Posted on 31 March 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Romance, Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai

And so we reach the end of Kaguya-sama’s twelve episode run. There’s no word of a second season yet, but given the original’s enthusiastic reception, I have to imagine that one will come. (We ought to get an OVA at the very least – otaku have come to expect them when shelling out for pricey Blu-ray boxes.) A sequel may be even more likely when we consider the strength of the first series’ conclusion, and this one definitely ended on a good note, following up on both the emotional promise and the more light-hearted elements of the previous episode. Kaguya’s newly created Twitter account and the Metropolitan Ramen Kings both played a role in her jailbreak, just as sickly Kaguya’s fixation on fireworks pointed to a deeper, more personal issue. The show’s reuse of seemingly minor elements is a big bonus for me, since it adds to the feeling that everything on screen has been put there for a purpose. Even when I didn’t care for them at first, the payoff was typically somewhere around the corner. Kaguya-sama’s standalone chapters were some of my favorites in this one cour run, but a little bit of continuity goes a long way in authenticating the show’s world.

The bulk of this final episode was dedicated to “I Can’t Hear the Fireworks,” putting a cap on the post-credits scene from episode 11. Of all the things to love about this two-parter, my favorite is the contrast between the reasons for Kaguya’s lack of hearing. In the past, she was forbidden from attending festivals or fireworks displays, so she could only watch from her bedroom window as they burst into view without sound. She sees the fireworks through a window in the present, as well, but this time she’s together with her friends and her first love, and it’s the furious beating of her heart that drowns out all other noise. These different contexts give the chapter a poetic flavor, as we witness how universal things like friendship and romance can prove so impactful in one girl’s life.

Kaguya might have stayed confined to her room and missed making a valuable memory if not for Hayasaka’s encouragement and the help of the student council members (including Fujiwara, who opted to skip her Spain trip in favor of attending the festival with her friend). In fact, she was originally so heartbroken that she wished she’d never gotten close to them, so it wouldn’t hurt quite as much when she was forbidden from seeing them. The series depicted that pain through multiple shots of Kaguya’s tear-stained face, as well as more experimental live action cuts of black windblown strands (representing the veil of hair with which she protects her eyes). When these sorrowful images eventually gave way to anticipation and wonder, there was a feeling of catharsis that most anime series couldn’t hope to match.

Of course, Kaguya-sama wouldn’t be a romcom without an eventual return to the status quo, and one last contest in the council room serves as the series’ parting note. It’s a chapter that focuses on spring cleaning, to boot, as if to polish and dust the show of excess sentimentality. Nevertheless, there’s a sense that Kaguya herself has changed a bit. Although Shirogane is preoccupied by the scale of his actions on that festival night, his crush is desperate to say “thank you” for those same efforts. Try she does, but even after ejecting Ishigami and Fujiwara from the room, she’s still foiled by a misunderstanding that causes the president to flee the scene in embarrassment. It’s worth noting that she chases after him, though, a gutsy impulse that she never could have acted on a year ago. Shirogane is still terribly self-conscious, and Kaguya is still learning how to process her new feelings, so their continued separation makes sense. But at least they’re headed in the same direction, with good friends to support them on their journey, and plenty of time before high school ends to grow closer together.

Posted on 29 March 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Welcome everyone to the most enjoyable episode of Paranoia Agent in a while. This week we get a peek into the anime industry, Shounen Bat appears once more and our death count skyrockets. Lets jump in!

Starting off, I not only have to but want to talk about the animation. Paranoia Agent got very inventive this week, wowing me multiple times. It really embraced the focus on the animation industry to have some fun with its eldritch premise. There are two instances of this I specifically want to mention. The first comes right at the start, by cutting to the various stages of the animation process. Complete, to Genga, to Storyboard it was an interesting look and really set the focus for the episode early. The second, and much more impressive, was about mid-way through, as Saruta is basically reverse animated. Losing his color, his line-work getting rougher and rougher. It was simultaneously beautiful and horrifying, fitting Paranoia Agent’s unique brand of horror. This is exactly what I have wanted these past few episodes, so its good to see the series return to form.

