Posted on 26 February 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai

I’m a bit regret that I missed my chance to cover Kotobuki last week, since episode 6 of Kotobuki is easily my favorite week of the show so far. The latest episode is no slouch either, as it expands its universe considerably. Now we have a clearer sense that there is indeed an opposing organization that is on about something sinister. It’s still vague, of course, but at the same time now we have a pretty good idea what Kotobuki will head in its second half. It also shakes up a bit from its own formula as the aerial fights happen pretty early into the episodes, and then they proceed to flesh out the characters/ advance its story. I also find the CG characters are less grating, and the CG model planes are a real treat to watch. While it’s for certain that Kotobuki has its limited appeal, I still like many elements of the shows to make it an entertaining watch every week.

The reason episode 6 remains my favorite is how it fleshes out our main character Kirie, and makes her likable and relatable even though she’s the simplest character out of the cast. The way Kotobuki mixes between her memories and her present time struggles is its highlights. Her memory serves a reminder why she falls in love with piloting planes in the first place. In addition, the chemistry between her and the old geezer Sab is solid. He’s shunned by the villagers but it’s a Kirie-way to just ignore all the talks from them. Instead, her persistence eventually reaches him and he opens up more to her, even teaching her the joy of flighting in the air. While this backstory isn’t necessary refreshing, it ties up really well with her current situation when she gets shot down by another airfighter (who proves to be even more skilled than her), and finds herself stranded with a broken airjet. As she has to starts again from scratch, and as this dire situation gets more desperate, it comes as natural that her mind flips back to the memory she treasures the most. Well, this breakup between her and the old geezer could very well mean that they might meet again in this present time, hopefully not as opposing sides.

In latest episode, Kotobuki delves more into its overarching story, now that we know there is an organization behind the scene doing something evil. First, there’s a cheap gasoline around the market from Standon Oil Company that has less quality, and second these bad guys want to destroy Nanko gas station in order to monopolize the oil market. This episodes also focuses on the silent voice of the team, Kate, who wants a day off to meet her bed sick brother, Allen. She is extremely knowledgeable about mechanics, thanks for her well read, and she proves to be the mastermind behind the plan to distinguish the fire, by explosions no less. I figure in the next episode we will learn more about the bad guys, and I really hope that they aren’t just a bunch of villain who want to monopolize the world. The cast of Kotobuki has been goofy so far, but somehow they’re also endearing so it fits the show better if they don’t make villains who take themselves seriously. The chase is on now, let’s hope for an entertaining aerial combats ahead.

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

I feel it’s often the case with a shounen series that episodes tend to have this point where when you examine a episode, you come to see that not a whole lot actually happened. I felt this as well with the second season of Attack on Titan where you would have episodes where it’s was hard to determine if any progress was made at all. In Neverlands case, if we look at episode 5 we can see that it mainly showed Ray admitting to being a traitor, explaining why he’s a traitor and then revealing himself to Emma. Followed by an ending hook of Don investigating Moms room. When you look at the episode time and what other series have accomplished with a single episode, what Neverland has done here seems rather minimal. It could be the case that the series needs to stretch itself out a bit in other for the finale to be the same as the ending of the first arc.

About Don and his reckless inspection of Moms room, I find Don’s actions to be rather hypocritical in context. The story seems content on pinning the blame of Emma and the others for dressing up the truth and not trusting Don and Gilda with it. However I feel the reasons they did so where quite logical and for Don to chastise them on matters of trust when he broke their trust within seconds to investigate Moms room and jeopardise the whole escape plan seems more than unreasonable. Yes they didn’t tell you the whole truth but the fact of the matter is that you proved exactly why you were untrustworthy when you put everyone in danger for your own personal agenda. Someone really should have called Don out on his blatant hypocrisy but sadly no one did. Not even Ray who really had every reason to, for his plan nearly went up in flames due to an impulsive idiot. Considering Dons reaction as well, it’s up for debate whether he has the emotional control to hide what he knows from mother. Hereby giving a another reason why the kids were in the right about not giving him the whole truth.

