child shows a degree of mental instability in her character. The problem is that Krone is shouting her declaration to betray Mama, at the top of her lungs and with ridiculously theatrical vigor. The kids are also guilty of this lack of situational awareness as they discuss their plans often at dangerous locations or even within sight of their enemies. It’s a wonder that Norman seems to believe that they are being in any way inconspicuous. Not to mention Emma speaking out loud about the transmitters in front of another kid who has no idea of the farm which goes against her character.

Not that it would matter as Mama confirms to Krone that she knows full well about them and if anything that revelation should not even be a surprise. This woman has been playing 4D chess for a long time and considering how big of a mistake krone sees this as, it’s worth betting that Mama is in no way treating this matter as some small threat. With the reveal of the transmitters location comes the problem of how to destroy them without alerting Mama which ultimately seems to be only able to be done at the time of escape. But the biggest problem to the group is the reveal of a traitor who is reporting to mom. This traitor is an interesting prospect for do they know the true nature of the farm? Are they perhaps unaware of their very status as a traitor and just manipulated by Mama unknowingly? The visuals seem to hint heavily at glasses girl being the traitor but she may be a bit too obvious. But the final shot of Emma truly goes to show just how much the knowledge of someone selling them out is devastating her. Her goal is to save everyone but the idea that part of that everyone could very well be working against her is a dark prospect indeed. Out of the main trio she is the one who hangs on to idealistic notions but this may be the thing that forces her to break away from her moral righteousness. She was the only one of the tiro caught be Krone thanks to her need to protect the others and everyone seems to be pointing to her forsaking her morality for the sake of survival. As a last note, that scene with a kid getting hit in the face with a ball was both unnecessary and hilarious.

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Psycho-Pass 3 – 02 [Teumessian Sacrifices]

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