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

And so Kemurikusa comes to a fitting end, one that never surpassed its peak that was episode 11, but it’s a decent one to close off this series. Kemurikusa is an adventure show at heart, so it’s always more about the journey than the destination. They go for hopeful route here, as Wakaba and Rin reach the natural world, as opposed to their destructive world. Frankly though, I regard it as the least favorite part of the episode, it feels more as a wish-fulfilling part where they all reach happy ending: the perfect place to stay free of red bugs, all the girls somehow make it alive (despite several heartfelt goodbyes) and Rin expresses her love for Wakaba. About the last part, while it sounds corny on paper, it actually has some deeper layers. Rin embodies the original leaf of The First Person, and the First Person herself is pretty much in love with Wakaba. She’s the one who erased her own mission of saving Wakaba once she learns that he’s consumed by the red fog. That makes it quite a tragic story of splitting herself up for no purpose at all.

At the same time, the whole point of this journey, internally, is for Rin to realize her feeling with Wakaba. While I could argue that having Wakaba stabbed (and then miraculously rescued later on) just to bring Rin’s emotion out is a bit calculated, I don’t really mind it personally. As soon as she speaks out her heart, the lost sisters appeared to save the day. These girls have a strong presence throughout the show despite their limited screen time that I’m more than happy to see they come back and kick some ass. There’s still some slightly loose threads that I want to know more. For example, Wakaba’s origin and more about the Sisters’ death circumstances, but at the same time I’m pleased with the amount of world-building Kemurikusa has put in. The intriguing of this apocalyptic universe is certainly Kemurikusa’s biggest assets.

As a whole, I don’t regret blogging this show. The visual elements remain the show’s biggest love-it or hate-it. I think the detractors have their valid arguments when they point out the show’s “unpolished” look. For me though, it has become TATSUMI’s signature style, one that remains unique in this medium. To add to that, the show has a strong grip on its color palette and the sound designs. Full review will come shortly.

Posted on 28 March 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Sports, Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru, Reviews by Lenlo

Recently, sports anime have become a bit of a dying breed. Falling into the same hole as Mecha, aside from a passionate base audience, most are overlooked. There are the occasional hits like Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, or Darling in the Franxx for Mecha, but those are few and far between, often taking years. Even then, rarely does a series come along that can reach the heights of the old classics such as Hajime no Ippo or One Outs. However, Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru, Kaze Fui or Run With the Wind, attempts to do just that. With a phenomenal cast, tight direction and a 5 episode finale that was executed neigh perfectly, Kaze Fui is one of my favorite sports anime in recent years.

So that said, lets jump in!

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Posted on 27 March 2019 with categories: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

Welcome, one and all, to the finale of Kaze Fui. It has been a wild ride to get to this point, as the series did the impossible. It made running ~140 miles more interesting and dramatic than a fight for the fate of the universe (Looking at you DBZ). So, for the final time, let’s talk running boys.

Starting off, visually, Kaze Fui was beautiful this week. The animation team really kicked it up a notch, with numerous high fidelity shots. Examples of this include Haiji’s panning shot as he runs under the bridge and basically any shot of the dog. I swear, the frame count must have doubled, there was so much motion going on. As if that wasn’t enough, Kaze Fui also knocked it out of the part with its direction and cutaways. Conveying so much emotion in individual images or scenes, with no spoken words, is a feat worth lauding. Simply put, as a finale, this was more than up to snuff visually. Really, the last 5 episodes straight have met that requirement, with only minor CGI popping in. But this episode didn’t even have that. Now though, lets get on to the actual story.

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Posted on 26 March 2019 with categories: Dororo

Welcome to the first cour finale for Dororo! This week the Kagemitsu family reunites, Tahomaru turns a blind eye and Hyakki starts a war. Lets jump in!