The alliance with Krone is a risky endeavor but she does make for a interesting information outlet on the state of the world with her even revealing that mothers of the farms are former farm kids themselves. It’s up in the air for now as to what the two notes say in regards to the info that Ray fed her and the message Mom passed on. Though I would guess based on reaction that the final message was some form of dismissal. Also as a final note it’s getting really absurd the degrees which these kids do not attempt to lower or hid their intent to escape. Lets escape in five days! shouts Don at the top of his voice. Honestly it’s not even all that surprising that Krone managed to find them out. She didn’t even need to use any kind of examination like she did when talking with Emma and Norman to find out the truth. Characters are too overtly loud about their motivations and intentions so that when they are figured out, it’s not so much a victory of intelligence but rather common sense.

Posted on 25 February 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Romance, Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai

We’re back in love advice mode for the third time this week, with Kashiwagi’s still-nameless boyfriend asking Shirogane for advice on how to hold her hand. Kaguya-sama has mostly avoided the prudish territory in which a lot of high school romcoms drown themselves, so I was relieved when Fujiwara busted down the door and pointed out that holding hands isn’t really that big a deal. Apart from a neat conclusion, this was the oddest of the three advice segments so far, since the president spends so much of it trying to coerce Mr. Boyfriend into getting a part-time job. I feel like something was missing from this chapter – was Shirogane supposed to get a bonus or some other benefit for recruiting a classmate? I know he values hard work and everything, but he pressed the issue so far that I thought there might have been a small omission regarding his motivation. On the other hand, the preposterous hand-holding prerequisites he dreamed up (such as renting a cruiser at sunset to establish the proper mood) somehow endeared him to Kaguya even more, which was cute.

Part two was all Ishigami, who’s still scared to death of Kaguya, though it’s a terror of his own making this time. Gossiping about your female classmates’ cup sizes is poor form, especially in a room where both girls (one of whom you believe to hold a grudge against you) are known to congregate. Ishigami doesn’t seem like the type to learn a lesson from Fujiwara’s paper fan smackdown or Kaguya’s threats, though, since he’s preoccupied with jealousy toward the popular guys in the soccer and other athletic clubs. His proposal of a happiness tax is especially funny given his role as treasurer, but it’s also kind of sad, since he’d clearly love to be well-liked with a girl on his arm. Though he rails against the pretenders among Shuchiin Academy’s club programs, he’d probably be happier if he became one. Honestly, my favorite part of this chapter was learning which clubs Fujiwara and Kaguya were in – an episode that splits its time between those two groups could be a lot of fun, even if they have to recycle the idea that they’re in competition for a chunk of the proposed budget.

Looks like this week’s post will be fairly short, as I have little to say about the wiener chapter. The show explains the joke: in the course of researching the birds and the bees, Kaguya has entered the phase where such terms make her laugh uncontrollably, and many wiener-related outbursts follow. I’m not against sophomoric humor in the least, but with a concept like this, it either makes you laugh or it doesn’t, and I fell into the latter camp. The 80s new wave track that played midway through this bit was a direct rip-off of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” so that’s neat, I guess? This whole segment was a dud for me, but I’m happy to write it off and look forward to next week, instead.

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

Boogiepop never makes things easy huh? Just at the end of this Imaginator arc we immediately receive the whole 4-episode OVA of the next one. Before we get into the next arc (which I will cover in its entirety in the next post), this Imaginator arc reaches its conclusion. I remain half-half on how I perceive this arc as a whole. On one hand, it ends conclusively. Everything falls neatly into its place and every characters have their own significance to the story. One the other hand, the art of telling nonlinear puzzle-like structure like this one is that it adds up at the end, both emotionally and thematically, in which I can only consider Boogiepop mildy succeed at (in cinema world, Atom Egoyan is the master of this approach). Maybe part of that is because I wasn’t that invested to Masaki – Orihata dynamic, and another part is that the main characters don’t really involved into the narrative. Sure, Boogiepop pops in and steals the spotlight in the climax, but it has more to do with her being afraid that her friend Suema would get involved. That bit alone is essential, however. Despite her claims that she’s mostly a watcher, Boogiepop does care for her friends and will actively bang in if there’s any risk included.

