Posted on 22 May 2019 with categories: Dororo

Hello all and welcome to a week of essentially filler for Dororo! We repeat plot points, Hyakki gets engaged and Dororo gets some funny faces. Let’s dive in!

Starting off, I normally do production here, but with the contents of this episode that seems ridiculous. Instead, I wanna ask why this episode exists, because this week is effectively filler. And not even good filler. Just filler that retreads what was already covered last week. I understand it was all a metaphor, that Hyakki’s reforged swords were all an allegory for Hyakki himself. Him and Dororo were realizing their true feelings, because they can only speak lies. Blah blah, whatever. My question is, did we need any of this? Did Dororo not establish the familial relationship between our two leads last episode? Was that not the whole head-rubbing thing and such? It just all feels pointless to me, like Dororo is treading water, when there is an actual plot sitting right in front of it. It’s disappointing.

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Posted on 20 May 2019 with categories: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Hello all, and welcome to a big week for Kimetsu no Yaiba. This is the week where I move it up from a “Competent” Shounen to a “Good/Great” Shounen. You see, Yaiba finishes up another arc, Nezuko kicks some butt and Tanjiro meets the big bad 8 episodes in. So let’s jump into it!

Starting off, production. Yaiba was as consistent as it always is on this front, beautiful with the occasional odd CGI walk. However it also had one of my favorite cuts this week. That being the flashback to the mountain, with Tanjiro running through the forest. I thought the camera movements/tracking and CGI was fantastic. Yeah, it wasn’t perfect but boy did I love that scene. On top of that, once again I want to bring up Yuki Kaijura. She really nailed the unease and tension of the 2nd half of the episode. Really elevating the emotions of a scene. There are some small gripes, for instance I think Yaiba wasted some potential in the underwater scene. And it was also overly dingy and dark. But it does its job, and with how good everything else is around it, that’s good enough. The story however, does far more than that.

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Posted on 19 May 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Sports, Mix

What’s with all the A-list seiyuu in Mix? The four main characters are voiced by some of the biggest names in the industry right now: Yuki Kaji, the Uchida siblings, and Kana Hanazawa as new character Haruka. I tend to dodge a lot of the shounen and harem series that feature Mr. Kaji, and the Uchidas haven’t made a big mark on my anime consciousness yet, but there’s no denying their popularity. HanaKana is a favorite of mine, though, and I’m a bit worried about how Mix is set to utilize her. Haruka is the show’s girl next door, and she seems totally aloof regarding the boys’ fixation on her. They all rush to chat her up on the first day of high school, and even after they’re beaten back by her childhood friend Nangou, she maintains a puzzled facial expression. The camera even creates opportunities for the Tachibana brothers to do some ogling, from a relatively tame upskirt shot to a fresh-out-of-the-bath pose when Touma walks in on her. The pleasant ring of Hanazawa-san’s voice is wasted on assurances that he “barely missed the show,” or not to worry because she’d already put on her panties.

Maybe none of this is really important, and I’m just reaching for things to talk about regarding this episode. It’s certainly light on baseball and heavy on juvenile romance, with Haruka’s appearance cementing a love square between herself and the mixed Tachibana kids. The title of this episode comes from a conversation between Otomi and Haruka, when the older girl asks whether Otomi is worried that she might steal one of the boys away. It’s a subtle but effective way of cutting right to the heart of the younger girl’s crush on her stepbrother, but it comes a bit too soon in their relationship. Sure, the kids’ parents are longtime friends, but Haruka has only just met the Tachibanas. Adachi’s characters are usually too mature for their age, but for a girl to banter with a new acquaintance about her incestuous feelings just a day after meeting her is preposterous. Did we skip a bunch of chapters from the manga here? It doesn’t help that their whole visit feels strange, from the convenient bath breakdown to the peppy guitar and recorder-led tune that overstays its welcome.

It’s not enough that the high school hormones are flowing in tropey fashion, either, as Otomi has to pull double duty as a romantic interest in a middle school story that felt superfluous. The next episode preview indicates that the new middle school girl has a baseball-playing brother, so maybe Mix will leverage this new love triangle in order to get back to the diamond soon. It’s funny, though – my favorite parts of Cross Game were always those spent away from the baseball field, and now I can’t wait for Mix to head back there. Everything to do with the new middle school characters felt like a distraction, though I can see where we’re headed. Some of the younger kids need to age up before the definitive Meisei comeback year, so the story is biding its time until then. I just wish that sense of playing the waiting game wasn’t so evident in the show’s pacing and choice of subject matter.