More than usual, we need to talk about production, because Dororo really stepped it up this week. The direction, as always, was fantastic. There were a lot of shots I loved. From Daigo turning to face Hyakki, to Oku viewing him through the Buddha statue. Hyakki standing on the wall, forcing his way into the family and promptly being pushed away. There were a lot of great shots that stood out throughout this episode. Thats not even mentioning the step up in fluid animation we got this week in many of the fights. Sure, the archers are basically machine gun storm troopers, but hey. The actual sword and demon fights looked fantastic. The green flame flying through the air, taking shapes and lighting up the sky. Clearly MAPPA put a lot of care into the episode, and that’s not even mentioning the story content.

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Posted on with categories: Mob Psycho 100 II

Welcome one and all to the penultimate episode of Mob Psycho! This week Mob steps up, a Hobo finds his courage and Reigen finds a gun. Lets jump in!

Right off the bat, as always, I have to say Mob Psycho looked fantastic. There has been some disagreement/quibbling on my part about some still shots in the past. But none of that changes how, in motion, Mob Psycho is the best looking series of the season and probably year. The style in all of the important shots is beautiful, and the motion put into even the tiniest scenes is astounding. Often in anime, you will have scenes where the only movement is the mouth as they talk. Occasionally though you get a series, like Mob Psycho, that goes the extra mile. That animates body or facial movement to go with the mouth. Its a small thing, and often when reading subs you don’t notice it. But when you do, like I did this week, it makes you appreciate it all the more.

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Posted on with categories: Seasonal Previews

HelghastKillzone: The Winter 2019 season of anime was pretty good, wasn’t it? It was filled with great adaptations, amazing animation work, hyped sequels, brand new movie releases from major franchises and the reimagining of old IPs. When it comes to the upcoming spring season though… I fear that it just won’t be as good as these last three months. We’ll give you our thoughts on what interests us but from a curious glance at the numbers from MAL and the PVs shown so far, it is certainly looking thin on hit shows.

Mario: Spring 2019 can also be seen as the season where the three arguably MOST INNOVATIVE auteurs working in anime today are releasing their new works. Shinichiro Watanabe, Masaaki Yuasa, Kunihiko Ikuhara… they all have changed the anime industry in some ways, and it’s unavoidable that their new works will be hyped to the sky.

This also marks the first time where Aidan steps down from editing this preview, so in a way, this is our first real collaborative effort for this type of post. Personally, doing this preview reminds me how much of a pain it is to run through these things. So we offer our gratitude for old man Aidan for giving his opinions on shows that we will eventually forget ever existed. As it stands, I’m not too sure if we will keep this format for upcoming seasons, but rest assured that we, the writers here, will come up with a more suitable format that still benefits you readers.

For this edition Helghast and I are also doing the Movie Preview section. Due to the nature of movie release, many films we preview below won’t be available to us for a good 6-months, or in some cases, a whole year, so this preview serves more as putting these titles into your radar. Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list (nor do we intend to make one), the list below is merely anime movies that we believe have some merits for you to check out. In the end, a whooping 13 titles are previewed for this season alone, just to say how the anime industry has been more concentrated to theatrical releases more than ever.

Again, sorry for the late post. If you are looking forward to certain shows this upcoming season, make your voice heard by either voting in the two lovely polls below or leaving a comment.

Which series are you interested in for the 2019 Spring Season?
108 votes · 395 answers
Vote

 

The sequels/shorts we don’t care about

Araiya-san! Ore to Aitsu ga Onnayu de!? (softcore short)
Aikatsu Friends! Kagayaki no Jewel (sequel)
B Rappers Street (kiddie)
Bakumatsu: Crisis (sequel)
Beyblade: Burst Gachi (kiddie)
Bungou Stray Dogs 3 (sequel)
Chou Kadou Girl ⅙ (short)
Duel Masters!! (kiddie)
Diamond no Ace: Act II (sequel)
Han-Gyaku-Sei Million Arthur 2 (sequel)
Joshi Kausei (short)
Kedama no Gonjiro (kids)
KING OF PRISM -Shiny Seven Stars- (sequel)
Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (short)
Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!? (short)
Nobunaga-sensei no Osanazuma (short)
Rilakkuma and Kaoru-san (kiddie)
Senryuu Shoujo (short)
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls Climax Season (short)
World Witches Series 501: Butai Hasshinshimasu! (short)
Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki (short)
Yousei Chiitan (kiddie)

Series we don’t care about

Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai


Studio: Arvo Animation/ Silver
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Script/Series composer: Gou Zappa
Source: Manga
Yuiga Nariyuki tutors three genius of different subjects in highschool to get a scholarship. Furuhashi Fumino is a genius on literature but horrible in math, Ogata Rizu is a genius on mathematics and science but literature and arts are terrible subjects for her and Takemoto Uruka is a genius in the athletic field but really bad in all the others. Together, they study very hard and want to get better at their worst subjects while Fumino and Ogata wants to go to college and work on these subjects for life.