Jin Asukai takes up the main narrative in episode 8 where he mostly reveals his own cards. When get confronted by Suema (about Kinukawa’s feeling), he talks about his ambition, pretentiously so, of changing the world. He does have something in mind as he meets Spooky E and totally outclasses him. It’s interesting to note that they have the same kind of power: Spooky E for brain-washing, and Jin for heart-altering (or whatever that is, you could say breast-touching and I’m not going to argue against), but what differentiate their power is the mean: Spooky E uses it purely for manipulation, whereas Jin’s method is something more substantial. It remains unclear to me, however, how does he know about Orihata’s perfect rose? I might miss some details but does he know Orihata in the first place, or is she just someone he coincidentally meet. It remains clear within the last two episodes that he’s much more dangerous and harder to deal with than Spooky E. One thing he does right, however, is when he finally addresses his thought to his cousin Kinukawa, and by rejecting her wholeheartedly she snaps out of her current brainwash.

As for Masaki, although being manipulated by Orihata of becoming a fake Boogiepop to lure out the real one, when it comes to his feeling to Orihata he’s never two-minded about that. As the story goes, he is being ambushed by brainwashed Kinukawa and nearlygive her a finishing blow, if not by the intervention of his sister Nagi. Eventually, the real Boogiepop meets him and tells him the truth, and one I considered as the main theme of Boogiepop the series so far. Masaki knows that he’s being brainwashed and manipulated this whole time, so that explains his fixtation to Orihata because he’s brainwashed to do so. Now with this knowledge, what does his heart really want? The ending works well on that end, but one that I find a little predictable.

As for the Master Gardener, he thinks he’s in control but he makes one grave mistake, that the perfect flower he saw in Orihata is a fake, because Orihata isn’t human. With this reveal, I honestly don’t feel the need for Boogiepop to appear at all. Yes, she assures that she maintains the order, and that she will destroy anything that destruct the structure, but it feels a bit off to me where the arc starts with her against the true Imaginator and ends with her beating Jin, an Imaginator manipulator, and the inclusion of both Suema and Nagi feel superfluous at best. Well, at least things work out in the end.

Posted on 22 February 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Kemurikusa

Welp, I’m back to the normal schedule now so my blogging will be back to normal from now on. My apology for those who waited for my weekly blogs for the last few weeks. For Kemurikusa, episode 6 was a slow one, even slower than its standard (and that says a lot), but the latest episode kicks things up a notch nicely. Before I get into the plot details, let me just mention the CG of Kemurikusa. It helps that the show doesn’t have that much of action scenes and they did a decent when it comes to these action sequences. The issues amongst its CG, however, can be seen clearly in episode 7 when Kemurikusa depicts falling objects but it feels as if they are floating instead. The gravity of the models feel off most of the time, and normally our characters get away with it given their non-human nature. When it comes to depicting something falling, however, the issues become obvious. As a whole, do I enjoy Kemurikusa? My answer is: pretty much. It’s slow burn and it has tons of issues but it still remains intriguing, and one of the joy of following this is we have no idea about the scope of the plot. Will it go down to epic path or will it finish small? I have no clue, but I’m game for more.

One of the main event in episode 6 is that Wakaba meets another Kemurikusa sister, Riku. Riku is a good addition to the cast since her personality is distinct and even her power (that she could use all types of Kemurikusa power – a nod for her exceptional “touching” sense) and she leaves a lasting impression in the first half of episode 6. She teaches Wakaba how to use certain types of Kemurikusa, and conveniently reveals more information about the worldbuilding. Two things of note is that it appears that both her and Ryoku are still safe and sound, but for some unknown reasons they prefer to stay away from their sisters. “We are supposed to be death”, says Riku. My take on it is that they are currently carrying another mission in Island 6 that they don’t want the remaining sisters to be involved, because we can clearly see how fond Riku is when she talks about Rin, Rina and Ritsu.