Posted on 17 May 2019 with categories: Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Starting off, let me apologize for the lateness of this weeks Lain post. I tend to try and digest an episode before writing, and Lain makes that… difficult. As this week we get into the human psyche, the line between reality and the Wired blurs and Lain becomes multiple people. Lets hop right in!

Starting off, this week was weird. Like, really weird, but also very interesting. I loved the use of consistent imagery, connecting different events of the show. For instance the red dots in the car window, mimicking the red dot of the gun last episode. Building upon Lain’s trauma with it. The empty house which Lain comes home to, apparently each night, and how Lain mills about like this isn’t anything new. Really nailing home how alone and disconnected from everyone she is. Idling away her hours on the computer. I actually stopped Lain for a second and looked around my apartment, realizing I had been doing the exact same thing. Its a really weird feeling to get from a show made in ’98. Even the name of the chip Lain gets this week is filled with connotations. So much so I probably missed most of them. It’s ridiculously layered.

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Posted on 16 May 2019 with categories: One Punch Man S2

Sigh Welcome once again to the sinking ship that is OPM S2. This week we see a fantastic character done dirty, botched pacing, and more boob shots than you can swing a stick at. Lets dive in.

As always, production, and oof. OOF. JC Staff screwed the pooch this week. I won’t even talk animation, because that’s obvious. Instead lets talk about how JC Staff screwed up direction and shot composition, when Murata had already laid it out for them. Throughout this episode, we have 2 conflicts going on. Genos vs the Monsters, and the Tournament. OPM cuts between the two, progressing both at once. However, what happens in the manga is the tournament comes first in ever sequence. Showing a martial arts technique and its effects, then cutting straight to Genos performing an S-Class Super Hero version of the same thing. High Voltage Fist, Machine Gun Blow, Rocket Stomp, all these mimic techniques of the martial artists. Yet JC Staff couldn’t even do that right. Showing them out of order, with no impact or connection between them. This is a staggering level of incompetence.

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Posted on 15 May 2019 with categories: Dororo

Welcome one and all to Dororo’s redemption, the episode that takes us back to first cour quality. We have demons, sword fights, and poignant character moments. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t be disappointed in 2 months. Lets jump in!

First up, thank you MAPPA, for getting production right this week. Every aspect was, at the least, decent. There are still small nitpicks that could be made, but they are just that. Nitpicks. The actual big picture is that this episode felt like one from the first cour. Sure, the demon shark fight was rather fast, but that wasn’t the focus of the episode. That was Hyakki vs Tahomaru and co, and I enjoyed this. It was animated much better than previous episodes, really moving the “camera” around and giving us full body shots. Yes some detail goes away at points, but in its place we get a much more movement. To top it all off, the music was great and there were lots of picturesque shots that adored. It’s entirely possible my standards have fallen, but I am just glad Dororo is actually animated this week.

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Posted on 13 May 2019 with categories: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Welcome everyone to another episode of Yaiba! We are 1/4th of the way through now and Yaiba is 3 arcs in, with no plans of slowing. We arrive at the town, a hunt ensues and combat begins with our first super powered Demon. Lets jump in!

As always, production first. I could go on and on about how pretty Yaiba is. How much I love the water effects and uneven line work, etc etc. I have done that every week though, so this time let’s talk sound design, cause whoo. It’s good. Not only is it a Yuki Kaijura OST, always a plus, but Yaiba is just nailing the folly work. Seriously, whoever did the sound of the gnashing teeth deserves a raise. That was a suitably creepy and hair-raising, a unique sound I have no heard before in anime. As a whole it all comes together for a simply fantastic sounding episode. My only real complaint with it is the CGI crowds/walking. Yaiba is finally starting to show some cracks in the CGI, with the wide shots. Luckily all of the closeups are still 2D. That aside though, onto the story. (more…)

Posted on 11 May 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Sports, Mix

Two weeks ago, I wondered how long Mix’s middle school arc would stretch, given that its ultimate destination was the Koushien tournament. Apparently the show had a similar question on its mind, as these two episodes pushed through an entire year’s worth of story. In fact, it was episode 6 that did the majority of the time skipping, with its focus on the changing seasons. I much preferred episode 5 for its comparative calmness and light foreshadowing, though it also concluded the first Tokyo Tournament with some haste. After making a late appearance on the mound, Nikaidou quickly lost the game for his team by giving up five runs in a single inning, and the show didn’t even mount an attempted comeback for the home team. This was all in service of the later reveal that Nikaidou was dealing with a potentially fatal heart condition, thus explaining his father’s doting behavior and his coach’s bullheadedness. The narrator provides even more context near the start of episode 6, detailing the friendship between the two men and the father’s past as a pitcher. Personally, I would have loved to witness a conversation between those two, rather than being fed a bunch of secondhand information about their relationship.