Aidan: Well for this one let me ask you something. Do you remember Nisekoi? That manga and Shaft anime which had the internet fighting an endless waifu war over a series which was nothing but vapid harem antics that never led anywhere? A series born from a mangaka whose more interesting works like Double Arts got axed and just decided to make the most generic thing he could as a joke that became ridiculously successful? Well this series isn’t really related to that author but let me tell you that this is the new Nisekoi. Oh it starts with some promise of story and is even interesting to a degree. But make no mistake that much like To Love RU and Nisekoi, that story just evaporates and we are left with the harem girl of the week formula where each girl is given a momentary pedestal to give the impression that she’s somehow gonna get this guy only to be brushed aside by next chapter. The endless purgatory continues until the author finally decides to end it or stops getting paychecks. You may find some value in its opening episodes, readers, but take it from someone who read long into the series, this is just a waste of time. (more…)

Posted on 25 March 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Yakusoku no Neverland

Its safe to say that this series has been building up to this moment for a long time and it’s finally here. The escape has begun and for once Isabella has been put on the defensive. As far as this episode is concerned I feel it was pulled off excellently. Though I do feel that some choices were made that way solely for the sake of drama. The big thing here being that Ray revealed that he never intended to leave the house alive and fully intended to use his suicide by fire to distract Isabella long enough for the other kids to escape. His fatalistic notion seemly born more out of a sense of revenge rather than desire to end his own life though he does mention it as a sort of atonement for all the kids he sacrificed to get to this point. But alas this is not to be as it appears that Norman could really see through Ray’s intent to sacrifice himself and already gave Emma a note to ensure that this didn’t happen. But here’s where my particular gripe with this scene comes into play. For you see while this makes for a good twist, it also puts Emma’s actions into question as she reacted to Ray putting his plan forward as though she was hearing it or the first time. At no point during that conversation did Emma seem like she was ready to jump in as stop him. I must ask, if Emma intended to fake Rays suicide and had kids on standby ready to do so then why did she wait to the point where Ray drops a goddamn match?

In fiction I understand that some leeway must be made in order to accommodate the audience like villains vocalising their plans so that the audience can know of them. Here however it just seems ridiculously out of character that Emma would just stand back, let Ray douse himself in lighter fluid, light a match and drop a lit match before she interjected. Ray gave her plenty of time to do so so you cannot blame this on the usual concept of “Anime time” wherein the scene shown is not relative to the time it actually took place in. Ray laid out his intentions perfectly for a few minutes and not once,not once, did Emma speak up and let him know that she was ready for this. The only reason that could be given for Emma waiting that long is just to give the fake out to the audience and the dramatic flair of Emma catching the match at the last second. I feel that it would be better if Ray moved fast and did all this in a few seconds as we didn’t need him to spell out what he was planning as Norman does so within his letter. At least this scene would make more sense within the context of the story. Indeed this seems to be an ongoing flaw with this series as a whole, that being concessions made to include the audience by having character do illogical things within the context of the world they are in.