After the fateful encounter, Wakaba learns how to use the kemurikusa to make it as a shield, and with the Yellow one he can function it like a memory Ipad. All these letters written there are assumedly made by Ryoku, the kemurikusa scholar. The bit that remains the most interesting is the letters written in different characters that mentioned about the original self who has the memory leaf. There are two theories behind this written text. At first, my initial reaction is that the text was written by the original Rina before she splits into six. If you notice you’d see one standout Rina who sleeps/ closes her eyes all the times. My hunch is that she is the original Rina and she has the memory of other Rinas before the split. My second take on it, however, is on the grander scheme. It could be that it was the First Person who splits herself into multiple different Kemurikusa girls, each of them carry different personality and is exceptional of one distinct sense: Rin has a great vision and Ritsu can listen to other sounds by using the Midori for example.

Another important turn of event happens at the end of episode 6 where they found another water source: the giant tree with a lake the runs beneath. There’s heaps of interesting factions going on here: there’s this thick Blue Wall that separate the tree with the rest and it’s function like an Ipad Kemurikusa. There are Blue Bugs which attack the girls, but for me it’s more like they are protecting the Blue Wall themselves. My favorite moment of episode 7 is the brief moment of happiness from the girls when they find a safe place that has water and no Red Bugs to fight. We could really feel how the weight has (momentarily) taken off their shoulders. But like any good fiction, it’s too good to be all true. Wakaba and Rin find out that in the other side of the Blue Wall, Red Bug and Red Mist run amok and on its way to destroy everything. It’s a nice turn of events in general. I give the credits for the show’s confident control of its pacing. Other normie shows would rush to this high-stake part to provide “drama”, Kemurikusa instead makes all the little happy moments sink in first, then reveal this massive conflict. By doing so, we have all the reasons to feel their stake, root for them and look forward to this battle.

Posted on 21 February 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Welcome to another week of Paranoia Agent! This week Kon explores different generations, Shounen Bat gets caught and the Old Lady becomes relevant. Lets dive in!

After the bumpy reception I had towards last week’s episode, Paranoia Agent bounced back to wow me this week. Production wise, it was incredibly expressive this week. With the character animation exaggerating to go with the fantasy backdrops. The chief especially, with his expressive face and body language, really made a lot of its scenes. Bringing a lot of situational comedy without detracting from the story, as it fit his character well. The backgrounds were also varied and unique. Making every scene stand out, compared to the otherwise standard cityscape backdrops we normally get. Combine this with Kon’s directorial style, and Paranoia Agent was a treat to watch this week. With visuals out of the way, now let’s get into the story itself. Remember, spoilers after the break!

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Posted on 20 February 2019 with categories: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

Welcome to the big one, the start, the opening moments of Kaze Fui’s Hakone Ekiden! This week Fujioka drops some wisdom, the team learns their sections and Yuki gets some time with Kurahara. Lets jump in!

This week was Kaze Fui’s big setup, along with some drops on Haiji’s background. Before we get to either of those though, how did Kaze Fui do on the production department? Like always, the backgrounds were beautiful. The shot near the end of Mt.Fuji was simply stunning, similarly with Haiji and Fujioka’s walking rice fields. We didn’t get to see much animation this week sadly, but with the Ekiden starting next week, hopefully it will show up in full force. That isn’t to say it was non-existent though. During Fujioka’s flashback there was some great running/shoe animation near the end, and I quite enjoyed the character acting we got during the sections explanation. However, unlike Mob Psycho, animation isn’t one of Kaze Fui’s focal point’s. That dubious honor goes to the story and characters, and my goodness, is what good as always.

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Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Dororo

Hello and welcome to what is, I believe, an anime original week of Dororo! This time we have a sympathetic ghoul, Hyakki dealing with his emotions and a continually worse feudal landscape. Lets jump in!

Dororo was a rather disappointing one after last week, to be frank. Story wise there were some interesting ideas and it got its message across, as we will talk about. But visually Dororo fell very short. There were lots of dull stills, choppy or lazy animation and questionable transitions. Take the opening for instance, as Ohagi runs away after her first encounter with Hyakkimaru. The walk/run animation there is basically a loop as she slides across the screen. Or Hyakki and Dororo’s “search” as just the background fades and changes. Simply put, visually, I would not blame someone if they checked out while watching this episode. As much as the story does it’s job, it simply isn’t engaging compared to last weeks arc finale. It felt like filler, almost, which considering all the plot threads currently available and in the air isn’t really acceptable. Now, spoilers after the break!