Thankfully, the narrator wasn’t as involved during the rest of these episodes. Perhaps my favorite part of either one, and the one involving that “light foreshadowing” I mentioned above, dealt with Nishimura’s fixation on the Tachibana brothers. He went so far as to visit their house and coax them into visiting the high school where his dad coaches baseball. As the boys biked to their destination, Nishimura named another team – Kenjyou High, formerly Sumi Tech – that served as the opponent in Touch’s Koushien final. Since they’ve been introduced at this early stage, both schools are likely to appear as obstacles in Meisei’s modern day path to glory. There was also a flashback from Nishimura’s father, who was reminded of someone named “Uesugi” after watching Touma pitch. You might expect Uesugi to be some unbeatable ace, given the prodigy to whom he’s compared, but he actually gave up a walk with the bases loaded in that flashback, losing the game for Meisei. Could this be a clue that Touma will experience a similar loss in the future? If Adachi ever wanted to mix things up, dealing the protagonists a loss on a grand stage would be the way to go.

Visiting another high school was an effective way to follow up Touma’s interest in leaving Meisei, but that lack of attachment was probably due to the snubbing he received from his old coach. After playing for a new one during his final year of middle school, the only thing that held Touma back from a deep playoff run was a sliding door that he slammed on his own fingers. Yes, this is the actual excuse that the show used to skip its ninth grade baseball season. The show manages the transition with some grace by introducing two new characters meant to carry us into the high school era: Goro and Haruka Oyama, a father and daughter pair who move to Tokyo in preparation for dad’s new job as the coach of Meisei High’s baseball team. Souichiro meets Haruka by chance on moving day and stares after her, obviously smitten. His eventual pursuit of the girl next door may be complicated by his stepdad’s existing friendship with Goro, however. That friendship was formed at Meisei 30 years ago, which is where most prior events in this series seem to have taken place. I’ve got to say, this style of connecting most characters and plot points to a shared past isn’t in keeping with the naturally-evolving web I was expecting. I do like Mix, and I’ll probably like it even more once we get into high school territory, but I’m ready for it to take another couple steps out from under Touch’s shadow.

Posted on 10 May 2019 with categories: Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Welcome to week 2 of Serial Experiments Lain, or as I like to call it, Screw With Lenlo. This week 4 friends walk into a club with drugs and a gun. Sounds like a good time, so let’s jump in!

Starting off, I really need to remember when Lain was made. I got half-way through this episode critiquing its “animation saving” cuts, before I realized Lain was made in 98. Granted this isn’t a get out of jail free card, Cowboy Bebop was also made in 98. But it did renew my appreciation for cell-animation. It’s a very different aesthetic from digital, much… not rougher but maybe rustic? Regardless, as limited as it is I watched this coming off of One Punch Man Season 2 and whew. Lain is drastically more engaging. There is much less motion on screen, and yet the framing and direction make it visually interesting. Whether it be framing a man’s face through a doorway or some almost hallucinogenic sequence, Lain drew me in. Considering I still understood almost nothing of this story and was still engaged, I would call that a job well done.

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Posted on 8 May 2019 with categories: One Punch Man S2

God damnit OPM. I thought we were past this, I thought we could get along. It was my hope, after these last two episodes, that you could make it. I was wrong. This week OPM disappoints me, and I once again get to go on a rant. Jump in if you dare.

Right off the bat, and I am gonna do this for a few hundred words, let’s talk production. My god, did OPM trip and fall down a ditch this week. There’s so much to talk about here, I have to split it into sections. Starting off, animation. Not only was it limited, reusing it in the same god damn fight, but what little good OPM had was covered up. Flashing screens, cut to black with flashes of light and shaky cam ruin whatever punch any of the fights could have had. Combine that with terrible direction, ruining the flow of blows, and it just becomes a mess. One redditor described it aptly as “The fight wanted itself to end”. Then there’s Metal Knight, flying around like a static image through the sky. This sequence could have been amazing and instead we got… a PowerPoint presentation.

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