I also feel that this series has now demonstrated its unwillingness to kill off it’s main trio. Norman is still unconfirmed to be alive or dead but personally I believe him to be alive especially considering this latest fake out with Ray. These three have officially obtained plot armour so any dangerous situations they encounter won’t have me wondering for a second if they will make it out alive. The other kids of course are up for debate but as far as these three are concerned, I see them as unkillable until proven wrong. For a series that treats life and death as it’s main hook i can say that would be a big detriment to my enjoyment. Other than that I quite liked the music that played when Isabella had been outwitted, quite funky considering the soundtrack has been rather conservative so far. I didn’t really like Isabella going Krone for a bit just to let the audience know what she was thinking as it did seem very out of character for someone so reserved. Having Ray just be pure dumbfounded after the reveal of the true plan was rather comical and it is rather interesting looking back on previous episodes and even seeing signs that other kids were aware of their circumstances. Finally it appears the Chekhov gun to end all Chekhov’s guns has arrived as Phil’s master plan comes into full effect and the masterstoke of three dimensional chess planning of this little smiling demon child.

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

Can somebody explain why, in an episode where Kaguya’s loveless upbringing is shown to have profoundly damaged her, 14 minutes were dedicated to stories about eating ramen and not understanding Twitter? With only two slots left in your single cour run, these had to be among the most skippable chapters in the manga (assuming they’re not original material), yet they consumed the bulk of this episode. Was the goal just to pass time so the summer festival could double as the series’ conclusion? It feels like every time we get an episode that reaches the standards the beginning of the show set for itself, the next one has to take three steps back. I’m sure many of you are tired of reading these sentiments, but I’m just as tired of the weird missteps the anime is making. Taken as a whole, this batch of chapters wasn’t even bad, just the sort of unfocused grab bag the show ought to have ironed out of its repertoire by now.

The first of our stories this week was more about Hayasaka’s occupational weariness than Kaguya’s lack of technological prowess. We’ve seen that Kaguya’s valet does a great impression of a normal high school girl, which helps her blend in at Shuchiin Academy while looking after her charge. What’s clearer than ever after this week, though, is that she has a real desire for normalcy, and perhaps even an awkward first romance of her own. She plays it off as a bit of bathtime musing, but it’s clearly real, which is what makes Hayasaka such a good fit as Kaguya’s friend – they both want freedom from their household’s oppressive atmosphere. If we’re being honest about the broader appeal of this episode, though, Kaguya’s search for “Twitter” in the dictionary will probably make a bigger impact than anything about the girls’ relationship. Her struggle to replicate a captcha phrase was the kind of “so relatable” moment that barely outranks reference humor in terms of comedic effort. And just imagine all the 13 year old guts her confusion about protected accounts must have busted. Is my general disdain for social media coming through right now, guys?

Only slightly better was the ramen chapter, which handled narrator duties over to a brand new middle-aged salaryman character who will probably never be seen again. He creepily observes every step of Fujiwara’s ordering and eating processes, and judges her to be a worthier ramen connoisseur than himself after she buys a fantastic dish and devours it with childish abandon. Was this segment funny? I’d say so, yeah. Some of the dramatic shading on the narrator’s face and his overreactions were worth a chuckle or two. But it didn’t teach me anything new about the characters I like. Even Fujiwara was short-changed by this chapter, and she was the only council member to appear on screen. A far better version of the same story might have cut out the middle-aged man and included both of Chika’s sisters in the restaurant with her. Then we could have learned about two new characters, while getting a different perspective on a familiar one by contrasting her with her family. Perhaps the temporary narrator was meant to parody a Japanese pop cultural figure? If not, this chapter feels like a missed opportunity, as the show is quickly coming to a close, and every minute counts.

The bit with Shirogane and Kaguya visiting the student council room and missing each other by mere moments felt abrupt, probably to make room for the post-credits scene. Those few minutes were certainly the most intriguing part of the episode. At first I thought Kaguya had been summoned to their family’s Kyoto home for a marriage interview, given the table where she was sitting, but apparently all she was called to do was greet her father for two seconds as he walked brusquely past. Perhaps she was called out just to interrupt the shopping plans she made in a previous episode, which would make her father a meddler on top of being an “asshole” (Hayasaka’s words). This is the third episode in a row where Kaguya’s love for fireworks has appeared, and here it carries the most emotional heft of the three. Fireworks are loud, bright, and colorful – all things Kaguya was never allowed to be as a child. Shirogane had better get his shit together and properly invite her to the summer festival. If her pained vocal delivery is anything to go by, she needs to reclaim her lost youth now more than ever.

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