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Posted on 19 February 2019 with categories: Mob Psycho 100 II

Hello and welcome to the halfway point of Mob Psycho Season 2! This week continues Reigen’s story as he rises high, falls low and comes to an epiphany. Lets jump in!

Starting off, Mob Psycho once again looks fantastic. Say what you want about the story or characters, the quality of the animation is undeniable. In an episode with no big fights or villains, just character moments, Mob Psycho was more expressively animated than most series finales. Everything from Reigen’s exorcism and incredible reactions to the continuous ending shot of the floating camera. Mob Psycho impressed me this week, in a very different way from episode 5. We also got to see more examples of unusual animation, with the paint on glass effect appearing again. I will admit, this effect is a personal favorite of mine. Seeing the individual brush strokes takes me back to the backgrounds of cell animated series of old. Yet it has a modern polish that makes also crisp and clean. Enough about animation though, as always, spoilers below the break.

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Posted on 17 February 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Romance, Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai

The treasurer of the student council, Ishigami Yuu, finally got a proper introduction this week. I’d say this episode was his time to shine, but it’s actually the opposite – he’s so preoccupied with Kaguya’s apparent hatred of him (as well as his own social faux pas) that it was actually his time to mope. His design screams “introverted nerd”: dark hair and eye color, long bangs covering one eye, and headphones around his neck, ready to block out the world at a moment’s notice. Throw in the running gag about wanting to ditch school due to Stockholm Syndrome or a desire to kill himself, and you have a totally ReLaTaBLe character with whom all the sad dorks out there can identify. I don’t want to come down too hard on the guy just after his introduction, but I do have an issue with the series’ decision to create a character with his function (that being his detection of Kaguya’s more cunning personality). Kaguya-sama already does a great job of balancing her two selves through the use of internal monologue, narration, and quieter moments alone or with Hayasaka, where we see Kaguya as she truly exists. She’s already a well-rounded character, about whom we get plenty of different perspectives through the president, secretary, and admiring student body. I don’t feel as though an additional set of eyes, particularly not one that interprets things in such an exaggerated fashion, adds much to the proceedings.

This is undoubtedly an unpopular train of thought, as Aidan mentioned in the comments of a previous review that Ishigami is /ourguy/ among the manga’s fanbase. I can understand why that is, but if he’s going to contribute to the show, I’d rather it be on his own terms. For example, in the final chapter from this week’s episode, he’s struck with embarrassment after Fujiwara calls him creepy for a remark about her new conditioner, and he excuses himself from school. If his arc will involve battling his depression and social awkwardness to become a new or improved version of himself, that’s cool. This is a rom-com, so I assume the story will eventually nudge him in the direction of a female character, which could be the catalyst for that change. As long as his screen time isn’t dominated by a fear of the vice president, I’m down to see where he’ll go in the future (apart from “home” midway through every segment).

All of that aside, my favorite story from this episode was probably the Fujiwara-led barrage of psychological tests. These things usually function as a way for lazy writers to let their characters speak directly to the audience, but in a series built around deception, they were just another opportunity for comedy. I think this is the second time Shirogane has defaulted to being a siscon to avoid his crush on Kaguya being detected, and while he escapes for the price of the girls’ scorn, Kaguya gets overwhelmed upon realizing the meaning of the flower test. The shot of the dump truck backing up and gently covering her in a pile of petals was the best of the week, for my money. It was nicely stretched to allow us to anticipate the moment when they would fall, and to feel Kaguya’s shock at their intended symbolism. This show continues to be very well-timed, with another case coming near the end of the third chapter, where Shirogane frantically pedals away from Kaguya after failing to compliment her nails. Just as he and his bike are about to disappear from sight over a hill, he freezes in midair for a moment, emphasizing the hunched position he uses to flee the scene. It adds to the comedy of the moment, but also the light pathos of being too afraid to compliment the girl you like. Good storyboarding is likely responsible for these small successes, so kudos are in order for whoever has handled that task so far. We’ve arrived at the midpoint of Kaguya-sama’s 12 episode run, so I hope this level of attention is maintained during the show’s back half.

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